Saturday, August 29, 2009

demo against the Wall in Bil'in/ Manif contre le Mur a Bil'in, 28.08.2009

(c) Anne Paq/, Bil'in, 28.09.2009

Dozens of Palestinians, Israelis and internationals demonstrate against the Wall in the West Bank village of Bilin, on 29.08.2009. As part of the demonstration, activists dressed like construction workers and created a mock construction site near the Wall with signs declaring "Wall Removal in Progress" and "Illegal Wall Ahead." The Israeli soldiers showered the demonstration with tear gas and use a vehicle which pouted a foul-smelling liquid from a pipe, causing a nauseating and intolerable smell.

Des dizaines de Palestiniens, des Israéliens et des internationaux ont manifeste contre le Mur dans le village de Bilin, le 29/08/2009. Dans le cadre de la manifestation, des militants vêtus comme des travailleurs en batiments ont créé un simulacre de chantier de construction pres du Mur avec des panneaux déclarant "Destruction du Mur en cour »et« Mur illégal droit devant". Apres quelques minutes, les soldats israéliens ont arrose la manifestation avec du gaz lacrymogène et ont utilise un véhicule qui a lance un liquide bleu nauséabond, provoquant une odeur insupportable.

Sweet Bitter Ramadan, 1st Friday of Ramadan

(c) Anne Paq/, Bethlehem and Qalandiya checkpoints, 29.08.2009

Sweet Bitter Ramadan, 1st Friday of Ramadan,

(c) Anne Paq/, Bethlehem and Qalandiya checkpoints, 29.08.2009

Palestinians from all over the West Bank try to reach Jerusalem for the first Friday of Ramadan, on 29.08.2009.
Restrictions were imposed by the Israeli military. Only women over 45 and men over 50 could go to Jerusalem without a permit, so most Palestinians were still deprived of their right to access their holy sites. In order to cross the checkpoints and be on time for the mid-day prayer in Jerusalem, most Palestinians went to the checkpoints at 6am.

Des Palestiniens de tous les coins de la Cisjordanie tentent de parvenir à Jérusalem pour le premier vendredi du Ramadan, le 29/08/2009.
Des restrictions drastiques ont été imposées par l'armée israélienne. Seules les femmes de plus de 45 et les hommes de plus de 50 ans ont pu se rendre à Jérusalem sans permis, donc la plupart des Palestiniens sont toujours privés de leur droit d'accéder à leurs lieux saints. Pour franchir les checkpoints et être à l'heure de la prière de la mi-journée à Jérusalem, la plupart des Palestiniens sont allés au checkpoints à 6h du matin.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shortage of water in Aida Refugee camp / Manque d'eau dans el camp de refugies de Aida

(c) Anne Paq/

The inhabitants of Aida refugee camp use some water pumps in order to try to get some water to their houses. For the last two months, the shortage of water is a recurrent problem in the camp. The water, when it delivers, is not in sufficient quantity. Some inhabitants try to shortcut this problem by using pumps to get the water from the UN network which only delivers some houses.

Les habitants du camp de réfugiés d'Aida utilisent des pompes à eau pour tenter d'obtenir un peu d'eau dans leurs maisons. Lors des deux derniers mois, la pénurie d'eau est un problème récurrent dans le camp. L'eau, si elle est arrive, n'est pas en quantité suffisante. Quelques habitants tentent de contourner le problème en utilisant des pompes pour obtenir l'eau du réseau de l'ONU qui ne dessert qu'une partie des habitations.

Israeli academics must pay the price to end occupation

ANALYSIS / Israeli academics must pay the price to end occupation
By Anat Matar
Tags: Israel boycott

Several days ago Dr. Neve Gordon of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev published an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times. In that article he explained why, after years of activity in the peace camp here, he has decided to pin his hopes on applying external pressure on Israel - including sanctions, divestment and an economic, cultural and academic boycott.

He believes, and so do I, that only when the Israeli society's well-heeled strata pay a real price for the continuous occupation will they finally take genuine steps to put an end to it.

