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International Solidarity Movement Update

International Solidarity Movement Update

1. AP: Gazans Protest Journalists’ Abduction
2. Palestinian Companies Forced to Buy Israeli Products
3. Bil’in Demonstration Against the Wall Turns Blue
4. Teenage Settlers Hurl Glass Bottles at Human Rights Workers
5. Resistance and Collective Punishment in Beit Furik and Salim
6. Bil’in Continues Struggle Despite Soldier Brutality
7. Unstable Soldier Harasses Palestinians and Internationals
8. Soldiers Detain Palestinian Kids for getting hit with Settlers’ Rocks


1. AP: Gazans Protest Journalists’ Abduction

By Associated Press, JPOST

Palestinian journalists in Gaza protested on Saturday against the kidnapping of a Fox News correspondent and cameraman, as concern about the men’s safety grew.

Cameraman Olaf Wiig, 36, of New Zealand, and American correspondent Steve Centanni, 60, were snatched Monday from their TV van near the Palestinian security services headquarters in Gaza City.

More than two dozen foreigners have been abducted by Palestinian gunmen, usually in an attempt to settle personal scores, but almost all have been released within hours. This is the longest that foreigners have been held. Security officials are especially concerned because all the armed groups have denied involvement and no demands have been put forth.

About 30 members of the Palestinian Journalists’ Union gathered outside the parliamentary building in Gaza, holding up signs demanding the men be freed. Other signs called for security in Gaza, where armed men wander the streets freely.

Jennifer Griffen, chief Fox News correspondent for the Middle East, called the kidnapping a “test for the Palestinian people.”
“We don’t care who kidnapped them, we want them returned unharmed. This is a very serious case for the Palestinians, for the Palestinian Authority,” Griffen said.

Khaled Batch, a leader of the Islamic Jihad militant group, said kidnapping members of the media “silenced the voice of freedom and justice.”

“We…have experienced oppression and denial. We don’t want to practice this pain and suffering on others, on other wives and people,” Batch said.

2. Palestinian Companies Forced to Buy Israeli Products

Israel is constantly inventing new ways of making life in the occupied Palestinian territories ever more difficult and humiliating and several companies in the Nablus region have recently been subject to one of these policies. ISM Nablus visited but one of the affected companies - a small enterprise started in 1995, employing only three people.

They receive tenders from various private and public medical institutions in Nablus, and import supplies directly from abroad - mainly from Turkey, Italy and China. The majority of their shipments are based on inquiry and most items are low-cost such as syringes, casts, stethoscopes, gloves and IV-bags. Occasionally, larger and more expensive items such as infant incubators and electrically powered beds are needed and imported. In the past year, the price to import and process shipments has drastically risen, although it is only recently that companies in Nablus have been affected. One particular order got stuck in Israeli customs for more than 2 months and the company was forced to pay an additional import fee of 25,000 NIS (about $5,000 dollars) to access the order.

The fee was officially required for covering the cost of a so-called CB (Certification Body) Test Report. The CB scheme originated in Europe, where nations were moving toward adopting a common set of International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards. It was originally intended to provide a common test format to be used by all participating certifying agencies, but manufacturers are increasingly using the CB test report as final proof of compliance to a specific international standard. Although the goal of the CB scheme is to provide a harmonized international environment, manufacturers must still comply with local electrical installation codes and practices. This creates deviations for many countries, which greatly decreases the value of the scheme.

Despite these difficulties, Israeli authorities claim that these new fees are designed to ensure quality. It is, however, clear that the addition of these fees to the regular costs of foreign imports, has a prohibitive effect on small companies such as that described above. On average, this new policy means that each item will be 10 times more expensive to import.

The only way to circumvent the CBTR and related costs, is to buy directly from Israel. By adding these fees for foreign imports, Israel is in fact forcing Palestinian companies to buy Israeli. This is, apart from politically unappealing, also much more expensive than importing directly from foreign manufacturers.

The interviewed company and its client institutions are not the only ones to suffer from this unprecedented offensive on foreign imports. The proprietor of one Nablus company was unable to meet the costs and consequently had to send back a large shipment to China and buy the same items from Israel. Several other company owners are now, reluctantly, considering doing the same.


