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ISM Digest: Non-violent Resistance Works

ISM Digest: Non-violent Resistance Works

International Solidarity Movement Digest
7-24-2006 to 7-26-2006

1) Palestinians Open Checkpoint by Laying down on Settler Road
2) Qalqilya: Palestinian Grandfather Killed by Israeli Checkpoint
3) Maria Nikiforou Was Illegaly Deported
4) Court Victory for Bil'in
5) Rice Not Welcome in Ramallah!
6) Settlers Burn Farmer's Roof; ISM Rebuilds Despite Intimidation
7) Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals Rebuild Homes Demolished by the Occupation Forces
8) Tel Rumeida Birthday Circus
9) Israeli Incursions to Ramallah Continue


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1) Palestinians Open Checkpoint by Laying down on Settler Road

by Ali Omar and Raad

Today, July 26th, at 5pm, the IOF closed Yesthar checkpoint (west of Nablus) in all directions for all Palestinian and settlers passing on the road. They re-opened it at 7pm for just the settlers, while there were dozens of Palestinians waiting to go back to their homes.

Previously the road was only for settler use, but was opened for Palestinians in 2004 after it was closed since the beginning of the Intifada.

Opening the checkpoint just for the settlers made the Palestinians very angry and they responded by having a completely non-violent direct action by lying down on the road and closing it with their bodies. The army responded with excessive violence by beating the people and throwing sound grenades at the crowd. This violence wasn't helpful to evacuate the crowd who continued chanting songs of the Intifada and refusing to move.

After the failure of the IOF troops to open the way for the settlers who were stuck waiting, the settlers began threatening the Palestinians with their machine guns, waving them at their faces. The soldiers did nothing to stop the settler's threats.

The army failed to evacuate the Palestinians who occupied the checkpoint from 7pm until 9pm and so the army was forced to open the checkpoint for all.

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2) Qalqilya: Palestinian Grandfather Killed by Israeli Checkpoint

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Today, July 26th at 8:30pm at Azzun checkpoint near Qalqilya, Palestinian Grandfather Mahmood Ahmed Sumha, 68 years old from the village of Jayyous died from complications resulting from heart disease. He was on his way to hospital when the ambulance he was in was stopped by the Israeli army at one of their checkpoints. Contrary to international law, soldiers at the checkpoint refused to let the ambulance pass.

According to official Israeli army policy, "the checkpoint commander will allow a person to cross the checkpoint (including entry into Israel) to obtain medical treatment, even if the individual does not have the requisite approval, if an urgent medical emergency is involved." See B'Tselem website, "Infringement of the Right to Medical Treatment" (1) Mahmood's ID number was 929535110.

Mahmood was placed on a stretcher and those with him attempted to cross the checkpoint on foot. Once again, they were blocked from doing so by soldiers.

Mahmood died shortly afterwards.

Notes (1) www.btselem.org/english/Medical_Treatment

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3) Maria Nikiforou Was Illegaly Deported

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On 24th July 2006, Maria Nikiforou was forcibly sent back to Greece from Tel Aviv airport, despite the decision of the appeal court.

The judge had intialy issued a stay on her deportation order. After reviewing secret evidence provided by the Israeli "General Security Services" (Shabak/Shin Beit), he then reversed his previous decision without explanation. Upon hearing of the reversal, Maria's lawyer Leah Tsemel immediately filed an appeal. The appeal judge then granted an indefinate stay of deportation. When Tsemel came to see her client on July 26th, she was stunned to find that she had been deported anyway, against the orders of the appeal court.

The right to a fair trial is guaranteed by international law. Israel's use of secret evidence in cases involving Palestinian and international activists contravenes international legal standards. In the name of 'security', Israel regularly imprisons and deports Palestinian and international activists without a fair hearing, on the basis of 'secret evidence' provided by the Shabak, which the defense does not get a chance to review.

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4) Court Victory for Bil'in

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A victory for the Palestinian villagers of Bil'in came down from the Israeli High Court of Justice yesterday. In HCJ 143/06 the Court ruled that while the Court is considering the legality of the Matityahu East settlement, being constructed on Bil'in land, the ban on new construction and new residents moving in must remain in effect. This decision, by fully enforcing the ban, solidifies the remarkable status of Bil'in activists, who have now successfully prevented planned settlement construction for 7 months – a singular feat in the Israeli-Occupied West Bank.

