Category Archives: Hastings Friends of Yatma

Hastings Friends of Yatma January 2014 Newsletter

HFOY jan 2014


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by | January 22, 2014 · 2:52 pm

Settlers attack village next to Yatma

Militant Jewish settlers have attacked and destroyed eight cars in Qabalan, West Bank. All were owned by local residents of the Palestinian village.

Qabalan is the village next to Yatma, about one kilometre southeast. Attacks against villagers by Jewish settlers are almost four times a frequent as in privious years. The settlers scrawled ‘Price tag’ messages  on cars and building, a reference to the policy of attacking Palestinians in revenge for perceived threats against the settler movement by the Israeli government.

Two weeks ago residents of Qussra West Bank captured and detained a group of Price Tag attackers before turning them over to the occupation authorities.

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Filed under Hastings Friends of Yatma, Price Tag, Yatma

UK subsidises house demolition in Palestine

house demolition

In a surprising policy the UK funds the Norwegian Refugee Council, which has a programme to help Palestinians whose homes have been illegally demolished by the Israeli government. Surprising because the UK maintains positive diplomatic relations with Israel, and trade relations amounting to billions of pounds each year. The UK maintains these positive relations while ‘utterly condemning’ the illegal demolitions.

Decades of similar policies make it clear that the UK maintains its commercial relationship with Israel at all costs, and that its criticism of Israel’s human rights policies are for appeasement of a public unhappy with Israeli policies. The UK government has never been willing to go beyond condemnations to stop the Israeli government from its policies. In fact, money paid to the Norwegian Refugee Council can be seen to be a subsidy to the occupation, since it absolves the government of Israel of financial responsiblity for the problems it creates by house demolition.

Up to twenty homes in Yatma are subject to demolition orders by the Israeli Occupation Forces. The Occupation delivers demolition orders when Palestinians build houses in areas the Israelis consider reserved for military purposes (Israelis can illegally build on Palestinian land in the military zones usually without problems from the military).

Yatma is completely surrounded by ‘Zone C’ military reserve. There are no alternatives to building on the military reserve land, and Israeli permission to build is normally not forthcoming. Appeal processes exist but are stacked against the Palestinian homeowner. Once appeals are exhausted houses can be demolished at any moment subject to the whim of the military command. Most houses under demolition orders in Yatma are in this situation.

What you can do:

Keep up the letters to MP Amber Rudd, asking her to take up the cause of Palestinians. Point out that we shouldn’t be subsidising house demolition. Demand that Britain put human rights considerations ahead of commercial interests.

HFOY rubble of house demolished by Israeli forces

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Filed under Hastings Friends of Yatma, Home demolitions, Yatma

Autumn Newsletter, Hastings Friends of Yatma

Autumn 2013 newletter

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by | October 8, 2013 · 9:33 pm

Road Sign – In Reality a Symbol of Occupation and Apartheid

As I travel in a ‘Servis’ (7-seater mini bus), from Ramallah to Nablus, I notice the proliferation of new road signs at the road side entrances to Palestinian villages. They remind me of zoo warning signs for dangerous animals! No need to put similar signs in front of settlements – they are well protected from ‘intruders’ by high wire fences and patrolling armed security staff. Palestinians are only allowed to enter settlements if they have a work permit. Settlers, on the other hand, are free to roam Palestinian land at will, even to attack farmers and uproot trees.

Gill 2013 road sign warning against Palestinians

Correction from last post

How could I get it so wrong? In my last post I said that Tommy Donnellen had been hit by a gas canister. I’ve seen enough wounds by now that I should know the wound was from a steel coated rubber bullet.

Gill 2013 Tommy with wound

He was standing behind the wall of the petrol station, where I often stand with other photographers, professional and amateur, to snap the interplay between the boy stone throwers (‘shebab’) – and the occupation forces. There were no medics around last Friday so Anne, a French photographer, and I were trying to get some ice on the wound, but he was stoically holding out! Tommy is a relentless activist from Galway Ireland who who has been documenting Palestinian non-violent resistance* for a few years, Maybe that was why he was targeted. I hope that he is healing.

Ongoing oppression tactics

Did a truce ever exist? As I write this, Gaza is being bombarded by Israeli air strikes. In the villages surrounding Ramalla land confiscation goes on for military expansion.

