Friday, October 26, 2007

Palestine-Israel, The joint struggle West of Ramalla on Thursday and Friday 26 Oct 2007

1) Thursday - Blocking the 443 Apartheid road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem*. 2) Friday - the 141st Friday demonstration in Bil'in.
1) An anti-apartheid protest today blocked busy Highway 443, one of many highways that run on occupied Palestinian land but are reserved for Israelis only. Israeli Security forces used force to move the demonstrators. Three of the protesters, two Israeli and one American, were arrested and are being held in an Israeli police post. Blake Murphy, from Boston, is currently being threatened with deportation. [They were released with 30 days restriction from coming to the region and from similar activities.]
The protesters** blocked the highway for over fifteen minutes by organizing a mass sit down in the road backed by six protesters chained into a four meter pipe. Rush hour traffic was backed up for miles before the protesters were removed by force. They distributing a message to the drivers on the highway: We know what it feels like to be blocked. We experience it daily.

The masses of Israelis who regularly travel to Jerusalem via the settlement of Modi'in were surprised this morning to find the highway blocked by non-violent protesters. Despite obvious road blocks at the junctions with roads from the Palestinian villages along the highway, few are aware that for seven years now, Highway 443 has been accessible to Israelis only. Palestinians are forbidden to travel on the highway, even on the 9.5 kilometer-long segment which passes through occupied West Bank territory and is built on land that has been confiscated from Palestinians whose olive trees have been cut down “for the benefit of the local population. [See comment from Israel's newspaper Haaretz, “The Law as Roadkill The Israeli military claims that the prohibition of Palestinian traffic on the main road is temporary and subject to security considerations. But their actions on the ground suggest otherwise. In order to “compensate the communities, the military has confiscated more land for the creation of what they term “fabric of life roads at an estimated cost of 177.9 million shekels (approximately US$44.5 million). These roads will funnel Palestinian traffic under the Israeli road network via tunnels and underpasses connecting communities in nearby enclaves, thus putting the Palestinians out of sight and out of mind for Israelis.

The Israeli Human rights group B'tselem states that the prohibition on Palestinian use of Highway 443 appears to be based on Israel's desire to annex the area along which the road runs. B'tselem explains that if Israel was only interested in protecting the lives of Israelis, rather than annexing the area, it could limit or even prohibit the travel of Israelis on the road cutting through the West Bank and build roads inside Israeli territory, thus providing safe channels of transportation to connect Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The policy of prohibiting movement on this road is not an isolated case but is part of a general widespread policy [see map]. On 312 kilometers of main roads in the West Bank, vehicles bearing Palestinian license plates are forbidden or restricted access. The creation of a regime of forbidden roads has converted the right to freedom of movement in the West Bank into a privilege that is dependent upon the national origin of an individual. [see International Convention on Apartheid] These roads, in addition to the segregation wall, carve up Palestinian areas into isolated enclaves. This fragmentation is at the root of the West Bank's declining economy.

In an appeal, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI ) states that the term “Crime of Apartheid, applies to acts that are used as a means for establishing and maintaining domination of one racial group of persons over any other racial group and systematically oppressing them. ACRI states that an accepted systematic policy of discrimination against the Palestinian population constitutes a practice of apartheid as defined by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Separation exists between Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank in many other aspects of life, as with the two separate legal systems that exist for the two populations.

Mohammed Khatib, spokesperson for the Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Movement said: Israel wants to legitimize apartheid and call it peace. This is the first in a series of popular non-violent protests against the Israeli system of apartheid. anti-apartheid activists block highway 443 Thursday morning, protesting the Israeli-only road which traverses occupied Palestinian land. A major highway, it is inaccessible to Palestinians. anti-apartheid activists block highway 443 Thursday morning, protesting the Israeli-only road which traverses occupied Palestinian land. A major highway, it is inaccessible to Palestinians.anti-apartheid activists block highway 443 Thursday morning, protesting the Israeli-only road which traverses occupied Palestinian land. A major highway, it is inaccessible to Palestinians.anti-apartheid activists block highway 443 Thursday morning, protesting the Israeli-only road which traverses occupied Palestinian land. A major highway, it is inaccessible to Palestinians.

Photos available at:

-------------- Bil'in ----------

As usual, Israelis of the anarchists against the wall initiative arrived at Bil'in a little before noon - traveling from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. At noon, we joined the demonstration that started as usual with a march towards the route of the separation fence. As usual the road leading to the gate was blocked with a spool of barbed wire and the commander of the Israeli state force declared the area west of the spool a closed military zone warning with retaliation if any one will cross the line. As usual, after a while when we stayed there two participants defied the order and as retaliation a heavy barrage of tear gas grenades were showered on us.

