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REPORTS: Popular Struggle in Palestine (5.4.10-11.4.10)

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Weekly Popular Struggle Demonstration Reports                                                        (Compiled by International Indymedia) 5.4.10-11.4.10  Bil’in – Nil’in – Al Ma’asara – An Nabi Saleh – Sheikh Jarrah – Beit Ummar/Saffa – South Mount Hebron – Beit Jalla







Palestinian Journalist Arrested in Bil’in While Documenting Demonstration


Today when Palestinians, Israeli, and International activists marched to the wall in Bil’in Village, they were met with excessive force from the Israeli army. As demonstrators reached the barrier soldiers began firing tear gas at the crowd. At one point soldiers used a cannon that shoots 30 canisters of gas at once to disperse the crowd. Soldiers also used live ammunition and rubber coated bullets against non-violent demonstrators today. Soldiers entered the village thru the gate in the barrier and attempted to arrest many of the demonstrators.


Palestinian Journalist and videographer Haitham Al Khatib from Bil’in was arrested while documenting the demonstration and army incursion. Haitham works with the Israeli human rights information center B’tselem as well as with the local Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements. Haitham returned to the village yesterday from a three-week tour in Europe where he was showing his latest film “Life on Wheels”. The film looks at occupation in Bil’in through the experience of Jody McIntire  an activist and journalist from the EU. Haitham was released later Friday night after being held for approximately 7 hours. After his release he reported having been hit in the face while being held at the military base, and suffered from lose of blood circulation to his hands because of the extreme tightness of the zip-tie handcuffs.


From the lawyers:

Haitham was arrested under suspicion of violating the new military order declaring the area of the wall in Bil'in on Fridays as a closed military zone. The order was issued in February and will be in force until August. A similar order was issued for the wall in Ni'ilin. After many hours of detention Haitham was released without bail conditions. This was due to our claim - supported by a document issued by the military legal advisor - that declarations of closed military zones do not apply to residents of that territory. The police officer did not know how to dismiss our claim, but said that he would request clarification from the military legal advisor on Sunday.






Live Ammunition Fired at Nonviolent Demonstrators in Ni’lin


Facing tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition, roughly sixty Palestinians gathered outside of Ni’lin today. Joined by 15 Israeli and International activists, the demonstrators protested the Israeli occupation which has claimed over 40% of the village’s land.


After congregating in nearby olive groves for midday prayers, demonstrators marched towards the illegal annexation wall with flags and chants led by village youth. Upon reaching the wall, demonstrators were met with a violent military response. Claiming nearly 30% of remaining village land, the wall annexes Ni’lin farmland for use by the nearby illegal settlement Modi’in Ilit. Soldiers fired tear gas and percussion grenades over the wall at nonviolent demonstrators, who were not deterred and continued a spirited protest.


Soldiers then invaded the village’s olive groves, firing live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas. The use of live ammunition has claimed the lives of five Ni’lin residents since May 2008. No injuries were reported today.




Al Ma’asara



Tens of soldiers invaded Ma'asara Thursday night, threatening two members of the local popular committee with arrests if there were to be "any problems" during the weekly demonstration. Soldiers made it clear that they didn't care whether the two, Hassan and Muhamad Barjia, were in any way responsible themselves to the presumed "problems".


In spite of the threats, some 50 demonstrators marched through the village Friday noon towards the soon to be stolen lands. On the main village road a similar number of soldiers waited for the march with barbed wire, and prevented the procession to proceed. Demonstrators gave speeches in Arabic, English, Hebrew and French, defying the occupation and commemorating the 62nd anniversary of the Dir Yasin massacre.


At some point demonstrators tried to remove the barbed wire, but were shoved back by soldiers. In response demonstrators sat on the ground, beat drums and sang songs. After about an hour of protest demonstrators returned to the village, promising to return in greater numbers next week, for the Palestinian Day of the Prisoner.





An Nabi Saleh

International Indymedia


According to one of Nabi Saleh’s demonstration organizers at 12pm on Thursday April 8th IDF soldiers raided the houses of six persons from Beit Reema because they participated in Nabi Saleh demonstrations they led them to the prison and they didn't release them yet.



An Nabi Saleh



Around 80 Nabi Saleh residents, other Palestinians and international and Israeli supporters participated in this week's demonstration against the crippling occupation and the Halamish settlement's annexation and destruction of a growing amount of land and resources from the village.


This Friday saw yet another escalation in the Israeli army's collective punishment criminal strategy against the entire village. The demo began, as always, with an unprovoked Israeli invasion and attack on a peaceful march, while protesters were even starting to sit down on the ground, to signify their will to protest non-violently. This time the Israeli army has also chosen to use its "skunk" stink-liquid cannon directly and deliberately on the village's houses, yards and main street. The track spraying the liquid even went back for a refill and then continued with its awful abuse. As one of the inhabitants of the houses targeted said: "It is not resistance, it's our living they were targeting". The stink-liquid is expected to stay and spread stink in the area sprayed for days afterwards.