3.Bil’in Demonstration Against the Wall Turns Blue

Today, August 18, the Israeli army and Border Police tried to prevent the weekly non-violent demonstration of Palestinians, Israelis and internationals in Bil’in against the illegal confiscation of their farmland by the Apartheid Wall and settlements. They used brute force to prevent the demonstration from reaching the site of the wall, despite an Israeli military court decision that people in Bil'in have the right of freedom of speech through œlegitimate resistance. In the morning ofᾠthe demonstration a member of the Popular Committee of Bil'in received a call from the military threatening to use force to prevent the demonsratators from reaching the intended goal of the Wall.

Before the demonstration even began, the army and Border Police were already positioned within the village with armored Jeeps and a water canon. Bright blue water was fired from the canon at the demonstrators, totally unprovoked, as soon as they were within range of the massive white tank. Many demonstrators were soaked by the blue liquid, dying their hair, clothes and skin, and most of them reported subsequent burning and irritation of the skin that lasted into the night. Tear gas was also used against the demonstrators as soon as the water canon was engaged, so it is unclear whether the burning was from gas being absorbed into the wet skin and clothing, or whether the water itself contained a chemical. Regardless, the message from the Israeli army was clear: non-violent protest will not be tolerated and will be met by increasing displays of force.

As usual, the soldiers continued to use sound grenades, rubber bullets, and also the water canon as the protestors and journalists were retreating. There were seven people injured by rubber bullets and gas, including one photographer with Associated Press and several people had skin irritation and a hard time breathing from the tear gas.

The theme of this week’s demonstration was the continuity of the resistance in Bil’in, and the villagers and activists carried the message “You Cannot Break Our Spirit.” The Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements has organized weekly demonstrations since January 2005 against the wall and against the illegal confiscation of 60% of theῩr farmland, and will steadfastly continue with their weeklyᾠdemonstrations despite the army's apparent intent to bruῴally repress them. The army'ῳ behavior at last week's and this week's demonstrations clearly show that they are trying to terrorize the villagers, internationals, and Israelis into not holding this demonstration a΅ymore.

A representative of the national Islamic forces gave a speech at the beginning of the demonstration encouraging Bil’in and their supporters to continue struggling together despite the many forces that want the joint struggle to fail. On behalf of Bil’in’s Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, members added that they hope for the speedy recovery of supporters, Lymor Goldstein and Rina Klauman, who are still in the hospital for inj῵ries incurred from last week's demonstration.

Lymor, an Israeli lawyer, who was shot in the neck and head by rubber-coated metal bullet at close range last Friday, underwent immediate surgery to remove the bullet and shards of his skull, which was successful. He was put back in intensive care today, however, due to a severe infection in his brain and is undergoing surgery today.

Rina, from Denmark who suffered from a severe concussion, after a soldier beat her with the butt of his gun last Friday, is still hospitalized and awaiting the results from her MRI. However, she is beginning to feel better and is finally able to walk on her own today.

For more information:
Abudullah Abu Rahma: 054 725 8210
Mohammed Khatib 054 557 3285
ISM Media Office 02 297 1824


4. Teenage Settlers Hurl Glass Bottles at Human Rights Workers

By Missy and Giuseppe

At approximately 1:00 PM on August 17th, settler boys were throwing rocks at Palestinian people descending the Qurtaba School stairs. One international human rights worker approached the area quickly, but was told by the soldier to get away. The soldier then came yelling out of his post, and threw his chair at the settler boys nearby. He then grabbed one of the boys and yelled at him, in Hebrew. The Palestinians who were coming down the stairs continued on their way, but were very frightened of the situation, and left quickly down Shuhada Street.

At around 1:30, while three internationals were talking on Shuhada Street, one female settler teenager and two younger boys walked past. The settlers stared and suddenly threw a large glass bottle at the human rights workers, which landed at their feet. The settlers took off running towards the checkpoint, where the soldier at the post began yelling and running after them. One of the settlers attempted to hit the soldier and took off running. One international attempted to talk to the soldier, but he said to her, Go away! This isn't for you, it's for myself! Palestinians were walking down the road at this point, and had seen the settler kids throw the glass bottle at the internationals. One Palestinian man was very concerned and called the police, telling them what happened; the police never came.

About five minutes later, an human rights worker stationed at the checkpoint, came to Shuhada Street to report that settler kids had thrown a glass bottle at her. It was verified that they were the same settlers who had just thrown the bottle at other human rights workers.


5. Resistance and Collective Punishment in Beit Furik and Salim

by Michael

Today, August 12th 2006, in the village of Salim, near the city of Nablus, Palestinians joined one another in solidarity to resist soldiers of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) who were attempting to prevent a villager from farming his land. Later that day, a Palestinian woman with Israeli citizenship was detained at Beit Furik checkpoint because her husband was œwanted.

