Monday, July 18, 2011

Demonstration against the occupation / Manifestation contre l'Occupation, Budrus, 18.07.2011

(c) Anne Paq/, Budrus, 18.07.2011

photo 4: Israeli soldiers invade Budrus village and fire tear gas canister at head's level / Les soldats israéliens envahissent le village de Budrus et tirent des grenades lacrymogènes a hauteur des têtes.

photo 5: Israeli soldiers launch flares above trees and houses inside the village- although it is day why using them if not to trigger fires? / Les soldats israéliens utilisent des fumigènes au-dessus des arbres et des habitations en plein jour..alors pourquoi les utiliser si ce n'est pour provoquer des incendies?

Marking the end of a three-day conference on popular resistance, a demonstration was held in the West Bank village of Budrus, on 18.07.2011. When protesters reached one of the gates of the separation Wall, they were attacked by Israeli soldiers who fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters directly at them. The Israeli army also used flares above trees and houses, which triggered some fires. One Israeli activist was injured by tear gas canister in his leg.


Marquant la fin d'une conférence de trois jours sur la résistance populaire, une manifestation a eu lieu dans le village de Cisjordanie de Budrus, le 18.07.2011. Lorsque les manifestants ont atteint l'une des portes du Mur de Séparation, ils ont été attaqués par des soldats israéliens qui ont tiré des bombes assourdissantes et des gaz lacrymogènes directement sur eux.
L'armée israélienne a aussi utilis
é des fumigènes au-dessus des arbres et les maisons, ce qui a déclenché quelques feux. Un militant israélien a été blessé par grenade lacrymogène dans sa jambe.

Do not speak, do not resist – Israel rules out non-violence ~ by Jonathan Cook / La loi sur le boycott intensifie la répression en Israël- Neve Gordon

Do not speak, do not resist – Israel rules out non-violence ~ by Jonathan Cook

It was an Arab legislator who made the most telling comment to the Israeli parliament last week as it passed the boycott law, which outlaws calls to boycott Israel or its settlements in the occupied territories. Ahmed Tibi asked: “What is a peace activist or Palestinian allowed to do to oppose the occupation? Is there anything you agree to?”

The boycott law is the latest in a series of ever-more draconian laws being introduced by the far-right. The legislation’s goal is to intimidate those Israelis who have yet to bow down before the majority-rule mob.

Look out in coming days for a bill to block the work of Israeli organisations trying to protect Palestinian rights; and another draft law investing a parliamentary committee, headed by the far-right, with the power to appoint supreme court judges. The court is the only, and already enfeebled, bulwark against the right’s ascendancy.

The boycott law, backed by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, marks a watershed in this legislative assault in two respects.

First, it knocks out the keystone of any democratic system: the right to free speech. The new law makes it illegal for Israelis and Palestinians to advocate a non-violent political programme – boycott – to counter the ever-growing power of the half a million Jewish settlers living on stolen Palestinian land.

As the Israeli commentator Gideon Levy observed, the floodgates are now open: “Tomorrow it will be forbidden to call for an end to the occupation [or] brotherhood between Jews and Arabs.”

Equally of concern is that the law creates a new type of civil, rather than criminal, offence. The state will not be initiating prosecutions. Instead, the job of enforcing the boycott law is being outsourced to the settlers and their lawyers. Anyone backing a boycott can be sued for compensation by the settlers themselves, who – again uniquely – need not prove they suffered actual harm.

Under this law, opponents of the occupation will not even be dignified with jail sentences and the chance to become prisoners of conscience. Rather, they will be quietly bankrupted in private actions, their assets seized either to cover legal costs or as punitive damages.

Human rights lawyers point out that there is no law like this anywhere in the democratic world. But more than half of Israelis back it, with only 31 per cent opposed.

The delusional, self-pitying worldview that spawned the boycott law was neatly illustrated this month in a short video “ad” that is supported, and possibly financed, by Israel’s hasbara, or propaganda, ministry. Fittingly, it is set in a psychiatrist’s office.

A young woman, clearly traumatised, deciphers the images concealed in the famous Rorschach test. As she is shown the ink-splodges, her panic and anger grow. Gradually, we come to realise, she represents vulnerable modern Israel, abandoned by friends and still in profound shock at the attack on her navy’s commandos by the “terrorist” passengers aboard last year’s aid flotilla to Gaza.

Immune to reality – that the ships were trying to break Israel’s punitive siege of Gaza, that the commandos illegally boarded the ships in international waters, and that they shot dead nine activists execution-style – Miss Israel tearfully recounts that the world is “forever trying to torment and harm [us] for no reason”. Finally she storms out, saying: “What do you want – for [Israel] to disappear off the map?”

The video – released under the banner “Stop the provocation against Israel” – was part of a campaign to discredit the recent follow-up flotilla from Greece. The aid mission was abandoned after Greek authorities, under Israeli pressure, refused to let them sail.

Israel’s siege mentality asserted itself again days later as international activists staged another show of solidarity – this one nicknamed the “flytilla”. Hundreds tried to fly to Israel on the same day, declaring their intention to travel to the West Bank.

Israel threatened airlines with retaliation if they carried the activists and it massed hundreds of soldiers at Ben Gurion Airport to greet arrivals. About 150 peaceful protesters who reached Israel were arrested moments after landing.

Echoing the hysterical sentiments of the woman in the video, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, denounced the various flotillas as “denying Israel’s right to exist” and a threat to its security.

Although Mr Netanyahu’s comments sound delusional, there may be a method to the madness of measures like the boycott law and the massive overreaction to the flotillas.

These initiatives, as Mr Tibi points out, leave no room for non-violent opposition to the occupation. Arundhati Roy, the award-winning Indian writer, has noted that non-violence is essentially “a piece of theatre. [It] needs an audience. What can you do when you have no audience?”

Mr Netanyahu and the Israeli right appear to understand this point. They are carefully dismantling every platform on which dissident Israelis, Palestinians and solidarity activists hope to stage their protests. They are making it impossible to organise joint peaceful and non-violent resistance, whether in the form of boycotts or solidarity visits. The only way being left open is violence.

Is this what the Israeli right wants, believing it offers a justification for entrenching the occupation? By generating the very terror he claims to be trying to defeat, does Mr Netanyahu hope he can safeguard the legitimacy of the Jewish state and destroy hopes for a Palestinian state?

Jonathan Cook is The National’s correspondent in Nazareth, Israel. He won this year’s Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism


Je n ai pas trouve la traduction française de l' article ci-dessus de Jonathan Cook, en attendant voila un article de Neve Gordon, un académique israélien, qui pousse un cri d'alarme, comme beaucoup d'autres israéliens, sur la nouvelle loi contre le boycott.
La loi sur le boycott intensifie la répression en Israël
samedi 16 juillet 2011 - Neve Gordon
Al Jazeera

Les changements politiques se produisent lentement. On ne s’endort pas dans une démocratie pour se réveiller sous un régime fasciste. Les citoyens égyptiens et tunisiens connaissent aussi la situation contraire : la dictature ne se change pas en démocratie du jour au lendemain.

Tout changement politique d’une telle ampleur est le résultat d’un travail ardu qu’il faut toujours intensifier ; il n’y a donc pas vraiment d’événement historique ayant servi à lui seul de déclencheur.

Il y a, cependant, des événements significatifs qui servent d’étapes historiques importantes .

On se rappellera le suicide de Mohamed Bouazizi, qui s’est aspergé d’essence et s’est immolé par le feu quand la police a confisqué sa marchandise parce qu’il n’avait pas les permis nécessaires ; ce fut l’étincelle qui a mis le feu à la révolution tunisienne, voire aux soulèvements sociaux régionaux actuels, appelés le réveil arabe. De même, les rassemblements massifs sur la place Tahrir seront probablement considérés comme la goutte d’eau qui a fait déborder le vase et qui ont enclenché le lent processus de démocratisation en Égypte...

En Israël, le moment historique pourra très bien être la loi sur le boycott que la Knesset a approuvée par un vote de 47 voix contre 38.

