Friday, January 26, 2007

Palestine-Israel, Bil'in, 105th Friday joint demonstration - end of the truce with these objecting to nonviolence direct action 26 Jan 2007

It was an early Spring day - warm and sunny. We started as usual from the village center towards the route of the separation fence. With placards. Chanting and sometimes even dancing. Palestinians from Bil'in and the region, internationals, anarchists against the wall initiative, and lot of media people. When we passed the last buildings of the village, we had a surrealistic vision: soldiers on the roof of a small house with a Palestinian flag high above them.... The usual provocation team that come to "invite" the village children to a confrontation of stones versus rubber coated bullets, tear gas and shock grenades. As usual, we continued to the blocked gate of the route of the separation fence. When we just arrived, the village people who do not like joint and nonviolent struggle, started immediately to throw stones - "inviting" the Israeli soldiers to start their assault which do not discriminate between the two kinds of demonstrators.

(Months ago, a kind of truce/agreement was arrived between the village popular comity for joint nonviolent struggle against the fence, and the people objecting to such mode of struggle. In that agreement that was most time kept, the stone throwers were supposed to refrain from throwing stones from among the other demonstrators before the state force start to attack us, or for 20 minutes or so if the army do not attack.)

After few minutes, the soldiers shooting rubber coated bullets and shock and tear gas grenades made the stone throwers run away, and they tried like previous Friday demo to force us to return to the village... But, we resisted. Shower of shock grenades and few tear gas ones, pulling and pushing people, and threats failed to make us go away.

We interfered with their shooting on the run away stone throwers and forced them to refrain from sniping or using any live ammunition.

When we decided to return to the village, we had to go around it or pass through the usual zone of confrontation between the stone throwing kids and the army. As the soldiers prevented as from going around that zone, we asked the kids for a short break so we could pass that zone with only little tear gas and shock grenades.

When we moved there we seen again the snipers and heard the commander order to change to plan b. that enable them to shoot more freely when Israelis are not there. Some Israelis lingered a short while to prevent this "plan b." and warned the kids from the snipers.

When we arrived at the village, part of us returned home and others traveled to the action against the separation fence in Um Salamuna.

Previous Friday demonstration and pictures in Um Salamuna: 19/01/2007
Hundreds demonstrate against the Wall in Um Salamuna near Bethlehem

Hundreds of Palestinians gathered in Um Salamuna today, to conduct the Friday prayer on lands recently bulldozed for the wall. They were joined by Israeli activists from the Anarchists against the wall initiative and by international activists who came to express their solidarity.
Fortunately, there were no bulldozers working on the village's lands today, and even the military stayed afar, on an overlooking hill.

pic: Villagers demonstrating against the wall in Um Salamuna

The demonstration passed with no incident, and was joined by farmers from 10 surrounding villages in the area, all affected by this segment of the wall.

pic: Villagers praying on their lands

Work on the wall in the area first began on January 2nd, when bulldozers arrived on the village's land for the first time, uprooting grape vines. That day the bulldozers were stopped by a handful of villagers who blocked them with their bodies.

On January 15th bulldozers returned to work in Um Salamuna's lands. Villagers quickly went down to the lands to try and stop their devastation, but were met by staggering violence, causing injuries to two people.

pic: Women of Um Salamuna demonstrating on their lands

The wall's path in the area will cut off 700 dunams of Palestinian land, leaving that land on the Israeli side. It will very likely be expropriated to expand the nearby settlement Efrat. In an area that is traditionally greatly dependent on agriculture for generations, the ten affected villages will lose 70,000 grape trees and 1000 olive trees

>> The invitation to the Um Salamuna for this Friday demonstration

You are invited on Friday 26th at 3pm to a wedding that will take place on land Bulldozed to make way for the Wall in the south Bethlehem village of Umm Salamuna. Residents of neighboring villages will attend the wedding where the couple will declare their commitment to each other and to the threatened land of the village. Mohammed Bregiah, 28, will be marrying Sunai Abu Raiyeh, 25. After the wedding villagers will give speeches vowing to resist the annexation and confiscation of their land.

A strip of land has already been razed for the Wall west of a number of Bethlehem villages, including Umm Salamuna. Umm Salamuna stands to have 700 dunums of agricultural land annexed and 270 dunums confiscated for the route of the Wall. The 10 affected villages stand to lose 70,000 grape vines and 1000 olive trees.

