Archive for the ‘apartheid wall’ Category

Perspective: La colonisation à Jérusalem-Est

December 28, 2009

Débarqué dans un nouveau pays, il est rare de remarquer aussi vite les fractures, dissensions et conflits qui déchirent le tissu social. Pourtant ces signes dans la ville de Jérusalem sont incontournables, et ce, malgré les tentatives du gouvernement israélien de maintenir l’illusion d’une normalité occidentale. Les graffitis sur les murs de la vieille ville, l’omniprésence des soldats armés, des postes de contrôle, des détecteurs de métaux et des caméras de sécurité (500 rien qu’à Jérusalem-Est), les t-shirts “Free Palestine” vendus dans la rue qui côtoient ceux aux logos de « l’armée israélienne» et « Amérique, ne vous inquiétez pas, Israël est derrière vous », sont autant de preuves du profond malaise qui règne à Jérusalem.

Toutefois, ces manifestations superficielles ne sont que la partie émergée de l’iceberg. Elles ne font que reflèter un conflit plus pernicieux qui concerne le contrôle du territoire. Selon un rapport de l’ONU, près d’un tiers des maisons palestiniennes à Jérusalem-Est ont été construites sans permis. En effet, les Palestiniens qui désirent construire une maison ne peuvent demander l’autorisation que sur une zone correspondant à seulement 13% de Jérusalem-Est, et déjà densément peuplée. Le résultat est qu’au moins 28% de toutes les maisons ont été construites illégalement et que sur les 250.000 Palestiniens vivant à Jérusalem-Est, 60.000 sont ménacés de voir leurs maisons démolies.

Un des quartiers où l’effet colonisateur est le plus prononcé est Silwan, un quartier arabe de 45.000 personnes sur une colline abrupte, juste au sud de la vieille ville. Dans ce quartier, plus de touristes. Les juifs orthodoxes et les etrangers, qui grouillaient dans la vieille ville à seulement 50 mètres de là, à proximité de son très sécurisé Mur occidental, ont soudainement disparu. De même que les magasins et les routes bien goudronnées. Ici, verre et ordures jonchent les rues, et les terrains vagues remplis de gravats abondent comme les regards furtifs à l’égard de notre présence dans une zone sans aucune carte postale à acheter. Même les transports publics n’ont rien à voir, et alors que les autobus qui fonctionnent ne semblent pas être financés par l’État israélien, il est clair que les 4×4 blindés remplis de soldats et de policiers qui rôdent autour du quartier le sont.

Après avoir atteint le bas de la colline, en regardant derrière soi, on peut contempler les nouveaux appartements du chic Quartier Juif à côté de la mosquée Al-Aqsa sur le Mont du Temple. Le contraste est frappant : on a l’impression de regarder un pays occidental depuis la frontière d’un pays du tiers monde.

Dans ce quartier, il y a actuellement 1500 personnes (88 familles) menacées par la démolition de leurs maisons. Les résidents ont bien reçu une « proposition » de dédommagement de la part du gouvernement israélien pour les encourager à construire ailleurs, mais uniquement si c’est à l’extérieur de Jérusalem, de l’autre côté du mur. C’est “Le transfert silencieux”. Peu à peu, le quartier se “judaïse” de façon à ce que la vieille ville soit entourée de tous cotés par des quartiers juifs.

Les signes de cette invasion israélienne sont omniprésents : les maisons occupées arborent des drapeaux israéliens démesurés et des barreaux protègent leurs portes et fenêtres. Un immeuble « occupé et fortifié » au milieu de ce quartier affiche un drapeau énorme, les étoiles de David descendantes tout le long de ses cinq étages. Il est visible depuis toute la vallée et ce type de provocation par des groupes de colons n’est qu’un début. Le gouvernement a mis en place les panneaux menant à Silwan avec le nom hébreu d’il y a deux milles ans -Ville de David-, et a facilité les activités et la présence des organisations fanatiques et d’extrême droite qui menacent ouvertement les résidents palestiniens.

A la racine du conflit, militarisation de la société, invasion des villages et expropriation des Palestiniens sont toujours les moyens de répression privilégiés des Israéliens.

