Sunday, April 29, 2007

Palestine-Israel, Bil'in, West of Bethlehem, Jafa - the joint struggle continue 29 Apr 2007

It was a "regular" Friday demonstration in Bil'in - the 116th since it started 25 months ago. As usual, we started at noon the march towards the route of the separation fence which is used to rob most of the lands of the village for the building additional district in the settler colonialist town Modi'in Ilit. The marchers - Palestinians from the village and the region, internationals, Israelis of the Anarchists Against The Wall initiative, did not choose the road that leads to the Western lands and blocked by the gate of the fence structure. Instead, we went the other direction, part of it through paths within olive groove. We out smarted the Israeli state force who were expecting us in the main road (about kilometer away) to prevent us from coming near the fence - as they did the two previous Fridays. The last few hundred meters where the far away soldiers could see us we were running.

Till the main force of the soldiers arrived, few of us already passes through the razor wire spools and the metal fence beyond on our side of the route of the fence, and stood along the electronic fence. Most of the others stood along the metal rails at the edge of the route - banging on it with stones. The state force tried to drive the intruders and the rest of us who were near by with tear gas grenades, but after they got few of them thrown back - they stopped. They tried the water canon to drive us away - but in the hot spring day it was mainly refreshing us... They tried to arrest two of the ones that were near the electronic fence - but comrades dearested them and the soldiers yielded.

In this unusual situation, the stone throwers who do not approve our nonviolent demonstration and usually disrupt it, were in position among us, but hesitated due to the "interesting" way the demonstration developed, and did not throw stones till the demonstration was declared finished and the nonviolent demonstrators started to disperse.

When part of us tried to pay a visit to the usual site of the Friday demonstration - near the gate on the road leading to the lands of the village West of the fence, the soldiers resisted us with tear gas mainly, and arrested one of the village comity as a way to press us to return to the village faster - promising to release him when we will be on the way to the village. They shoot tear gas canisters to hasten us, but when we were near the houses of the village they released the comrade.

No one was injured seriously this Friday, but many of us were wet and colored by the turquoise powder added to the water of the water cannon.
West of Bethlehem:

Today. over a hundred demonstrators from the villages of Beit Fag'ar, um Salamuna, Wadi An-Nis, Al- Masara, Al-Khadr, and Beit Ommar joind by joind by internationals and israeli activists made an attampt to block route 60 outside the settlement of Efrrat, the demonstrators carred signs against the building of the apartheid wall in the area south of beit leham only a large presence of border police and soldiers who waited in the area manegd to keep the demonstrators from blocking the road. doing this kind of activity in the front door of a big settlement is another step for the struggle in the area .

Jafa , long ago annexed to the Jewish Tel Aviv municipality and settled with lot of Jewish immigrants which "diluted" the remnants of the original Palestinian residents who where not transfered out during the 1948 Nacba.

Last Friday few hundred Jafa residents and supporters marched through the city against a move by the municipality to transfer some 500 Arab-Israeli families out of their homes. The marchers included local government officials, a rainbow of local organizations, residents, and supporters from around the country - including activists of the anarchists against the wall. There were cries of 'Jews and Arabs Against Home Demolitions' and 'This Transfer Will Not Pass', comparing current events to the Nakba in 1948, but altogether the march was a bit subdued. As usual for Jafa protests there was no police presence in sight, to keep things calm but also in reflection of the relationship between the Arab residents and the police. At the end marchers sat in a basketball court overlooking Jaffa's reef beach, that after years of neglect and 20 years in the planning, is now being converted into a grand park -- just in time for the hundreds of new wealthy residents who are entering Ajame neighborhood. Speakers included representatives of the new popular committee established to combat the situation, residents who's homes have become part of the struggle, and members of organizations supporting it -- all were encouraged by the large turnout and hopeful about the days ahead.

