Palestine Solidarity Project Newsletter Autumn 2011
More than 800 dumums of Beit Ommar and Shwoukh land will be taken by the Israelies for a 8km bypass road, starting from Gush Etzion. The settlers have already built a watchtower on a hilltop in the area – the first step to establish a new settlement. The road to the planned settlement on Halhoul land will go through Beit Ommar and Shwoukh land and join in on the route 60 by Halhoul.
Watch a documentary about the land grab here
Popular Committee member still in prison.
Majde Mahmoud Za’aqiq has been detained in Israeli prison since 25/8/2011. The same day six other participants were arrested in a peaceful demonstration in Beit Ommar– five international and Israeli solidarity activists and two Palestinian activists. Five of them were released late at night the same day. A Spanish citizen was released after two days. Majde Za’aqiq, member of the National Committee Against the Wall and settlement in Beit Ommar, is still detained.
Majde was arrested after the demonstration was over. He was sitting in a car on his way home, but suddenly the soldiers took him out of the car, hit him and insulted him and finally arrested him. Majde is still suspended for three months, so far without any charge. Read the full story of Majde here.
By: Younes Arar – Committee Coordinator.
International Activists Support Olive Harvest in Surif.
In October PSP, along with many international volunteers, joined farmers from Surif in the olive harvest.
The olive harvest is a busy season and many hands are required to do the job. Several traditions and rituals are related to the olive harvest, and it is also an important social event. The internationals were glad to help and enjoyed picking the olives in beautiful surroundings, but their presence is not only for fun. International presence and attention can be of great importance because of the continual harassment the farmers face from settlers.
Popular Committee member arrested.
Yousef Abu Marya – member of the National Committee for resisting Settlements and the Apartheid wall and cofounder of the Palestine Solidarity Project, was arrested November 5th. About 100 soldiers arrested Abu Marya from his residence in Beit Ommar 2 am in the morning.
Abu Marya has been arrested several times and has spent over five years in prison all together.
Yousef was released after being interrogated and held for more than 24 hours.
Many arrests have occurred in Beit Ommar lately:
Thaer Ahamd Abu Hashem, 23
Iyad Alami, 23
Abed Helail, 41, Mohammad Yousef Bahar 17 years old, and Ahmad Mahmoud Sohaibe 20 years old
Yousef Ahmad Halil Abu Hashem, Ahmad Abu Hashem,
Munib Jahed, 17, Nadim Khalil, 21, and Fares Al-Owewy, 25.
Israeli Settlers Torch Three Palestinian Cars in Beit Ommar
Beit Ommar 9th November 2011: At around 01.30 residents from Beit Ommar, not far from the illegal settlement of Bat Ayn, were harassed by a group of settlers accompanied by Israeli soldiers. Bat Ayn is one of only two illegal settlements in the entire West Bank that is not surrounded by a fence or barbed wire. This is at the settlers own request, to allow them to grab more Beit Ommar land.
The soliders accompanied the settlers on the back roads towards Beit Ommar, about four kilometers from the settlement. The settlers set fire on three cars, two of them were totally destroyed. During their visit the Star of David was written on a trailer, and graffiti was drawn on the house wall.
Residents of Beit Ommar suppose the settlers harassed the farmers because their houses are located not far from route 60. This is in the area where Israel wants to expand the road and build a new bypass road towards a planned settlement. Read more about the new bypass road here:
Watch a movie with more information about the road here
The burnt-out cars belong to Habas Hussein Ibrareth and his nephews, Suhel Momhammed Ibraeth and Yousef Mohammed Ibraeth. A group of international activists visited Beit Ommar today. Ibraeth was very grateful for the consideration and support, from both the international guests and residents of Beit Ommar.
Story of the month:
The Popular Commiittee of Beit Ommar, PSP along with a big crowd of Israeli and international activists held the usual weekly peaceful demonstration against the Israeli occupation, land confiscation, solidarity with prisoners, and a call asking Tony Blair to go back home. The site for the demonstration was outside the fence of Karmei Tsur settlement to the south of Beit Ommar. The demonstrators were able to go all the way up to the fence before the Israeli army arrived. On the other side of the fence, there was a heavily armed settler. After a few minutes many soldiers arrived and as the activists were chanting their slogans, the soldiers started to shoot sound bombs. Shortly afterwards more settlers arrived and started to scream back at the demonstrators.
