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Israel: The "Only Democracy in the Middle East"?

1. Ezra's Car

2. Medical Workers Targeted by Israeli Army in Raid in Nablus

3. Israeli Occupation Forces Violently Suppress Peacefull Protest Over
Right to Worship

4. Bil'in Protest: Journalists Targeted, Many Injured

5. The "Only Democracy in the Middle East"

6. Villagers fight West Bank Barrier

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1. Ezra's Car

May 11th, 2006

We are from the National Committee Against the Wall in the Beit Omar area of Hebron, Palestine. We work against the racial discrimination wall, Palestinians and Israelis together with the common aim of stopping the wall in the Hebron area, in villages and towns such as Beit Omar, Jabaa, Yatta and Twani. We have been working together for the past five years, and all this time we have been using the car that belonged to Mr. Ezra Nawi, an Israeli. Even though it was his own private car, we Palestinians used it more than him - he even paid for all the fuel.

He himself has been struggling literately day and night in an effort to strengthen the Palestinian villagers in the South Hebron area as the Israeli government and settlers try to expel them from their land. Rain and shine he was there, building water wells, planting olive trees, ploughing fields, organizing summer camps for the children, taking patients to the hospitals, and filing scores of complaints against settler violence.

With his car, we managed to reach areas that the Israeli army prohibits Palestinians cars from entering. We used it to travel all around the different areas in the Hebron region, and we were very grateful to him.

Unfortunately, the car was stolen during a protest against the wall on Monday April 17th. We searched everywhere but had no luck finding it. It was a 4X4 Mitsubishi Magnum pickup truck, which Ezra used regularly for his political activities. Unfortunately, Ezra did not have theft insurance.

We're sending this message to you, hoping to find some comfort. In this difficult situation, we can not afford to buy back Ezra's car - and of course he did not ask us - as the amount is too much: nearly $23,000 (US). If you could contribute any amount of money to help us buy back the car for him, we would be very grateful.

Sincerely yours,

Mussa Abu Marya

National Committee Against the Wall, Beit Omar

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2. Medical Workers Targeted by Israeli Army in Raid in Nablus

May 17th, 2006

Two separate Palestinian medical teams reported Wednesday May 16th, that the Israeli army injured, arrested, and harassed medical workers last night as they were trying to help injured people and take away dead bodies. In one incident a medical center was occupied by the
Israeli army and two medical workers were taken hostage. In the second, the army prevented medical workers from reaching injured people in a building they were shooting at and then beat them with their rifles.

At 10:50 pm Israeli Special Forces arrived in a private car at the Nablus Ambulance Medical Service Center, a private medical service in Nablus. The army later arrived in Jeeps, occupied the medical center and prevented the medical workers from answering the phones. The volunteers protested, saying that they need to answer the phones to be able to help people, but the soldiers refused and then confiscated the cell phones of all the health workers.

They then arrested two medical workers, Loay and Moayyad Qassas, and took them to a building that the army had occupied. On the way, they met with more soldiers who had taken nine students and escorted the whole group to the building. All eleven of them were taken to the 5th floor of the building where the army had set up snipers. Their lives were put in danger by the military as the building was under fire. They were released at the end of the operation. Loay went back to the medical center in the morning, but was not allowed in because the army was still occupying it.

In a different part of the city, at 3:15am one ambulance driver, Sameh Ahmed, 37, of Nablus Ambulance and a volunteer Merwan Shanti, 24, of Palestinian Medical Relief tried to reach injured people inside a building the army was surrounding. The Jeeps blocked the ambulance from nearing the building, so the two medical workers approached on foot.

The soldiers told them to go into the house that they were shooting at, but they refused to be human shields. At 3:30am, the soldier beat them using their rifles. They were not badly injured and decided to wait until after the army stopped shooting at 6am when they were allowed into the building.

Other Palestinian Medical Relief teams tried to enter the area that was invaded in the morning but were blocked by Jeeps from entering some streets. They were attempting to respond to people suffering from high blood pressure, asthma and stress due to the operation the night before and eventually succeeded in transporting took two women to the hospital.

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3. Israeli Occupation Forces Violently Suppress Peacefull Protest Over

Right to Worship

May 19th, 2006

For pictures see:

http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/05/19/israeli-occupation-force-violently-suppress-peacfull-protest-over-right-to-worship/

Israeli miltary forces violently prevented worshipers from Shufat refugee camp walking to Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray the Friday prayer.

