Beit Furik Demonstrate Against Closures
1. Beit Furik Demonstrate Against Closures
by ISM Nablus, September 9th
This morning a group of university students and other residents of Beit Furik joined in a non-violent demonstration against the early closure of the checkpoint separating them from Nablus city center. About 50 Palestinian and international protestors marched across a settler road toward the checkpoint holding placards, demanding an end to the Palestinian people™s misery and asking to speak to the highest commanding officer at the site.
A couple of students tried to explain to the soldiers that it is impossible for them to seriously pursue their studies when they are constantly having to fit their schedule around the random regulations of the checkpoint. Beit Furik checkpoint currently closes at 6:30 in the evening, and the protestors’ primary demand was therefore that the checkpoint should be kept open until later in the evening, providing time for students and workers to return home from Nablus.
The soldiers would not listen to the demands and kept ordering the demonstration to back away from the checkpoint. The protestors then hung their placards from the tin roof of the pen where men and women are usually made to wait for their turn to have their IDs and persons inspected before being allowed to go about their day. These messages were ripped down, torn and crumpled up by the annoyed soldiers as the demonstration dispersed.
The village of Beit Furik is strangled by checkpoints, settler-only roads and settlements. In order for the villagers to cross into Salem village, the neighboring town, they have to cross through a checkpoint. When this checkpoint is closed, and the local roads blocked, the residents of Beit Furik are forced to travel in a wide arch in the opposite direction to their destination. Travelling through nine villages on a rocky dirt-track that is nearly impossible to navigate by car in the winter months, it might take up to five hours for villagers to reach Nablus. There is also a high risk of being stopped by soldiers and arrested or turned back.
These restrictions of movement are devastating for Beit Furik’s social, economical and political situation. Yet the residents of Beit Furik are defiant and view today’s demonstration as the first of many similar acts of protest. They welcome all expressions of support and solidarity for their struggle for freedom of movement.
2. Israeli Settlers Harrass Palestinians, Soldiers Detain Human Rights Worker
by Tel Rumeida Project and ISM Hebron, September 9th
Around 2pm today, while
sitting on the top of the hill in Tel Rumeida, Hebron,
soldiers ordered Palestinian children and Human Rights
Workers (HRWs) to stop playing football in the street. The
HRW asked the soldier what the problem was, and he replied,
“You’re bothering me. Stop playing football here.” The
HRW asked the soldier if it was illegal to play football in
the street, and the soldier said, œNo, it™s not illegal,
but you™re bothering me. Stop playing football here. Thank
you. The Palestinian children and HRWs continued to play
football for about two more minutes, then sῡt bῡck down.
Approximately ten minutes later, HRῗs noticed two Israeli
settler children looking over the fence and into the yard of
a Palestinian home. Israeli settlers have been tearing down
and breaking grape vines from this house over the past week,
as well as stealing the grapes. One HRW walked towards the
direction of the chῩldrῥn, and they left. The HRW then
stepped insidῥ the Pal!
estinian shoe shop nearby to say hello and see how things were going.
At this point,
six settler boys around the age of 16 came down the hill.
The international stood in the doorway, continuing her
conversation. One settler boy, who approached this HRW the
day before and called her a ‘bitch’ in Hebrew,
aggressively approached the door of the shop and tried to
enter. The HRW blocked his way with her body and told him,
œYou are not welcome in this shop. This is a private
business. The settler began yelling at the HRW in Hebrew.
The HRW continued to block the door. The remaining settler
boys surrounded the otherᾠHRW a΅d began yelling at him
in Hebrew. They then started to lightly whip the HRW with
their tzitzit (the tassles that religious Jews wear). Two
soldiers posted nearby approached and told the HRW to leave
and quit making problems. The settler boys then proceeded to
stand in a circle in the middle of the road and jump up and
down,ᾠholdi΅g hands, singing a song in Hebrew very
loudly. The soldier who had told the Palestinians and
Ws not to play football then told the HRWs that it would be better if we weren’t sitting outside causing problems and bothering the settlers on Shabbat. The soldier asked us what we were doing there and asked why we couldn’t go somewhere else. The HRWs ended the conversation at this point.
