Bil'in Mourns 1,000 Dead in Lebanon and Gaza
1) Bil'in Mourns 1,000 Dead in Lebanon and Gaza
2) Settler Vandalism Caught on Tape
3) Rafah's Remains after "Summer Rains"
4) Settlers Attack Internationals in Suseya
5) Israeli Soldiers Treat Palestinians like Animals at Beit Iba
6) Solidiers Steal Palestinian Flags from the Outpost
7) Daily Harassment at Beit Iba Checkpoint
8) Lebanon Articles and Sites Round-up
1) Bil'in Mourns 1,000 Dead in Lebanon and
August 4th, 2006 from
Today on Friday August 4, the people of Bil'in joined by Israeli and international supporters marched to the apartheid wall and attempted to cross the gate which separates villagers from their land. They bore Palestinian and Lebanese flags alongside black flags of mourning in memory of over 1,000 people who have been murdered in Gaza and Lebanon, including the horrific massacre in Qana this past week. They delivered words and posters bearing photos and messages rejecting the Israeli aggression which has caused one of the bloodiest months for the region.
The demonstrators were pushed back by Israeli military violence: sound grenades, rubber bullets, and tear gas.
Demonstrators showed peaceful, but defiant, displays of the flags despite the cadre of armed military personnel, now able to hide behind newly constructed reinforcement fences. The occupation forces immediately advanced through the gate to take strategic positions overlooking the activists. At a distance of hundreds of meters, the soldiers began lobbed grenade-launched tear gas canisters, throwing concussion grenades, and firing rubber bullets. In the ensuing attack: Margaret, a 52 year-old participant from Scotland was shot in the back with a rubber bullet; Yasir, a participant from Spain was shot in the back with a rubber bullet; and John, a 53 year-old participant also from Scotland sustained facial injuries from a concussion grenade thrown directly at him.
Two large brush fires were ignited by grenade-launched tear gas. When villagers and activists attempted to return to put the fire out, the army advanced and renewed their attack of tear gas and rubber bullets on those who were clearly attempting to stop the rapidly spreading blaze. Nearly totally blinded and inhaling thick smoke, those attempting to extinguish the fire endured continued long-range bombardment of tear gas and rubber bullets by the soldiers hidden behind the fence. The fires were successfully extinguished in the end after 40 minutes, despite the attack.
Since the onset of the recent violence in Gaza and Lebanon, the people of Bil'in have maintained a weekly protest in support of those enduring continued Israeli attacks.
2) Settler Vandalism Caught on
On Wednesday, July 26th, at approximately 1:30 pm, a group of internationals went with the farmer Abu Jabber Soleiby to document the most recent damage to his land by settlers from the nearby settlement Beit 'Ain. The settlers from Beit 'Ain have been bringing their sheep down the steep hill to graze from the settlement onto Soleiby's land. As the group of three internationals and two Palestinians including Abu Jabber and his brother approached Soleiby's land, they noticed at first one sheep among the trees. It was then observed that an entire flock of approximately 15-20 sheep were on Soleiby's land and were clearly destroying the trees and grape vines.
The sheep were accompanied by two male settlers, one of whom was armed with a large automatic rifle. The group approached the settlers and demanded that they take the sheep off the land immediately.
Internationals took pictures and filmed as the Palestinian men herded the sheep -and the settlers- back towards the settlement. As one international woman was taking pictures of the armed settler, he turned and raised his gun to her head from 12-18 inches away. Other than this particular show of force, the settlers were clearly outnumbered by internationals and Palestinians and allowed themselves to be escorted off of the land with little direct confrontation.
In the past, settlers from Beit 'Ain have beaten and shot at Abu Jabber and his family, cut down limbs of trees, burned trees, and dammed up the small stream that provided the irrigation for his land by rolling large boulders down the hill from the settlement into the water. The nearby larger settlement, Gush Etzion also controls the piped water to the area (including some Palestinian homes in Beit Ummar) and had cut the water off for the previous three days.
Abu Jabber attempted to file a complaint with the Israeli police stationed in Gush Etzion the next day, but when he arrived he was told that the settlers were free to do whatever they want and refused to take his statement (this would have been the ninth complaint filed by the Soleiby family about the actions of settlers from Beit 'Ain).
3) Rafah's Remains after "Summer
August 7th, 2006 from
"Everybody hopes to have a good life and a future. We love our children, mothers, and fathers, we love our families, like you. And we feel sad when somebody is killed. We are humans of flesh and blood.
