ISM Update From Palestine
1. Bil'in Lock-on and Demonstration Report 2. Palestinian Non-Violent Organiser Mohammed Mansour's Court Case Continues 3. Two sides, one goal - Palestinian, Israeli tour Bay Area to support non-violent resistance to military occupation 4. Demolish all the illegally built homes in the West Bank - Israeli Chief of Staff General Dan Halutz __________
1. Bil'in Lock-on and Demonstration Report
November 4th, 2005
On Friday morning at 7:55am, 3 Palestinians, 7 Israelis and 5 internationals chained themselves to the posts of the apartheid wall that is currently under construction near Bil'in, a small village in the West Bank. This act of non-violent resistance was aimed at illustrating the devastating effect the wall has on this and other villages in the West Bank. The idea was to force the Israeli soldiers to destroy the posts in order to remove the activists from the scene this, however, did not work out as planned. At 8:10am the soldiers had managed to untie all the activists, and dragged them away from the posts. Three Israelis were brought to the police station, but were released later in the morning.
The demonstration then turned into a playground when children's toys were handed out and a slide was raised close to the line of the soldiers. Children were playing and chanting together with the activists in front of the surprised soldiers and members of the Border Police.
Around 11:00 three Israeli activists once again chained themselves to a fence. After fruitless attempts of getting them loose, Border Police changed their tactics and waited close by in order to arrest the activists when they decided to loosen themselves. When they did, however, they managed to escape arrest by running through the olive groves towards the village, tailed for a while by Border Police that didn't quite reach the same running speed and eventually gave up.
After the noon prayer that was conducted at the scene of the demonstration, the rain came and people started to drop off. At 12:30 the demonstration was over. Apart from some pushing from the soldiers and Border Police, it was a peaceful demonstration without violence no tear gas, rubber bullets or other experimental less lethal weapons were used. Apart from the three Israelis in the morning no other arrests were made.
2. Palestinian Non-Violent Organiser Mohammed Mansour's Court Case Continues
On Wednesday the 2nd of November 2005 Palestinian non violent organiser Muhammed Mansour from Biddu appeared before an Israeli judge in Occupied east Jerusalem. Mohamed is being charged with assaulting a police officer and throwing stones following his arrest by under cover police during a non violent demonstration against the annexation wall in Al Ram on June 26th 2004. During the hearing the prosecution offered Mohammed's lawyer a deal. Mohammed would have to accept a 3500 shekel fine and the condition that he not participate in any demonstrations for the next two years. Mohammed rejected the deal. The case was deferred until 22nd February 2006. When Mohammed was initially arrested in June 2004 he was severely beaten, hospitalised and then held for a week before his release on bail together with another three Palestinians, including two minors, who were arrested at the Al-Ram demonstration. Five Israeli peace activists, also arrested at the demonstration, were released a few hours following their arrest. A Palestinian photographer working for the Israeli news paper Yediot Ahreonot was also assaulted and severely beaten by undercover police during the demonstration. Mohammed's trail is taking place while 17 non violent activists from the village of Bil'in are currently in jail in an attempt to crush the non-violent resistance in the village.
The International Solidarity Movement condemns the Israeli legal system's defense of war crimes committed by the Israeli military and settlers, as well as its criminalization of non-violent protest against the Occupation.
3. Two sides, one goal - Palestinian, Israeli tour Bay Area to support non-violent resistance to military occupation
November 1st, 2005
By Katherine Corcoran
Originally published in the Mercury News
Ayed Morrar, 43, a Palestinian, puts his arm on the back of Jonathan Pollak, 23, an Israeli, and says, He's like my son.
The two are touring the Bay Area through Wednesday, when they will address a Stanford University class on the Israeli-Arab conflict, as part of a national speaking campaign on what they call the little-known, non-violent resistance movement in the Palestinian territories.
Pollak is fasting in solidarity with Morrar, who is observing Ramadan. They are staying in homes and attending fundraisers sponsored by Arab-American and Jewish families. Still, their integrated, peaceful resistance against Israel's military occupation and the barrier it is erecting in the West Bank gets scant attention in the United States and the rest of the world, they say.
We have to show people the real situation there to win the occupation, because the propaganda shows us as criminals, Morrar said last week, sitting in the Los Altos living room of Lisa Nessan, who is Jewish. We are against violence from any side, against killing by Israelis and Palestinians.