Approximately ten minutes later, eight soldiers came running down the hill. The last soldier in the contingent stopped at the gate of a house and kicked a small child who appeared to be about eight years old. The HRWs yelled at the soldier, but he ignored the HRWs and continued down the hill. He was wearing a red kippa and holding his helmet in his hand. One HRW approached a commander and told him about the soldier. She was able to point out the soldier; the commander called the soldier over to him. As the commander walked back past the HRWs, he told them, œYou should file a report. What he did was bad.
HRWs then received a phone call from HRWs on Shuhada Street saying they had just been attacked by the settlers. These were the same settlers in the incident on the top of the hill. A separate report will follow with the details of this incident.
At approximately 3:30pm, three HRWs were sitting on Shuhada Street. Settler children were milling about the soldier’s post next to Beit Hadassa Settlement. The HRWs noticed three settler boys walking down Shuhada Street towards the settlement, seemingly prepared for violence. As the boys walked past the HRWs, they focused their attention on the two women in the group. The settler boys spit on the HRWs and cursed them in Hebrew. The HRWs then sῴood up and told the settler boys to leave. One boy had a short stick twice as thick as a broom handle. He threatened one HRW with the stick, but did not hit her. The HRWs yelled at the settler boys to leave and called for the soldier. The soldier eventually came out of his post and smiled gently at the boys. They eventually left,ᾠbut not without threatening one HRW with the stick again and throwing a few rocks.
About ten minutes later, a Palestinian woman coming
from the Qurtuba girls school stairs said that settler boys
had thrown rocks at her. One HRW went towards the stairs and
saw about 15 kids about the age of 8-10 sitting on the path
to the school, destroying it. The HRW asked the soldier to
help stop the kids, but he said that it wasn™t his job; he
then went back into his post. The Palestinian woman who had
come from the path ten minutes before came back; HRWs
immediately offered to accompany her back on the path. She
was extremely relieved that we said we would go with her.
HRWs walked her past the settlers without incident and then
went back to Shuhada Street. This went on with three more
Palestinians, all without major incident. HRWs had called
the police in the meantime to report the damage to the path.
The police came and began yelling at the children. HRWs
continued to accompany Palestinians on the path. Each time,
the settler kids were more aggressive towards the Pa!
lestinians and HRWs, spitting on them and blocking their path. The last time HRWs walked a Palestinian on the path, settler girls about the age of 12 forcefully blocked the path and stopped the HRWs from passing. HRWs non-violently pushed their way through the group of settler kids. Anat Cohen, a settler woman well-known for being aggressive towards Palestinians and HRWs, blocked the second HRW. Anat Cohen said over and over again, œGo to Aushwitz! Go to Aushwitz you Nazi! The HRW did not reply.
Fifteen minutes later, the border police and regular police approached the HRWs sitting on Shuhada Street. They filmed one female HRW, then surrounded her and demanded that she hand over her passport. The HRW had been travelling earlier in the day and had left her passport in the house. The police officer ordered another HRW to get the passport from the house. The police arrested the first HRW in the meantime. The HRW was held at Kiryat Arba Police Station for four hours then released without charges.
3. Farmer Picks Grapes While Harrassed by Armed Israeli Colonist Militia
by the Palestine Solidarity Project, September 10th
Abu Ayash and his family have owned and tended their land for around 100 years but are now facing increasing violence from the inhabitants of the nearby and ever expanding Israeli settlement Karme Zur. On Sunday, September 10, activists with the Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP) joined the farmer to defy the Israeli DCO (District Co-ordination Office - essential the Israeli army™s administrative wing in the West Bank), and make the harvest under the watchful eye of armed settler ™security™ and Israeli army.
The family owns 3 dunums of land right next to Karme Zur, some of the grapevines reaching out onto the settler road separating the Palestinian land from the green lawns of the settlement. When the family tries to pick the grapes there, armed settlers harass and scare them away, threatening to shoot them if they return. The settlers demand that the family contact the DCO to gain permission to harvest, something that the family refuses to do since it is their land to visit as they please.
