April 8, 2009

ISM Digest: April 5, 2009

Posted in ISM Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:02 pm by Alexia

1. Israeli forces impose collective punishment on Saffa village following attack on settler youth
2. Land Day Demonstration in Halhul, Hebron District
3. Warmth and support
4. The Lentils Did Ok Today
5. Thousands of dunums confiscated for Israeli settler road near Nablus
6. Israeli exports hit by European boycotts after attacks on Gaza
7. Israeli settlers take over Palestinian residence in Jerusalem’s old city
8. They Will Not Go Down: Celebrating Life and Land Day
9. Gazan fishermen protest against Israeli Navy attacks
10. Israeli authorities confiscate land from Deir Sharaf to build new checkpoint
11. Beit Liqya commemorates Land Day by planting trees near martyr’s graves
12. Gazan farmers continue their work despite army shooting
13. Land Day demonstration in Ni’lin
14. Congresswoman Lee makes statement regarding Tristan Anderson

1. Israeli forces impose collective punishment on Saffa village following attack on settler youth

2 April 2008

Israeli forces imposed collective punishment on the village of Saffa, following an axe attack in a nearby settlement that left a Settler child dead and another injured. At around 1:30pm, dozens of soldiers entered the village, declaring a 24-hour curfew and preventing residents from leaving their homes. Israeli authorities have said that the military operation was in response to the attack on the settler children, which occurred in the settlement of Bet Ayn, located adjacent to Saffa. However, the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits acts of collective punishment against civilian populations.

After the curfew was declared in Saffa, Israeli forces began conducting several house-to-house searches. Hundreds of men, and boys over the age of 15, were forced into the village mosque where they were questioned by Israeli intelligence officers and had their ID cards checked. At this time, at least three villagers were placed under formal arrest and taken away in army jeeps.

Several of the men detained in the mosque also had parts of their identification papers confiscated by soldiers, who never returned the documents. Israeli jeeps periodically drove through Saffa and the nearby village of Beit Omar, firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Dozens of Palestinian youth resisted the army incursion, at times responding to the invasion by throwing stones at the jeeps.

The army also took up position in three village residences, in two cases forcing their inhabitants to leave the house altogether without their possessions. Israeli flags were planted on the roofs of these houses. Several interiors of houses were damaged during the house searches. Soldiers occupying the houses told residents that they were positioning themselves in the village to protect Saffa from settler reprisals. Yet the curfew, road closures, arrests, house occupations, and military presence were clearly meant to punish the entire village for what happened to the two settler boys.

The Israeli army also used military bulldozers to close the roads leading into Saffa in at least three places. The villages of Beit Omar and Surif also experienced closures on their main roads in the form of earth mounds. The military gate at the entrance to Beit Omar remained closed for more than 24 hours. The closing of roads in these three villages affected around 30,000 residents. Additionally, several hours after the attack on the settlement, a checkpoint was installed on the main road between Bethlehem and Hebron, just in front of the village of Halhul. Traffic quickly backed up as hundreds of cars had to undergo security checks.

On the following day of 3 April, a large military presence still remained in Saffa, and most roads in the area continue to be closed. At around 9am, villagers removed an army earth mound between Beit Omar and Saffa. The army returned to build the roadblock again, only to clear the road a few hours later and build a new roadblock on another street. All three houses continued to be occupied by soldiers, though the residents who have been forced to leave their homes have been allowed to retrieve some of their personal belongings. Two taxi drivers in Beit Omar also had the keys to their cars taken by the military and not returned.

Photos: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/5848

2. Land Day Demonstration in Halhul, Hebron District

At mid day on the 4th of April, around forty Palestinians from Halhul and the surrounding villages set off to cultivate land near the illegal settlement of Karmi Zur.  Halhul is a village in the Hebron district of the southern West Bank.  Demonstrators were also joined by Israeli and international solidarity activists.

The protestors headed up the road to the fields around that village that have restricted access to Palestinian farmers.  The Israeli military restricts these lands due to their proximity to the illegal Israeli settlement of Karme Zur.  These fields are also dangerous for Palestinian farmers to cultivate because of attacks and harassment fom settlers.

Soldiers in two jeeps arrived and escorted the demonstators up the road as settlers came to the security fence around Karme Zur.  The soldiers then stopped the protestors from continuing any further but one Palestinian farmer headed out to his fields and started cultivating his land.  The crowd followed, helping the famer to clear rocks, dig the soil and plant crops. There was singing and a festive atmosphere to the crowd as a dozen soldiers lined up between the protestors and the settlement and made a failed attempt to detain a Palestinian man.

Thirty minutes later, around 30 more soldiers and border police arrived and issued an order declaring the area a closed military zone, demanding that everyone leave the land.  Israeli forces then began to break up the demonstration. The army began to push people off the land, using sound grenades to disperse the crowd.  The demonstrators attempted to hold their ground, and two Israeli activists were arrested.

In December 2007, owners of grape fields surrounding the settlement of Karme Zur presented a complaint to the Israeli official responsible for the lands surrounding the settlement. The complaint described the damage to the grape fields due to the military injunctions that limit the access of farmers to their land in order to provide “security for the settlers.”

Throughout Palestine for the past week, people have been commemorating Land Day. The protest in Halhul is amongst the last of around 50 such markings across Palestine.  Land Day marks the date of the Palestinian demonstration that occurred in the Galilee in 1976 against the planned confiscation of around 21,000 dunams (21km) of land from Palestinian farmers in Israel and the subsequent assault by Israeli forces on the demonstrators that resulted in 6 Palestinian deaths, 96 people injured and 300 arrests.

Photos: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/5863

3. Warmth and support

Eva Bartlett (see blog at http://ingaza.wordpress.com)

4 April 2009

I met Ramadan and Sabrine Shamali at a Sheyjayee market a couple of days ago. They were going to buy new blankets, mattresses, and other essentials, including clothing, to replace what was lost when their house was attacked by the invading Israeli army during Israel’s war on Gaza. They were using money sent from those outside of Gaza in solidarity with Palestinians.

Ramadan knew the best place for blankets, a small store in the district, with blankets mostly brought in through sporadically-opened borders or, more likely, the tunnels. I was told that immediately after the war, when people were scrambling to replace burned and destroyed blankets, there were nearly none to be had, with the borders closed since November 4 and the tunnels out of order.

We eyed the different weights and got a run-down of the prices: a 7 kg blanket goes for 270 shekels (~$65), a 5 kg for170 shekels (~$40), and a children’s for 75 shekels (~$18). The mattresses were 170 shekels, pillows 25 shekels, and a large, woven floor mat 170 shekels.

Just replacing these items ended up costing the couple 1500 shekels, or about $365. While the days have gotten warmer, nights still merit good blankets, particularly in a missile-hole-riddled house.

Needless to say, Sabrine and Ramadan were pleased to finally replace them, 2 months after their losses.

From there we headed to a clothing market in the same region, where items like underwear for the kids and sports pants, t-shirts, and other children’s needs were added to the bill.

They’ll still be living in a house most would consider not fit, not safe, for habitation. But such is the dilemma of so many here, where cement is on the banned list, held at bay by Israeli authorities from the Palestinians here who so desperately need it.

