Monday, July 4, 2005

Israel-Paleastine - the joint struggle force the subject to the public agenda 04 Jul

The morning started early for 30 persons - Anarchists Against The Wall people and few sympathizers when we came to the district court for the contest of lower court rule. About a month ago a lowest level court judge banned Jonathan Polak - the most active person in the struggle against the wall, from visiting the occupied territories. The judge annulled the garbage of the lowest level court judge, but as a compromise gave another week of "rest" to Jonathan (instead of the additional 8 of the "promised" "rest"). The media (Haaretz daily) dedicated a whole news page to the struggle against the Wall/fence. Following three articles with Editor Notes []


Allegations against Bili'in protest crumble in court By Meron Rapaport

[In the Hebrew printed edition the header was: "demonstrations against the fence - version vs. version POLICEMAN LIED IN HIS TESTIMONY AGAINST PALESTINIAN DEMONSTRATOR JUDGE: THE BEHAVIOR OF THE POLICEMEN OF THE FORCE MUST BE CHECKED"]

Are the demonstrations in Bili'in against the separation fence really non-violent, as claimed by their Palestinian and Israeli organizers, or are they in fact violent protests involving the throwing of stones, as charged by the Israel Defense Forces?

As expected, ever since the demonstrations there began, both sides have offered conflicting versions on the issue. Last week, however, a military court ruled that at least in the case before it, IDF soldiers had opened fire while Palestinians and Israelis were demonstrating in a non-violent manner and had not thrown stones. Military Judge Captain Daniel Zamir called for an examination of "the actions of the troops at the scene and the use of the force at its disposal."

[The stone throwing attrition war between the state forces and the village youngsters never start before the forces stop the demonstration and start to harass the participants]

In recent months, the demonstrations in Bili'in have become the focal point of clashes between the IDF and Palestinians over the separation fence. Last Friday saw one such demonstration, with the IDF reporting that one soldier was moderately hurt and the demonstrators reporting 16 injuries, including four Israelis and one disabled individual, by IDF gunfire. A month or so ago, soldier Michael Schwartzman was struck by a rock during a demonstration in Bili'in, resulting in the loss of sight in one eye.

Last Friday, as usual, the Palestinians charged that the shooting started without any provocation on the part of the demonstrators, while the IDF claimed that the shooting began "only after the demonstrators continued to throw stones at the troops despite efforts to end the incident in non-violent ways."

Some three weeks ago, on June 17, a very similar incident took place in Bili'in. A few hundred Palestinians and Israelis began a march toward the route of the separation fence, which passes through village property and leaves some 2,000 dunams (around half the village's land) outside the fence. The Bili'in residents, who claim to be inspired by Gandhi's methods, declared the march a non-violent demonstration. The marchers were stopped by soldiers and Border Police a few hundred meters from the route of the fence.

The demonstration ended with the security forces deploying riot-dispersal means and in the arrest of a number of protesters, including Abdallah Abu-Rahma, one of the leaders of Bili'in's Popular Committee, and his brother, Ratab, a lecturer at the Al-Quds University and a member of the Seeds of Peace organization.

The indictment against Ratab Abu-Rahma was based primarily on testimony from Wahil Sabit, a border policeman present during the demonstration. Sabit testified that demonstrators started throwing stones at the security forces immediately after the area was declared a closed military zone. Sabit said he saw Abu-Rahma throw stones at the soldiers and then shot him with a sponge bullet.

Sabit was the only policeman who claimed to have seen Abu-Rahma throwing stones.

Abu-Rahma's attorneys, Tamar Peleg and Gabi Lasky, presented the court with video clips that were filmed during the incident and that show Abu-Rahma asking the demonstrators to walk "slowly, slowly." Two of the clips show the demonstrators moving the barbed wire barrier set up by the security forces, but not crossing it, only lying down on the road in quiet protest. Immediately thereafter, the soldiers are seen throwing stun grenades and tear-gas canisters toward the demonstrators, without the latter having thrown a single stone.

[As I have been lying down on the asphalt road next to Ratab and Abdallah "covered" with imitation of grave stones, I just wonder how absurd the the lies of the authorities tend to be. Even a jogger would not be able to throw stones in such position.]