Since the family is largely unable to access this land, it is left unguarded for long periods of time. The settlers take advantage of this by picking the grapes for themselves or destroying the trees. In the past, they have used tractors to mow down trees, radically decreasing the harvest and the family’s income. For the past year and a half, the Abu Ayash family has been accompanied by international human rights workers when tending their land. This has substantially lessened the degree of harassment, even though settlers still try to interfere with their work, threatening family members and international activists alike.
On Sunday the 10th of September, volunteers from Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP) accompanied members of the Abu Ayash family to the 3 dunums bordering the settlement. Together, they picked about 1 ton, or 100 boxes, full of grapes which, in financial terms, means a significant income of 800-900 shekles for the family. Armed settler militia approached the harvesters with a jeering œOh, there you are! We have been waiting for you! and immediately took their positions along the road separating the land from the settler houses. Protesting whenever someone would climb onto the stone wall to reach for the bunches of grapes growing on the verge of the road, the settlers patrolled the area throughout the four hours the family were on the land. At one point, a military jeep pulled up and seemingly relieved the settler guards of their watch. As we were about to leave, a group of settler children approached to make fun of and spit at the activists.
In the debate concerning the Israeli occupation of Palestine, there is always a lot of talk about the security fears of colonist settlers and Israelis in general. It was, therefore, interesting to see how a young unarmed colonist mother with an infant strapped to her chest and a toddler hanging onto her left hand, calmly walked by the land where we were picking grapes, even stopping to get a closer look at us. This was before the armed settler militia had even arrived. Having seen this, and countless other examples of feigned security concerns, it is difficult to take seriously the proclaimed fear of attack from Palestinians - continuously used to justify the most barbarous policies and a continuation of the occupation.
Seventy dunums of farm land have already been completely confiscated by Karmi Zur colony, and the papers proving ownership have proven worthless in contesting the theft. In addition to the 70 dunums now within the settlement, the family owns an additional 5 dunums of land wedged in between the two settlements of Gush Etzion and Efrat. There are two ways of getting to this land “ one a 10 minute drive on a settler-only road, and one a 60 minute journey by dirt-track over the hills. If Israeli police stop Palestinians traveling on the settler-only road they are charged a fine of 1,000 NIS. Both the fine and the time it takes to get to the land on the dirt-track are prohibitive factors that mean that the family is unable to tend their land as needed.
This year’s grape-harvest is now over. In a couple of months, the family will need to cut the vines and plow the earth. In the face of settler violence and military complicity, they will have to continue coordinating their plans with PSP in order to work on their own land. This is PSP’s second direct action in 10 days. PSP is a non-violentᾠPalestinian-led movement based in Beit Ommar welcoming international participation and support. While the website is under construction, PSP can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For photos visit http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/09/13/beit-ommar-10-09/
4. Non-violent Resistance in Bil’in Works
by ISM media volunteers, September 15th
Today, as every in Friday for the last year and 7 months, the villagers of Bil’in marched from the mosque to the Wall. Joined by international and Israeli activists, the marchers were confronted on the edge of the village with baton and shield wielding Occupation forces who turned these weapons against the peaceful protesters. An Israeli activist was hit in the face with a riot shield and suffered severe blῥeding. Despite the beatings being meted out the villagers sang and chanted resistance slogans.
As the protesters were being forced back into the village they sat down on the road to non-violently resist the Occupation invading the village. In contrast to previous anti-Wall demonstrations when soldiers brutally dispersed any groups of protesters, this time the soldiers allowed them to sit on the road. The rhythmic beating of a Buddhist monk™s drum rang out over the act of silent resistance and shamed the Occupation forces into contemplating their unwelcome and provocative presence in the village.
For photos see http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/09/15/bilin-15-09/
5. Illegal Barriers in Hebron Region Destroyed
by Palestine Solidarity Project, September 15th
On September 15, 2006, Palestinian and international activists removed large sections of a razor wire barrier erected on Palestinian land in the Al-Khalil (Hebron) region, and designed to isolate and bisect a village.