Ironiquement, la loi elle-même sera sans doute sans importance. Elle stipule que toute personne qui lance, favorise ou publie des informations pouvant servir de base à l’instauration du boycott d’Israël ou des colonies juives en Cisjordanie occupée ou à Jérusalem-Est, commet une infraction. La personne jugée coupable d’une telle infraction pourra être obligée de dédommager les parties économiquement lésées par le boycott, à concurrence de 30.000 shekels israéliens ($8.700) sans que les plaignants aient à fournir la preuve des dommages qu’ils ont subis.

L’objectif de la loi est de défendre le projet de colonisation israélien et d’autres politiques violant le droit international en matière de droits de l’homme, contre la mobilisation non violente visant à mettre un terme à ces politiques.

Le conseiller juridique de la Knesset, Eyal Yinon, a dit que la loi « corrompt l’essentiel de la liberté d’expression politique en Israël » et qu’il lui serait difficile de la défendre devant la Haute Cour de Justice dans la mesure où elle contrevient à la loi fondamentale d’Israël sur « la dignité humaine et la liberté ». Étant donné la déclaration de Yinon et le fait que les organismes israéliens de défense des droits humains ont déjà déposé une requête à la Cour Suprême arguant du fait que la loi est antidémocratique, il y a de fortes chances pour que la loi sur le boycott aura une vie extrêmement courte.

Pourtant, cette loi devrait être considérée comme un tournant. Non pas en raison de ses effets, mais de ce qu’elle représente.

Après des heures de discussion à la Knesset israélienne, le choix était clair. D’une part, il y avait le projet de colonies et les politiques de violation des droits humains, et de l’autre, il y avait la liberté d’expression, pilier de base de la démocratie. Le fait que la majorité des législateurs israéliens aient décidé de soutenir l’adoption de la loi, démontre simplement qu’ils sont disposés à détruire la démocratie israélienne pour s’accrocher à la Cisjordanie et à Jérusalem-Est.

L’attaque contre la démocratie a gagné en intensité. La loi sur le boycott était simplement le moment de vérité, précédé par la loi sur la Nakba et celle du Comité sur l’allégeance ; elles seront vraisemblablement suivies par l’adoption d’une série de lois visant à détruire les organisation israéliennes de défense des droits humains. Ces lois seront votées dans les mois à venir, et, vu la composition de la Knesset, il est extrêmement probable qu’elles seront toutes adoptées.

Les législateurs israéliens se rendent pourtant compte que pour écraser toute résistance interne, il ne suffira pas de détruire les organisations de défense des droits humains. La cible finale est la Haute Cour de Justice, seul établissement qui a encore le pouvoir et l’autorité pour défendre les pratiques démocratiques.

Leur stratégie, consiste apparemment à attendre que la Cour annule les nouvelles lois et d’exploiter ensuite la déception du public devant les décisions de la Cour pour en limiter l’autorité ; ils adopteront une législation empêchant les juges d’annuler des lois inconstitutionnelles. Une fois que l’autorité de la Cour Suprême aura été sévèrement entravée, la route sera ouverte pour que la droite de la Knesset ait le champ libre. Le processus menant à la mort de la démocratie israélienne sera peut-être lent, mais le pays a pris une direction parfaitement claire.

Neve Gordon est l’auteur de Israel’s Occupation dont le site web est ici.

Cet article peut être consulté ici :

Sunday, July 17, 2011

US Congress loves being lied to about the Israel-Palestine conflic by Stuart Littlewood

US Congress loves being lied to about the Israel-Palestine conflict…

by Stuart Littlewood on July 17, 2011

when the truth is so easy to discover

By Stuart Littlewood * | Sabbah Report |

Here in the UK we have so many craven politicians paying homage to the likes of Rupert Murdoch and playing stooge to the pro-Israel lobby that there's little time to take much interest in US politics. So I apologise to American friends for briefly intruding on their grief; but somebody has sent me a copy of a letter from a US congresswoman to one of her constituents.

It says:

As the only democracy in the region, I believe that the United States has a special relationship with Israel… During my time in the House of Representatives, I will support our funding our ally and help to forward Israel's efforts to keep their citizens safe, which currently stands at 2.8 billion dollars in general foreign aid, and another 280 million dollars for a missile defence system

Our foreign aid to Palestine is intended to create a virtuous cycle of stability and prosperity in the West Bank that inclines Palestinians towards peaceful coexistence with Israel and prepares them for self-governance. Continued failure to reach a two-state solution, combined with lack of consensus on any of the alternatives, may also mean that the status quo in the West Bank and Gaza could continue indefinitely. In addition, with the West Bank and Gaza currently controlled by Hamas, an entity listed as a terrorist organization by US State Department and many other world governments, this may ultimately impact future aid our nation will provide.

Most recently, I became a co-sponsor of House Resolution 268, which reaffirms our support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states. This resolution also opposition to a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, as well as outlined consequences for Palestinian efforts to circumvent direct negotiations.[sic] This bill passed in the House on 7 July 2011 by a vote of 407 – 6…

Resolution 268 actually states that "Palestinian efforts to gain recognition of a state outside direct negotiations demonstrates absence of a good-faith commitment to peace negotiations". It threatens withholding US foreign aid to the Palestinian National Authority if it presses ahead with an application for statehood in the United Nations in September. It also calls for the Palestinian unity government to "publicly and formally forswear terrorism, accept Israel's right to exist, and reaffirm previous agreements made with the government of Israel".

Senator Ben Cardin, who initiated the resolution, announced: "The Senate has delivered a clear message to the international community that United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state at this time does not further the peace process."

Israel is the only democracy in the region? The West Bank and Gaza are controlled by Hamas? An application to the UN for Palestinian statehood is "circumventing" the peace process? Representative Colleen Hanabusa's letter shows that she is poorly briefed. There is nothing on her website to suggest that she has a special interest in foreign affairs, let alone the Middle East. So why does this nice lady lawmaker from Hawaii suddenly find herself co-sponsoring a resolution that's designed to scupper the hopes for freedom of another people halfway round the world, who have suffered betrayal and brutal military occupation for 63 years?

Disinformation is a recurring feature of US foreign policy discourse, and I'm reminded of the twisted comments of Alejandro Wolff, US Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, when he faced journalists' questions at the Security Council on that infamous day, 3 January 2009, when Israel's tanks rolled into Gaza to deal further death and destruction to a community that had already been air-blitzed for eight days and suffered siege and blockade for nearly 30 months before that.

Reporter: Mr Ambassador, you made no mention, sir, of any Israeli violation of those agreements that you've referred to, particularly in the opening of the crossings. And then there is a major development today, which is Israel's land attack and that's threatening to kill hundreds of civilians. Doesn't this deserve some request for Israel … to stop its ground military attacks, sir?

Ambassador Wolff: Well, again, we're not going to equate the actions of Israel, a member state of the United Nations, with the actions of the terrorist group Hamas. There is no equivalence there. This council has spoken on many times about the concerns we had about Hamas's military attacks on Israel. The charter of this organization [the UN] respects the right of every member state to exercise its self-defence, and Israel's self-defence is not negotiable… The plight of the Palestinian people in Gaza is directly attributable to Hamas.

Reporter: But Hamas represents the people, because they voted, over 70 per cent of them, for Hamas in the last election.

Ambassador Wolff: Hamas usurped the legitimate authority of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza.

Even US ambassadors should know that Hamas was and still is the legitimate authority. Hamas was democratically elected in 2006 in a contest judged by international observers to be clean. The result didn't suit Israel or its protector, the USA, so, together with the UK and the EU, they set about trashing Palestine's embryonic democracy. Losers Fatah, a corrupt faction rejected by the people for that reason, was recruited and funded to do the dirty work, for which they were well suited. As John Pilger has pointed out, when Hamas foiled a CIA-inspired coup in 2007 the event was reported in the Western media as "Hamas's seizure of power".

Hamas simply took the action necessary to establish its democratic authority against Fatah's US-funded militia. This angered the US and Israel even more.