Abu-Rahma is seen getting to his feet and then immediately being hit with a sponge bullet. Contrary to border policeman Sabit's testimony, Abu-Rahma is not arrested there and then, but only some time later, after the security forces apprehend his brother and begin beating him. Ratab Abu-Rahma is seen intervening in an effort to help his sibling, and also takes blows from the soldiers.

Judge Zamir upheld all the arguments of the defense, ruling that the demonstration was quiet, that no stone-throwing was seen on the videotapes, and that Abu-Rahma took a blow to his stomach without any provocation on his part. "There was no reason for the defendant's arrest; there was no reason for the shooting that wounded him or the blows he received from the soldier," concluded the judge, adding that the reality was "strangely different, to put it mildly, from the testimony of the prosecution witnesses."

Zamir ordered Abu-Rahma released on bail and advised the prosecution to reconsider its actions against him. The prosecution, however, did not capitulate, and appealed the judge's decision in a hearing on Thursday. The appeal was rejected.

It emerged during the appeal, however, that a border policeman also filmed the events. This tape has yet to be seen by the prosecution. Until such time, Abu-Rahma remains free.

[Probably the the said military court judge will not recalled again to his reserve service as military court judge....]

IDF officer arrests Israeli cameraman By Meron Rapaport

An Israel Defense Forces deputy brigade commander confiscated the Government Press Office-issued press card of an Israeli journalist, informing him that he was revoking his card and ordering that he be arrested for terming him "insolent." The director of the Association of Israeli Journalists, Yossi Bar-Moha, defined the incident as severe, and as one that "can only take place in totalitarian states."

The incident occurred last Friday during a demonstration in the Palestinian village of Bili'in and involved cameraman Shai Carmeli Pollack, who is filming a documentary for Channel 8 on the protests against the fence. During the course of the demonstration, Pollack exchanged words with IDF officers about the way in which the security forces were dealing with the protesters and their demand that he refrain from filming the event.

Brigade deputy commander Shai Malka then asked Pollack if he was a journalist. On receiving an affirmative response, Malka said, "I am revoking your press card." Malka then ordered that Pollack be arrested, and seized his credentials, accusing him also of insulting a public official.

This was Pollack's third arrest during demonstrations against the fence.

"Clearly the IDF doesn't want coverage of what is happening there," said Adi Arbel, program director for Channel 8.

[Few months ago, when the journalist/press card of his (that gives him some freedom of movement needed renewal, they took long weeks of stalling till renewal.]


Border Policeman dies during anti-fence rally By Jonathan Lis

A Border Policeman died yesterday after suddenly collapsing while policing the separation fence near Har Adar, outside Jerusalem.

Police initially said that Natan Yasais, 21, of Lod had been hit by a rock thrown by a Palestinian. However, hospital officials said they saw no signs of him having been hit by anything. They said that he arrived with a high fever and apparently died either of an existing illness or of dehydration. They added that he was in critical condition upon arrival and died very shortly afterward.

Police said they would investigate the incident to determine whether Yasais' commanders were guilty of negligence.

Police officials said they initially assumed Yasais had been hit by a rock because when he died, he was helping to disperse a violent demonstration against the fence that involved dozens of rock-throwing Palestinians. The demonstrators were eventually dispersed by means of shock grenades, the police reported.

Anarchists Against the Fence, which is involved in many anti-fence demonstrations, insisted that there was no demonstration at all in the Har Adar area yesterday, either by Israelis or by local Palestinians. They accused the police of deliberately spreading misinformation in order to "delegitimize the nonviolent demonstrations that take place in this area" - a charge that the police termed "a gross lie."

[The main radio station reported on the case - including interview of the commander of the border police of Jerusalem region. As he could not continue with the lie that the border police person died of a stone thrown on him an admit it was an accident, he took the opportunity to blame the Anarchists Against The Wall/Fence initiative for inciting the Palestinians. As if our presence is not just a limited "policy" against harsher means of suppression - used when only Palestinians are around. The state forces still remember how the Israeli public opinion - which do not care much when Palestinian demonstrators are killed, responded to a shooting of the Israeli Gill Naamaty. Public opinion even forced the highest army commander to visit Gill in hospital and apologize.

It is a well known that the state repression forces have a different routine of suppression when Israelis are present and when we are not present in a demonstration of Palestinians.]

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