The fence was repeatedly cut, metal stakes removed, and the razor wire ripped to be rendered unusable. The activists worked in teams, sabotaging the fence in many strategic areas. By the end of the action, the activists had destroyed large tracts of the barrier, and created more than six entry and exit points in the fence. Each entry/exit point created spanned more than seven meters. Having accomplished their goal of opening the crossings, the activists returned safely without being observed by Occupation forces.
On September 17, 2006, for the third time in approximately two weeks, Palestinian and international activists carried out a successful direct action to remove illegal fence and razor wire barriers in the Al-Khalil region. The activists were able to open at least six entry and exit points in the razor wire barrier. The section of the barrier that was targeted was very near to an Occupation checkpoint, and the activists were able to complete their work prior to spotting soldiers en route on foot.
These particular barriers, both located in the Al-Khalil region, were chosen because of frequent requests made to PSP by members of the communities affected. The existence of these illegal structures restricts the movement of the Palestinian people and redraws the West Bank borders in the name of Israeli ’security.’ The military claims that the barrier is necessary to prevent attackers from crossing into Israel. This fence is the preliminary installation of what will soon become part of the Apartheid Wall.
The route of the barrier has annexed some families by placing them on the ‘Israeli’ side of the barrier, isolating their homes from their villages. Many farmers in the villages have similarly had their land annexed; the barrier makes their land inaccessible. Now, with the fences disabled, the Palestinians are able to reach their homes, and farm land more easily. By destroying the fence in several locati`ns, PSPᾠwas able to create access points for farmers and other travelers to enter and exit the area. This action was also designed to slow the progress of the Apartheid Wall by delaying the process and making it slower.
This is the third direct action undertaken by PSP in two weeks. PSP is a newly developed, Palestinian-led, non-violent movement to resist the Israeli occupation.
more information on the Palestine Solidarity Project, please
contact email@example.com or visit the website
For photo see http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/09/21/barriers-hebron/
6. Palestinian and International Activists Remove Roadblock
by Palestine Solidarity Project, September 21st
On September 21, 2006, in the village of Al-Jab’a, Palestinian and international activists partially removed an earth mound roadblock that separates the Palestinian village of Al-Jab’a from the Palestinian village of Surif.
2002, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) created the illegal
roadblock to prevent the villagers of Surif and the
villagers of Al’Jab’a from commuting back and forth by
car. The roadblock consists of dirt, large stones, at least
five massive boulders, and more than nine 2-5 ton concrete
slabs and blocks. Presently, Palestinians seeking to reach
their village from the neighboring village are forced to
approach the barrier by car, unload their goods and
cropsᾠoveῲ the roadblock, and repack them into a car
located on the other side of the barrier. While this
restriction is extremely difficult to navigate, there are
multiple other problems. The barrier is built at the
junction of a Palestinian road and a settler-only road
leading towards the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, and in the
oppoῳiteᾠdirection towards Bethlehem, Hebron or
Jerusalem. This road leads towards many colonial
settlements, and it is partially for this reason that
Palestinians are prevented from crossing it vi!
Not only does the earth mound roadblock prevent Palestinians from traveling within the occupied West Bank, and farmers from transporting their crops from field to market, it also prevents local students from attending secondary school. Daily, students from the village of Jab’a must travel to Surif to study. They must make this long journey by foot because the roadblock prevents buses and service taxis from crossing the settler road to the adjacent village. In Jab™a, the school serves students until around age 11. When the students reach twelve years of age, they must go to the older children™s™ schooῬ in Surif. With the road block in place, this simple journey is grueling and slow.
Because of these crimes committed by the Occupation, the villagers of Jab’a and Surif, joined with international activists to demonstrate in front of the road block, on the shoulder of the settler-only road. The demonstrators marched from the village of Al-Jab’a holding signs reading, “I Dream of Freedom for My Children,” “Settlers Create Apartheid, and œYou Steal Freedom. Upon reaching the roadblockᾬ demonstrators held the signs for the view of passing settler cars, and, others began to remove the roadblock with shovels and their hands. The demonstrators used the shovels to carry awῡy the dirt and used theirᾠhands to move the rocks. Using a meῴaῬ pipe as a lever, the demonstrators were able to remove one concrete slab prior ῴo the arrival of IOF soldiers and border police.
