This week we experienced again the ambivalence towards the joint struggle of both the Israeli and the Palestinian authorities. In Ni'ilin, activists of the popular struggle of the Hamas tendency were taken for interrogation in Ramalla. In Beit Jalla the whole popular comity was arrested by the Palestinian authority (rumor say it was because of threat of the Israeli authority). In the demonstrations at the various villages, the arrest of activists was minimal. There was no harassing of out of village activists on their way to the week end demonstrations. One effect of the Gaza flotilla is a "flood" of international activists coming to visit and to participate in the weekly demonstrations,
The Beit Umar weekly demonstration took place Saturday July 24 on the lands of Beit Umar near the settlement of Karmei tzur. Although the settlement is surrounded by a fence and no attempt is made to break it, the soldiers nonetheless wait for the demonstration on the Beit Umar side of it. It should be pointed out that the fence surrounding the settlement also includes agricultural land belonging to Beit Umar farmers, that is, on top of the lands the settlement houses are built on. A supreme court decision was supposed to grant the farmers access to their lands but in practice the access is made so difficult by bureaucratic obstacles or the whims of settlement security, that cultivation of the land is impossible.
In recent weeks the army's strategy has been to stop the demonstration as far away from the settlement as possible. This could be motivated by settlers demands that they don't want to see the demonstrations or a new confiscation order handed down by the military and delivered to the Beit Umar city council. Apparently the army plans to fence in a further few hundred meters radium around the settlement. This would effectively confiscate another large plots of land and bring the settlement fence to within a few meters from the last houses of Beit Umar. As some of these houses are built on area C (under Israeli administrative control, and therefore impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits) their fate is also in jeopardy.
This week's demonstration was larger than usual. Unlike previous weeks, a large number of international supporters took part, as well as several women from Beit Umar. As the demonstration approached the lands near Karmei Tzur, about 100 meters from the fence, it was met with about 40 soldiers in regular army and border police units. The officer in command of the regular army was one named Amit and the border police unit was commanded by one name Yusef. The soldiers used a large number of shock grenades thrown from close distance and sometimes thrown directly at protester as projectiles. Combined with the explosive momentum they become much more dangerous when used that way. One American demonstrator was hit in the head with a shock grenade but was spared the main force of the explosion and was not seriously hurt. Apparently other army units used shock grenades in a similar way in nearby Ma'asara the day before causing activists to wonder if the grenades are on sale.
Video of 24-7 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Nisbw6Uf6w
Following the persistent struggle, even the Israeli high court of "justice" intervened and issued an order for state to put forward reasons why the court will not ban the present route of the separation fence that destroy the village lands.
Over 80 internationals and some 30 Israelis joined Bil'in residents and other Palestinians in the weekly demonstration against the occupation, land grab, and State terrorism. The merry march to the fence ended abruptly as the army started shooting gas at the demonstrators about two minutes after their arrival at the gate. The usual scenario of running away through clouds of gas while the shabab keeps the soldiers away with sling shots ensued. One demonstrator did not run away - European Parliament Member Louisa Morgantini. She was detained by the soldiers and taken away to their post. Then a few demonstrators approached the soldiers demanding Morgantini's release. The end result was that Morganitini was indeed released, but the army replaced her with Israeli demonstrator Kobi Snitz, so as not to go home empty handed.
Haitham Khatib http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57UKBbztPtE
6 arrested, including one Palestinian, during and after an "Open Shuhada Street" Weekly Demo in Hebron - Fil Kaler video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaqBvwLcQ6Y
About 100 Palestinians and their international and Israeli supporters gathered next to the closed gates of the Israeli army blockade on Shuhada street in the Saturday demonstration of the “Open Shuhada Street” campaign in Hebron. After some chanting and speeches against the occupation and settlements and for freedom of movement in Hebron, the protesters headed towards one of the old city allies, blocked by Israeli soldiers. The soldiers violently attacked the demonstration and in the commotion that erupted have managed to grab into arrest 4 internationals and one Israeli protester. Due to the Israeli army's determination to end the demo, the protesters sat on the ground in front of the soldiers, continuing the demo while sitting. After a while the demo was declared over and participants started going away from the soldiers, who kept going after the retreating crowd. At a certain point one of the soldiers threw out a sound bomb.
The arrestees were then taken to interrogation in the Kiryat Arba settlement police station, where Palestinians and internationals held a solidarity demo demanding their unconditioned release. During this demo one Palestinian was arrested.
The settlers and the military systematically deny the residents of the Southern Hebron Hills access to their water cisterns. In recent weeks, settlers from Susya and Mitzpe Yair attempted on several occasions again to prevent the residents of Tawamin from pumping water from their cistern. The army, relying on a court ruling, determined that the pumping will continue despite the settlers' unfounded claims that the cistern is located in their private property. Our presence ensured that the army will not stop the pumping (as happened in the past)
This Saturday we will once again meet with the Palestinian residents of the Southern Hebron Hills in order to pump water from their cisterns and assert their fundamental rights.
The Friday demo was unusually large than usual because a very large presence of international activists. The protesters marched to the lands of the village, calling for the liberation of Palestine and condemn the Israeli military occupation. They were accompanied by a group of drummers. At the end of the procession Basque band played.
When we reached the outskirts of the village we went down from the road trying to bypass the army that intended to block the demonstration. The soldiers also hurried down the road and attacked the demonstrators with tear gas and shock grenades without warning. International activist was injured by a tear that hit her in her ear and was evacuated to the hospital for treatment. Many demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation. After the people overcome the initial chaos created by the surprise attack, a bit smaller group of protesters regrouped at the entrance to the village. The protesters sat on the ground to protest the army's violence and continued chanting, singing and drumming. Number of speeches in English and Arabic were given. Afterwards, the participants started to returning to the village chanting and drumming.
David Reeb Friday 23.7.2010 video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaD6rZ5is3U
Smaller and shorter demonstration than usual.
Returning garbage to the police station http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeuvJiKvt8g
As usual, few hundred people converged in the center of the neighborhood including few dozens from Tel Aviv and activists who were at the noon demonstrations in various villages. One contingent arrived after a march from the gate of the old city. After a while, most of the demonstrators marched towards the confiscated houses but were blocked by the state forces.