Publié dans l’Amiante: http://journalamiante.wordpress.com/

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Occupation and Colonization in the West Bank, 2009

December 9, 2009

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xbnxay_occupation-and-colonisation-in-west_news

People, Not Politicians, Working To End The Israeli Occupation

August 17, 2009

People, Not Politicians, Working To End The Israeli Occupation, http://es-es.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=80228131938&topic=11580&ref=mf, http://newsfeedresearcher.com/data/articles_w34/israel-palestinian-israelis.html,

Three Groups Working to Liberate Palestine from the Israeli Occupation

August 13, 2009

When the world looks at the future of Palestine these days, the principal question is unfortunately “What will Obama do?”  How far will he go in putting pressure on the new right-wing Israeli government, and how will they react?  Yet, our “messiah complex” which credits politicians with being able to solve everything single-handedly allows the world to forget about the action that is going on on the ground inside Israel/Palestine by both Israelis and Palestinians against the occupation, and the struggles they encounter.
The Palestinian town of Anata is part of Jerusalem, yet is literally a world away.  A wall and checkpoint separate it from the rest of the city to which most residents of Anata never have access; and unlike the Western part of Jerusalem, there is no mail, trash collection, or sidewalks.  Grime piles up on the side of the road or burns on the hills as residents are unsure what to do with their daily waste.   This is where the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) recently hosted their annual two-week home reconstruction camp in which they rebuilt two Palestinian homes destroyed by the Israeli government against international law.  This year the project is being funded by the Spanish government – who consequently was accused of funding anti-Israeli NGOs and meddling in Israel’s internal affairs – in which 60 volunteers from all over the world took part.  One of the reconstructed homes is being rebuilt by ICAHD for the third time and the other for the first time; ironically, both houses are adjacent to a section of the wall splitting up Palestinian East Jerusalem that was completed just last week.  As a group organizing Israeli-Palestinian solidarity activities since its foundation five years ago, to say that ICAHD has developed a bad reputation in Israeli society is to put it lightly.  Having rebuilt over 165 houses for Arabs left homeless by house demolitions in the West Bank, ICAHD has been characterized by the Netanyahu government and the mainstream Israeli press as a radical left-wing organization that supports terrorists by illegally rebuilding houses that were destroyed for security purposes.  However, ICAHD maintains that “Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian homes [24,000 since 1967] has nothing whatsoever to do with security [but is] purely political: to confine the 3.8 million residents of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza to small enclaves, thus effectively foreclosing any viable Palestinian state and ensuring Israeli control.”
On the ride from posh West Jerusalem down to Anata with Jeff Halper, the head of ICAHD, the evidence of the injustice and contradiction passes visibly by through the car window.  We pick up a young American reporter writing about the camp for the Jerusalem Post who made Aliyah just two years ago.  After a few questions it becomes clear that agreement on the conflict will not be easy, as he is initially unsure of the differences between Area A, B, and C, and is interested in “the similarity between illegal settlement construction by Israeli settlers and ICAHD’s reconstruction of demolished homes.”  “They are both equally illegal and putting ‘facts on the ground’ on land that is disputed,” he says.  The end of the car ride was relatively quiet.
Arriving at the camp, Israelis, internationals, and Palestinians are working on a house with an incredible view of the wall winding its way through Palestinian neighborhoods, separating them from one another.  Both sides are technically Jerusalem, yet most Palestinians on the Anata side, like all West Bankers, are prohibited from ever visiting Palestinians on the other side.  “How can this wall be about security when there are Palestinians on both sides?” Halper asks.  The journalist readies his equipment and presses record on his camera; he notifies Halper, “You have thirty seconds to answer this question: Why do you support terrorism?”