Furthermore, the Court ruled that demolition of settlement constructions can proceed in certain enclaves of Matityahu East in an attempt to return the land to its pre-settlement, vegetated state. This is significant because not only have Bil'in activists succeeded in halting the settlement construction, but, even more, they have forced the state of Israel to demolish structures in recognition of the fact that the land on which the settlement is built was illegally annexed.

This victory is the result of years of dedicated non-violent activism on the part of the villagers of Bil'in and their international and Israeli allies. Resistance to the Israeli confiscation of Bil'in land began when in 1991 the State of Israel appropriated around 1100 dunums (275 acres) of Bil'in farmers' land. At the time, the confiscation was justified by reference to an old Ottoman-era law allowing for confiscation of unused land. Much later, it was revealed that in order to demonstrate that the coveted land was "unused," the State made use of photos of seasonal crop farm land taken when the crops were not yet in season. More than a decade after the confiscation, settlements began to be built, following a typical pattern of settlement expansion, whereby, first, Palestinian land is declared State property and then eventually given out to Israelis. As a consequence, weekly non-violent demonstrations began in Bil'in. These demonstrations, in existence weekly since January ! 2005, garnered international attention and support, making a protracted legal campaign challenging the settlement's legality a possibility. Tuesday's decision, while by no means the end of the struggle for justice in Bil'in or countless places elsewhere in the West Bank, is a testament to the power of this creative direct action.

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5) Rice Not Welcome in Ramallah!

by Signifier

For photos see the ISM website: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/07/26/rice-in-ramallah/

July 26th: Taking part in a national day of protest against the West Bank arrival of US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, residents of Ramallah, the site of Ms. Rice's visit, shut down shop and took to the streets yesterday. The usually bustling downtown lay dormant, as store owners heeded the call for a one day strike across the Israeli-Occupied Palestinian Territories, the second in as many weeks.

At noon, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the city center to voice their opposition to American political and military support for Israel's bombing of Gaza and Lebanon and the continued Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. On July 13th, the United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate halt to Israel's bombing of Gaza and the killing of civilians. On Saturday, the New York Times reported that, per Israeli request, the US is rushing a shipment of precision-guided bombs to Israel as it expands its aerial assault on the population of Lebanon. Groups representing the spectrum of Palestinian political parties and resistance took part in the Ramallah protest. Joining them was a group of forty internationals in Palestine, including ISM activists and students from nearby Ber Zeit University, who came to show their disgust with the West's sanction of Israel's actions.

Conflict erupted as demonstrators marched to the Muqkatah Compound, where Ms. Rice was in meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. En route, a cordon of a hundred-plus armed Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces blocked the demonstrators. The PA security forces were charged with the unenviable task of protecting Ms. Rice in Ramallah, a woman who garners near universal Palestinian animosity and whom the PA men themselves likely despise, but whose security, if endangered, would spell grave consequences for all of Palestine. As the demonstrators attempted to push their way closer to the Muqkatah, the security forces reacted violently, beating demonstrators with truncheons and forcing a fearful stampede in retreat.

Shortly thereafter, demonstrators massed up again at the police line. A group of Palestinian women made it past the PA cordon and got to the Muqkatah doors. One woman carried a framed photo of four of her loved ones killed by Israel which she wanted to show to Ms. Rice. "What are you doing in that uniform?" another woman asked a PA security force man. "You should take it off and go join us over there. How can you hit your brothers like that? You should be ashamed!" When she sat down in front of the Muqkatah gates, security officials asked her to move. "What do you think," she demanded "that Ms. Rice has more right to be here than me, a Palestinian?"

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6) Settlers Burn Farmer's Roof; ISM Rebuilds Despite Intimidation

by Harry Pockets

For photos see the ISM website: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/07/24/suseya/

On 22nd July, ISM activists and Israeli activists joined locals from Suseya to rebuild the roof of a farmer's home that had been burned by neighbouring Israeli colonists. Suseya, an agricultural village located in the South Hebron hills, repeatedly has come under attack by Israeli colonists in the nearby settlement of the same name.

Following the arson, the family living there temporarily moved out of fear of continued harassment and physical attacks by the colonists. ISM and international human rights workers gathered with the villagers to replace the burnt roof with plastic sheets in order to return the home to a liveable condition. As the group began to lay the tarp over the home, fully-masked settlers approached the group demanding that the internationals leave settler "Holy Land" (picture above). The colonists engaged in physical and verbal intimidation, characteristic of settler interactions with Palestinians and internationals in the West Bank. In the ensuing encounter the colonists, who would not identify themselves, assaulted a female ISM member who was videotaping the incident.

