Courage across the divide
TRYING TO REASON WITH BRUTE FORCE?
Israeli forces at Bil'in have not worried over much over Western media publicity. Maybe because there has not been any?
BIL'IN is a village in Occupied Palestine,just seven miles (12km) west of Ramallah. Though administered by the Palestine National Authority, the village has seen much of its land and olive trees swallowed up by the Israeli annexation wall, or fence, and taken for Israeli settlements.
The people of Bil'in, and of nearby Nilin, have resisted with regular demonstrations, as well as a legal action in the Israeli High Court. They have attracted to their side not only supporters from other parts of Palestine, but Israeli and international solidarity activists.
The Israeli forces have met their peaceful protests with rubber bullets and tear gas, injuring both local people and visitors. One might say they do not discriminate. Matan Cohen, from the Tel Aviv-based Anarchists Against the Wall was hospitalised and nearly lost an eye after a rubber bullet was fired in his face, and Jonathan Pollak from the same group received serious head injuries. A local man sustained kidney injuries from being hit in the back. These "rubber-bullets" are rubber-coated steel, by the way.
The Israeli forces have not seemed worried over much about bad international media publicity, maybe because there rarely is any. Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Corrigan used to be front-page news when she campaigned in northern Ireland, but when she suffered leg injuries from a rubber bullet at Bil'in, on Friday, April 20, 2007, and was also affected by inhaling tear gas, the news made neither British or Irish mainstream media, so far as I could see.
On June 6, 2008, European Parliament vice-president Luisa Morgantini and Julio Toscano, an Italian judge, were injured at a protest in Bil'in. Again, besides clouds of tear gas, there was a news black-out. Then on July 7, at Nilin, a courageous Palestinian girl, Salam Kanaan, 17, using a camera loaned by Israeli women activists, managed to film an Israeli battalion commander, Lt.Colonel Omri Bruberg, holding a captive Ashraf Abu Rahma, of Bil'in, handcuffed and blindfolded, while ordering a soldier to shoot the prisoner point blank in the foot. This was seen on international media. The officer was suspended while there was an inquiry. Off camera, Salam Kanaan's father was arrested in a raid, though as many people were being lifted this might have been coincidence.
10 year-old Ahmad Husam Yousef Mousa was killed on July 29, shot in the head while running as the soldiers opend fire on demonstrators against the wall at Nilin. The boy was one of four peiople killed in that village. There were more martyrs there in demonstrations of solidarity with the people of Gaza. The army attacked the funeral of one of them, Mohammed Khawaje, on New Years Day.
Night Raid Terror
With or without media coverage (does the BBC know where Bil'in is, or Nilin? Enough people have tried to tell it.), the resistance and the raids have continued, and yesterday I received the following from a friend in Israel:
"Imagine being awakened to the sound of a stun grenade. Imagine such a grenade landing in your front yard every night. This is the reality that residents of Palestinian villages who are struggling against the apartheid wall are forced to deal with since the attack on Gaza.
These nightly invasions by the army, which terrorize villagers, are becoming ever more frequent. Invasions take place three to four time a week in the villages of Beit Likia and Bil'in. In the last week, the villages of Ma'asara, Ni'ilin and Jayus too have joined the list, as troops have been harassing those who participate and organize the village protests.
"During the invasions soldiers shoot tear gas and stun grenades into civilian's houses. They also use rubber coated bullets and live rounds. On 13.2.09, two children were injured in their homes in Beit Likia, and a 60 year old woman was hit in the stomach. On that same night, soldiers reached the homes of Ma'asara popular leaders Muhammad Barjia and Mahmoud Zoahara, kept them for hours outside their homes in the cold with very little cloths, and caused damage to their property, threatening to arrest the two if demonstrations in the area were to continue. A report by Zoahara is attached hereunder.
"The media does not report these incidents, which have become a tiring routine of the reality of occupation. It seems that under this media blockade, army commanders feel free to carry out these crimes.
RAISE A VOICE AND STOP THEM!
A link to a video from Wednesday 18.2.09. The army invaded during the day to set a checkpoint and later at night, just to shoot some teargas and bullets.
Urge your politicians to demand from Israel to stop those night raids, which are done just to set terror on the people.
Write and call to Public Requests and Complaints in Ministry of Defense of Israel to protest against the nightly invasions.
