Mural in the Nablus old city

Rana Hamadeh | April 11, 2012 | Nablus

A French activist and a good friend of mine, Mita, came up with the idea to paint a mural on a wall in the old city of Nablus. Back in France, she is practicing graffiti artist so she had the experience to plan a project like this. She told me, “I did not want the project to be a French project, a French activist coming to paint, I wanted it to be a Palestinian project.”

Children crowd around Mita in the Yasmine neighborhood | Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

Mita teamed up with the Tanweer cultural centre in Nablus who assisted with coordination and provided volunteers. They acquired permission from the municipality and had all their paints donated by the local Arabic Painting Company (APC).

In Arabic, "by learning we will liberate our land and destroy the wall" | Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

The painting began with the statement “by learning we will liberate our land and destroy the wall” and from there, volunteers compiled ideas and manifested them into images.

In Arabic, "we will return" | Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

Mural in the Yasmine neighborhood | Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

The grand opening was on April 7th, 2012 and volunteers got together with residents of the Yasmine neighborhood to simultaneously do a clean up of the street

"Free Palestine" and Handala | Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

"To a killer: If you contemplated the victim's face and thought you would remember your mother in the gas chamber, you would liberate yourself from the rifle's wisdom and change your mind: this is not how identity is reclaimed" - Mahmoud Darwish | Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

In Arabic, "to a killer: If you contemplated the victim's face and thought you would remember your mother in the gas chamber, you would liberate yourself from the rifle's wisdom and change your mind: this is not how identity is reclaimed" - Mahmoud Darwish | Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

Nablus old city | Rana Hamadeh 07/04/12

“I wanted the volunteers to express themselves” says Mita, and indeed they did, bringing up issues of education, the right of return, the apartheid wall, prisoners, and national liberation.

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Nabi Saleh: Night Raids and the weekly protest

Nov 18 & 25 in Nabi Saleh

Specifically, the weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh is against the theft of their land and water spring by the illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish. More generally, the village is protesting Israeli occupation, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid. Every week, the residents hold a march and are joined in solidarity by other Palestinian, International, and Israeli activists.

In the past week, Israeli military held siege and curfew on the village, and performed a massive night time raid, arresting three residents. Journalist and former Israeli soldier Noam Sheizaf, reported about the incidence of night raids:

“[The occupation] is the ongoing military control over the lives of millions, and everything that comes with it: The lack of civil rights, the absence of legal protection, and perhaps more than anything else, a sense of organized chaos, in which the lives of an entire civilian population is run at the mercy of soldiers 18 to 20 years old. Most of the time, it’s almost hard to explain how bad it is for those who haven’t seen it with their own eyes.
The army enters Palestinian homes as it pleases, day or night. No warrant is needed, just like you don’t need a warrant to arrest a Palestinian (even a minor). Once the soldiers are in the house, the nature of the interaction between them and the family living there depends on their good or ill will – and in the 44 years of the occupation, we have had everything: from “polite” visits, to beatings and cursing, all the way up to the murder of civilians in their beds. A Palestinian is never safe – not even in his own home. He can never know what’s coming, the way most of us can even during unpleasant encounters with the authorities. The important point is that both the Palestinian and the soldier know that.” [Organized Chaos and Bare Life the Non-Story of the Night Raids]

During a night raid in Nariman & Bassem Tamimi's home, a child reacts to | 24.11.2011 | Tamimi press

 To many Palestinians, night raids are such a common occurrence they often go unreported. In reality they are a symbol of the normalized oppression the Palestinians deal with. Armed soldiers entering a home at 2 am and asking for the children to be woken up so their photo can be taken in case they commit a crime in the future – to an outsider this would be worthy of a lawsuit; to the Palestinians, it is a reality that the youngest children are familiar with.

The occupying nation, under international law, is responsible for the safety of the people it occupies; instead the Palestinians are subject to terrorizing invasions, and there is no force they can call for protection.

Soldiers entered over 25 houses in Nabi Saleh while families slept, took pictures of people and rooms, and harassed residents, including a number of women, children, and elders, “filling the village with a state of fear and horror” the Tamimi Press reports from Nabi Saleh. [Nabi Saleh Solidarity WP]

Three young men were their arrested in these raids, including a child: Rami Tamimi, 33, Oudai Tamimi, 19, and Mo’atasim Tamimi, 15. The former two were arrested on the justification that they are needed to testify against Bassem Tamimi in his hearing next week.

Bassem has continually been targeted by the Israeli military. Though he has been arrested by the Israeli army 11 times to date, he was never convicted of any offence. He has spent roughly three years in administrative detention, with no charges brought against him. His house is one of 10 that have received demolition orders since the village began weekly protests. Bassem’s wife, Nariman Tamimi, has been arrested twice, and two of his young sons have been critically injured.