In the village of Salem, a Palestinian farmer attempted to travel up a mountain to farm olive trees planted on his land. On his way up the mountain, he was detained by Israeli soldiers who told the man that he was not allowed to travel to his land without permission from the Israeli D.C.O. (District Coordination Office).

Furthermore, because of his attempt to farm his land, the farmer was being detained. In an act of resistance and solidarity, the villagers of Salem, came to the aid of the farmer, when they arrived, they stood with the man and collectively negotiated his release. Because of their joint efforts, the man was released from detention, though he was still prevented from farming his land.

Salem village is surrounded by a number of Israeli settlements. The settlers of one particular colony recently attacked the village of Salim, cutting down hundreds of trees.

Later in the same day, as internationals were crossing Beit Furik checkpoint, they encountered a woman being held in detention. The woman, approximately 35 years old, was at the checkpoint with her two children, one of which a newborn, while the other was about 3 years old. The soldiers of the IOF explained that while the Palestinian woman had a valid Israeli passport, she was being detained because her husband was œwanted. She had been at the checkpoint, with her children, for over 4 hours. The IOF told the woman that she was waiting for a police transport, then changed their story telling the woman that she was waiting on the D.C.O. Despite these claims, after over 4 hours of military detention, the woman and her children were released without charge.

During conversation with the soldiers, one proudly explained that while the woman’s Israeli passport helped her “case” she was still an Arab-Israeli and said, “I can detain whoever I want, but if she was Jewish, she would be let go.” When asked why the police had not arrived to transport the woman after 4 hours, the soldier responded, œThe police, they do this, they take a longtime because she is Arab.

This type of harassment and collective punishment is a regular occurrence in the villages of Palestine, especially those around Nablus.

6. Bil’in Continues Struggle Despite Soldier Brutality

Tomorrow, August 18, 2006, at 9am Palestinians from the village of Bil’in will gather in the local playground at a school in Bil’in to hold a football game under the banner “Stop The Wall.” In the midst of the Occupation, the football game is a joyous act of resistance.

After the game, at 1pm Palestinian players will join together with internationals and Israeli activists for the weekly demonstration against the Apartheid wall and the illegal confiscation of village land for use by Israeli settlers. At last Friday’s demonstration, the Israeli army met the nonviolent demonstrators with an unprovoked display of brutatility and violence, causing two serious head injuries and at least twelve other injuries. One Israeli and one international still remain in the hospital for the head injuries incurred last Friday. Choosing to steadfastly continuῥ with their weekly demonstrations despite the army's brutality, at tomorrow's demonstration the villagers and activists will carry the message œYou Cannot Break Our Spirit.

The Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements has organized weekly demonstrations since January 2005.
Throughout their struggle Israelis and internationals have been supportive in resisting army incursions into the village, imposed curfew, and the wall that has estranged the villagers from 60% of their farmland.

For more information:
Mohammed Katib 054 557 3285
Abudullah Abu Rahma 054 725 8210


7. Unstable Soldier Harasses Palestinians and Internationals

By Missy, Giuseppe, Gary and Sebastian

At approximately 9 PM August 14th, human rights workers (HRW) living in Tel Rumeida went to the checkpoint to investigate a rumor of abuse of a Palestinian man by the soldiers there. They noticed at the checkpoint a small man crouching in the corner of an impromptu soldier’s post to the right of the checkpoint. He had his T-shirt pulled up over his head.

The human rights workers asked the soldier standing near the entrance/exit of the checkpoint to check on the condition of the man in the corner. They called to him in Arabic and the man had pulled his shirt from his face before I spoke to him, but then pulled his shirt up again, appearing afraid. The soldier told them to shut up and then told the Palestinian man, inches from his face, several times in Arabic, œUskot! Uskot!, which means œshut up. A HRW then told the soldier he wanted to offer the guy a cigarette, and the soldier agreed. The HRW was able to look at the man quickly and see that he was having a difficult time breathing. The other soldier inside the checkpoint room came out and told the HRW to leave the guy alone and go away from him. The HRW calmly walked away and reported the man's condition to us.

