I apologize for the length of this posting, but I find it very moviing. It is a report of some protests against the Apartheid Wall that Israel is building in the West Bank. I thought that members of this particular list might be especially interested in it because it seems that the Israeli group "Anarchists Against the Wall" is playing an important role in these protests.
GUSH SHALOM - pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033 - www.gush-shalom.org/ [Ed. Note: Gush Shalom is a coalition of radical Zionists and some non zionist leftists. Holding the banner of "Two States For Two People". They got radiclized during the last Intifada, till they even support the refusnics.]
International release Feb. 28, Tel-Aviv
# Racism & the Knesset # Eyewitness report of killings in Bidou # Israelis joining anti-wall protest in Budrus - in spite of army blockades # Against the Wall - in downtown Tel-Aviv
# Racism & the Knesset
# Eyewitness report of killings in Bidou
"It was hell. Soldiers shot without a stop. I saw a Palestinian demonstrator get killed In front of my eyes." Said Israeli Peace activists Who took part in the demonstrations in Bidou.
"It was horror. Hell. The soldiers were shooting incessantly. I saw a Palestinian demonstrator get hit in the forehead and fall down, bleeding. He died several minutes later" told Jonathan Polak, an activist in the Anarchists Against Walls movement, who was amongst the activists who arrived today at the village of Bidou, in order
To take part in the protest against the fence that was organized by the people of Bidou. The fence in Bidou, as in many other places, will cut off a large part of the village?s land.
Other activists said: "We have never seen such brutality. In the morning, thousands of the people of the village went and sat in the path of the bulldozers, where their olive groves are about to be uprooted. Then these huge bulldozers came. Each one was accompanied by 50 soldiers. They attacked the villagers and beat them brutally, driving them into the streets of the village. Inside the village a real battle started. The youngsters of the village threw stones, and the army responded with gas bombs, but very soon moved to using live munitions. They occupied a building in the center of the village and snipers shot at people from it?s roof.
We ran to the clinic to try and help,. Wounded people kept coming, at least Seventy or Eighty people. In addition to the two who were killed by live ammunition, another elderly man died from a heart attack caused by a gas bomb that entered his home, and a young boy who is severely wounded in the head.
The only sin of these people is that they tried to protect the land which is theirs for generations and their olive trees which are their only source of income.
The army brutality, the brute oppression and the shooting ? all these confirm all claims brought against the fence in Hague. It is absolutely clear now that the fence, built deep in Palestinian territory, is another means of oppression and occupation, and has nothing to do with security."
At the time of this release some activists are in the police station in the settlement of Givat Ze'ev, trying to release the many activists arrested during the demonstration.
# Israelis joining anti-wall protest in Budrus - in spite of army blockades Friday, 27/02
"The army's rampage in Bidou was not an accident. They feel threatened. For the first time, there is a widespread popular opposition of Palestinian villagers to the building of the wall. That is far more diffucult for the army to confront. They know how to use tanks and Apache helicopters, how to drop one-ton bombs. In a purely armed struggle they have an enormous advantage. Face them with a crowd of unarmed civilians who are detemined to resist, and they have a big problem" said Dr. Gadi Elgazi, historian and peace activist, at the rendezvous point in Kufr Qasem.
We were on the way to Budrus. The people there decided two months ago to resist the creation of the Wall on their land. which was to cut them off from much of their land and also from the rest of the West Bank. The army used very much violence there: demonstrations were broken up, curfews were imposed, the main organizers picked up at night and placed under administrative detention. But some military judges refused to confirm these detention orders, and the detainess went home! Now, the people of Budrus hold every Friday a protest march, and they asked Israelis to join this week.
Some two hundred activists traveled in four buses. The Ta'ayush
[Ed. Note: Ta'ayush is a wide spectrum movement of the radical left. Mostly of the perifery of the reformist A-Zionist Comunist Party, but include also more radical people. The Anarchists Against The Wall started their own initiative as they were fedup with the Ta'ayush nondemocracy and luckworm activity mode.]
movement chose to organize this action in its own name rather than through the anti-Wall Coalition, but as usual members of other groups joined in. As the buses moved towards the nearby border with the occupied West Bank, organizers gave last-minute briefings: "Today we don't expect extreme violence. But the army will almost certainly try to stop us. As soon as we are stopped at a roadblock, get out of the buses and start walking. We will get there, by hook or by crook!".
The Rantis Checkpoint, the first point where the convoy might have been stopped, was passed with no incident. A bored sentry peered sleepily at the buses from behind a massive concrete barrier bearing the regimental slogan: "Empire of Fire". It seems the army prefered not to stop the activists on a road which serves several settlements. The special barrier appeared several kilomters further ahead - when the buses turned to the right, off the well-maintained settler road. Several jeeps blocked the road completely.
The buses moved off to the side, and demonstrators piled out and swarmed up the hillside - the most direct route to Budrus. From behind, a police loudspeaker blared forlornly: "Stop! Come back! You are entering a closed miltary zone! Anyone proceeding is liable to arrest and prosecution! Stop!". Shortly afterwards, a welcome surprise: at the bottom of the hill, a convoy of large yellow Palestinian taxis arrived, to offer the Israelis a lift. Activists scrambled back down the hill and crowded in, ten to a taxi. A few kilimetres ahead, at the outskirts of Shukba Village, a new army roadblock. The soldiers demanded the taxi ignition keys and the drivers' ID's. Tight-lipped, the drivers handed them over, and then urged the Israelis "Go on, go on, don't worry about us! They are waiting for you in Budrus!". Several of the Ta'ayush organisers stayed behind, to help the drivers haggle with the soldiers (keys and IDs being returned after an hour). The demonstrators passed through the main streets of Shukba, returning the waves of grinning Palestinian children.
