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International Solidarity Movement Update

International Solidarity Movement Update

1. Action Alert - New Republic Defamation of Rachel Corrie
2. Nonviolent Resistance is not Illegal: HRW Should Retract Statement
3. Protesters get a mauling in Bil’in
4. The olive doesn’t fall far from the tree
5. Humanity lost
6. Newbury News: “Peace worker’s tales of war”

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1. Action Alert - New Republic Defamation of Rachel Corrie

Please write letters to the New Republic:

Yesterday, the New Republic ran a review of the play My Name is Rachel Corrie by James Kirchick and an opinion piece by Cynthia Ozick, both of which defame the memory of Rachel Corrie and the organization she conducted her human rights work with, the International Solidarity Movement. Please let the New Republic know that you do not agree with Kirchick's and Ozick's characterization of both Rachel and the ISM. Send letters to: online@tnr.com.

• ISM is on the side of international law and numerous UN resolutions blatantly violated by decades of Israeli Occupation.

• ISM is strictly involved in non-violent resistance.

• The FBI does not consider the ISM to be a terrorist organization nor does any other government agency in the US or abroad.

• The Israeli government has not declared ISM an illegal organization and has failed to prove any connection between terrorist activity and ISM’s work.

• ISM works with several groups who advocate for a just peace in Palestine: Rabbis for Human Rights, The Christian Peacemakers Team, International Women’s Peace Service and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

• One of ISM’s founders, Dr. Ghassan Andoni was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize along with Jeff Halper, co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition.

• The Israeli government has failed to prove that there were any weapons tunnels under the home Rachel Corrie died defending.

• The Israeli government has never accused Samir or Khaled Nasrallah, the owners of the home Rachel died defending, or their wives or children of links to terrorism.

• Rachel’s accounts of destruction in Rafah generally correspond with the descriptions and conclusions of respected third party organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

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2. Nonviolent Resistance is not Illegal: HRW Should Retract Statement

On Sunday, Nov. 19, hundreds of Palestinian civilians crowded into the building where the family of Mohammed Baroud and a number of other families live in Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Israeli military forces had warned that the building would be attacked. The planned Israeli attack was deterred by this action. Two hours later, the scene was replicated at the family home of Mohammed Nawajeh, with the same results.

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) applauds the people of Jabalya for their courageous and effective use of nonviolent resistance, and we express our full solidarity with their actions, which are positive initiatives in the struggle to defend Palestinian rights. We encourage international volunteers to participate in these actions, as did Father Peter Dougherty and Sister Mary Ellen Gundeck of the Michigan Peace Team.

We note with disappointment that Human Rights Watch (HRW) chose to condemn these actions, suggesting that they could constitute a “war crime.” In a November 22, 2006 press release entitled, “OPT: Civilians Must Not Be Used to Shield Homes Against Military Attacks” HRW Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson said, “There is no excuse for calling civilians to the scene of a planned attack. Whether or not the home is a legitimate military target, knowingly aski΅g civilianῳ to stand in harm™s way is unlawful.

HRW’s press release is factually, legally, and morally flawed.

HRW based its statement on contested factual information. HRW claimed that “Palestinian armed groups” and Mohammed Baroud encouraged civilians to gather around the homes. However, while some press accounts mention Baroud’s role, numerous other press and participant accounts from Gaza suggest that the mobilizations resulted from calls by civilian leaders and a groundswell of popular anger against Israeli Ῠome demolitions.

As just one example, Eyad Bayary, a head nurse at Jabalya Hospital who went to Baroud’s home with another twenty of his neighbors, told ISM that he did not hear a call from Baroud asking people to protect his home. He and his neighbors went to support Baroud and his family and to protest the shelling out of their own volition. “I live next to Mr. Baroud™s family home. If his home is shelled at best my home would bῥ damaged. My wife is in the six month of her pregnancy. God forbid, a shelling of the house next door could endanger her and the child she is carrying. All our children would be affected. We went to the Baroud family house because we were scarῥd and angry. No one asked us to come.

In addition to this factual weakness, we believe that HRW’s position reflects serious errors in the interpretation and application of international humanitarian law (IHL), in two fundamental respects: (1) HRW’s position explicitly rejects considering the legitimacy of the target as relevant to the legal analysis; and (2) HRW’s position erroneously places the burden of protecting civilia΅ lives on the population being attacked instead of on the belligerents carrying out the attack.