The Minister of Defence,
I write to you in order to protest against the nightly invasions of the villages of Bil'in, Beit Likia, Ni'ilin, Jayus and Ma'asara, committed by the Israeli army on an almost every-night basis. Such actions are in violation of international law, which hold the occupying army responsible to the welfare and safety of civilians living under its rule. You must stop these invasions at once, and prosecute whoever is responsible for them.
The night after the demo in AL-Ma'sara village
At the mid of the night 7 Israeli army cars entered the village, they have two target places to attack one is the house of Mohammed BRYJYA The spoken man of the popular community against the wall in the village and the second is the house of Mahmoud Zwahre the coordinator of the popular community against the wall.
Around 12:30 at night the solders nock the door of my house asking me to open the door in a non pilot way then I opened the door more than 10 solders entered my house without my permission, then they asked for my ID and my wife also, and then the check the house putting everything on the other destroying the furniture of the house , at that time they push me out side in the cold weather wit very light clothes, asking the same questions for the demonstration many questions, they told me that they are going to arrest me and they blind me and they tied then they remove the things on my eyes and they start taking pictures for my, while im on the ground on my knees at that time I thought that im in Gwantanamo , then they tied off me and then he told me this week we came and we will not arrest you, the massage this week take care we are going to arrest you next week we are going to come in more difficult way
So don't come to demonstrate, don't organize demos. At that time I preferred to be quite no answers and I refuse to talk to them because I know the mode that they are in at that time. While they was checking in my house they found emails for many friends from solidarity associations from Europe I don't know if they are going to use them or not ? After three hours they left me then I phone Mohammed and I found that they did the same to him. All of what they are doing we expect it since long time
All of that is a sign of victory.
Today or tomorrow we are going to win because we have the faith
Refusal to Serve
This information, by the way, is being circulated by inter alia, Yesh Gvul, the movement formed by Israeli army reservists who refused to serve in Lebanon or the Occupied Territories. And that brings me to some courage of a different kind, maybe, but important to the people of Bil'in, and Palestine. Tamar Katz is 19, not much older than Salam Kanaan. She is one of the shministim Israeli sixth-formers who let it be known that they did not agree with the occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, and would refuse to do military service on conscientious grounds. Like her comrades, Tamar was prepared to go to jail rather than assist in oppressing others.
Tamar is coming to Britain next month, and will be speaking at several meetings. Like a lot of people, I am not over-fond of the Alliance for Workers Liberty which has organised this trip. We have history. I continue to voice my disagreements with their attempted even-handedness on the Middle East, and I would have preferred their rubric was not on this. Nevertheless, in introducing the shministim to students and trade unionists even the AWL can do something right! We should not meet sectarianism with more of the same, and should not let it get in the way of a worthy cause. Tamar's visit and the courageous struggle she represents deserves support.
Tamar will be speaking at universities across the UK, as well as to some trade union meetings, including the rail union RMT’s London Transport Region, which is sponsoring the tour.
Provisional dates (more information and links to events asap):
7pm, Thursday 5 March – LONDON
Meeting and reception hosted by RMT London Transport Region and Finsbury Park RMT
The Twelve Pins pub, 263 Seven Sisters Rd, London N4 2DE(next to Finsbury Park tube)
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lunchtime, Friday 6 March - BRIGHTON
Sussex University – email Koos email@example.com
7pm, Friday 6 March - LONDON
“International Solidarity for Women’s Liberation” – meeting to celebrate International Women’s Day hosted by Feminist Fightback, Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq and others
Room 3a, University of London Union, Malet Street
11.30am, Saturday 6 March - NEWCASTLE
RMT Women's Conference, Grand Station Hotel Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Lunchtime, Monday 9 March – MANCHESTER
Manchester University – email email@example.com
6pm, Monday 9 March – BRADFORD
Bradford University, hosted by University of Bradford Union – email Lloyd firstname.lastname@example.org
Evening, Tuesday 10 March - CAMBRIDGE
Cambridge University, hosted by Workers’ Liberty – email Patrick email@example.com
Lunchtime, Wednesday 11 March – NOTTINGHAM
Nottingham University, hosted by Nottingham Student Peace Movement - email Adam: firstname.lastname@example.org
Evening, Wednesday 11 March – SHEFFIELD
Sheffield University, hosted by Workers’ Liberty – email Daniel email@example.com
6.30pm, Thursday 12 March - EDINBURGH
Edinburgh University – email firstname.lastname@example.org
Time tbc, Friday 13 march – LONDON
LSE – email email@example.com
For more information about the tour in general, email Heather Shaw at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 07969 597 251
For more about the Shministim, visit http://www.december18th.org