At some point anarchists raised a banner with the anarchist "A" and flag but took it down on request of the organizers.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Palestine-Israel, The nonviolent joint struggle in Bil'in and Um Salmuna region continued this Friday. 22 Apr 2007

In Bil'in, the Friday demonstration was at the end of the three days international conference of nonviolent struggle. Participants from all over the world gathered, discussed, and heard also about the struggle in Bil'in. Part of the conference was a ceremonial bestowing of honor on few activists involved in the struggle. The persons honored included the oldest of the regular participants in the Bil'in struggle Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom (peace block), and the most severely injured in it Limor Goldstein (who came - and still come with AATW initiative) a "rubber" coated metal bullet penetrated his head, nearly killed him and caused a long term damages.
As introduction for the demonstration, about an hour before it started, a team of internationals and Israelis of the anarchists against the wall succeeded to put a Palestinian Flag on the high security camera tower of the separation fence, to be seen by all from kilometers around it.
This moral buster colored the march at noon of few hundred people towards the rote of the separation fence which included chants and short speeches. When we were descending down the hill the Israeli state force guarding the route of the separation fence on the next hill started to shower us with tear gas canisters - forcing most of the marchers to retreat a bit. Few, who were at the head of the march succeeded to continue their march up the hill till they were blocked by the soldiers not far from the route of the separation fence.
From that moment on, we were in about two hours of attrition war with the state force. Whenever they tried to force the main body of the demonstration to return to the village using shower of tear gas and shooting rubber coated bullets we retreated a bit with many dispersing among the olive trees on the side of the road. As the barrage of tear gas ended and the gas was carried away by a friendly Northern gusts of wind, we regrouped and advanced again.

After a long confrontation, and many injured by bullets and tear gas, the state forces yielded, and let us advance half the way up the hill where they stood in a line to block our advance.

All the time, in parallel to the struggle of the main body, the ones who succeeded to approach the lone house near the fence were harassed again and again, but the state force failed to force them to retreat.

During this time, the people supporting the comrade who climbed the security tower to hang the Palestinian flag and cover the security camera discouraged the state force from releasing the camera or forcing the comrade down. At the end of the demonstration, the comrade climbed down, and the state force sent up their climber to get the flag down. They also detained 8 of the people involved, releasing all an hour after the demo ended except the comrade who hung the flag which was kept in custody.

Media report:
Nobel Peace Laureate wounded & Puerto Rican climber/peace-activist arrested in Bil`in by Ali Waked - Ynet -
Irish Laureate Mayread Corrigan "I salute the residents of Bilin for their peaceful struggle in a region that is so violent and I call on the Israeli public, whom I know is for justice and peace, to support the residents` struggle." // "The wall is believed to be evil and illegal by the whole world" said Tito Kayak, who was arrested in 2000 for climbing to the top deck of the Statue of Liberty in New York. [see also MA`AN / PNN].

Alt Palestinian Media: Palestinian villagers show solidarity with American shooting-victims as anti-Wall protest

"We have gathered here for a very special occasion. Today we will demonstrate our solidarity with the 32 victims of the Virginia-Tech University shooting. They were killed indiscriminately; the bullets did not differentiate between Jews, Christians or Muslims, between Americans, Israelis, Arabs, Indians, Puerto-Ricans or others". This is how Mahmoud Zawahra, of the Popular Committee in Wadi Niss near Bethlehem, opened Friday's weekly demonstration against the Apartheid Wall being built on the village's lands. It has been about two months now that residents of Wadi Niss, in cooperation with those of neighboring villages Um-Salmuna and Wadi Rachel, have been demonstrating constantly, at least once every week, against the Wall. Demonstrations began after the first bulldozers came and started uprooting trees and roads for the planned wall, which will de-facto annex much of the land of all three villages to the near by Jewish settlement of Afrat, and will separate the villages from several main roads. And so last Friday a few dozen villagers from the three villages, along with activists from Bethlehem, Israel [Mainly AATW I.S.] and abroad, went on this unique demonstration in solidarity with those murdered in Virginia-Tech. In his opening speech, Zawahra continued to explain the idea of the demonstration: "Today we will be planting 32 olive trees on the route of the Wall, carrying the message of 'plant trees don't build walls'. We will act nonviolently, though we expect the army to become very violent. Please, don't respond to their provocations, and let us go through with our mission, have a quite memorial ceremony, and return home".

Demonstrators marched peacefully towards the route, where the land has already been flattened and some concrete has already been laid as basic structures for the wall to come, carrying the young olive trees and the signs: "For Virginia" we support you" and "End the violence". Once the plantings where underway, the Israeli soldiers and Border-Policemen came. They seemed puzzled by this unique and completely quite bunch of people, determined to plant trees in the hard and bare rock the bulldozers left. When two demonstrators came closer to the army officers and planted a tree at their feet, the entire group turned around and left the area. From that point on there were no more disturbances from the army's side.

