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The Occupation Will Not Be Sugar-Coated

1. Thousands Challenge Israeli Apartheid in Bil’in by Henry
2. IOF Evacuated Human Rights Workers Instead of Illegal Settlers
3. Carmel Agrexico on Trial in Britain

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1.Thousands Challenge Israeli Apartheid in Bil’in
January 20th, 2006
by Henry

Today, Friday the 20th of January, candidates from all Palestinian political parties and factions, including Hamas, Fatah, Al Mubadara,
Democracy Front, Independent and others came to the villagers of Bil’in.

There they were joined by over 300 Israeli activists, 100 Internationals and many Palestinians from the surrounding area. It was one of the most impressive gatherings of Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals in Bil’in, in what is now close to a year-long struggle against the theft of their lands by the Apartheid Wall.

At 12:30 PM, close to 2000 people marched through the lands of
Bil’in to the construction site of the Apartheid Wall. At the site were over fifty Israeli Military, Police, and Border Policemen. They became violent towards the crowd very quickly, using their batons, sound bombs, against unarmed demonstrators.

Beyond the wall, which is still the land of Bil’in village, the people of Bil’in have built an ‘outpost,’ adjacent to the illegal Jewish settlement outpost Matityahu Mizrah. That has been rendered inaccessible to the villagers by the annexation barrier. After an hour of non-violent struggling with the Israeli Military, 200 to 300 demonstrators were able to break through the lines of the Israeli Military and continue past the site of the wall towards the Palestinian ‘outpost.’

Demonstrators walking to the Palestinian ‘outpost.’ In the distance is the illegal settlement outpost of Matityahu Mizrah They were followed there by approximately 20-30 soldiers, but they were powerless to stop the crowd from gathering at the Bil’in outpost. Joining the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Bil’in were electoral candidates, Qais Abu Leila from Democracy Front, Abu Ala from Fatah as well as Uri Avnery and other members of Gush Shalom, and other Israelis and internationals.

Soon the people left the outpost to rejoin the rest of the demonstrators at the wall site, where soldiers had been firing tear gas canisters and some rubber-coated metal bullets as well. Once the groups had rejoined, the international and Israeli activists gathered with the people of Bil’in near a metal gate located near the wall and continued the demonstration against the Wall.

This was met by a coordinated attack by the Israeli Police and
Military forces, who were determined to detain Palestinian and/or Israeli activists by force. In the past months, this has been a favorite tactic of the IOF; they detain and beat Palestinian demonstrators and then use them as leverage to end the demonstration.

Despite their use of force and beatings, the IOF was unable to arrest any of the Palestinians, as the activists were able to de-arrest as many as five Palestinians that the IOF attempted to detain. One Israeli was arrested, and beaten in the process, but he was released after the conclusion of the demonstration.

According to Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator of the Popular Committee
Against the Wall in Bil’in, “We marched towards the Separation Wall construction site, and the army met our peaceful procession with extreme violence”, Abu Rahma also reported that “dozens were injured after soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets and gas bombs; Israeli soldiers also hit several residents with batons”.

By 4:00 PM, the demonstration was at an end and the people were returning to the village. It was a successful day of unity and solidarity for the Palestinians and their supporters in the struggle against the Wall, but it was even more important for the people of Bil’in, who have continued their struggle without fail for almost a year.

Abdullah Abu Rahma also stated that “the people, and the candidates of different factions, and the independent candidates, proved that in spite of our differences we remain a united nation, joint in its struggle against the occupation and the annexation policy.”

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2. IOF Evacuated Human Rights Workers Instead of Illegal Settlers
January 19th, 2006

While the evacuation of illegal settlers from the Hebron market has been postponed, the IOF has not halted its campaign of indimidation and lies against Human Rights Workers. At 2:20 on Thursday January 19th, David Parsons, a Human Rights Worker from Canada, was arrested by the Israeli Police in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron and taken to Kiryat Arba Police station, and is currently awaiting deportation at Ben-Gurion Airport.