His trial is due to resume this Wednesday, but Bassem has already been behind bars for over seven months, with only five of the 25 prosecution witnesses having been heard to date. Mo’atasem (15) and Oudai (19) are due to testify. There are several legal issues with the way Israel has treated this case. As the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee in Nabi Saleh reported:

“Mo’atasem Tamimi, the fifteen year-old, was grabbed from his bed at gunpoint in the middle of the night on January 27th, 2011, and questioned unlawfully the next morning…

  • Despite having been arrested at 2:30 AM, his interrogation at the police station in the Ma’ale Edomim settlement started at 8:47 AM, in the interim, and despite his young age he was not allowed sleep. Such form of interrogation is forbidden under amendment 14 to the Israeli Youth Law.
  • Despite his young age, Mo’atasem was not offered the opportunity to have his parents present in the room during the interrogation, in violation his rights as set forth by amendment 14 to the Israeli Youth Law.
  • Only one of his two interrogators was a qualified youth interrogator.
  • Contrary to the official transcript of his interrogation, Mo’atasem was not informed of his right to remain silent until he has already started incriminating others. Instead, his interrogator told him: ”You can tell us the truth, or you can lie. Everything you say, will be noted down and be used as evidence against you in court. If you won’t speak, it will strengthen the evidence against you. I say, in your own interest, i say this for you, you had better tell the truth.” The interrogator then went on to tell him, “You are a young boy, if you tell the truth, the court will take this into consideration and go easy on you. Now, you are going to tell us everything as it happened.”” [Nabi Saleh Solidarity WP]

Bassem’s case is not an isolated exception. A study made by the Public Committee Against Torture and Palestinian Prisoners’ Society, and written by Dr. Maya Rosenfeld, says that as many as 90% of Palestinian prisoners in the Shin Bet, Israeli security service, are denied access to a lawyer, and are subject to torture methods.

Demonstrations in Nabi Saleh

As is the case in occupied Palestine, the peaceful weekly demonstrations are met with Israeli army attack. The crowd is bombarded with tear gas grenades, shot alone and aimed directly at individuals, or shot around ten at a time from a mechanism on their military jeep. A hit to the head or the chest has been proven to kill. They can also cause paralysis, and are lethally dangerous to children. Rubber-coated steel bullets are also commonly used and fired directly at the crowds. Israel claims these are a non-lethal crowd dispersal method but a 2008 study by BTselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights, indicated that over twenty Palestinians had been killed by them since the second Intifada began, and that the Israeli military has “adopted a practice of reckless firing of rubber-coated steel bullets.” [B’Tselem 2008 Annual Report]

Rounds of tear gas are fired at protesters in the valley during the weekly protest in Nabi Saleh | 18.11.2011

Quite often in Nabi Saleh, and particularly in recent weeks, the Israeli military arrives with a “skunk truck”, equipped with a cannon that shoots out an oppressively foul-smelling liquid. Last Friday, November 25,  the truck entered the village, past where the demonstration was held, and indiscriminately sprayed houses and people not involved in the protest. The 1949 Geneva convections explicitly label collective punishment as a war crime. Article 33 of the fourth Geneva convection state that “no protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed…collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or terrorism are prohibited.”

A woman jumps out of the way as a high velocity tear gas canister lands in her place | 18.11.2011 Nabi Saleh

As well last Friday, a group of demonstrators managed to approach the soldiers, despite threats: “if you come near we will shoot.” They held their arms in the air and walked up to the soldiers. A group of Palestinian women in particular confronted soldiers about their presence in the village, the night raids, the violent reaction to peaceful demonstrators, and the general occupation in Palestine. “We are all chosen people! We will coexist!” shouted a woman when a soldier said he was willing to risk himself for the illegal Jewish settlers.

Palestinian protesters approach Israeli soldiers | 25.11.2011 | Active Stills

“I’m from this land you’re standing on. Where are you from and what are you doing here?” a young Palestinian girl asked a soldier who spoke very American English. After an hour-long stand-off, the soldiers received orders and began to descend the hill. About two-hundred metres down, they fired rounds of tear gas at the area they knew was full of women and children, and far from any paramedic, causing many to suffer from severe tear gas inhalation.

A Palestinian bravely confronts Israeli soldiers | 25.11.2011 | Active stills

One of the protesters stood in the face of a soldier with his finger on the trigger, “lift this illegal occupation,” he shouted into the soldier’s face, “lift this criminal occupation! Leave our land!”

Strength on a dark day.

