Sunday, October 14, 2007

1-Settler attack in Hebron

Hi again long time without enough time at the Internet. This is what happened one of my last days in Hebron during the Jewish Festival of Sukkot, when hundreds of Jewish visitors ame to the settlements and to their holy places in Hebron. One of the days we were not even allowed on the streets due to a military closed zone according to the army. I'm now in Nablus their the Olive harvest will begin in the nearby villages. I'm really looking forward to it.
Only one month left in Palestine now, time is passing so quickly!

The final day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot descended into violence in Tel Rumeid, Hebrona on Thursday, as a group of settlers attacked local Palestinians and two international Human Rights Workers (HRWs).
At approximately 1:45pm a large group of settlers, many heavily intoxicated, marched their way up through the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood shouting abuse at the Palestinian residents. Two international HRWs were at the scene documenting the harassment when the settler leading the march shouted to the crowd that the internationals were, “worse than the Arabs”. A stone was then thrown at one of the HRW’s as the settler crowd became increasingly aggressive.

Violence then erupted as local Palestinians were attacked by the settler group, with punches thrown and a large glass bottle of vodka hurled, narrowly missing a young Palestinian’s head. The local Palestinians, including children, were then forced up onto a nearby road as the army intervened. A group of 8 settler men simultaneously cornered the 2 international HRWs who were filming the attack, attempting to steal and break their camera. The HRWs were repeatedly punched in the body and face as one of the settlers managed to grab the camera before police finally intervened. However, rather than destroy the tape, the settlers carelessly threw it in to a nearby skip where it was quickly rescued with the tape intact, though the camera was in fact broken.

The settlers continued their provocation as they were allowed by the army and police to carry on their march. When questioned later as to whether they saw their job to protect Palestinians as well as settlers, one of the soldiers at the scene replied that he was there “only to protect Jews”, simply shrugging when reminded of the army’s obligations, under international law, to protect all inhabitants of occupied territories.

As of now, there have been reports that two of the settler assailants have confessed to the police as to their involvement and that one of the marchers is willing to testify as to the events. Together with the film recorded by the international HRWs and further evidence recovered by police at the scene, charges are expected to be announced soon, though a vast majority of those involved in the violence will be held unaccountable for their roles in the unprovoked attack.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

6 - Qusin village, children arrested

They punish the village by stealing the children

Qusin, outside Nablus, September 24th 2007.

After reports of reprisals by IOF against the peaceful inhabitants of Qusin, two ISM activists visited the village today to receive first hand accounts of the harassment the villagers have received. After a non-violent and successful demonstration led by the people of Qusin and supported by international activists, the village has endured two nights of arrests.

Starting on the evening of the 21st, not one hour after internationals left the village, it was invaded by three vehicles of the IOF. They arrested two youths, claiming they had been throwing rocks during the terrifying occupation of Al-Ayn refugee camp several days before. Later that evening around 9pm they returned arresting another three on the same charge.

Two days later on Sunday 23rd, the IOF again saw fit to harass the villagers of Qusin taking youth from their beds at around midnight. One father who refused to let the soldiers take his son was beaten. Three were arrested that night bringing the total to eight.

This is collective punishment in action. This is blatant repression of the non-violent struggle. These children marched alongside international Human Rights Workers last Friday, they marched with their families and compatriots. They would’ve marched alongside Israelis if the Israelis had not been blocked by the army from coming. They marched also side by side the Israeli army provoking them. But they were not provoked, they did not respond. The demonstration was non-violent, and successful, and this is what has the IOF running scared.

Due to these outrageous actions from the village, of rising up for justice peacefully, the community must be punished. How does the army do it? How will they try to crush the movement? By kidnapping children from their beds in the middle of the night. At the moment the future of these young men (all 18 or under) is unsure. The recent Jewish festival coupled with IOF’s usual unwillingness to help means no-one is exactly sure where they are being held captive, or for how long.

Monday, September 24, 2007

5 -Arrested for nothing, Hebron

Hi again, as we don't have access to internet much here I just copy all the reports we write, which are posted to the ISM website.
This happened yesterday when me and Q from spain walked up to watch an by settlers ill;egally occupied house. These guys mentioned below were arrested for no reason, and they can face years in prison without even being charged. Acri is an Israeli Human Right group by the way.

More another time, M.

You will respect my authority

Tel Rumeida, Hebron
September 23rd, 2007

At approximately 17:00, an incident occurred at the proximity of the occupied house at Kiryat Arba road. Involved were 8 IOF soldiers who were off-duty and running between Tel Rumeida and the area of the incident, and 2 Palestinian men aged 18 and a third one aged 21. The three Palestinian men were walking on Kiryat Arba road when the 8 IOF soldiers who were running claimed they should always cede and step aside in the face of the IOF. The soldiers then proceeded to physically remove the three Palestinian men from the road.