Over thirty armed soldiers and mounted officers attacked a non-violent demonstration of Shufat refugee camp residents and Israeli and International supporters inside the camp close to the checkpoint at the camp entrance.

Residents of the camp have been complaining for many months about the violent and extreme behaviour of the Border Police in the camp. The situation deteriorates in particular on Fridays when many worshipers who try to go to the Al-Aqsa Mosque are beaten, arrested and subjected to verbal abuse by Israeli forces

When Palestinian men, women and children attempted to march peacefully alongside Israeli and international activists they were immediately surrounded by dozens of Israeli soldiers. After a short period of discussion, and unprovoked by any aggression from the residents, Israeli soldiers physically pushed the demonstrators back. Several people fell to the ground including women and children, and many other Palestinians were scared and intimidated.

When the remaining residents attempted to form a human chain with
Internationals and Israelis they were attacked by soldiers with punches and kicks. The violence increased as Israeli forces then conducted aggressive snatch operations against protesters, journalists, innocent bystanders, internationals and Israelis. As the protesters were held and dragged by several soldiers other soldiers freely punched, choked and kicked them.

Ibrahim, one of the Palestinian non-violent protesters that was arrested during todays demo, commented on the brutal attack by Israeli soldiers: "they crossed a red line today, and their goal was clearly to lower the moral of protestors and give us a strong warning for the future"... "but I can promise them we're not giving up. We will continue the non violent demonstrations no matter what they do to us".

Two Palestinians, one Israeli and an English journalist were violently beaten, before being forced into a police van and taken to a station in East Jerusalem where they were detained. In their statment the Israeli soldiers accused them of "throwing stones" and being part of "an illegal demonstration" All four were released without charge at 2pm.

The English journalist said afterwards: "the demonstration was completely peaceful until the soldiers attacked us without provocation. A couple of children who were not part of the demonstration threw stones back at them. The Israeli soldiers then rushed forward after a few moments to grab the kids. The kids had made good their escape by then, so instead the soldiers grabbed a Palestinian who had gone over from the demonstration to get the kids to stop throwing stones. As they handcuffed him they were brutally beating him on the head. I went over to film this and to tell them to stop. They did not like someone witnessing their brutality so they beat me up too and shoved me in the van with the other three.".

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4. Bil'in Protest: Journalists Targeted, Many Injured

May 19th, 2006

For pictures see:

http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/05/19/bil%e2%80%99in-protest-journalists-targeted-many-injured/

Today Friday May 19, 2006, the army escalated its violent tactics against non-violent protestors in Bil'in, leaving 26 people injured, including Hitham al-Khateeb, who was filming the demonstration, suffered a fracture in his skull from a tear gas canister to the head and is in the intensive care unit of Ramallah Governmental Hospital. Israeli soldiers often aim teargas canisters directly at demonstrators, a practice against the Israeli militaries regulations. The soldiers also regularly target people filming the demonstration.

Seven Palestinians were arrested; two Israelis and two internationals, all have been released. The people of Bil'in, with international and Israeli peace activists, marched to the Apartheid Wall to protest the confiscation of their land by the Wall. Non-violent demonstrators carried a banner and held signs illustrating the connection between the villages that were destroyed in 1948 Nakba, and the villages that are being torn apart by the building of the Wall today.

Using a large carpet thrown over the fence, thirty protestors crossed the barbed wire that separates Bil'in villagers from their land and entered onto the patrol road. They attempted to exercise their right to enter their own land and sit on the road, but the Army and the Border Police immediately responded with sound grenades, tear gas, rubber bullets and beating. The protestors were forced to spread out, but continued to stand their ground for one hour despite many arrests and serious injuries.

They continued to fire tear gas and sound bombs at the crowd as they evacuated the patrol road and as they were leaving the area. And at 6pm the army continued to fire at people in the area, wounding Amer Hisham, 21, and Abnafez Abdel Karim, 15, with a rubber-coated steel bullet in the legs and back, who were also taken to the hospital in Ramallah.

