israel To Commit War Crime Against West Bank Villagers

Israel To Commit War Crime Against West Bank Villagers

If Americans Knew | September 26, 2017

Israel To Commit War Crime Against West Bank Villagers

“No sanctimonious language… can erase the disgrace or hide the facts: the destruction of Khan al-Ahmar means the forcible transfer of protected persons,
and forcible transfer is a war crime.”

[If Americans Knew notes: Twelve Palestinian communities in an area near Jerusalem are at risk of expulsion. These villages have been living for years without basic health, education, and welfare services, and without proper electricity or sewage systems. They are under constant surveillance for “illegal” construction—structures built without a permit from the Israeli government (permits are impossible to obtain in this region). These structures, many built of necessity to house growing families, are then quickly demolished by Israel’s Civil Administration.

Israel makes life almost unbearable for these Palestinians. Demolishing homes is just the beginning: grazing and farming land is confiscated, making it harder and harder for the residents to feed themselves and make a living; roads are nearly impassable; settlers and Israeli authorities harass them daily.

This is taking place not in Israel, but in the West Bank, on Palestinian land under full control of Israel.

One community that is at risk of imminent expulsion is Khan al-Ahmar. The Bedouin tribe has already been expelled twice since the 1950s.]

IMEMC News | September 26, 2017

Israeli rights group B’Tselem said, on Monday afternoon, that Israeli government is to commit war crimes against Palestinian villagers in Khan al-Ahmar.

B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai el-Ad said, according to Days of Palestine: “Following the state’s response submitted earlier today to the [Israeli] High Court of Justice, that the state was asking the court to authorize a war crime.”

He explained: “No sanctimonious language about a ‘planning, proprietary and realistic’ alternate, or ‘time to prepare’ can erase the disgrace or hide the facts: the destruction of Khan al-Ahmar means the forcible transfer of protected persons, and forcible transfer is a war crime.”

El-Ad added: “Those responsible for it will bear personal criminal liability – exactly as B’Tselem stated two weeks ago, in a letter addressed to the prime minister, defence minister, justice minister, chief of staff and the head of the Civil Administration.”

According to updated data, Khan al-Ahmar community, which lives on land Israel has earmarked for settlement expansion in the area, is home to 32 families numbering 173 persons, including 92 minors.

It has a mosque and a school, which was established in 2009 and serves more than 150 children between the ages of six and fifteen – some of them from neighbouring communities.

Khan al-Ahmar is located around the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

The Israeli occupation considers it strategic for building and expanding illegal settlements and establishing a territorial link between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.


More background on Khan al-Ahmar and the other communities can be found here.

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#Ireland Deportations and Harassment of Irish Group Traveling to West Bank

Deportations and Harassment of Irish Group Traveling to West Bank

By Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin,

A trip to Palestine resulted in deportations and harassment by security as the Israel authorities step up attempts to intimidate or frighten future travelers to the area. During our trip we experienced CS gas, checkpoints, apartheid in action and military harassment of Palestinians. Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin relates his experiences as a member of the group.

Departure

I joined the group in Dublin airport on the morning of September 8th and we flew out to Istanbul where we waited in a transit area cafe for a couple of hours. As it turned out our flight departure lounge for Tel Aviv was next to the cafe where we were sitting and we noticed that an extra layer of security was being prepared by ground staff for the Tel Aviv flight. After boarding, and a smooth Turkish Airlines flight to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, we disembarked and queued up for passport control. I was on my own and after 2 or 3 questions (what was the purpose of my trip, had I been to Israel before, etc). I was given a one month visa and waved through.

Meanwhile, however, trouble was brewing as I could hear the two Irish girls at the kiosk next to me being asked to bring the group leader over. I went directly through to the arrivals hall as I had not checked in any bags. Then began a long wait as myself and the few who got through unhindered discovered that security had rounded up as many of the group as they could find including those who had decided to wait in the luggage hall rather than in the arrivals hall. In all 21 were detained and 6 questioned, and of those 4 were deported (Elaine Daly, Fidelma Bonass, Joan Nolan and Stephen McCloskey) a few hours later. The four who were detained were informed that they were being deported to prevent ‘illegal immigration’ even though they had valid passports and return tickets. Around 4am the others were released and we finally boarded the bus and made the journey to our hotel in Bethlehem.