Think of that for a minute please," says Fida Qishta a journalist and resident of Rafah, Gaza Strip.
The military withdrew from Rafah early yesterday morning, and returned yesterday night. They are now present at the airport and the outskirts of Rafah. The destruction that they have left behind since last Thursday, August 3rd, consists of 13 killed, including three children one of which was a three-day-old infant. Over 200 dunams of agricultural land, mostly olive and palm trees, have been completely destroyed.
Fida reported that at least 5 buildings are completely annihilated. It is still dangerous to go to areas which have been destroyed to assess the exact damage. Even before this incursion, residents of Rafah have had only 2 hours of water every four days and electricity for one hour each day.
"Never rely just on information from the stronger side," Fida implores, "Hearts can tell what information is accurate and guide people to the truth. Truth can tell us how to reach justice and peace."
An additional consequence of Israel beginning its "Operation Summer Rain" in Gaza, was the closure of Rafah Crossing on June 25th, 2006.
This has resulted in a catastrophic humanitarian situation for thousands of Palestinians stuck on the Egyptian side of the border crossing and hundreds of travelers stuck inside. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reports that because of the closure five patients, including 2 women and 3 children, died due to the deterioration of their health, the inability to return to the Gaza Strip, and the inability to refer them for treatment abroad.
The Center also noted in a press release from August 3rd that nearly 7,000 Palestinian travelers are forced to stay in Egypt, including 400 in the exit terminal at the Egyptian side of the Rafah Crossing. 500 Palestinians returned to the Gaza Strip in exceptional circumstances when the border fence was breached by resistance forces on 14 July 2006. And nearly 6,000 travelers returned to the Strip on 18 July 2006 when Israel allowed the temporary opening of the Rafah Crossing for returnees only.
Nearly 15,000 Palestinians are now waiting for the reopening of the Crossing, including hundreds of families who live abroad and are in the Strip for family visits. They face the threat of losing their residency visas in the countries where they work and live. In addition, hundreds of patients are awaiting the reopening of the Rafah Crossing in order to travel for treatment in Egyptian hospitals for ailments and conditions that cannot be treated in the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of students are waiting for the reopening of the Rafah Crossing in order to resume their studies abroad. And hundreds of recent secondary school graduates who want to pursue university studies abroad are also waiting for the reopening of the Rafah Crossing. The work of governmental and civil society organizations was affected by the closure, especially the areas that require external travel and co-ordination.
Thousands of Gaza Strip residents who traveled abroad before the closure are forced to wait for the opening of the crossing in other countries, especially Egypt.
4) Settlers Attack Internationals in
August 8th, 2006 from
A woman from Sweden, Gabby, and a man from Austria, Sebastian, were kicked, pushed, jumped on, and bitten by settlers while they walked on Palestinian farmland the evening of August 8th.
The internationals live in Suseya in order to accompany farmers to their land, provide support for the community, and prevent attacks from settlers. They were living in a valley where eight Palestinian families live, and staked their tent on the Palestinian-owned land nearest to the Israeli settlement of Suseya.
At about 7pm on the 8th, two internationals and one Palestinian were confronted by two Israeli settlers, with their sheep at first. One of the settlers began yelling and charged at the internationals and the Palestinian. The settler attacked the internationals by kicking and pushing, as the internationals attempted to document the attack. The settler and the internationals both backed away, but the internationals noticed that the settler was calling for others.
Soon after, six additional settlers (two of whom were armed with guns), and one Israeli soldier appeared. Three settlers jumped on the Austrian man, grabbing his camera. The settlers grabbed the Austrian man by the throat, hit and pushed him. They kicked him in the back and another settler bit him on his hand. While the Austrian man was pinned to the ground, the Swedish woman appealed for help from the Israeli soldier, who appeared to be escorting the settlers. The soldier responded in English, "I don't speak English."
The settlers managed to steal the video camera that contained the footage of the first attack, before retreating. The internationals called the police to file a report, and while the police initially agreed to meet, they later claimed that they were unable to find the area and did not respond.
"I have to admit, I am really scared," said the Austrian man. "I mean, there is no law here, it is just gang violence and I don't know what those people want, or what they will do to me."