At this point a representative from the Popular Committee of Beit Ommar started to give a speech along the lines of: “This is our land” and “You have no right to take our land”. In response to this speech the settlers became more and more aggressive. The demonstrators showed their posters, waved their flags and yelled their slogans. The soldiers started to shoot teargas to disperse the demonstrators. At this point the settlers became rather violent. One of them started to jump onto the fence in a very threatening way. Some of the settlers were spitting at the demonstrators. Immediately after they started to throw big stones at the crowd. A Palestinian photojournalist was hit by a stone, and his head was badly injured. He was bleeding a lot. An activist bandaged his head, using someone’s scarf. Shortly afterwards he was treated by health service personnel from a Red Crescent ambulance.
Many other demonstrators were suffering from the teargas. One Palestinian activist was lying on the ground badly affected by teargas and was carried away by other activists. A French activist fell to the ground and was helped by other activists. The demonstrators withdrew back into the fields and assisted those who needed it. Inhaling teargas can be very dangerous. Two people from Beit Ommar have died as a result of in healing tear gas, the first was a 60 years old woman in 1988 and the second was a 14 months old infant in 2009.
English Classes given at the Center for Freedom and Justice in Beit Ommar.
Lessons in English are now given at the Center for Freedom and Justice in Beit Ommar four days a week, Monday – Thursday.
At the moment there are classes on three different levels –beginners, intermediate and more advanced.
Center for Freedom and Justice aims to give lessons according to the students needs and wishes. Some of the students like to practice conversation, while others want to improve their grammar. International volunteers serve students in a broad specter of ages. At the moment our students range from teenagers to adults, both male and female. The students are very interested in learning and they are progressing rapidly.
New students appear all the time. Classes are held in the afternoon, because most of the participants are either going to school, university or to work. Lessons are open for anyone who wants to learn and improve their knowledge of English, and are free of charge.
This autumn the women committee in Beit Ommar has received several embroidery orders through PSP. Individuals and organizations from all over the world, mainly USA, have ordered the beautiful traditional embroidery. The embroidery project is part of the women empowerment program. The goal is to make women more self-sufficient and provide them an independent income.
See and order embroidery here
Popular Committee member on speaking tour in Europe.
Mousa Abu Marya, one of the leaders and a co-founder of Palestine Solidarity Project, has since mid-September been on a speaking tour in Europe.
Mousa has visited many countries, for example Germany, Norway, Italy and now France.
He has met with lots of people and has been speaking in universities, at open meetings, and he has been on radio and TV programs. On his tour Mousa also has attended and given speeches at demonstrations which solidarity groups have arranged on behalf of the Palestinian people. Report here
Mousa Abu Marya’s tour to Europe has been possible due to invitations from different organizations in the countries he is visiting. This is a very good opportunity for people in Europe to get a broader understanding of the situation in Palestine in general and the occupied territories in the West Bank in particular.
Solidarity Tour Programme started.
The Solidarity Tour programme offers an introduction to the different geographical and cultural regions of the West Bank. The tour is providing its participants with in-depth social, political and historical insights on Palestinian life. Read the full program here. (The program is also available in French, Italian, Spanish and Norwegian).
Justice? ? Human rights?? Freedom? – Come and see for yourself. Visit Palestine!
Take a look at other recently published documentaries by PSP:
Watch a summary of a French groups`s experiences in Beit Ommar here:
New campaign started; “Save the Land – Donate an Olive Tree Seedling”
The National Committee of Beit Ommar and Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP ) declare the start of: “Save the Land – Donate an Olive Tree Seedling”.
Due to the escalation of Israeli occupation and the settlers attacks against the Palestinian people, their land, trees and properties, mainly in area “C” (under full Israeli control) the National Committee and PSP have decided to start this campaign.
Israeli settlers are attacking the Palestinian farmers, seizing their land, cutting down trees and destroying crops mostly during the olive harvest season. “Save the land” campaign aims to raise necessary funds to buy olive seedlings. Our goal is to buy 5000 seedlings; each seedling costs 22 NIS ($6). The price includes a seedling, a stick, and a cover for protection from weather changes. Planting season starts in January 2012.
See more here:
Palestinian Peaceful Popular Resistance
by Younes Arar – Beit Ommar Popular Committee Coordinator
The Popular Resistance can practice peaceful civil struggle as necessary and with minimal losses; from political action through cultural – intellectual, economic, social and development. The peaceful popular resistance is the way in which our people can take advantage of all resources and human resources at home and in exile, including men, women, workers, farmers, children, elders, professionals, talented, scientists, and everyone has a human sense can take an active part in this kind of struggle, and therefore it is the best way to mobilize all Palestinian and supporters energies. This resistance has to be based on absolute stability of clear political principles, specific goals, and be based on a clear strategic vision for the future. Flexibility and initiative are requested, focusing on the peaceful popular resistance does not mean giving up on options and other alternatives; but preparing for other options is something, and resorting to use it at any time and for any reason is something else, and may involve damage that can’t be repaired.
