June 8, 2009
1. Palestinian protester killed during Na’alin rally
Avi Issacharoff, Anshel Pfeffer & Reuters | Ha’aretz
5 June 2009
Palestinian officials reported on Friday that a Palestinians demonstrator had been killed during the weekly anti-separation fence rally near the West Bank town of Na’alin. Palestinian medical officials said 36-year-old Yusuf Srour had been killed by Israeli forces. Medics said Srour was hit in the chest by a live bullet and another protester was wounded when soldiers fired at protesters.
Srour died minutes later, Mohammed Shahwan, a doctor on the ambulance called to the scene, told Reuters.
An Israeli military spokesman said troops had opened fire when protesters threw stones at them in the village, but denied that the troops had used live ammunition. However, an IDF spokesman said, an investigation has been launched into the incident.
Na’alin is the scene of weekly protests against the continuing construction of an Israeli barrier that has cut through the village.
Israel says the barrier it has built along its boundary with the West Bank is needed to keep bombers from infiltrating its towns.
Palestinians denounce the network of fencing and concrete walls which cut deeply into the West Bank in spots such as Na’alin, as a land grab that denies them territory they want for a future state.
Meanwhile, five demonstrators were injured in confrontations with security forces in the anti-separation fence rally in Bil’in. Two months ago, Ibrahim abu-Rakhma was killed during a separation fence rally in Bil’in after suffering a tear-gas grenade hit to his chest, which witnesses said was launched some 30 meters away by security forces.
The Israel Defense Force issued a response following the incident, stating that approximately 100 protesters had attempted to tear down part of the separation fence while hurling rocks at security forces. IDF troops responded to the mayhem by employing demonstration dispersal devices.
Another incident occurred four months ago, in which American citizen Tristan Anderson, in his thirties, sustained critical wounds during an anti-separation fence protest in Na’alin. Peace activists with the International Solidarity Movement of the Oakland, Calif. area, said Anderson was struck in the head with a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops.
2. Settlers attack Palestinian vehicle with rocks, wounding four, and set fire to land in Qalqiliya district
International Women’s Peace Service 1 June 2009
On Monday, June 1st, settlers from the Havat Gilad settler outpost in the Qalqiliya district of the West Bank reportedly attacked a minibus transporting 17 Palestinians to their jobs in Israel, critically injuring one. The settlers later burned an estimated 100 dunams of Palestinian land, leaving scorched earth and trees.
At approximately 4:30 a.m. on Monday a busload of 17 Palestinian men, mostly young and all with Israeli work permits, was stopped on the road near the entrance to Qedumim settlement by an estimated 50 settlers, who proceeded to throw rocks at the vehicle. Four workers were injured, one critically, and he remains in hospital.
The workers said Israeli soldiers were just 50 metres away from the settlers at the time of the attack. However, they reported, the soldiers did nothing to stop the settlers, nor did they take subsequent action. One uninjured worker asked soldiers to call an ambulance, but, he reported, they refused and even threatened to shoot him if he did not leave the area, which they had declared a closed military zone.
At around midday the settlers proceeded to burn Palestinian farmland, estimated by Nasser Sedda, the mayor of Jit, to cover 100 dunams and belong to eleven local families. Some of the land was planted with olive trees and with wheat, and an estimated 100 trees were destroyed in the fire. The Israeli army prevented farmers from reaching their land after the fires were set, the mayor reported, and consequently they were not able to extinguish the flames until between 4 and 5 p.m., by which time the damage was extensive.
One farmer with land near the neighbouring village of Immatin said that during last autumn’s olive harvest settlers from Havat Gilad burnt trees on his land. Four dunams of land had also been taken from the 17 dunams he owns for the construction of the outpost, and olive trees destroyed.
3. Infant dies as Israel prevents him from leaving Gaza Strip to undergo medical treatment in East Jerusalem
Al Mezan 5 June 2009
Infant Dies as Israel Prevents Him from Leaving Gaza Strip to Undergo Medical Treatment in East Jerusalem, Al Mezan Calls for Immediate Lifting of the Siege on Gaza
At around 7.30am on 3 June 2009, seven-month-old Zein Ad-Din Mohammed Zu’rob died in the intensive care unit at European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis. Medical sources at the hospital reported to Al Mezan that he died as a result of respiratory system and heart failure. According to Al Mezan investigations, Zein’s family obtained a medical referral for him to undergo medical treatment at Al-Maqasid Charity Hospital in East Jerusalem for 30 days starting from 18 May 2009.