According to HRW, “In the case where the object of attack is not a legitimate military target, calling civilians to the scene would still contravene the international humanitarian law imperative for parties to the conflict to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians from the effects of attack.” IHL clearly makes target legitimacy central ῴo the determination of lawful vs. unlawful conduct. Protocol I of the Geneva Convention, Article 51(7) provides that œParties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacksᾠor to shield military operations. Article 52ᾠof the same Protocol makes clear that a civilian home is a civilian object and not a military objective. Even if Mohammed Baroud and Mohammed Nawajeh are military commanders, their families, their family homes and the homes of other families in the same buildings are not military objeΰtives.

Therefore, the Geneva Convention’s prohibition on the use of civilians to shield military objectives does not apply to the voluntary gathering of Palestinian civilians to protect civilian objects like the homes of Baroud and Nawajeh from a pending Israeli attack. Rather, Israel’s targeting of these homes constitutes a violation of numerous provisions of IHL thatᾠproscribe attacks on civilian property, and of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, strictly prohibiting the destruction of property for the purpose of collective punishment.

While IHL places obligations on all parties to a conflict to take “all feasible precautions” to protect civilians from the effects of attack, HRW does not cite support for its claim that encouraging civilians to defend their homes from military strikes constitutes a violation of this imperative. In fact, Protocol I, Article 57 relating to precautions in attack, specifically places the obligationᾠto protect civilians on “those who plan or decide upon an attack. (Protocol I, Art. 57(2)(a)). Furthermore, providing warning does not absolve Israel of its responsibility not to attack civilian objects, nor does it make the civilian objects legitimate military targets.

The error of HRW’s interpretation of IHL is even more obvious when we consider that HRW statements like “Civilians Must Not Be Used to Shield Homes Against Military Attacks” and “knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm’s way is unlawful” would proscribe many completely legitimate forms of nonviolent resistance in occupied peoples™ struggles. ῔he Fourth Geneva Convention and its Additional Protocols were never intended to permit ῡn aggressor to choose his targets at will, while putting the onus o΅ the ΰivilian victims to get out of the way. Nor ῷere these laws crῥated to prevent civilians from exercising their right to defend their property.

The condemnation of nonviolent efforts by civilians to prevent the destruction of civilian homes also represents a failure of moral judgment on the part of HRW. To condemn nonviolent actions in this way is to confuse civil resistance with the forcible use of “human shields” by military combatants, such as those documented by the Israeli human rights organization B™Tselem in its November, 2002 report œHuman Shield. The report describes Israeli military seizures of Palestinian civilians, forcing them to walk in front of soldiers and sometimes placing them on the hoods of their vehiclesᾠto deter attaΰks against their military personnel. These Israeli military actions are clearly war crimes (though HRW failed to label them as such in its April, 2002 report, œIn a Dark Hour: The Use of Civilians during IDF Arrest Operations). It is a mistake to extend this principle to the courageous voluntary participation of unῡrmed individuῡls in mass nonviolent actions
nse of their human rights.

By condemning nonviolent civilian resistance in this way, HRW endangers those practicing it, and undermines the work of other human rights groups and the credibility of HRW itself. ISM calls upon HRW to retract its November 22 press release and to recognize the courage and the legitimacy of the actions of the Palestinian community in Jabalya.

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3. Protesters get a mauling in Bil’in

At today’s peaceful protest against the apartheid wall in Bil’in the IOF lashed out at activists with fists and batons, and arrested one Israeli activist. One activist had blood streaming down his face from the assault and had to have his head bandaged by medics on the scene.

Soon after the start of the smaller than average march the intentions of the IOF were clear. Soldiers had positioned themselves on the roof of a house at a junction inside the village, and were visible in large numbers lining the route of the march.

When the villagers reached the gate in the wall with their tractor, they demanded access to their land on the other side. Being denied access, the protesters set about dismantling the razor wire in front of the gate. Despite a barrage of sound bombs and some tear gas much of the wire was removed. Unable to disperse the small but determined crowd, the soldiers called in reinforcements and escalated their military violence. They climbed over the gate to target one protester, whilst ruthlessly dealing with anyone in their way.