Shortly thereafter the IOF arrived, called by the settlers who frequently enlist the help of the army because of the tacit and active support they receive from them. Following a dialogue led by Israeli activists, the situation calmed. The group of villagers and internationals were able to successfully replace the roof with the tarp, clear away charred remains of the house interior, and assist in watering the farmers' plants.

At the request of the farmers in the area, ISM activists are now living with the families who fear further attacks, including arson and assault.

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7) Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals Rebuild Homes Demolished by the Occupation Forces

by Ernesto

For photos see the ISM website: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/07/27/icahd-report/

July 27th: The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) has been instrumental in challenging one of the most nefarious features of the Israeli occupation of Palestine - the demolition of Palestinian homes. ISM'ers have begun to pitch in and lend a helping hand with ICAHD's summer rebuilding camps when not supporting non-violent direct action against the occupation in other regions of the West Bank. ICAHD is currently constructing a home in the Anata community, which nebulously falls under East Jerusalem and West Bank designations. This is the fourth summer in a row that ICAHD has organized a house construction summer work camp for internationals volunteers.

As bombs and rockets are launched on Gaza and Lebanon, internationals and Palestinians are working under the radar to reconstruct a Palestinian home that was demolished by the Israeli Army. What Israel destroys, Palestinians rebuild with the help of allies. Many Palestinian homes are subjected to military demolition every year. Four main reasons guide this destructive activity: Palestinian homes are demolished to assassinate alleged terrorists, as collective punishment for family members of alleged terrorists, to clear a path for the Apartheid Wall, or because the houses are deemed illegal under Israel's Apartheid laws.

The reality is that many homes have been demolished for these or apparently no reasons by the Israeli military and dozens others have been destroyed by settlers in an effort to terrorize Palestinians into leaving their homes, community, and land.

In order to struggle against this injustice ICAHD organizes direct action to block the demolition of homes and it also take on the task of rebuilding, not just homes but also relationships between Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals through shared work. This is a form of active non-violent direct action against the occupation; the very act of building homes for Palestinians is illegal in this racist power structure.

In the Anata community, entire sections have been demolished as part of the ethnic cleansing of "Greater Jerusalem". The ICAHD project currently underway is a challenge to this institutional violence. In just a few days a Palestinian family will receive keys to their newly rebuilt home. The community council has selected this family among dozens to receive this gift of solidarity and as the work camps continue, more families will be able to reclaim their homes.

Salim is a member of ICAHD and an example of Palestinian summoud, steadfastness; his family's home has been demolished four times by the Israeli military and each time ICAHD has rebuilt. Now, in its fifth reconstruction, Salim has named the home Beit Arabeia and dedicated it as a center in memoriam to Rachel Corrie and Noha Sweeden. This is the base camp for internationals who work arduous hours building. This is also where folks convene to sharpen their analysis of the occupation and meet other activists involved in local struggles such as Ta'ayush, Anarchists Against the Wall, Bustan, Active Stills, and the Bio-Falha Budrus Project.

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8) Tel Rumeida Birthday Circus

by Shlomo Bloom

For photos see the ISM website: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/07/25/birthday-circus/

July 24th: Today was the 16th birthday of two girls in the Abu Haykal family who live at the end of Tel Rumeida street, surrounded by the extremist Jewish settlers of Hebron. This Palestinian family is constantly under attack either by the settlers directly or though intimidation by Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) soldiers. The family was recently informed that they are not allowed to use the paved road to their house, instead they must walk up a long, rocky dirt path that leads to the back of their home.

A birthday party was organized by members of CPT (Christian Peacemaker Teams) and Breaking the Silence (a group of Israeli ex-soldiers) which included members of ISM, ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions) and other Israeli and international activists. Altogether, there were over 30 activists and with Yehuda of Breaking the Silence leading them up Tel Rumeida hill, the marchers proceeded past the soldiers' station, through the Tel Rumeida settlement to the Abu Haykal house at the end of the road. The soldiers panicked and attempted to stop the group. Yehuda, with a balloon in hand, explained the purpose of the visit, and refuted the soldiers in Hebrew when they tried to prevent the group from passing. There were just too many people to stop, and while the soldiers scrambled, the activists made it all the way to the Abu Haykal's gate where they came upon a disgusting barrier blocking the way.