The names of the 7 Palestinians that were taken to the hospital are: Hitham Al-Khateeb, Akram Khateeb, Ahmad Mohammad Hassan, Ratib Abu Rahme, Samer Burnat, Mohammad Monsour, Adeeb Abu Rahme. Others that were injured are: Mazen Ahmed Yasin, Mujahed Abdul Rahman Said, Jowad Amran Khateeb, Fuad Mohammad Samara, Jabber Muhammad Abu Rahme, and Nimer Abu Rahme.

Four children were injured, all 14 years old: Karasam Barakat Khateeb, Ali Omar Khateeb, Mohammad Fathi Abu Rahme, Salem Abdul Kareem Mansour. The journalists that were injured are Eyad Hammad from AP, Musheer Karakrah from Ma'an News Network, and Abbas Almomani from AFP. The two internationals injured were Victor from Sweden and Allan from Scotland.

The Palestinians that were arrested were all released, and names are:
Muhammad Khateeb, Abdul Fattah Burnat, Mujahed A'ashal, Muhammad Khaleel Abu Rahme, Basem Ahmad Aisa, Ahmad Zohad A'ashal, Naseer Samara. 5 Israelis and 2 internationals.

At the time of sending this message Kobi Snitz from Anarchists against the Wall is still being held in Israeli detention.

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5. The "Only Democracy in the Middle East"

May 20th, 2006

by Raad

In the last week we had two decisions by the supreme court of the
Zionists state which remind us how racist this regime is. The first one is the citizenship law which will affect thousands of Palestinian families on both sides of the Green Line and the initial decision of the Bil'in court case.

Citizenship Law

No one (including me) would have believed that Israel would take such a crazy step as this untill the last few months. There no country in the western world that has taken such a step, even the countries that had terror attacks on their civilians on their territories. This means terror attacks shouldn't be used as an excuse for legislating an apartheid law There is no one in the world who can say that if there is someone from a racial or religious minority who took a violent action against the country's citizens that that community should be collectively punished. However, this was the reason that secret services in Israel brought to the judges to convince them but it was just a game that they used to play it (security).

It's known, though, that the real issue they are concerned with is the demographic issue, even though the president of supreme court said that since 1993 there was just 16000 applications submitted from Palestinians to unite families which means that there is no real danger but no one mention the reality behind this law which is Israel state is Jewish state. Which means there is no place for anyone who is not Jewish!

This is the only democracy in the middle east who builds their constitution on racist principles .

However it wasn't going to approve a law such as this, despite the disgraceful silence and the support from the international mainstream community which made Israel feel supported even in such a racist step as this. The silence that the international community continues in especially after 58 years of occupation to the historical Palestine, Israel is still refusing to take responsibility for the refugees and the massacres that happened at that time and still doesn't recognize the UN security council resolutions such as 194, 242 and 338. Later Israel declaraed the "unification" of Jerusalem as a capital for Israel, formally annexing it. East Jerusalm is an occupied territory according to international law. To consolidate their occupation, Israel continues building settlements in the West Bank with full Western support and finally, the Wall or what is so called the "security fence". All of these facts on the ground makes me not really surprised to see the supreme court in Israel approving one more racist law which is just one piece in a series of acts that aims to "evacuate" or "transfer" the local and the legal owners of the land from their lands by making their life and existence impossible.

"We are living in the 21st century and we can't do the same things that we did in the past to continue the transfer. There are more inelegant ways for that by making life impossible for people so they leave without terrifying them in the way the Hagana and other Jewish millita groups did during the so called 'war of independence' " - an Israeli Friend.

Bil'in court case

After I talked about the citizenship law and its consequences it's obvious that Israel will continue the big story of security .

Last Sunday May 14th, the supreme court in Jerusalem was discussing one more important issue - the wall case in Bil'in, a small village west of Ramallah in the West Bank. Fortunately there is no final decision yet, even after a discussion which continued untill 9:00 pm local time. From the discussion there was an important thing that was mentioned . This again amounted to more racism and discrimination under the name of security. The thing the judge said was that the reason for building the wall was to protect the Jewish citizen from terrorist attacks with no regards if the wall on the green line or not and with no regard to the legal rights of the owners of the land. However, the wall in Bil'in like in many places is built to protect settlers, who according to international law have no right to be there since they "settle" in a land that stolen by force from its legal owners.