Photos: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/5841

4. The Lentils did Ok Today

Sharon Lock (see blog at http://talestotell.wordpress.com)

31 March 2009

Today we accompanied farmers in the Latamat area on the outskirts of Khoza’a. The last time we were out farming in Khoza’a the shooting was the closest I’d experienced, and from the video footage it looked like the Israelis were aiming to shoot my college J in the leg. Since later that same day Wafa was shot in the kneecap, and not too long before that farmer Mohammed was shot in the foot while we were with him, the ISM group had been taking stock of our role. We decided that Gaza ISM had to hold meetings with any farmers that wanted our accompaniment and be absolutely sure they understood that our presence protects them only mildly if in fact it protects them at all.

My personal feeling was that as long as they are clear on that, then if they still want us we should still go, but then I have to leave Gaza soon. In the Khoza’a meeting (this included showing our video footage of the Faraheen shooting of Mohammed and telling them about Tristan’s shooting and the past killings of ISMers) the farmers replied “Ok, maybe they shoot at us when you are with us, well we’re used to that because they shoot at us when you are not with us. So it’s normal. But if you are with us when it happens – at least you can tell the world about it.”

So we met the mostly women farmers at 7am (often women work the most dangerous areas in the hope the soldiers will shoot less) and walked to the fields which were about 4-500 metres from the border. Today’s crop was lentils. I have never seen a lentil plant before, and I certainly hope no-one has to shell the lentils individually cos that would really be some job.

The farmers told us they had been shot at the day before in this same field. Several of us had had bad dreams the night before, and I’d written a quick will with various keepsakes for Gaza friends. In the van, E and I exchanged computer passwords and emergency contact numbers. (Actually, I’ve noticed her looking speculatively at me sometimes, since I told her she gets my laptop if something happens to me here.) She also informed me that for her martyr poster if she died, she wanted a picture of her with a donkey. So it was with somewhat of a sense of doom we walked down the track among golden wheatfields. And when explosions started shaking the ground, we wondered if we should even keep going. We rang our friend J in Faraheen, since they seemed to be coming from his direction.

But he told us that actually what we could hear was a fight between Palestinian resistance, and Israeli occupation forces, in Maghazi camp (where Dr Halid – who is a nurse not a doctor – and his family live) which was a lot further north. So the lentil picking got underway and we tried to feel reassured by the fact that the F16s and Apaches flying overhead, and the distant roaring, were not directed at us. But I couldn’t help imagining what it must be like to be a resistance fighter on the ground facing those Apaches and F16s.

Anyway, it wasn’t long before two jeeps turned up at the border, and Israeli soldiers got out. We waited for the inevitable, and it came – a short burst of shooting only broadly in our general direction. The women working on the ground tensed up and waited. But that turned out to be it. The soldiers got back in the jeeps, and the jeeps drove off again. Some hours later, lots of lentils were picked, the sun was high, everyone was relaxed, and the morning was a success.

You can see my colleage G’s Youtube footage of the brief shooting, which he has cheekily finished with a minute or two of me and E entertaining ourselves with some of the dubke dance steps we’ve learnt. You can also find a report of the day and archived articles and videos at the new blog Gaza ISMers have created to support the campaign to protect Gaza farmers, at http://farmingunderfire.blogspot.com/. Please tell your friends.

Later we heard that in Maghazi camp, two fighters were killed, 2 injured, and an Israeli soldier was injured and an Israeli jeep destroyed. I texted Dr Halid and asked how the little girls were. “My children are used to bombing now”, he replied resignedly. I can’t help but feel like the resistance fighters took the fire for us today. If Israel hadn’t been busy shooting at them, from past experience it seems a sure thing they would have stuck round to shoot at us, like they had at the same farmers in the same place the day before. I guess that’s why the resistance is called the resistance.

Later that afternoon, V and I were sitting smoking shisha, looking out at the sea, and gunfire got our attention again. Squinting, we spotted another Israeli gunship, tormenting another Palestinian fishing boat. The gunboat alternated tightly circling the fishing boat with drive-by shooting; we could see the spray as the bullets hit the water. It reminded me of nothing more than a cat playing with a mouse. This was still going on several hours later when we left.

Today, E heard that yesterday a woman she visited in Al Shifa hospital, Ghada, the 21 year old mum of two little girls, finally died in an Egyptian hospital of her horrendous white phosphorous burns. Before she was sent out to Egypt she gave her testimony to my friend M, one of the Al Quds Red Crescent workers, and it is posted here on the B’T Selem website. Please read it. It’s the least we can do.

Oh…and Israel dropped its internal investigation into possible war crimes by the Israeli army in the Dec/Jan attacks.

Photo: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/5830

5. Thousands of dunums confiscated for Israeli settler road near Nablus

Ma’an News Agency  2 April 2009

Israeli authorities issued orders to confiscate more than one thousand dunums of Palestinian lands of the village of Qaryut south of Nablus, head of the villages and municipal affairs office in Nablus Ghassan Daghlas said on Thursday.

On the land a road will be constructed linking the three illegal settlements, He noted that “this decision aims at to construct a three kilometer road to link the Israeli illegal settlement of Shilo, and the illegal settlement outposts of Hayovel and a second known locally as the “Qaryut” outpost.

Daghlas noted that Israeli bulldozers had been surveying the area for days, and that there seemed to be a coordinated effort between soldiers and settlers, who constructed a road barrier near the village of Der Sharaf, while military crews expanded the Yitzhar road after confiscating Palestinian lands adjacent to it. The village representative also mentioned that several home demolition orders were served in the past weeks in the nearby villages of Tana and At-Tawila, both south of Nablus.

Head of the village council of Qaryot, Abed An-Naser Badawi, told Ma’an that “the settlers along with the soldiers blocked the southern entrance of the village and began to confiscate the land.” The day before he said settlers distributed written orders saying the land would be confiscated. Qaryot village has a population of more than 2700 people is surrounded with a number of Israeli settlements.

Photos:  http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/5819

6. Israeli exports hit by European boycotts after attacks on Gaza

Rachel Shabi | The Guardian

3 April 2009

Israeli companies are feeling the impact of boycott moves in Europe, according to surveys, amid growing concern within the Israeli business sector over organised campaigns following the recent attack on Gaza.

Last week, the Israel Manufacturers Association reported that 21% of 90 local exporters who were questioned had felt a drop in demand due to boycotts, mostly from the UK and Scandinavian countries. Last month, a report from the Israel Export Institute reported that 10% of 400 polled exporters received order cancellation notices this year, because of Israel’s assault on Gaza.

There is no doubt that a red light has been switched on,” Dan Katrivas, head of the foreign trade department at the Israel Manufacturers Association, told Maariv newspaper this week.

We are closely following what’s happening with exporters who are running into problems with boycotts.” He added that in Britain there exists “a special problem regarding the export of agricultural produce from Israel”.

The problem, said Katrivas, is in part the discussion in the UK over how to label goods that come from Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. Last week British government officials met with food industry representatives to discuss the issue.

In recent months, the Israeli financial press has reported the impact of mounting calls to boycott goods from the Jewish state. Writing in the daily finance paper, the Marker, economics journalist Nehemia Stressler berated then trade and industry minister Eli Yishai for telling the Israeli army to “destroy one hundred homes” in Gaza for every rocket fired into Israel.

The minister, wrote Stressler, did not understand “how much the operation in Gaza is hurting the economy”.

