Palestine-solidarity activists in Canada and across the world continue to organize

Global Palestine-solidarity was re-awoken with the latest Israeli offense on Gaza. The 8-day  assault resulted in more than 160 Palestinian deaths, 33 of them children. Over a thousand Palestinians were wounded, including 274 children. 5 Israelis were killed by resistance rockets from Gaza. The bloody ignited protests around the world, but they were not the only reason for them. Nor was a ceasefire the end of them.

Following Israel’s public launch of Operation Pillar of Defense and the assassination of Hamas’s Ahmed Jabari on Wednesday, November 14th, activists everywhere began organizing themselves to voice their opposition to the attacks, as well Israel’s ongoing apartheid regime. Protests were held in almost every major city in the world, across Europe, North America and the Middle East, including Palestinians throughout the West Bank, and with thousands taking to the streets from Indonesia to Egypt. 3 Palestinians from the West Bank were also killed as Israeli forces attempted to silent protesters.

On November 21, a ceasefire agreement was reached between Israel and Hamas. The agreement is not unlike that reached in 2009 after the Israeli attacks that left over 1400 in the Gaza Strip killed and 13 Israelis. As history has shown us, a ceasefire does not mean peace. There can be no peace in a situation where Gaza is under a suffocating Israeli blockade and where the heavily-populated area can indiscriminately be shelled without any great repercussions to Israel.

Where I am now located, Ottawa, Canada, two large vigils and three large protests were organized in the span of a week and a half.  I was also in Toronto on the weekend where a protest was organized protesting the annual Jewish National Fund Negev dinner. The following are photos from both Toronto and Ottawa that either I or my mother took.

Speakers address the media before the march | 16 November 2012, Israeli embassy, Ottawa

When speakers were done, protesters spontaneously called for the procession to march to ‘Israel’s second embassy’ – Parliament Hill. In the spirit of civil disturbance, protesters took to the streets (“without permits!” police shouted to no response) and protested the Canadian government’s unwavering support for Israeli apartheid.

Police block the door to the Israeli embassy | 16 November 2012, Ottawa

Hundreds of protesters march, decrying Canada’s support for Israel | 16 November 2012, Ottawa

The protest lasted several hours long without losing energy. The “snake march”, a march without a planned route, traveled from the Israeli embassy to Parliament, back to the embassy, and back to Parliament, where it ended with a promise to meet again the next day.

Police attempt to contain the protest | 16 November 2012, Ottawa

Several hundred again gathered on Wednesday, November 22 for a vigil. Several speakers addressed the crowd, including professors and representatives of Students against Israeli Apartheid-Carleton, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights-Ottawa U, Independent Jewish Voices, and Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG-GRIPO).

Hundreds gathered with lit candles to remember the names of all the lives lost because of Israel’s Operation Cloud of Pillar | 21 November 2012, University of Ottawa

The names of all the martyrs were read, followed by a moment of silence, then participants placed their candles to form the words “Free Gaza”.

Participants spelled ‘Free Gaza’ with their candles | 21 November 2012, University of Ottawa

Despite the ceasefire agreement, protesters continued to protest the siege on Gaza, the Occupation, the denial of the right of return to refugees, and Israeli apartheid at large.

Poster-making | 23 November 2012, Ottawa

Hundreds march for Palestine | 25 November 2012, Toronto

Hundreds march for Palestine | 25 November 2012, Toronto

Hundreds march for Palestine | 25 November 2012, Toronto

Following a rally of hundreds in Ottawa, a small group of protesters entered a large shopping centre, marching silently and distributing flyers. Before leaving the mall, the procession began to chant slogans such as “Harper, Harper, Can’t you see – Palestine will be free!” and “Gaza, Gaza, Don’t you cry! – Palestine will never die!” When they finished, the crowded food court began applause of support. The group narrowly avoided security guards before leaving.

Activists march through a central Ottawa shopping mall | 25 November 2012, Ottawa

Activists march through a central Ottawa shopping mall | 25 November 2012, Ottawa

Activists march through a central Ottawa shopping mall | 25 November 2012, Ottawa

If you are a student located in Ottawa, there are Palestine-solidarity groups at both Ottawa U (SPHR) and Carleton U (SAIA) that I encourage you to join – they are founded specifically on the call to Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS), organizing largely around the divestment of their universities from Israeli apartheid. If you are not a student, there have been recent talks about forming a Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA) for Ottawa-wide organizing. If you are interested, please get in touch with me!

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Chants for protesting in English and Arabic

(English chants below)

يا باراك صبرك صبرك – بكرا غزة هتحفر قبرك

تسقط تسقط اسرائيل – و يسقط يسقط كل عميل

فلسطين عربيه – من الميه للميه

بالروح بالدم نفديك يا فلسطين 

يا محتل اطلع برى – الأرض الفلسطينيه حرة

عوده، حريه، كرامه وطنيه

مش خايفين مش خايفين – لو سجنونا بالزلازيل

أصرخ أصرخ علي صوتك – إله بيصرخ ما بيموت

علي علي علي – علي علم الثورة علي

ثورة ثورة عالمحتل – غير الثوره ما في حل

احنا مش ارهابيه – احنا شعب الحريه

عالإحتلال – ثورة! عالإستيطان – ثورة! عالإستعمار – ثورة! عالعنصرية – ثورة! والنازيه – ثورة!

