PROTESTS: Beit Jala – Ni’ilin – Bil’in – An Nabi Salah – Al Ma’asara – Sheikh Jarrah – Beit Ummar – Jeb Altheeb 12Mar10 March 15, 2010

Beit Jala – 11.3.10 – Thursday Work Day Rebuilt Bulldozed Playground in Beit Jala, Bethlehem International Indymedia  Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals met in Beit Jala today to rebuild a playground that bulldozers destroyed last week while clearing the path to complete the wall near Bethlehem. 12 people armed only with pick axes and hoes, flattened out the bulldozer tracks and deep holes left from uprooted trees, reset two swing sets, and brought in sand by the bucket for the new playground. Young olive trees were replanted in place of the mature trees that were destroyed during the first days of uprooting last week. The playground is used by many of the neighborhood children, and the family who owns the land welcomes people to enjoy the shade next to their home in the heat of the summer. As people worked in the sun today, army jeeps made rounds on the road above the home, and stood watch from the road on the opposing side of the highway. One jeep came down to the playground, but people continued their work as soldiers took pictures and asked for the Palestinian participants identification cards.  Last week in Beit Jala residents and activists held demonstrations, a roadblock, tree plantings, and meetings with Palestinian officials. This week the community waits for a court decision to see whether work on the wall will continue. On March 4th the Beit Jala municipality obtained an order to stop work on the wall. Approximately 70 olive trees had already been uprooted buy this time, the septic system for a family was broken leaving raw sewage spewing out below their home, and a playground was bulldozed. If the wall is finished it will stand only several meters from some of the homes. As the municipality builds its legal defense, activists are preparing for future interventions in case that Israel continues the land theft.

Haifa – 10.3.10 – Wednesday  Supporters rally with the Corrie family outside the court building on the first day of the trial.
See videos:  Rachel Corrie Foundation and  Democracy Now
The Haifa District Court began hearing eyewitness testimonies today, March 10, 2010, in a civil lawsuit filed by Rachel Corrie’s family against the State of Israel for her unlawful killing in Rafah, Gaza. Rachel Corrie, an American human rights defender from Olympia, Washington, was crushed to death on March 16, 2003 by a Caterpillar D9R bulldozer. She had been nonviolently demonstrating against Palestinian home demolitions with fellow members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct action methods and principles.  The court heard the testimonies of two ISM witnesses, British citizens Richard Purssell and Tom Dale. Their testimonies were frequently interrupted due to poor court-provided translation, which the presiding judge, Oded Gershon, acknowledged to be flawed. A new court translator was requested by the judge for the coming hearings.  The state attorneys spent most of their time cross-examining the eye-witnesses about the ISM and their purpose in Rafah. Purssell repeatedly affirmed that his purpose for being in Gaza was to offer nonviolent protection to Palestinian civilians whose homes were threatened with demolition by the Israeli military. Relatively little time was spent ascertaining what happened to Rachel Corrie.  “Seven years after my daughter Rachel was killed, I was finally able to hear Rachel’s friends, who were with her, testify in a court of law. Despite some disheartening procedural challenges, we remain hopeful that the truth about what happened to Rachel will be revealed, and that the people responsible for her killing will be held accountable,” said Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother.  The courtroom was filled with local and international reporters, human rights observers and three representatives from the U.S. Embassy, including Consul General Andrew Parker. Last night, the Corrie family met with Parker and senior members of Vice President Joseph Biden’s staff in Jerusalem. Antony Blinken, the Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to the Vice President, reconfirmed the long-standing U.S. Government position that there has not been a thorough, credible, and transparent investigation into Rachel’s case. They reiterated the U.S. Government’s endorsement of pursuing justice for Rachel through the Israeli court system. Embassy staff will continue to attend the trial.  “I continue to be humbled by the steadfast dedication to nonviolent support for all of our human rights demonstrated by Rachel’s friends, not just seven years ago in Rafah, but again today in Haifa,” said Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father.