Stressler added: “The horrific images on TV and the statements of politicians in Europe and Turkey are changing the behaviour of consumers, businessmen and potential investors. Many European consumers boycott Israeli products in practice.”

He quoted a pepper grower who spoke of “a concealed boycott of Israeli products in Europe”. In February, another article in the Marker, titled “Now heads are lowered as we wait for the storm to blow over”, reported that Israelis with major business interests in Turkey hoped to remain anonymous to avoid arousing the attention of pro-boycott groups.

The paper said that, while trade difficulties with Turkey during the Gaza assault received more media attention, Britain was in reality of greater concern.

Gil Erez, Israel’s commercial attache in London, told the paper: Organisations are bombarding [British] retailers with letters, asking that they remove Israeli merchandise from the shelves.” Finance journalists have reported that Israeli hi-tech, food and agribusiness companies suffered adverse consequences following Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza, and called for government intervention to protect businesses from a growing boycott.

However, analysts stressed that the impact of a boycott on local exporters was difficult to discern amidst a global economic crisis and that such effects could be exaggerated.

If there was something serious, I would have heard about it,” said Avi Tempkin, from Globes, the Israeli business daily.

Israeli companies are thought to be wary of giving credence to boycott efforts by talking openly about their effect, preferring to resolve problems through diplomatic channels.

Consumer boycotts in Europe have targeted food produce such as Israeli oranges, avocados and herbs, while in Turkey the focus has been on agribusiness products such as pesticides and fertilisers.

The bulk of Israeli export is in components, especially hi-tech products such as Intel chips and flashcards for mobile phones. It is thought that the consumer goods targeted by boycott campaigns represent around 3% to 5% of the Israeli export economy.

http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/5815

7. Israeli settlers take over Palestinian residence in Jerusalem’s old city

On the 2nd of April at 2am, at least seven armed Israeli settlers took over a Palestinian residence on al-Malwiyeh Street in Jerusalem’s old city.  The house’s owner, Nasser Jaber, was away for four nights while the building was being renovated.  The settlers arrived in the early morning, breaking open the door and changing the locks.  A neighbor called Nasser to tell him that his house was being invaded, and Nasser called the police.

When the police arrived around 3am, they protected the settlers and allowed them to complete their takeover unhindered.  Police claim that the settlers will be allowed to stay in the house until an Israeli court has made a decision over whether they are to be evicted.  Nasser and another resident protested the takeover on the street outside of their home, and they were promptly arrested.  Police released the two men after two hours.  Nasser has presented his ownership documents to the Israeli court.  The court says it will reach a decision as to who owns the house on Sunday.  In the afternoon, police were seen giving food and electrical equipment to the settlers inside of Nasser’s house.

This most recent takeover follows months of increased settler activity in occupied East Jerusalem.  Palestinian residents in Jerusalem’s old city, Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, and elsewhere often face eviction, with settlers given ownership of their houses.

Photo: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/5791

8. They Will Not Go Down: Celebrating Life and Land Day

Eva Bartlett (see blog at http://ingaza.wordpress.com)

31 March 2009

Less than two months have passed since the end of Israel’s grisly war on Gaza. Not a house has been re-built (there is no cement; Israel continues to ban its entry into Gaza), thousands are displaced or sheltering in an overcrowded relative’s house or renting a scarcely- available apartment. The aid has stockpiled on the other side of crossings into Gaza, many trucks being sent back or expired. And the pain of loss, let alone of seeing family members -children, siblings, parents-burned by white phosphorous, being murdered or left to bleed to death is still unbearably fresh.

Yet Palestinians are trying to move on, again, while dealing with a siege which has only tightened post-destruction of Gaza. Last week Palestinian youths held a concert in the burnt-out theatre in one of the al Quds hospital buildings, attacked and seriously damaged by Israel during its war on Gaza [more than 14 hospitals and medical centres were bombed and damaged by Israeli army, 2 clinics were destroyed, 44 other damaged, and 23 emergency workers and medics were killed].

Quds Concert

Charred walls as a backdrop, piles of twisted metal, burnt rafters, and the ash of destroyed walls framing the stage, the next generation of Palestinian parents and leaders stood proud last Thursday, saying with their presence, as well as singing, “we will not go down”. The Michael Heart song written during Israel’s 3 weeks of attacks on Gaza caught the spirit of what Palestinians have been saying and living for decades, since the Zionists first began -even before Israel was created on the smoking ruins of Palestinian villages -their assassinations and acts of terrorism designed to frighten and drive out the existing Palestinian population.

On stage, a youth troupe of Dabke dancers held their own, did justice to the art that is Dabke. What was evident more than the skill of the musicians and dancers was Palestinians’ drive to live, to laugh, to show off and share their love of life. Just as with a concert organized by several youths last November to lift the spirits of Palestinians in Gaza living under a suffocating siege, the crowd clearly reveled in the opportunity for joy …after so much tragedy.

Land Day

In Gaza’s northern Beit Hanoun region, Palestinians, led by women, marched to land in the Israel-imposed “buffer zone” to tend the remaining trees and proclaim their right to the land. The area once flourished with olive, lemon, orange, guava and almond trees, in the years before Israeli invasions razed them to the ground, simultaneously razing history and life. Following Israel’s latest bout of destruction upon Gaza, most sources cite 60,000-75,000 dunams (1 dunam is 1,000 square metres) of fertile, cultivable land as having been destroyed by Israeli tanks and bulldozers. In Gaza’s perimeter areas, the “buffer zone” annexes land to Israel, gobbling up rich soil which had served Gaza’s agricultural needs. As of the last attacks on Gaza, as much as 60 % of the agriculture industry has been destroyed by Israel, further rendering Gazans aid-dependent.

Yet, again despite the gravity of the bleak situation Palestinians are facing, all over Palestine, on Land Day their voices were loud in protest, in defiance, and in joy. Organized by Beit Hanoun’s Local Initiative, a group leading agricultural and social projects in the northern region, Land Day celebrants sang, danced Dabke, tended their trees, and celebrated being on their land. On any given normal day, most of the residents would hesitate to go to this border region area due to the Israeli soldiers’ shooting which routinely erupts dangerously close to anyone on the land.

Photos: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/5780

9. Gazan fishermen protest against Israeli Navy attacks

On the 2nd of April, dozens of fishermen from the Salateen area in Beit Lahiya in the far north of Gaza, staged a march towards the coast to protest against recent Israeli naval attacks.  The demonstrators were joined by the Director of the General Syndicate of Marine Fishers, Nizar Ayash, as well as Palestinian activists from the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative. The demonstration was supported by volunteers from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), amongst them two international activists abducted by Israeli naval forces last November.

The Israeli navy has intensely escalated its attacks against Gazan fishermen since the recent onslaught on the Gaza Strip.  In just the past three weeks, at least two fishermen have been injured by gunfire, 16 have been abducted (some of them tortured and later released) and seven fishing boats have been stolen without being returned.  Several other boats have also reportedly been damaged by Israeli gunfire. Most of the fishermen are from the Salateen area, some of whom now face bleak situations ­ in the wake of losing their homes during Israeli bombing raids, they have now lost their sole means of income in an area already greatly impoverished by the continued Israeli siege on Gaza.