عللي وعللي وعللي الصوت – غزه صامده في وجه الموت

ما بنهاب ما بنهاب – إسرائيل أم الارهاب

يا إحتلال يا خسيس – دم الشهدا مش رخيص 

من الميه للميه – فلسطين عربيه

ياشهيد نام وارتاح – احنا نكمل الكفاح

يا فلسطيني صمود صمود – من عندك طلعو الاسود

أنا راجع راجع – راجع – على عكا ويافا – راجع – وصفد وحيفا – راجع – و دير ياسين – راجع

إنزل عالشارع – يا شعبي – إنزل عالشارع – يا شعبي – عن حقك تدافع – يا شعبي – لا تتنازل – يا شعبي – حرر أراضيك – يا شعبي – عم بتناديك – يا شعبي

يا غزة – دمك دمي وحاماك حامي

من غزة لجنين – شعب صامد ما بيلين

يا غزة لا تهتزي – كلك كرامه وعزه 

يا فلسطين سير سير – احنا معك للتحرير

يا فدائي، عيد الكرة – اخطف جندي، حرر أسرى

يا مقاوم يا حبيب – اضرب، فجر تل أبيب

أصرخ أصرخ علي صوتك – ما تخلي الحريه تفوتك

إنزلو من بيوتكم – طالبو في حقوقكم

يا شباب انضموا انضموا – الشهيد ضحى في دمه

يا شباب انضموا إلينا – الحريه ليكو ولينا

From the river to the sea – Palestine will be free!

From Iraq to Palestine – Occupation is a crime!

From South Africa to Palestine – Apartheid is a crime!

Brick by brick, wall by wall – Apartheid has got to fall!

From Cast Lead to Pillar of Defense – Where the fuck is your conscience?

No impunity for genocide – BDS will turn the tide!

Stop the killing, stop the crime – Israel out of Palestine!

Free free Palestine! – Free free Gaza! – Long live Palestine! – Long live Gaza! – Viva Palestina!

Our only course of action – Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions!

Gaza, Gaza, don’t you cry – Palestine will never die!

Not a nickel, not a dime – no more money for Israel’s crimes!

Justice, is our demand – No peace on stolen land!

Gaza must have food and water – Israel, stop the slaughter!

Hey Netanyahu what do you say? – How many kids did you kill today?

1, 2, 3, 4 – Occupation no more! / Occupation out the door!

5, 6, 7, 8 – Israel is a racist/terrorist/apartheid/fascist state!

1, 2, 3, 4 – We don’t want a Gaza war! / We don’t want your dirty war!

5, 6, 7, 8 – No to bombing, no to hate!

Displacing lives since ’48 – Nothing here to celebrate!

Fight the power, turn the tide – End Israeli apartheid!

Tell Obama, no more aid – Stop the funds for deadly raids!

What do we want? JUSTICE! – When do we want it? NOW!

The people, united, can never be defeated!

Netanyahu and Hitler are the same – The only difference is the name!

Netanyahu (Harper, Harper/Bibi, Bibi/Obama) can’t you see? – Palestine will be free!

Netanyahu you can’t hide – We charge you with genocide!

We want justice, you say how? – End Israeli apartheid now! – We want justice, you say how? – End the siege on Gaza now!

We won’t take another cast lead – No impunity, no more dead!

Ethnic cleansing is a crime – Bibi should be doing time! – Building settlements is a crime – Bibi should be doing time! – Invading Gaza is a crime – Free, free Palestine!

Obama, Obama (Harper, Cameron) don’t you know? – Siege on Gaza’s got to go!

Justice, justice, we know how! – Lift the siege on Gaza now!

Money for jobs and education – Not for war and occupation!

Hey Obama, cancel the check – You’re writing it on Gaza’s neck!

Thanks so much to the following people, among others, for contributions!: @HaneenAmra @MariamBarghouti @Zaytawy @Widgitt @ThatKhaleeji @BelalMHassan

In images: support for Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners

Following the mass hunger strike of almost 2000 Palestinian prisoners, and the numerous individual hunger strikes, Palestinians have been raising their voices on the issue of prisoners. In Ramallah, protesters are taking to the streets demanding the Palestinian Authority take a strong stance for the country’s political prisoners held by Israel. Hundreds more have held regular demonstrations for months outside the Israeli Ofer prison, despite the excessive Israeli military aggression. The issue is larger than the end of administrative detention, or the allowance of family visits. Protesters are demanding complete freedom for all Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel. Within the occupier’s jails, prisoners are passing the torch between each other as one hunger striker follows another. Today diabetic prisoner Akram Rikhawi has been on hunger strike for 84 days and is at imminent risk of dying.

At the forefront of support from outside the prisons are Palestine’s youth. Battling not only the Zionist state but the indifference of their own political leaders, these youth have dwindled from thousands during the mass hunger strikes to dozens. Nonetheless the activists remain determined to continue the struggle against Israeli apartheid and the resulting imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians, as well as to stir up the support of their own people.

My interest in the issues at hand are greater than my position as a photographer and at the best and most powerful demonstrations I was participating not photographing, thus the following collection is incomplete. It begins on April 26 when I joined a protest at Ofer prison.