Gordon looks at the Israeli society and sees an apartheid state. While the Palestinians' living conditions deteriorate, many Israelis are benefiting from the occupation. In between the two sides, Israeli society is sinking into complete denial - drawn into extreme hatred and violence.
The academic community has an important role to play in this process. Yet, instead of sounding the alarm, it wakes up only when someone dares approach the international community and desperately call for help.

The worn-out slogan that everybody raises in this context is "academic freedom," but it is time to somewhat crack this myth.

The appeal to academic freedom was born during the Enlightenment, when ruling powers tried to suppress independent minded thinkers. Already then, more than 200 years ago, Imannuel Kant differentiated between academics whose expertise (law, theology, and medicine) served the establishment and those who had neither power nor proximity to power. As for the first, he said, there was no sense in talking about "freedom" or "independent thought" as any use of such terminology is cynical.

Since then, cynicism has spread to other faculties as well. At best academic freedom was perceived as the right to ask troubling questions. At worst was the right to harass whomever asked too much.

When the flag of academic freedom is raised, the oppressor and not the oppressed is usually the one who flies it. What is that academic freedom that so interests the academic community in Israel? When, for example, has it shown concern for the state of academic freedom in the occupied territories?

This school year in Gaza will open in shattered classrooms as there are no building materials there for rehabilitating the ruins; without notebooks, books and writing utensils that cannot be brought into Gaza because of the goods embargo (yes, Israel may boycott schools there and no cry is heard).

Hundreds of students in West Bank universities are under arrest or detention in Israeli jails, usually because they belong to student organizations that the ruling power does not like.

The separation fence and the barriers prevent students and lecturers from reaching classes, libraries and tests. Attending conferences abroad is almost unthinkable and the entry of experts who bear foreign passports is permitted only sparingly.

On the other hand, members of the Israeli academia staunchly guard their right to research what the regime expects them to research and appoint former army officers to university positions. Tel Aviv University alone prides itself over the fact that the Defense Ministry is funding 55 of its research projects and that DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the U.S. Defense Department, is funding nine more. All the universities offer special study programs for the defense establishment.

Are those programs met with any protest? In contrast with the accepted impression, only few lecturers speak up decisively against the occupation, its effect and the increasingly bestial nature of the State of Israel.

The vast majority retains its freedom to be indifferent, up to the moment that someone begs the international community for rescue. Then the voices rise from right and left, the indifference disappears, and violence replaces it: Boycott Israeli universities? This strikes at the holy of holies, academic freedom!

The writer is a lecturer in Tel Aviv University's Department of Philosophy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bilin's unwavering spirit of resistance

Bilin's unwavering spirit of resistance
Jody McIntyre writing from Bilin, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 20 August 2009

Youth from Bilin watch from atop a home as Palestinian and international protestors are shot at with teargas by Israeli soldiers. (Tess Scheflan/ActiveStills)

The Ofer military base is not an easy place to get into. But after most of my friends and the father of the family I was living with, Mohammed Khatib (also a leading member of the Bilin Popular Committee) were arrested in a brutal night raid on the occupied West Bank village of Bilin, I was determined to go to their court hearing.

Unfortunately, the taxi driver dropped me off at the wrong entrance. Four menacing Israeli soldiers faced me, and they did not look pleased at my presence.

"What are you doing here?" they demanded, "Don't you know that no one is allowed here?!"

"No," I replied, "I'm just here for a friend's court case."

"No you can't, you must leave, go home now!"

Fortunately, one of the soldiers unwittingly pointed me in the direction of the court, before reasserting, "but you can't go there." Nevertheless, I was not intending to follow his orders.

Sitting outside were the families of all seven men on trial -- although the term "men" would be misleading; five of the seven were aged 18 or younger. Also waiting to enter were a small group of international volunteers, hoping to observe the trial. But as usual with Israel's so-called "democracy," they would not be permitted to do so. Luckily for myself, I arrived at the same time as Lamia Khatib, Mohammed's wife, and her insistence that I was a member of the family secured my entrance.