After few regrouping and defying the tear gas a kind of truce was arrived and we were allowed to regroup at the road near the barbed wire, while units of the state force were engaging with shooting and tear gas youngsters who were throwing stones on them.

After about hour from its beginning, the end of the nonviolent demonstration was declared and the state force gave us a "far well" shower of teat gas to hasten our walking to the village.

Defying it, we lingered for additional hour in the "war zone" of the stone throwing and shooting... and two internationals were injured by bullets coated with rubber.

* Submitted by member of the Bil'in village popular comity
** Participants were Palestinians from Bil'in and the region, Internationals, and Israelis of the anarchists against the wall initiative.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

US/Mexico/Palestain/Israel, Joining the struggles 21 Oct 2007

Dear Friends, I'm writing to inform you about an upcoming action taking place this coming November along the US/Mexico border. Collectives from throughout the borderland area of US/Mexico are planning a No Border Camp, a convergence at the border where people from both sides of the border can come together, meet, exchange, plan, educate, have fun, and live like there's no border. There will be several workshops, events, and actions planned, which will highlight issues such as the militarization of the border, neo-liberal capitalism and migration control. More about the whole week's worth of events can be found here: ---- I'm writing you specifically, not only because I've previously spent several months in Palestine, and have joined in demonstrations at Bil'in, and because I believe that AATW* would be interested in hearing about what their comrades are doing to tear down other walls, but also because on Saturday November 11th, on the day of global action against the wall, we would like to virtually plug in to whats going on in Palestine.

We're thinking of setting up a streaming simulcast internet-video, to link our struggles together, at least via the web!

There would certainly be a number of technical issues to figure out. But first, I just wanted to contact you with information about our action, and see if you'd be interested in linking in some way.

Yours in solidarity,

* Israeli Anarchists Against The Wall

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Palestine-Israel, the joint struggle radiate from Bil'in to Bethlehem region and more. 20 Oct 2007

This was the 140th joint Friday demonstration in Bil'in against the separation fence and occupation. Joint struggles against the separation fence were in other villages before the struggle started in Bil'in 32 months ago, or in parallel to it. However, it seems some things changed the last few months. Activists from other villages come to Bil'in not only to participate in solidarity, but to learn how to do it in their places. The most prominent of these are the relation between activists and the struggle in the Bethlehem region - in which there are already for months Friday demonstrations against the separation fence in building and other direct actions. Few months ago, we had a whole buss of people of the Bethlehem region who came to the Friday demo in Bil'in. Today, a contingent of 20 people from the Bethlehem region - including 15 cyclists, came to share with us the fumes of the tear gas grenades and canister of the Israeli state force.

As usual, we started at noon - Palestinians from Bil'in and Bethlehem region mainly, few internationals, and Israelis of the anarchists against the wall. All the way on the road towards the separation fence, the presence of the "guests" influenced the demonstration. The content of the slogan people shouted was richer than usual, and few of the Bil'in activists had a moving circle dance all along the way to the foot of the hill the gate in the separation fence is on.

As usual, after a short converging at the blocked road while hearing the threat of the state force not to cross it, some participants did cross it. Though a man with his small child on his shoulders was at their front, the Israeli state force showered us with tear gas grenades.

Today the whether was clearly against us. There was little wind if at all and the direction was the worst to us. Thus, most of the people participated in the non violent demonstration had to regroup back to the fringe of the built area of the village, leaving the scene for the usual after demo confrontation between the stone thrower youth and the state force.

Though the demo was shorter than usual, the moral was high and people had non formal discussions about the future of the struggle in Bil'in and beyond it.

Video of the demonstration:

-------Um Salmuna - Bethlehem region -----

This Friday the demonstration in the Bethlehem region was near Um Salmuna. In the late morning, about 50 people - Palestinians from the regions, Israelis from the AATW and others from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and internationals converged at a vineyard near the road leading to the village and a near by Israeli colonialist settlement. Just in time, a similar size of Israeli state force "joined" the demonstrators and started to order them to move their cars away, and to start going adding pushing to hasten it.... Their commander even harassed physically a reporter of Roiters agency.

The demonstration marched towards the route of the separation fence in building, to a location East of the Israeli colonialist settlement Efrata and there filled with earth a chanel which was dug as part of the structure of the separation fence.