Another Israeli group working to end the occupation is Ta’ayush, Arabic for “life in common.”  A self-proclaimed grassroots movement of Arab and Jewish Israelis, Ta’ayush strives to break down the walls of extreme racism and segregation in the state of Israel and the occupied territories by constructing an Arab-Jewish partnership.  While Ta’ayush is involved in many different activities and is open to a diversity of tactics in ending the occupation, on the particular day I worked with Ta’ayush they accompanied shepherds in the desert near the Karmel settlement in south Hebron, not far from the Dead Sea.  This part of the southern West Bank is a difficult zone where settlers have created illegal outposts that divide Palestinian towns from one another and introduce a permanent army presence.  Even when Palestinian children walk to school in the morning to a neighboring town, international volunteers from Christian Peacemakers Team must accompany them as protection from rock-throwing settlers.
Ahmed, Hussein and Tarek are brothers and young shepherds between the ages of 11 and 16 who live between two settler beef farms not far from Karmel settlement.  Though they maintain a modest herd of roughly 250 sheep and goats in a very arid zone of the West Bank, settlers do not allow their animals to graze on the hills surrounding the settlement built just a few years ago.  Ahmed said that they occasionally come out shooting and screaming “go away!” and “forbidden!”  More often the police or the army come to tell them to leave the area, this being the case at least once a week Ahmed tells me.  Even with the presence of a dozen or so Israelis with a few international activists, the army arrives to tell the shepherds that they cannot let their animals graze on the hilltops as it is a security threat.  The soldiers tell Ta’ayush the animals are only allowed to graze in the valley.  Yet, the problem is that there are no plants in the valley for animals to eat.  No other solutions for the shepherds are offered, and it appears the vicious cycle will continue in the future.

Tarek, 11, with his goats and sheepSettler beef farm perched on a hill.  Palestinian animals are not even allowed to graze on neighboring hills as it is a "security threat"Soldiers arrive with their big guns and tell the activists and shepherds to get off the hill.Ta'ayush activists try to reason with soldiers in Hebrew.  To no avail.  They are first and foremost there to "protect the settlers."Palestinian shepherd next to Israeli soldier
Like Americans working against the war in Iraq from within the empire, Israelis must stand up to the incredible injustices imposed by their government on the occupied Palestinian people.  However, in the wake of anti-colonial struggles throughout the 20th century, Palestinians, like Iraqis, understand that the struggle for liberation is ultimately their own.  Mousa Abu Maria founded the Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP) in the summer of 2006 in the village of Beit Ommar as a movement dedicated to opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land through non-violent direct action.  PSP is not only dedicated to supporting Palestinian communities resisting the occupation, but is interested in Palestinian unity by working with all people and building a movement for all of Palestine.  “Our goal is not for Beit Ommar, but for all of Palestine,” Abu Maria says.  By demonstrating against the continuing construction of the Apartheid Wall, Israeli-only roads, Israeli settlements, removing illegal roadblocks and other structures which intentionally separate Palestinian communities, and working with people most affected by settler and army violence in the area, PSP attempts to address the most pressing aspects of the occupation for Palestinian society.  “It is very important for activists to be non-violent in Palestine because we want people from all over the world to come here and understand the checkpoints, the wall, the settlements, and problems related to imprisonment and refugees,” Abu Maria stresses.  Yet, like in past colonial and Apartheid states, heavy burdens are placed on resisters from the oppressed group by the colonizers.  Like 40% of Palestinian men, Abu Maria has experienced imprisonment and torture, spending a total of 5.5 years in prison on three different occasions since 1999.  His last release was just this past month.
During the month I’ve spent at PSP the emphasis has been placed on keeping Palestinians on their land.  PSP activists have worked with farmers attacked and threatened by settlers, and attempted to raise awareness around issues concerning land, water, and settlement expansion threatening the village on three sides.  While Abu Maria understands the hopes placed on newly elected leaders in reaching a regional peace deal, the most important thing for him is continuing to engage Palestinians in the struggle for their land which is being stolen from them at an ever-increasing pace.  “People here must work for justice and security for Israelis and Palestinians because right now it only exists for Israelis,” he adds.  For PSP, “peace and security are rights not just for some of us, but for all the people of the world. Controlling another person’s life, possessions, future, and thoughts is a crime and a humiliation. We have dreams and hopes of freedom, so we are inviting all the people of the world to stand with us and share in our struggle for freedom.”

View of Beit Ommar, home to PSPAhmed, a young activist and cameraman for PSP holds a flag in front of soldiersTwo international activists were arrested at this action in mid-August after soldiers became violent, shoving people out of the zone

The Worst of the Occupation: Collective Punishment and Humiliation

August 11, 2009

Checkpoints

Palestinians have wasted millions of hours of their lives waiting in line at checkpoints like Qalandia to enter Jerusalem from Ramallah.  On this day the line was short, but young giggly Israeli soldiers decided to take 1.5 hours for 50 people to pass through.Fences like the one at this checkpoint near Bethlehem are often busted up.  Fires burn below them to melt the metal.

