On Monday I went along with the IWPS (International Women’s Peace Service) as it joined in a PARC (Palestine Agricultural Relief Committee) ‘solidarity action’, picking olives with a farmer who had been attacked two days ago by settlers from Bracha. Khaled Mansour, Nablus PARC director and a leader in the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, gave a clear message that boycott should include all Israeli goods, following the model of the boycott of South Africa. A larger-than-life figure, he lead us in many songs whilst we picked olives, including a rousing ‘We will overcome’! He lives in Al Faraa refugee camp, as his family were ethnically cleansed in 1948 from a village south of Haifa. (for more of his story read www.badil.org/en/al-majal/item/924)
Mansour arrested during olive picking
Non violent BDS demonstration in an Israeli Supermarket
Two days later approximately 100 Palestinians and a small group of internationals demonstrated in a supermarket just outside the Shaar Binayamin settlement, near Ramallah. They left voluntarily when asked but were attacked in the car park by over 40 army and police using sound bombs.
Demonstration in a supermarket
Two Palestinians, including our friend Bassem from Nabi Saleh Popular Committee, one international supporter from Michigan Peace Team, and one from International Solidarity Movement were arrested. All are still being held; the internationals are threatened with deportation by the Ministry of Interior although they have not been charged with anything.
Another arrest of non violent protester
I am enthused to do more boycott solidarity work on my return…..the EU has legitimised Israel by the recent EU-Israel AACA vote.(Europe agreed to recognise Israeli standards, in effect making trade between Israel and European Union members much easier).
The Palestinians continue to struggle against the stranglehold of the occupation, we need to do anything we can to support them.
Hastings Friends of Yatma member Gill Knight was part of the weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh last week. See video Residents of Nabi Saleh have conducted peaceful demonstrations against the occupation following the seizure of a spring and land by settlers from the nearby illegal Israeli colony of Halamish. These are normally family affairs, involving children and much of the community. The demonstrators walk to the settlers-only road near the village, where they are met by the army, which blocks their progress. Typically the demonstration is broken up by the Israeli army, using tear gas, and sound grenades, in a pattern described in an article Normalising Violence-a Report from Nabi Saleh. The army also often sprays the demonstrators with a vile smelling liquid called ‘skunk’. (There are many videos of the Nabi Saleh demonstrations on YouTube, which can be accessed by entering ‘nabi saleh’ )
Demonstrations end with teenagers throwing stones at the army, and the army firing tear gas and rubber bullets (steel balls covered in rubber) at the stone throwers. Recently a young Palestinians was killed at Nabi Saleh when an soldier fired a tear gas canister at his face at close range. Occupation forces have conducted night raids in Nabi Saleh to capture and imprison the teenage stone throwers, many of whom languish in Israeli jails. See Wikipedia entry
Not only houses are demolished by Israeli occupation authorities.
Schools are also targets of demolitions, as the occupation seeks to ensure that Palestinian communities are restricted to the areas assigned to them and are not permitted to expand into what are considered Israeli controlled ‘security zones’. (Illegal Israeli settlements are generally permitted by the Israeli authorities, however).
It isn’t believed that any of the Yatma schools are threatened be demolition orders, because they are located in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
However there are as many as 2o schools throughout the West Bank which have been allegedly constructed in violation of Israeli occupation laws and have been subjected to demolition orders. These orders have been appealed and demolitions held in abeyance. But recently Israeli courts promised to speed up consideration of appeals. Because appeals are generally rejected, we can expect that there will be a surge in school demolitions in 2012.
There are a very large number of Palestinians in Israeli jails. Some of these are in jail for violent resistance against the occupation, but many are in jail for minor infractions at checkpoints or involvement in demonstrations. People involved in criminal activities are normally dealt with by the Palestinians authorities.
Many of those in Israeli jails are juveniles, often arrested for stone throwing. Under occupation rules, Palestinian juveniles are treated more harshly than Israeli juveniles for the same infractions.
Hastings Friends of Yatma recently attempted to discover how many residents of Yatma were in jail. It seems that in November there were approximately 10 Yatma residents in Israeli jails, as well as three recently released. We didn’t get information about the ages are reasons for incarceration.
Two residents of Yatma were arrested this week, while passing through an occupation checkpoint between the villages of Yatma and Osreen.
There hasn’t been any news why the two were arrested, or whether they were charged.
A number of other Palestinians were arrested by occupation forces this week.
This follows a curfew in Yatma in late December, after settlers from the nearby Rechalim settlement claimed that armed men had fired on settlers. Residents of Yatma were locked down, but no evidence of gunfire was found. It isn’t clear whether the settlers were correct, or whether they were harrassing the residents of Yatma intentionally.
Conflicts between settlers and residents are common in the area, but there have been relatively few incidents between Yatma and Rechalim since the ‘Price Tag’ attacks on Yatma a few years ago.