Once the trees were planted everybody gathered to hear the words of Sammy Aw'ad, of a Bethlehem-based NGO. "Instead of walls – let us plant trees of peace for Israel and Palestine," pleaded Aw'ad. "We want to send a message to the families of those killed in Virginia-Tech: we understand your pain. We understand the pain of loosing your children. I am now going to read the names of the 32 victims, for each of whom we have now planted a tree, and I ask everybody hear to stand in silence in their memory, and think of someone whom you have lost to the violence of the occupation".

After the names were called, Awa'd and Zawahra declared that the demonstration was a great success and a victory for the villagers against the army. They promised to return time and time again, until the occupation will be over. On the way back to the village I talked to a young Israeli activist. Nir Landao, of Tel-Aviv, was once a soldier himself. When asked about his thoughts on the villagers' choice to carry-out non-violent demonstrations, Landao said he thinks such demonstrations are "much stronger". "The only way for Israel to end the occupation is if there will be international sanctions against it," he reflected, "and the world will be easier convinced by these actions rather than by violent ones, which Israel uses to strengthen its case of being a victim. On the other hand, I was brought up learning how Jews were massacred in the Holocaust without any resistance, so I can understand how important it is for a people to fights-back in defense". "You know, I was looking at the soldiers there, and I remembered myself being in their place," Landao continued, "and I really think they don't know what they're doing here. They think they're here to defend Jews, and that anyone who's an obstacle in their way should be 'stopped', in any way possible". I asked Landao what made him change sides and become an activist for the anti-occupation cause, and he said it happened when he stopped learning about reality through the media, and "started to look at reality through reality, through going to the places where things happen and meeting the people here. That is how I started realizing what Israel is doing to an entire people".

Summing up the demonstration from his point of view, Dr. Mohammed Aw'da from Bethlehem agreed with Landao's perspective on the importance of getting the world to know what was going on in Palestine. "Israel is trying to draw its final and permanent boarders now, and it is doing it one-sidedly," he said, "these boarders create small Palestinian cantons, but they are really more like concentration camps than cantons, as people are besieged in them, people cannot work, and many are going hungry. This encourages people to leave their land, run away and give it all up to Jewish settlers. We call upon the world to intervene as it did against other concentration camps".

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Palestine-Israel, The struggle in Beit Ummar escalates*, 14/04/2007

Last night, a group of about 40 activists managed to cut 20 meters of a so called parameter fence on the lands of Beit Ummar, near the settlement of Karmei Tzur. The fence that circles the settlement was built about 200 meters from the already existing fence of the settlement, also on the village's lands. Activists using a sledgehammer to take down the fenceActivists using a sledgehammer to take down the fence The wider trajectory of the newer parameter fence leaves a large area of agricultural land, owned by farmers from the village, practically inside the settlement and out of reach for the villagers. When villagers do try and access their lands, they risk assault by settlers or the army.

Pics at

Villagers had already taken the matter to court, which ordered a gate to be opened daily, to allow regular passage. But like in any other place in Palestine, decisions of the Israeli court are not even worth the paper they are written on, and farmers do not have real access to their lands. In reality, for farmers to be able to work one day on their lands, they must waste two weeks on bureaucracy. Even after all the papers are set, the whims and moods of the individual soldier at the gate or the settlers from Karmei Tzur determine the faith of the day's work.

Activists pulling down the fenceActivists pulling down the fence

A group of about 40 villagers and activists from various places gathered in the village Saturday to say no more, this fence must be taken off!

After a short walk from the village, the larger group split into smaller ones, and started attacking the fence in a few spots, using bolt cutters and sledgehammers.

About seven minutes of quick and efficient work were enough to destroy some 20 meters of the fence. At that point, a security guard came running down from the settlement towards one of the groups, loading and pointing his rifle towards them, and threatening to shoot them.

Some more hammeringSome more hammering

A second group faced a similar situation as an army jeep stopped next to them, the soldiers in it threatened the activists, while in the background settlers were calling on them to shoot the group. The activists decided that enough damage was done, and that it was a good time to retreat.

The two groups headed back to the village, where they decided to remove another fence, next to the highway, that prevents farmers from working their lands.