On 20 May 2009, Zein’s family went to Al Mezan’s office in Rafah where they authorized Al Mezan to pursue the case and assist with efforts to secure a permit for the child and his family to travel to Jerusalem. The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) did not respond to the requests made regarding this matter until 3 June 2009.
Medical reports show that Zein was suffering from a severe lung infection which resulted in bronchial asthma and general weakness in his growth. Doctors at European Gaza Hospital said that the main cause of the deterioration in the child’s condition was an infection with a pancreatic cyst. They explained that hospitals in the Gaza Strip do not have the ability to conduct the necessary tests and that he was therefore referred to Al-Maqasid hospital in Jerusalem for tests and treatment.
Al Mezan Center has followed up this case with the victim’s family in cooperation with Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), which contacted the Israeli District Coordination Office (IDCO) at Erez Crossing. The IDCO’s answer was that they had not received an application for permission for the child to cross Erez to Jerusalem. Al Mezan Center contacted the Palestinian District Coordination Office staff in Gaza, who reported that they had sent an application for the child on 25 May 2009.
This is indicative of the serious problem of the complex bureaucracy faced by Gazans who need to leave Gaza seeking healthcare in Israel or the West Bank. They have to leave Gaza via Erez Crossing. Only severe cases who suffer from conditions that are incurable in Gaza are allowed to apply for permission. Nevertheless, the application and processing of their request take long times and lack an effective follow-up mechanism. Many patients die while waiting for a response to their requests for permission to exit Gaza.
According to Al Mezan’s monitoring, many of the sick persons who applied for permits to leave the Gaza Strip through Erez crossing were informed that they had not applied, even though the Palestinian Liaison Office had sent the applications days or weeks previously. Patients therefore have to wait even longer to receive a response, change their appointment at the hospital outside of Gaza, and then apply again for a permit thereby losing precious time waiting for a response which may be positive or negative. Al Mezan documentation also demonstrates that the receipt of a permit to exit Gaza through Erez crossing does not necessarily mean that patients will be allowed to leave. The IOF obstructs many patients who have been issued with permits, searching and interrogating them, and exploiting their need to travel for reasons of ill-health to pressurize them into collaborating and providing information about the activities of the resistance in the Gaza Strip. Many Palestinian patients have died after being ordered by the IOF to return to the Gaza Strip after refusing to collaborate.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights condemns in the strongest possible terms Israel’s siege on the Gaza Strip and its prevention of Palestinians from travelling to undergo medical treatment which is unavailable in Gaza. Al Mezan holds Israel responsible for the deaths of over 35 sick persons in the Gaza Strip who died as a result of Israel’s refusal to allow them to leave Gaza, and dozens of other persons who have died in Gaza’s hospitals as a result of the blockade, closures, the lack of treatment, and the lack of electricity and fuel.
Al Mezan asserts that Israel, as the Occupying Power in effective control of the Gaza Strip and its crossings, bears legal responsibility to ensure that Gaza residents can access adequate medical care, in a time which enables them to receive appropriate treatment without delay. Further, Israel has a clear responsibility toward the population of the Gaza Strip to enjoy their fundamental right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health in accordance with its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This obligation includes ensuring the availability of appropriate healthcare and the ability of each individual to access it.
4. Israeli piracy continues unabated – six more fishermen abducted
ISM Gaza | Fishing Under Fire 4 June 2009
Gazan territorial waters – At around 9 am, six Palestinian fishermen were abducted by the Israeli Navy whilst fishing in Palestinian territorial waters. The fishermen are reported as being; Adham Al – Habil 21, Mohammed Al – Habil 20, Ahmed Al – Habil, Maher Abu Sultan 25, Mohammed Al – Arayshi, and Sadam Bakar.
The fishermen embarked from Gaza port at 8 am, in a trawling vessel owned by Abu Adham. At around 9 am when they were 3 miles from shore, and 0.5 km south of the “K” area (a designated no-fishing area in the Oslo Accords), they reported that an Israeli gun boat had approached, fired at them, and demanded that they turn of the boats engine. Communication with the fishermen was then lost.