After approximately 45 minutes, IOF border
police and soldiers arrived. Within minutes of the arrival
of the first armored police jeep, it was joined by two
armored military jeeps. In total, two border police and more
than eight soldiers took positions to monitor the action.
After a few minutes they approached the demonstrators with a
statement written in Hebrew and two maps marked in pen, also
in Hebrew. They explained that the road, the roadblock and
the adjacent villages were œclosed military zones, and
that internationals were not allowed to be present. After
some questioning, this answer changed, and the activists
were told that both Palestinians and internationals were not
permitted to be present near the roadblock or the road. The
soldiers informed the peaceful crowd that if they did not
leave immediately, they would be arrested. After listening
to the IOF™s threats, the demonstrators returned to work
removing the roadblock. During this exchange with the IOF,
everal cars carrying colonist settlers stopped to shout insults or to inquire about the situation. Throughout the action, many settlers slowed to read the signs, and to occasionally shout profanities at the non-violent demonstrators.
After partially removing the roadblock, the Palestinian village committee decided to disperse and return to the village and the Palestinians and internationals marched back up to Al-Jab’a. This is the first direct action to be undertaken jointly by the Surif and Al-Jab’a local committees and PSP. In the future, the demonstrators hope to return to the roadblock and further open the road, allowing for the free passage of Palestinians from village to village.
For more information on the Palestine Solidarity Project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at: palestinesolidarityproject.wordpress.com
For photos see http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/09/21/jaba-roadblock-action/
7. Harry Potter and the Spell of Transportation
by Alizarin Crimson and Harry Potter, September 22nd
At 6:45 PM on September 22nd, human rights workers (HRWs) in Hebron paid a visit to their neighbors, the Abu Haikals where they were shocked, SHOCKED to find that soldiers had yet again, invaded the home.
HRWs rang the bell of the house and politely asked the soldiers to be let in. After receiving no response, HRWs realized that the soldiers, fearful of HRWs entering, had barricaded themselves in the house using a desk to secure the door from the inside.
What the soldiers did not know was that Harry Potter had paid a visit to Hebron that day and had followed the HRWs to the Abu Haikal house. Using his Spell of Transportation, Harry magically transported* three of the HRWs inside the house where soldiers were shocked, SHOCKED to turn around and find NONE OTHER than Harry Potter and his non-violent army of HRWs filming the soldier™s shenanigans.
HRWs noticed that the IOF soldiers were messing with the families’ computer. When asked what they were searching for, soldiers replied they were looking for weapons or “evidence.”
You may click here to listen to the audio of the following conversation Harry Potter had with the soldiers or read it below:
Harry Potter: I think you should search the settler homes, you will find lots of weapons there…What do you think personally, if you’re getting in this house once a week or three times a month, you know, harassing these people here, giving them a hard time and the settlers instead are walking around with their huge guns, throwing stones at school kids and all that stuff. You feel fine protecting them ? Honestly, I mean.
Soldier 1: No comment…. I’m not protecting them, I’m protecting my country.
HRW 1: From whom are you protecting your country ?
Soldier 2: I’m protecting my country and my conscience is clean”
Harry Potter: Why are you protecting your country HERE?
Soldier 2: Because this is also my country.
Harry Potter: This is the West Bank.
Soldier 2: So what ?
Harry Potter: You think the West Bank is Israel ?
Soldier 2: Who, who are you to tell me what is Israel and what is not ?
Harry Potter: I’m just curious what you think.
Soldier 2: Yes, this is Israel. You can open the Bible, the holy…
The remaining three HRWs stayed outside the home and were able to force the door open just enough to lodge a brick between the door and the frame, creating a hole just big enough to film the soldiers searching through the families’ computer.