12.3.10 – Friday  Nil’in: Two Arrested During Demonstration
Video link

Hundreds of people from the town and surrounding villages of Ni’lin gathered on the threatened land, where they affirmed the need to resist the aggressive policies of occupation. Villagers were accompanied by their animals, a symbol of their age old connection with the land that they have farmed for generations. Images and posters of Tristan Anderson were prevalent, the American ISM activist now in a coma after being struck with a tear gas canister during a demonstration.  Nil’in resident Salah Amira and an unnamed Israeli activist were arrested during clashes that lasted late into the afternoon. Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd, but no serious injuries were reported.  Press Release:  Family Appeals Decision to Close Investigation on Shooting of US Citizen Tristan Anderson

12.3.10 – Friday  Bil’in Weekly Demo

Throughout the march and cheers the protesters were exposed to the traditional response of the Israeli military that included the use of rubber bullets. Two children were shot during the rally and sustained minor injuries. IDF forces made an active effort to detain one of the groups leaders in an effort to prevent media exposure of the event. Protests and reciprocating efforts have been seen in many cities and have even resulted in the death of Tristen Andersen, an American protester in support of the Palestinian people, who was shot in the head by Israeli forces who opened fire with rubber bullets at a similar protest in the town of Nilin. However, attempts to silence the cries for the basic human rights and respect for international laws were, and will continue to be, a moot exercise.  As Friday prayer let out from the mosque in the town of Bilin the wide array of international visitors were joined by the local Palestinian community for the weekly protest to the wall that had been erected by the Israeli occupying forces. Around 12:30 the crowd began their march and chants to the end of the town towards the IDF forces. It was quickly discovered that several soldiers were hiding within a small stone structure on the Palestinian side of the fence, intent on arresting some of the dissidents who continue to have the audacity to object to the theft of their land by the Israeli military. Having been found by a group of teenagers the soldiers were quickly chased back behind the fence.  Despite the almost immediate release of tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets the march continued to the end of the wall where protesters continued to stand strong despite the choking gas that was rapidly consuming the area. All the while chants for Palestinian freedom and the end of the apartheid state of affairs rang through the crowd as the protesters—including Palestinians, Israelis, and other international supporters—got a good look at the current, contentions relationship. A long standing affair that will continue to see the local community and its international supporters stand together in the pursuit of freedom and equality.

12.3.10 – Friday  Over 25 Injured in Nabi Saleh Demonstration
Video link
The soldiers came early to Nabi Saleh this week. They came early and eager to fight – as if the shooting of fourteen year old Ehab Barghouthi last week only spurred them to be more aggressive this time. At noon, maybe slightly before, they came unprovoked to the street and took positions in it as if it was theirs to own. When villagers of the tiny hilltop community marched down the street from the mosque, accompanied by their Israeli and international supporters, the junction connecting the two main roads of Nabi Saleh was already occupied by dozens of soldiers.  A tempest of tear-gas and rubber-coated bullets took over the village as soldiers shot over sixty tear-gas canisters at once towards the demonstrators minutes after they started to march. When protesters regrouped, still inside the village, the same happened again.  Protest in the village was ignited about three months ago after settlers from the adjacent Jewish-only settlement of Halamish, abided by the Army, forcefully took over a natural spring belonging to residents of Nabi Saleh. Demonstrators eventually managed to march away from the village’s center in two main groups – one heading to the spring from the hill on the West, and the other through the valley on the south. Both groups were met by Border Police officers who barraged them with mass amounts tear-gas and rubber-coated bullets.  The thick clouds of teargas that filled the valley effectively prevented the group that struggled to cross to the spring through it from succeeding. However, the clashes that ensued near the valley between local youth and the Army served as cover for the group marching from the hills, which managed to reach another of the village’s springs, only to find settlers swimming in it. Soldiers who eventually got to the group politely ordered the settlers to leave, while attacking the demonstrators with tear-gas in order to push them back to the village.  A few hours after the demonstration had started, both groups regrouped at the village, where Border Police officers shot at demonstrators from behind the stone terraces that crosshatch the fields between the village and the settlement. As the hours progressed the Army slowly retreated towards the permanent military post at the entrance to the village, where clashes continued. At dark, when clashed finally ended, more than 25 injured protesters were counted, all of them from rubber-coated bullets.