It is believed that all of the fishermen have been abducted, and that their boat has been seized. Several fishermen that were recently abducted in similar circumstances, but have now been released, had reported that at the time of their abduction, the Israeli Navy threatened that “If we see Abu Adham’s boat in the sea again, we’ll seize it and arrest all the fishermen.” In the last few months, the Israeli Navy have escalated their campaign of persecution against the Palestinian fishermen. Of particular note is the recent spate of abductions. Since the declaration of a cease- fire in January of this year, and prior to today, 40 abductions of fishermen have been reported, and 17 fishing boats have been seized or stolen. About 10 of these boats have been returned but with damages and equipment missing.
Abu Adham’s trawling boat was one of three boats seized by the Israeli Navy in November 2008. 15 of the fishermen aboard along with three members of the International Solidarity Movement were also abducted. Following a court case filed by PCHR, Al Mezan, and the ISM the 3 vessels were returned – although damaged and with equipment missing. On the 7th May 2009, one of these boats (belonging to Abu Rami) was again seized by the Israeli Navy and its crew abducted. Israel is refusing to return this boat. Along with Abu Adham’s vessel, it now appears that two of the trawlers stolen by the Israeli Navy in November 2008, are again in Israeli hands.
5. Israeli forces kidnap 4 Palestinian residents of Ni’lin
2 June 2009
Israeli forces invaded the town of Ni’lin at 2 am on Wednesday, 2nd of June. The army forcefully entered five homes and siezed four residents, Sa’dat Ibrahim Mustafa Ameerah (19), Mahmod Abdallah Ameerah (26), Ibrahim Khalil Ad-Dik Srour (18) and Hamada Abdel Raziq Khawaja (28). All of them are suspected in taking part of the popular resistance against the Annexation Wall. The arrested were taken to Ofer Prisoner Camp, a tent prison. A fifth person the army was looking for, Hassan Nimer Khawaja (22), was not captured since he was not at home when the Israeli army came. His family was given a paper ordering Hassan and his father to come to Ofer Prison Camp on 2 June at 2pm.
More than 100 soldiers came by foot, entering the village through the fields and surrounding the homes of the five persons they were aiming to arrest. Shortly thereafter, dozens of jeeps entered the village.
Hassan Khawaja, who was given an order to come to Ofer, chose to turn himself in because of frequent harassment of his family from Israeli soldiers.
Ibrahim Srour (18) was taken from a local bakery in Ni’lin, where he had started to work 2 weeks ago. According to Ibrahim’s colleagues, about 10 soldiers entered the bakery at 2am and arrested Ibrahim. Simultaneously, soldiers entered Srour’s home and went straight upstairs to search his room for evidence in connection with the popular resistance but nothing was found. The Israeli forces did not give a reason for the invasion of the Srour home. After the soldiers left, Ibrahim’s work colleague called his family to explain that Ibrahim had been handcuffed, blindfolded and taken to the Israeli road block at the entrance of the village. Ibrahim’s father Khalil took one of his daughters with him and went to the entrance to try to bring Ibrahim back home or give him some extra clothes since he was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I went to the roadblocks to bring back my son. When I came there I saw him sitting on the ground with his eyes blindfolded and his hands tied behind his back. I asked the soldiers if I could talk to him but they screamed at me to go back and at the same time I heard my son’s voice telling me to go back home. He wanted to protect me and I had to return back without him or giving him anything”
At 2am, Israeli soldiers with the commander in charge, “Captain Foad”, entered the house of Hamada Khawaja. Soldiers has previously harassed the neighbors while searching for Hamada’s house. Hamada’s entire family was woken by the soldiers, including his 2 children, ages 2 and 4 years old. According to Hamada’s brother, “Captain Foad” made jokes, asking the family who they thought he had come to take. Hamada and his brother were both taken downstairs and then Hamada was arrested and taken away. The family must now rely solely on the income of Hamada’s brother, whose family lives with Hamada.
At 2.10 am, Israeli forces knocked on the door of Mahmod Ameerah, calling his name. According to his wife, the whole family was asleep at the time. Mahmod went up to open the door and three soldiers entered the house. The soldiers remained inside Mahmod’s home, until the commander, “Captain Foad” came at 4am and arrested Mahmod. Mahmod provides the sole income for the family and is the father of 2 daughters, aged 1 and 2. Mahmod is the second son in the family that has been imprisoned on a suspicion of involvment with the popular resistance against the Wall.