For Mrs Hanabusa's information, thanks to America's meddling Fatah controls the West Bank but has no democratic legitimacy while Hamas is holed up in Gaza. And Israel is far from being the full-blown Western-style democracy that many think.

"No equivalence" between Israel and "terrorist" Hamas?

The US uses a perfectly good form of words to brand, outlaw and crush any organization, individual or country it doesn't like. Under Executive Order 13224 ("Blocking Property and prohibiting Transactions with Persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support Terrorism"), Section 3, the term "terrorism" means an activity that:

(i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and

(ii) appears to be intended

(a) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(b) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(c) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping or hostage-taking.

The order was signed on 23 September 2001 by George W. Bush. Its definition of terrorism fits the conduct of the United States and its bosom-buddy Israel like a glove, the irony of which seems totally lost on Congress.

Let us also look at Netanyahu's definition since he runs Israel's current government. His book Terrorism: How the West Can Win defines terror as the "deliberate and systematic murder, maiming and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends".

In an interview with Jennifer Byrne in February 2002, he said: "Terrorism is defined by one thing and one thing alone, the nature of the act. It is the deliberate systematic assault on civilians that defines terrorism."

It's like he's signing his own arrest warrant.

If terror is unjustifiable, then it is unjustifiable across the board. The Palestinians had no history of violence until their lands were threatened and then partitioned and overrun by a brutal intruder whose greed is never satisfied. Demands for Palestinians to cease their terror campaign (if you buy the idea that resistance equals terror) must be linked to demands for Israel to do the same.

As for the resistance movement Hamas, its charter is objectionable and the leadership are foolish not to have rewritten it in tune with modern diplomacy. Nevertheless the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, within days of being elected, offered long-term peace if Israel recognized Palestine as an independent state on 1967 borders. Previously, the Palestine Liberation Organization had unwisely "recognized" Israel without any reciprocal recognition of a Palestinian state. The Oslo Accords were supposed to end the occupation and give Palestine independence. "What we've got instead are more settlements, more occupation, more roadblocks, more poverty and more repression," he said.

Omar Abdul Razek, Hamas's finance minister, when interviewed by Aljazeera in May 2006, asked: "Which Israel would you want me to recognize? Is it Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates? Israel with the occupied Golan Heights? Israel with East Jerusalem? Israel with the settlements? I challenge you to tell me where Israel's borders lie."

Interviewer: "…the 1967 borders."

Omar Abdul Razek: "Does Israel recognize the 1967 borders? Can you tell me of one Israeli government that ever voiced willingness to withdraw to the 1967 borders?"

So, the question remains: why should Hamas or any other Palestinian party renounce violence against a foreign power that violently occupies their homeland, bulldozes their homes at gunpoint, uproots their beautiful olive groves, sets up hundreds of armed checkpoints to disrupt normal life, batters down villagers' front doors in the dead of night, builds an illegal "separation" wall to annex their territory, divide families, steal their water and isolate their communities, and blockades exports and imports to cause economic ruin – and now plans to steal Gaza's offshore gas?

Palestinians too have a right to defend themselves, and their self-defence, like Israel's, is non-negotiable.

As for recognizing Israel right to exist, no Palestinian is likely to do that while under Israel's jackboot. Nor should they be expected to. It would simply serve to legitimize the occupation, which is what Israel wants above all and what Israel wants Israel must get, even if the US has to make a complete fool of itself.

The terror that stalks the Holy Land

American and Israeli politicians love quoting the number of garden-shed rockets launched from Gaza towards Sderot. But can they say how many (US-supplied) bombs, shells and rockets have been delivered by F-16s, helicopter gunships, tanks, drones and navy vessels into the tightly-packed humanity of Gaza?

But at least we have an idea of the death-toll over the last 10 years. B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, keeps a close check.


In the period between the start of the second Intifada (September 2000) up to Operation Cast Lead (26 December 2008) 4,836 Palestinians were killed by Israelis in the occupied territories, including 951 children. Two hundred and thirty five of these were targeted killings (i.e. assassinations) while 2,186 were killed during targeted killings although they were not taking part in hostilities. Five hundred and eighty one Israelis, including 84 children, were killed by Palestinians in Israel.

During Operation Cast Lead (27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009) 1,396 Palestinians, including 345 children, were killed by Israelis. In Gaza itself they killed 344 children, 110 women and 117 elderly people. Only four Israelis were killed by Palestinians in this period, no children.

Since Operation Cast Lead and up to the end of May 2011 Israelis killed 197 Palestinians in the occupied territories, including 26 children. Five were targeted killings during which 65 non-participants were killed. In the same period three Israelis were killed by Palestinians in Israel, including one child.

I make that 6,429 to the Israelis and 589 to the Palestinians – a kill rate of 11 to 1. When it comes to snuffing out children Israel is even more proficient with a kill-rate of over 14 to 1.

And it's not just the dead. The Cast Lead assault on Gaza is reported to have injured and maimed some 5,450. Israel also destroyed or damaged 58,000 homes, 280 schools, 1,500 factories and water and sewage installations. And it used prohibited weapons like depleted uranium and white phosphorus shells.

Assassination has been official Israeli policy since 1999. Their preferred method is the air-strike, which is often messy as demonstrated in 2002 when Israeli F-16 warplanes bombed the house of Sheikh Salah Shehadeh, the military commander of Hamas, in Gaza City killing not just him but at least 11 other Palestinians, including seven children, and wounding 120 others.

I'm told resistance "terrorists" like Hamas account for less than a thousand victims a year worldwide, while "good guy" state terrorists slaughter civilians by the hundreds of thousands – some say millions.

The long list of Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians – attacks that cannot be justified on grounds of defence or security and are so disproportionate as to constitute grave violations of human rights – puts Israel near the top of the state terrorist league. The demolition of thousands of Palestinian homes in the West Bank for "administrative" and planning reasons, the wholesale destruction of businesses and infrastructure, the impoverishment and displacement of Palestinians through land expropriation and closure, the abductions and imprisonments, the assassinations, and especially that 22-day blitzkrieg on the civilian population of Gaza who had nowhere to run – all this add up to mega-terrorism on the part of America's "special friend", according to their own definitions.

Negotiations? "We have spoken to Israel for more than 18 years and the result has been zero"

Finally, what is this nonsense about Palestinians lacking good faith and somehow "isolating Israel" by applying for UN recognition rather than wasting more time on fruitless negotiations? Israel obtained its statehood by accepting the borders of the UN's 1947 partition, which was agreed without even consulting the Palestinians whose land was being carved up. The Jews didn't stop to "negotiate". Well before the ink was dry Jewish terror groups had ethnically cleansed and driven off hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from their lands and villages so that the new state's already generous boundaries were immediately expanded (example, Najd now Sderot). The land-grab had started and Israel's borders have been "fluid" ever since.

Why are US lawmakers now trying to thwart the Palestinians' dream of their own independent state? No-one is demanding the 1947 borders. They are willing to accept the 1967 armistice lines recognized in numerous UN resolutions and generally accepted by the international community. Even Hamas has agreed. So what is the problem?

The problem is that the Israeli occupation should have collapsed long ago under the weight of its illegality, but Israel shows no willingness to return the stolen lands or relinquish enough control for a viable Palestinian state.

Netanyahu heads Israel's Likud party, which is the embodiment of greed, racist ambition, lawlessness and callous disregard for other people's rights. In any other country it would be banned and its leaders locked up. Yet he is welcomed like a hero in the US and given 29 standing ovations by Congress.

Likud intends to make the seizure of Jerusalem permanent and establish Israel's capital there. It will "act with vigour" to ensure Jewish sovereignty in East Jerusalem (which still officially belongs to the Palestinians as does the Old City). The illegal settlements are "the realization of Zionist values and a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel". They will be strengthened and expanded. As for the Palestinians, they can run their lives in a framework of self-rule "but not as an independent and sovereign state".

So we can see where he's coming from.

Kadima, the party of Tzipi Livni, Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak, is little better and has also pledged to preserve the larger settlement blocs and steal Jerusalem.