Soldiers Treat Palestinians like Animals at Beit
August 7th, 2006 from
On August 5, seven Palestinian men were caged in a detention structure at Beit Iba checkpoint outside Nablus. They included 6 students and one assistant dean from Al-Najah University. All 7 men were given no reason for their detention, and were detained for periods ranging from 30 minutes to 2 1/2 hours in duration. The assistant dean was placed in detention after objecting to an Israeli soldier describing the Palestinians waiting to pass through the checkpoints as "animals".
Three international activists, including one woman from Sweden and two women from the United States, attempted to negotiate with soldiers to obtain a reason for detention or a time of release. They were unsuccessful, and were told by soldiers to leave the checkpoint. The internationals stated they would not leave until the Palestinians were released, and were then told that the police would be called if they did not leave. After speaking with the detainees, the internationals entered the detention area, which is a metal roof held up by posts and surrounded with barbed wire, and sat down as a statement of solidarity with the Palestinians being held without charge.
After approximately 30 minutes, border police arrived and demanded to see the internationals' passports. The police were told by the internationals that all three passports had been left in their hotel, and that they weren't attempting to cross the checkpoint without passports, but merely to inquire as to why the Palestinians were being held for so long. The police stated that the internationals had to leave, and the internationals again stated that they would not leave until the Palestinians were released. The police and soldiers then forcibly removed the internationals from the detention center, dragging them over dirt, rocks, and barbed wire. The police stated the internationals were under arrest for not having passports; however, when the internationals offered to retrieve the passports, they were denied. The internationals asked where they were being taken and were again denied this information. It was during this time all seven Palestinians were released from detention.
The internationals were put into the back of a green army jeep, and were driven to the opposite end of the checkpoint where the soldiers put them back in detention. The soldiers began shouting, "There's a terrorist with a bomb. Get down!" while aiming loaded guns at Palestinians waiting at the checkpoint and shouting at them. The police had left the scene, and the internationals again asked to be released to obtain their passports. They were denied. The internationals then attempted to leave the detention center, and were physically stopped by soldiers, who threatened to tie them up and drag them back into the detention center if they did not comply. The internationals continued to slowly walk away with their hands in the air, and eventually left the checkpoint.
Steal Palestinian Flags from the Outpost
August 6th, 2006 from
Internationals were disturbed at the Palestinian outpost* in Bil'in by Israeli military vehicles both during daytime and in the middle of the night. On the night of July 31st at 11:30 pm, the IOF (Israeli Occupation Force) drove a military vehicle directly into the shelter where internationals were sleeping, revved their engines and shone their headlights into it. They did this on a number of other occasions during the days before this incident. In response, the internationals consulted the popular committee of Bil'in about the idea of constructing a "roadblock" with large stones to prevent the Israeli military vehicles coming too close to the outpost. The committee agreed with this idea and so five internationals moved a large number of rocks across the approach road to the shelter. Since then, the army vehicles have been kept away from the outpost.
On the afternoon of August 4th, a few hours after the weekly demonstration, four soldiers came to the outpost and entered the shelter. The soldiers then attempted to tear down the Palestinian flags that where adorning the outpost. They succeeded in snatching two of the flags, while verbally abusing the one International present. This harassment has occurred over a number of days when the Israeli soldiers, who controlled the gate between Bil'in village and the outpost, had several times refused access to Internationals.
On August 5th, two internationals were not allowed to pass the gate with flags which were brought to replace the stolen ones. The internationals were told that they were not allowed to bring Palestinian flags across the barrier as it was "Israeli land" beyond.
*The outpost is two structures built by the people of Bil'in on land they own, which is separated from them by the Annexation Barrier. It is near the settlement of Matityahu Mizrakh and is an important site for the non-violent joint struggle between Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals. The people of Bil'in with Israeli and international peace activists maintain a 24 hour presence at the outpost. There is a demolition order issued on the two small structures that make up the outpost, while the extensive and much larger buildings that make up the settlement housing complexes, which were also built illegally under Israeli law, have no such order threatening them. All Israeli settlement structures are illegal under international law.
Daily Harassment at Beit Iba Checkpoint
August 8th, 2006 from
By Woody, Miss J and Ernesto
There is continual harrassment and human rights abuses at Beit Iba checkpoint, northwest of Nablus, which connects the largest city in the West Bank to Tulkarem and Jenin. Students and patients travelling in ambulances are routinely stopped, as human rights workers witnessed yesterday, August 7th. One international travelling through the checkpoint was also arrested, apparently for taking pictures.