Soldiers surrounded the home of Sa’dat Ameerah and entered at 2:15am. The family of ten were all put into one room except for the mother and 2 youngest children. The soldiers asked for the IDs of the 3 oldest sons. Around 3:15am, “Captain Foad” came to the home and Sa´dat was arrested, blindfolded, handcuffed and taken to a jeep.
Sadat’s father, Ibrahim, a member of the Popular Committee of Ni’lin, was also arrested during a night invasion on the 14th of August. He was imprisoned and interrogated on a daily basis until his release 16 days later. Subsequently, Ibrahim Ameerah lost his permit to work in Israel proper. Additionally, Sa’dats younger brother was arrested on the 22nd of December 2008 and released in April.
Israeli forces regularly invade Ni’lin to arrest residents believed to be active in the popular resistance against the Annexation Wall. Since the start of the construction of the Annexation Wall in May 2008, more than 70 villagers have been arrested. Six of the arrested were children under the age of 18; Mohammad Ata Mousa (14), Ibrahim Khalqel (16), Yazed Hussam Mousa (16), Majed Hisham Nafea (17), Sufyan Khawaja (17), Saeed Ibrahim Amireh (17), and Mohammed Daoud Khawaja (17). These children have had their educations interrupted and several missed a school term.
Night invasions, a tool of the Israeli occupation forces to arrest suspected participants in the resistance to the illegal Annexation Wall, are ongoing. The village of Ni’lin will lose another 2,500 dunums of land after the construction of the Wall. A village that was 57,000 dunums before 1948, Ni’lin will have only 7,500 dunums left. Residents, alongside international and Israeli solidarity activists, have participated in demonstrations against the land confiscation since May 2008.
6. Playground for bombed kindergartens in Gaza
For Immediate Release:
Sunday 7th June, 10:00, Erez checkpoint
More than 750,000 children are incarcerated without a trial in Gaza the largest prison in the world. It is forbidden to send toys and playground equipment into Gaza.
The Israeli authorities define even paper and crayons a “Security Hazard”. In defiance of this obituary and cruel regulation, a delegation of Israeli and American feminists, residents of neighboring towns, the clownish doctor Patch Adams and the Israeli Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (ICIRCA), will travel on Sunday to the Erez Checkpoint. We will come to the sealed crossing armed with Slides, Swings, Kites, Magic castles and similar deadly weapons, in order to pass them through to the besieged and bombed kindergartens in Gaza.
The action is organized by the Coalition of Women for Peace (Israel) and Code Pink (USA). The Code Pink activists have already achieved the construction of one kindergarten playground in Gaza, and staged a rally during President Obama’s speech in Cairo, demanding the president put his money where his mouth is, and cut the US funding of the siege on Gaza.
Patch Adams, the protagonist of the 1998 Robin Williams film, will stage a border-line clown show deflating the ballooning cruelty and arrogance of the siege and highlighting the absurdities robbing the children of Gaza of their right to a life of safety, freedom, and laughter. The Clown Army will be aiding and abetting.
Code Pink will attempt to traffic the playgrounds through the border. If apprehended by the Israeli army, insistent on denying the children of Gaza – hundreds of whom have been killed and thousands orphaned in the long years of siege – the fundamental right of PLAY, the Playgrounds will be erected on the border.
Saudi Arabia awarded French company Alstom a multi-million dollar contract for the construction of Haramain Express Railway, to link the holy cities of Makkah and Madina. Alstom is in violation of international law for its part in the construction of the Jerusalem Light Rail, which will link illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (including East Jerusalem) with the city of Jerusalem. The construction of the light rail is part of a wider Israeli policy to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from Jerusalem and turn permanent the illegal occupation of the city.
The decision by the Saudi Arabian authorities is in violation of its own international commitments. The Arab League barred member states from dealing with companies involved in the construction of Jerusalem Light Rail project. The Saudi contract sends a signal of approval for Alstom’s actions in Jerusalem and highlights the lack of integrity of the Haramain project: the Saudi Arabian government has chosen to link two of Islam’s holiest cities by sponsoring the colonization of another.