Imprisonment and Torture

Ismail runs a cafe in Hebron since 2.5 years ago.  He has been imprisoned 7 times for political activism, spending over 5 years of his life in Israeli jails.  Tortured, mistreated and beaten on many occasions, he will live the rest of his live with chronic headaches, ticks, and irreparable broken bones.

Water

Israel/Palestine is a dry place.  Yet, when the water runs low only the Palestinians get turned off.  While Beit Ommar has around two days a week with NO running water, Israeli Dead Sea desert resorts like this one remain green.

Olive Trees

The Israeli army often cuts Palestinian olive trees for reasons of "security."  Thousands and thousands of trees have been cut or replanted in and around settlements

Land Confiscation and Poverty

Forced away from their traditional lifestyle by the Israeli state, many Bedouins in the Judean desert live in shanties on the outskirts of Israeli settlements

Friday Demonstration in Ni’lin

August 9, 2009

On Friday, August 7th at 1pm, approximately 30 international activists joined roughly 120 residents of Ni’lin on their weekly demonstration against the illegal Apartheid wall which Israel constructed on Ni’lin land.  The protesters walked through the olive grove on the southern side of the village towards the wall and settlements surrounding Ni’lin on three sides, reaching the fence around 1:30pm, many brandishing Palestinian flags.  Soldiers immediately began to shoot tear gas, sound grenades, and smelly chemical water known in Arabic as “khara” or “shit”.  Fortunately for activists, the wind blew the gas and chemicals away from them.  Many protesters threw rocks on the security road preventing army jeeps from easily accessing the demonstrators.  When security vehicles passed, they were pummeled with stones by the shebab, the soldiers jumping quickly in and out of their jeeps to shoot tear gas and rubber bullets.  After the second soldier invasion on the Palestinian side of the fence, protesters dispersed and returned to the village shortly after 3pm.  One member of the press was injured on the leg by a tear gas canister.
In 1948, the village of Ni’lin had 58,000 dunnums of land; today there remain only 7,300 dunnums.  In the latest round of land confiscation by the separation barrier, nearly 3,000 dunnums were taken including 200 for a tunnel to be built under the segregated settler-only road 446, closing the current entrance to the village.  The tunnel will close the road to Palestinian vehicles, and is designed to give Israeli occupation forces control over the movement of Palestinian residents by allowing the village to be blocked with a single military vehicle.  Ni’lin will be split into two parts, upper and lower, as the road runs through the village.

In total, 38 people have been shot by Israeli forces with live ammunition in Ni’lin: nine were shot with 5.56mm caliber live ammunition and 29 were shot with 0.22 caliber live ammunition.  To date, Israeli occupation forces have killed five Palestinians and critically injured one international activist during the unarmed demonstrations.  The last use of live ammunition against Ni’lin protesters was on June 5th, 2009 in which five Palestinians were shot, including one fatality – http://www.palestinesolidarityproject.org

The procession of roughly 120 Palestinians and 30 internationals marches through olive fields down to the separation barrier after Friday prayerUnlike in Bi'lin where the protesters stay together on one road leading to the fence, Ni'lin protesters scatter across an olive grove along the fence and pelt army vehicles with rocksThrowing stones on the military ring road along the separation fence to make soldier access more difficultThere was a large military presence.  Soldiers launched dangerously high-velocity tear gas projectiles, toxic chemicals called "shit" in Arabic and rubber bullets.  Soldiers invaded the Palestinian side of the fence twice during the demo

Weekly Protest in Bil’in

August 2, 2009

Over the last few weeks, the residents of Bilin have been subjected to constant night raids by the Israeli military, in retaliation to their weekly nonviolent demonstrations, now in their fifth year, against the Apartheid Wall, which has stolen over half of their land.  So far, 17 youths have been arrested, some as young as 16 years of age, usually for their participation in the demonstrations.  Many of the boys will not see their family again for months.