As part of the Israeli state force policy to minimize the media exposer applied often in Bethlehem region, they refrained from preventing the "earth work" the construction company will undo easily after the weekend.

Afterwards the demonstrators marched some more along the route of the separation fence before ending the demonstration.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Palestin-Israel, Video clips of Bil'in demonstration at 5 October 06 Oct 2007

Friday, October 5, 2007

The joint struggle of the Israeli anarchists against the wall and the Palestinians in Bil'in and Um Salmuna. 05 Oct 2007

In Bil'in, the Friday demonstration has in the back ground the last night army intrusion into the village, the arrest of one, the shooting and grenades throwing, and the stone throwing that injured the nose of an Israeli officer. Surprisingly, the state force were holding fire when we arrived at the barbed wire spool marking the closed military zone of the hill the gate in the separation fence is on it. They even held the fire when the camera persons and few comrades crossed the spool of barbed wire and set two meters in front of it. However, when one of the comrade started to walk forward, they started to shower us with tear gas grenades. When this was a sign for the stone throwers to start their confrontation with the soldiers, the state force released all their pent anger and advanced up to the fringe of the built area of the village.

---------------------------Um Salmuna---------------

This Friday, the demonstration against the separation fence and occupation in the Bethlehem region was near the village Um Salmuna. In the late morning the demonstrators marched to the road, crossed it, and even crossed the route of the separation fence in building. However, when they advanced "too fare" towards the colonialist settlement Efratah, the Israeli state force stopped them, and the demonstration ended. The Israelis of the AATW continued from there to the early afternoon demonstration in Bil'in. ("Two in the price of one" as we call it in Israel....)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Israel, Tel Aviv, Alt. Media, Somebody has to start shouting 02 Oct 2007

September 27. Evening. Here we are again standing outside the Defence Ministry and protesting the army's deadly actions in Gaza. In fact, we could have demonstrated nearly every other day, because every day brings its own ration of nasty news from Gaza. And it had become markedly worse since Ehud Barak became Israeli Labour Party leader, and Defence Minister, and with considerable energy is establishing his credentials as the toughest of hawks. Hardly a week passes without Barak making yet another threat of "a major military operation into the Gaza Strip". Meanwhile, he is authorizing daily "minor incursions" into the Strip, with an increasing death toll. And also meanwhile, the economic siege and blockade of the Gaza Strip becomes ever more tight.

The brilliant idea of cutting off the supply of water and electricity to the Gaza Strip's 1,500,000 poverty-stricken inhabitants brought on a sharp protest from UN Secretary General Ban, and a more muted one from the US-led diplomatic "Quartet".

So, the government (so far?) did not cut off the water and electricity. But they did make a legally binding legal declaration that "Gaza is a Hostile Zone". This had the practical effect of making Bank Hapoalim, Israel's largest, cut off all contacts with the Palestinian banks in Gaza, with devastating results (among other things, making it impossible to transfer money to those Gazans who still get some support from their former bosses). Sherri Arison, multi-millionaire owner of the bank and an eager devotee of "New Age" mysticism, has just a short time ago spent a lot of money on an advertising campaign on the theme that "Peace Begins Inside Yourself"...)

For those who want to, it is not difficult to know what is happening in Gaza. Plenty of detailed of reports are available online. But very little gets to the Israeli public by the commonly used media outlets. (With a few honourable exceptions, such as the Channel 10 TV News, which featured items on critically ill patients desperately waiting for permission to get treatment in Israel, and on the new wing of Gaza's Shifa Hospital whose construction was stopped since building materials are not allowed in through the border passes).

Anyway, most Israelis have little sympathy for Gazans, even if and when happening to hear of their plight. Since Sharon's "Disengagement", official Israel has taken a pose of injured innocence, massively disseminated by politicians and columnists and editorial writers and taken up implicitly by most of the public: Israel has withdrawn from the strip and dismantled its settlements, and the perfidious Palestinians responded with the shooting of Qassam missiles. Therefore, "they brought it upon themselves". Full stop.

Complicating factors are hardly ever mentioned, such as the direct casual relations between the killing of Palestinians (some 700 in the past year, according to the recent proud boasting of PM Olmert) and the retaliatory shooting of missiles (which cause destruction and panic but only rarely kill).

Everybody who listens to Israeli news broadcasts would unavoidably know of the anguish of the inhabitants of Sderot, especially the town's children - who never know a moment of true rest, ever ready to rush to shelter when the dreaded alarm sounds.