This situation went on for about half an hour. During this time, one human rights worker called the Humanitarian Office of the DCO (an adminstrative branch of the Israeli military) twice, to report that the man was possibly injured and might need medical attention. I also told the DCO that the soldier appeared to be under the influence of some substance or was acting mentally unstable. The soldier had been going from being hyperactive and talking about his past history of doing œcrystal, meth, cocaine, marijuana, alcohol¦ to taking his helmet off and hanging his head with a blank stare on his face. The soldier had also offered me pizza several times, walking close to me with box open; he also asked if I wanted to drink vodka. He offered the same to other HRWs, who refused.

The soldier then became agitated and said that he hated all Arabs and wanted to shoot or kill them. He said that terrorists had killed his family when he was a small child, and that he spent many years before the military doing drugs. He went on to talk about doing methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol, and said that when his family was killed, his brain was dead. He said that since joining the Israeli army he was a new man. He also commented that he had been in the Army for two years now. The soldier then moved the detained man, who appeared to be autistic, behind the door to the right of the checkpoint and said that he could go and beat the man if we wanted, and then asked us repeatedly if we wanted him to beat the man. The HRWs calmly replied, ˜No'.

Another HRW then got water and asked if he could offer water to the man; the soldier took the bottle and said he’d give it to the man. The HRW followed the soldier and attempted to assess the man’s condition again. He asked the Palestinian man to lift up his shirt, but could see no injuries. The man still appeared to be having a difficult time breathing. At the one hour mark, the unstable soldier went to the Palestinian man and said in Arabic, Tayib, halas? which means, roughly translated, ok, enough? The Palestinian was rocking back and forth and said ˜yes'. The soldier let the man get up and he began to walk away.

At this point, another soldier’s jeep with four soldiers inside appeared from Shuhada Street. They stopped the Palestinian man and began checking his ID again. The unstable soldier went to the jeep, and then about five more soldiers arrived from the hill. The autistic man stood near them, rocking back and forth. The unstable soldier then approached two of the Ῠuman rights workers standing nearby, What? What's the problem? You are gay, and your friend is a bitch, he said. The soldier was holding his gun in a downward but forward position. He then swung his gun towards his back and put his hands forward, as if to push or hit the HRW. The HRW put his hands up in the air as if to block apossible blow. Another soldier came to the unstable soldier and pushed him away.

The unstable soldier became aggressive and from about ten feet away, he put his gun up and pointed it at an HRW’s head with the flashlight lit. The unstable soldier then took his gun and pulled it up over his head. He then took the barrel end in his hands and swung the butt of the gun at her head. The HRW ducked and four soldiers surrounded the unstable soldier and led him to the military jeep. The other soldiers had removed his gun, vest ῡnd helmet from him. He attempted to come up the hill, but was stopped; he then went yelling and screaming towards the checkpoint. All the HRWs left at this point.

8. Soldiers Detain Palestinian Kids for getting hit with Settlers’ Rocks

By Missy

At approximately 4:00 PM August 14th, while sitting at Checkpoint #56 in Tel Rumeida, Hebron, three Israeli soldiers escorted two Palestinian boys who appeared to be around ten years of age to the police station. The boys were holding a kite and nothing else. They looked very nervous and scared, staring mostly at each other and the ground. Three human rights workers (HRW) followed the soldiers and boys; the soldiers said nothing. At the top of the hill, the soldiers then began physically blocking the HRWs by walking in front of them. Another soldier came down the hill from the direction of the Tel Rumeida settlement and started shouting at one HRW, œYou can't go here. Fucking bitch! They told the soldier to stop cursing, and he replied, œI don't give a fuck!

The soldier claimed that the boys were throwing rocks at the settler boys. He said they were taking them to the military base for about an hour. The soldier replied to a human rights worker, “Don’t worry. We’ll keep them for about an hour. We’re going to punish them.” The soldiers then walked away quickly with the boys.

An HRW called the District Coordination Office (an administrative wing of the Israeli military) and told them the situation. They said they would find out immediately what the soldiers were doing with two young boys. About three minutes later, two men from B’tselem pulled up in their Jeep Cherokee, and said they were immediately going to the military base to check on the welfare of the boys. The police arrived about ten minutes later, and went directly to the military base.

About half an hour later, the boys were released. B’tselem reported that the Palestinian boys were walking down the steps near Shuhada Street, and settler boys were throwing rocks at them. The settler boys then told the soldier that the Palestinian boys were throwing rocks at them, so the soldier at the post near the settlement called for another soldier near the checkpoint. He thῥn detained them. The man from B'tselem said the police told the boys they could file a complaint, but would have to come to the police station and identify them from their collection of mug shots.
The boys then went home.

Ends


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