David stated from the airport detention center that “during the last week, the incessant settler attacks on the Palestinian residents have increased dramatically. International observers insist that the Israeli Military and Police fulfill their responsibilities of protecting the Palestinians; however, they clearly resent this and have been doing everything to remove witnesses from the area.” David had been working with other Internationals and Palestinians in Tel Rumeida, trying to decrease settler violence against Palestinian civilians in the area. Among other things, they escort Palestinian children to and from school, thus preventing settlers from throwing stones and harassing them, as normally happens several times a week.

There has been a concerted effort by the Israeli Military and Police forces to remove International HRW’s from Tel Rumeida, Hebron. David was one of 4 internationals arrested on false premises in early November 2005 in Tel Rumeida. “I would like to express outrage and contempt for the behavior of the police,” were the words of Judge Rafi Strauss in his final statement, before releasing the four Human Rights Workers falsely accused of assaulting an IOF soldier in Tel Rumeida. The police officers tried their hardest to bend the law in order to get the Human Rights Workers deported, but did not succeed in their quest at that time.

Since being taken to Ben-Gurion Airport, a deportation hearing has
already been held for Mr. Parsons. The hearing has found grounds for deporting him, citing his expired visa, despite his having an appointment with the Ministry of the Interior to extend it. His lawyer Gabby Lasky is trying to prevent his deportation.

For more information see: httP://www.telrumeidaproject.org/


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3- Carmel Agrexico on Trial in Britain
January 20th, 2006

UK Criminal Trial Examines Export Company Carmel Agrexico’s
Complicity in Israeli Apartheid

Seven Palestine solidarity protesters from London and Brighton were arrested on 11th November 2004 after they took part in a non-violent blockade outside the UK base of an Israeli agricultural export company Agrexco (UK) Ltd, Swallowfield Way, Hayes, Middlesex.

Agrexco is Israel’s largest importer of agricultural produce into the European Union, and it is 50% Israeli state owned. It imports produce from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The protestors will face trial at Uxbridge Magistrates Court, between the 23rd-31st January 2006. They are each charged with two offences under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Section 68: (Aggravated Trespass) and Section 69: (Failure To Leave Land). The defence team will be advised by Palestinian QC Michel Abdel Massih of Tooks Chambers.

The protesters will argue as a defence that they were acting to prevent crimes against international law, that are also offences in the UK under the International Criminal Court Act. The defendants will argue that these offences are being supported by Agrexco (UK).
The Blockade

In a well planned operation, using wire fences and bicycle D-Locks the protesters succeeded in blockading the Agrexco (UK) distribution
centre, blocking all motor vehicle traffic in and out of the building for several hours before being arrested.

The Trial

One of the Israeli expert witnesses in the trial, Dr Uri Davis, will be calling for a boycott of apartheid Israel at a press conference and public meeting on Weds 25th January along with defendants of the trial. They will be joined by Sue Blackwell, who recently spearheaded the AUT campaign in the UK for an academic boycott of academic institutuions.

Other witnesses at the trial will include Professor George Joffe
(Centre for International Studies, Cambridge University) and Palestinians affected by the occupation who will be present in court to give first hand testimony about the effect of Agrexco’s business in the occupied Jordon Valley.

Background

Carmel-Agrexco is 50% owned by the state of Israel, and imports produce from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. At the same time Israeli forces have blocked Palestinian exports on grounds of ‘security’. Israeli state sponsored settlements have appropriated land and water resources by military force from Palestinian farmers in a deliberate policy of colonial settlement.

In a hearing in September the judge ruled that Agrexco (UK) must prove that their business is lawful.

Before taking part in this action many of the defendants had witnessed first hand the suffering of Palestinian communities under the brutal Israeli occupation, having served as volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), documenting human rights abuses by the IDF in the West Bank and Gaza, and taking part in non-violent civil resistance to the occupation organised by Palestinian civilian committees.

The international campaign to boycott Israeli goods is growing across Europe. In December 2005 a whole region of Norway voted to cut economic relations with Israel. The US administration has threatened ‘serious political consequences’ against Norway if the boycott should develop into a national policy.

For information on events related to the trial, visit
http://www.palestinecampaign.org/.

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For more information see: http://psc.za.org/

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