Billin 22-3-05: facts you aught to know by kobi snitz Today's demonstration was marked by yesterdays events. First of all, at the demonstration yesterday, a young boy was hit by a rubber bullet and lost his eye. While waiting for today's demonstration to begin, 'I', one of the organizers commented, "you see, people don't come out today, when the kid lost his eye that was it for them". The other news came last night. It turns out that someone uprooted olive trees from the village lands and loaded them onto a truck. The truck was marked with the writing "Bika'a Bulldozers" but the order came from somewhere in the murky legal construct that is the civil administration that is the army that is the settlers' councils that is the state of Israel. With the help of the women from Machsom Watch, the head of the village council together with the land owner tried to file a complaint at the police station. The police refused to accept the complaint on the grounds that the uprooted trees will be returned. The representative of the civil administration protested the return of the trees "how do i know it is even his land ?" At today's demonstration, a village representative asked Oren Tibi, the border policeman in command, to pass and go examine the uprooted trees from the day before. After some consultation the request was refused. The usual legal device used to separate people from their land and from their right to demonstrate is the issuing of a "closed military zone". Today the police did not even bother with this pretext but simply announced that people will not be going anywhere. With his version of diplomacy, Oren Tibi explained to the villagers that they should have coordinated in advance so that they would have permission to go to their lands. Since military closed zones are not announced in advance and since one was not even declared this time the implication is that the villagers must by default seek permission in advance from unspecified authority every time they wish to go to their fields.
What had everyone in billin talking today was the news of a house being burnt by a shock grenade thrown by the border police on the previous day. In a surprising move, the border police spokesperson responded to questions about the incident saying that the the grenade was thrown from a distance and so any damage done was unintentional. Less surprisingly, it turns out that his version is pure fiction. Witnesses and photos show a border police reaching and opening a window in order to throw the grenade into the house. When asked about the grenade from the day before, Oren Tibi who coammanded the troops who burnt the house told the people on whose land he was standing that "you aught to know that when you come down here and throw stones we will respond".
A large demonstration is planned for Friday 25/03/05
See pictures at:
Saffa, Billin, Deir Ballut March 24-25 2005 by kobi snitz
Pictures at: https://israel.indymedia.org/newswire/display/2787/index.php
Saffa March 24
A crowd of about 100 villagers with several Israeli anarchists and 2005 international peace activists managed to outwit the border police troop under the command of Oren Tibi.
The demonstrators walked around Tibi's troops who were running up the hill when the demonstrators were already at the bulldozers. The Bulldozer operator fled before a well placed rock smashed the machine's windshield. A brave shabab was dancing on the abandoned Bulldozer with a Palestinian flag as the security guards arrived. These guards are employed by the private contractors and are armed with nothing but uzis, they are considered so unpredictable and dangerous that it was almost a relief when the Border Police arrived. The joy at seeing the Border Police faded quickly as they attacked the crowed with shock grenades, tear gas (some of which blew back in their faces) and rubber bullets. An Israeli woman was grabbed by the police but the village women who were present in a sizable contingent grabbed her back and released her from their clutches. However, Two Israelis anarchists were arrested nevertheless.
The demonstration at Saffa was front page news on Palestinian dailies in their March 25 edition and aired on Al-Jazeera on the evening of the 24th. When video footage of the same demonstration was presented to a producer at Israel channel 10 he rejected it without taking his feet off his desk. This producer and others like him maintain the perception in Israel that the situation is peaceful and improving. For a more meaningful political discussion than that available on channel 10, one can go to Saffa. In an open air political salon held under an olive tree after the demonstration on the 24th the conversation ranged from support for a bi national state to Silvan Shalom turning down the peace offer from the Arab summit before it was even made, to the corruption of Muammar Khaddafi. Several points were made over and over again as they have been repeated to this writer in many places in Palestine:
1) Israeli construction in Palestine is an act of aggression. 2) How can they be expected to have any faith in Israeli talk of peace after 50 years of pushing Palestinians off their lands ? 3) They will accept a peace that allows them to live decently but when offers of peace are turned down those who believe in peace made to look foolish.
4) Why is the genuine Israeli peace camp so small.