26 April 2012, Ofer prison

26 April 2012, Ofer prison

26 April 2012, Ofer prison

26 April 2012, Ofer prison

26 April 2012, Ofer prison

A journalist wearing a neon press jacket shot with a tear gas canister from close range | 26 April 2012, Ofer Prison

A woman falls after being shot in the leg with a rubber-coated steel bullet | 26 April 2012, Ofer Prison

Two men are attended to after being shot with rubber-coated steel bullets | 26 April 2012, Ofer prison

26 April 2012, Ofer prison

26 April 2012, Ofer prison

26 April 2012, Ofer prison

An injured protester is carried after Israeli military opened fire on the demonstration in solidarity with Palestinian political prisoners | 1 May 2012, Ofer prison

Women approach the Israeli soldiers as they fire at the demonstration | 1 May 2012, Ofer prison

Me above the ‘skunk’ vehicle | Photo was taken by someone using my camera | 1 May 2012, Ofer prison

A Palestinian man holds on to me resist my arrest despite us both having been repeatedly pepper sprayed | Photo was taken by someone using my camera | 1 May 2012, Ofer prison

An injured protester is carried after Israeli army opened fire on the demonstration | 3 May 2012, Ofer prison

An injured protester is carried after Israeli army opened fire on the demonstration | 3 May 2012, Ofer prison

A protester keels after being shot | 3 May 2012, Ofer prison

An injured protester is carried after Israeli army opened fire on the demonstration | 3 May 2012, Ofer prison

A roadblock built to prevent the Israeli military jeep from pursuing Palestinian protesters | 4 May, 2012, Ofer prison

Rally for the hunger-striking prisoners organized by the leftist parties, the Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine | 6 May 2012, Ramallah

Rally for the hunger-striking prisoners organized by the leftist parties, the Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine | 6 May 2012, Ramallah

Demonstrators march wearing the actual uniforms worn by Palestinians in Israeli jails | 6 May 2012, Ramallah

6 May 2012, Ramallah

6 May 2012, Ramallah

Demonstrators burn the occupier’s flag in the down-town clock circle of Ramallah | 6 May 2012

Activists close the central Manara roundabout in Ramallah demanding the Palestinian Authority take action for Palestinian political prisoners | 8 May 2012

Palestinian activists close the central Manara roundabout in Ramallah demanding the Palestinian Authority take action for Palestinian political prisoners | 8 May 2012

Palestinian activists close the central Manara roundabout in Ramallah demanding the Palestinian Authority take action for political prisoners | 8 May 2012

An injured protester is carried after Israeli army opened fire on the demonstration | June 5, 2012, Ofer prison

An injured protester is carried after Israeli army opened fire on the demonstration | 5 June 2012, Ofer prison

The windows of a house near to Ofer prison entrance were broken from tear gas and rubber-coated bullet fire | 5 June 2012, Ofer prison

Protesters duck as rubber-coated bullets are fired openly on the demonstration | 5 June 2012, Ofer prison

5 June 2012, Ramallah

Marchers in Ramallah block a down-town street | 5 June 2012, Ramallah

10 June 2012, Ramallah

Protesters hold signs urging drivers to ‘honk for the prisoners’ | 10 June 2012, Ramallah

Protesters hold signs urging drivers to ‘honk for the prisoners’ | 10 June 2012, Ramallah

Demonstrators play soccer at the entrance of Ofer prison to symbolize Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak’s hunger strike | 11 June 2012, Ofer prison

Demonstrators play soccer at the entrance of Ofer prison to symbolize Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak’s hunger strike | 11 June 2012, Ofer prison

A demonstrator was injured in the leg with a rubber-coated steel bullet | 11 June 2012

20 June 2012, Ramallah

21 June 2012, Ofer prison

Protesters holding cutlery to symbolize the hunger-striking prisoners refuse to move despite orders | 21 June 2012, Ofer prison

21 June 2012, Ofer Prison

21 June 2012, Ofer prison

Activists close entrance to illegal Israeli settlement

On May 13, as some 2000 Palestinian prisoners were in their 27th day of hunger-striking, Palestinian and solidarity activists blocked the entrance to one of the largest Israeli colonies in the West Bank.

Around 50 activists arrived at the entrance of the illegal Jewish-only settlement of Ma’ale Adumim and were successful in blocking traffic for at least 20 minutes. Israeli forces arrived quickly and detained two Palestinian men from the crowd, taking them to the nearby police station. As the activists left the area, they climbed to a nearby hill overlooking the same street and raised Palestinian flags. Israeli soldiers climbed the hill and forced them to descend. The activists then climbed an adjacent hill, prompting the same reaction from Israeli soldiers. The action was successful in its goal of civil disturbance.

The following day, the mass hunger strike of Palestinians in Israeli prisons reached a deal and the strike was finished. Many human rights groups have since criticized Israel for not maintaining parts of the agreement.

The importance of perseverance and creativity in the popular struggle cannot be stressed enough. As Palestinians battle normalization and apathy from several years of repetitive resistance and little gains, new ideas and forms of struggle are needed to keep the passion and dedication alive.

Israel opens fire on the Global March to Jerusalem in Qalandia and across Palestine

Rana Hamadeh | March 31, 2012

Yesterday the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) opened fire on marchers as they headed towards Jerusalem marking Palestinian Land Day.

