Despite "closed zone" declaration a hundred peace activists entered the South Hebron Hills area, transferring 25 tons of water to villagers denied water supply by the State of Israel
This morning the IDF declared the area of the Palestinian villages in the South Hebron Hills to be "a closed military zone" in order to prevent the entry of a Water Convoy organized by Israeli peace movements - but nevertheless, the activists managed to break through the military cordon and pass the convoy as planned. The Water Convoy included about a hundred activists who arrived in buses from Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem as well as in private cars and large water tankers carrying about 25 tons of water.
About 10.30am the convoy was blocked by military forces which spread spikes on he road near the Israeli settlement of Carmel and the officer in charge forbade them to enter the "closed military zone."
The organizers explained that they were involved in a vital humanitarian activity, bringing water to where there is severe lack of it, but the army persisted in denying access. Thereupon, the organizers instructed activists to leave the buses and proceed on foot, bypassing the military roadblock.
In a long line the activists walked along the southward road, under the desert sun, followed by military jeeps. TV crews of international networks walked alongside and documented the protest march. After they walked about three kilometers there came to the activists inhabitants of the Palestinian villages, driving tractors with platforms on which the Israelis climbed, traveling on unpaved tracks deep into the desert area.
Meanwhile the water tankers succeeded to arrive via desert bypass roads, accompanied by a bulldozer which removed obstacles on difficult spots, thus allowing the tankers to pass.
About 12.30, the activists, the Palestinian inhabitants and the tankers all reached the pre-arranged rendez-vous point. They proceeded on the water distribution, traveling among the small hamlets in the area, stopping at each and giving inhabitants their share. What impressed the urban activists above all was how in one village, Jinaba, the cattle trough was filled directly from the tanker, and the thirsty sheep started drinking immediately.
Suddenly there arrived the military jeeps with the soldiers trying to arrest the Palestinian bulldozer driver, claiming that he had "opened blocked routes" and thereby "harmed security." Dozens of Israelis surrounded the bulldozer, some of them climbing on it, with their bodies blocking the soldiers from approaching the driver - himself an inhabitant of one of the nearby villages. "Shame on you! Shame!" activists shoutled at the soldiers. "Shame on you for denying the inhabitants here water, for blocking the roads and filling up their wells! One day all of you will be ashamed to tell your sons and grandsons where you have been, and what you have done!"
The convoy organizers made clear to the commander of the military force that by no means will they leave the territory as long as the army continues the threat of arresting the bulldozer driver and confiscating his vehicle. After a two hours stand-off the commander gave in and let the bulldozer depart. Several of the activists accompanied the bulldozer until it came back safely to its origin.
For several months the peace organizations are acting to protest the Policy of Thirst. The State of Israel is taking about 80% of the water from the West Bank aquifers for the needs of its citizens and of the settlers, leaving only about a fifth to the Palestinian inhabitants whose land it is. In so doing the State of Israel is perpetrating a severe violation of international law, according to which an occupying state is not allowed to use the natural resources of the occupied territory.
The inhabitants of the South Hebron Hill are in a worse situation than the rest of the West Bankers. They are not at all connected to water pipes, the army is deliberately filling up their wells, and their only way to obtain water by tankers arriving from far. Water, therefore, is for them very expensive, 50 to 60 Shekels (US$16-19) per cubic meter, as compared to some 4 shekel for an Israeli who gets it delivered to his tap. And, these Palestinians already live below the poverty line. Moreover, the army is making difficulties and deliberately blocking roads in order to prevent arrival of the tankers.
In fact, we have here a deliberate effort to make life so difficult so that they will leave the South Hebron Hills, making it possible to annex the area to Israel "free of Arabs" - as is the declared desire of the particularly aggressive and extremist settlers who have established themselves throughout this area. In 1999 the army carried out a mass deportation of these Palestinian inhabitants, but the Supreme Court ruled that this was illegal and ordered the government to allow them back to their modest homes (some living in caves).
Now the authorities try to achieve the same result by the indirect way of making their life into hell, in the hope that they will leave "voluntarily" the land where they lived for generations and where they find their scant livelihood as shepherds.
The Thirst Policy of the government against the Palestinians in general and these South-Hebroners in particular is highly despicable, racist and inhuman.
We have no illusion that with our own resources we can provide all the water which Palestinians need. Our limited action is meant in the first place to express protest and fury and make people aware, in Israel and everywhere.
