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ISM: Update From Palestine

1. A Conference Against the Wall in Bil'in

2. "Love is possible in spite of all the evil we experience"

3. IOF Continues Harassing Jayyous Villagers

4. Downloadable film on The Wall

5. Who's Afraid of Human Rights Observers?

6. Farmers march for their lives

7. From the Israeli Press: Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem slams West Bank separation fence

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1. A Conference Against the Wall in Bil'in

An invitation from Bil'in's Popular Committee Against the Wall and settlements

[BIL'IN , West Bank] In our village of Bil'in, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, we are living an important but overlooked story of the occupation. Though Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza earlier this year, they are continuing to expand their West Bank settlements.

On our village's land, Israel is building one new settlement and expanding five others. These settlements will form a city called Modiin Illit, with tens of thousands of settlers, many times the number that were evacuated from Gaza. These settlements consume most of our area's water. Throughout the West Bank, settlement and wall construction, arrests, killing and occupation continue.

Over one year ago the International Court of Justice handed down an advisory ruling that Israel's construction of a wall on Palestinian land violated international law. Today, Palestinians in villages like ours are struggling to implement that decision and stop the illegal construction using nonviolence. Unfortunately the international community has done little to support us.

Our village is being strangled by Israel's wall. Though Bil'in sits two and a half miles east of the Green Line, Israel is taking roughly 60 percent of our 1,000 acres of land in order to annex the six settlements and build the wall around them. This land is also money to us - we work it. Bil'in's 1,600 residents depend on farming and harvesting olives for our livelihood. The wall will turn Bil'in into an open-air prison, like Gaza.

After Israeli courts refused our appeals to prevent wall construction, we, along with Israelis and international citizens from around the world, began peacefully protesting the confiscation of our land. We chose to resist nonviolently because we are peace-loving people who are victims of the occupation. We have opened our homes to the Israelis who have joined us. They have become our partners in struggle. Together we send a strong message that we can coexist in peace and security. We welcome anyone who comes to us as a guest and who works for peace and justice for both peoples, but we will resist anyone who comes as an occupier.

We have held more than 90 peaceful demonstrations since February. We learned from the experience and advice of villages such as Budrus and Biddu, who resisted the wall nonviolently. Palestinians from other areas now call people from Bil'in "Palestinian Gandhis."

Our demonstrations aim to stop the bulldozers destroying our land, and to send a message about the wall's impact. We've chained ourselves to olive trees that were being bulldozed for the wall to show that taking the life of our trees takes the life of our village. We've distributed letters asking the soldiers to think before they shoot at us, explaining that we are not against the Israeli people, we are against the building of the wall on our land. We refuse to be strangled by the wall in silence. In a famous Palestinian short story by Ghassan Kanafani, "Men in the Sun," Palestinian workers suffocate inside a tanker truck. Upon discovering them, the driver screams, "Why didn't you bang on the sides of the tank?" In Bil'in, we are banging, we are screaming.

In the face of our nonviolent resistance, Israeli soldiers have attacked our peaceful protests with teargas, clubs, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition. They have injured over 400 villagers. They invade the village at night, entering homes, pulling families out and arresting people.

But a year after the International Court of Justice's decision, wall construction Palestinian land continues. Behind the smoke screen of the Gaza withdrawal, the real story is Israel's attempt to take control of the West Bank by building the illegal wall and settlements that threaten to destroy dozens of villages like Bil'in and any hope for peace.

Bil'in is banging, Bil'in is screaming. Please stand with us so that we can achieve our freedom by peaceful and nonviolent means.

We invite you to participate with us in an international conference that we will hold in Bil'in to address the occupation and build nonviolent resistance to it, February 20 & 21, 2006.

For more information on the conference, please write to:

bel3en@yahoo.com

Please forward this invitation widely!

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2. "Love is possible in spite of all the evil we experience"

11 December 2005

For pictures see:

http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2005/12/13/latin-patriarch-of-jerusalem-slams-west-bank-separation-fence/

Despite an Israeli checkpoint that prevented journalists from accessing the village, a peaceful march of one thousand people, Christians and Muslims, went forward on Sunday in the West Bank Village Aboud. The march was stopped by Israeli soldiers three hundreds meters from bulldozers digging up Aboud's land to construct the annexation barrier.

Latin Patriarch Michael Sabbah led a short worship and then planted an olive tree, symbolically protesting the destruction of hundreds of trees by the construction of the annexation barrier. The route of the wall on Aboud's land will de facto annex Bet Arye and Ofarin settlements together with 4000 Dunams (around 1000 Acres) of Aboud's agricultural land to Israel. The march was joined by Israeli and international activists .

Patriarch Michel Sabbah addressed the crowd and the Israeli soldiers guarding the bulldozers:

"With our faith and love, we demand the removal of this Wall. We affirm that it is a mistake and an attack against our lands and our properties, a mistake and an attack against friendly relationship among the two people. (…) In your faith and your love you shall find a guide in your political actions and in resistance against every oppression. You may say that love is an unknown language to politics, but love is possible in spite of all the evil we experience, we shall make it possible!"

After the Patriarch's departure, one hundred people stood in front of the soldiers singing slogans against the Wall. Israeli activist Jonothan Polack was arrested for trying to plant an olive tree.