The Global March to Jerusalem is an initiative taking place across the world, with hundreds of thousands of people involved. Marches were organized within Palestine, 1948 territories, and Gaza, as well as all surrounding countries and parts of Asia, North America, and Europe. Among other things, the march was calling for an end to the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem and Palestine at large, the right of return for all refugees, and the protection of Jerusalem’s non-Jewish holy sites which are currently at risk. At least two hundred people were injured by the IOF in protests across Palestine, and one young man was killed in Gaza.

The Israeli military employed a series of weapons on the unarmed protesters, including the ‘siren’, which emits a defeaning ringing; the ‘skunk truck’ which propels torrents of a sewage-like liquid; rubber-coated steel bullets; sound bombs; high-velocity tear gas; and live ammunition.

Soldiers prepare to fire at protesters. Behind them the 'skunk truck', which propels sewage-like liquid, is parked. | Qalandia, Occupied West Bank | Rana Hamadeh 30/03/2012

When I arrived at the protest area, people were running away as tear gas was fired. I ran towards the soldiers, trying to get to the area behind them where journalists were set up. The ‘siren’ was already put in use, getting unbearably louder as I approached, and the street already had a grim look only minutes into the march. People hid behind cement blocks and smoke filled the air. As soon as I reached the soldiers, the ‘siren’ became a quiet ringing. The technology used allows the IOF to propel the sound in a specific direction.

Israeli soldiers stand beside a cement block reading 'together we'll break the wall' | Qalandia, Occupied West Bank | Rana Hamadeh 30/03/2012

As I snapped photographs of the abundant Israeli soldiers in the area, and the murals covering the apartheid wall behind them, the ‘skunk truck’ moved forward and arbitrarily fired sewage water at the people, houses, and shops in its reach. Journalists ran for cover to save their cameras from damage. Others ran to save themselves from being marked with the foul smell for days to come. A mist carried back to where I stood and I almost choked. The scent is stronger and lingers longer than would even real sewage. One young woman marched up to the truck, and was drenched, but managed to place a Palestinian flag on it.

The steady stream of 'skunk' water fired by the IOF can be seen in the background as journalists run away. | Qalandia, Occupied West Bank | Rana Hamadeh 30/03/2012

When they finished with the ‘skunk’, the soldiers got into jeeps and moved forward, firing tear gas at the same time. The protesters ran in a frenzy to find clear air and avoid arrest by the approaching army.

Protesters run as soldiers approach and fire tear gas | Qalandia, Occupied West Bank | Rana Hamadeh 30/03/2012

I ran for cover behind a building from the onslaught of tear gas grenades. A handful of others joined me and we thought we had reached safety when the smell of tear gas overcame us. We ran deeper behind the building, stepping through piles of garbage and trying to find relief from the gas filling our eyes and lungs. To both directions was gas. There was no options. Most of us fell to the ground choking and trying to stay conscious. Someone was desperately shouting the name of a blind girl who they had lost track of in the chaos. When I was able to open my eyes a slit, I saw that the soldiers had come to our hideout and were beckoning everyone out. In the chaos of the moment we didn’t think about disobeying. As soon as we were out, a commander targeted one of the boys among us. It was an arbitrary choice. Another woman and I stood in between the soldiers and the young man, pointing out  their discrimination in that whatever he had done, we had also done. We attempted to de-arrest but soldiers surrounded us and aggressively took the young man away, still choking on tear gas.

A young Palestinian man is arbitrarily targeted by Israeli soldiers. We unsuccessfully attempt to de-arrest. | Qalandia, Occupied West Bank | Fadi Arouri 30/03/2012

Across the street I found a group of soldiers banging on the door of an apartment building, trying to break it open. Faces of women and children looked down at them from the windows above. They broke the door’s window and continued to hammer the door until it was bent out of shape and able to be opened.

An Israeli soldier stands with his hands on his gun as others behind him break down the door to a Palestinian apartment building. | Qalandia, Occupied West Bank | Rana Hamadeh 30/03/2012

Israeli soldiers break the door to a Palestinian apartment building. | Qalandia, Occupied West Bank | Rana Hamadeh 30/03/2012

When they finally go the door open, a group of soldiers stamped into the building and up the stairs. The last few walked backwards, with their guns pointed at us, comically as if myself and a few other journalists would attack. Other soldiers stayed at the door, guarding it. The group of soldiers made their way through the building then emerged on the roof from where they would shoot rubber-coated steel bullets at a wider range of people.

I grew frustrated of standing among the soldiers with the other journalists so amidst gun fire I ran back towards the protesters. The scene was much grimmer from this perspective. Every few minutes people would shout for an ambulance and the wounded would be carried away.

A young man is carried to an ambulance after being injured by a rubber-coated steel bullet. | Qalandia, Occupied West Bank | Rana Hamadeh 30/03/2012

As time passed, the shooting of rubber-coated bullets seemed to escalate and people were no longer seen in the center of the street, but rather pressed against buildings and behind walls.

An injured man's feet are visible as medic volunteers attend to him.| Qalandia, Occupied West Bank | Rana Hamadeh 30/03/2012

An injured medic volunteer is carried into an ambulance. | Qalandia, Occupied West Bank | Rana Hamadeh 30/03/2012

It was draining to continue to duck at the sound of gunfire and watch as the ambulance workers crowded around a person, so eventually I asked a dozen people to come walk up to the soldiers with me. Many agreed so we stepped out into the street, arms and flags in the air and began to walk. The army continued to fire. I looked behind me and only one person was left walking with me. “Don’t worry about it, Rana,” he reassured me, “keep going.”