– from electronicintifada.net

The procession of several hundred march toward the separation fence around 2pmSoldiers at an army base on the other side of the barrierAfter protesters pried open the gate, the army brought a truck that sprayed a stinky green chemical substance all over the crowd.  Then they got out the tear gas and the protest ended with everyone running and screaming in pain.


Weekly anti-wall demonstration in village of Ma’assara

July 25, 2009

“Al-Ma’assara formed the committee to protect the Bethlehem district, and became an example for activities that express the best of the historical and religious significance of Bethlehem district.   The village became the eye of the district and the eye of the south.  The popular committees to resist the wall in Palestine were able to convince the world of the justice of the Palestinian cause and to bring international support.  International solidarity activists became faithful messengers of Palestinian cause and unknown soldiers standing by the Palestinian people.  They transmit the stories of Palestinian suffering to people around the world to pressure their government to end the brutal occupation.”
– Iyad Burnat, one of the founders of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements. He was been the victim of Israeli brutality and kidnappings on many different occasions.

Cortege approaches line of Israel soldiersMa'assara protestSoldiers filmed Palestinian and international activistsA Palestinian woman and her daughter cross the soldier's barrier at one point but are quickly put back on the other side

Life Under Israeli Apartheid: From Settlements To Refugee Camps

July 17, 2009

Life Under Israeli Apartheid: From Settlements To Refugee Camps, http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=199046, http://fromthewilderness.wordpress.com/category/middle-east/, http://www.topix.com/wire/world/palestinian-territory/p2

