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[ISM Updates] Beit Sira bites back

1. Beit Sira bites back Friday March 24th 2006
2. Bil'in villagers smash settlement Friday 24th March 2006
3. Destruction and Defiance in the Shadow of Bethlehem 23rd March, 2006 by Tom
4. IDF officers targeted again for arrest 22nd March 2006
5. How Can I Stop You? 21st March 2006 by Mary
6. The story of Saeed Abu Salah March 25th, 2006 by Laila El-Haddad
7. The pen may prove mightier than the word March 24, 2006 by MAKEBA
SCOTT HUNTER, HERALD NEWS
8. Update from CPT Hostages; Response to Torture Rumours 24 March 2006
Excerpt from an article published on the CPT-webbsite by Rev. Carol
Rose and Dr. Doug Pritchard, CPT Co-Directors

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1. Beit Sira bites back 24th March 2006

For pictures see:

http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/03/25/beit-sira-demonstration-24th-march-2006/

Just like many other Palestinian towns and villages, Beit Sira has it's share of grotesque Israeli annexation barriers and surrounding of isolating settlements. In this case Makabim settlement. An ongoing expansion of land theft has resulted in thousands of olive trees being uprooted and huge areas of agricultural land being cut off from the village.

Today Palestinians of Beit Sira village, accompanied by Israeli and international peace activist, held yet another weekly demonstration to protest against all of this. The nonviolent demonstration took off from the village around midday and headed of for the fields where the annexation expansion is taking place. Demonstrators were met by military jeeps and about 50 to 60 soldiers, border police and shield equipped special forces. A prayer was then held in the fields. As prayers finished a group of about 10 Israelis and internationals took off to chain themselves to the olive trees and barbwired fences close to Makabim settlement. This was done as a symbolic protest against trees being uprooted and the absolutely vital land being stolen from Beit Sira village. In spite of the rather large media presence soldiers almost immediately started to shoot teargas directly at the chained, seated and obviously harmless protesters. As the situation turned completely chaotic the chained protesters had to be aided and unchained. The soldier's violence escalated and they bombarded the demonstration with soundbombs and teargas, including a special type that spreads.

Five demonstrators got badly injured and taken away by ambulance, two by teargas, two by rubber coated steel bullets and the last one, eighteen year old Mahmood Monseer Khattab, was hit by a sound bomb grenade in his neck. A UPMRC-ambulance was also hit through the window by a teargas cannister, injuring the medical team inside.

A Young Palestinian bit a soldier that was beating him to the ground. In retaliation Israeli soldiers broke two of this protesters teeth with a club.

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2. Bil'in villagers smashes settlement 24th March 2006

For pictures see:

http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/03/24/bilin-demonstration-friday-24th-march-2006/

The focus of the weekly Bil'in demonstration today was the 21st March
High Court of Justice order that the state explain why a criminal investigation should not be opened against those responsible for issuing illegal building permits for houses on Bil'in's land and why those houses should not be destroyed. The order refers to the Modi'in Elite expansion of Metityahu Mizrah settlement. Villagers carried models of red roofed settlement houses, accompanied by Israelis, internationals and media reproters to the to the annexation barrier where Israeli soldiers were lined up. The soldiers prevented the people of Bil'in to pass further across their land. At the annexation barrier the people of the village made a judgement that the settlement houses should be destroyed. Then a member of the Popular Committee Against the Wall, dressed as a judge, smashed the first house with a large replica judge's hammer. Men of the village soon joined in, using replica judges hammers to smash the other houses. Abdullah from the Popular Committee said he hoped the court would follow their example, see justice is done and order the settlement houses be destroyed.

Despite the non violent nature of the demonstration the soldiers used violence, sound bombs and teargas. Stones were not thrown on the site of the demonstration. However, a soldier took careful aim and fired a teargas cannister directly at a young man about 30 metres from him. The young man collapsed to the ground. I was told God helped him to put his hand over his heart and the cannister struck his hand. His hand was badly hurt but he was lucky not to have have a life threatening injury.

A member of the Popular Committee fell unconsciuos when being dragged away by the soldiers. He lay on the ground flickering in and out of consciousness, soldiers shoving away those who came to help. Eventually there was enough people to hold off the soldiers and carry him away to get medical assistance. When a group of people sat down on their land and refused to move, the soldiers used physical brutality to tear individuals from the hands and arms of demonstrators and arrest them.

Seven people were arrested, 3 Palestinians and 4 Israelis. Arrested were Mohammed Abid Karim Khatib, of the Popular Committee,Tamer Omah Khatib, Ayeed Abdul Rakhman Sayeed, Yohav, Jonathon, Geil and Roy. They were still being held at 5.45pm even though they have committed no crime.