We stayed motivated and it was liberating to walk unabashedly towards the Israeli soldiers, dressed in military armor and carrying their range of weapons. At the sound of gun fire, we turned our heads away so that at least if injured, our eyes would be protected. We didn’t flinch as soldiers fired tear gas over our heads.

Marching towards Israeli soldiers. | Qalandia, Occupied West Bank | Bahaa Nasser 30/03/2012

A handful of others caught up as we approached the soldiers. The idea was to stand in front of them and prevent them from firing at the protesters behind us. We were chanting slogans like, “no justice- no peace”, and “we are peaceful- what are you?” At first I didn’t see many journalists and the soldiers got aggressive quickly. An Israeli soldier grabbed the Palestinian flag from my hands and threw it on the ground. Me and another girl tried desperately to reach it but we were hit and shoved away.

We linked arms and formed a chain. When the Israeli military tried to move to the side, we moved with them. They attacked the group, clearly trying to break us up and make arrests. Soldiers kicked and beat the group. When one young woman put her arms in the air and shouted that she was unarmed, a soldier picked up a rock and smashed her hand with it. The young man to my left was dragged away and I felt myself taken in a headlock and pushed to the ground. Bodies and feet pressed on me and I focused only on keeping my head from hitting the pavement as chaos ensued around me. I felt people pulling, pushing, and hitting me. When I could lift my head to see, the same friend who had initially marched with me was holding on to me, and I am certain saved me from arrest.

I learned later that the other activists had been similarly attacked, but had managed to prevent any other arrests. We stood there stunned, injured, and exhausted.

We continued to chant as we backed away and returned to the rest of the protesters. Only a few meters away they began to shoot again and we saw more injuries carried into ambulances. Throughout the day I witnessed several people bleeding from injuries by rubber-coated bullets, but refusing to take up space in the ambulances.

Later, after many had left and the protesters were few, we were standing against a wall and turning our heads at the sound of gunfire. Suddenly, a rubber-coated bullet hit a young man standing beside us in the face. His expression was frozen as if he had lost consciousness with his eyes still open. We shouted for an ambulance and he was carried away.

A young man hit just under the eye by a rubber-coated steel bullet. | Qalandia, Occupied West Bank | Rana Hamadeh 30/03/2012

That was our final straw and we decided to head home, having been at the protest for about six hours. Clashes continued until at least 10pm when my friend called me to say he was finally leaving, and completely drenched in ‘skunk water’.

These experiences are so common in the Palestinian struggle that one easily becomes normalized in order to cope. As activists, this is something we are fighting, and nonetheless we are all deeply affected by these experiences whether we can still find the passion to express it or not.  Understand only that this was not a unique day. This is a regular response to the peaceful protesting which occurs at least weekly across Palestine. A young man being arbitrarily chosen for arrest is something every family has experienced. The IOF breaking down a door in order to use the roof of as a military base is a common practice. Breaking the windows of an ambulance with gun fire, targeting journalists, firing at homes and shops, can all be witnessed in a trip to Palestine.

Guerilla theatre in the heart of Ottawa | mock Israeli checkpoint

Rana Hamadeh | Feb 20, 2012

Last weekend we staged an Israeli military checkpoint in the heart of Canada’s capital city in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle against Israeli Apartheid and in particular with the residents of Al Khaleel/Hebron in their struggle to free their city. Al Khaleel is a powerful microcosm for Israeli apartheid practices all across Palestine:

Shuhada st in Al Khaleel has been turned into a ghost street for nearly 20 years now. Israelis and tourists are allowed on the street but Palestinians are prohibited.

500 Israeli armed settlers occupied Shuhada st in 1979. The 167,000 Palestinians living in the city have their freedom constricted as a result. This settlement is illegal under international law as stated in the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Participants hold signs while actors behind them wait in line at a mock Israeli checkpoint | Soha Kneen 2/20/2012

In 1994 an Israeli settler opened fire on people as they prayed in the Ibrahimi mosque killing 29 Palestinians and injuring over 100. Following this, Shuhada was closed to Palestinians, while settlers continued to travel freely and carry arms. Despite constant violent harassment from settlers, Palestinians are the ones subject to checkpoints, night raids, arbitrary searches and arrests, economic closure etc.

Palestinians are not allowed on this road, even if they still live on it. Palestinians still living here must climb down from neighbours’ roofs or use back doors to access their homes. In the area, Palestinians are not allowed to use cars, while Israelis are. Palestinians have also lost access to their cemetery because it borders Shuhada st. Since the second Intifada, all Palestinian shops on Shuhada st were sealed, and their owners prohibited from accessing them.

Shuhada street is symbolic of the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements within the West Bank, a widespread policy of segregation, the lack of freedom of movement for Palestinians, and the Israeli occupation at large. This is why opening Shuhada is so significant.

Open Shuhada Street Day is coming up on Feb 24th and Al Khaleel residents are organizing events all this week. Read more here: http://www.youthagainstsettlements.org/upcoming-events.