West Bank wall and turnstiles

Fact Finding Program

Our tour, though coordinated in Dublin, was organised by the Siraj Centre, a non-profit organization licensed by the Ministry of Tourism and based in Palestine. Our Fact Finding Program included meetings with prominent peace activists, political officials, human rights organizations, settlers and Jewish tour guides. This makes the deportation of our group leader, Elaine Daly, even stranger as she has been organising trips with the Siraj Centre every year from Ireland since 2006.

Sat 9th Sept: Day 1 Bethlehem

On our first morning we attended a talk by Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a local university professor and activist, at the Natural History institute who emphasised the strong link between biodiversity, political struggle for the land and its safeguarding for future generations. It was interesting to note that it had been his son who had first drawn the infamous ‘shrinking’ map of the Palestinian territories showing their loss of land from 1946, 1947, 1967 to the 2000s.

Entrance to Aida refugee camp

CS gas

Afterwards we headed over to the Lajee Center, a cultural centre beside the main Palestinian refugee camp in Bethlehem for a talk and a traditional dance display from the local children. Soon however they switched off the air-conditioning and when we asked why we were told that tear gas was coming through the system. Directly outside the window local youth were throwing stones at the Israeli army at the far end of the road. Soon more and more tear gas came into the building and the windows and doors were shut. For most on the tour it was their first experience of the burning effects of CS gas yet for the members of the Lajee Center it had become merely a nuisance. After about a half hour we were able to leave and go for a short tour of the area. We passed under the arch of Aida camp with a giant key symbolising the principle that Palestinian refugees, both first-generation refugees and their descendants have a right to return. On our left were simple concrete buildings while on the right the street is cut off from Jerusalem by the Israeli West Bank wall and covered in murals and graffiti.

Wall mural, Aida refugee camp

Sun 10th Sept: Day 2 Hebron

The next day on the way to Hebron we stopped off at a small park beside a main road containing the tomb of Baruch Goldstein, the religious extremist who carried out the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in Hebron. Goldstein killed 29 Palestinian Muslim worshippers and wounded another 125. He was then overpowered and beaten to death by the survivors. Goldstein was not allowed to be buried in a Jewish cemetery but his current burial site still attracts Jewish extremists. We drove on to the Cave of Patriarchs or Ibrahimi Mosque where the Goldstein massacre took place. There are now two separate entrances, one for Muslims and one for Jews, both of which we were able to enter. This building is over 2,000 years old is believed to be the oldest continuously used prayer structure in the world. However, it was outside the Mosque at the military checkpoints we witnessed Israeli apartheid for the first time. Palestinians are barred from the using the street and our guide was apprehended by two soldiers. Our group complained to the soldiers but only our guide responded saying he would get a taxi and meet us elsewhere. In the end, the group spontaneously applauded our guide for his patience and perseverance as he was removed from the area. Our waiting bus had only been 50 metres around the corner…

Ibrahimi Mosque, Hebron

We walked through streets of Hebron going through different stages of clearance. In some places only a few Palestinians were left in the old stone buildings and Israeli street signs had been erected pointing to Jewish places of interest. In other streets nets had been used to stop settlers throwing objects on the shoppers below. Afterwards we were brought to meet with a settler where some asked questions about the settlements and their legality but this ended up with some storming out and others realising how it easy it was to become an Israeli citizen and participate in the land confiscations.

Mon 11th Sept: Day 3 Jerusalem

Our guides were Palestinian and Jewish and both were equally as good when it came to explanations and answering questions from our group. As we drove through East Jerusalem it was pointed out by our Jewish guide that Palestinians pay taxes yet their areas had bad roads and poor rubbish collection services.

Tues 12th Sept: Day 4 Nablus

In Nablus we visited Jacobs Well Church, and then to Balata Camp to meet with a representative from the Yafa cultural Center. The centre was set up in 1996 by the Committee for the Defence of Refugee Rights and offers a range of educational and creative programs to camp residents. We were brought around the closely-built neighbourhoods of the camp where some ‘streets’ were less than one metre wide. After lunch we had a tour in the old city of Nablus and visited the Samaritans Museum. The bustling old city gave us a feel for what many areas should have looked like and felt like without occupation.