Photos:  http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/5773

 

10. Israeli authorities confiscate land from Deir Sharaf to build new checkpoint

Posted: April 2, 2009

Israeli authorities have recently removed Beit Iba checkpoint, north of the city of Nablus, only to build a new checkpoint 2km away on the same road.  This new checkpoint is located west of the village of Deir Sharaf, closer to the illegal Israeli settlement of Shave Shomeron. The new checkpoint is being built on at least 70 dunums of confiscated village land.  Most of this land consists of agricultural fields belonging to 23 families from Deir Sharaf.  Dozens of olive trees are to be cut down or confiscated when the new checkpoint is implemented.

In 2006, when the settlement of Shave Shomeron was built, around 700 dunums of land and more than 700 olive trees were taken from Deir Sharaf village.  The villagers have since been denied access to this land, apart from three days each year during the olive harvest.

A villager from Deir Sharaf speaks about this new confiscation of village lands: “There has already been taken so much land taken from us because of the settlement, why do they need to move the checkpoint? When they confiscated our land and our trees three years ago, we where denied access to it the whole year except three days during the harvest. As every farmer knows, three days to do the harvest is impossible, it is a big joke. When the harvest began, the grass around the trees was a meter high and the trees were in terrible condition due to the lack of careful treatment that the olive fields require. This is injustice, this land belongs to us. We will not accept more land being confiscated.”

http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/5769

11. Beit Liqya commemorates Land Day by planting trees near martyr’s graves

On the 31st of March, at 10:30am, villagers in Beit Liqya marked Land Day by planting trees near the graves of two villagers killed by Israeli forces during demonstrations against the Apartheid Wall in 2005.  Beit Liqya is located in the Ramallah district of the central West Bank.  Around 200 villagers, supported by Israeli and international solidarity activists, moved towards the Apartheid Wall, which is built on village land.

Around 50 boys from the local youth committee beat drums and marched in procession to the graves of two boys killed by Israeli forces. Jamal Jaber, 15 years old, and Uday Mofeed, 14 years old, were shot with live ammunition during nonviolent demonstrations against the construction of the Apartheid Wall in 2005.  Villagers planted trees near their graves, connecting the martyrs’ deaths to the continued brutality of the Israeli occupation and remembering the murder of six Palestinian demonstrators in 1976, which is commemorated every year on Land Day.

After the trees were planted, three Israeli soldiers standing nearby began shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd and firing live ammunition into the air.  Some of the village youth responded to the soldiers by throwing stones.  One Israeli solidarity activist was hit in his back with a rubber bullet.

Photos: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/5822

12. Gazan farmers continue their work despite army shooting

On the morning of the 1st of April, ISM Gaza Strip activists returned to accompany Palestinian farmers in the area of Khouza’a, east of Khan Younis.  This is the same area where farmers working their fields were almost shot on the 24th of February.  The fields are far away from the Israeli watchtowers and about 400 meters from the Green Line. Despite this, the farmers had problems when they tried to reach their fields on the two previous days because of the shooting from Israeli troops.

The work began at 7:40am and about 25 minutes later, two army jeeps moved along the fence and approached the group of farmers and activists.  The soldiers got out and started watching.   It was obvious that the group was posing no threat to the soldiers.  Most of the Palestinian farmers were middle-aged women.  Many of the international solidarity activists were wearing fluorescent or Red Crescent vests.  But after a few minutes of watching, the Israeli soldiers started shooting.

One of the ISM activists tried to deescalate the situation by talking to the army by megaphone but they still continued shooting.  The farmers resisted the attack by ignoring the fire and continuing their work.   After awhile, the soldiers withdrew and quit their attempt to expel the Palestinian farmers from their land.  Despite the intimidation of the Israeli soldiers, and despite the fact that they could hear the intense battles between Israeli occupation forces and Palestinian resistance fighters (two of them killed and another two injured) east of Al Meshazi camp further north, the farmers stayed and defended their rights to work their land.  Today they won the battle, tomorrow is another day.

Photos and video download: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/5807

13. Land Day demonstration in Ni’lin

On March 30th, about 30 Palestinian villagers from Ni’lin, supported by international and Israeli solidarity activists, held a protest to commemorate Land Day. The nonviolent demonstration was stopped by Israeli forces on the outskirts of the village, far away from the construction site of the wall. Three military jeeps parked in the main street of the village to block the protest, shooting tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber coated steel bullets against the demonstrators.

The demonstration started at the main square of the village and continued towards the field where the Israeli army blocked their path. Several speeches were given and when the demonstrators tried to continue the army claimed that the village fields was a closed military zone. The Israeli commander also argued that villagers in Ni’lin do not have the right to demonstrate.

Demonstrators then tried to enter the field from other spots near the clinic and were subsequently attacked by soldiers with sound bombs, tear gas and rubber coated steal bullets. At the end of the demonstration some protesters managed to reach the illegal Apartheid Wall, damaging a small part of it.

This Land day demonstration remembers the six Palestinans murdered by the Israeli army for protesting against land confiscation in 1976. Ni’lin villagers know well that land confiscation is still a reality in Palestine. Since 1948, Ni´lin residents have lost more than 85% of their land to confiscation from Israeli authorities and illegal settlement building. Since the resistance against the Apartheid Wall began in Ni´lin in May 2008, four youth have been killed by Israeli forces in nonviolent demonstrations. Nineteen people have also been shot with live ammunition and over 600 have been injured by other army weaponry.

Photos: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/5736

14. Congresswoman Barbara Lee makes statement regarding Tristan Anderson

Congresswoman Barbara Lee makes a statement regarding the American citizen, Tristan Anderson, who was shot in the head with a tear-gas projectile on 13 March 2009 by Israeli forces. Anderson, currently in critical condition at Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv, was shot during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Ni’lin.

 

YouTube link:  http://www.youtube.com/user/RepLee

 

http://palsolidarity.org/2009/04/5746

 

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March 31, 2009

ISM Digest 29 March 2009

Posted in ISM Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:36 pm by Alexia

DIGEST March 29, 2009

1. List of actions in Palestine for Land Day and Global BDS Day
2. Israeli forces violently disperse Hebron demonstration, one German citizen arrested
3. CPT: Palestinian shepherds resist settler violence and disruption
4. Settlers using government transition to step up construction, March 29, 2009
5. IWPS: Army incursion in Haris, over 150 minors and youths arrested, March 27, 2009
6. Palestinian, you are on your own!, March 26, 2009
7. Another two children killed by Israeli explosive in the Gaza Strip, March 24, 2009
8. Guardian article about the press conference for tristans parents March 23
9. Jerusalem Capital of Arab Culture events continue despite ban and heavy police repression in occupied East Jerusalem,
10. EU urges Israel to suspend East Jerusalem evictions