Several people suffered cuts and torn clothes, as well as the head injuries suffered by a villager and an Israeli activist. The arrested Israeli was badly beaten and had his shirt torn off. He is still in detention.

Back in the village soldiers were shooting rubber bullets and tear gas at the village children. Two children were shot, one in the head and the other in the back and legs. The brutality shown by the IOF and their large presence inside Bilin today, marks another escalation in their efforts to quash the village’s non-violent resistance that has captured the imagination of peace activists from all over the world.

For photos see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/12/01/bilin-1-12-06/

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4. The olive doesn’t fall far from the tree

by Joey Weinberg

Today (Thursday, Nov 16) is definitely a good day to pick some olives; in fact, with the heavy rain from yesterday, it is even better that we are doing this as soon as possible. Too much rain makes problems for the harvest and for the olives harvested (I’m not sure why but too much water is no good), so it is good that we’re harvesting today. Full of early morning coffee and tea, we are going to pick olives with a couple of Faroun villagers in their olive groves, which lie across the street from the village (just south of Tulkarem). So, if you live in Faroun and have land that yo῵ want to get to, all you have to do is cross a street.

I rarely think of crossing a street as difficult, but our friend Yusef has to go through a lot of trouble to cross this street. Immediately on either side of the street is a tall fence loaded with electronic sensors; on either side of this fence is a wide pathway, then another fence, then a bunch of razor wire, and then a trench.

You see, like so many Palestinian villages, Jawad’s village, Faroun, is cut off from its agricultural land by Israel’s annexation wall. Just like Bil’in, Jayyus and many other rural communities, the main road through the village comes to a dead end at the annexation fence. Unlike the two other villages I named though, at the place where the main road through Faroun meets the annῥxation fence there is no gate through which to pass, so access is ῡ bit trickier. So, early this moῲning, like we did yesterday morning, I, a few foreigners and our friend Yusef start our trek through the village of Faroun to Faroun™s agricultural land by walking around the village ” yes, around the village.

The nearest point of access between Faroun the village and Faroun the agricultural land is off a road that goes around the village. This road around the village has a turnoff which comes to an end at an Israeli checkpoint. On the other side of this checkpoint is a road which goes directly to Jawad’s land, but the road is a restricted access road open only to Israelis and the few native Palestinians who hold Israeli work permits. To access the 4500 dunums (roughly 900 acres) of Faroun land which lie between the Green Line and Israel™s annexation fence, the Faroun residents must first get a permit from Israel, and those withᾠpermits must travel an additional 7-9km to the Jubara checkpoint to present their permit to the soldiers. Even with the permit, access ultimately depends on the discretion of the Israeli soldiers stationed at the checkpoint.

For the first time in two years, Israel has granted Yusef access to his land, and he now carries a permit good for one month. Even with this permit, there are some additional barriers: the nearest point of access to his land, where the village road meets the Israeli road, is at this checkpoint through which, technically, he is not allowed to pass.

You see, Yusef’s land access permit is meaningless at the nearest checkpoint, as it only allows him access to his land, not to the State of Israel, and the road to his land is officially claimed as part of the State of Israel. However, this morning we decide that, since Yusef has four foreigners with him, we’d try to pass through this checkpoinῴ, hoping that, in the presence of foreigners, the Israeli soldiers would let everyone through. We successfully passed through with Jawad yesterday, so why not try again?

This early in the morning there is no line. As we reach the checkpoint, the casual interrogation begins. “Why are you here?”, “Where are you from, etc.” Yusef hands over his permit, and, after another soldier arrives to debate the status of this permit, the first soldier turns to me and says, “You can pass here, but he cannot pass. To which we ask, œWhy? He lives here ” his olive grove is just 100 meters up this road. Why can foreig΅ers pass and thisᾠma΅ can™t? We think it™s riῤiculous that we can go to his land and he can™t. What is the problem?

To this the second soldier replied, “It is complicated, but…” and explained that, as mentioned earlier, only Israelis or those who have a permit to work in Israel can pass. After about thirty minutes trying to get the soldier to change his mind –”this is silly, we’re only going 100 meters down the road, can you call your superiors, etc.“ a commander offers Yusef a ΰompromise. œYou can esΰ`rt them to the land, then you must return here and go around to pass through the proper checkpoint. This is just too stupid to be real. Yusef heads back to catch a ride to the Jubara ΰῨeckpoint, and theᾠfour of us walk up the restricted road to his land.