This never-ending anxiety in Sderot is all too real, even if there are very few actual casualties. Yet the same media which covers it in heart-rending full-page articles makes hardly any mention of Palestinian children, who live in at least as much fear and who stand a far greater risk of being blown to bits. The 16-year old boy crushed last week under the threads of an Israeli bulldozer, which was engaged in "removing" orchards which "may give cover to Quassam-shooting squads", got a bare laconic remark from the army - "unfortunate collateral damage, he should not have been there".

On the eve of the Jewish New Year, two weeks ago, there was a surprise from Ismail Haniyeh - Gaza-based Hamas leader and Prime Minister of one of the two rival Palestinian governments. Through international mediators, Haniyeh proposed to discuss with the Olmert Government the instituting of an immediate and bilateral ceasefire, and offered to impose such a ceasefire on the smaller groups such as the Islamic Jihad (which do most of the shooting).

Haniyeh's offer was not so much rejected as brushed aside. Indeed, there was an immediate, noticeable notching up of both the military offensive on the ground and the economic offensive through the banking boardrooms (simultaneously with the continuing talks with Abu Mazen and his team).

At least, the group of mainstream dovish writers headed by Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua was aroused to action, prominently publishing a call for an immediate ceasefire with Hamas.

And so we come to this day, Thursday, September 27, at noon, in the lazy midst of the Sukkot Holiday, when some of us were tempted to put off the radio and cut ourselves off from the world for a bit. But the urgent phones broke in: "Did you hear? Eleven dead in Gaza! Eleven! We must do something!"

And the sickeningly familiar routine was on once again: hasty consultations between peace groups, to determine place and time, and then hours of phone calls, composing and sending of email action alerts and press releases, placing of announcements on relevant websites and online forums, drawing of signs and placards, and then off to downtown Tel-Aviv. (At some moment during these hours the number of dead Gazans rose to twelve.) And there we are - the activists of Gush Shalom which initiated the action, and Anarchists Against Fences, and Women's Coalition for Peace, and Hadash Young Communists, and the veteran Latif Dori of Meretz, and quite a few people with no specific organizational allegiance. Altogether, some 120 people turned up.

On the one side, the new Defence Ministry Tower with the distinctive helicopter landing "saucer" on its roof - built at considerable expanse and inaugurated in a festive ceremony last year. On the other side, the Azrielli Twin Towers with their giant shopping mall, Tel Aviv's pride, the very symbol and acme of the rich, uncaring, corporate Israel which emerged in the past two decades. In between, the Begin Road, a major artery through which thousands of cars speed at all hours, and us waving signs and flags and banners and chanting in unison at the top of our voices and some making wild hand gestures at the passing cars and pedestrians: "Blockade - NO! Ceasefire - YES!" - "No Tanks and No Qassams - Ceasefire Now!" - "End the Bloodshed - Ceasefire Now!" - "The Blockade on Gaza is a War Crime!" - "End the Economic Strangulation of Gaza!" - "There is No Military Solution in Gaza!" - "Ceasefire in Gaza and Sderot!" - "Hamass Is a Partner for a Ceasefire!" - "I Am a Gazan, Too!" - "In Gaza and Sderot, Children Want to Live!" - "Barak, Barak, hey hey hey, How Many Kids Did You Kill Today?" - "Israel and Palestine, Two States for Two Peoples!" - "Israel and Palestine, a Brotherhood of Peoples!" - "All the Ministers are War Criminals" - "Ehud, Ehud, You Are Expected at the Hague!" - "Ehud, Ehud, Both of You Are Expected at the Hague!" - "The Occupation is a Disaster, Peace is the Solution!"

Two motorcycle riders who passed at great speed tried to grab a Gush Shalom Two-States flag from a demonstrator. A few minutes later, a young woman was rather dangerously leaning out of an open car window to call "Good luck, I am with you!".

The police which appeared soon afterwards - one patrol car, followed by another two - held short negotiations, and were satisfied with the promise that we would go away after an hour. The parked patrol cars actually created a traffic-free zone beside the pavement, in which press and activist photographers could stand and take photos of the straggling line of protesters. And the police did politely lead away the middle aged man who shouted, his face contorted "Why are you allowing these traitors..."

Towards the end, a short dialogue with a bypassing older couple:

The man: What are you demonstrating about?
Activist: Did you not hear? Eleven people killed today in Gaza.
The woman: Eleven? Of ours?
Activist: We are the ones to blame.
[A short silence.]
The man: Yes, the government, but this will not help.
Activist: Probably not, but somebody has to start shouting.

By Adam Keller