Last Friday villagers prayed on their bulldozed land in Umm Salamuna and appealed for international solidarity in their struggle to hold on to the land, which is a lifeline for the economy of these villages.

>> This Friday too there was no confrontation with the Israeli armed forces. There was only two army cars monitoring the protest activity from far away.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Palestine-Israel, The 104th Friday demonstration in Bil'in against the separation fence and occupation (+ one at Umm Salamuna) 19 Jan 2007

In sunny and warm winter day which remind us of the approaching of the third Spring of our struggle. At noon we started the march from the center of the village toward the route of the separation fence - Palestinians from the village and the region, internationals and Israelis from the anarchists against the separation wall initiative. Probably because of the nice whether we were a bigger crowd than usual. Carrying placards and chanting and some times even dancing we marched. At the fringe of the built area of the village we have seen the border guard provocateurs waiting-baiting for the stone throwing kids, so the spoke person of the army will be able to say the Friday demo in Bil'in was not nonviolent as claimed by the village comity. When we arrived at the blocked gate to the route of the fence and beyond it, the low intensity confrontation with the soldiers there started.

The soldiers kept calm except declaring the area as closed military zone. They even refrained from assaulting us when people puled and dismantled a spool of razor wire fortifying the gate.

The low intensity was ended abruptly when a group of young adults (mostly with birds) standing on the fringe of the demonstration started to shower stones on the soldiers blocking the gate. The soldiers engaged them with shock grenades and some tear gas, with a group of special police in training doing the pursue after the stone throwers adding shooting rubber coated bullets to the shock and tear gas grenades. Mean time the soldiers at the blocked gate had to regroup as the Eastern wind carried some of the tear gas they try to punish us with, towards the gate - causing them to "regroup" some distance away. This enabled some of the nonviolent demonstrators to enter the route through the unguarded gate. The commander of the soldiers lost his stability and besides detaining 3 Israelis and one Palestinian of the intruders (to be released after the end of the confrontations), ordered his soldiers to drive away all the nonviolent demonstrators staying around, threating the few of us remaining behind with shock grenades.

In parallel to the Bil'in demonstration, another joint struggle occurred in Umm Salamuna. a small contingent of the anarchists against the wall traveled there in response to the following invitation:
"This Friday the residents of 10 villages in the South Bethlehem region will be gathering in Umm Salamuna village at 11Am at the mosque and will march to their land west of the village, which is being razed for the Wall. Many of these villages are having land annexed and destroyed for the Wall and have already lost land to Efrata and Migdal Oz settlements. Bulldozers have recently stepped up the razing of the land and villagers have resisted. These villages have a cultural center and website -"

Monday, January 15, 2007

Israel-Palestine, Call for action: "Freedom Ride" Against Apartheid Travel Ban by AATW 15 Jan 2007

Next Friday, January 19th Palestinian, Israeli, and International activists will form a caravan of cars against the Apartheid decree prohibiting Israelis and foreign nationals from driving Palestinians inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Next Friday, January 19th Palestinian, Israeli, and International activists will form a caravan of cars against the Apartheid decree prohibiting Israelis and foreign nationals from driving Palestinians inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Inspired by the freedom rides of the early 1960s which helped end Segregation in the American South, Israelis and Internationals will transport Palestinians in their cars on a settler-only road, risking arrest and punishment in defiance of this racist law. On November 19th, the Commanding General at Israeli army Central-Region command, Ya'ir Naveh, issued an unprecedented decree forbidding Israelis from driving Palestinians in the West Bank. The decree implements the Israeli policy of racial separation in the boldest possible manner. For the first time ever, it imposes legal penalties on members of different nations meeting each other in the private realm.

The decree is the peak of targeted and deliberate institutional discrimination that was designed to strengthen the rule of one national grouping over another - the precise legal definition of the crime of Apartheid.

But the burden is even heavier, as even during the Apartheid regime in South Africa, no such ban was implemented.

This coming Friday, January 19th, on the day this racist decree comes into force, a group of activists including the newly founded Coalition to End the Occupation and the Popular Committees Against the Wall and Settlements in the Ramallah region, will join together in a caravan of cars to cry out: "We will not participate in Israel's Apartheid regime in the Occupied Palestinian Territories!"