1. List of actions in Palestine for Land Day and Global BDS Day
Stop the Wall | Global BDS Movement  30 March 2009
The people in Palestine are mobilizing for the 32nd annual commemoration of Land Day, happening March 30. Land Day marks the date of the Palestinian demonstration that occurred in the Galilee against a wide-scale land confiscation, when Israeli forces killed 6 Palestinians, injured 96 and arrested 300.
Today, the Land Day protests of the people in Palestine and around the world are focused on the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. The call for a global day of action on March 30 came out of the World Social Forum in Belem (Brazil) and aims to promote BDS as the most effective tool to stop Israeli policies of land theft and colonization and the discrimination, massacres and ethnic cleansing that have been carried out against the Palestinian people in pursuit of these goals.
Actions all across historic Palestine tie the ongoing defense of Palestinian land and agriculture from the Wall and settlement project to the call for boycott of Israeli products and institutions. Where farming becomes a form of resistance, choosing Palestinian over Israeli products is an essential part of the Palestinian struggle for justice, freedom, and return. Where a people is besieged, bombed and starved with the complicity of governments around the world, the call for global BDS becomes an essential tool to break the siege.
LIST OF ACTIONS
Galilee (’48 Palestine) – organized by the Higher Follow Up Committee of the Arab citizens of Israel
March 30, Deir Hanna: Demonstration against Israeli racism and fascism. Gathering at 3 pm.
March 30, Kufr Kanna: Demonstration at 10 am
March 30, Sakhnin: Demonstration at 10 am
Jenin
March 30, Rumaneh: Tree planting along with a workshop entitled “Land Day, BDS and the struggle against the Wall”.
Qalqiliya
March 27, Jayyous: Demonstration against the Wall and for the boycott of Israeli products.
March 29, Qalqiliya city: BDS district meeting. Activists, political representatives and students will discuss the boycott strategies in the district to work towards a ‘Qalqiliya district free of Israeli products’.
March 30, Jayyous: Demonstration against the Wall and for BDS along with the planting of olive trees.
March 30, Qalqiliya city: Demonstration against against Israeli occupation and for BDS
April 6 and 7, Qalqiliya city: Workshop in al Quds Open University Qalqiliya on economic and academic boycott as a form of resistance.
Ramallah
March 27, Ni’lin and Bil’in: demonstrations against the Wall and for BDS
March 27, al-Lubban: A day for voluntary work and painting of murals for the children, political workshop on BDS, and a film screening.
March 28, Shuqba: A day for voluntary work and painting of murals for the children as well as political workshop on BDS.
March 28, Sinjil: A day for voluntary work and painting of murals for the children, political workshop on BDS, and a film screening.
March 30, Qalandiya: Demonstration at Qalandiya checkpoint against the isolation of Jerusalem and for BDS.
April 3, Ni’lin and Bil’in: Demonstrations against the Wall and for BDS.
April 4, Beit Liqiya: A day for voluntary work and painting of murals for the children, political workshop on BDS, a film screening, and a dabke festival.
Saffa, April 4: A day of voluntary work, painting of murals for the children and the planting of olive trees.
Bethlehem
March 27, al Ma’sra: Demonstration against the Wall and for BDS.
March 30, Qubbet Rahel (Bethlehem): Women’s demonstration against the Wall and for BDS.
March 30, Beit Sahour: Workshop at the Palestinian Center For Rapprochement Between People covering the topics of communication for western audiences about Palestine and activism on Palestine and abroad, including BDS. (9 am ­ 12am).
April 3, Irtas: Planting olive trees.
April 3, al Ma’sra: Demonstration against the Wall and for BDS.
http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5650
2. Israeli forces violently disperse Hebron demonstration, one German citizen arrested
11:30am on Saturday, the 28th of March, Israeli forces violently dispersed a Hebron demonstration, firing tear gas and sound bombs and arresting one German solidarity activist. More than 50 Palestinian residents of Hebron, supported by international and Israeli solidarity activists, were nonviolently rallying against the illegal Israeli settlements inside of Hebron’s old city. The demonstrators gathered near Beit Romano settlement, holding signs against the occupation and chanting, “free, free Palestine!”
Israeli soldiers and police responded by firing sound bombs and tear gas. At this time, the German solidarity activist was arrested and taken to the police station in Kiryat Arba, where he continues to be held.
Knesset member Mohammad Barakeh was also present to speak in support of the demonstration, which was organized by the Youth Against Settlements group. Barakeh was tear gassed and pushed by Israeli forces as the rally was dispersed.
The Hebron demonstration also marked Land Day, which commemorates the massacre of six Palestinian citizens of Israel by Israeli authorities during demonstrations in the Galilee on March 30, 1976. Every year, Land Day is remembered all over Palestine with protests against the Israeli occupation.
Hundreds of illegal settlers are living in Hebron’s old city. Israeli road closures prevent
Palestinian residents from accessing large areas of the old city, which remain under the direct control of the Israeli military.
http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5637
3. CPT: Palestinian shepherds resist settler violence and disruption
Christian Peacemaker Teams  29 March 2009
South Hebron Hills, West Bank
[Note: According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.] In three recent incidents Palestinian shepherds asserted their right to graze their sheep on their own land, despite Israeli settlers attempts to intimidate the Palestinians and disrupt their agricultural work.
Palestinians in the South Hebron hills have responded to recent violence and incursions on their lands with a law suit and a nonviolent grazing action.
The morning of March 22, as shepherds from the village of At-Tuwani grazed their sheep in nearby Humra valley, a settler brought his flock to the area from the Israeli settlement outpost of Havot Ma’on. The settler called the police and army, claiming that one of the Palestinians had thrown a stone at him. When the police arrived, they detained the accused Palestinian and took him to Kiryat Arba police station. Internationals who had been present and videotaped the scene showed the police video and pictures demonstrating that the shepherd had not thrown stones, and the man was released. The following day the Palestinian shepherd returned to the police station with papers proving his ownership of the valley. He has filed a suit against the settler for trespassing.
On March 25, while Palestinian shepherds grazed their sheep on land belonging to the village of Juwayye, twenty Israelis approached from the settlement of Ma’on and shot at the shepherds. Despite the presence of Israeli soldiers and the Ma’on settlement security guard at the time of the shooting, no Israelis were arrested. Palestinian shepherds continued to graze their sheep for two hours after the shooting, but were then forced from the land by soldiers claiming they were too close to road 317.
On March 28 shepherds from Tuwani and other villages in the South Hebron Hills responded to recent harassment by gathering peacefully with their families to graze sheep in Khoruba valley near Tuwani. After they had been in the valley for about an hour four settlers, two with their faces covered, walked out from Havat Ma’on outpost into the flocks and among the shepherds and their children. In response, Palestinian shepherds sat down and refused to remove their sheep from the area. Israeli soldiers, police, and border police arrived but did nothing to prevent the settlers from disrupting the grazing sheep.
Palestinians in Tuwani and the surrounding villages face continued threats of violence and intimidation from setters. With the start of the grazing season, villagers say they expect the actions of the settlers will become increasingly disruptive, but that the villages remain committed to nonviolence as they confront the incursions.
http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5654
4. Settlers using government transition to step up construction
Amos Harel | Ha’aretz   29 March 2009
Construction activity on West Bank settlements has increased in the transition period between the February general election and the formation of the new government, Haaretz has learned. One notable example is the extensive earthworks being carried out in preparation for the construction of a road connect the settlement of Eli, north of Ramallah, with the Hayovel outpost Yuval, just south of the Arab city.
The earthworks are being carried out on private land owned by residents of the Palestinian village of Qaryut. The mayor, Abd al- Latif Lavum, plans to submit a petition today to the High Court of Justice today demanding the issuing of a stop order to the Civil Administration to halt the work.
In fact, the Civil Administration, a government body that governs civilian aspects of daily life in the West Bank, has itself already issued an order to stop the work but it has not been enforced. Dror Etkes, Lands Project Coordinator for the nonprofit organization Yesh Din, which is facilitating the High Court petition, said that the organization’s records show the Eli-Hayovel road to be the largest such roadwork project related to the illegal outposts since since the publication of the Sasson Report on activity in the outposts in 2005.
Etkes, who has been monitoring Jewish construction in the West Bank for years, said that the construction began in Eli about two weeks ago. A dirt road was built between the two communities in 2003, but further development of the road was halted.
Etkes said that dozens of trucks brought gravel and earth over the past two weeks for the foundation of the 1,400-meter-long road. The cost of the project is estimated at a few million shekels. More than 90 percent of the road’s course passes through privately owned Palestinian lands.