The activists managed to cut about ten meters of that fence before being spotted by an army patrol, but managed to return to the village before any confrontation developed.

Click here to watch a video from the action
* Copied from the web site of the Israeli Anarchists Against The Wall

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Palestine-Israel, against the occupation and the fence - struggle in Bil'in & Um Salmuna 07 Apr 2007

The Friday action in Um Salmuna started in the morning with a direct action of Palestinians, Internationals, and Israelis of the Anarchists Against The Wall initiative. The pick of the action was the blocking of a bulldozer that was working on the route of the building site of the separation fence.
After the action which ended with only one injured and only short detention of two activists, some of the AATW activists joined as reinforcement to the other AATW in the demo in Bil'in.


The report from the is as follows:

Ma'asara : Good Friday demo against the wall 06/04/2007 The struggle against the apartheid wall in villages south of bethlehem took a step forward, today when the regular "Friday demo" was replaced by a direct action against the bulldozers that works on the wall.
some forty demonstrators gathered together in the village of wadi nis, inspired by the work of the great surrealist artist Muhammad khatib of Bilin, the demonstrators carried a huge cross to observe "good friday". They marched to the path of the wall where they blocked a working bulldozer, the works were stopped for an hour until a force of "MAGAV"(border police) issued the usual excuse of "close military zone".

after the demonstrators refused to leave the place the police force attacked the demonstrators injuring one of them and detaining two others . after a short negotiation with the police the three people detained were released, and the demonstrators walked back to the village promising to repeat a similar actions on a regular basis.


In Bil'in, the "creativity" of the new commander was expressed again... When the usual Friday noon march of Palestinians from the village and the region passed at the fringe of the built area of the village, the border gendarme provocateur unit was there as usual - to provoke the stone thrower kids. However, when we arrived at the blocked gate to the route of the fence and the village land West of it, (including the new village outpost there) we found the "decoration" of the gate. In order to prevent the demonstrators from too intimate confrontation with the soldiers, metal rods were wielded to it.

It took the activist few minutes and the gate was "bare" again. The punishment was a single shock grenade that was supposed to start the barrage of stone throwing from people who join the demonstration but do not support the nonviolent mode the village popular comity adopted from the beginning of the joint struggle there.

(After a long internal struggle in the village, these stone throwers - who differ qualitatively from the kids confronting the gendarmes at the fringe of the village, a kind of agreement-concession was arrived. Though they do not always adhere to it, they agreed not to start the stone throwing near the gate before the army start to throw grenades and shooting.)

This time, the activists of the village popular comity succeeded to calm them down after the lone shock grenade of the army, and some minute afterwards, so the low intensity confrontation and low violence from the soldiers continued, till a new volley of shock and tear gas grenades and stone throwing in response started.

As usual, the soldiers showered all of us with shock grenades, few tear gas ones too but very few as the wind tended to change directions and punish the soldiers. They also shot lot of rubber coated bullets and the new "non lethal" ones on the stone throwers and drove them away.

The main body of the demonstrators did not run away - just moved few meters to the side..... continuing the low intensity confrontation with the soldiers.

A strange thing happened twice in this demonstration not ever before: After the stone throwers run a way few tens of meters, a contingent of soldiers advanced 20 meter to a better position to fire from it on the distancing stone throwers. this initiated a group of our people to make a line before the soldiers, preventing them from continuing shooting, and applying pressure (mostly verbal) and forcing them to retreat to the gate to the route of the fence.

During the confrontation, about 15 were lightly injured, and treated at the site of the demo.

At the first stage of the demo, Jonathan Polak of the AATW was picked by the soldiers. They wished to use a suspended 3 month arrest verdict in Tel Aviv court to get rid of him and his participation in the demonstrations in Bil'in. "Yontatan was arrested today in the demo in Bil'in. he is accused in violating a close military zone and illegal gathering, the police decided to leave him for a weekend break in jail. he will be brought in front of a judge tomorrow night in "Migrash Harrusim" in Jerusalem at 19:30.
people are welcome to come a support him there".

Till now, every time they brought one of us to the judge they accused that person with harsher acts... they failed to get more than ordering the comrade to keep away from the demonstration for 10 to 14 days (and even that not every time as we had usually video clips to prove the the accusation is false).