Participants act as detainees to draw attention to the system of Israeli apartheid that obstructs Palestinian rights & freedoms | Soha Kneen 20/02/2012

Myself giving a monologue on behalf of pregnant Palestinian women | Charline Dequincey 18/02/2012

This is the monologue I read:

“I am Hurriyeh Mir’ieh who waited at a checkpoint for 6 hours before she began hemorrhaging. Finally, Israeli soldiers let her through, but said she couldn’t use a car. She walked 2km while bleeding before fainting and asking her husband to leave her to die. She lived but her baby girl died.

I am Samaher Zbaidat who was in labour when she reached an Israeli checkpoint but was delayed for an hour as soldiers demanded they go back and get an ambulance to be allowed to pass. She gave birth in her car and almost died when the placenta ruptured inside of her.

I am Bushra Sultan whose ambulance was deliberately stopped by Israeli soldiers and prevented from transferring her to hospital. She died at the checkpoint.

I am Maysoon al-Hayek who was having contractions when her car was stopped and searched for one hour. After being allowed through, Israeli soldiers fired at her car, shooting her husband and father-in-law and injuring her. Contractions were coming faster. Soldiers pulled her out of the car, made her undress to be examined, then left her on the street, bleeding and in labour. When she finally reached the hospital, she gave birth to a baby girl in the elevator. Her father-in-law was in coma for 40 days. Her husband died.

Between 2000 and 2007, 10 percent of all pregnant Palestinian women traveling to hospital were delayed 2-4 hours at checkpoints. 69 babies were born at checkpoints. 35 babies and 5 mothers have died as a result.”

More media coming soon including videos!

Arrested by IOF for nearing a Jewish-only settlement

Yesterday was the one-week anniversary of Mustafa Tamimi’s death. The weekly protest in Nabi Saleh was going as usual last week: Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) were responding to peaceful protesting with, among other weapons, tear gas canisters aimed like large bullets. The difference is that last week they didn’t miss. Mustafa was shot from a few meters away directly in the head. Two days later, IOF arrived with mourners at Mustafa’s funeral and began to fire the same tear gas projectiles only a few minutes after the funeral. The day ended with soldiers violently attacking us when confronted about Mustafa’s death, and arresting several.

This week was no better.

Car after car packed with people began arriving in Nabi Saleh from as early as 8am to avoid expected Israeli checkpoints. People wanted to commemorate Mustafa’s death. A bus arrived full of Israeli activists. By noon, everywhere I looked I saw Palestinian flags and keffiyehs.

Crowds of people head to confront soldiers | 16/12/2011 ICAI

As the protest left to confront soldiers at the entrance to the village, I headed in a car with others to the entrance of the illegal Israeli settlement Halamish, which along with annexing land has claimed Nabi Saleh’s only fresh-water spring for themselves. We wanted to make ourselves shown wearing t-shirts bearing the face of Mustafa Tamimi.

Other cars showed up with the same idea and at the entrance to Halamish, some ten people sat down peacefully just in time for three Israeli jeeps to arrive. Soldiers jumped out raid-style and began to arrest everyone they could get their hands on, but particularly those that were sitting, doing nothing other than sitting. There was no warning or threat – just a quick and violent arrest.

Soldiers make arrests outside Halamish settlement | 16/12/2011 activestills

It happened quickly. Women were desperately trying to hold onto each other, screaming and shaking from shock. Others were being dragged away, handcuffed, and gathered on the sidewalk. An older woman was screaming as four soldiers attacked her for arrest. I was torn between being a photographer or partaking, but as I kept going back and forth a commander recognized me from last week’s struggle and came directly for me. I tried to resist but they began to drag me, then another soldir came and grabbed one leg.

My arrest outside Halamish settlement | 16/12/2011 Ahmad Daghlas

I was piled with the others infront of a jeep. When I stood up, a soldier tried to push me down but I dodged him. I rushed back to see my friend from England was being grabbed by a soldier and was really panicking. I held her thinking we might resist arrest, but we were in a sea of soldiers, and instead they handcuffed me and her and stuffed us into a military jeep.

English activist, Holly and I are arrested | 16/12/2011 ICAI

Inside we were met with the older woman and soon after by an Israeli girl and Mohammed Khateeb who had just been attacked by an Israeli settler who had stopped. Of course soldiers arrested us for sitting, and not the settler for actual violence.

The Israeli girl who would later be hit by an Israeli settler while soldiers look on | 16/12/2011 Fadi Arouri

In the jeep there wasn’t enough room for us. Mohammed Khateeb was lying on the floor handcuffed and the soldier suggested the Israeli girl sit on a bucket full of tear gas canisters. She refused and brought our attention to the bags and bins full of weaponry and ammunition at the back of the jeep. There was no woman soldier in the jeep with us.

We were driven deeper into Halamish, and stopped outside a military base. Soldier men and women were walking around, some curious, most just laughing and making fun of us. None of them could look you in the eye for more than a couple seconds. A soldier opened my purse and pulled out my camera. I tried to stop them but was just shoved around between the many soldiers that were there. They pulled so hard on my arm that the plastic-tie handcuffs came loose and they had to redo it, this time behind my back and so tight that my hands instantly started swelling.