The off-duty soldiers then called the IOF, where a military jeep appeared immediately. The IOF soldiers involved in the incident then claimed the three Palestinian men attempted to gain hold of one of the soldier’s gun. This happened despite the fact that the three Palestinian men were initially allowed to be within the crowd caused by the commotion. Additionally, some of the soldiers involved were even seen to be cheerful and in good humor. Moments after the three Palestinian men were detained and taken to the rear of the occupied house at Kiryat Arba road. There one was handcuffed and all three forced to sit down on the ground facing a wall, moments before Iftar; the daily breaking of the fast during Ramadan.

At 18:10, an ISM activist attempted to give water to the detained Palestinians but was prevented by an IOF soldier even though the men had been fasting all day. Moments later a second ISM activist then approached the detained men with bread and water and was able to give at least a very limited amount. Throughout the detention, Israeli settlers illegally occupying the house at Kiryat Arba road were seen photographing the detained as well as the ISM activists. The Palestinian men were then taken away at 18:45 to the police station.

The ISM activists informed throughout the detention, as well as after it had concluded, both ACRI and TIPH.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

4 -Demonstration against Roadblock

This is our report from the friday demo in qusin, just outside Nablus (me and another nott guy)

Five children targetted after non-violent demonstration

Today, the 21st September, on the outskirts of Nablus at Qusin village, a demonstration against their roadblock took place. The roadblock makes a simple five minute journey to Sarra a minimum one hour ordeal through Beit Eva checkpoint. Similarly the barrier blocks travel from Qusin to Nablus. This forces residents, workers, students through a unnecessarily more arduous journey.

Despite last week’s violent outcome by part of the IOF where the demonstration ended in mass arrests, approximately 75 local Palestinians joined by a dozen ISM activists marched peacefully through the roadblock. Additionally 5 members of the Bil’in committee joined the demonstration to show their support. Unfortunately a large number of Israeli activists were followed by the IOF, police, and Shabbat; thus preventing them from attending the peaceful demonstration. The march started at 1 pm with the participants waving flags and chanting in good humor. The demonstration crossed the roadblock in the absence of any incident due possibly to the imminent Jewish festivity of Yom Kippur and the gate already having been smashed at last week’s demonstration.

Once the march reached Sarra, symbolically joining the two villages, the participants headed back towards Qusin. Throughout the march’s return an IOF jeep followed the procession attempting to provoke rock-throwing from the large number of youth attending the demonstration. In the proximity of the village the jeep was reinforced by two military vehicles. Their aggressive stance reached the extent of driving at an ISM activist. The IOF then speeded through the village once again attempting to provoke rock-throwing from the children. Nevertheless the children restrained themselves; therefore making the demonstration as a whole truly nonviolent.

At the end of the march the mayor of Qusin invited the ISM activists to the municipal hall and truly thanked them for their strong presence throughout the demonstration. The positive outcome of the march has encouraged the villagers of Qusin to pursue a continuous nonviolent campaign to remove the infamous roadblock.

Later that day at around 5:30 pm, once the ISM activists had left the village, the IOF invaded the village of Qusin. The IOF went to the municipality and threatened to arrest every man of the village between 18 to 40 years old unless two under 18 youths were handed over. Even after apprehending the two youths, the IOF returned to the village using live ammunition. On this occasion the IOF directly arrested three more youths at around 9:30 pm. Still today 22nd September 2:30 pm they haven’t been released or been charged.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

2- Trying to keep your land, Hebron

The settlers with children (notice the pushchair) and their synagogue that they illegally put up on Palestinian land (the green tent).
Settler guy with his stick which he will use later
to beat Palestinians and internationals.

The same guy with the stick in his hand
Settler girls who manage to go on the land and throw rocks
on it which we have just taken away from the land.
The soldiers who are supposed to prevent the settlers are
doing nothing to stop the girls

One soldier attempting to stop the girls but they just run beside him
The girl on the left is holding an Israel flag, the orange colour signyfy
that you are a supporter of settlements in general.

Documenting the soldiernot doing his job.
Internationals and Israeli peace activist try to work on
land despite soldiers and settlers (notice the old man with kippa
in the back) interupting them constantly

On 31st of August 2 other internationals and I went to the Jabar family who live in the outskirts of Hebron. They have a piece of land just beside there houses but they have been prevented from using it by settlers claiming that is is their land. The settlers have put up a tent calling it a synagogue and therefor it is very hard for the Israeli police to remove it, since synagogues are protected by special laws. The family have faced verbal and physical attacks for a long time.