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3. IOF Continues Harassing Jayyous Villagers

By ISM local contact

Today, 11th December 2005, at 2:30am, the IOF troops invaded the west bank village of Jayyous. They searched houses and arrested the Vice President of the Jayyous municipality, Mr. Issam Muhammad Hassan Shbaita.

Mr. Shbaita is known as a local human rights activist for his work that coordinated with international organizations that helped to resist the Israeli occupation. More recently, Mr. Shbaita was known for his efforts in joining the international calls for the release of the four kidnapped Christian Peacemaker Teams activists in Iraq. He has been coordinating with local people and the Popular Committees Against the Wall and Settlements to send a strong call to release the CPT activists.

Jayyous village has suffered a lot from the construction of the Israeli apartheid wall. Lately the Israeli government has started building a new settlement on the confiscated lands. This is not the first time the village has been invaded by the occupation forces.

The people of Jayyous have been a great example of popular resistance. They say that these actions of the Israeli occupation force will not stop their resistance.

www.jayyousonline.org

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4. Downloadable film on The Wall

In November 2002 the first section of the Israeli Aparthied Wall on Palestinian territory in the West Bank was under construction in the Qalqilya district. This short film looks at how the Wall will affect Palestinian communities and what locals and internationals were doing to resist the construction of the wall.

Filmed by a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement.

You can find the film at the Internet Archive :

http://www.archive.org/details/thewall_nov02

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5. Who's Afraid of Human Rights Observers?

Israeli soldiers violate court order and close off Palestinian homes, assault Human Rights Workers, confiscate cameras and destroy film in Tel Rumeida, Hebron

A human rights worker was filming the Israeli army's violation of a recent Israeli court order to open a pathway to Palestinian homes at around 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, December 14, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Tel Rumeida. Israeli Occupation Forces recently installed a coil of razor wire, blocking a path that leads to Palestinian families' homes located just below the settlement. The razor wire violates a recent court order saying that Palestinians in the area are allowed to use the path at all times.

The Israeli military commander at the scene pushed the human rights worker and tried to take her camera. Upon witnessing the scene, another human rights worker started filming and the IOF commander approached him, pushed him to the ground and started dragging him along the street, holding the strap of his bag and video camera until he managed to take the camera. A few minutes later the woman who was initially pushed was once again attacked by three soldiers who surrounded her, pushed her to the ground as she was screaming in fear, and took her video camera. In the commotion a third human rights worker was assaulted in a similar way by another soldier; he was pushed to the ground and the soldier ripped his camera out of his hands. Two other human rights workers were assaulted during this time.

The cameras were returned at 3:15 p.m. with the film missing from the still camera and the tapes in the two video cameras fully taped over by the military.

The International Solidarity Movement, together with the Tel Rumeida Project, provides an international presence in Tel Rumeida to support the Palestinian families in the area in their daily struggle to lead a normal life next door to the violent settlers of Tel Rumeida and Beit Hadassah. Among other activities, these human rights workers accompany Palestinian children to school on a daily basis to help prevent frequent attacks on the children and their teachers by settlers.

For more information about the Tel Rumeida Project, and videos of recent settler attacks in Tel Rumeida, see their website:

www.telrumeidaproject.org .

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6. Farmers march for their lives

On Sunday the 18th at 2:00 PM Farmers of the Tubas region will hold their second march to the Bardala checkpoint. This checkpoint has served as the only venue where Palestinian farmers could sell their produce to Israeli traders for distribution. For the last two weeks the checkpoint has been closed and the farmers produce has been left to rot.

Villagers from Tubas region own fertile agricultural land on which they depend as their only source of income.

Ahmed Sawaft Director of PARC (Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees) in Tubas warns: "If this closure continues it will mean an agricultural and economic disaster for the area."

The villages of Bardala, Ein Al Beda, Cardala and Wadi Al Malech are in an enclave in the Jordan Valley. The only entry and exit point to this enclave is the Tyaseer checkpoint. Anyone who is not registered on their Israeli-issued I.D. card as from these villages or has a limited-time permit is forbidden to enter by the Israeli military.

On Wednesday The 14th of December the farmers marched to the checkpoint with their produce. Journalists as well as International and Israeli supporters were denied access the area.

**********

7. from the Israeli press;Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem slams West Bank separation fence

December 13th, 2005 | By The Associated Press

www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/656456.html

The top Roman Catholic official in the Holy Land planted an olive tree Sunday on the planned route of Israel's separation barrier in a West Bank village and prayed for the wall's removal, saying it is serves no purpose.

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, visited the barrier in the village of Abud that Israel says it needs to keep Palestinian attackers out.

"This position and the confiscation of lands have no reason at all. (The wall) doesn't benefit the security of either Israel or anybody else. Our prayers are for the removal of this physical wall currently under construction and the return of our lands and your lands to you," Sabbah told his audience, a group of some 1,000 protesters and believers who traveled with him to the planned route of the wall.

Sabbah, the first Palestinian to hold the top Roman Catholic position in the Holy Land, has been the patriarch since 1988 and has often had testy relations with Israel. He said last Christmas that the separation barrier has turned Bethlehem into a "prison."

"We share your concerns," Sabbah said Sunday to the people of Abud, but urged them to keep their protests peaceful.

"Our hearts are filled with love, and no hatred for anybody, We want life for ourselves," he said. "This peace will be possible regardless of the obstacles put between the people."

Israeli soldiers stood on the other side of the barbed wire and removed one of the protesters from the scene, averting a clash, witnesses said.

.

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