We arrive in the grove to find Yusef’s cousin and his mother pouring the tea, so we have some tea and get started right away. First, we lay plastic tarp on the ground, then some of us start stripping the tree of olives ether by hand or with a small, hand-held rake, letting olives fall to the tarp beneath the tree. Cousin Raed –who has a 3-month permit“ and a family ῦriend get in the trees to show us foreigners how real work gets done.

Some of these trees are so loaded with olives that it takes a group of five people one hour to finish one tree, but some of them are underdeveloped and don’t have much fruit. For the small or underdeveloped trees, we don’t bother laying a tarp, instead plucking the olives by hand and catching them with buckets or aprons. We get a pretty good rhythm going: as some of us finish one tree, others get started on another. We clear away two years of undergrowth and scrub brush to prepare tῨe area to lay a tarp down, then start plucking, yanking, raking,ᾠand picking olives. We spend the rest of the morning repeating the process.

Occasionally one or two of us collect olives from the ground, and occasionally we pass around a bottle of water. Occasionally one or two of us gets a bit winded from the work or squints a bit too much from all the sunshine, and occasionally one of us will make the others laugh by making monkey noises from up in an olive tree. My role is not only to harvest but also to periodically munch on partially-dried olives. Only once did I almost fall from a tree.

We stop for lunch at around 11:30AM; I don’t know where it came from; Um Yusef must have carried it with her, because one minute she’s putting olives in buckets and the next she’s telling us to sit and eat, which is probably my favorite thing to do here. Maybe harvesting olives is a close second, but eating ranks pretty high.

People here like their guests to eat, and in this I fancy myself an overachiever. If only my appetite matched my enthusiasm, I would be a Palestinian children’s story or some sort of Saint for food-eaters. But it’s not only the food but the sharing — the culture of collectivism I’m slowly getting accustomed to. Cooking Arabic coffee over a campfire, sipping tea under an olive tree, and keeping such great company make it quite easy to forget the utter stupidity, casual inhumanity and naΎed brutality of the circumstances which have brought ῵s here. At the moment I see no soldiῥrs, no police, no weapons, no ῲacism and hate¦ and I am truly happy to be here. Should I feel ashamed for having such a good time with Jawad, Ahmed, and the rest of our hosts? It really doesn™t feel like work.

As the Palestinian olive harvest nears its end, I consider the persistence of these farmers who continue to defy the theft and expropriation of their land: these farmers are the last line of defense for Palestine’s very survival. In fact, the olive harvest itself may be the biggest roadblock to a seemingly impending erasure of a culture.

Of course you can discuss perhaps the economics of the olive, the olive tree, olive oil and the region, but this resistance act is not an economic act. The travel restrictions which make import/export unavailable to Palesinians renders any such discussion almost pointless. The economics? There are none. Israel has pretty much managed to sever the economic ties between the Palestinians and their most famous domestic product “the olive“ through travel restrictions. Under this occupation, farming your olives is much less a profit venture than a necessary way to be what you are. It is no longer profitable to maintain your groves, pick your olives, and simply be what you are ” an olive farmer. Hell, in some circumstances it is not even possible.

So why continue? Why do these people bang their heads against the wall? Why spend all available time jumping through Israel’s hoops to get permits, then walking one or two hours out of the way just to work as an olive farmer and not make a living? You could say that many of these farmers have nothing to gain and everything to lose. The very fact that these farmers continue to work in their fields and on their lands may be the biggest act of defiance a΅d complete noncooperation I have seen: they simply refuse to disappear. These people are as solid and as strong as the hundreds-year-old trees they care for, as persistent as the thousands-year-old traditions they keep. As they refuse to let the occupation kill their traditions and their lands, they refuse to let the occupation kῩll their spirits.

You could say that the olive doesn’t fall far from the tree.

For photos visit http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/12/02/joey-journal/

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5. Humanity lost

by Laila El-Haddad, November 29th
http://a-mother-from-gaza.blogspot.com/

We stood and we waited and we cried and we returned back to Egypt yesterday, and again today. Us and thousands of others.

It was anguish. Anguish and misery and desperation personfied in every woman, man and child.

One hour turned into two, then three, then five, as we stood shielding our eyes from the piercing midday sun on Wednesday, when we were told the Crossing would be opening for a few hours.