Yafa cultural Center, Nablus

Wed 13th Sept: Day 5 Ramalah

We began the day driving to Ramalah to meet with a speaker from Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS). BDS has become an extensive movement against Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism. It is also a Palestinian-led movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world. We also met with a representative from Al Haq, an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organisation also based in Ramallah. According to their website: ‘Al-Haq documents violations of the individual and collective rights of Palestinians in the OPT, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator, and seeks to end such breaches by way of advocacy before national and international mechanisms and by holding the violators accountable.’ In the afternoon the group were brought on a sightseeing tour of Jerusalem which I did not participate in due to feeling unwell. Instead, I went with our Palestinian tour guide back to Bethlehem on the public bus instead. As the bus approached the wall we all had get off and pass through the many turnstiles and barricaded-off pathways to get to the other side of the wall. The queues moved quickly enough as the military generally do not carry out checks on Palestinians going home to the West Bank from Jerusalem in the evening. It is in the early morning that the long queues form as workers are stopped and permits scrutinised on the way to work in Jerusalem.

Old City, Nablus

Thurs 14th Sept: Day 5 Bethlehem

The next day I went back to Jerusalem from Bethlehem on public bus No. 231. At a major checkpoint a male and female soldier got on the bus while about a third of the bus got off to have their permits checked outside. They questioned a Palestinian woman with children for about ten minutes on the bus before suddenly leaving the bus again and letting the others back on. These checks, the roadworks and traffic jams into Jerusalem added up to about 30 minutes onto our journey, a journey which should have taken only around 20 minutes. In the centre I crossed the road and entered into the Old City through Herod’s Gate. I headed through the old city markets to the Al-Aqsa Mosque but at various Israeli military check points I was stopped and informed that the Mosque was only open in the mornings. There were 4 or 5 groups of about 20 Israeli soldiers each walking and singing down the narrow streets towards the Western Wall. The area was being prepared for a swearing-in ceremony for Paratrooper recruits taking place that evening. After walking the Via Dolorosa and around to the Damascus Gate I got the bus back to Bethlehem. Later, after dinner with the group in a Palestinian restaurant in Bethlehem, a few of us took a taxi to visit the Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel about ten minutes drive away. The ‘Walled Off’ sits beside the massive wall which is covered in graffiti executed in many styles by various artists. Boasting the ‘worst view in the world’ the lobby contains a collection of art and there is a museum upstairs. People sat outside on the veranda between the hotel and the wall having a quiet drink in this most incongruous of places.

Mural near ‘Walled Off’ hotel

Fri 15th Sept: The Dead Sea

For our last day the group decided to visit the Dead Sea. After arriving at the resort, getting to the water’s edge meant walking down layer after layer of beaches as the Dead Sea evaporates. The recession of the water’s edge is believed to be about 1 m (3 ft) a year. The speed and breadth of the recession of the Dead Sea was a fitting symbol for the recession of the West Bank itself as more and more settlements and walls reduce further the size of the Palestinian territories.

Early the next morning we were back on the bus to Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion airport where there was some anxiety as the security checks were known to be more stringent in the departures area than in arrivals area. (Why? a form of damage limitation?) Once again our group was held up to the last minute for our flight to Istanbul. We had a much more pleasant time in Dublin airport where a welcoming committee was waiting for us with a Palestinian flag. Elaine and the other deportees had decided to hold off publicising the deportations so as not to create any unnecessary difficulties for the rest of the group’s departure from Tel Aviv. Of course, our problems were nothing compared to the daily experiences and hardships of the Palestinian people being forced through turnstiles, having to obtain multivaried permits, losing land and dwellings, enduring constant military checks and an oppressive political/legal system (like the 17C Penal Laws in Ireland) all because of a particular nationality or religion. The trip left an indelible impression on us as individuals and as a group which would not be easily removed by the self-serving rhetoric of an all-powerful occupying force.

Since our return the issue of the deportations has been raised in various articles in the national newspapers. It has also been brought up during question time in the Dáil (the Irish parliament). Despite not being able to return to the West Bank again, Elaine is already planning to organise two trips to the West Bank from Dublin for 2018. All aboard!

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin. His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at http://gaelart.blogspot.ie/.

All images in this article are from the author.

