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Nablus: Palestinians defy IOF to clear roadblocks Latin
by Jaggi Singh 3:30pm Mon Jan 6 '03
[email protected]

NABLUS, OCCUPIED PALESTINE (January 5, 2003) -- Over 200 residents of the West Bank city of Nablus cleared a path through a large earth-and-rubble Israeli road blockade today, using shovels, picks, bare hands, as well as a bulldozer. The action was supported by more than 30 activists with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), as well as other international observers.
print article

Palestinians defy Israeli Occupation Forces to clear roadblocks

Actions part of anti-Apartheid Wall campaign

-- reported by Jaggi Singh


NABLUS, OCCUPIED PALESTINE (January 5, 2003) -- Over 200 residents of the West Bank city of Nablus cleared a path through a large earth-and-rubble Israeli road blockade today, using shovels, picks, bare hands, as well as a bulldozer. The action was supported by more than 30 activists with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), as well as other international observers.

The blockade on Jerusalem Road -- which is actually two separate wide and high mounds of packed earth, rubble, bricks and debris -- inhibits travel for residents of the Balata and Askar refugee camps into the city center of Nablus. The earth barriers were constructed by Israeli Occupation Forces' (IOF) soldiers three months ago, part of the low-intensity siege of Nablus and its surrounding areas.

Today's direct action was supported by all the main political groups of Nablus, as well as local medical and education committees, and the Palestinian municipal authorities. Starting in the late morning, residents arrived at the blockade, known as Al Moqata, located right beside Palestinian Authority buildings destroyed by Israeli bombs last spring.

Men, women and children all began to move away the earth and rubble, sometimes needing up to 20 people to push away large boulders. They were cheered on by singing and chanting onlookers. IOF forces, who strategically occupy the high ground around Nablus, stayed discreetly away from the action, although they were sighted watching the scene from atop the hills.

The mood of today's action was exuberant, especially when an earth-moving vehicle arrived to help clear the blockade. Later, a bulldozer finished the task, allowing space for cars to move through a portion of the blockade, as well as helping residents to more easily access their own city. As of this evening, the new access point is being widely used by taxis and cars in Nablus.

In the words of Saif Salem, a Palestinian member of the ISM in Nablus, "This action is helping to bring the city to life."

Today's action is the second time within the last month that city residents have removed some of the symbolic tools of IOF occupation. Less than three weeks ago, Nablus-area residents removed a one-tonne iron gate that divided the city of Nablus into two on Amman Road (parallel to Jerusalem Road). The gate was torn from its hinges, and thrown over a cliff into a nearby ravine. It has yet to be replaced.

The roadblock removals are important collective actions, but Nablus still remains a city very much under siege. There are checkpoints controlling access to and from the city, with no vehicles allowed to leave or enter without special permission. At the Huwarra checkpoint just outside Nablus, there are consistently long lineups of Palestinians waiting to enter or leave the city. Many people often wait the entire day in the open air.

Within Nablus, a curfew is imposed each night at 6pm, while unannounced checkpoints are set up at various locations in the city. Ambulances often have difficultly crossing these arbitrary blockades. According to Ha'aretz newspaper, a ten-day old baby died in an ambulance after not being able to cross a checkpoint to the local hospital in the early morning hours of January 2, 2003.

Meanwhile, as part of their almost nightly operations, IOF soldiers engage in home invasions and occupations as they attept to arrest or kill the hundreds of Palestinians on their wanted lists from Nablus. IOF tanks, APCs and jeeps roam freely at night, and home demolitions are a frequent occurence.


THE APARTHEID WALL


The blockade removals in Nablus are part of a larger ISM campaign called: "Imprisoned in our own land: Israeli Walls of Apartheid". The campaign focusses on the walls, barriers and restrictions to daily life under illegal Israeli military occupation.

Most tangibly, the campaign targets the Israeli security and separation fence -- better known as the Apartheid Wall -- which is intended to physically separate the residents of West Bank and Gaza from Israel. Importantly, significant portions of the Apartheid Wall are being built inside the Palestinian side of the 1967 Green-line border, which will effectively annex and confiscate 10% of land within the West Bank.

The first-stage of the wall is currently being built in the northern West Bank, in the Tulkarem/Qalqilya area. This first phase will be 115km long, and an average of 8 metres high. It will include electric fences, guard towers, trenches, cameras, sensors and security patrols. The wall just in this area effectively confiscates 2% of West Bank land in one of the most fertile areas of Palestine. In other areas, farmers will be cut off from their fields, while the city of Qalqilya will almost be encircled by the wall.

Palestinian residents of the Qalqilya-area have already organized actions against the wall, most recently on December 29, 2002 in the village of Jayyous, where they were met by the tear gas, batons and live bullets of IOF soldiers and private security.

The wall is also taking shape, brutally, in Rafah(Gaza), near the Egyptian border. Dozens of homes have been demolished -- often shelled with tank fire, or dynamited after forcibly removing residents -- so that the Apartheid Wall can eventually go up. In some cases, homes are demolished without warning.

In Rafah, one of the basic acts of resistance has been for families, sometimes supported by internationals, to remain in their homes, in defiance of IOF orders to leave.

Just south of Jerusalem, near Bethlehem, the Israeli government is completing a security fence in the area, part of the Apartheid Wall network. The fence is being constructed beyond the Jewish-only settlements of Gilo and Har Homa, that have already been illegally annexed as "neighborhoods" of Jerusalem.

On New Year's Eve, about 1000 Palestinian residents of the towns of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, south of the fence, marched to the Jerusalem-Bethlehem checkpoint to oppose the Apartheid Wall, as well as to demand open access to Jerusalem and an end to the occupation.

The anti-Apartheid Wall campaign continues in the upcoming months. There is a major demonstration and march planned in the Tulkarem area for this coming Thursday. For updates, consult: http://www.palsolidarity.org.

[Written and reported by Jaggi Singh from Nablus. Jaggi is a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and is a writer and social justice activist based in Montreal. Digital photos from the action today in Nablus will be available soon. To get copies sent by e-mail attachment, or for previous reports from Palestine, please contact [email protected]]

www.palsolidarity.org

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Protest Photos Latin
by Jaggi Singh 1:38pm Tue Jan 7 '03

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Photos from the roadblock direct action in Nablus are now
available online at: http://palestine.indymedia.org/news/2003/01/99769.html

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