In the 1947 UN partition Jerusalem was designated an international city under independent administration to avoid all this aggravation.

Rather than force compliance with international law and UN resolutions the international community, led by the US, has let matters slide by insisting on a solution based on lopsided power negotiations in which the Palestinians are at a serious disadvantage. During this dragged-out and failed process Israel has been allowed to strengthen its occupation by establishing more and more "facts on the ground", and its violations of human rights and international law have escalated with impunity. And that is what this dirty game is all about: Israel needs more time to make its occupation permanent.

Funny how we never hear the US talking about law and justice. It's always "negotiations" or "talks", buying time for Israel.

What the situation is crying out for is justice, and it's all set down in UN resolutions, international law and humanitarian law. Once both sides are in compliance negotiations can commence – if there's anything left to negotiate.

Fr Manuel Musallam, for many years the Latin Catholic priest in Gaza, recently told members of the Irish government:

We have spoken to Israel for more than 18 years and the result has been zero. We have signed agreements here and there at various times and then when there is a change in the government of Israel we have to start again from the beginning. We ask for our life and to be given back our Jerusalem, to be given our state and for enough water to drink. We want to be given more opportunity to reach Jerusalem. I have not seen Jerusalem since 1990.

Indeed, when I met Fr Manuel four years ago he had been effectively trapped in Gaza for nine years, unable to visit his family a few miles away in the West Bank. Had he set foot outside Gaza the Israelis would not have allowed him back in to rejoin his flock. So, he stayed put until he retired. This is just a tiny part of the ugly reality that America supports and applauds.

If Mrs Hanabusa and the rest of Congress were in the Palestinians' shoes would they bog themselves down yet again in discredited negotiations with a gun to their heads?

Or would they apply to the UN for long overdue enforcement of its resolutions and international law?

There is only one thing worse than being lied to, Congress. And that's acting on a lie.

* Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. Read other articles by Stuart, or visit Stuart's website.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jerusalem March for Palestinian independence / Marche de Jerusalem pour une Palestine independante, 15.07.2011

(c) Anne Paq/, Jerusalem, 15.07.2011

Thousands of Palestinians, Israelis and internationals walk together for an independent Palestinian state. A small group of right wing extremist tried unsuccessfully to disrupt the march.
The event was co-organized by Israeli solidarity and Palestinian groups, making it the first Jewish-Arab even event in 20 years.

Des milliers de Palestiniens, d'Israéliens et internationaux ont participé a une marche a Jerusalem pour un Etat palestinien indépendant. Un petit groupe d'extreme droite a tenté en vain de perturber la Marche.
L'événement a été co-organisé par des groupes
israéliens de solidarité et des groupes palestiniens, une premiere selon les organisateurs depuis 20 ans.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Palestinian women at the forefront of the demonstrations/ Les femmes palestiniennes en force dans les manifestations de Nabi Saleh, 08.07.2011

(c) Anne Paq/, Nabi Saleh, 08.07.2011

Palestinian women at the forefront of the demonstrations in Nabi Saleh.

For weeks, if not months, I wanted to go back to the Nabi Saleh weekly demonstration. But a journey to Nabi Saleh is a whole exhausting mission and the demonstration is known to be very long. Every Friday, the village comes under siege. The Israeli army entirely closes down the village from morning to night. Demonstrators need to arrive the day before, or very early in the morning before 8am while others must find they way through the mountains, hoping that they would not encounter any Israeli soldiers among the trees.

Nabi Saleh is a very small village of only a few hundreds inhabitants. The demonstrations started in 2009, when settlers from the nearby illegal settlement of Halamish took control over the natural spring near the village and prevented Palestinians accessing their lands. Since then, the repression of the army has been horrendous, using various tactics including night raids, arrests (the main leader of the protest, Bassem Tamimi is now in Israel custody), showering the whole village with tear gas and spreading the “skunk” (a noxious chemicals-based liquid which carries an awful smell) directly on houses, systematic violence used against unarmed protestors, including women (see for example the shocking video made by Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem).

In order to be as early as possible in the village, I had to spend the night in Ramallah. From there, some cars were organized for protesters at 8am. In the service (collective taxi), I found myself mostly with young Palestinian women activists, some of them aged no more than 17 year old. It was great to talk to them, they were very open. Most of them have started to join the protests not so long ago and were coming even without their parents knowing. One of them writes a blog, both in English and Arabic. It was truly refreshing to meet them, not that in demonstrations you cannot find any women. But it is quite rare to see some young Palestinian women coming from outside the village join the local protest in solidarity. I asked them how they began being involved. One told me that she began watching the videos of Nabi Saleh and just one day, she decided that she should not be only watching but that she had to go while another one said she started to hear about it through facebook. Another one told me that she began to be involved through the youth movement which emerged at the beginning of this year. In Ramallah they sat up a tent of protest demanding, among other things, a government of reconciliation. She then met the activists from Nabi Saleh who came to support them in their struggle. In response, she and others went to Nabi Saleh, and “once you start coming, you cannot stop”, she told me. I certainly know what she was talking about.

When we reached Nabi Saleh, the main entrance was already closed by a gate, so we had to drive further, got off the service and climbed up the hill. We were lucky, the Israeli soldiers were not at sight so we just had to do a 15 minute-walk. For other activists who arrived a bit later, it would be a one hour and an half tedious walk under a burning sun through the mountains. When we reached the village, we met some Palestinian activists who arrived the day before and they showed us the “popular resistance flotilla” mock ship that was built for the demonstration. It looked great, it was a few meters long and carried the flags of several countries, all on wheels. There were still several hours before the demonstration so I joined along the group of Palestinian girls who went to have breakfast with one of the figures of the popular protest, Nariman Tamimi who works with B'Tselem and documents all the demonstrations. She is the wife of Bassem who had been arrested. We shared a wonderful breakfast. One of the Palestinian blogger made an interview with Nariman. But the relaxed atmosphere was a bit tarnished after a phone call to one of the Palestinian young activist announcing her that one of her friends, also a young Palestinian activist in her 20s was arrested at a checkpoint on her way to Nabi Saleh. Apparently the Israeli soldiers were especially looking for her as they had her family name. She was blindfolded and handcuffed..The others in the taxi were put aside for further investigation. One of the Palestinian young activist seemed especially upset. She told me: 'we are friends but I never met her, we were supposed to meet today for the first time”.

Around 11am, long before the protests, Israeli military trucks passed through the village as provocation. Finally after 1pm the demonstration started, with some Palestinians, Israelis and internationals. The Israeli soldiers were already in place at the end of the main street. The boat was pushed down but just a few meters were made before we were showered by scores of tear gas canisters, some of them shot at the level of the heads. Demonstrators ran for cover on the sides of the street. I walked down to join the photographers who were already in place next to the Israeli soldiers. The village was under siege. The Nabi Saleh flotilla boat was still pushed by a few brave demonstrators, including an old Palestinian woman who managed to push it until just a few meters in front of the soldiers. As she was interviewed, she was attacked by sound bombs and tear gas, and so were the journalists around her. The Israeli soldiers were just shooting at whoever dared to walk in the street, which is just to remind- THEIR STREET. Tear gas canisters were also shot directly at houses, clearly a form of collective punishment according to international law. Tear gas canisters and sound bombs were also thrown among the legs of the journalists.

I went back up to the side of the protesters who were mainly taking cover behind walls or inside houses. At one stage I wanted to go down again to the sides of the soldiers but I was directly aimed at and the tear gas canister passed not far from my head. So I retreat. Finally it was probably better as at this stage most photographers were already gone and one of the only ones who stayed next to the soldiers to monitor them- an Israeli activist working for B'Tselem- was subsequently detained for hours and prevented to film.

I was already exhausted after documenting hours of confrontations but this was far from over.