After several kilometres' walking, a new convoy of Palestinian taxis. This time, the taxis managed to stop just short of the third checkpoint. By now, we were at Kibiya Village, where in 1953 a young major named Ariel Sharon led a commando raid in which 62 civilians were killed.
Present-day Kibya seems dominated by the Palestinian left-wing. Most of the graffiti on the walls was in red, as were the flags of the local anti-Wall demonstrators - from such Palestinian factions as the People's Party and the Democratic Front. A short walk ahead, and we were in Budrus. A sizeable crowd was already waiting in the main sqaure. A fence at the side was made into a podium, from which short stirring speeches were delivered by Ronen of Ta'ayush ("We have come here to struggle for our future and your future, in this bleeding land") and Eyad of the Budrus branch of Fatah ("You are most welcome in Budrus, together we will pull down the Wall"). Both speakers alternated between Hebrew and Arabic and ended with the exhortation: "Mix up, mix up! Let the army meet a single block of Israelis and Palestinians, marching together!"
The long column stretched through the narrow village streets and out to the open fields. There was a medley of signs in Hebrew, Arabic and English, with a smattering of other languagues brought along by contingents of internationals - notably the IWPS women, based at Khares Village to the north.
"Fence - Annexation"; "Build trust - not walls!"; "Enough of the bloodshed!"; "Destroy the Wall, not olive trees"; "U.S. Farmers against the Wall"; "The wall - starvation"; "Free Palestine - Now"; "No to enclaves, no to ghettos, no to the occupation"; "Detruire le mur raciste" "Destruir el moro racista"; "Sharon - we have not forgotten the Kibiya Massacre", "Arab-Jewish Partnership", "Dismantle the Wall, dismantle the settlements!".
At the front, there were Palestinian national flags on which was superimposed the Islamic credo "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet". The bearers smiled broadly at the Israelis and Americans marching at their side, as did the group of young women with Islamic headscarves further back.
"Sharon, Sharon, the Hague is waiting for you!" a veteran slogan gained additional this week. From it the Hebrew and Arabic chanting shifted to "Peace - Yes! Occupation - No! Peace -Yes! Fences - No!" and then "From Budrus to Beit Surik - the people are steadfast!", "Sharon, Sharon - we defend our olive trees!" "Budrus is strong, Budrus is free!", "Neither Sharon nor Bush - down with the occupation!"; "Sharon Sharon, we are not afraid of your tanks!"
Half an hour's march - and we were at the spot. The ugly long gash cutting through the countryside, where fields and olive groves had been, has become all too familiar. Here is stopped just before a terrace, bearing the signs of long and painstaking care of an arid soil; any further extension of the work on the Wall would necessitate its utter demolition.
"This is how far they got during the last big confrontation, a month ago. Since then they did not try to go on. We don't know how long the respite will last - some say until the court in the Hague is over. But we keep ready" a villager told the Israelis.
Opposite us, a clump of some twenty soldiers and grey-clad riot police. Behind them, a single silent bulldozer. With the very clear mountain air it was possible to see on a ridge, a few kilometres away, the demonstrators from another village confronting another clump of army and police.
An hour of stand-off, chanting of slogans, waving of placards, some talking between Israelis and Palestinians. Then, the distant cramp of teargas grenades. Some of the distant figures on the ridge were stooping down, apparently picking and throwing stones. Then the distant soldiers were scambling up the ridge.
Many of the Israelis were for rushing over and interevening in that struggle. "It's too far, you won't get there in time" a Palestinian organiser cautioned. "Anyway, don't worry about them. The soldiers will never catch them among the crags". Our sector remained quiet until the very end of the hours-long vigil. Only when the column turned back to the village center did the soldiers suddenly launch a parting salvo of tear gas grenades. The Palestinians were unperturbed, quickly handing to the Israelis slices of onion - the traditional antidote to tear gas. On the way back, again in the yellow Palestinian taxis - but, again, the army had its roadblocks, and the weary Israelis had to walk some four kilometres back through the hilly countryside. Then, upon arriving at the buses at last, the police suddenly pounced and arrested two randomly chosen activists "on susupicion of entering a closed military zone". One bus followed them to the Giv'at Ze'ev Polic Station, activists keeping vigil outside until they were released at 9pm.
What remained of this long day: the memory of the final scene at Budrus - hundreds upon hundreds of smiling villagers lining the street, waving at the departing Israelis, calling out in Hebrew "Goodby, and see you!" [AK].
# Against the Wall - in downtown Tel-Aviv
Also Friday, at noon some forty colorful young people stood at the entrance of the Carmel Market in Tel-Aviv holding improvised signs and chanting: "Mom, your son is cannon fodder!" / "Let's have peace - and the generals be unemployed!" / Occupation is terrorism - no wall is to change that!"
Having been beaten-up by police a week earlier at the end of a similar vigil had not prevented the Anarchists Against the Wall from returning to the same spot, only brought them the support of others. This time, after half an hour the group started marching, chanting, whistling - leaving the three policemen posted nearby puzzled- faced. The unusual sidewalk parade passed all along the down-town street of King George, halting a minute at every crossroads - receiving comments of the people busily shopping for the weekend: "Go home! Haven't you got something else to do?" but also "Good for you, and don't give up!"
At 1pm, they reached the corner of BenTzion Boulevard, where the Women in Black's weekly anti-occupation vigil was just starting, with among them still some grey-haired who made it their habit for the past 18 years. For some ten minutes the two groups stood together, and then the young anarchists continued their walk, leaving behind some, among them your reporter. [BZ]