Once inside, I felt like I was at the heart of apartheid. We sat out all day in a Shawshank Redemption-esque yard, feeling jailed ourselves, with the unbearable heat beating down on our heads. As I sat on the concrete floor, staring at the youthful soldiers patrolling the cage we sat in, I couldn't help but contemplate the occupation. When will the injustice stop? How can this be overcome?

At that moment, I could see it all around me. Right down to the Palestinians working for peanuts to repair the building behind us -- cheap Palestinian labor is hugely exploited inside the green line, the internationally-recognized boundary between Israel and the West Bank, while the workers are treated as third-class citizens in their own homeland.

We were finally called for the hearing at around 3:30pm, even though it was due to start at 9:30am. In the court, the system of apartheid was even clearer. Despite the guards demanding the shackled teenagers not communicate with visitors, 18-year-old Mustafa couldn't help but to shout out "HALA JODY!" when he saw my face. It was difficult seeing my adoptive family in brown uniforms, knowing they wouldn't be freed in this sham of a trial.

The evidence presented against the defendants is known as "secret evidence," meaning only the prosecution and the judge can see it, and hence no defense can be put forward. The whole process is conducted in Hebrew, a language most Palestinians don't understand. Translation is kindly provided by a young Israeli soldier -- yet another bitter irony considering the overwhelming force used to drag the boys from their homes in the dark of the night.

By the end of the day, there was no conclusion. No one was released.

Of course, the imprisonment of all the boys from Bilin is completely unjustified. After all, they are arrested for their participation in demonstrations against the wall, which defies not only international law, but also, in the case of Bilin, an Israeli high court order!

However, the arrest of Mohammed Khatib was particularly symbolic. As a senior member of the village's Popular Committee, the Israeli authorities' goal was clear -- arrest the leadership in an attempt to crush the nonviolent resistance. In addition, the only alleged evidence against Khatib is the testimonies of two 16-year-old boys from the village, both of whom were subjected to interrogation by the Israeli army.

A few days later, I was back in Ofer for another hearing. This time, the prosecution presented a photo of a man throwing stones as evidence, who the two youths had "confirmed" as Mohammed Khatib. The defense attorney asked for the date when the photo was taken, which was given as October 2008. The defense attorney then presented the judge with Khatib's passport.

Mohammed Khatib was not in the country in October 2008, he was in New Caledonia.

The prosecution's case had been exposed for what it truly was -- a political mission to put an end to the nonviolent resistance movement of Bilin, a mission in which they are doomed to fail.

The next day, a Friday, we marched to the wall again, as the residents of Bilin have been doing every Friday for the last five years. As usual, our peaceful protest was met with copious amounts of tear gas and sewage water.

After 15 days in prison without charge, we got a call from Mohammed's lawyer, letting us know that, at last, he was going to be released. As soon as I heard the news, I jumped in the car with Ahmad, Mohammed's brother, and their father, and we drove back to Ofer.

As usual, we waited outside for hours with no news. Finally, at around 7pm, we saw Mohammed's smiling face walking towards us through the fence. After walking out, he turned and bowed to God, before coming to embrace his family.

It was difficult to know what to say. So I just smiled.

All the way home he told stories and laughed. As he told me later, "There is no comparison to the feeling of freedom."

As we rounded the last corner coming into Bilin, we saw the flags which had been put up, the children running out onto the street with arms aloft, and Ahmad turned the music up full blast on the car stereo. When Palestinians are released from prison, it is tradition for their family to put up the flag of the political party they support. But for Mohammed, it wasn't Fatah or Hamas waving in the sky, it was the Palestinian flag.

Our hero was home.

That same evening, Mohammed told me that being locked up as a political prisoner was something he felt proud of.

"Yes, the conditions were terrible, but I knew that the resistance was still alive in the village. I told the officer in charge of the operation, if you think that by arresting me, you will stop the demonstrations, you are completely wrong."

Bilin will never, ever give up.