The Palestinian people are a peaceful people by nature and they respect others rights to live in freedom and dignity, but they found themselves exposed to a conspiracy of being uprooted and displaced from their land according to Lord Balfour Declaration (1917) to establish a Jewish National State in Palestine, he promised a land he does not own nor Britain but owned by its indigenous population the Palestinians. The Palestinians have decided since then to resist this plan, and one of the resistance forms was the Peaceful Popular Resistance against the British occupiers and the Zionist colonization in Palestine, which was represented by the famous civil disobedience in 1936, which lasted for 6 months, and this rebellion was not just a reaction or spontaneous act, it was an organized effort, where the men and women of Jerusalem including doctors, lawyers, writers, professors and the unions leaders, who represented Jerusalem of all its denominations, sects and parties issued a statement which was printed in Alma’aref printing press. It seems that the statement was released a week after the general strike started. The statement calls for civil disobedience and rose the slogan “No taxation without representation”, it is the slogan the Americans rose in 1766 during their revolt against the British. This came in the context of disobedience to practice pressure on Britain to give them what the British gave to the neighboring Arab countries “initial symbols of independence” and to stop their support to the Jewish National State project.
This period can be divided to two main stages:
1. The general strike: extended from April 15 – 13 October 1936, a phase in which the Palestinians declared the strike and civil disobedience and stopped all forms of interaction with Britain and the Jewish settlements. The strike was stopped after the intervention of the Arab kings and princes.
2. The period of anticipation and waiting for the recommendations of the Royal Commission headed by Lord Bell, which extended from mid-October 1936 to early July, 1937: This period was characterized by cautious calm waiting for the recommendations of the British Royal Commission, which was issued in early July 1937 and recommended the partition of Palestine.
Then there was another experience of Peaceful Popular Resistance in 1982 in the occupied Golan, and was one of the most important civil disobedience successes. This year (1982), thousands of Israeli soldiers imposed a 43 days blockade, cut off Electricity and Water, the confiscation of personal documents and the imposition of a curfew; hope to impose the Israeli identity cards to citizens. Residents of the Golan Heights did an unexpected action; they put pastries and tea “hospitality” at the doors entrances of their houses for the Israeli soldiers who were on the way to break into the houses. This may seem surrender, but the result was counterproductive. Where some of the soldiers began to refuse service in the Golan and many others refused to fire on the demonstrators, leading to the failure of the siege and its goals. The commander of the military unit led the blockade complained to his officials that the peaceful resistance of the Golan people spoiled his best soldiers, where they have become unable to cope with people’s peaceful resistance.
five years later, the Palestinian great popular Intifada sparked in 1987 on the basis of the independent Palestinian social organization, the markets open when the Palestinians decide, and not when the Israeli army decide, the roads are blocked when the leadership of the Intifada and the Palestinian public decide to, the workers go to work in accordance with the Intifada leadership decision , down to the non-payment of taxes and practiced forms of comprehensive civil disobedience, as in the experience of Beit Sahour and others. The Intifada had several political, economic, social and cultural pillars based on the effectiveness, responsiveness and the initiative of the Palestinian masses as basis to their achievements.
The Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (who was assassinated by Israeli extremist Yigal Amir) had reached to the conclusion that “the suppression of the Palestinian peaceful resistance destroyed the morale and fighting spirit of Israeli soldiers also harmed the image of the Israeli army internally and internationally.” It is known that Yitzhak Rabin was the creator of the “Iron Fist” idea, which means breaking the bones of the Palestinian activists of the first Intifada.
The Palestinian Peaceful Popular Resistance succeeded in delivering a message of our people’s insistence on freedom and independence to the world. It also succeeded in restoring the land, as happened in the village of Budros in 2004, and as happened in Ni’lin by adjusting the route of the Apartheid Wall in 2008 and other sites, and it sent a message that the Palestinian people are adhered to their right of self-determination, and to live in freedom and dignity like the rest of the world’s people.
The Palestinian peaceful popular resistance has proved that the Palestinians want peace and they respect, value and treasure human lives and human rights and not, as Israeli claims that there is no Palestinian peace partner, but the pressing and the one million dollar question was and still is Does Israel want peace?
Written by: Younes Arar