The Israeli army also used a few times its jeep-installed cannon to shot barrages of tear gas canisters, as well as single high-velocity and regular canisters, on the entire village, and kept pushing the protesters back into the village's built area.


At a certain point a few protesters climbed the hill overlooking one of the village's springs, attended by provocative settlers, and as a result the Israeli army sent some of its forces to expel the settlers from the area.


For a few hours protesters refused to disperse and re-gathered again and again in protest, some of them throwing stones to ward off the army incursion, others just standing peacefully against the armed-to-the-top soldiers, documenting, or taking care of the injured from the army's aggression.






Sheikh Jarrah

International Indymedia


On Friday a group of 30 people including respected authors, dignitaries and ex-Israeli MPs came to show solidarity with Palestinian families inside the community in Sheik Jarra. They entered the neighborhood before the weekly demonstration to avoid being stopped at the police checkpoint that is erected just for Friday demonstrations. They held a demonstration inside the neighborhood and as they came towards the police barricade they were told to disperse. At this point four of their organizers where arrested. Demonstrators from outside the neighborhood attempted to join the demonstration inside the neighborhood by going in pairs up to the barricade in order to enter. They were denied entry. The arrested demonstrators were released after a few hours.


See for this week’s reports from events in the Sheikh Jarrah.




Beit Ummar (Khirbat Saffa)


11 Arrested, Including 2 Palestinians from PSP, in Saffa Protest


This afternoon a group of around 50 farmers and residents of Saffa attempted to remove a stone and concrete structure erected on their land by settlers from Bat Ayn. The farmers were accompanied by members of PSP, the National Committee of Beit Ommar, Israeli activists and members of the international press.


On arrival at the structure, which was being guarded by 3 jeeps of soldiers of Israeli army, the Palestinians began to take the structure down. The soldiers forced the farmers away from the site into nearby trees where a number of the group sat down and refused to move from their land. A group of 6 soldiers arrested Mousa Abu Maria, coordinator and co-founder of PSP and member of the National Committee of Beit Ommar, and dragged him 40 metres to a jeep and threw him inside. Younes Arrar, another member of the National Committee of Beit Ommar, was the next Palestinian to be arrested by the Israeli soldiers. Further arrests were made of Israeli activists and local farmers. Mohammed Awwad, the spokesperson for Palestine Solidarity Project who was filming the aggressive behaviour of the soldiers, was dragged to the ground by the neck where he lay motionless and was dragged to another jeep. In total 5 Palestinians and 6 Israelis were arrested during the non-violent action – the only violence was shown by the Israeli forces who used disproportionate force against the farmers.


The soldiers cleared journalists and press from the scene, shoving them forcibly away and stopping them recording the arrests. Stun grenades were thrown directly at the press and several dozen tear gas grenades were fired at the farmers and press as they retreated to Saffa.



As of Sunday night all of the Palestinian demonstrators have been released. Israeli activists who were arrested Saturday were released the same day.




South Hebron Hills

Report from South Hebron Hills



As in every week of the year, we woke up at 07:00 on a Saturday morning to oppose injustice. We, is a group of about 15, mostly Israeli and some International Activists lead by Ta'ayush, a Jewish-Arab organization opposing the occupation and trying to promote equality.


The South of Hebron Hills is one of the most difficult regions in the West Bank. Much of the native population of this area is Bedouin, a minority in Palestinian society to begin with, and generally invisible to the Israeli occupation authorities.


We first arrived to a location which became a focus of attention in recent weeks - the lands of Umm Zaytouna, near the village of Tuba (not that you could know, since the road signs only name the Jewish settlements in this area – did we say invisible?). Tuba’s misfortune is its neighbours. About 1km the east and north lie two Israeli settlements – Ma’on and Carmel. We will talk about Carmel later on.


The story here is quite simple. The whole land area around Ma’on is either private Palestinian land or “state lands”. This means of the settlers have no ownership rights over them. But, of course this doesn’t concern those whose land ownership is god-given. They don’t want Palestinians damaging the view. But Tuba’s residents need to make a living, and their Sheppards want to feed their herds on the land. When they do, they are expelled by the army – normally by shouting, threatening and sometimes even by taking a goat hostage (yes, that’s right). If the sheppards demand their rights on their own, they would be imprisoned and harassed in the better scenario, or physically hurt in worse scenario. Needless to say that all of this is illegal, either by international law (the mere existence of Ma’on) or by the occupation laws (forbidding the sheppards). The Israeli supreme court and legal advisor ordered the army that an area can be closed for Palestinians only if one of two conditions applies: an immediate security threat or immediate negative interaction with settlers. None of these exist here.


That’s where the activists come into the picture. We accompany the sheppards, demand their rights be realized and confront the army and police if they are not. The goal is to allow the herds to feed.