Human rights workers monitoring the checkpoint reported that three students of Al Najah University were detained by Isaeli soldiers, which means that they were pulled out of line and put into a pen surrounded by razor wire until their name was cleared. It is necessary for these young men to travel through this checkpoint daily in order to attend the university.
There were an additional 15 men detained between 20 minutes and 3 hours. They reported to the internationals that they are detained almost daily because the last four digits of their ID numbers are the same as those of "wanted" individuals (meaning the Israeli army wants to arrest or assasinate these people). Some soldiers acknowledged that these men, many of whom are students, cross the Beit Iba checkpoint daily and are known to not be "wanted". However, they still could not explain why these men are detained regularly nonetheless.
Ambulances with their lights on were stopped at the vehicle crossing and required to provide documentation and undergo a rigorous inspection in order to clear the checkpoint and transport their patient to the nearest hospital.
The human rights workers spoke with the soldiers on duty and negotiated the crossing of several men across the checkpoint, despite official military orders that no men from age 15 to 35 are allowed to cross under any circumstances.
An international woman from Sweden, not working with the group monitoring the checkpoint, but on a tour with a group to Jenin, was arrested. The group noticed a Palestinian man being arrested although he had on a leg brace and said he was on the way to the hospital. She asked the soldiers why he was being held and took some photos after which the soldiers told her to stop or they would call the police. They passed the checkpoint and went to get food and water. When they returned the police had arrived and directly targeted the international who took pictures. The police were very aggressive and informed her that a soldier had filed a complaint against her, which justified her arrest.
The police took her to Qedumim settlement police station and then Ariel settlement police station and threatened to deport her. They asked her to sign papers agreeing she will stay out of the West Bank. She reported that,"They tried to bribe me with offers of "only being excluded from Nablus". I said I wanted to move about freely: "Is Israel not a democracy?" I said. They finally let me go with no papers being signed."
8) Lebanon Articles
and Sites Round-up
August 4th, 2006 from
Lots of people have asked us for information about Israel's current aggression against Lebanon. ISM works in Palestine and as such we are not directly involved in Lebanon. However, the terrible situation there is of great concern to Palestinians, many of whom live in refugee camps in South Lebanon. We try to keep up to date with events. The following is a list of some of the most interesting of the articles we've been reading. We urge you to not forget that the situation is also getting worse in Gaza and the West Bank right now.
The current phase of the violence started when Israel abducted two Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Jonathan Cook, a British journalist living in Nazareth in the north of Israel, has been writing a brilliant series of articles about the current situation and exposing a lot of the myths appearing about it in the mainstream media There are several other commentators who effectively demolish the false chronology about the current conflict being perpetuated in the mainstream media right now.
While targeting civilians, the Lebanese army (who it claims to support) and UN observers, Israel's aggression has been aided diplomatically and materially by the US and UK throughout. This attack has included cluster bombs - weapons banned under international law. Although Israeli politicians are publicly saying that the attacks will end soon, it appears that the military is digging in for the long term.
Although the "international community" of governments refuse to call for an immediate ceasefire, there is international disgust and protest against the massacres perpetuated by Israel. Protest in Scotland seems to have even yielded some results. The massacre of 54 civillians in the Biblical city of Qana could yet pale in comparison if Israel is permitted to continue its war of choice in Lebanon.
Meanwhile in Gaza, it looks as if Israel's non negotiation with Hamas for a prisoner release was simply posturing. It seems that Israel is close to accepting just such an agreement, which Hamas has been offering from the start.
Finally on Hizbullah, it is obvious that despite Israel's ambitions, Hizbullah is a genuinely popular movement, and driving them out of the south of Lebanon is not a realistic goal. The only way to do so would be to ethnically cleanse the entire Shi'a population of Lebanon.
Which is most likely the reason that Hizbullah does not seem too worried right now.
The following is a list of news sources covering the situation there.
This list is presented for information purposes only. We are not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion on this list is not an endorsement of the sources or groups they respresent.
A new project from Electronic Intifada. Highly recommended.
A Montreal-based collective working to build relationships of solidarity with grassroots political movements for social and economic justice between Beirut & Montreal. Maintains a list of blogs reporting from the ground.
Independent reports from the grassroots in Beirut.
From Israeli to
Photos of Israeli war crimes in Lebanon (warning - some graphic
the Middle East
A Lebanese anarchist's blog. Also maintains an extensive list of links to blogs and other news sources (from many different political perspectives).
Understand the Hizbullah perspective
Forces: the Official Site
Understand the Israeli Military Perspective