When we arrived the settlers for already their, it were whole families having picnic on the Palestinian land, playing loud music from the "synagogue". Altogether they were about 80 people. Around 30 Israeli peace activists from different groups were there and also people from CPT, Christian Peacemakers Team. When 5 Palestinians together with the Israeli activists started to work on the land a group of settlers started to harass people and tried to prevent them. They shouted "nazis" and "you are al-qaida" to us, kicked people, pushed people around, and tried to prevent people from filming. One guy run around and stole tools who people didn't keep in their hands. He hid them behind the synagoge but the police didn't do anything about it. There were both police and at least 30-40 soldiers present watching the settlers breaking International and Israeli Law.

One of our local Palestinian coordinators was alone with a group of young male settlers who told him to not film. The head commander for the whole Hebron area, Commander Niir was there, and our coord. asked him to protect him from the4 settlers, and reminded him that that is one of his duties but he refused to do so.

Suddenly one of the settler guys jumped on him in a rugby tackling and he fell to the ground. Unfortunately no one got the attack on film. He hurt his back and asked fro an ambulance since he couldn't move, but the soldiers shouted "stand up". The settlers gathered around him shouting and laughing. I asked the police and the soldiers several times to move them away but they told me to go away instead, which I refused to do. Of course on guy just a couple of minutes later throwed a bottle of water over our coordinator. (but since it was roasting hot it wasn't too bad). After about 30 minutes the ambulance arrived. He was carried away ona stretch but still asked to walk into the ambulance!

After this incident the police and the army managed to make the settlers step back so we could work on the land. They were still having their picnic though on the land where we didn't work. After a while a group of young settlers girls (10-15 years old) started to throw stones back on the land (which we had just taken away) and they also run around among us. The soldiers didn't show any interest in doing something about it first. After a while 2 of them went over and talked to teh girls who just laughed at them and waved with their orange Israeli settler flags. Eventually they stopped and we could work on the land in peace and quiet (more or less) for 4 hours. Some of the Isareli activists stayed at the family over the night in case the settlers would come for revenge which is often the case.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

1 - Stealing your time

Atarot Checkpoint outside Jerusalem, waiting for the gate to open
Watch tower and the apartheid wall destroyint the nice view
In the flying checkpoint, 5 min after Atarot Checkpoint

When I left Jenin on the 27th August I got a lift with 3 journalists to Ramallah. Because they had a sign saying Press in the front window we didn't have any problems at the 4 checkpoints we passed.

In Ramallah I got intom a service (public transport taxi) and we passed through Kalandiya checkpoint which is the main checkpoint to and from Al-Quds (Jerusalem). Before you had to go through the gates by foot but now you can drive through. Sometimes the soldiers stop the vehicle to check the Id:s, and sometimes people have to go out from the car/bus.

We had no problem this time though and continued our travel after 5 minID-check. But on our way into Jerusalem we suddenly came to a road block, 3 big concrete blocks. Some people decided to leave the bus and started to walk.
It was to far away from East Jerusalem, where I wanted to go and the driver took us to Atarot checkpoint instead.
Between 6.15 - 7.05pm I was in the queue, waiting to go throught the checkpoint which included to show your ID and to put all your luggage through a scanner like at the airport. This is every day life for all people who travel to and fro Al-quds beacuse of work, school, family etc.

The bus we got onto was stopped after 5 minutes along the road, 7.10pm.Everybody's ID:a were checked, in case someone unwanted had manage to slip through the checkpoint, or what. At 7.20 we were on road again.

7.40, 5 minutes from the bus station. Soldiers on the pavement stops the bus, all ID:s collected to be taken out of the bus and gone through.

7.50 arrives to Al-quds. If the occupation didn't exist this journey would take about 15-20 minutes.

Israeli Military Forces are stealing people's time and life every day
on a regular basis.

Statistics on checkpoints and roadblocks, www.b'tselem

Permanent internal checkpoints
As of 9 Aug. 2007 Israel maintains 47 permanent checkpoints within the West Bank . Staffing of the checkpoints varies: 35 are staffed around the clock, 11 are staffed only during the day or for part of the day, and there is one back-to-back checkpoint for merchandise. These checkpoints impose the harshest restrictions on movement. Palestinians wanting to cross undergo inspection and often long delays. At some checkpoints, soldiers allow only Palestinians with special permits to cross.

At the end of April 2007, the IDF announced that as of the beginning of May, the restriction on Palestinians entering the Jordan Valley would be removed. In actuality, however, entrance is still restricted at some checkpoints while at others only pedestrians are allowed to enter.

Green Line checkpoints
There are 33 checkpoints that are the last inspection point between the West Bank and Israel . Some of these checkpoints are situated inside the West Bank, up to several kilometers from the Green Line. These checkpoints are permanent and are staffed continuously. In addition, there are 73 gates in the separation barrier, only 38 of which are for Palestinians. These are open only part of the day, and all Palestinians wanting to cross must have a special permit.