While public attention was focused on the fighting in Gaza and the election campaign, we have been seeing a renewed effort on the part of settlers in outposts to increase construction,” Etkes said.
He said this renewed effort put an end to a period of relative inactivity that he ascribed to criticism from the United States of construction in the territories combined with tighter enforcement by Israeli authorities.
In addition to the Eli-Hayovel road, Yesh Din has documented recent work at the Havat Gilad outpost, west of Nablus, where settlers built a road to the Nablus bypass road.
The Defense Ministry said in a statement that Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the defense establishment are committed to enforcing law and order in the West Bank and have prevented the creation of new outposts as well as removing people from existing ones.
Minister Barak has instructed law enforcement authorities to act with determination against violations during the transition period as well,” the statement said.
The Yesha Council of Jewish Settlements said the High Court petition was “a legal provocation.”
http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5645
5. IWPS: Army incursion in Haris, over 150 minors and youths arrested
International Women’s Peace Service  26 March 2009
A major military operation took place today in Haris between 2am and 5pm. Around 15 jeeps, 2 border police jeeps and vans belonging to Israeli Intelligence Shabak entered Haris and arrested around 150 people including large number of minors.
A number of people reported injury by the soldiers including several cases of beatings of small children and women. Soldiers also destroyed furniture, appliances, walls and various food products in at least 4 houses.
At 4:30pm most of the people who were arrested were released. At present IWPS is aware of 4 youths all aged 16 who have not been released and whose whereabouts is currently unknown. There are strong indications that more people were taken away and we are hoping to have more accurate figures soon.
At 2 am soldiers and jeeps entered Haris in a major military operation which lasted 15 hours. The soldiers raided most houses in Haris, arresting youths and interrogating them about their friends, family members and the layout of the houses. The IWPS has heard from many parents and adults that soldiers gave them a piece of paper with a number and photographed them holding this paper.
All those arrested were blindfolded, handcuffed and taken to the primary school in Haris. Here they were seated in the classrooms and in the playground and interrogated one by one by Shabak and the military. Those released were given a paper so that other soldiers would not re-arrest them as the arrests continued throughout the day.
The IWPS members witnessed several of the arrests and we have managed to secure photographic evidence and statements form a number of victims and their relatives.
IWPS also received a report of a man who suffered a back injury due to excessive use of force by the soldiers. The IWPS called for an ambulance which arrived shortly after but was denied entry into Haris by the soldiers, in spite of being urged by the IWPS and the villagers living near by. The reason given was that if a person was injured it would be army’s responsibility to take care of them and provide the ambulance. However, the Israeli ambulance parked nearby was not called by the soldiers to treat the injured man.
Two photojournalists who managed to enter Haris close to the primary school where shortly after escorted by the border police out of the village. In addition, a TV van and two other journalists were denied entry into Haris.
The army incursion finished around 4.30 and villagers fear that it might continue in the near future.
When questioned about the purpose of the incursion, IWPS members were told by the army that they were updating their database of information of Haris residents. Last Saturday 21st March there was another army incursion into Haris where army jeeps and Shabak vans parked in front of the primary school and took photos of the school.
IWPS is concerned about the current wave of arrests of residents of Haris and especially minors and youths. IWPS is also very concerned about the violent behavior of soldiers during the arrests and the use of primary school for detention and interrogation purposes. In addition the media access has repeatedly been denied and there is limited flow information including about the very serious human right abuses mentioned above.
http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5599
6. Palestinian, you are on your own!
Natalie Abou Shakra  (see blog at http://gaza08.blogspot.com)
March 26, 2009
He said, “Your wife is beautiful, I want to sleep with her.” During the interrogation, they would hit us extensively. They prevent us from sleeping, urinating, drinking and eating. During my friend’s interrogation, they brought in his wife. They touched her breasts, her sensitive areas in front of him. They wanted him to admit to their accusations. Imprisonment by the occupation forces is the attempting to murder a resistant spirit… all that we have against their state-of- the-art weaponry .
Gilad Shalit “who turned 22 in captivity, will have been a hostage of Hamas for about 1,000 days,” writes Isabel Kershner on March 8th 2009, in the New York Times . öAround 11,700 Palestinians resisting illegal occupation, including children under the age of 18 and elderly, are held hostage by Apartheid Israel, writes the history of the oppressed. Most of those detained, according to Ali ‘Olwan a lawyer at the Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs in Gaza, have spent more than twenty years in captivity. These prisoners are held under inhumane conditions, says ‘Olwan, in denial of medical examination, no visits by their families and children are allowed, in addition to being subject to various torture techniques. Majdi, who is now 43, hasn’t seen his brother, Bashir, who has been in captivity since 1986, 23 years of age then. “My mother’s wish is to see her son before she dies. It has been 15 years that she last saw his face.”
After collecting information about you, they would break into your house one night. The Shin Bet would arrest you, take you into prison, remove all your clothes off. Sometimes with underwear, sometimes without. Undressing you is a must. Then, they begin the hakirah , which includes extensive interrogation… and hitting. They would then bring you clothes with an acrid smell, and begin to use their torture techniques. Have you heard of the shabeh ? Ihab Bidir, 30, arrested by the IOF on the Mata’hin checkpoint in Gaza six years ago after being accused of affiliation with Hamas, was released on the 27th of January, 2009. Before his release by four days, Bidir, in his testimony, admitted that he was taken into a special division of the Naqab prison, called division 1, which is not under the jurisdiction of the Israeli Prisons Authority, but under the military’s control. He specified being accused as an “enemy combatant” and that the officer investigating his case denied him access to legal representation and an independent and impartial court claiming his file as “top secret” and that this was “not a legal matter, but entirely political.” He was released after spending four nights in division 1, in solitude. Bidir was clueless as to why he got to be placed in, and why he was later released. The chair would be made of metal. A low seated chair, with a low back support. They’d tie your hands to the back, so that your spine would be inclined against the metal low back support. Being seated as such for hours, the pain resulting from the back, and the spine, would be intolerable. And, then, they would ask you to spread your legs wide open, and begin to whack your member- you would go insane!
After the Israeli Occupation Forces claimed withdrawing its troops from Gaza in 2005, while redeploying them, it stopped implementing administrative arrest codes, but begun placing the detained under the category of “enemy combatant.” This category was used by Israel in dealing with Hezbollah detainees. Prof. Peter Jan Honigsberg of the University of San Francisco School of Law writes that “enemy combatant did not and does not exist under international law,” that it was a generic term until February 2002,” and that the US administration created it for the case of its detainees (Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghreib) since it “circumvent[ed] the Geneva Conventions and the international human rights laws,” in addition, he continues, to shelter individual members of the administration from being charged with war crimes.” Since January 18, 2009, after the 22 day genocidal attacks on Gaza, Israel has placed more than 20 Palestinian detainees under the category of “enemy combatant”, says Ali ‘Olwan, and the number is increasing, making each individual placed under this category unprotected by international law.
They would ask if you smoked, and then try to lure you into admitting into their accusations by allowing you a cigarette, or with food, water, or by admitting you to go to the bathroom. If you wet yourself, they would rub your body against the liquid on the floor and strike you. Did I tell you about placing detainees in refrigerators?
The Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War in its 13th, 14th, and 15th articles states that the detainees must be treated humanely, with no violence and “physical mutilation” in cruel treatment and torture, in addition to no offenses upon “personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment”, along with “free of charge medical attention.” In placing prisoners under an internationally unrecognized category such as “enemy combatant,” the state of Israel adds on to the growing list of crimes against humanity yet another heinous violation. Kershner in her article published in the New York Times, states that “in a small country where 18-year-olds are conscripted into the army complete strangers feel intimately connected to the Shalits.” On a land whose non-Jewish natives underwent ethnic cleansing genocidal wars since 1948, it is time for the world to stand in solidarity with and be “intimately connected” to the six million refugees worldwide, the remaining families of martyrs, those men, women and children burnt alive, those who became physically challenged, those who live below the poverty line, those who cannot have an education, those who are racially discriminated against, those who want no help in fighting for their right to live with dignity on their land, those who choose to resist, limited resistance against the largest nuclear power in the region. What Kershner also needs to realize is that Shalit is an illegal occupier, and that the 11,700 detained Palestinians have the legal right to defend themselves, their land against any occupier, or modern-day colonizer.