Meanwhile the same soldier that had attacked Khateeb had stopped his car infront of us. A man and his son. Soldiers didn’t interfere as he came up to us and began to take photographs of our faces. The Israeli girl stood up infront of him  and he slapped her across the face, knocking her back. This infront of at least ten soldiers. No one stopped him or arrested him. We began to chant the numbers of his license plate so we could later file a charge: 44322, 44322, 44322….but if history teaches us anything he won’t be charged.

The soldiers let us know we didn’t have the right to get angry. Khateeb was being pressed against the stone stairs by two soldiers. One soldier had his hand around Khateebs neck, and I tried to put my leg inbetween his head and the stones. Soldiers picked him up and threw him to the ground face-down. They were pulling at his arms, which were handcuffed underneath him. “I’ll give you my hands by myself!” He screamed repeatedly in Arabic, English and Hebrew.

It went on like this, leaving him with blood on his face and arm and dirt on his cheeks. I was thinking how he has such a warm face, wrinkles around his eyes and often smiling. Later on they would say he assaulted a soldier. I don’t know when this allegedly happened, him being in handcuffs the entire time. I do know that 99.74% of Palestinians tried in Israeli military court are convicted and that just the word of a soldier is proof.

We were taken to a room where we met a few others. Nothing was said to us, and we waited sitting on old cushions and mattress-less metal bed frames for hours. The entire time we were handcuffed. If your phone rang, a soldier would take it away. If we talked too loud, soldiers would interfere. The windows didn’t close and as the hours passed, we began to huddle together for warmth. When we needed to use the bathroom, we were told to wait. After half an hour, they started to take one person at a time to a bathroom outside the building, about a 10 minute trip. There were 23 of us.

Arrested we were 23 people in total, including 7 Palestinians, 12 Israelis, and 4 internationals – among them 12 women. Among them was Mohamed Tamimi, a young man my age, braces still on and resembling his late cousin, Mustafa Tamimi. Everytime he walked into the room he would put his cuffed arms in the air, resembling the famous picture of Marwan Barghouti. We would clap for him. He was pacing most of the time, red eyed. He was going to be charged with stone-throwing, which could land him 6 months. He doesn’t throw stones, he photographs and reports. He kept trying to talk to the soldiers – You killed Mustafa, isn’t that enough? How can you sleep at night, I just want to know….How can you sleep?

Mohammed Tamimi being arrested. He is currently in Ofer prison. | 16/12/2011 Activestills

The older woman that was arrested with us had a ring of purple bruises around her upper arm and her entire arm was numb. We requested a doctor. Half an hour later, a medic-soldier came and did nothing but accuse her of making it up. I flipped out when he said it! She got to see a doctor after an hour of waiting, but nothing came out of it.

The entire time we were in Halamish we didn’t see one soldier or officer that spoke Arabic. Can you imagine if you were a Palestinian arrested alone without anyone to advise you not to sign or say anything – everything was done in Hebrew and if those among us didn’t translate, no one would have.

We were in Halamish for 9 hours. They filmed us while our charges were read in Hebrew, one by one. They searched us, took away everything except our money, and escorted us to the bus, one by one. When everyone was on the bus they started to call people, one by one, to have their charges read to them in Hebrew. Mohammed Khateeb translated. Most of us were charged with entering a closed military zone, then refusing to leave when asked. Do you have anything to add? no I replied. Do you want to sign? no. We were not in a CMZ  and were never asked to leave, but had we signed, we wouldn’t have gotten out.

The bus drove to Benyamin Gate police station, with soldiers posted at the back and the front.  They had taken our belts, and I wanted to tie a scarf around my waist: it took me about twenty minutes to manoeuvre with the handcuffs on. In Benyamin we were piled into a tiny room, some of us sitting on tables or the ground. Everyone had their handcuffs removed except Mohammed Tamimi. The smokers were still denied to smoke, and honestly this was the biggest object of stress in the room. At one point, soldiers agreed, then changed their mind when they reached outside. Taunting. We had been arrested for 10 hours before a soldier walked in, and threw a box of food on the ground. Before, two Israeli activists had come around giving everyone one bite of the food they happened to have. Inside the box was some fruit, several loaves of white wonder bread, a hundred small packages of chocolate spread, and two huge bags of yogurt (which remained largely untouched…).

This post is a jumble of words, but it expresses this experience. It was a jumble of confusion, anger and sadness. I felt so powerless without my camera in my hands. Everything in those rooms was between us and the IOF with no way to prove that we were treated like caged animals. As for the protest happening in Nabi Saleh, I obviously can’t testify but the pictures speak for themselves:

Tear gas is fired into a crowd of protesters | 16/12/2011 ICAI

A sound bomb explodes among protesters | 16/12/2011 Ahmad Doghlas

In Benyamin they began to take Israelis and Internationals for interrogation. Two hours passed and finally an officer who spoke Arabic came. He dealt with me and the four other Palestinians excluding the two Mohammeds with worse charges. As we walked by some officers, shivering, one of them looked at us pitiyingly and asked – did they get food? How ridiculous that these people, the backbones of the Israeli occupation, like to play the “humanitarian”. Am I supposed to thank you? My people wouldn’t be imprisoned if it weren’t for people like you. They may try to ease their conscience with small gestures, but until they put down the gun and stop invading our lands they must carry the responsibility on their backs.

An hour later, at almost 1 am after over 12 hours, he told us that he was going to do us a ‘favour’ and let us go.