Ignore the spin, the siege of Gaza endangers everyone, israelis included, so end it now

Ignore the spin, the siege of Gaza endangers everyone, Israelis included, so end it now

By Alastair Sloan | MEMO | September 16, 2017

Palestinian children sit on a horse cart in Gaza [file photo]

Save the Children reckons that the Israelis have delivered a major project in record time, with the Gaza Strip described in the NGO’s latest report as “unliveable.” The United Nations made its own prediction in 2012, giving the territory until 2020 before it would be at that inhospitable stage.

As autumn wears on and some three years ahead of the UN deadline, the Israeli government has turned basic essentials such as food, water, hospital access, education and shelter into luxury items in an enclave that the state and its supporters still claim somewhat disingenuously to have “withdrawn” from in 2005.

Of course, Save the Children and the UN aren’t to be trusted; it you pay heed to the pro-Israel lobby you will know this. The lobby has a convenient conspiracy theory that the UN is engaged in “anti-Semitism” rather than reasonable criticism of the Israeli state and its policies. Much of this lobby nonsense comes from mysterious pro-Israel organisations like “UN Watch”, which routinely derides UN predictions and announcements the moment that they are made public.

Another such group is “NGO Monitor”; it has already dismissed the Save the Children report as a “renewed anti-Israel campaign.” Which, of course, it is, and rightly so. This group condemns the respected NGO for daring to publicise the suffering of children, and suggests that Save the Children “should return to a policy of providing aid without adopting the Palestinian political narrative.”

Telling NGOs what they can and cannot do and say is in vogue in Israel, much as it is in autocratic Turkey or Hungary, but the illogical positions of NGO Monitor are still worth exposing. Consider this: “[Save the Children] also called on Israel to blindly ‘lift the Gaza blockade’ without acknowledging the rationale behind it.” NGO Monitor claims that the siege is in place, “to prevent weapon smuggling into Hamas-controlled Gaza.”

We should test this thesis that it is all the fault of Hamas, and the Israeli-led blockade of Gaza is simply the state acting in self-defence.

Fifteen year old Ali suffers from cerebral palsy, and is an example of the kind of problems engulfing a Palestinian youngster which NGO Monitor cannot have missed because his story was included in the press release which accompanied the charity’s report. Ali’s mother Yara told Save the Children:

“My son is dying in front of my eyes. He can’t sleep most nights, and suffers from continuous pain. We don’t have enough power to get his electric wheelchair and mattress fully charged. If his wheelchair doesn’t get charged, he suffers psychologically, as he sees people around him move and walk but he can’t. He feels depressed and often fights with other children. When the wheelchair runs out of battery, Ali becomes totally paralysed. He also needs constant showers as he is wearing diapers, but there is no water. We don’t get water unless there is electricity. If I don’t change his diapers and wash him regularly he will suffer from skin rashes and other problems. We have not had any tap water for two days. I feel suffocated.”

The problem here then, as with so many of the problems outlined in the report, is primarily one of electricity, or the lack thereof. This is why Ali is growing up soaked by his urine and faeces, is unnecessarily paralysed and is suffering psychologically as he grapples with one of the world’s most cruel medical conditions.

In April, Gaza’s sole power plant was forced to shut down after completely exhausting its fuel reserves; the company which runs the plant was unable to obtain fuel due to a shortage of funds. How this makes Israel any safer is unclear, but its government claims that the blockade is all about security. Having 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza in darkness surely doesn’t make Israelis more secure, does it?

Likewise the contamination of Gaza’s water supply. The Palestinian Water Authority and the UN have now warned that the territory’s fresh water aquifer, shared by Israel and Egypt, may be “completely contaminated” by the end of this year. Israel says it won’t let in more aid or spare parts to repair the water treatment plants that it destroyed in its 2008/9 military offensive. Why? Because of Hamas. That, though, doesn’t explain why Israel has repeatedly refused to allow UN Environment Programme inspectors to assess the water situation and try to improve it.

As yet another curious pro-Israel lobby organisation – the American-Israeli Co-operative Enterprise (AICE) – puts it, “There is indeed a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but it is not to be blamed on Israel.” Thus does the lobby acknowledge the pain that is being caused, and yet it denies that its favoured state, Israel, has anything to do with it, despite controlling everything that goes into or comes out of the Gaza Strip. “Israel has consistently sent aid in many forms through the border,” claims AICE, “and the blockade will be lifted once the violent Hamas government is ousted and the people of the Gaza Strip are ready to live in peace with Israel as their neighbour.”