After approximately half an hour of searching the computer and not finding any “evidence,” the soldiers got bored and asked the HRWs who had been continually banging on the door to please move so they could leave. Six Israeli soldiers emerged from the home, empty handed and somewhat irritated.
Upon examining their computer, the Abu Haikals discovered that the soldiers had left some graffiti in Hebrew and had deleted some software.
The graffiti reads “the one who dares, wins. Unit Palchod 96″
Feryal Abu Haikal commented, “They haven’t been here in about a month, it was time for them to come again.”
* Everything in this report is completely true except for the way in which HRWs entered the home which will remain classified for “security” reasons.
For photos see http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/09/23/harry-potter/
8. Bil’in Announces Plans to Build Hotel on Israeli Occupied Village Land
UPDATE, 27th of September: By now the sign has been practically destroyed by Israeli colonist settlers. The plan to build the hotel is going ahead.
UPDATE, 12.30 am: The villagers of Bil’in have successfully inaugurated their project to build a hotel on their land in the illegal settlement. A sign detailing their plans was erected and the foundation stone laid. No-one was detained or arrested. As of this writing, the sign is still standing.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
This morning at 10 am, residents of Bil’in, the Palestinian village that has become the very symbol of non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation announced their intention to build a hotel on land belonging to the village, but occupied by Israel. Villagers erected a 5×3 meter sign-post advertising the forthcoming hotel called ˜Falastin™, and intend to submit a plῡnning application to the Israeli Civil Administration which is responsible for civilian matters on occupied Palestinian land.
The village land is behind the illegal apartheid barrier that the Israeli military has enforced on the village. The sign has been erected in the illegal settlement of Matityahu East near to the apartments Bil’in villagers tried to move into in July, and the project was inaugurated with the laying of a foundation stone.
In a similar way to Bil’in villagers’ attempt back in July to legally move into an apartment building in the Israeli settlement, this measure is both symbolic and practical. The intention is genuinely to build a hotel on the land. At the same time, the action is being undertaken to highlight the apartheid nature of the Israeli legal system. The Israeli ΐupreme Courtᾠissued an injunction forbidding the occupation of apartments in the Matityahu East settlement as this land was stolen from Bil™in through fraudulent land purchases - the affidavit affirming the transfer of ownership was signed by an attorney representing the settlers, instead of by the head of Bil™in, as is required.ᾠHowever, JewῩsh settlers have been moving into apartments in Matityahu East in defiance of the Supreme Court and with the complicity of the police and military.
In stark contrast to this treatment of settlers, during the attempted move-in in July, after the Bil’in arrvived in the empty apartments in Matityahu East, the military declared the area a closed military zone and Border Police forcibly evicted the families and removed them to the other side of the apartheid wall.
In July the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the construction company responsible for the expansion of the illegal settlement to demolish two partial structures, restore some of the land to its previous pre-colonial agricultural state and build an access road for Bil’in villagers. The company demolished the structures last month in order to boost their chances of gaining retrospective permission for the other apartments built illegally, but no attempt has yet been made to fulfill the other parts of the court™s decision.
for photos see http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/09/25/bilin-hotel/
9. Olive Harvest Campaign 2006 Gets Underway!
by ISM Nablus, September 29th
The olive harvest of 2006 in Nablus has officially begun! Although not an ideal starting-date, an olive farmer from the Palestinian village of Azmut and his family who own 150 dunums of land partitioned by an Apartheid settler-only road, decided to start harvesting a few days ago. They fear that the Israeli colonists of nearby Elon Moreh will otherwise steal the olives from the trees closest to them.
This is an annual occurrence that further decreases the family’s harvest, already decimated by the limited amount of harvest-time permitted by the DCO (District Coordination Office – the civil administration wing of the Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank). The colonists generally send one or two young girls to pick the olives, making it extremely difficult for the landowner to protesῴ as anything he might say or do to the girls would be blown out of proportion and used against him by the colonists anῤ their allies in the Israeli military and police forces. Thus, he has remained silent so far.