Their tour, which started in New York and goes to Seattle, Minneapolis, Detroit and other major cities from here, is sponsored by the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian group that recruits and trains international observers and activists to protest in the Palestinian territories. The group gained world headlines when American protester Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003, and British student Tom Hurndall was shot in 2004 by an Israeli soldier, who was later convicted of manslaughter.
But like anything having to do with the Middle East conflict, claims to non-violence or peace get drowned out in a din of competing voices and events. Last week marked another bloody string of violence, with Israeli troops targeting Islamic Jihad militants, who killed five Israelis in a revenge suicide attack.
Critics say the International Solidarity Movement is not really about peace. They cite writings by its leaders that acknowledge a place for armed resistance in liberation movements.
They don't pick up guns or throw bombs. But they don't oppose those who do, either, said Yitzhak Santis, director of the Middle East Project at the Jewish Community Relations Council in San Francisco. It's propaganda. They want well-intentioned, good-meaning people to support them. But what goes on on the ground is something quite different.
Still, Morrar, a government worker who must clear two checkpoints to get to work in Ramallah, and Pollak, a graphic artist from Tel Aviv and an activist since his teens, are part of a growing number of opponents to the Israeli occupation. They want to tell their side of a complicated story in the United States, a steadfast supporter of Israel in foreign policy, and a place where many charge the news accounts are biased toward Israel.
It's time we voice opposition to policies that are being carried out in our name, said Pollak, referring to Israelis who are against the occupation.
Their current focus is the wall Israel is building in the West Bank, which in parts veers from the agreed-upon border and cuts into Palestinian territories, separating villagers from their jobs and farmland. Supporters of the wall say it has cut violence against Israelis by 90 percent.
The wall, which has been ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice in the Hague, has sparked a peace movement that had difficulty finding a place amid the almost ever-present bullets and bombings.
We need everyone, children, women, old people to join the struggle. With all the violence, they couldn't get out there, said Morrar, adding that his and Pollak's group in the Palestinian territories, Popular Committees to Resist the Wall, condemns all violence, including armed resistance. The military struggle has no role for the people.
In talks in Bay Area churches, universities and labor halls, Morrar and Pollak show footage of women in abayas at the wall, shouting peace slogans through bullhorns, and international protesters spraying peace signs on military vehicles — all being hit by Israeli soldiers with tear-gas canisters and rubber bullets.
Morrar doesn't deny that non-violent demonstrations draw members of Hamas and Fatah, political parties with militant arms. But he says his group doesn't refuse any protesters, as long as they follow the rules of peaceful resistance.
If we refuse them, they will go to the violent way, said Morrar, who has been jailed five times, once for six years in the 1990s, and bears a long, deep scar from a gunshot wound on his upper arm. To struggle does not mean to kill. To kill is to lose your humanity.
4. Demolish all the illegally built homes in the West Bank - Israeli Chief of Staff General Dan Halutz
Recent Statement by Chief of Staff General Dan Halutz
PRESS RELEASE by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
28 Oct 2005
ICAHD notices with concern the statement by Chief of Staff, Gen. Dan Halutz, as reported in Ma'ariv (October 26, 2005), in which he is quoted as saying that in response to the recent suicide attack in Hadera Market he would implement various responses. Amongst responses he proposes is "to demolish all the illegally built homes in the West Bank, as those houses are used as shelter by terrorists."
In the West Bank there are thousands of illegally built homes, as a result of the deliberate policies of the Israeli government's "Civil Administration" (the Army), which prevents Palestinians from receiving building permits, and even demolishes in Area B.
Chief of Staff Dan Halutz is well known as a man without conscience, an extremist hardliner, whom we remember as having given an order to use a one-ton bomb on a house in a densely populated area, to kill a militant leader. His remarks after the operation even shocked judges in Israel's Supreme Court: that he "sleeps well at night" even though 14 civilians were killed during that notorious operation, including many innocent women and children.
Even though we understand that the Chief of Staff will be unable to demolish literally "thousands of homes," we are certain that he will make sure to demolish many homes in revenge for attacks, whether now or in future.
We call on the international community to demand that the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs stop these diabolical projects and that Israel be forced to abide by international law which forbids an occupying power to demolish the homes of innocent civilians.