There is no suggestion by the lobby that Israel, which is the relative newcomer in the neighbourhood, might decide to live in peace with the Palestinians. It is, after all, Israel which has repeatedly broken ceasefires, before telling the world that Hamas started firing rockets. It is also a fact that Hamas can be remarkably quiet when given the choice. Every few years, however, the Israelis re-invade Gaza unnecessarily, launching massive military offensives with accompanying death and destruction, and then withdraw, killing, maiming or traumatising a million children in the process.

The reality is that the siege of Gaza is a manifestation of Israeli military weakness. There is no chance that Israel will re-take Gaza from Hamas by force; the resistance movement not only enjoys general popular support amongst Palestinians but, more importantly, is also expert in the kind of guerrilla warfare that the founders of Israel used to such devastating effect themselves not so many years ago. Conventional armies of the kind that Israel deploys never, ever, win against Middle Eastern militias, particularly those with a religious mindset faced with a Western-backed enemy.

The siege tactic is the only option that the Israeli government can resort to. Ten years on, it appears to be working. As making somewhere “unliveable” is essentially a form of ethnic cleansing by what claims to be a democracy, a coterie of propaganda organisations and lots of media-spin groups are required to defend Israel and gloss over that very distasteful fact.

Perhaps these spin doctors should be asking their government why it can’t defend its citizens, who all pay for the Israel Defence Forces. The answer – or their own conclusion – might then be, because the increasingly right-wing governments of Israel which control the military are stubborn and stupid. They alone are endangering the people of Israel every day through their thankless and pointless siege. So ignore the spin, the siege needs to end now, not in 2020; that will be too late for all concerned.

Read also:

Poverty rate hits 80% in Gaza

Oslo: 24 years of Palestinian losses

WHO: Israel hinders 40% of Gaza patients’ access to health care abroad

israel denies aid workers visas

Source

MEMO | September 5, 2017

Humanitarian aid sent by Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD) and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) are being distributed in Gaza City, Gaza on 16 July, 2017 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Israel has suspended granting work visas to foreign charity workers delivering aid to Palestinians, according to AFP. Humanitarian organisations have noted numerous refusals or delays on the part of the Israeli government for over a year, affecting dozens of aid workers as they try to enter the country.

“This situation could escalate into crippled humanitarian operations,” a senior aid worker told AFP. “A country director who is waiting outside the country for months means timely delivery of aid will be affected.”

Israel has suspended various visas since August 2016, and in June of this year stopped issuing the B1 work visa, the most common documentation sought by those working with NGOs. Many are left working illegally on tourist visas only and fear that they could be expelled at any time.

Israeli authorities deny that the delays have been intentional and the Ministry of Social Affairs has attributed them to “ongoing inter-ministerial considerations regarding the applications approval procedure”.

Read: 15 Gazans die after Israel denies them treatment

Aid workers however, cite the length and extent of the refusals as evidence of other motives, pointing to the recent Israeli decision that would give the government the right to deny entry to those who support the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement. They argue that the right wing stance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government have resulted in their work being curtailed.

In the past, Israel has accused aid workers of supporting Hamas, and the Gaza head of the international Christian charity World Vision Mohammed El-Halabi, is currently on trial after facing such allegations. He denies all charges.

In February, Israel also refused a visa to the US head of Human Rights Watch, claiming the group was “fundamentally biased” towards Palestinians. The authorities were forced to reverse the decision following international condemnation.

Palestinians in the occupied territories and the besieged Gaza Strip are heavily dependent on aid, the vast majority of which is distributed by international charities crossing through Israel. Such dependency has only increased in recent months as the situation in Gaza deteriorates even further. The coastal enclave faces an energy, water and healthcare crisis prompting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on his visit to the region last week to label conditions as “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises that I’ve seen”.

 

NGO: Palestinian Territories Facing Worsening Child Protection Crisis

NGO: Palestinian Territories Facing Worsening Child Protection Crisis

Hundreds of Palestinian children are arrested and face ill-treatment by Israeli forces each year. (Photo: via Alarabiya)

Ahead of World Humanitarian Day, to be marked on August 19th, as the United Nations (UN) prepares a global awareness campaign on the impact of conflict on humanitarian aid workers and the broader civil society, including children and families, the occupied Palestinian territory is facing a “worsening child protection crisis” brought on by 50 years of Israel’s military occupation, according to Jennifer Moorehead, director of Save the Children – Palestine.