Some wailed in exhaustion, others fainted, still others cracked dry humor, trying to pass the time. We stood, thousands of us, packed together elbow to elbow like cattle, penned in between steel barriers on one end, and riot-geared Egyptian security guards on the perimeter, who were given orders not to allow anyone through until they hear otherwise from the Israelis-and to respond with force if anyone dared.

Many of the people had been waiting for more than two weeks to cross back into Gaza, sometimes making the trip to the crossing several times a day upon receiving word of its imminent opening.

“We have been waiting for 15 days now. Only god knows when it will open-today, tomorrow, the day after?” said 57-year-old Abu Yousuf Barghut, his shrapnel-riddled arm trembling by his side.

His tearful wife, Aisha, added: “God knows we only went to seek treatment for him and to come right back. And now we are stuck and waiting us in Gaza are my four children. This is the most basic of rights-to be able to return to our homes, and we are even denied that.”

“The only way anyone will actually pay attention to our plight is if one of us dies here, and even then, I’m not sure the world will care,” stammered one young man, Isam Shaksu, his eye heavily bandaged after having received an corneal implantation in Jordan.

In July, seven Palestinians waiting to be let into Gaza from Egypt died waiting to cross Rafah.

After the hours and the sun, one would have thought the black steel gates ahead of us were the gates to Heaven, but in fact they only led to more masses, more waiting, more hell.

There is something you feel as you stand there, and sometimes squatted, for hours at a time, waiting to be let through the Egyptian side of Rafah Crossing. It is something of your humanity slowing drifting away. It is gradual, but unmistakable.

And you are never quite the same again.

There were mixed Israeli orders-first to open the crossing for three days, starting Wedneday, yesterday; then breaking news at 11pm retracted that order, and by Wednesday morning, another about-face saying that the border would in fact be opened. By the time we arrived, it was 11am, and already somewhere around 2000 has amassed in front of the gates. And no one was budging.

Yousuf waited along with us, asking incessantly “When would the crossing open??”, and begging me to pose the same quetion to the Egyptian officers manning it. Everytime he’d see the gate budge open he would get excited and yell “Its open!! Its open!!”. And everyone would heave a heavy sigh.

When we finally did make it inside the “Second sector” of the Egyptian side, the relief was overwhelming-we had moved 50 metres!! And we could wait another four hours if it meant we’d finally be allowed through. But instead we faced yet another uncertain wait; it was like some sadistic game with no certain ending.

As we waited, we saw members of the Palestinian athletic teams heading to the Asian games after a two week delay.

We also saw Ismail Haniya on his way out to his Arab tour. He stopped to mingle with the desperate crowds, some hailing him, some complaining about how long they had waited.

We finally learned that the crossing had been closed this entire time, and the Egyptians were only allowing people through to give them some hope to cling on to-and to prevent the masses from rioting, which has happened before.

We thought once he’d passed, we’d be allowed through. But it is then we learned that Mahmud Zahar had crossed earlier that morning-carrying suitcases full of $20 million.

The European Monitors were not pleased. How could he not declare the money, and how could he have the audacity to try and bring in money to feed his peole in the first place??

They filed a “complaint” with the Israelis, who immediately told them to shut down the crossing, without giving a reason, leaving thousands-including Yousuf, my parents and I, stranded.

My mother and Yousuf had gone ahead of my father and I-and our bags-into the terminal, and Yousuf fell asleep in the mosque. It was then that the officers had informed us the crossing was no longer operational-and everyone who was inside, even those who had already made it as far as the Palestinian side, would have to go back.

We pleaded with an Egyptian Officer: “It took us 6 hours to get as far the inside of the terminal, please let us through”.

“Big deal-it took me ten hours to get here from Cairo,” he retorted, as I reminded myself they get paid a measly 180 Egyptian pounds a month and couldn’t care less.

Another officer was more sympathetic.

“What you lot have to understand is that no one gives a damn what happens to you-you could sit here and suffocate for all they care. You are simply not human enough for them to care.”

When is it that we lost our humanity, I wondered? And when is it that the humanity and desperation of a people, waiting desperately to be let through to their homes, was less important than the call of duty? And that a government was made to choose between feeding their own people, or giving them passage to their homes?