12.3.10 – Friday  Al Ma’asara From: Againstwall  A smaller than usual weekly demonstration in Ma’asara, no more than fifty people strong (of different nationalities), was met after marching in the heavy heat through the village streets by a larger than usual combined army and border police force. Soldiers set up near the first houses of the village, deeper than ever before, and prevented the demonstration from proceeding towards the village lands.  After giving speeches in Arabic, English and Hebrew, a small group of demonstrators went through the barbed wire set on the road, and was pushed by the soldiers who also threatened activists will be arrested as the area is a closed military zone. Demonstrators on both sides sat on the ground, beat drums, sang songs, and called upon the soldiers to abandon the oppression of the popular struggle and join it in stead. The soldiers, already with stun and tear gas grenades at hand, were somewhat taken aback faced with this act of non-violent resistance and the many cameras documenting all over the place. And so, with nobody arrested and no attack on the demonstrators, activists eventually decided to leave willingly and escape the burning sun, promising to return next week as well.

12.3.10 – Friday  Sheik Jarrah: Illegal Arrests of 10 Protesters During March

11.3.10 – Thursday  Sheik Jarrah:
Palestinians, Israelis and internationals protest the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem at a weekly demonstration.  Today in the West Jerusalem Shalom court, activists gathered from around the world to support two Sheikh Jarrah families in their eviction trial only to learn that the trial will be postponed. Jewish settlers have occupied the front half of the family’s house since December 1st and today a hearing was scheduled regarding the remaining part of the house. No date for the next legal hearing was announced.  The lawyer bringing the eviction charges against the Palestinian families requested that the court cases for all houses in the neighborhood be heard by the same judge. Palestinians in the neighborhood stated that the settler’s lawyer hopes to find a judge more sympathetic to their cause to hear all cases.  According to the municipality the family was evicted from the front of the house because it was an addition built without a permit. Instead of demolishing the un-permitted addition or working to issue a legitimate permit, the family was forceed to pay a 70,000 shekel fine. In late 2009, after completing the fine, the family was forcefully evicted and the rooms were occupied by settlers.

13.3.10 – Saturday  Three Protesters and a Journalist Arrested During Beit Ummar Demonstration Dozens of residents of Beit Ummar, accompanied by Israeli and international supporters, marched from the center of the village towards Road 60 that connects Jerusalem with Hebron this morning. The procession was attacked as soon as the large contingent of soldiers, which was positioned at the entrance to the village to to fend off demonstrators, noticed the marchers and without provocation.  Demonstrators continued to advance towards the road despite the attack, and managed to block it for almost an hour in response to the Army’s aggressiveness, for the second time in two weeks. Two Israeli activists were arrested soon after protesters took over the road, and were taken to the Kiryat Arba police station. When demonstrators were not deterred by the initial violence, soldiers continued to target people holding a camera, arresting an AP cameraman, Nasser Shyouhi, and breaking numerous cameras. Youssef Abu Marya, the coordinator of the Beit Ummar National committee, the group that organized the protest today was also arrested.  After finally dispersing the demonstrators, who remained peaceful despite the attack on them, the Army invaded the town in large forces. Soldiers occupied at least one house in the village without showing its owner a seizure order as required by law. Following the aggressive invasion, clashes ensued between local youth who tried to ward off the incursion by throwing stones at the armored jeeps, and between soldiers who used tear-gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets.  Beit Ummar is located eleven kilometers northwest of West Bank city of Hebron and is home to roughly 14,500 people.

13.3.10 – Saturday  Jeb Altheeb International Indymedia  20 people joined the Bethlehem Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in what has become a weekly work-day in Jeb Altheeb. Last week the group of Palestinians, Israeli, and International activists build a rock wall to mark the boundaries of the farmers land near the road. Settlers destroyed the wall during the week, but it was rebuit today. Neither army nor settlers were present.  Jeb Altheeb is a small village south-east of Bethlehem (near Herodion) which is flanked by the Nokdim settlement (where Avigdor Liebermann lives). Since around 5 years, the village is directly neighbored by an outpost with seven settlers who are continuing to curb the ongoing dispossession of the village’s land. In recent weeks, the settlers have prevented the farmers and shephers from working on the remaining land of the village and grazing their sheep.  In the last few weeks lawyers were brought to the village and confirmed the legal right of the villagers to the land and its use, and a court case will be opened. Nonetheless, settlers frequently appear and harass as soon as farmers and shepherds try to work on their remaining lands.

Thank you for you continued support,

Iyad Burnat- Head of Popular Commitee in Bilin
co-founder  of Friends of Freedom and Justice – Bilin

Mobile- (00972) (0) 547847942
Office- (00972) (2) 2489129
Mobile- (00972) (0) 598403676

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