Jody McIntyre is a journalist from the United Kingdom, currently living in the occupied West Bank village of Bilin. Jody has cerebral palsy, and travels in a wheelchair. He writes a blog for Ctrl.Alt.Shift, entitled "Life on Wheels," which can be found at He can be reached at jody.mcintyre AT gmail DOT com.

Friday, August 21, 2009

demo against the Wall in Al Masara / Manif contre le Mur a Al Masara, 21.08.2009

(c) Anne Paq/, Al Masara,21.08.2009.

Action in solidarity with the farmers in Beit Omar

(c) Anne Paq/, Beit Omar, 21.08.2009

Palestinians and internationals went along with Mahmoud and Ahmad Soleiby, two Palestinian farmers from Beit Omar, to protest against the illegal confiscation of their lands and teh construction of a security road on private Palestinian lands at the Karni Zur settlement. The brothers lost 11 dunums, while the village in total lost 1500 dunums because of the settlement. They have not been able to access their lands for the last 4 years.
We approached the fence surrounding the settlement and put signs such as "we will never leave our lands", "stop building illegal settlements".
The Israeli army came and requests that we leave the area. Large numbers of soldiers and police arrived at the scene as well as an armed settler, known as Mousa. He is the responsible of the security of the settlement. Although the Israeli army was so far quite calm, everything changed with the arrival of the settler. The settlerwas very aggressive, shouting: "go back to Germany! Go back to holocaust". He then opened the gate and pushed the soldiers to go after the group. We were leaving peacefully when suddenly a group of soldiers violently grabbed and international and took him away. He was released a few hours later.

Un groupe de Palestiniens et internationaux a accompagné Mahmoud et Ahmad Soleiby, deux agriculteurs palestiniens de Beit Omar, pour protester contre la confiscation illégale de leurs terres et la construction d'une route de sécurité privée sur les terres palestiniennes privées à la colonie de Karni Zur . Les frères ont perdu 11 dunums, alors que le village a perdu au total 1.500 dunums en raison de la colonie. Ils n'ont pas été en mesure d'accéder à leurs terres lors des 4 dernières années.
Nous nous sommes approchés de la clôture entourant la colonie et nous avons accronosu ont demandé de quitter la zone. Un grand nombre de soldats et de policiers sont arrivés sur les lieux ainsi qu' colon armé, connu sous le nom de Moussa. Il est le responsable de la sécurité de la colonie. Bien que l'armée israélienne ait été jusqu'ici assez calme, tout a changé avec l'arrivée des colons. Le colon etait très agressif, en criant des insultes tels que: "retournez en Allemagne! Retournez à l'holocauste". Il a ensuite ouvert le portail et poussé les soldats à nous poursuivre. Alors que nous partions deja dans le calme, un groupe de soldats a soudain violemment empoigné un international et l'ont emmené. Il a ete relache quelques heures plus tard

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Six Arab families from East Jerusalem appeal eviction

Last update - 04:45 19/08/2009
Six Arab families from East Jerusalem appeal eviction
By Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent

Tags: east jerusalem, sheikh jarrah

The eviction of six Arab families from their apartments in East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood this month stemmed from serious mistakes by the authorities, including the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, the former residents wrote in an appeal to the Jerusalem District Court.

The families contend that the staff of the Bailiff's Office, who had orders to evict Maher Hanun and Abdelfatah Gawi, improperly evicted six other families as well.

The eviction proceedings were filed on behalf of a Sephardi Jewish community organization that the court found had rights to the property dating from the Mandate period. Following the evictions, Jews moved into part of the property.

The Magistrate's Court ruling stated that Majad and Halil Hanun were evicted because they were living there by virtue of being the sons of Maher Hanun. In their appeal, however, they state that they are Maher Hanun's brothers, and that they were living there in their own right and not through their brother.

Family members of Abdelfatah Gawi argue that they also have independent rights to the property, were never parties to the eviction proceedings, and never received orders to vacate the premises.