Today, as usual, we first stalled the army as much as we could, for about 10 minutes. As verbal interaction began, some of us explained the legal and moral situation to the soldiers/police and asked them to secure the sheppards or just leave. This was met with firm indifferent rejection. Soon thereafter the officer read “This is a closed military zone, you have 10 minutes to leave or you may be arrested”. One of the soldiers pointed his gun to the most experienced, knowledgeable and articulate activist in the scene. 10 minutes later, none of us left. Their hierarchy oriented thinking demanded to get our leader – the one who was marked – and only him. This will also them paperwork at the police station. There’s nothing which they hate more than paperwork.


We do not have official leaders, of course, but for them it doesn’t matter much. Three 20 year old soldiers began arresting a person whose age is equivalent to that of their parents’. Some of us held each other strongly and tried to prevent the arrest by passive resistance and kept saying: “if you take him, take all of us”. Others documented with film cameras. Eventually 5 were arrested in solidarity (“detained”), and were taken to the police station in Hebron. They were kept there for 3 hours and later received restriction orders.


The others went on. We stopped to rest and meet the Bedouins of Umm al-Kher. These people used to live in what is today in Israel, near Arad. In 1948 they moved to the West Bank and settled in Umm al-Kher in beginning of the 70s. In 1981 Israel chose the lands near Umm al-Kher as a perfect location to build the settlement of Carmel. The fence of the settlement is adjacent to Umm al-Khers last houses Bedouin-shacks. We already said Bedouin Palestinians are invisible. Since they’re Bedouins, they can’t always prove land ownership. But they also can’t be nomads anymore, since there’s less land and times have changed. But if they want to modernize and build permanent homes in their village, they need construction permits from the occupation authorities. They are always denied. It’s a policy whose goal is to encourage them to leave to the urban areas. Eventually, those who couldn’t or didn’t want to leave, built illegally. So nearly every single tent or shack in the village have a demolition order waiting, which could be executed at any day. Many shacks and tents have been destroyed here before.


Later we paid a visit to Otniel. This is another settlement, 13km to the west. We walked peacefully from the nearby village of Khirbat Karme, to take pictures of private Palestinian land to which access is denied. We had a small map, specifying where the land is private and who it belongs to. The maps clearly shows that all of the surrounding land is Palestinian, as well as some of the actual built up area of the settlement villas.


After making about halfway, we had company. Settlers have guns, and a security person. He followed us while 15 of his settler friends came down on foot with their loaded M-16 automatic weapons.  They are the emergency squad – meant to deal with security threats, when the army is busy or far away. This authority is often abused and used to harass or expel Palestinians rather than protect Israelis.  Meanwhile, we passed a lone watchtower from which a female soldier smiled and asked us “what are you doing here?”, to which we replied decently with “what are YOU doing here?”.


The armed settlers stood in our way and asked us to identify. Why should we identify? We do not pose a threat to anyone. We’re all civilians and so are they. Only that they have guns. We refused to identify and were denied entry to the settlement. So we decided to sit down and rest, in the shade of a privately owned Palestinian olive grove near the settlement’s last villas. It was uncomfortable to sit, with all the thorns which grew around us. Palestinians are denied of weeding and ploughing or even visiting their lands here, and it’s easy to see/feel the difference. Meanwhile the army and police joined in and about 8 jeeps came from here and there, to save the day from our little courtesy visit. Once again, it was declared a closed military zone and we had to leave. On the way out, soldiers walked with us to ensure that we don’t do anything funny. To make the most of our time, me and a friend walked slowly and told the soldiers why we came all the way over here. We explained to them about the legal situation in the territories and local injustices. We asked them to look up in their books or internet when they get home, about the history of the conflict. We also told them to ask their higher commander in his periodic talk, whose interests they’re promoting with their operations. Some listened. A young agressive officer tried to argue, but slowly lost his arguments when confronted with the facts. I’m not naive. But I want to make sure they are fully aware of what they are doing. Many times they are not, or at least say that, and avoid facing the moral and legal consequences of occupying.


These actions may seem sisyphic but over time do have an impact. In other locations, such as the nearby village of Mufakara, persistence proved victorious. Where herding was once completely impossible, after several similar actions, today goes on without any disturbance. Our hopes are that persistence in Tuba will bring similar results.




Beit Jalla



Around 50 - Palestinians, internationals, and a dozen Israelis, marched chanting with flags and banners, along the road that leads to the construction of the apartheid wall in Beit Jalla. After a short distance march down the road we were stopped by about 20 IOF soldiers and a spool of barbed wire that  block the way. Chants and speeches were held in Arabic, English and Hebrew, mentioning the 1948 massacre of Dir Yasin, and stressing Palestinians rights of movement and access to their land. About 20 workers of various media documented the scene. After the speeches we sat down on the road facing the spool of the barbed wire and the Israeli state forces. After a while the demo ended peacefully and protesters went swiftly away from the soldiers.



Construction of the wall in Beit Jalla is still halted. A second injunction stopping work was recently filed in court. However there is some confusion as to when the order to stop work is up.




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