Life under Israeli apartheid: from settlements to refugee camps

July 16, 2009

Watchtower and graffiti in Aida refugee camp

The Aida refugee camp outside Bethlehem is unlike any place I’ve ever been.  Buildings come out of the ground like mushrooms bending every which way; water tanks sit among the unfinished pilings on virtually every rooftop in the hopes that additions can be made another day; children run around everywhere, playing on rocks piled up from demolished houses; and graffiti adorns every structure, including those no longer fully standing.  Yet, the most striking aspect of Aida is the massive 8-meter wall that extends along an abandoned zone around the community on three sides, riddled with the rubble of demolished houses all along its watchtower-surveiled path.
Like its larger neighbor Dheisheh to the south, Aida is a refugee camp flanking holy Bethlehem that was founded following the 1948 Nakba during which 700,000 Palestinians were chased from their homes in what is now the state of Israel.  Due to its proximity to the wall and Israeli settlements Aida remains the most troubled place in the area.  We arrive in the camp along the separation wall and immediately see Ali Hussein standing on the steps of a building near the wall.  Ali doesn’t speak english but what little I gathered from our pigeon-Arabic conversation was that Ali is 20 years old, has been incarcerated by the Israeli military for an extended period of time, and stands on the steps of the Aida Youth Center.  Moving inside to have a look around the center and find someone who can speak more english, we meet Mohammed Lufti.  Like Ali, Mohammed is in his 20s, comes from a family of 1948 refugees formerly living on the Jerusalem-Jaffa road, and has been incarcerated more than once, the last time being a year and a half ago in which he was held for four years.  The silence that intrudes in virtually every conversation seems especially heavy during this one. 
One of the directors of the center arrives shortly after and introduces himself as Karim.  He is calm, answering the questions but remaining seemingly detached from the meaning of the responses.  The people in Aida come from 52 villages in modern-day Israel, he says.  More than 80% of young men like Ali and Mohammed in Aida have been imprisoned in Israeli jails, and despite international agreements banning Israeli incursions in the camp, individuals are frequently taken during nighttime raids, one of which took place this month.  Despite its population of only 5,000 or so, Aida has a disproportionately high percentage of the 11,000 political prisoners currently held in Israeli prisons.  While this is due to several factors, the primary reason is the camp’s proximity to the wall and thus Israel.  Not only was Aida cut apart by the construction of the wall following the Al Aqsa intifada in 2000-2001, but it continues to suffer from its total disconnection from nearby communities, notably Jerusalem.  While Karim used to be able to travel to Jerusalem with little to no problems, he says that now it would be impossible.  Attempting everything from foreign travel to medical reasons, Karim’s attempts have all failed and he hasn’t visited Palestine’s future capital just six miles to the north for over nine years.  After living for a few years in Jordan, Karim has come back to help run Aida’s Youth Center which organizes activities for the large number of kids in the camp.  Despite having been destroyed three times since its founding in 1968, the youth center remains unperturbed by the threat of another Israeli demolition and is currently expanding its space with extensions under construction on two sides.  They show us murals drawn by kids on a portion of the wall situated just across the street, demanding the right to return to their homes and villages in the colors of the Palestinian flag.  While this may be another generation, the hopes of returning to their land in Israel remains firm and is painted all over the wall separating them from those places.
“Without a doubt, Aida is worse today than five years ago because of the wall,” Karim says puffing on his cigarette.  Now largely finished throughout the West Bank, the Israeli “apartheid wall” loops around the West Bank, cutting through Jerusalem, isolating Palestinian communities and destroying peoples’ lives.  With roughly two-thirds of the $2 billion, 700-kilometer route featuring an 8-meter high wall with electric fences, sniper towers and buffer zones up to 100-meters in width, when all is said and done 8.5% of the Palestinian West Bank will find itself on the Israeli side.  Paradoxically, the wall, like the settlements, provides many employment opportunities for Palestinians in dire need of work in their unemployment-struck communities, the hardest hit being refugee camps.  While Karim does not have figures for unemployment in the camp, as they are difficult to compile in Palestinian communities, he says that they undoubtedly and consistently hover over one-half. 
In an article published this week on the possibility of a settlement freeze agreement between the United States and Israel, the Jerusalem Post writes that many Israeli construction companies would be threatened with bankruptcy should settlement construction stop.  “The companies that build in the West Bank and stand to lose from a settlement freeze are some of the country’s biggest and most well-known construction firms, led by the country’s richest business people,” the article reports.  Juxtaposed with this information is a photo of a Palestinian laborer working on a construction site in an Israeli settlement.  If such a settlement freeze were enacted, the article points out, it “would mean a loss of more than 12,000 jobs, a majority of them belonging to Palestinian laborers.”  The mainstream Israeli press deceivingly tries to portray a mixed bag for Palestinians if employment on illegal projects stealing their land were to stop.  Yet, upon entering the Har Gilo settlement near Bethlehem, work in construction for Arabs was omnipresent.  Sitting deep within the green line and on the Palestinian side of the wall, mansions high up on Har Gilo’s hillside are in full expansion with up to 200 new families expected in the next few years.  We walk through the large gate, past controls, and up the hill where residents tell us to leave: “no visitors, closed military zone.”  Another car drives up and the settler inside invites us for coffee: “of course you can come in this is my home.”  Further up the hill we pass a small car packed with eight Arab men.  Avner, the settler, says they aren’t allowed to drive around by themselves and escorts the car out of the settlement.  All of the workers on the houses are Arab, he says.  Jewish residents commute to Jerusalem for jobs in the city.
Similar to Aida, the refugee camp of Dheisheh, located roughly a mile to the south, has many of the same issues of unemployment, isolation, and the threat of military invasion plaguing its displaced residents.  Butting up against the security barrier on one side, the camp has only one part-time doctor for its 11,000 residents, and has experienced frequent harrassment in many forms over the years by the Israelis.  Between 1967 and 1995, the camp was under curfew roughly 3.5 days a month with a record 84 consecutive days during the first Gulf war.  During the first intifada (1987-1993), more than 80% of young people from Dheisheh were imprisoned for varying periods of time.  Also during this period, the Israeli army installed military camps overlooking the camp and put a barbed wire fence around the entire camp which was continually vandalized by residents.  Walking into the Ibdaa youth and cultural center in the middle of the camp, there is a group of Palestinians listening to a class in english on Palestinian history.  Pictures commemorating the humiliations the population underwent under direct military occupation leading up to the takeover by the Palestinian Authority in 1995 hang on walls painted with Palestinian youths throwing rocks and molotov cocktails.  A metallic turnstile from the only entrance in and out of the camp during the first intifada is displayed near the center.  The other 13 were closed at the time.  Against all odds, history will not be left to wither and die here and people will continue to work for a way out of the current political impasse.