Today in Kufr Qaddoum, our peaceful protest was quickly assaulted by the Israeli military in a way unprecedented in my past month attending protests here. Perhaps because it was the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death, the soldiers were double their normal number, and were positioned on the hills above ahead of the protest. They planned the assault of the village that was to come.

Children led the procession holding posters of Arafat’s face and happily marching down the village’s main road.

The first time I saw them, these twins ran into the house in a panic, tripping over their words and finishing each others sentences. The soldiers!! - we saw them! - the jeep! - it's coming! - they're going to shoot us - and chase us - and arrest the boys!- HURRY!! As Palestinians manage to do with all things that might break another's heart and spirit - they laughed. What else can you do for the children?

The kids will be shooed back to their homes in a few minutes as we near the soldiers, so they take advantage of the time they have as part of the demonstration.

We continued down the street to reach the barbed wire that closes off their road. This is the cause of the demonstration. Israel closed their main road because it passes by an illegal colonial settlement. Now instead of a quick drive down to the city, Nablus, they must take a roundabout route of 45 minutes. When we stop in front of the barbed wire, a man talking into a speaker begins to remember Yasser Arafat.

Just moments before the demonstration was bombarded with tear gas from a close range.

The soldiers tried to shout orders at the procession through a loud speaker, but the Palestinian man continued his speech un-phased by the interruptions. As he finished his speech, tension grew, some people knowingly began to move back in anticipation for the usual bombardment. Before anyone could get out of the way, tens of high-velocity tear gas canisters were fired at a time, from close-range. If hit in the head, these are lethal. They’ve also been known to cause paralysis and kill children.

Article 14 of the UN Basic Principles:

“In the dispersal of violent assemblies, law enforcement officials may use firearms only when less dangerous means are not practicable and only to the minimum extent necessary.”

Tear gas landing among us. Fired at high velocity, a hit to the head is lethal. Otherwise they are known to break bones and/or cause burns or wounds.

Israel is denying Palestinians the Human Right of peaceful assembly and association (UDHR Art. 20-1) by reacting to peaceful forms of protest with violence.

After the first assault of tear gas,  a group of soldiers began to make their way into the village. The soldiers arrested a Palestinian man, 30 year old Hazzem Barham, who was lying down suffering from the tear gas and being attended by a Red Crescent volunteer. They denied him medical attention.

While documenting the arrest of Barham, soldiers then targeted a US activist and arrested him.

Barham and the US activist were taken to the illegal settlement of Ari’el where they are being charged with throwing stones – a charge completely discredited by the video footage taken during the demonstration. The US activist later tells us that within the police station, Barham has been subjected to gross humiliation by both soldiers and settlers inside Ari’el – including being spat on, taken photos of and made to crouch down with his head between his legs.

A video of the two arrests taken by a colleague:

They fired several rounds of tear gas, including several about 200 metres away from the protesters, right in between civilian homes. A few minutes later a young boy emerged vomiting, and in a second was picked up by men, passed to a Red Crescent worker, and brought to the ambulance where he was treated with an oxygen mask. He appeared to lose consciousness when lying in the ambulance.

Soldiers began to chase the procession deeper into the town. They fired several tear gas canisters, and we began to run.

But as people ran, countless more began to be fired, following the protesters as they ran. They continued to shoot tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at a crowd that was running away. We were choking and running as fast as we could for a single breath of air.

A Red Crescent worker unconcious from severe tear gas inhalation is brought into the mosque which shortly after is hit with tear gas. (The same RC worker that is helping others in the previous 2 pictures)

Many of the protesters ran to the mosque nearby, the place injured protesters are always taken for treatment because it is the safe-haven during the protester. Six were treated with tear gas inhalation, and three were hit with tear gas canisters. Tear gas began to be fired in rounds from an adjacent mountain, and even hit the mosque.

It was two hours of this before the soldiers withdrew, followed by a crowd of villagers to ensure that they left.

At the end of this assault, much worse than I’ve seen in my time visiting Kufr Qaddoum, it seemed that everyone at the protest went to the city council centre and was fed a traditional Palesitnian meal, msakhan, served by the tons! Out of context this is a sad day. We lost two protesters, many were injured, the town is littered with tear gas canisters, sound bombs, and rubber-coated bullets. Kids ran to me and showed me live ammo bullets they had found afterwards. But in reality, the procession left smiling and ready for the next moment because after years of having their road closed, they are finally fighting for their rights. I know that Palestine is strong because her people do not consume themselves in self-pity, but in courage, passion, and an unwavering joy for life.