Building the wall to protect Jewish citizens conceals a dangerous fact: Israel has started with its own unilateral plan. Its an introduction to building the wall around the main settlement blocks such as Ma'ale Adumim, Gush Azion, Alfe Menashe and Ariel. The plan calls for the settlement blocks to be annexed to Israel under the name of "security" and "protection", again with no regards to their legal status. This will set a precedent allowing for the building of the wall in any place in the west bank for the same reasons. It's obvious to all that this is one more way to force the people to leave their homes.

I don't know or how far they can go using these justifications, but I would like to point out that from the Palestinian side, I don't think the Palestinians want any more hassles in their life. We know the meaning of being a refugee - living in another country as a foreigner.

The people have decided that they aren't going to leave Palestine again. On the other hand, the international community should wake up and take their responsibilities to guarantee human rights and the application of international law, and put pressure on Israel for making more racist laws to transfer the Palestinians from their homes.

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6. Villagers fight West Bank Barrier

May 20th, 2006

By Martin Patience

BBC News website

For pictures see:

http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/05/20/villagers-fight-west-bank-barrier/

After prayers at Bilin's mosque, male worshippers spill from the modest building and begin the short walk to the West Bank barrier running close to the village.

Every Friday for the last 15 months, members of the community have marched along the village's winding tarmac road past the olive orchards and up a steep hill to where the barrier is protected by helmeted Israeli soldiers in full riot gear.

For the 1,700 villagers, the protest has become an article of faith.
According to Abdullah Abu Rahma, 35, the organiser of the weekly protest, the barrier annexes about 60% of the village's land, cutting farmers off from their fields, making it almost impossible to make a living.

''The wall is a catastrophe for the village,'' says the 35-year-old Arabic teacher. ''We must destroy the wall and we will protest until it falls.''

Tear Gas

Swelled by a number of Israeli and foreign peace activists, the weekly protest is the longest running demonstration against the barrier in the West Bank. Each week, the protesters are met by the Israeli troops and a face-off ensues.

Chanting slogans, the protestors clank stones on a waist-high yellow metal gate a few feet away from soldiers protected by three armoured military jeeps. The demonstrators say they want to access the village's land on the other side of the barrier.

While billed as a peaceful demonstration, the protest normally ends in violence - with both sides accusing each other of provocation.

On the Friday I attended the march, it was not clear which side started the violence. But within minutes, the protestors were running for cover from the rubber bullets and stinging tear gas.

Some teenagers, with slings, crouched behind rocks, before briefly standing up and hurling stones at the Israeli soldiers on the other side of the barrier.

The Israeli army only responds to protect the barrier or when stones are thrown at soldiers, says army spokesman Captain Jacob Dallal. "The protestors are only interested in provoking the Israeli army," he adds.

Farm Land

Two settlers from a nearby settlement standing on the Israeli side of the barrier, provoked a furious response from some of the protestors.

''It's our land, it's our land,'' one man cried, as he ran up the hill to get closer to the settlers.

But for many Palestinians, the 685 km barrier, which annexes 8% of the West Bank and puts East Jerusalem on the Israeli side, amounts to a land grab of territory earmarked for a future Palestinian state.

The International Court of Justice issued an advisory ruling in 2004 that the barrier breached international law where it is built on occupied territory and should be dismantled.

''All over the world people think that the Palestinians are terrorists,'' says Rateb Abu Rahma, 40, a university lecturer.
''All we want is our rights.''

Walks of Life

In the last year, Bilin's villagers have seen some successes. Represented by Tel Aviv lawyer, Michael Sfard, the residents have challenged the route of the barrier round their village. Their case will be heard by the Israeli High Court later in May.

They have also secured a temporary ban on a nearby settlement continuing its construction work on 750 new housing units. The villagers say the construction is taking place on their land.

By aligning the villagers with Israeli and foreign peace activists, many of the protestors believe that the success of the demonstration has been in its broad appeal.

"People turning up from all walks of life is the heart of this demonstration," says Israeli Yuval Halperin, 26, a book editor from Tel Aviv.

For some of the protestors, the Bilin demonstration represents a new way of tackling the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Mansour Mansour, 29, believes that the protests at Bilin can be repeated successfully across the West Bank.

''Palestinians believe that ending the occupation is their right,'' he says. ''But it is only when we start asserting our right that the occupation will end.''

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