Yaakov - 09-7670801 / 050-5733276
Shai - 052-3727602
Yehuda - 050-4402350
Adam - 054-2340749
Representatives of the South Hebron Hills area:
Othman - 054-7426591
Hader - 059-8014491
Partner organizations in the protest convoy: Anarchists Against the Wall, Humans without Borders, Banki, Bat Shalom, Gush Shalom, ICAHD, Public Committee against Torture in Israel, AIC, Tarabut – Hithabrut, Hadash, Yesh Gvul, Combatants for Peace, Machsomwatch, Maki, Meretz, Sadaqa-Reut, New Profile, Coalition of Women for Peace, Physicians for Human Rights, Taayush – Arab Jewish Partnership;
Palestinian organizations supporting the water campaign:
House of Water &Environment, Life Source, Medical Relief Society, Palestinian Environmental NGOs Net work (PENGON), Palestinian Farmers Union, Palestinian Hydrology Group, Palestinian Institute for Water Issues Training, Palestinian Peasants Union, Union of Agricultural Work Committees;
International organizations supporting the water campaign:
International Solidarity Movement, International Women's Peace Services, Michigan Peacemakers Team, CCIPPT-France Civil for Palestine.
Israeli forces target Palestinian cameramen at Bil’in demonstration
International Solidarity Movement (ISM)
Israeli forces storm Bil'in and arrest 3 demonstrators
September 25, 2009 - ISM
For Immediate Release
25 September 2009: Israeli forces target Palestinian cameramen at Bil’in demonstration.
Around 1pm, Israeli forces arrested 2 Israeli solidarity activists and a Palestinian cameraman, Haitham al-Khatib (33 years old) during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Bil’in.
Witnesses say that Israeli soldiers ran in and arrested the 3 demonstrators. Haitham al-Khatib was filming the demonstration near the Wall when he was taken.
Haitham has been filming the ongoing Israeli arrest campaign in Bil’in. One of his videos was recently used by several news sources, including the Israeli news, YNet (see: http://www.ynet.co.il/english/articles/0,7340,L-3778117,00.html), to showcase the violence and intimidation used by the army against Bil’in residents. Thousands of viewers worldwide have been following the night raids in Bil’in through Haitham’s videos on http://www.youtube.com/user/haithmkatib.
Haitham was previously detained by Israeli forces on 24 July 2009 when he arrived at Ofer prison to wait for the release of another Bil’in resident. He was held for several hours and interrogated.
Coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, Abdedallah abu Rahme, stated, "Soldiers coming to arrest Palestinians from Bil’in in the night is only part of intimidation campaign, the Israeli authorities are also targeting our supporters and journalists. They want us to stop our non-violent demonstrations, but as long as our land is being stolen, we cannot stop."
The recent raids began concurrently with the opening of a legal trial in Montreal. The village of Bil’in has taken two companies registered in Canada (Green Park International & Green Mount International) to court for participating in war crimes by building settlements on Bil’in’s land under the 2000 Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Statute (which incorporates both the articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute into Canadian federal law).
Since the trail began Israeli forces have arrested 30 people (most of which are under 18). Twenty-one residents of Bil’in remain in Israeli detention.
Through Israel’s interrogation and intimidation tactics, some of arrested youth have falsely 'confessed’ that the Bil’in Popular Committee urges the demonstrators to throw stones. With such 'confessions’, Israeli forces then proceed to raid the village at night invade homes and arrest leaders of the non-violent struggle in the community.
Two of the three popular committee members who traveled to Montreal to represent the villages case , Mohammad Khatib and Mohammad Abu Rahme were arrested and have since been released on bail. (see B’Tselem report: http://www.btselem.org/english/separation_barrier/20090818_night_arrests_in_bilin.asp).
Another leading Bil’in non-violent activist, Adeeb Abu Rahme, remains in detention since his arrest during a non-violent demonstration on 10 July 2009 (see report & video: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/07/7652. Adib has been charged with "incitement to damage the security of the area."
On 29 August 2009, two additional Bil’in houses were simultaneously raided by at least 40 soldiers, arresting Ashraf Al-Khatib (age 29) and Hamru Bornat (age 24). A local cameraman, Haitham Al-Khatib, brother of the arrested Hamru, was repeatedly forcibly moved and hit, and threatened with arrest unless he stopped filming. Soldiers declared his home a "closed military zone" but could not produce any military order.
The Palestinian village of Bil’in has become an international symbol of the Palestinian popular struggle. For almost 5 years, its residents have been continuously struggling against the de facto annexation of more than 50% of their farmlands, confiscated for the construction of the Apartheid Wall.
In a celebrated decision, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled on the 4 September 2007 that the current route of the wall in Bil’in was illegal and needs to be dismantled; the ruling however has not been implemented. The struggle of the village to liberate its lands and stop the illegal settlements has been internationally recognized and has earned the popular committee in Bil’in the Carl von Ossietzky Meda award.
:: Article nr. 58286 sent on 25-sep-2009 18:26 ECT