More than 11,000 of us are in there. Is Shalit-the-occupier more human than us?
http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5590
7. Another two children killed by Israeli explosive in the Gaza Strip
(21 March 2009) Mohammed Hiji and Ahmed Ishnayawra, both 14 years old according to medical sources, were killed in Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza city, on Saturday 21st of March by what is suspected to be Israeli ordinance, left unexploded after January’s invasion.
Mohammed was in the store, where he was working to support his family, as his father is handicapped as a result of an accident that caused him the loss of his right hand. Ahmed brought the object to the store where it exploded causing the death of the two boys.
Nobody else was in the store at the time of the explosion, so the details of the incident will never be known. What is sure is that Mohammed and Ahmed are two more innocent victims of a war that Israel has started and is refusing to cease. During the recent onslaught on Gaza alone, at least 313 children have been killed and 1,606 have been injured, according to the PCHR report, updated on the 19th of March.
Photo: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5572
8. Guardian: Parents of critically injured US peace activist demand justice from Israel
Rory McCarthy | The Guardian   March 23, 2009
Peace campaigner was struck in head with teargas grenade during demo in occupied West Bank
The parents of an American peace activist who was severely injured by Israeli forces at a demonstration in the occupied West Bank called on the Israeli government today to take “full responsibility” for the shooting.
Tristan Anderson, 38, was hit in the forehead by a high-velocity teargas canister fired by an Israeli border policeman in the village of Nilin earlier this month. The incident came after a demonstration against Israel’s West Bank barrier, which as elsewhere has cut off a large slice of the village’s agricultural land.
Since last July, four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in similar demonstrations in the village.
Anderson was rushed to the Tel Hashomer hospital in Israel, where he has already had three operations. He lost the sight in his right eye and doctors had to remove portions of his frontal lobe. It is not clear if he will survive, or how much brain damage he may have suffered.
His parents, Nancy and Michael, who flew out from their home near Sacramento in California to be at his bedside, said he remained in a very critical condition” in a medically induced coma.
We are horrified and overwhelmed,” said Nancy Anderson. “We are scared and really still in shock. To shoot peaceful demonstrators is really horrifying to us. What we want to ask is that the Israeli government publicly take full responsibility for the shooting of our son.”
She said no Israeli official, from either the government or the military, had contacted the couple since their son was hurt. “I don’t carry any negative feelings towards the soldier who shot our son,” she said. “All I feel is love for Tristan and fear for his recovery.”
Tristan Anderson worked in Oakland, California, as part of a crew involved in setting up conventions. He arrived in Israel in February with his girlfriend, and was planning to stay three months before joining his parents in Europe for a holiday.
He had been involved in previous peace demonstrations elsewhere in the world, including in Iraq in 2003, El Salvador and Guatemala. He was at the 2000 demonstration in Prague against the World Bank and IMF.
Tristan has always been interested in how societies that go through conflict are able to resolve their issues,” said his father. “He came to understand for himself what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was about. It is ironic that the country in which he was shot is a democracy where it is supposed to be a duty for everyone to follow their conscience. We want to know the truth of what happened and we want justice for our son.”
Jonathan Pollack, an Israeli activist who was at the demonstration this month, said Tristan was hit at around 4.30pm inside the village, at least 1km from the barrier, at a time when the demonstration was dispersing. Although, as is often the case, there had been some stone- throwing at the protest, he said Tristan had never thrown any stones or taken any violent action. Pollack said Israeli border police had led an incursion into Nilin that morning.
For hours before he was shot, Tristan was nowhere near the wall,” he said. It is thought he was hit by a high-velocity teargas grenade, a weapon newly being used against West Bank demonstrators. It comes in a black canister labelled in Hebrew “40mm bullet special/long range”, and is silent when fired, according to demonstrators. Tristan was hit from a distance of about 60 metres, they said.
Michael Sfard, an Israeli human rights lawyer acting for the Anderson family, said he had filed an official complaint demanding an independent investigation. He said that evidence from Israeli human rights researchers showed neither the border police nor the barrier itself were under any threat at the time of the shooting.
The incident took place in the village of Nilin when the protesters came back to the village after a peaceful demonstration,” Sfard said. The policemen involved, both the guy who shot and the officers who gave orders, must take the full might of criminal justice.”
The Israeli military described the protest as a “violent riot”, saying that “approximately 400 rioters threw a massive number of rocks at security forces”.
Israel regrets that the Israeli and foreign nationals co-operate with violent rioters against the building of the security fence, whose purpose is saving the lives of Israeli citizens,” it said. “As such, any Israeli, Palestinian, or foreign national who illegally participates in a violent demonstration takes upon himself the risk of personal harm during the dispersal of these disturbances.”
Photo: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5537
9. Jerusalem Capital of Arab Culture events continue despite ban and heavy police repression in occupied East Jerusalem
On the 21st of March, organizers kicked-off the Jerusalem Capital of Arab Culture festival despite an official ban and heavy police repression by the Israeli Authorities.  The festival, which is supposed to continue through 2009, has been banned in occupied East Jerusalem.
Organizers were determined to defy the ban in order to celebrate Palestinian heritage in the city.  20 participants were arrested for taking part in the activities, and dozens more detained. Israeli police and soldiers were heavily deployed in Jerusalem’s old city and in the surrounding neighborhoods.   In the early morning of the 21st, at least two organizations that were hosting events were raided by Israeli forces.   At 1pm, hundreds of balloons with the national colors of Palestine were released over the city.  Several of the balloon releasers were subsequently arrested.
Additionally, children’s games, traditional dabke dancing, and musical acts were conducted near Damascus Gate and in the main streets of the old city.  Israeli police harassed several of these activities, while letting others continue unhindered.  At around 3:30pm, a group of clowns began leading a crowd drummers and celebrators through the old city.  More than two dozen police and soldiers surrounded this group, detaining the clowns along with three international solidarity activists.  After around half an hour in the police station, everyone was released. Palestinian political, cultural, and civil organizations say that activities celebrating Jerusalem as a capital of Arab culture will continue throughout the year in East Jerusalem.  Several other Palestinian cities are also hosting events as part of the festival, including Hebron, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Ramallah.
Photos: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5576
10. EU urges Israel to suspend East Jerusalem evictions
EU business   23 March 2009
The European Union on Monday called on Israel to suspend eviction notices sent to Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, saying they further threaten the chances of peace.
The EU is deeply concerned by the issuing of eviction notices to the al-Rawi and Hanoun families in East Jerusalem,” the EU’s Czech presidency said in a statement on behalf of the 27 member states.
These eviction notices follow other recent orders which adversely affect Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and, combined with the increase in settlement activity in East Jerusalem, further threaten the chances of peace,” the statement added.
Last week the Palestinian Authority accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” after it delivered dozens of eviction orders to residents of annexed, mostly Arab east Jerusalem.
Last month Palestinian officials and residents told AFP that Israel had ordered hundreds of Palestinians to leave their homes in annexed east Jerusalem, warning their houses are illegal. Israel, which considers the whole of Jerusalem its “eternal, undivided” capital, rarely grants building permits to Arab residents of east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want to make the capital of their promised state.
The eviction orders have also triggered United Nations concerns.
The EU presidency said it had “raised our concerns with the Israeli government and call on Israel to suspend these eviction notices immediately”.
http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5565
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January 13, 2009