* Friday protests are always essentially non-violent. Peaceful marches are halted by the Israeli occupation forces using skunk water and tear gas, then as the march breaks up teenages (‘shebab’) throw stones at the soldiers, who respond with more tear gas and rubber bullets.

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Filed under Hastings Friends of Yatma, International volunteers, Occupation

Follow your heart (and part of mine is in Nabi Saleh)

My return to Palestine 30th March 2013, Good Friday!

‘Eat, eat, you are in Nabi Saleh!,’ says Boshra. ‘I have just rocked up from Ramallah on the servis.’ She is not expecting me but after hugs, kisses and tears (on my part) she has prepared brunch and tells me about her recent speaking tour in France. Arranged by the French equivalent of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, she, Manal, and Nariman spent 22 days travelling and giving talks about resistance and Palestinian women . It has been a resounding success and has empowered Boshra no end – when I left last December her energy seemed quite low.

Outside the boys kick a ball around as they do before and after the Friday demonstration.

Gill 2013 Boys playing football

After her daughter Bezan hands me my shades I left there in December, she and friend Ola pose for a picture. The young are media savvy here, forever documenting their lives and using Facebook.

Gill 2013 Ola posing with sunglasses 

 The uniqueness of Nabi

The small close knit village of 500 Tamimis, has resisted the occupation since 2009 after the theft of their village spring by the settlement of Halamish. Halamiksh was built from 1977 onwards on stolen Nabi Saleh land. Unique because three of the community leaders are the women I mentioned before and the children are in the forefront of the start of the Friday march.

At one time the children were not included but as Manal says they decided to teach them not to be afraid. She herself was beaten and arrested in 2009 in front of her three year old. “We had to break this wall of fear in our kids to be able to continue the struggle in the future,” she stated in an interview.

Gill 2013 Children leading march

 Manal Tamini, currently studying for her law degree, remembers childhood picking grapes and figs – so wonderful and fresh – on the land where Halamish now sits

Her husband Bilal says ‘the resistance is for our kids future, so they can grow up and follow their dreams and their kids too’.

 This Good Friday

Today’s demo seems unusually low key, neither the Israeli Occupation Forces or the ‘shebab’ is really engaged in the usual ritual. Some people tried to head off to the spring; there was a bit of skunk water, some tear gas. Here is Manal running from it:

Gill 2013 Manal running from teargas

The only injury was to Tommy Donnellen, filming from the petrol station and shot at twice. As reported in the Belfast Telegraph, a tear gas canister punctured his upper right arm. I read the press report and the only discrepancy I can find is that they reported they he tried to reason with the soldiers, but he told me he shouted you motherf**cker, lost in Irish translation?

I find being in Nabi, especially with the women, inspirational.

I believe we all learn from each other and the lessons about me, me, me I have learnt from these women are boundless. To return to another pop song, as I do shamelessly, – Hope by Emeli Sande, one for las Passionaras?

I hope that the world stops raining
Stops turning it’s back on the young
See nobody here is blameless
I hope that we can fix all that we’ve done
I really hope Martin can see this
I hope that we still have a dream
I’m hoping that change isn’t hopeless
I’m hoping to start it with me
I hope we start seeing forever
Instead of what we can gain in a day
I hope we start seeing each other
Cause don’t we all bleed the same
I really hope someone can hear me
That a child doesn’t bear the weight of a gun
I find the voice within me
To scream at the top of my lungs
Louder, I cannot hear you
How can things be better left unsaid
Call me, call me a dreamer
But it seems like dreams are all that we’ve got left
I hope we still have a heartbeat
I hope we don’t turn to snow
A night when you turn the lights off
I hope you don’t cry alone
I hope we stop taking for granted
All of the land and all of the sea
I’m taking a chance on loving
I hope that you take it with me

 Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Martin Luther King, Jr

Thank you Nabi Saleh, especially Boshra, Nariman and Manal.

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Filed under Hastings Friends of Yatma, International volunteers, Occupation

Evening for Palestine a Success

The evening for Palestine held in the White Rock Hotel was a success with about 35 people attending. Gill reported back on her recent stay on the West Bank, £40 raised as well as a large amount of Palestine merchandise sold. There was an excellent exhibit of art from children in Gaza.

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Filed under Gaza, Hastings Friends of Yatma