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Gaza Reoccupied, Settler violence in Hebron

Gaza Reoccupied, Settler violence in Hebron persists, Non-violent Efforts Continue

1 - Gaza Action Alert

2 - Israeli Soldiers Kidnap Non-violent Palestinian Activists

3 - Israeli Soldier in Hebron: "I Hate Arabs!"

4 - Gaza Tonight

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1 Gaza Action Alert

June 28

Last night the Israeli Occupation Forces began the grotesquely named ‘Operation Summer Rain’ on the Gaza Strip. Rafah, scene of the May 2004 Rafah massacre by Israel, was re-occupied by Israeli tanks.

Gaza City was bombed by Apache helicopters and F16 and V58 fighter planes. The main electricity grid for Gaza City was bombed as was the water reticulation plant. Almost 750,000 of Gaza’s residents have no water or electricity today. Three main bridges which connect different parts of the Strip have been destroyed, slicing the Strip into two parts, and separating its people from each other, their places of work, schools, colleges and universities.

In addition, the Israeli military used powerful sonic bombs throughout the night and during the day. These bombs damage eardrums, create extreme feelings of fear and anxiety and prevent the whole Gaza Strip population from sleeping at night. They also induce feelings of terror in children and babies, who are already exhibiting anxious and clinging behavior.

These air-strikes and sonic bombs which damage essential infrastructure and terrify the civilian population are a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian people and are war crimes which are forbidden under international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prescribes the manner in which armies must treat civilians during times of conflict.

We call on the international community to exert pressure on the Israeli Occupation Forces to conduct itself within the boundaries of international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of all Palestinian civilians.

We also demand the immediate halt of the Israeli Occupation Forces’ attacks on the Gaza Strip and an end to the closure and isolation of the Strip, both of which are exacerbating an already desperate humanitarian situation inside the Strip.

Doing nothing will only allow Israel to get away with continued and escalated crimes against the Palestinian people. We trust that you will not be silent in the face of such oppression.

University Teachers’ Association

Gaza Strip

*** RECOMMENDED ACTIONS ***

- MEDIA: Please contact your local media and request that they do not act as a mouthpiece for Israel by asserting that the aim of the Gaza invasion is to rescue the captured (not "kidnapped") soldier. At the very least, they can say that this is what Israel claims, or they can use the word "allegedly." It should also be made clear that the primary victim of this assault is the civilian population, and that this constitutes collective punishment of a captive population, which is a direct (and repeated) violation of the Geneva Convention.

- LOBBYING: Please contact your elected representatives and ask them whether they support Israel's barbaric crimes against innocent Palestinian civilians. If they are in support of such atrocities, well, then they're not different than the Nazis. If they oppose these atrocities, ask them what they're doing about it. Make your voice heard.

- PROTEST: Protests are needed at Israeli embassies and consulates throughout the world. Even a one-person protest with a simple sign such as "Stop Israeli Terrorism" is good at bringing attention to the situation and letting Israel know that there is widespread opposition to its continued and escalating crimes against the Palestinian people. Believe it or not, Israel does care about its image, and if the government receives reports of a number of protests, they will feel pressured to limit the operation. Please take action on this TODAY - for the sake of the innocent civilians in Gaza.

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2 - Israeli Soldiers Kidnap Non-violent Palestinian Activists

Palestinians active in non-violent struggle against the illegal Israeli annexation barrier were taken from their homes in the West Bank last night. This happens at a time when media attention is focusing on the taking of one Israeli soldier by Palestinians, and the mass-taking of 64 elected Palestinian representatives last night.

Israel took two Palestinians from Bil'in and 1 from Beit Ummar villages active in the struggle against the annexation barrier. The Israeli military took 28 year-old Yousef Abu-Marya from Beit Ummar, Hebron region.

He has been active in non-violent resistance in that region in the past two years and is a member of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar. The Committee has recently been organising non-violent actions in the area that try to gain access for Palestinian farmers to their farm land after it has been is closed off by settler violence, or closure by the Israeli military.

In Bil'in, father of three, 29-year old Ahmad Katib (the brother of
Mohammed Katib, one of the organisers of the weekly non-violent demonstrations against the apartheid barrier in the village) was taken by the army. Abdullah Abu-Rahme, from the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Bil'in said that another villager, Ayad Burnat, was being held hostage in order to pressure the family into "giving up" his brother Mujahid who they want to get hold of for reasons that were unclear.

Musa Abu-Marya, a member of the Popular Committee in Beit Ummar does not believe that they arrested Yousef for security reasons, but to continue a policy of threatening and arresting Palestinian peace activists.

"They don't like what we are doing in the Hebron region," he said.
Arresting activists or threatening them with arrest or violence is not a new Israeli policy. It has often been used as a scare tactic against Palestinians active in non-violent struggle against the various forms of Israeli occupation in their daily lives.

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3 - Israeli Soldier in Hebron: "I Hate Arabs!"

By Jonas

June 25

Two Human Rights Workers (HRWs) received a phone call around 8:45pm, asking them to proceed to the Abu Haikal house because there were settlers from the Tel Rumeida Settlement causing problems on the family's land. The HRWs went to the land directly, arriving 5 minutes or so after the phone call.

The HRWs were greeted by the family, who then led the HRWs to the backyard. The Abu Haikal family explained that the settlers had ascended the stairs from the Tel Rumeida settlement, which is located at the base of the Abu Haikal house. The settlers, at this point, had already left in the getaway car, which was waiting at the foot of the stairs. Two soldiers were present at the scene, also at the foot of the stairs.