The lawyer for the evicted tenants said the Magistrate's Court judge did not thoroughly consider the evidence, and that the court ruling even contained basic typographical errors, including mistakes in the parties' names.

Tuesday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a report stating that 53 people, including 20 children, were evicted from the Sheikh Jarrah site, and that another 475 may be evicted from the neighborhood, allegedly to build housing for Jews.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Israel declares Anderson shooting an "act of war"

Israel declares Anderson shooting an "act of war"
Today (Last Update) Time 18:05
Bethlehem – Ma’an

Israel has declared the shooting of unarmed American demonstrator Tristan Anderson in the West Bank to be an “act of war” in a bid to avoid compensating his family.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense sent a letter containing this declaration to the Anderson family’s lawyers, according to attorney Leah Tsemel who is perusing a civil suit against the Israeli government.

Anderson was critically injured on 13 March 2009 when Israeli soldiers shot him in the forehead with a high velocity tear gas canister during a demonstration against the separation wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin. He remains unconscious in Tel Aviv’s Tel Hashomer Hospital, where he recently underwent another surgery to reattach part of his scull that was removed during life-saving surgery five months ago. Prospects for his recovery remain unclear.

Tsemel, the civil suit attorney told Ma’an that the “act of war” designation automatically releases the government from paying compensation under a recently-amended tort law. Israel makes this designation “all the time,” in tort cases involving Palestinian victims, she said.

She also said the Andersons’ lawyers would “exhaust all possibilities in Israeli courts,” and in international courts if necessary, to hold the government accountable. A court date has not yet been set.

Phone calls to the Israeli Ministry of Defense seeking comment were not immediately returned.

Tsemel also reiterated that overwhelming evidence shows that Anderson was not a combatant and presented no threat to the Israeli soldiers. In an eventual court proceeding, she said, Anderson’s lawyers would present eyewitnesses, videotape, a medical report, and even the Israeli soldier’s own reports to prove this.

“If a process by which unarmed civilian demonstration is classified by Israel as an ‘act of war,’ then clearly Israel admits that it is at war with civilians,” said Attorney Michael Sfard, who is handling the criminal side of the Anderson case, in a statement circulated by the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).

On the criminal side of the case, ISM said Israeli police have completed their criminal investigation and passed the file to the district attorney of the Central District of the Israeli prosecutors’ offices. Sfard, is awaiting their decision.

Anderson was shot at a distance of 60 meters while standing with a group of Palestinians and international activists, hours after the demonstration had been dispersed from the construction site of the Wall.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

US Consulate: Israel issuing new 'PA-only' visa stamps

US Consulate: Israel issuing new 'PA-only' visa stamps
Published today (updated) 15/08/2009 21:14
Bethlehem - Ma'an

- Israeli border officials have begun issuing entry visas that permit travel only in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, according to the US Consulate to Jerusalem.

An undated entry first appeared on the consulate's website this week, announcing the Israeli policy change and basing its findings on steps taken by officials at both the Allenby Bridge and Ben Gurion International Airport.

Buried in the consulate's Border Crossings subsection and titled, "New Palestinian Authority Areas-Only Stamp," the entry confirmed previous reports to Ma'an from non-Palestinian American, French, Italian, and Jordanian travelers over the past month that Israeli officials had begun issuing the new entry visa stamp.

"Anyone indicating that they either have connections to the West Bank, or are planning to travel to the West Bank, may get this stamp, which does not permit them to enter into (or, in the case of Ben Gurion, return to) green-line Israel," read the website entry. The visa would also preclude travel to Palestinian East Jerusalem, which has remained continuously occupied since 1967 when Israel announced its "annexation."

Alarmingly, the consulate entry added that it stood powerless against the policy, and that diplomats could not be expected to aid US citizens labeled with the debilitating stamp, which would preclude travel outside or even between PA-controlled cantons in the West Bank.

"The Consulate can do nothing to assist in getting this visa status changed; only Israeli liaison offices in the West Bank can assist -- but they rarely will," the website entry noted. "Travelers should be alert, and pay attention to which stamp they receive upon entry."

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