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3. Destruction and Defiance in the Shadow of Bethlehem March 22th 2006

by Tom

For pictures see:

http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/03/23/destruction-and-defiance-in-the-shadow-of-bethlehem/

Unable to enter the al-Walaja village, I waited for close to an hour at the Har Gill'o turnoff until I could hear the sounds of 2 giant earth-movers, courtesy of Volvo and the Israeli government. The police refused to respond to questions, but a young soldier told me that a "military activity" was just finishing, but he had no idea what that activity was. He threatened to arrest me if I try to make my way past the blockade, so I waited, along with villagers and international press, until he allowed us to walk through. He and the others in green and blue, on horseback and jeeps, laughed as they ate their lunch on the hoods of their vehicles, oblivious to the villagers watching them.

Ironically, the road sign to the illegal settlement of Har Gill'o boasts of accomodation and a lookout because of the stunning view: a view that the family of Hadr Mahmoud Mohammed Rabah no longer enjoy. I walked the narrow road into the village, following the Volvo tracks and the ground up pavement, not in need of any directions. I spoke with two teenagers just released from handcuffs by the police. They were obviously devastated, but at least not injured like their friend, who took a blow to the head from a soldiers club.

The Rabah family, including 8 children, are now homeless, after the
Volvo earth-movers tore through the back of their dwelling while family members scrambled desperately to remove furniture and other items. Another home nearby was also levelled, two more examples of an ugly Israeli tradition that occurs on average 2-3 times each month. A teacher in Bethlehem, Hadr Rabah tells me that the village is very united against the Occupation, so there is no shortage of people offering to take in family members temporarily at least. When I asked why the earth-movers left the front of the home intact, his reply was "they were afraid of the electric".

It's not hard to see why Israel desires this land that overlooks Jerusalem and a couple of illegal settlements that used to be parts of Beit Jala and Walaja. As one neighbour -himself in receipt of a destruction order- said..."This land is beautiful, so Israel needs it".

Another neighbour explained that the Israeli government ..."needs to have the ground without the people". In the distance towards Jerusalem, I could see the zoo, complete with giraffes wandering in their pen. After a couple weeks in Hebron, listening to Tel Rumeida settlers refer to Palestinians as pigs, dogs, and animals, I couldn't help but see the parallel: The Israeli government sees the West Bank as their zoo for Palestinians, complete with walls, fences and gates...except they would rather you did not visit. I realize the comparison is primitive and unflattering, but I think it reflects the unwillingness of Israel to see the Palestinian people as teachers, doctors, shop-owners, students, mothers and sons.

I stood with the Rabah family as they explained how Israeli officials had been out repeatedly to photograph and survey the area around their home and many others in al-Walaja. I felt awful, but was encouraged to take pictures to record and report the flattened home and the young people sifting through the rubble for household goods. Another local teacher added her thoughts about the effects on young children when they witness such events at a young age. She told me that it is very difficult for the children of Walaja to sit in their classes and focus on education while there is such upheaval in the community at the hands of the occupying authorities.

"Imagine what a two-year old will grow up like". Why is not the entire village crowded around the ruins, embracing the family? "It happens so often. If they stand here now, will that change things? People still have to go to school and to work. If I stand here until 12:00 tomorrow, will it be any different?" When homes in al-Walaja are destroyed, it often means olive and orange trees fall as well, but what is left standing is defiance.

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4. IDF officers targeted again for arrest March 22nd 2006

Published in The Jerusalem Post by JPOST.COM STAFF

In what was the third time in the past eight months that a senior IDF officer was subjected to accusations of war crimes and the possibility of arrest in a foreign country, a recent petition by Arab and Jewish left-wing organizations to the Canadian government demanded them to arrest former IDF chief of general staff Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Ya'alon. Ya'alon who was expected to arrive in Canada on Wednesday, decided not to cancel his visit after consulting Israel's Ambassador in Ottawa.

The organizations claimed the Ya'alon was responsible for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. Army Radio reported that, unlike in Europe, Canada requires the justice minister's approval in order to arrest someone on those charges.

In February, Brig.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, commander of the Gaza Division, decided to cancel plans to study at the prestigious Royal College of Defense Studies in England over the summer out of fear he would be arrested and tried for war crimes.

IDF Judge Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Avi Mandelblit warned Kochavi that while a warrant had yet to be issued against him, he could be arrested for his actions during the Intifada and Israel's hands would be tied in helping him.

Mandelblit based his recommendation on the near-arrest, half-a-year prior to the Kochavi case, of former OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, who landed in London but refrained from disembarking after he was warned that detectives were waiting to take him into custody on suspicion of war crimes.

The warrant, which had been issued per the request of a pro-Palestinian Muslim group, accused Almog of illegally ordering the demolition of 59 Palestinian homes in Rafah in 2002. "We shouldn't take any chances," a senior officer was quoted as saying. "If an IDF officer is arrested in one of these countries he could be charged and put on trial and our hands will be tied.

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