“Today, there are more than 2 million Palestinian children who face increasing violations of their rights: displacement and forcible transfer, the demolition and destruction of homes and schools, arbitrary arrest and detention, harassment at checkpoints, and frequent violence and intimidation when they are simply trying to reach school, as well as when they are at school,” Moorehead said in a statement Thursday.

According to Save the Children, in 2016 alone, there were “256 education-related violations” documented by UNICEF and Save the Children, affecting the education of 29,230 Palestinian students.

Between January and March 2017, the group documented 24 cases of “direct attacks” against Palestinian schools; many Palestinian students often come under fire from tear gas canisters and sound bombs on their way to school.

In 2016, more than 20,000 pupils lost important school time due to obstructions,such as delays at checkpoints or areas declared closed for Israeli military use, as well as the arrest and detention of children in and around schools, Moorehead said.

In the case of Gaza, where more than two million Palestinians suffer under a crippling Israeli siege, the humanitarian crisis has been exacerbated by an ongoing electricity crisis, that has left Gazans with little more than three to four hours of electricity a day.

“The education sector is facing a crisis of its own,” Moorehead noted, highlighting that 70.4 percent of UNRWA schools and 62.8 percent of schools run by the Ministry of Education operate on a double or triple shift system and are struggling to accommodate such a high number of students.

Moorehead said that as the start of the new school year is just weeks away, the energy shortages “will have a devastating impact on the ability of schools to operate and provide a safe environment for children to learn.”

“Save the Children, along with other agencies and partners, calls upon world leaders to take action to protect children’s inalienable right to safe access to a quality education and to guarantee the special protection afforded to children in areas of conflict,” she said.

In a June report, the Palestinian Ministry of Information said that some 12,000 Palestinian children were detained by Israel in the span of 17 years, adding that the overwhelming majority of them were beaten or tortured while in Israeli custody, handcuffed, blindfolded, and forced to confess to charges in the absence of a lawyer or guardian

Roger Waters Blasts Radiohead for its Performance in Israel

Kufr Qaddoum Marks Six Year Intifada against Israeli Occupation

Source

02 JUL 3:39 AM

One scene from the Friday weekly protests against the Israeli occupation in Kufr Qaddoum. (WAFA photo/Ayman Noubani) 

Six years ago today, the Palestinian residents of Kufr Qaddoum, a peaceful village near Qalqilya, in the north of the occupied West Bank, decided to rise against the Israeli military’s closure of a vital and historical village road and demand its reopening.

In six years of uprising, the village witnessed 500 marches, usually carried out on Fridays following the prayer. During these protests, WAFA reports, an elderly man was shot dead by the army during confrontations and 85 wounded with live bullets, including six children, some of them lost an eye or speech ability, 170 people detained, homes destroyed, fields torched, farms wrecked, military checkpoints, collective punishment and more than $70,000 in fines imposed on the helpless Palestinian civilians.

But, all of this did not deter or tire the residents, who are determined to continue with their weekly activity until they get the vital road reopened.

According to village activists, Israel closed the road in 2003, during the  second Palestinian Intifada against the occupation.

However, when it became clear to the villagers the  true intention behind the closure of the road, and making it off to Palestinians, they decided to rise and protest this act.

Murad Ishtawi, one of the leaders of the village Intifada, said that it became clear that Israel closed the road for Palestinians so that Jewish settlers in the area will have easy access to their settlements and to eventually expropriate all land around it, to expand the unlawful settlements that were built over the years on 4,000 dunams of the village’s 23,000 dunam area.

“All the villagers have decided to start the weekly protests in the beginning of July 2011 following years of suffering from the closure of the main road that forced residents to use long, rough and deadly alternative roads,” said Ishtawi.

The Israeli military’s reaction to the peaceful protests usually ends up violent.

The army fires tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets at the protesters and homes in the village, causing many suffocation and injuries. Raids are usually conducted against the residents during the night to detain activists. Army checkpoints often restrict movement of people, and international solidarity activists are pursued and prevented from joining in the weekly protests.

“Even though six years have passed, we are not getting weaker or less resolute,” said Ishtawi, who says the protests are going to continue until they achieve their goal.

Palestine news

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