Previous olive harvests in the Nablus region have also been characterised by a substantial degree of violence on the part of both Israeli colonists and soldiers. In this village in 2004, two Palestinian olive pickers were shot by colonists, killing one. Israeli gunmen have without fail turned up to chase the family off their land and the Israeli army™s sole contribution has been to advise the farmer not to return as œthe settlers are crazy and they will kill you. Apart from physical violence, Israeli colonists also cut down about 300 trees belonging to this family in 2000, and burnt an additional area of land in 2004.
This year the family decided to brave the hot sun in the middle of Ramadan to tend to their fields, without DCO permission and armed only with the deed to their land. On Tuesday 26th September 2006, the elderly farmer, his wife, five of his daughters and nieces, and four international observers picked olives from trees adjacent to the Apartheid settler bypass road. These trees had not been picked by their rightful Palestinian owners for more than 10 years due to colonist theft and constant threats.
The first day progressed smoothly, with no interruptions from colonists or military. The mood was cheerful, almost festive, as branch after branch was picked clean. Certain trees grow only 5 metres away from the settler-only road and each vehicle that passed by momentarily caused conversations to cease and breathing to quicken. Yet the work was soothing and spirits were high despite the heat. When the internationals commented on how meditative picking olives could be, a couple of the women joked about organising working holidays for rich westerners looking for an exclusive getaway. We imagined the brochure - œexperience the thrill of a lifetime! Come pick olives in beautiful landscapes. Adrenaline rush guaranteed!
The promised adrenaline rush was delivered the day after. As we proceeded to pick olives on the other side of the Apartheid road, only 100 meters away from Elon Moreh settlement, two colonist gunmen in a jeep pulled up and got out, carrying their machine guns. They did not approach or shout to us but stood at the top of the hill looking down with binoculars as we worked, talking into their radios and driving back and forth at times. There are cameras set up along the entire breadth of the hillside and so they probably saw us coming on their screens, or were told by someone passing by on the road below us. After about half an hour, five soldiers arrived and told us to stop picking.
After some negotiation, we continued picking and the soldiers retreated further down the hill. After another half hour, a DCO representative drove up and spoke to the farmer. Despite not having gained DCO permission prior to going to his field, the farmer successfully talked the DCO officer into leaving us alone. Before leaving, the officer ordered the soldiers to guard us as we worked, once again emphasising that the colonists of Elon Moreh are violent and not to be trusted. We continued working as the soldiers sat in the shade playing with their mobile phones and muttering something about œPalestinians planting bombs in the groves. We continued picking until the time of day that we had decided at the outset, packed our harvest onto the donkey and left, light-headed and filthy, yet triumphant. The soldiers followed, slipping and sliding among the rocks with their heavy armour.
The family still has many dunums left to pick but have decided to postpone this until after the end of Ramadan due to the extreme heat. They urge internationals to come with them as they continue harvesting after Eid ul-Fitr (the Muslim festival that marks the end of Ramadan), because “if you were not here today, there would be no talk, only guns and threats. We thank you for coming and hope we will meet again someday under happier circumstances.
This experience shows the importance of international accompaniment for the Palestinian olive harvest. We urge all internationals seeking to build links of solidarity with the Palestinian people fighting occupation to come to Palestine, come to the fields and help ensure that every last olive is harvested.
For photos see http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/09/29/olive-start/
10. Roadblock Removed in Al-Jab’a, Demonstrators Attacked
by Palestine Solidarity Project, September 29th
Today, in the village of Al-Jab’a, Palestinian villagers, supported by Israeli and international activists successfully removed a large section of an illegal roadblock that had been installed by the Israeli army. The Palestinians were able to achieve their objective: creating a passage wide enough to allow for a service taxi (a mini-bus sized shared taxi: they ῡt as the mainstay of public transport in the West Bank). While work was still going on, Israeli army arrived and assaulted Palestinian, international and Israeli activists.