Inside the terminal, the scenes were dizzying. Already disoriented form lack of sleep and little food, I looked around in awe. It was nothing short of an interment camp, and I lost myself somewhere between the silent anguish of old men, aching, teary eyed-women on the verge of collapse, and children, some strewn across the floor in exhaustion, others who were sick, in wheelchairs, wailing¦

We returned to Arish, exhausted and sleep deprived, only to find that all of the apartments were occupied by returning passengers. The only flat we found was one without hot water and leaky ceiling pipes, but we couldn’t care less. By 9pm we were all out.

The next morning, we left again to the border-where we had left our suitcases-despite word from taxi drivers that the crossing would not open. We waited again, this time for only 5 hours, until we decided it was an exercise in futility.

Everyone was looking for answers-some answers, any answers. When would the crossing open? Was there hope it would open today? If so, what time? Should we wait, should we return to Arish? Nobody knew.

Every now and then someone would make a call to some secondary source they knew in Gaza or on the border, and rumors would spread like wildfire across the masses. “At noon-they say at noon there is a possibility it will open! Patience, patience!”.

And then we wait some more.

One man, frustrated, took his bags and began to push them back on a trolley and out through the throngs of exhausted passengers.

“Where the hell do you think you’re going??” bellowed one of the Egyptian officers.

“To Jerusalem! Where do you think??” he snapped.

It was nearing the end of our long day, and overcome by exhaustion, we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

A friend in the UN told me the Europeans had left their posts after yesterday’s “incidents” and thus the Palestinian side of the crossing has shut down indefinitely now.

And so now, we return to square one. Back in Arish, waiting, as ever, for the border to open.

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6. Newbury News: “Peace worker’s tales of war”

by Neil Welch, December 1st
http://www.newburytoday.co.uk/News/Article.aspx?articleID=3394

Human rights worker teams up with Newbury shop owner to raise funds for the woman who saved her life

A HUMAN rights worker who spent last Christmas in an Israeli jail has visited Newbury to help raise money for the woman who saved her life.
Sharon, 33, won’t give out her surname as she fears Israeli authorities will use the information to ban her from the country or lock her up again.
She gave a talk and showed a video at Friends Meeting House in Newbury on Wednesday to highlight the plight of Palestinians in Israel.
Sharon was put in prison after being banned from a peace conference in Bethlehem on December 21 last year, spending 11 days behind bars.
“It was ironic that I was trying to get to Bethlehem and they wouldn’t let me,” she said.
Although her time in prison was hard, she wasn’t subjected to the same abuse as some of her fellow peace workers.
“My colleague Vic was beaten by seven guards to try and convince him to get on the plane back. They just shouted at the girls,” she said.
“Another peace worker arrived on Christmas Day and bought decorations and chocolate coins – those were our presents.”
But this wasn’t the most difficult time in Sharon’s travails. On April 1, 2002, Israeli soldiers opened fire on her and nine other peace workers at a protest. She was left with near-fatal wounds.
“We had our hands in the air and were walking backwards,” she said.
“I was shot in the stomach.
“It was April Fools Day – and the first time the Israeli army had used live ammunition on human rights workers.”
Sharon said that despite the bloodshed, the hospital was nearly empty because the army wouldn’t let Palestinians out of their houses, even for medical attention.
“Children were spending the night in their homes with their dead parents,” she said.
It was in hospital that she met Abla, the nurse whose care helped save her life.
“Her dream was to study public health, and she couldn’t achieve that without outside help,” Sharon said.
Jacqui’s Convenience Store, on the corner of Berkeley Road and Blenheim Road in Newbury, is helping raise money for Abla, 29, with a collection tin.
The shop has raised around £170 so far, which has helped to put Abla through her first two semesters at Al Quds University in Jerusalem.

Jacqui Finch, who owns the store, said she was glad to aid the cause.
“It’s great to help Abla achieve what she has done so far,” she said.

“People are happy to contribute when they hear her story – even school children are putting their pennies in.”

Sharon, who is trained as a medic, works for the International Solidarity Movement, a group made up of Israeli, Palestinian and Western human rights workers.

She visits the Middle East around three times a year, and spends her time in the UK raising awareness of civilians’ plight.

And after spending last Christmas behind bars, she has no intention of relaxing with some turkey and a glass of wine this year.

“I’ll probably go and work in Lebanon for Christmas,” she said.

Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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