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Home arrow Blog arrow September 2007 arrow September 23, 2007

September 23, 2007
WAWA Blog  September 23, 2007
"Our achievements are due to our persistence, the worldwide media attention we attracted, and the support we gained from committed Israeli activists."


I have been to the West Bank village of Bil'in three times. The last time the people chanted;

The wall fell in Berlin!
The wall will fall in Bil'in!


Our West Bank Village Will Continue the Struggle



Our achievements are due to our persistence, the worldwide media attention we attracted, and the support we gained from committed Israeli activists.
http://palestinechronicle.com/story-092207142352.htm


By Mohammed Khatib

On September 4, after nearly three years of nonviolent protests by our village of Bil’in, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that Israel’s wall here must be moved further west, returning 250 acres of our farmland. In Bil’in we celebrated, along with our Israeli and international supporters.

But Israel’s Supreme Court demonstrated both the power of nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation, and its limits. On September 5 the court rejected our petition to stop the construction of another Israeli settlement, Mattiyahu East, on our land even further to the west. Israel, with US support, appears determined to retain major West Bank settlement blocs, including one west of Bil’in, that carve the West Bank into bantustans.

Bil’in is a West Bank agricultural village with 1600 residents located just east of “the Green Line”, the pre-1967 border between the West Bank and Israel. In Bil’in, as in tens of Palestinian villages, Israel exploited security justifications to build a wall deep inside the West Bank and seize Palestinian land for illegal settlements. Israel trapped 60% of our land behind the wall, mostly olive groves that we depend on.

In December, 2004 when the Israeli army started bulldozing our land and uprooting olive trees to build the wall, we went to our fields to protest. We learned from other West Bank villages that nonviolently resisted the wall, and we studied Gandhi, King and Mandela.

We developed creative activities for our weekly protests. One Friday, activists locked themselves inside a cage, representing the wall’s impacts. Another time, we built a Palestinian “outpost” on our village’s land located behind the wall and next to an Israeli settlement, mimicking the Israeli strategy of establishing outposts to expand settlements.

Another Friday we handed the Israeli soldiers a letter saying, “Had you come here as guests, we would show you the trees that our grandfathers planted here, and the vegetables that we grow… There will never be security for any of us until Israelis respect our rights to this land.”

We hosted two international conferences on nonviolent resistance, and many Israeli and international activists responded to our call to join us in a “joint struggle.” Palestinians, Israelis and foreigners suffered patiently together as the soldiers met our nonviolent actions with teargas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and clubs. Over 800 activists were injured in 200 demonstrations. An Israeli attorney and a Bil'in resident both suffered permanent brain damage from rubber-coated steel bullets shot from close range. Another Palestinian lost sight in one eye. 49 Bil’in residents, including some protest leaders, were arrested. Some spent months in prison.

Our achievements are due to our persistence, the worldwide media attention we attracted, and the support we gained from committed Israeli activists.

We never expected much from the occupier’s courts. The Israeli official who planned the wall told the Washington Post last month that he lost only three legal challenges to the wall’s path, out of 120 appeals filed, this though the wall isolates 10% of the West Bank and was ruled illegal where it is built inside the West Bank by the International Court of Justice.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Still, Israel’s Supreme Court legalized the settlement of Mattiyahu East on our land, even though Mattiyahu East appeared to violate even Israeli law because it lacked an approved building permit.

The rush to build followed President Bush’s April, 2004 letter to then Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon stating that, “new realities on the ground, including already existing population centers” make it unrealistic to expect Israel to withdraw completely to the Green Line. Israel responded by expanding “existing population centers”, building huge apartment complexes, like Mattiyahu East, for hundreds of thousands of people, and calling them neighborhoods in existing settlements.

These expanding settlement blocs fall conveniently on Israel’s side of the wall. Strategically situated, the settlement blocs divide the West Bank into four isolated regions. Therefore, their annexation to Israel will render any Palestinian state unviable. Yet annexation of the settlement blocs is reportedly central to new Israeli government peace proposals to Palestinian President Abbas.