To make it short for the rest of the day, the demonstrators tried to walk down from another direction, but were again heavily attacked by tear gas canisters. The Israeli soldiers invaded twice the center of village, looking for activists. We hided in an house and the soldiers this time did not bother to go inside. Some of them took position of one the roof. Demonstrations- however dramatic they can be- are not devoid of sometimes funny moments. When the soldiers were walking back to their original position, they received from the top floor of an house an unexploded tear gas canister, which triggered cheering, laughing and applause. Seeing the Israeli soldiers running away from tear gas was quite a delightful scene for the people who receive on their heads dozens of tear gas canisters weeks after weeks. Finally after hours of siege, the Israeli soldiers seemed ready to go. Feeling no shame whatsoever, they still took the time to have a picnic at the entrance of the village. As the jeeps were driving away, Palestinian youth coming from nowhere chased the jeeps and threw stones at them, a way to tell the soldiers that, as occupiers and oppressors, they are not welcomed in their jeep stopped and some more tear gas canisters were again shot at heads level before leaving for good (at least for this day).

It was now time for sunset and rest. I still had a journey of at least three hours back to Bethlehem. As the service drove away, we saw that there were still some clashes at the very end of the village and we went through a cloud of tear gas. We hold our breathe and made it through.

The next day, I could barely walk, and spent most of the day resting. I was therefore so impressed when I heard that there was another surprised demonstration in Nabi Saleh. The demonstrators, together with some Palestinians coming from different villages, including from Bil'in, Israelis and internationals, managed to go down very near to the spring which was taken by the settlers. Respect for those who never give up.

I am glad I went back to Nabi Saleh and met all these amazing activists, and this new generation of young women activists. I bet more of them will join and will be a leading force and voice of the popular struggle.

I want to finish with the strong words of Bassem Tamimi who addressed Israel’s Ofer military court during his trial for organizing protests in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh:

The civil nature of our actions is the light that will overcome the darkness of the Occupation, bringing a dawn of freedom that will warm the cold wrists in chains, sweep despair from the soul and end decades of oppression.”


Les femmes palestiniennes en force dans les manifestations de Nabi Saleh.

Pendant des semaines, sinon des mois, je voulais revenir à la manifestation hebdomadaire de Nabi Saleh. Mais un voyage à Nabi Saleh s'avère être une mission très ardue et la manifestation est connue pour être très longue. Le village subit en fait chaque vendredi un véritable siège. L'armée israélienne ferme toute les entrées et sorties du village du matin au soir. Les manifestants ont besoin d'arriver soit la veille, soit très tôt le matin avant 8 heures ou encore ils doivent trouver leur chemin à travers les montagnes, en espérant qu'ils ne trouveront pas des soldats qui guettent souvent les activistes au milieu des oliviers.

Nabi Saleh est un très petit village de seulement quelques centaines d'habitants. Les manifestations ont commencé en 2009, lorsque les colons de la colonie voisine illégale de Halamish ont pris le contrôle de la source d'eau naturelle près du village et en ont empêché l'accès aux Palestiniens ainsi que sur leurs terres autour de la source. Depuis le début des manifestations, la répression de l'armée a été terrible, en utilisant diverses tactiques, y compris des raids nocturnes, des arrestations (le principal leader des manifestations, Bassem Tamimi est actuellement en détention), des punitions collectives comme l'emploi massif de gaz lacrymogènes directement sur le village ou encore de répandre ce qui est appelé par les activistes le "skunk" (un liquide qui laisse une odeur infâme) directement sur le village, la violence systématique utilisée contre des manifestants non armés, y compris les femmes (voir par exemple la vidéo choquante realisee par l'organisation israelienne des droits humains B'Tselem).

Afin d'être aussi tôt que possible dans le village, j'ai dû passer la nuit à Ramallah. De là, certaines voitures étaient organisées pour les manifestants à 8h du matin. Dans le service (taxi collectif), je me suis retrouvée surtout avec des jeunes femmes palestiniennes, certaines âgées de 17 ans. C'était très rafraichissant de rencontrer cette nouvelle génération d'activistes femmes et elles étaient très ouvertes à la discussion. Pour beaucoup d'entre elles, elles ne participent aux manifestions que depuis peu et viennent sans l'accord de leurs parents, même si ceux-ci ont bien de leur temps certainement participé à la première Intifada. L'une des jeunes activistes que j'ai rencontrée tient un blog, en anglais et en arabe. C'était vraiment stimulant de les rencontrer, non parce que les femmes seraient traditionnellement absentes des manifestations mais parce qu'il est assez rare de voir certaines jeunes femmes palestiniennes venir de l'extérieur du village en solidarité. Je leur ai demandé comment elles avaient commencé à être impliquées. Une m'a répondu qu'elle avait commencé à regarder les vidéos des manifestations de Nabi Saleh et qu' un jour, elle avait juste décidé qu'elle devait y aller au lieu d'être juste spectatrice. Une autre m'a dit qu'elle avait commencé à en entendre parler de Facebook. Une autre m'a dit qu'elle avait commencé à être impliquée dans le mouvement des jeunes qui a émergé au début de cette année. A Ramallah ils ont organisé une tente de protestation réclamant, entre autres, un gouvernement de réconciliation nationale. Elle a alors rencontré les activistes de Nabi Saleh qui étaient venus les soutenir dans leur lutte. En réponse, elle et d'autres se sont rendus à Nabi Saleh, et "une fois que vous commencez à venir, vous ne pouvez pas vous arrêter", me dit-elle.

Quand nous sommes arrivés Nabi Saleh, la route principale était déjà bloquée, donc nous avons dû continuer encore notre chemin, descendre du service et grimper la colline. Nous avons été chanceux, les soldats israéliens n'étaient pas encore en place alors notre petite marche n'a été que de 15 minutes . Pour d'autres activités qui sont arrivés un peu plus tard, ils ont du marché à travers les montagnes une heure et demie sous un soleil brûlant. A notre arrivée, nous avons été accueillis par quelques militants palestiniens qui sont arrivés la veille. Ils nous montrèrent la "flottille de la résistance populaire", un ersatz de bateau qui a été construit pour la manifestation. Il était magnifique, avec quelques mètres de long et arborant des drapeaux de plusieurs pays, dont un drapeau géant de la Palestine en guise de voile, le tout sur roues. Maintenant, avec plusieurs heures à tuer avant la manifestation, j'ai continué à suivre le groupe des filles palestiniennes qui sont allées prendre le petit déjeuner chez l'une des figures de la protestation populaire, Nariman Tamimi qui travaille avec B'tslem et filme toutes les manifestations. Elle est l'épouse de Bassem. Nous avons partagé un merveilleux petit déjeuner. Une des jeunes palestiniennes bloggeuse a fait une interview avec Nariman. Mais l'ambiance détendue s'est ternie après un appel téléphonique à l'une des activistes palestiniennes annonçant que l'une de ses amies, aussi une jeune militante palestinienne d'une vingtaine d'années, avait été arrêtée à un checkpoint, sur le chemin vers Nabi Saleh. Apparemment, les soldats israéliens étaient spécifiquement à sa recherche car ils avaient son nom de famille. Les soldats lui ont bandés les yeux et menottée .. Les autres dans le taxi ont été mis de côté et détenus pendant la « vérification ». Une des jeunes militantes palestiniennes semblait être particulièrement contrariée. Elle m'a confié: «nous sommes amies, mais je ne l'ai jamais rencontrée, nous étions censées nous voir aujourd'hui pour la première fois".