Across the world a divestment campaign is taking pace against Alstom and its partner company Veolia, with victories in Sweden and France. In 2006, Dutch ASN Bank took the responsible decision to divest from the project. Alstom and Veolia are accused by Palestinian civil society, represented by the BDS National Committee, BNC, of complicity in grave violation of international law and Palestinian rights for their role in the JLR project. Despite the pressure, the two companies have refused to end their participation in the project. With construction at an advanced stage, Alstom and Veolia are guilty of actively colluding with Israeli apartheid.
1. Write to the Saudi Railway Organization and to the Saudi Arabian diplomatic representation in your country demanding immediate cancellation of the contract with Alstom.
o Saudi Railway Organisation contact details (http://tiny.cc/llcfC) email@example.com (Vice President) firstname.lastname@example.org (Project Manager) email@example.com (Project Manager) firstname.lastname@example.org (Project Engineer) o Saudi Arabian diplomatic representations worldwide: http://tiny.cc/NvtOd Please bcc us on your correspondence: email@example.com
2. Sign the petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/BDSaudi/petition.html
3. Write about this issue in your local media. Discuss it in your local mosque and community centers. Participate in actions for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel.
Find Out More!
The Case Against Veolia and Alstrom: GulfNews: Company in Saudi rail project linked to Israel: http://www.gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi_arabia/10318520.html
Divestment campaign gains momentum in Europe: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10418.shtml
Veolia looses 3.5 billion EUR contract in Sweden: http://www.diakonia.se/sa/node.asp?node=2807
PLO takes Veolia Transport and Alstom to court in France: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9104.shtml
Legal action in France against Veolia and Anstrom: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6674.shtml
Time to hold Veolia to account: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10295.shtml
The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians From Jerusalem: Ethnic Cleansing in East Jerusalem: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10381.shtml
Civic Coalition to Defend Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem: http://www.ccdprj.ps
Israeli House Demolitions in Jerusalem Slideshow: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2009/mar/06/israel-palestinian-territories
Policy of Residency Revocation of Palestinians in Jerusalem: http://www.btselem.org/English/Jerusalem/Revocation_of_Residency.asp
Global Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel: http://www.bdsmovement.net/ ____________________
8. War crimes in Gaza: Palestinian lawyers take on Israel
Juliane von Mittelstaedt | Der Spiegel
5 June 2009
Four months after the war in Gaza, Palestinian lawyers have prepared 936 lawsuits against the Israeli military over alleged war crimes. Some of the cases could soon be tried at Spain’s National Court under universal jurisdiction.
When Iyad al-Alami wants to survey the fallout of the Gaza war, he simply has to step out of his office and walk up the stairs to the top floor of the building where he works. There, piles of shrapnel, twisted missile shells and massive armor-piercing shells are stored. New material is added every day, filling the boxes that cover the floor and are stacked along the walls. For Al-Alami, the debris is evidence of Israeli army war crimes. He hopes the weapons can be used again — but this time in a courtroom.
Al-Alami is the man behind efforts to assemble the biggest ever wave of lawsuits against Israel. He heads the legal department of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza City. From his windowless office, the taciturn lawyer is trying to convince courts around the world to take up his cause. Al-Alami is 45 years old, and he bears a slight resemblance to former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, whose image is hanging on Al-Alami’s wall. Although he is by no means a propagandist, Al-Alami refers to “Israeli war crimes” as if he were discussing a self-evident fact. But he sees himself as neutral, or at least as neutral as a Palestinian in the Gaza Strip can be. He has defended Hamas members in Fatah prisons and Fatah members in Hamas prisons. He has represented hundreds, perhaps even thousands, against the Israeli army since he co-founded the PCHR 14 years ago. In the best outcomes, Israel paid compensation for victims or convicted its soldiers of theft. But the center’s victories have all been minor. “We live in a system of impunity,” says Al-Alami.
The 4,747 Palestinian deaths which, according to the Israel human rights organization B’Tselem, resulted during the second intifada the Palestinian uprising that began in September 2000 — led to 30 criminal charges against Israeli soldiers, five convictions and only one longer jail term. According to the PCHR, 1,417 people died in Israel’s most recent war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and many of the dead were civilians. This must not happen again, says Al-Alami. His dream is to see an international tribunal for Gaza, equipped with his files and evidence. And it seems as if his vision could soon come true, at least in part.