We will continue to challenge these expanding settlements because they threaten the futures of Bil’in and the Palestinian people. And we will put our experience at the service of other communities struggling against the wall and settlements. From Bil’in, we call on Israeli and international activists to join us as we renew our joint struggle for freedom.

-Mohammed Khatib is a leading member of Bil'in's Popular Committee Against the Wall and the secretary of Bil'in's Village Council.



AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
URGENT ACTION

PUBLIC                AI Index: MDE 15/062/2007       
UA 247/07        Fear for Safety        21 September 2007       
ISRAEL/
OCCUPIED         1.5 Million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip
PALESTINIAN
TERRITORIES (OPT)               

Amnesty International is concerned that the implementation of the Israeli government decision of 19 September that "Additional sanctions will be placed on the Hamas regime in order to restrict the passage of various goods to the Gaza Strip and reduce the supply of fuel and electricity. Restrictions will also be placed on the movement of people to and from the Gaza Strip" would cause a further deterioration of the already dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and adversely affect the 1.5 million Palestinians who live there.

Drastically reducing the supply of basic necessities such as electricity and fuel to the entire population of Gaza in retaliation for rocket attacks carried out by members of armed groups would constitute collective punishment of Gaza's population in violation international humanitarian law, which categorically prohibits all forms of collective punishment. Gazans cannot obtain electricity, fuel or alternative sources of energy from elsewhere because of the blockades imposed by Israel.

Electricity and fuel, which have already been in short supply in the Gaza Strip for some time, are used to pump water and shortages have had negative consequences for the health and well-being of the population there.  A further reduction in the availability of electricity and water would exacerbate existing problems - such as the insufficient supplies of clean water for drinking and personal hygiene, inadequate sewage treatment and waste disposal, and the spoiling of already scarce food and medicines, due to the inability to refrigerate them.

A further tightening of the already stringent blockade imposed by the Israeli authorities on the passage of goods into and out of Gaza would prolong and worsen the virtual paralysis of Gaza's economy, which has already forced most of Gaza's population to live below the poverty line and depend on international aid.

Similarly, the closure by Israel since early June of Gaza's border with Egypt, the Gaza Strip's only border crossing, has left the population effectively trapped and cut off from the outside world, preventing patients from travelling to other countries for medical care which is not available in Gaza, and denying traders and students the possibility to leave the Gaza Strip to take advantage of employment and education opportunities elsewhere.


BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

As the occupying power, Israel is ultimately responsible for ensuring the welfare of the Palestinians population in the OPT, including the 1.5 million Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip, all of whom are protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israeli officials' contention that Israel is no longer bound by the laws of occupation since it redeployed its forces to the perimeter of the Gaza Strip in 2005 is a fallacy.  Israel retains effective control of the Gaza Strip, by virtue of the full control it exercises over of the Gaza Strip's land border, its air space and territorial waters, and the movement of people and goods.  Hence The Israeli authorities are bound by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law to ensure the welfare of the Palestinian population in the OPT.  According to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: "No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."



The Israeli authorities have stated that their decision to impose the above-mentioned additional restrictions on the Gaza Strip's population is in reaction to the frequent firing of so-called "qassam" rockets by Palestinian armed groups from Gaza into Israel.These indiscriminate rockets have killed some 10 Israeli civilians in the past four years in Sderot and have spread fear among the population and damaged the town's economy. The Israeli army has retaliated by launching frequent air bombardments and artillery strikes in which hundreds of Palestinians have been killed, including dozens of children, since last year. Three Palestinian children were killed last week in an Israeli air strike that the army initially claimed was against rocket launchers but subsequently admitted it had mistakenly targeted children playing in fields.

Palestinian armed groups responsible for the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel include the armed wing of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the armed wing of President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party (the al-aqsa martyrs' brigades).




Send an email in less than thirty seconds to Ms. Condoleezza Rice and Mr. Ehud Olmert seeking Justice and Saying  NO to Collective Punishment in Gaza

http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizations/jvfp/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=13362



   
 
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