We received our belongings in plastic bags, and weren’t allowed to say bye to the people we left behind. Mohammed Tamimi and Mohammed Khateeb were eventually transfered to Ofer prison. Throughout the night they joked that they would send our Salaams to Bassem Tamimi, a prisoner from Nabi Saleh. Somehow I thought that they would find a way to get out of the mess, but in reality there are thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. 800,000 Palestinians have been arrested and detained. 30% to 40% of the population have been in prison and between 3 and 4 out of 5 Palestinian men have been in prison. Why would these two be any different?

Qalandia: White sky of tear gas looms over apartheid wall construction

[delayed publishing this one on my blog because Mustafa Tamimi was murdered on the same day in Nabi Saleh]

by Rana H.
9 December 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

Peaceful protesters came face to face with Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in Qalandia on Friday before soldiers began to fire tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at the civilian group including children, women, and elders. Qalandia village is protesting the construction of the apartheid wall that will cut through their land.

Following the Friday prayer, a procession marched down a dirt path flattened by Israeli bulldozers to a fenced in area where the bulldozers were parked. Two jeeps full of soldiers were quick to arrive and met the march at the fence.

Demonstrators chant in front of Israeli Occupation Forces | 9/12/2011 Rana Hamadeh

“We resist with peace, as we learned from Bil’in!” chanted the demonstration, among other slogans that criticized results of Israel’s occupation such as the wall. “We are here to resist against the settlements and the wall that steal our land and divide us,” said one of the protest leaders. The procession was joined by activists from Israel, France, America, Canada, and Switzerland.

A Palestinian girl waves her flag in the face of Israeli soldiers | 9/12/2011 Rana Hamadeh

Although protesters were peacefully chanting, and not advancing, the Israeli military began showing aggressive movements such as pointing guns directly at protesters and pulling out tear gas and sound bombs, hinting at the assault to come. Some soldiers also began to snap photographs of protesters’ faces, despite that they had not committed any crime.

Palestinian demonstrators stand on concrete blocks in the face of IOF soldiers. | 9/12/2011 Rana Hamadeh

Israeli military orders protesters to descend from the concrete blocks. Demonstrators maintained that they have the right to stand peacefully. | 9/12/2011 Rana Hamadeh

A protester hung the Palestinian flag onto the fence surrounding the bulldozers and the flag easily stuck onto the barbed wire. At this point, a couple IOF soldiers became enraged and began to push and strike protesters, including at least three women.

As clashes begin, an Israeli soldier shoves a female protester away. | 9/12/2011 Rana Hamadeh

As clashes begin, an Israeli soldier threatens protesters. | 9/12/2011 Rana Hamadeh

As clashes begin, an Israeli soldier strikes a Palestinian man | 9/12/2011 Rana Hamadeh

Chaos broke out as the IOF unleashed sound bombs, causing demonstrators to try to distance themselves from soldiers. Before people could get away, tear gas began to fly through the air. Soldiers continued to shoot tear gas at the people: a procession including many women, children, and elders who were visibly unarmed and had not committed any crime.

The cloudy white sky made the high-velocity tear gas projectiles almost impossible to see until they landed among the crowd – an incredibly dangerous situation to fire in, which could have ended lethally as was the case in An Nabi Saleh when Mustafa Tamimi was killed after being shot in the head with a tear gas canister.

Soon after, soldiers began to fire rubber-coated steel bullets as well.

Despite the obvious danger of facing these weapons, protesters continued to attempt to re-gather themselves and continue chanting for almost one hour. Young boys stood unabashedly in the front lines, dodging rubber-coated bullets and gas.

Eventually, protest leaders called the group back to the village and the demonstration ended.

Mustafa Tamimi, 28 years old, killed by the Israeli military

All photos from Activestills Nabi Saleh.

Mustafa Tamimi (L) poses for a photo with his parents (front) and brothers in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, 10.9.2010.

Mustafa Tamimi (L) poses for a photo with his brothers in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, 10.9.2010.

Combo image made from 4 images shows Palestinian Mustafa Tamimi falling as he gets shot by IOF from close range in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, 9.12.2011. Photo by: Haim Schwarczenberg/ Guest photographer

Mustafa Tamimi, a 28 year-old Palestinian from Nabi Salih is seen after he was shot by an Israeli soldier with a tear gas canister from a short distance during the weekly demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Salih, 09.12.2011. Photo by: Anne Paq/Activestills.org

Ola Tamimi is seen shouting after she saw her brother, Mustafa Tamimi, a 28 year-old Palestinian resident from Nabi Saleh who was hit in the face by a tear gas projectile shot directly at him from only a few feet away during the weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh, 09.12.2011. Photo by: Anne Paq/Activestills.org

Nariman Tamimi and other Palestinians, among them the sister of Mustafa Tamimi who was shot earlier in the face with a tear gas canister from close range, confront Israeli soldiers who prevent them to be with the injured during the weekly demonstration against the occupation and settlements in the West Bank village of Nabi Salih, 09.12.2011. Photo by: Anne Paq/Activestills.

At the same protest, a Palestinian is still holding his flowers when being carried away after having been shot by a rubber-coated bullet in the foot during the weekly demonstration against the occupation and settlements in the West Bank village of Nabi Salih, 09.12.2011. Photo by: Anne Paq/Activestills.org

 

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!”