The family explained to the HRWs what had happened. The settlers stole the water pump from the backyard. In doing so, they cut the electrical cord and the water pipe, both of which were connected to the pump. One of the HRWs called the police, who said they would be en route to the Abu Haikal house shortly, while the other HRW photographed the scene.

While the family was relaying the information, including the make, model and license plate of the settler car (White Ford Van #39-538-51), the two Israeli soldiers came up the stairs onto the Abu Haikal property.

They started screaming at the family, saying that they and the HRWs could not be there because they were posing a threat to the settlement. The HRWs assured the soldier that they were merely assessing the situation and would wait until the police arrived. The soldier again raised his voice, shouting for everyone to retreat back into the house. One HRW recorded the soldier's words.

The soldier was screaming in Hebrew at one of the Abu Haikal family members. He was threatening to shoot the man if he did not retreat, later stating to a settler woman, "I hate Arabs!" This went on for a couple minutes. The police were called again and they assured the HRWs that they would be there shortly and to wait in the front of the house for the vehicle.

The HRWs and the family members went to the front of the house, where the police never came. Eventually, the police would arrive at the foot of the stairs in the backyard, where the soldiers and only one other Abu Haikal family member were waiting. He told the HRWs that the police came and the soldier that was present told the police that he didn't see anything, i.e. the settlers or their getaway car. The police also found the White Ford Van and the driver who came to the scene at the request of the police. The settler denied any involvement and no water pump was found in the car. The police and the settler left before speaking with the HRWs who initially called them or any other family members involved.

TIPH (Temporary International Presence in Hebron) was called, who assured the HRWs and the Abu Haikal family that they would come tomorrow morning to record their story. The audio that was recorded of the soldier's threats and the photographs of the scene's stolen water pump and damaged pipes and wires were transferred to the Abu Haikal family's computer and audio devices. They will use the evidence with their police report, to be filed at the Kiryat Arba police station at 9AM the following morning. The family said they would call the HRWs if any further problems arise.

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4 - Gaza Tonight

Mona El-Farra lives in Gaza City and keeps and maintains a her blog

‘From Gaza, With Love’ at >http://fromgaza.blogspot.com/

It is 7 a.m, June 28, 2006. This is an update in the morning from last night. It was very dangerous for me to reach the computer. The power was cut off. I stayed on the floor with my son and daughter. We didn’t sleep at all like all the residents in Gaza Strip. While trying to get some hours of sleep, we did not manage. The jet fighters sonic bombs started showering us. It is very loud and horrifying noise, they are continuing their attacks.

I contacted the hospital several times: no casualties yet. The operation is going on in different parts of the Gaza Strip, but it is focused in the south: Rafah. I have no idea about the casualties.

We are really surrounded with death and expect death all the time. The disengagement of the Israeli army last September left Gaza people facing their destiny alone, with the full control of the Israeli occupation army outside the Gaza borders. The disengagement and building of the wall in the West Bank, did not bring peace to Israelis.

***

It is 1:30 a.m., June 28th. The operation against Gaza, is continuing.

The Gaza Bridge has been destroyed. The jet fighters are still in the sky hitting many targets. The Gaza power plant was hit by at least 7 missiles. I can see a big fire from my window and hear the sirens of emergency vans. The gun boats started shelling too. I live by the beach.

***

It is 10:30 p.m., June 27th. I am writing while the jet fighters are in the sky, with their horrible sound, bringing death and horror. I am still like everyone: waiting. I will not go to bed tonight, most of us in Gaza will not. I prepared my emergency bag, left it next to the front door. The hospitals declared high emergency status, the medical facilities resources are exhausted, and limited due to the sanctions.

We experienced all sorts of Israeli aggression in the last few months and throughout the Intifada. Since Ehud Olmert took over the government 4 months ago, 85 Palestinians were killed, economical and political sanctions were imposed and people here in Gaza have nothing to lose. Maybe they have only their chains to lose; they are frustrated and do not anticipate or look forward for any hopeful horizon.

I hope Israel will not go ahead with their operation into Gaza, the outcome could be horrible, the resistance movement is going ahead with their preparation too, but the balance of power is obvious to which side, any way Israel with Palestinian resistance or no resistance is attacking us all the time, but this time will be different, and in the process many civilian lives will be lost. I am listening to the local radio.

It seems that the operation started in Khanyunis, the artillery started shelling, under the cover of Apache helicopters and jet fighters. I am able to write now, but I do not know what will happen next- the power might cut off soon.

A few hours ago, Mohammed and Sondos (my dear kids, I pray for the safety of all the children of the world, including Israeli children) had a narrow escape during their way home; a car exploded 150 meters from my home, close to the president's home. One person died and 4 injured, I cannot help feeling worried. I am, after all, a mother. I shall stay strong.

Tomorrow I am going to the Red Crescent society office. We are supposed to get some medications to be used at Alawda hospital for the emergency department that was stopped at the closed borders. I am hoping to get it through with the help of WHO. I am not sure if we shall receive them in time, but I shall keep trying. Alawda Hospital is inside Jabalia refugee camp. Two weeks ago, it received the Galia family children, who lost their parents during the beach incident.

Alawda hospital medicine supplies are enough for one week of routine use. If the operation continues and the casualty numbers increase, a health disaster will follow. I am just warning, since I am a doctor. The airplane’s sound in the sky is getting louder. I shall keep writing, it is big relief for me.

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