March 25th. Deir Ballut and Billin
On the 25th, two more demonstrations were held against the construction of the wall. One in Deir Ballut and one in Billin. At the demonstration in Deir Ballut about 150 villagers together with international and Israeli activists marched towards the bulldozers and were met at the exit from the village by army troops. Very quickly one of the Israeli anarchists was detained by some high ranking officer who also threatened to break his legs. To the Palestinians, the army did more than threaten. Five were hurt, three from rubber bullets and 2 from gas inhalation including an old woman who was inside her house. After praying on the land the speakers addressed the crowed and spoke of their Israeli comrade which has been detained by the army. Responding to this call and risking far more than the consequence of the arrest to the Israeli activist the young men of the village marched towards the group of 5-8 soldiers guarding their comrade and retrieved him.
The demonstration in Billin on the same day featured an appearance by Mustafa Barghouthi as well as about 100 villagers, international and Israeli activists. The night before the army raided the village at 2 am entering homes and looking for young men to arrest. A contact at Machsom Watch reported that an army officer told her that the army intends to break the village. So it was that the Border Police did not wait for the demonstration to even leave the village and simply started shooting tear gas and shock grenades as soon as the demonstration started. One man was injured by a rubber bullet, one of the Israeli anarchists was injured by a tear gas canister and another checked into hospital in Ramallah after suffering from breathing difficulties caused by tar gas.
Trial of anti-wall activists April 4, at 8:30, 1 Weitzmann Street, Judge Tzion Kapach - by Nimrod
The accused: Roi, Nimrod Kerrett and Ariel. [I (Nimrod) am only writing first names of other since I haven't discussed this with them].
On the 21st of december, a peace activist called Itai got a rubber bullet in his eye (note: this is not the famous Gil Na'amati incident, Itai's case drew much less media attention). Here is a photo taken a few days after the incident:
He was the guy asking the army with a megaphone to stop shooting peaceful and unarmed demonstrators, as seen on the video here:
A few hours later, there was a demonstration in Tel Aviv (at the good old "demonstration square" across the street from the ministry of defense). Since this was the second Israeli activist being wounded by Israeli soldiers in a short period, people were quite agitated. One of the slogans I remember from the demonstration was: "First Gil, now Itai, when is MY turn?"
After a while, people started blocking the road, yet the situation never got NEAR the levels of violence you've seen lately in the pre-meditated blockades organized by the right wing (burning tires and all). It just happened (natural under such circumstances), and after a while there was a negotiation with the police and it was decided to march somewhere else escorted by lots of police cars. At the junction of Ibn Gvirol and Dizengoff, a few hundreds of meters from the initial location, something happened. Whatever it was, the indictment starts like this:
"1. On 23rd or March 2004, around 21:00, dozens of people have GATHERED AT THE JUNCTION of Ibn Gvirol and Dizengoff in order to demonstrate AGAINST GOVERNMENT POLICY"
Already a BLATANT LIE. We got there escorted with lots of police cars (which is something the police MUST have noticed), AFTER some negotiation that apparently didn't work out, AFTER a demonstration against the fact that A FRIEND OF MINE GOT SHOT IN THE EYE BY AN ISRAELI SOLDIER. (sorry for shouting. It still infuriates me :)
The rest of the indictement is just as fictional (as might be proven in court, but who knows). I (Nimrod) wasn't at the spot when it all started (I went to buy water for me and others).
All I can say is that when I got back, some of the people were arguing with the police in Ibn Gvirol Street. Before I even understood what was happening, I was strangled from behind (I never even saw my attacker, but I assume the criminal must have been a policeman since he wasn't arrested :). I've almost fainted, before policemen started to help Mr X drag me towards a police car. During that "trip" someone (Mr Y?) punched me in the eye. This time I could see the faces of the people holding my legs and from their indifferent response to the punch I got, I assume Mr Y is also a policeman.
Ariel, friend and Abu-Kabir "room mate", told me that he stayed on the sidewalk (i.e. couldn't be even remotely suspected of "blocking the road in order to disturb the peace and terrorize the public" as we're all being accused of). He says he clearly told his friends he was leaving the place because he had something important to do the next day and couldn't be allowed to be arrested.
Having said that, he got dragged by a policemen to the road in order to be arrested for being there. All in one smooth move. A group of minors were also detained overnight at the minor section of Abu Kabir. I understand that their trial has already started.
"Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made" -- Otto von Bismarck But if you're still curious, come see the circus. I'll be there (I HAVE to. It's the LAW ;) Peace, Nimrod