London Demo 10 January 09. Collective Punishment in the UK. We’re All Palestinians Now

Posted in ! My Articles tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:15 am by Alexia

“Collective punishment is the punishment of a group of people as a result of the behaviour of one or more other individuals or groups. The punished group may often have no direct association with the other individuals or groups, or direct control over their actions.”

 

The Wrong Place At The Wrong Time

The marchers were the most diverse I’ve ever seen. All nationalities and races. Men, women and children. Jews, Muslims, Christians, anarchists – all flavours of religious and political beliefs.

They came from everywhere around Britain. I met people from Wales to Lancashire and all points in between.

The majority of the march had been peaceful. We’d been held up a few times, initially because when we went past the Russian Embassy some people mistook it for the Israeli Embassy and staged a sit down protest and then when the march did reach the Israeli embassy we were delayed again while people burnt flags and placards and generally showed their disapproval.

There had been some violence during the march, but rather than tackling the violence that occurred when it occurred, the police chose to wait until the last of the marchers were close to the Israeli Embassy before they decided to lock down the area.

Then, for the next 4 hours we were trapped on the street outside the Israeli Embassy in freezing temperatures. We were denied access to water, food, shelter from the freezing conditions and sanitation. All because we were there when the police finally decided to do something about those who were causing trouble.

The First Lesson

A lot of the damage done to property occurred after we were detained. Despite the violence and the real risk of a further escalation and knowing that the rioters were young men, the police refused to allow the women and children to leave. Their bewilderment as they confronted the inconceivable refusal and their fear as they realised that they and their children were in danger from a situation they were forcibly detained in with no way to escape was sobering.

It�s easy to forget that most people in Britain have no concept of the heavy hand of the law and that the majority of people trust their government and the various arms of government to behave in an honourable and just way. It�s painful to see the reality of present day Britain being visited upon those who only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

What Were We Told When We Were Detained? Nothing, Well, Nothing True Anyway.

There was no explanation given of what we were to expect or the timeframes. The initial actions by the police were designed to intimidate and to incite. Initially there was the threat that the police would attack if the rioting escalated yet they moved the innocents closer to the rioters.

These people would have been injured as the police approach in these situations does not discriminate between women, children, non-violent men or rioters.

By pushing those not involved in the violence closer to those who were, they deliberately placed the non participants in the violence in physical danger, both from the rioters and by the police if they had chosen to move forward to quell it.

Our main focus was to get the women and children to safety. At one stage we were told that the women and children would be allowed to leave if they went to the cordon furthest away from the violence, so we sent them there. They were soon back and told us they had been refused exit.

Later we were told that people would be allowed to leave from the other end if they approached with their faces uncovered and their palms on display. That turned out to be untrue as well.

The Law and the Bits They Forgot About

 Supposedly we were held under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, also known as Stop and Search. Yet the procedures outlined in the Act were not followed nor did there appear to be even a token acknowledgement of the requirements of the Act.

When we were originally detained, we were not advised of the reason why. Voice amplification devices have been around for a while now, so it’s not inconceivable that the police have them. The final time we were told that we were to be released, it would be in groups of 10 and that we would all be required to produce our drivers licence, be searched and photographed and the procedure would take around 3 hours to process everyone. This included the stewards because, the police claimed, they had witnessed stewards involved in the violence.

Later we were told that the police had agreed that the stewards would just be required to provide their name and address and be photographed and if we refused it would be �difficult� for us. So, after 4 hours of being held in deliberately uncomfortable circumstances we were told that the only way out was to give them the information that they wanted. As we were not advised of our rights and in fact were threatened with unspecified police action if we did not comply, we were effectively compelled to give the information under duress.

When I was finally processed the police officers completely failed to follow the procedure outlined in section 60. I was video recorded from head to foot as I was asked for my name, address and date of birth. I was not given any of the information required by the act nor was I advised that I could obtain a copy of the written record.

Excuses, Excuses?

The length of time we were held there was not due to the inefficiency of the police but was a deliberate tactic to demoralise and punish those caught up in this. I can see no other plausible explanation.

Section 60 has been used countless times down the years and inexperience in administering it or logistical issues cannot be used as a reason for the actions of the Metropolitan Police. With at least 100 police in attendance at the start of our detention, there was no justification for the slow processing particularly in light of the adverse weather conditions and the composition of the crowd detained.

For the innocents detained, it will be a deterrent in exercising their right to public protest and is just another step in the alienation and radicalisation process that occurs when collective punishment is visited on those who have nothing to do with the “crime” they are being held accountable for.

The Final Lesson of the Day

When I was finally released and was walking away, a group of police strolled passed me and one said to the group in a disappointed voice “no rough today” and the others echoed his disappointment.

It tallies with the some of the behaviour and attitude exhibited by a tiny minority of the officers on duty. Just as some of those who participated in the march were looking forward to confrontation, there was an equal element of police who were also looking forward to a fun day out.

That was the final lesson I learned that day. No area of society is immune to the siren call of violence but when it is manifest in those who we task with administering the law dispassionately, it raises questions over whether the recruitment and ongoing management policies of the police are appropriate.

Britain in the 21st Century

Is this really what we want for Britain? Expediency overriding basic rights? Where collective punishment is government sanctioned? The police able to ignore the inconvenient parts of the laws they are tasked to administer? The resultant marginalisation and radicalisation of elements of our society?

How can we expect the British government to protest against collective punishment occurring in the rest of the world when they condone the same thing on our soil? The only difference is the degree.

I certainly expect better from those who are tasked with creating and administering the laws on my behalf and am extremely disappointed with what I see. It’s time for some explanations.