Settlers had piled a large heap of random garbage and razor wire in front of the gate to the house, preventing safe passage. The activists had to move some of it aside, and climb over the rest in order to pass though.

Over 12 IOF soldiers, 10 police, and 6 military police eventually arrived, and although they had no invitation to the birthday party(!), they entered the family's porch where they had what appeared to be a discussion on whether or not this birthday party was legal. Some of the activists made it though the gate and into the house but the rest were forced by the police to turn around and walk over a quarter of a mile down the street and around Tel Rumeida hill to enter the house through the back entrance (about a 10 minute walk).

Once all of the guests were inside, Hani, the father, thanked everyone and shared his story about last Saturday, when settlers attacked his home with rocks and he called the police but they never came. Last week, not one police officer came when the house was under attack, but this week they showed up in full force when friends and activists, invited to the party, used the most convenient road which has been designated a closed military zone. Only settlers are allowed to use this road because use by anyone else is said to be a provocation to the settlers.

Cake and punch was served to all, and gifts were given to the girls. Hani said his home was open to anyone, Muslim, Christian, Jew, whatever their religion or color, as long as they respected human rights for all, and harm no one. Hani's sister gave a speech saying that "my family sheltered Jews in 1929 and we want to do the same now. If anyone from the North [of Israel, where the threat of rocket attacks continue now], wants to come here now for shelter I will welcome you again, this is a house of peace." A man from Haifa said he was afraid to return to his home at the moment, and that he was glad to be here.

So there we were, Muslims, Christians, and Jews having a birthday party together for two young women with their whole lives ahead of them. With tears in their eyes, the family apologized for the difficult entrance to their home and said they hope we can all return in the future - for another party, this time without having to go through any gate, and with no soldiers or police trying to prevent us.

After the party was over and people were filing out, the police were still waiting outside the house. They escorted the guests down the rocky path (through the back way this time) and Hani explained that the reason the police remained was in order to provide protection for the Israelis activists who the police felt were in danger of being kidnapped by Palestinians!

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9) Israeli Incursions to Ramallah Continue

by Rann

For photos see the ISM website: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/07/26/ramallah-invasion-2/

Around 10:15pm on Tuesday, July 25th 2006, ISM activists were alerted to a large army operation taking place in the Ein Omesharayet neighborhood of Ramallah. Four activists arrived at the scene around 15 minutes later to act as eyewitnesses to the assault.

Israeli special forces had taken position near a six-storey building. Several jeeps, humvees and an army prison truck were also at the scene (20 vehicles according to press reports). Local youth were throwing stones at jeeps, who were intimidating them by driving up and down surrounding streets. The soldiers did not seem particularly interested in the international activists.

Spotlight from the Israeli jeep illuminates the windows the soldiers concentrated their fire on

To the best of the activists' knowledge, the army had told families living in the building to leave and later put them in a 'safe space' nearby. The target of the operation, a Gazan owner of an apartment on the fourth floor of the building, had not left.

Israeli special forces fired at the building using live ammunition. When this did not seem to affect the situation, they used larger projectile explosives. From the outside, we could see two windows of the apartment on the fourth floor blown out. Following a few of these high-explosive projectiles exploding against or in the building, and a little further small-arms fire, the area became quieter, save for the revving jeeps still running youths up and down the streets. At one point, soldiers entered the building.

Shortly afterwards, the army evacuated the area and activists went into the building to take pictures and talk to Palestinians in the area. There were bullet holes all over the apartment's kitchen, furniture scattered and blown around, remnants of food covered in dust from the walls and so on, the aftermath of a huge attack on a single person. On the way back downstairs, activists noted streaks of blood on the wall and the floor. Presumably the army captured the man they were looking for, though in what condition is hard to tell.

Additionally, there are reports of at least two injured youth, aged 14 and 15 who were taken to hospital with light to medium injuries.

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For more reports, journals and action alerts visit the ISM website at www.palsolidarity.org

Please consider supporting the International Solidarity Movement's work with a financial contribution. You may donate securely through our website at www.palsolidarity.org/main/donations/

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Thank you for your continued interest and support for the International Solidarity Movement!

Please consider a financial donation to help continue the important work of the ISM. You may donate securely online at our website: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/donations

For more information, visit the ISM website at http://www.palsolidarity.org PLEASE FORWARD THIS UPDATE WIDELY
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