A group of Palestinians, along with their Israeli and international supporters joined together at the junction between the villages of Al-Jab’a and Surif to remove the earth mound roadblock that prevents cars from passing between the villages - nearly 100 people altogether. The roadblock prevents school children in Al-Jab’a from reaching Surif. It also prevents farmers in Surif and Al™Jab™a from reaching their land via tractor, while similarly preventing the transport `f crops from the fields to the market. The roadblock effectively closes the road in two directions, and service taxis are prevented from waiting to pick up travellers. Fed up of theῳe restrictions aimed against the Palestinians, for the second time in eight days, the people assembled to dismantle the obstruction. On September 21,ᾠthe villagers carried out a similar action and began the work to remove the roadblock.
The demonstrators marched from the village of Al-Jab’a,
following Friday prayers, and assembled at the blockade. The
Palestinians carried signs reading “I Dream of Freedom for
My Children,” “Settlers Create Apartheid” and “You
Steal Freedom,” while others carried Palestinian flags.
When the demonstrators reached the roadblock, they began
removing it with shovels, hoes, picks and thῥir hands.
Rocks were passed hand to hand, the rubble that formed the
base of the mound was moved byᾠshovel, and others began to
dig undῥr΅eath the two ton concreteᾠblockᾠthat was
to be movῥd. After the stones and dirt had been partially
removed, and the base of the block exposed, ropes and straps
were attached to the block, and aᾠlarge lever was angled
underneath to help lift. Using the strength of over thirty
people, the blockᾠwas moved inch by inch. Some
demonsῴrῡtors pushed the block fro῭ behi΅d, and
others pullῥd on the ropes. In minutes, the demonstrators
were able to roll the b!
lock five times, clearing a path for cars, trucks, pedestrians and donkeys. With the block removed, and the rubble cleared, the hole created was nearly 9 feet (3 meters) wide.
By the time the block was
moved and the road opened, large contingents of Israeli
Occupation Force (IOF) soldiers had assembled. Three
military jeeps, one Hummer and one police jeep had been
dispatched, as well as more than twenty soldiers and police.
They ordered the people to leave, claiming that the entire
area was a “closed military zone. Soon after, the IOF
soldiers and police attacked the demonstrators. First the
IOF attempted to seize the shovels and picks, but the
demonstrators were able to prevent these tools from being
taken by passing them from person to person. After this, the
IOF soldiers attempted to arrest a Palestinian man. Durinῧ
this attempted arrest, the demonstrators were able to
peacefully block the soldiers, and prevent the man from
being seized. After two unsuccessful attempts to arrest
demonstrators and steal tools, the IOF soldiers attempted to
arrest two Israeli solidarity activists. Once again, the
demonstrators were able to successfully preve!
nt the arrest of the activist by blocking the IOF soldiers with their bodies.
Following the four unsuccessful attempts to seize demonstrators and equipment, the soldiers entered the clearing leading to Surif and chased an Israeli activist who was returning the tools to their owners. The IOF soldiers assaulted the activist, and quickly international activists with the Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP) intervened. During this encounter, the IOF soldiers repeatedly assaulted international and Israeli activists by choking them, punching them, striking them with the shovels and knocking them onto the ground. While the four soldiers attacked the demonstrators, one shouted in English, œI am going to beat her¦I am crazy. During this attack, four activists were injured. While seemingly departing, one soldier, in his rage destroyed a protest sign held by a Palestinian child.
Having successfully opened the roadblock, and remaining in possession of their tools, the Palestinians, Israelis and internationals decided to return to the village. Though they were totally non-violent throughout the demonstration, and were peacefully dispersing, IOF soldiers attempted to follow the Palestinians into the village, presumably to make arrests. In order to prevent this, international and Israeli activists sat down in front of the Hummer that was leading the caravan of soldiers into the village. This tactic prevented the IOF from entering the village, and the Palestinians returned home.
Less than one hour following the demonstration, an military bulldozer, made by US company Caterpillar was dispatched to rebuild the roadblock. This reaction by Occupation forces was expected. The demonstrators knew that their action would not open the road permanently - it was an act of resistance against the Occupation’s policy of closure and restriction of movement. While the roadblock was open for only one hour, during that time, the demonstrators witnessed several families, individuals and farmers riding donkeys, pass through the opened roadblock.