Autour 11 heures, bien avant le début de la manifestation, des camions militaires israéliens ont traversé le village en guise de provocation. Après 13 heures, la manifestation a enfin commencé, avec des Palestiniens, Israéliens et internationaux. Les soldats israéliens étaient déjà en place à la fin de la rue principale. Le bateau a été poussé vers le bas mais après seulement quelques mètres la marche pacifique a été accueillie par des dizaines de bombes lacrymogènes, certaines d'entre eux tirées au niveau des têtes. Les manifestants ont couru sur les côtés de la rue pour essayer de se protéger. Je suis descendue rejoindre les photographes qui étaient déjà en place à côté des soldats israeliens . Le village était assiégé. La flottille de Nabi Saleh était toujours poussé par quelques manifestants courageux, dont une vieille femme palestinienne qui a réussi à le pousser jusqu'à quelques mètres en face des soldats. Alors qu'elle était interviewée, elle a été attaquée par des bombes assourdissantes et des gaz lacrymogènes, ainsi que les journalistes autour d'elle. Les soldats israéliens ont continué à tirer sur quiconque osait marcher dans la rue, qui est, rappelons le, LEUR rue. Des gaz lacrymogènes ont également été tiré directement sur les maisons, clairement une forme de punition collective interdite selon le droit international. Ils n'ont aussi pas hésité à envoyer une grenade lacrymogène et des bombes assourdissantes au milieu des jambes des journalistes. Je suis retournée du côté des manifestants qui étaient principalement à couvert derrière des pans de murs ou à l'intérieur des maisons. A un moment, j'ai voulu redescendre du coté des soldats mais je suis faite viser directement et la bombe lacrymogène n'est pas passée loin de ma tête. Alors j'ai battu en retraite. C'était surement mieux pour moi. A ce stade la plupart des photographes étaient déjà partis et seule une militante israélienne travaillant pour B'Tselem était restée à côté des soldats qui n'ont pas tardé à l'embarquer (elle a été détenue pendant plusieurs heures). Apres plusieurs heures à documenter la manifestation, j'étais déjà très fatiguée, mais la fin ne semblait pas proche.

Pour faire court pour le reste de la journée, les manifestants ont tenté de marcher dans une autre direction, mais ont de nouveau été fortement attaqués et repoussés par des gaz lacrymogènes. Les soldats israéliens ont envahi deux fois le centre du village, afin de chercher des militants. Nous avons du nous cacher dans des maisons et les soldats n'ont pas pris cette fois la peine d'aller de maison en maison nous chercher . Quelques soldats ont pris position sur un toit. Les manifestations-qui prennent souvent un tournant dramatique, ne sont pas dépourvues de moments parfois drôles.
Alors que les soldats retournaient vers leur position initiale, ils ont reçu depuis le dernier étage d'une maison une grenade de gaz lacrymogène qui a explosé autour d'eux, ce qui a déclenché les applaudissements, et rires des manifestants. Regarder les soldats israéliens fuir le gaz lacrymogène était un spectacle des plus délicieux pour les gens qui en reçoivent des dizaines sur leurs têtes semaine après semaine. Enfin après plusieurs heures de siège, les soldats israéliens semblaient enfin prêts à partir. Sans aucune honte, ils ont encore pris le temps d'avoir un pique-nique à l'entrée du village. Une fois que les jeeps commençaient à partir, des jeunes palestiniens venant de nulle part se sont mis à leur courir après et à leur jeter des pierres, une façon de dire aux soldats qu' en tant qu'occupants et oppresseurs, ils ne sont pas les bienvenus ... une jeep s'est arrêtée et des gaz lacrymogènes ont été de nouveau tirées au niveau des têtes alors que le coucher du soleil pointait à l'horizon. J'avais encore à faire un voyage d'au moins trois heures pour Bethléem. Alors que le service partait, nous avons vu qu'il y avait encore quelques affrontements à la fin du village et nous avons traversé un nuage de gaz lacrymogène. Nous avons tous retenu notre respiration et nous nous en sommes sortis.
Le lendemain, je pouvais à peine marcher, et j'ai passée la plupart de la journée à me reposer. J'ai donc été très impressionnée quand j'ai entendu qu'il y avait une autre manifestation surprise à Nabi Saleh. Les manifestants de Nabi Saleh, rejoints par d'autres palestiniens de quelques villages , y compris de Bil'in, ainsi que des Israéliens et internationaux, ont réussi à descendre très près de la source qui a été prise par les colons avant d'être à nouveau attaqués violemment par l'armée israélienne. Respect pour ceux qui n'abandonnent jamais. Je suis contente d'être retournée à Nabi Saleh et d'avoir rencontré tous ces militants incroyables, et cette nouvelle génération de jeunes femmes palestiniennes activistes. Je parie qu'elles seront de plus en plus nombreuses et qu'elles seront une force majeure et des voix qui comptent dans la lutte populaire.

Je veux finir avec les mots forts de Bassem Tamimi qui s'est adressé à la cour militaire israélienne d'Ofer lors de son procès. Bassem est accusé d'organiser des manifestations « illégales » dans le village de Nabi Saleh:

"La nature civile de nos actions est la lumière qui permettra de surmonter l'obscurité de l'occupation, en apportant une aube de la liberté qui va réchauffer les poignets refroidis par les chaînes, balayer le désespoir des âmes, et mettre fin à des décennies d'oppression."

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Bil'in - I love you.

photo 1: a bruise on my arm after having been hit by a tear gas canister during the weekly demonstration on 24.06.2011 / un hématome sur mon bras après avoir été touchée par une grenade lacrymogène lors de la manifestation du 24.06.2011.

photo 2: Mohammad Katib, one of the leaders of the popular resistance movement, carried by Palestinians as they celebrate the dismantlement of sections of the Wall in front of the Israeli settlement of Modi'in Illit / Mohammad Katib, un des leaders de la résistance populaire, porte par les Palestiniens de Bil'in alors qu' ils célèbrent le démantèlement de sections du Mur en face de la colonie israélienne de Modi'in Illit

photo 3: Funerals of Bassem Abu Rahma killed on April 17th, 2009 during a demonstration / Funérailles de Bassem Abu Rahma tué le 17 avril 2009, lors d'une manifestation.

photo 4: Palestinians celebrate the Court Supreme decision to change the route of the Wall in Bil'in / Les Palestiniens de Bil'in célèbrent la décision de la Cour suprême de modifier le tracé du Mur à Bil'in, 07.09.2007.

photo 5: My first demonstration in Bil'in / Ma premiere manifestation à Bi'lin, 08.07.2005

Bil'in I love you

It took me a few days but I wanted to write something more personal about what happened last week in Bil'in. For me, Bil'in is not just any village but one that had a big impact on my stay here and on my work. It was here that I started to go to demonstrations and learned about the popular resistance. It was also in Bil’in my photo collective group activestills originated and began to develop. What happened last week is just the newest chapter of something that started more than 6 years ago when the village began to demonstrate against the building of the Wall on its lands.

I remember the weekly demonstration in Bil’in in 2007 on the first Friday after the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court which ordered the state to change the route of the Wall “within a reasonable period of time”. As the result of this decision, the villagers of Bil'in were supposed to regain some 275 out of the 600 acres that were annexed by the Wall and the nearby settlement of Modiin Illit.
I remembered the joy. People – hand in hand – Israelis, Palestinians and internationals, activists singing and dancing together. In front of the Wall (here, made up ofa system of electrified fences) that had not yet been taken down. But the Palestinians were not fooled by the court’s ruling and expressed their determination to continue the resistance until they gained back all of their lands. They would not back down untilthey saw it with their own eyes....and indeed it took four more years, hundreds of more demonstrations, two further court petitions, hundreds of injured and two dead, for the Israeli state to finally implement the ruling.

So when I heard that the Israeli army would finally take down the Wall,I knew I would not miss the party, which took in fact place in several acts.
On 24 June, word got out that the Israeli army had started to dismantle parts of the Wall in Bil'in.We also heard that they were nonetheless preventing the villagers and journalists from accessing the area and documenting what is considered a victory of the growing popular resistance. So a call was sent out inviting us to join the following Friday’s demonstration that would take down the Wall:

“The Bil'in Popular Committee has declared Friday the 24th to be the last day of the old path of the Barrier on village's lands, and the beginning of the struggle against the new path. A mass demonstration will march on the Barrier to dismantle it and access the lands sequestered behind it.”

I joined the protest but I was not too hopeful that the Israeli army would actually let us demolish the Wall. When we started the customary march through the village and to the main gate of the Wall, I was astonished to see that the Palestinians had brought a bulldozer along. Like so many times before, the people of Bil'in had managed once again to surprise me with their audacity. Everyone was anxious about how the Israeli army would react.