Dozens of attorneys around the world — in Norway, Britain, New Zealand, Spain and the Netherlands — are working on the Gaza lawsuits. In a globalized world, justice is also global: The basis for the initiative is the principle of universal jurisdiction in international law, which makes it possible to file suits worldwide for war crimes, genocide, torture and crimes against humanity.
In Norway, six attorneys have filed a lawsuit for human rights violations against Israel. They are seeking a European warrant for the arrest of senior Israel officials — including former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
In London, Daniel Machover and Kate Maynard, attorneys with the law firm of Hickman & Rose Solicitors, are waiting for one of the people responsible for the war on the Israeli side to travel abroad. If the official travels to a country where it is legally possible to file charges for war crimes, a local attorney will immediately petition in that country for the arrest of the Israeli official in question.
Four years ago, the two lawyers secured a warrant for the arrest of Doron Almog who, as head of the Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command, ordered so-called targeted killings. Almog, after receiving advance warning, escaped arrest at London’s Heathrow Airport by refusing to leave his plane and flying back to Israel. Since then, senior Israeli military officials, and even some politicians, are no longer willing to risk travel to Britain.
Al-Alami is currently pinning his hopes on Spain’s National Court in Madrid, which has become something of an unofficial world court. The National Court issued the arrest warrant against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and it is now investigating allegations of detainee torture at Guantanamo. One of the court’s judges is investigating three Chinese cabinet ministers and other high-ranking Communist Party officials for their role in suppressing the Tibetan uprising in 2008.
And now the court is also investigating charges against the leadership of Israel, a democratic country and the only party to the war that can be sued. Meanwhile, Hamas remains unpunished for its acts of terror.
The basis for the Spanish court’s actions is a lawsuit filed in January against seven high-ranking Israeli military officials and politicians for the targeted killing of Hamas militia leader Sheik Salah Shehadeh in 2008, an attack that also claimed the lives of 14 civilians. The case could be suspended, but to prevent this from happening, Spanish attorney Gonzalo Boyé plans to expand the suit to include a total of 13 cases compiled by the PCHR. The cases, which involve disappearances, torture and killings, go back to 1983, although most are from January 2009. Boyé’s goal is to demonstrate that Israel systematically committed crimes, which is why the victims of the Gaza campaign are the focus of the lawsuit. “One case is a war crime,” says Boyé, “but 10 cases? That’s something else.” The new charges involve crimes against humanity. And if it becomes necessary, perhaps because the Spanish government, under pressure from abroad, is currently trying to limit the universal claims of its courts, Boyé is prepared to introduce a victim with ties to Spain: a Palestinian with relatives in Barcelona.
So far Israel has refused to cooperate with any systematic investigations. It rejects the International Criminal Court (ICC) and is not cooperating with Richard Goldstone, the head of a United Nations Human Rights Council fact-finding mission to Gaza. There have also been no criminal investigations into charges, brought by the Red Cross and human rights organizations, that the wounded could not be evacuated during the Gaza war, ambulances were shot at and civilians and refugees were attacked.
The only Israeli investigation to date addressed reports by soldiers claiming to have witnessed indiscriminate shootings of Palestinian civilians. After spending 11 days investigating the allegations, a commission concluded that the alleged killings were nothing but rumors. The Israeli army has now completed an internal review of the Gaza war, and has concluded that its soldiers made mistakes in only a “very small number of incidents.” These incidents “were unavoidable” and of the sort that “occur in all combat situations.”
Systematic war crimes, of the kind which Al-Alami accuses the Israelis of carrying out, are not easy to prove. The attorneys must demonstrate that the Israel military attacked civilians without reason, perhaps even deliberately. They must prove that these attacks were not part of the conduct of war against Hamas fighters, and that they were not simply cases of technical or human error, but the senseless taking of human life. But who is to decide whether such killings were accidental or intentional and if they show carelessness or cruelty?
On the other hand, no war has ever been as well-documented as the Gaza conflict, despite the Israeli ban on journalists. The Gaza Strip is small, witnesses are unable to leave, and evidence is preserved. Keeping this in mind, Iyad al-Alami and his team of eight attorneys, helped by dozens of volunteers, began questioning witnesses during the bombings. They collected shrapnel, took photographs, made videos and recorded the damage, often risking their lives to do so. “We had to collect evidence as quickly as possible before it was gone, before witnesses disappeared, victims died and the dead were buried,” says al- Alami.