Surprise [flying] checkpoints
According to OCHA's figures, in May 2007, there was a weekly average of 200 flying checkpoints throughout the West Bank . These are staffed checkpoints set up for a period of a few hours.

Internal checkpoints in Hebron
checkpoints are located in Hebron in areas where there is friction between settlers and Palestinians. They are permanently staffed, and people who cross are routinely inspected.

Physical obstructions
In addition to the staffed checkpoints, the military has set up hundreds of physical obstructions (concrete blocks, dirt piles, trenches, etc...) which close off roads and prevent access to and from Palestinian communities. OCHA has tabulated the number of such obstacles within the West Bank, as of May 2007, as follows:
217 dirt piles at entrances to villages or to block roads
86 fences along roadways
12 trenches that prevent vehicles from crossing
93 locked gates at entrances to villages, with the keys held by the army
Forbidden Roads
Forty-one sections of roads in the West Bank, covering a distance of some 700 km, are restricted to Palestinian traffic, while Israelis are allowed to travel on them freely.

These figures were updated in 31 May 2007.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

5 -Prevented from travel, prevented from life - Jenin August

Pictures made by the children at the Cultural Centre.
All pictures are available on a cd from the Centre , ready to be printed for art exhibitions.

Western life style, the hamburger consists of human bodies,
blood instead of coke.

Today Yousef was supposed to go to Poverty Requiem in Holland, a international conference he had been invited to where he and a Palestinian woman would have been the only ones to represent the arab countries. But the occupation prevented him. He was supposed to receive his visa on Friday but they called from Holland and said that he couldn't collect it before 9am Monday -today, in Tel Aviv! The person on the phone sounded really suprised then Yousef explained that he can't go to Tel Aviv. The majority of the people can't even go to Jerusalem, and not without special permissions.

We decided that I would go to Tel Aviv and meet up with Yousef in Ramallah, a city just outside

Jerusalem, and from where he could go to Amman, in Jordan. But the gates at the Jordanian border close at 2 pm, and in Palestine you can nver know how long time a trip will take, under normal circumstances it takes 1 and a half hour. As you can't book your ticket in advance as you're not sure you'll get the visa you can't plan your travel. Yousef would have taken a flight leaving at 3am, taking 10 hours since there were no direct connections left. Oxfam Nova in Amsterdam who organize the conference would have paid the expenses, but if he would have been stopped somewhere and prevented from going he would have had to pay all himself. So in the end he decided not to go.

It's sad beacuse the conference theme was music and it would have been a great oppurtunity to make connections for the Cultural Centre.

Recently Yousef received a letter from hte Israeli authorities that his children have to move to Israel, otherwise they'll lose their Israeli citizenships. Yousef's wife is from the village in Israel and that's why their children have Israeli citizenships. The authorities had come to her relatives house and asked for her to see where she lives. They'll do this beacuse they don't want arabs to have Israeli citizenships. If she and the children goes to live in the village it will be very hard for them to go and see Yousef, beacuse of the wall, and Yousef of course can't go and see them. The children will grow up without their father. All people in the village are Arab/Palestinian Israelis but The Israeli society in general is extremely racist and discriminating against non-Jewish citizens. But they would have things like access to modern hospitals, insurances, better schools and Universities, and not to forget, it would be easier for them to travel. All things that I (almost) take for granted in my life, so I really understand that it's a tough decision they'll have to make. How cruel of the authorities. You'll have to split the family in order to keep the citizenship you were born with!

I taught my last lessons today and I'm heading for Jerusalem tomorrow, and then for the ism training on Tuesday. I want to go to hebron there I spent quite alot of time my first time in Palestine. Some of the youth will have photography workshops this week and next Monday school starts. Today I had luck at my friend Zain's house, in Jenin. It feels sad to leave but it has been a bit lonely to stay at the centre on my own. I'll be back in a few weeks time though. Matt from Nottingham is still here, working at the Freedom Theatre, but I haven't been able to see him more than once.
Inshallah we'll visit Jenin hospital tomorrow to set up the connection with them.

The cultural Centre received some bad news today. They have to flats next to each other, and one they've rented for free until today as the flat was empty anyway. Now the landlord want to let the flat to someone if the centre doesn't pay rent for that as well. He didn't mention how much but it;s likelt to be about $200 per month which is a lot fro the centre, they're already paying $350 for the other flat. The flat is used for the woen's project to make jam, honey and other things so it would be very bad if they'll loose it.

I'll finish with Yousef's words before he left today: "Maybe we can go and live on March or somewhere else in the space."

C u another day, don't now if I'll have computer access in the next coming days.