As the bulldozer drove straight to the Wall, the Israeli soldiers showered us with scores of tear gas canisters (later I found out that they also shot live ammunition at the bulldozer), some of them fired at the level of the heads and also with the “skunk” (a noxious chemicals-based liquid which carries an awful smell). It was so scary that I almost dropped to the groundfor cover went almost down to the ground looking for protection. Under attack, the bulldozer managed nervetheless to lift the main gate of the first barrier. But several tear gas canisters penetrated the glass walks of the bulldozer's cabin and the driver quickly had to back up until he got out of a dense cloud of tear gas.

More tear gas canisters were shot directly at the protestors. I was running away whenI was hit on my right arm. This was actually the first time I was hit during demonstrations, I had been lucky so far, unlikemost of the other photographers in our collective, who had been either shotor arrested at one point, not to mention the loss or damage of equipments. Every year, Israel is denounced by Reporters Without Borders for its bad records of attacking, harassing, and sometimes killingjournalists. The last photographer who was seriously injured is Mohammad Othman, a free-lance photographer from Gaza who suffered an injury to his chest and damage to his spinal cord in an Israeli attack against a non-violent demonstration held in the Gaza Strip for Nakba Day.

My injury was minor. I just ran to the ambulance to get some ice on it, the ambulance then drove quickly out of the “front line”, as some tear gas went inside the ambulance and was affected the driver who could hardly drive straight as his eyes were teary and he could not see. I got out of the ambulance went back to the action but the demonstration was almost over. The Wall was still standing.

How pathetic and absurd this scene of an army defending a Wall that it had started to dismantle a few days earlier was....I went back home with a big bruise and a question: when will we see the Wall fall, in Bil'in and everywhere else in Palestine?

A few days later, we received an email alert the Israeli army had already finished dismantling the section of the Wall in Bil'in. It was done very fast, again probably to prevent journalists from documenting it. A video by Haitham Khatib, the dedicated cameraman from Bil'in, was published showing Bil'in residents celebrating, driving and honking endlessly on the former “security road” that used to run between the different fences that made up the Wall. Another call was sent out, this time inviting us to come and join the residents on Friday in a celebration. I gladly answered the call, not knowing really what to expect: where we would go if the Wall was not as its usual place? Would the Israeli soldiers attack us nevertheless in the open fields or when we would reach other sections of the Wall? Are we going to try to reach other sections of Wall? I was curious. I was curious.

When we arrived, the people of Bil'in were already in the liberated fields. I walked towards them, through the lands that was cut in half by the ugly Wall until only days a large part of it finally lay open,with the scar of the “security road” still very visible. People were wandering around, so surprised that it had finally happened. I could also not believe my eyes. No Israeli soldiers were in sight yet.

A prayer was held on the lands that had been inaccessible to the villagers for over six years.. A sense of pride and victory was in the air, but also a profound understanding of the magnitude of the sacrifices made and the ones to come . The son and daughter of Bil'in, Bassem Abu Rahma and his sister Jawaher, both tragically killed during demonstrations, were in everybody's mind.

After the prayer, music blasted out of a truck which the dancing and singing crowd followed . The people of Bil'in certainly know how to party. Jubilantly, we made our way along a road that led up to the next section of the Wall and the settlement of Modiin Illit behind it. Just before the Wall, we joined a small group of villagers and other activists who were already building “Bil'in West”: new houses on the newly liberated lands. There was much more dancing and singing, and defiant and moving speeches, one of them by Ahmad, the brother Bassem and Jawaher. Israeli soldiers and settlers were watching from a distance, behind a Wall that has yet to fall, puzzled by a party that nothing could have spoiled that day. They could only watch as one Palestinian woman walked towards them in a calm but determined manner stride and put the Palestinian flag on the Wall, right under their noses...conveying the message that the people of Bil'in will continue their struggle until all their lands are liberated. The soldiers and settlers looked so small, the people from Bil'in were so glorious.

Perhaps this is only asmall victory, but in the seven years that I have been here, facts on the ground have only developed in one direction: more Walls, more settlements, more demolitions of Palestinian homes, more illegal annexation of Palestinian lands. Therefore, a small victory on the ground carries a huge promise. A promise that pressure works, that things can change, and that people power will not be defeated. This is just the beginning.

People of Bil'in, activists who continue the struggle week after week with all your hearts, with determination and creativity, and unshakable faith into the future and the justice of your cause, I love you.


Il m'a fallu quelques jours, mais je voulais écrire quelque chose de plus sur ce qui s'est passé la semaine dernière à Bil'in. Après tout, Bil'in n'est pas seulement un village comme les autres mais a eu un grand impact sur mon séjour ici et mon travail. C'est là que j'ai commencé à aller à des manifestations et que je me suis familiarisée avec la résistance populaire. Bil'in est aussi à l'origine de la création et du développement de mon collectif de photographes ActiveStills groupe. La semaine dernière est juste l'un des nouveaux chapitre de quelque chose qui a commencé il y a 6 ans quand le village a commencé à manifester contre la construction du Mur sur ses terres.

En 2007 j'ai participé à la manifestation hebdomadaire dans le village de Bil'in en Cisjordanie après la décision de la Cour suprême israélienne qui a ordonné à l'État israélien de changer le tracé du Mur «dans un délai raisonnable". Selon, la cour, l'Etat ne pouvait justifier le trace en raison de la sécurité. En conséquence de cette décision, les villageois de Bil'in étaient censés retrouver quelque 275 sur les 600 hectares de terres illégalement confisquées par le Mur et la colonie voisine de Modiin Illit.
Je me souviens de la joie lors de cette manifestation. Palestiniens, Israéliens, et internationaux, ensemble, main dans la main, chantant et dansant ensemble devant le regard ébahi des soldats israéliens. Mais le Mur était toujours là (ici sur la forme d'un système de clôtures électrifiées) alors la fête n'était pas complète. Les Palestiniens n'étaient pas dupes de cette décision et ont exprimé leur volonté de continuer les manifestations jusqu'à ce qu'ils reprennent toutes leurs terres. Ils ne renonceraient pas jusqu'à ce qu'ils voient de leurs yeux la démolition du Mur .... et en effet il a fallu quatre ans, des centaines de nouvelles manifestations, deux autres pétitions devant la Cour, des centaines de blessés et deux morts, pour que l'Etat israélien mettent enfin en œuvre la décision.

Alors quand j'ai entendu que l'armée israélienne avait finalement détruit la section du Mur en bas, je n'aurais manqué la fête pour rien au monde.
Le démantèlements du Mur s'est en fait déroulé en plusieurs actes. Le 24 Juin, nous avons appris que l'armée israélienne avait commencé à démanteler des parties du Mur à Bil'in. Néanmoins, les soldats ne laissaient pas les villageois ou les journalistes s'approcher pour documenter ce qui est perçu comme une victoire de la résistance populaire. Un appel a ensuite été envoyé pour joindre la manifestation du vendredi afin que les activistes eux-mêmes se chargent de détruire le Mur :

«Le Comité Populaire de Bil'in a déclaré vendredi le 24 Juin être le dernier jour de l'ancien tracé du Mur sur les terres du village, et le début de la lutte contre le nouveau tracé. Une manifestation de masse marchera vers le Mur afin de le démanteler et d'accéder aux terres séquestrées derrière lui. "