In this way, they reconstructed the war, day-by-day and bomb-by-bomb. They compared the statements of eyewitnesses with the course of the war and with media reports. International weapons experts prepared analyses, and Palestinian doctors certified causes of death. The team even went to cemeteries to determine whether the graves matched the dead. “We have to be sure that everything is right,” says al-Alami.
The PCHR has recorded 936 cases, which represents the most comprehensive documentation of this war. They include alleged incidents of children shot at close range, women burned by white phosphorus shells and entire families buried under their houses.
Winning a case, just one, would be enough,” says al-Alami. “Then I would retire immediately, because I would have achieved everything.” Just one out of 936 cases. Al-Alami needs the perfect case.
The perfect case would have certain characteristics. The dead must be civilians. Credible witnesses are needed. Hamas fighters must not have been in the area, as they might have abused local residents as human shields. And the identities of those who gave the orders and those who did the killing must be clear.
Al-Alami refers again and again to the 13 blue ring binders stacked on his desk. Each binder represents one of 13 cases, and together the cases represent more than 100 dead. They are the worst cases, the cases for global justice, and Spanish attorney Gonzalo Boyé will use some as evidence to support his case of crimes against humanity. There is one ring binder for the 48 members of the Samuni family killed in the Gaza offensive, and another for the six members of the Abu Halima family burned by white phosphorus shells. There is one for the 11 members of the family of Hamas leader Nizar Rayan, whose house was destroyed by an Israeli air strike. There is one folder for those killed at the Arafat police academy. And there is one for the family of Amer al-Dayah.
Amer al-Dayah, 28, is the only member of a family of 23 who survived the bombardment of his parents’ house. The dead included his parents, three brothers, three sisters-in-law, two sisters and 12 nieces and nephews. Al-Alami shows some of the photos in the files. One depicts a child’s head in the rubble, eyes wide open, limbs severed. There was nothing left of nine of the victims, and al-Dayah found parts of his mother’s body as far as 100 meters (328 feet) away. “My family was simply gone,” says al-Dayah, a stout man with a boyish face.
The fate of his family is one of the first cases Gonzalo Boyé plans to submit in Madrid. Al-Dayah, the sole survivor, is pinning his hopes on the European court. He also knows that it could be years — if ever before a verdict is pronounced.
In its final report, the Israel army commented on the death of al- Dayah’s family. The pilot, the report reads, had erroneously received incorrect coordinates. Instead of the intended target, a warehouse, the bomb hit the al-Dayahs. In other words, it was a “professional mistake,” nothing more.
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
Anat Shalev | YNet News
6 June 2009
IDF troops forcibly removed dozens of left-wing and Palestinian activists who were trying to erect a tent in South Mt. Hebron with a Palestinian family claiming ownership of the land. The family says that it owns the land near the Susya settlement on which an illegal outpost has been built. Settlers called the outpost Givat Hadegel.
The activists, members of Combatants for Peace, were successful in erecting their tent but were removed from the area a short time later by IDF troops alerted to the scene. A confrontation ensued between the two sides, culminating in the dismantling of the tent. The outpost still stands.
Ofra Ben Porat, a member of Combatants for Peace: “We came here in cooperation with Palestinian residents of Susya to protest the establishment of the outpost called Givat Hadegel, near Susya. This is a specific example of the reality in South Mt. Hebron. Week after week the settlers steal more and more lands, suffocating the Palestinians and their livelihoods, restricting their movement to the absurd point where their flocks can’t graze in the pastures they own. We came to the hill where the outpost was built and decided to build a tent on the Palestinians’ territory to assert their presence.”
Ben Porat accused the military of declaring areas claimed by the settlers as closed military zones and blocking entry to left-wing activists and Palestinians.
The soldiers cleared us, 200 people, aggressively. There’s no law, everything is done according to the soldiers’ will. We know that even filing a complaint with the police won’t accomplish anything. When Peace Now turned to the military about this outpost, they were told that this outpost isn’t recognized. The policy is deliberately fuzzy, the soldiers set the policies and there’s complete lawlessness when it comes to the Palestinians,” she said.
The IDF has yet to respond to the protestors claims.
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April 8, 2009
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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].
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.