International and Israeli activists will gather at the El-Al terminal at the Northern railway station in Tel Aviv and leave in a caravan of vehicles, gathering Palestinians from the Ramallah area and driving them to the weekly demonstration in Bil'in.

The Popular Committees Against the Wall and the Settlements, Gush Shalom, Ta'ayush, The International Solidarity Movement, Sons of Abraham, Olive Tree Movement, Balad, Anarchists Against the Wall, Yesh Din, Yesh Gvul, Coalition of Women for Peace, and others.

For more info contact: Jonathan Pollack or ISM Media Office - +972-2-297-1824, +972-59-994-3157
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Friday, January 12, 2007

Palestine-Israel, Bil'in, Border police revenge nonviolent demonstrators returning to the village. 12 Jan 2007

The 103d Friday joint demonstration against the separation fence and occupation seemed to be as usual till the last of it. As usual we started at noon the long march from the center of the village to the route of the separation fence - Palestinians from the village and from the region, Internationals from various countries, Israelis from the anarchists against the wall initiative, and media workers from various networks (including European ones). We carried banner, flags and placard and chanted all the way to the route of the separation fence on the west of the village - cutting more than half its land on its other side. On the way, just when we passed the last houses of the village, we had a kind of warning. We seen there as usual the border police provocative team at the fringe of the village, baiting the village youth for engaging them with stone throwing, so they will respond with shooting and claim to the media that there was violence in the Bil'in Friday demo. (In the past, before the stone throwing youth got into the habit, the Israeli state forces needed to send under cover personal to start the stone throwing.) When photographers and few people approached them as usual, they got a surprise response of tear gas and shock grenades.

Any way, we continued marching to the route of the separation fence and found the gate to it blocked as usual with armored cars and soldiers - fortified with razor wire spools.

As usual, the low intensity confrontation started: verbal confrontation, climbing on the heavy gate, efforts to beautify the armored cars with our materials, approaching to a few centimeters distance from soldiers...

In a way, the response of the soldiers was even milder than ever. They even failed to throw shock grenades on the comrades puling away the razor wire spools.

And so the confrontation continued till five of the unruly youth decided to put end to our nonviolent demonstration. They threw from behind our backs stones on the soldiers, which usually take it as excuse to disperse the demonstration... but not this time. The soldiers just shoot grenades on the "brave youth" and after they fled, let us regroup.

At that stage the soldiers open the gate and came to "manage us in person" but still in low intensity, even when we were not yielding. In one point we blocked the way of two armored cars with soldiers who were trying to drive to the village fringe - were the usual confrontation between the border police and the village stone throwing youth was taking place. It took the soldiers lot of physical efforts till the cars could pass. (We did sit in on the road holding each other, dearresting people the soldiers try to take...) During this confrontation two activist of Bil'in were arrested but released at the end of the demo and returned with us to the village.

When we were walking on the road - returning to the village - just at the fringe of the built area, we had a nasty surprise. In retaliating act to our interfering with their confrontation with the stone throwing kids two weeks ago, when we tried to drive them away from the not yet inhabited houses they were hiding in (which was shown on the TV news) they shoot at us huge amount of grenades of tear gas and shock grenades, and even shoot rubber coated bullets. Two Israelis and 5 of the village were mildly injured by the shooting.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Subject: (en) Palestine-Israel, 102nd weekly Friday joint demonstration in Bil'in against the separation fence and occupation 05 Jan 2007

At the early afternoon, in a stormy whether, after the end of the FATAH anniversary meeting, we started the Friday demonstration. We were few hundred people - Palestinians of Bil'in and many from other places, internationals from various countries, and Israelis from the anarchist against the wall initiative. As usual, we marched chanting, but this time with lot of flags, and banners. We were surprised not to see the border police gendarmes lurking at the fringe of the village, but we know about the water canon waiting for us at the blocked gate to the route of the separation fence. We were a bit surprised when the Israeli state forces start to disperse us with the water cannon even before all marchers arrived. We were not surprised when frustrated demonstrators changed the nonviolence mode to the stone throwing one. Immediately after people left the route of the fence, the state force started to shoot at us tear gas canisters and rubber coated bullets till we did all the way back to the village.

The main public radio station afternoon news reported about demonstration in Bil'in with 800 participants, which was dispersed with demonstrations control means, without giving any reason or excuse for that act.