J'ai rejoint la protestation, mais je n'avais pas trop d'espoir que l'armée israélienne nous laisse approcher et démanteler le Mur. Généralement, l'armée tire tout de suite sur la foule, avant même que nous soyons proches du Mur.
Quand nous avons commencé à marcher, j'ai vu avec stupéfaction que les Palestiniens avaient apporté leur propre bulldozeur! Comme à de nombreuses reprises, la population de Bil'in a encore réussi à me surprendre par leur audace. Tout le monde était assez inquiet de la réaction de l'armée israélienne. Alors que le bulldozeur se dirigeait directement sur le Mur et a commencé à soulever la porte principale, les soldats israéliens nous ont arrosés avec des douzaines de grenades lacrymogènes (plus tard, j'ai découvert qu'ils ont aussi tiré à balles réelles sur le bulldozeur), dont certaines à hauteur des têtes. La scène est devenue alors chaotique et c'était si effrayant que je me suis presque mise au sol pour me protéger. Quelques grenades lacrymogènes sont rentrées à intérieur de la cabine du bulldozeur et le conducteur a rapidement fait machine arrière et s'est éjecté d'un nuage de gaz lacrymogène. D'autres grenades toujours arrivaient en rafales. Alors que je décidais de battre en retraite, j'ai été frappée sur mon bras droit par une des grenades lacrymogènes. C'est la première fois que j'ai été touchée lors des manifestations, j'avais eu beaucoup de chance jusqu' à présent. La plupart des autres photographes de mon collectif ont été soit blessés ou arrêtés à un moment ou un autre, et cela sans compter avec le matériel endommagé. Reporters sans frontière épingle chaque année Israel pour les mauvais traitements infligés aux journalistes. Le dernier blesse grave en date est Mohammad Othman, un photographe de Gaza, grièvement blessé par des éclats d'obus qui ont atteint sa moelle épinière alors qu'il couvrait une manifestation non-violente dans la bande de Gaza.

Ma blessure était très mineure. J'ai néanmoins couru à l'ambulance pour mettre de la glace sur l'hématome pour que cela ne gonfle pas trop. L'ambulance nous a ensuite conduit rapidement hors de la 'ligne de front', comme certains gaz lacrymogènes pénétraient à l'intérieur de l'ambulance et affectait le chauffeur qui commençait a ne plus rouler droit. Je suis retournée au devant de la manifestation, mon keffiyeh enroulé autour de mon bras pour maintenir la glace en place mais tout était presque terminé et le Mur était encore là. C'était assez pathétique et absurde de voir le spectacle d'une armée défendant becs et ongles un Mur qu'elle avait elle-même commencé à démanteler il y a quelques jours ... Je suis retournée à la maison avec un gros hématome et une question: quand verrons-nous enfin la chute du mur, à Bil'in puis en Palestine?

Quelques jours après, nous avons eu une alerte email ... l'armée israélienne avait déjà fini de démanteler la section à Bil'in. Tout avait été fait très rapidement,, probablement pour empêcher les journalistes de couvrir la « retraite » de l'armée israelienne. Une vidéo de Haitham Khatib, le caméraman de Bil'in, a été publiée montrant les habitants de Bil'in faisant la fête, et conduisant et klaxonnant sans cesse sur la "route de sécurité" qui étaient entre les clôtures du Mur, l'endroit même où les soldats étaient postés lors de la dernière manifestation. Un nouvel appel a été fait, ou plutôt une invitation à se joindre aux résidents de Bil'in le vendredi pour célébrer la tombée du Mur. J'ai bien évidemment répondu à l'appel, ne sachant pas vraiment à quoi s'attendre: où irions nous si le Mur n'était plus au lieu habituel? Les soldats israéliens allaitent-ils quand même nous attaquer? Allions-nous essayer d'atteindre le nouveau Mur? J'étais très curieuse.

Lorsque nous sommes arrivés, la population de Bil'in étaient déjà sur les terres lib
érées. Je me dirigeais vers ces champs qui etaient coupés en deux par le Mur .. .maintenant, ils sont finalement ouverts. Mais toujours avec la cicatrice de la «route de sécurité ». Les Palestiniens et leurs amis militants se promenaient dans ces lieux jusque la interdits, tellement surpris de la possibilité de marcher sans danger sur leurs terres . Je ne pouvais pas aussi en croire mes yeux et la scène semblait irréelle. Et toujours pas de soldats israéliens en vue. Une prière a été symboliquement tenues sur les terres libérées. Un sentiment de fierté et de victoire était dans l'air, mais aussi un sens profond des sacrifice consentis et de ceux à venir. Le fils et la fille de Bil'in, Bassem Abu Rahma et sa sœur Jawaher, tous les deux tragiquement tués pendant les manifestations, étaient présents dans l'esprit de chacun. Après la prière, la musique tonitruante et joyeuse a émané d'un camion que la foule a suivi avec jubilation en dansant et chantant. Les habitants de Bil'in savent aussi certainement faire la fête. Nous avons suivi une route jusqu'à la colonie de Modiin Illit, où nous avons rejoint un petit groupe qui travaillait déjà à la construction de «Bil'in Ouest »: de nouvelles maisons sur les terres nouvellement libérées.

Il y a eu encore des danses et des chants, et les discours émouvants dont l'un d'eux par le frère de Bassem et Jawaher. Les soldats et les colons israéliens regardaient de loin, intrigués par cette célébration que rien ce jour-là ne pouvait gâcher. Ils ont regardé ébahis une femme palestinienne qui a marché vers leur direction avec un calme mais une très ferme détermination afin d'accrocher le drapeau palestinien sur la nouvelle section du Mur , un geste porteur du message que la population de Bil'in ne va pas renoncer à leur la lutte jusqu'à ce que toutes leurs terres soient libérées. Les soldats et des colons ont eu l'air alors si petits tandis que les habitaient de Bil'in étaient glorieux.

Ce n'est peut-être qu'une petite victoire mais depuis que je suis ici, les faits sur le terrain ne semblent aller que dans une seule direction: plus de murs, plus de colonies, des démolitions de maison encore plus nombreuses, plus de terres perdues pour les Palestiniens. Alors, une petite victoire sur le terrain est une promesse énorme. Une promesse que la pression peut fonctionner, que les choses peuvent changer, et que la résistance populaire est porteuse d'espoir.

Ce n'est que le début. Habitants de Bil'in, vous qui, semaine après semaine résistez encore de tout votre cœur, avec détermination et créativité, et une foi inébranlable dans l'avenir et la justice de votre cause, je vous aime.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Joyful demonstration in Bil'in / Manifestation festive a Bil'in, 01.07.2011

(c) Anne Paq/, Bil'in, 01.07.2011

Palestinians together with Israeli and international activists celebrate last week's moving of a portion of Israel's West Bank Separation Wall, in the village of Bil'in, near Ramallah, Friday, July 1, 2011. For the first time in years, the residents walked on some their lands which were until now on the other side of the Wall. The crowd walked and danced until the newly built wall around Modi'in Illit Israeli settlement. The local residents also on Friday began to construct buildings in the newly accessible land. Israeli soldiers and settlers watched from a distance but no confrontations took place. The dismantling of the section near the village of Bilin comes four years after the Supreme Court ordered it torn down, rejecting the military's argument that the route was necessary to secure the nearby Modiin Illit settlement.Due to the ruling, the villagers got back 275 of the 600 acres Israel took for the wall and the nearby settlement of Modi’in Illit.
The struggle continues.


Des Palestiniens avec des militants internationaux et israéliens ont célébré le démantèlement d'une partie du mur israélien de séparation en Cisjordanie, dans le village de Bil'in, près de Ramallah, ce vendredi 1er juillet, 2011. Pour la première fois depuis des années, les habitants ont pu marché sur ​​des terrains qui étaient jusqu'à maintenant inaccessibles car situés de l'autre côté du Mur. La foule a marché et dansé jusqu'au mur nouvellement construit autour de la colonie israélienne de Modi'in Illit. Les résidents de Bil'in ont également ce vendredi commencé à construire des bâtiments sur les terres "reconquises". Les soldats et colons israéliens ont regardé de loin les scènes de célébrations et de construction, mais aucun affrontement n'ont eu lieu. Le démantèlement de la section près du village de Bilin vient quatre ans après la decisiion de la Cour suprême qui l'avait ordonné, rejetant l'argument de l'armée selon lequel ce tracé était nécessaire pour assurer la sécurité de la colonie de Modiin Illit. Suite à la décision et sa tardive mise en application, les villageois de Bil'in ont de nouveau accès à 275 hectares sur les 600 qu'Israël a illégalement annexé pour le Mur et la colonie voisine de Modi'in Illit.
La lutte continue.