 

“With Children Visible” Israeli Military Assaults Kufr Qaddoum

Rana H | October 28, 2011 | International Solidarity Movement

See the original article on the ISM site

Soldiers fired teargas directly into crowd at peaceful protesters in Kufr Qaddoum. Internationals and Palestinians, including children, were gathered behind barbed wire that runs across their main road, and were not advancing when soldiers began to fire around ten canisters of tear gas at once from a short distance. Two protesters were injured while escaping tear gas, including one international woman, and many suffered from tear gas inhalation. They continued to shoot tear gas at the approximately 100 protesters for over an hour. Many civilians from the village were affected by the perpetual firing of tear gas.

A boy leading the crowd of protesters running away as tear gas is fired.

 

Protesters were holding signs calling on the International community not to support Illegal Israeli settlements when the tear gas began from a distance of only 25 metres. A Swedish International activist was not expecting such an assault on un-advancing protesters.

“It was my first time at a protest here and I was shocked that they would fire tear gas directly at a peaceful crowd with children visibly among them.” She fell while escaping the surrounding tear gas. “I was blinded by the smoke and I fell on rocks.

Two Palestinian men picked me up and when we escaped from the gas I was covered in blood.”

When she tripped, her hand broke her fall, but was cut on the palm, requiring her to go to the hospital and receive three stitches.

International fell on stones while running from tear gas, required three stitches

The protest, held by the Popular Committee of Kufr Qaddoum, was protesting the closure of their main road, which up until 2003 had been the mean ways of transportation from Kufr Qaddoum to Nablus. The original journey of 15 minutes now takes 40 minutes by an indirect road. The Expenses to the 3500 Palestinian inhabitants have increased significantly as a result, particularly for the many students of the village who study daily in Nablus. Two Palestinians have died in the past few years, after not reaching the hospital in time for treatment.

This is the 18th protest in a row that Kufr Qaddoum has held on Fridays, after more than six years of no protests  while the village was involved with legal arguments with the Israeli Court. Finally, the court ruled that they could use the road again, but that the road is not “suitable” for transportation. It was closed. The road passes the illegal Israeli settlement of Qadumim. Israel has a thorough history of closing, to Palestinian cars, roads which pass settlements.

Weekly, soldiers have responded to the unarmed protesters by firing tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets, and sound bombs on civilians. Often the soldiers have entered the village, firing in between houses with families within them and seriously affecting the lives of civilians.

More than half of the villagers’ land, approximately 11,800 dunams, are situated in area C which means that the Palestinians need permission to work there from the Israeli District Coordinating Office. Last week, following the protest, the Israeli military revoked the permission they had previously given the village for the following weekend.

Rana H is an activist with International Solidarity Movement.

Two protests, One day

Ofer Prison, Ramallah

A protest in support of the Palestinian prisoners in Ofer who have been on hunger strike for the past 15 days refusing food to pressure authorities into providing better conditions.

The hunger strike has rolled through most of Israel’s 23 lockups, where some 5,300 Palestinians are detained, often without trial.

For 3-4 hours, soldiers continually fired tear gas, 5 or 10 at a time at unarmed protesters, shot steel-coated rubber bullets, and turned on “the scream” siren (a siren that can be directed at protesters without soldiers hearing it, which is so loud it can damage the ears and cause one to lose equilibrium).

In the above picture you can see the high-velocity tear gas canister still in the air. It has been known to kill if it hits the head or chest, and give serious burns anywhere else.

Several collapsed throughout the protest from tear gas inhalation.

I watched this boy walk down the sidewalk, turn around, and fall so gracefully to the ground that no one noticed for a moment. In the next moment everyone was running to him.

One boy was hit in the leg with a rubber-coated steel bullet.

Al Khalil/Hebron- School Children protest tightened security for their teachers

The teachers of the school in Tel Rumeida have had, for the past 7 years, permission to pass through a gate instead of the metal detectors at the checkpoint entrance. Now, the commander of the new batallion, has changed the rules to force teachers, pregnant women, and those with heart conditions to pass through the metal detectors. The teachers refused and protested by soliciting outside the checkpoint but refusing to go through.

Then, the over 100 children came out of the school chanting, and confronted the soldiers, demanding their teachers’ rights. Police became aggressive with children and dragged some of them out through the checkpoint, injuring seven.

I constantly spoke to soldiers asking them why they were harassing the Palestinians, when they know it is the Israeli settlers in the neighbourhood that are very often violent. One admitted that he did not agree with the extra security but that he had to “protect the Jewish people.”

During the protest a settler woman kept driving through so she could bump protesters with her car, mostly children. People say that this settler is infamous for hitting Palestinians with her car as they walk in Tel Rumeida, where Palestinians are not allowed to drive.

They ended up doing their classes in the street, and will continue to until the laws are reverted.

This is a link to the report I wrote: Seven School Children Injured over Tightened “Security” Measures in Tel Rumeida