Sunday, December 27, 2009

DMCW David Goodner - Christmas in Palestine - Teargassed in Bil'in -Arrested in Sheikh Jarrah

From: David Goodner david.a.goodner at

Sat, Dec 26, 2009


I was teargassed in Bil'in and arrested in Sheikh Jarrah yesterday.

Merry Christmas.


In the West Bank village of Bil'in, demonstrators marched to the

Apartheid Wall and attempted to breach security and enter village land

that had been annexed to Israel behind the barrier. Representatives of

the the Fatah Party, including central committee member Abass Zaki,

joined the march. Demonstrators dressed as Santa Claus carried a

Christmas tree decorated with spent tear gas canisters and percussion

grenades that had been used by the military against the demonstrations.


"Israeli soldiers, do not shoot," said Iyad Burnat, a community

organizer with the Bil'in Committee for Popular Resistance Against the

Wall. "Today is Christmas, and we come bearing gifts of sweets. Do not

fire tear-gas."


Israeli Occupation Forces responded by immediately throwing concussion

grenades and tear-gas canisters at demonstrators.


The weapon-garnished tree was carried in support of Abdullah Abu

Rahme, a coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Rahme is currently being held

in military prison and is being charged with incitement and weapons

possession for collecting spent tear-gas canisters after the weekly

demonstrations against the wall in Bil'in. The small West Bank village

has had more than 60 percent of its land annexed by the Apartheid Wall

in order to clear room for new Israeli Jewish settlements.


Dozen of demonstrators including Fatah central committee member Abass

Zaki suffered from teargas inhalation.


The demonstration was short-lived, but exciting. After Israeli

Occupation Forces began firing tear-gas at the demonstrators, Bil'in

youth, faces covered with kufiyyas, broke off from the main march and

began approaching the wall from the East and West, as well as straight

up the middle. Some threw rocks at the wall. Others picked up

undetonated concussion grenades and tear-gas canisters and threw them

back at the soldiers. In every case, Israeli Occupation Forces quickly

and efficiently fired back and methodically forced them to retreat.

After the main body of demonstrators withdrew from the area, back and

forth skirmishes between the village Shabab and the apartheid state

security forces continued for nearly an hour.


Tear-gas is not that bad. If you catch a whiff of it, it burns the

eyes, nose, mouth, and throat and is extremely painful. At first I

felt like I couldn't breathe, like I was suffocating. But I remembered

my training and forced myself to stay calm, and to convince my mind

that I was able to breathe. After that, I was indeed able to draw

oxygen from the air, although it was still incredibly painful. But the

effects wore off after just a few minutes and the gas disperses from

the air fairly quickly. Another trick is to just stay upwind. If you

stay upwind from the gas, a canister can land two inches away from you

and you can breathe with no ill effects, no problem.


A Maan News Agency account of yesterday's Bil'in protest may be read



A video of the action can be viewed here:


After the demonstration was over, myself and two internationals took a

taxi to Jerusalem to catch the weekly demonstration against the

Israeli settlement project in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood

of Sheikh Jarrah.


The Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem was built by the UN

and Jordanian government in 1956 to house 28 Palestinian refugee

families from the 1948 war. But after the start of the Israeli

occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, some Israeli settlers began

claiming ownership of the land the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood was

built on as their own. To date, four refugee families have been

forcibly evicted and displaced by the Israeli government and an

extreme right-wing settler organization has moved in to the vacant

homes. The evicted families have erected protest tents outside of

their former homes to maintain a permanent vigil and presence in the

area. They face daily violence by the settlers.


A total of 28 refugee families are currently at risk of forced

eviction and displacement, a process illegal under international law,

especially the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits territorial

annexation and the transfer of civilian populations into occupied



The taxi dropped us off in the middle of the demonstration in Sheikh

Jarrah. More than 300 Israeli Jewish anarchists, internationals, and

Palestinians were present. But literally within seconds of exiting the

taxi, a group of border police and Israeli Army soldiers broke through

the demonstrator lines and began arresting people. Both myself and

another international from Italy were among those arrested.


We were thrown into an unmarked police van and taken to the Shalem

Police Station due South of Damascus Gate, where we were interrogated

and detained for about six hours.


"I don't even know why I am being arrested," I told one police interrogator.


"You are being detained because you participated in a demonstration in

Sheikh Jarrah," she replied.


"Is it illegal to have a peaceful demonstration in Israel?" I asked.


"It depends," the interrogator replied. "This demonstration did not

have a license."


"You refuse to grant the demonstrators a permit," I said. "But every

Friday you let the settlers demonstrate in Sheikh Jarrah and throw

rocks at the Palestinians. What's the difference?"


The interrogator ignored me.


According to the document I signed, I was arrested for "interference

with the investigation or trial proceedings" and "danger to the safety

of person/public/state."


I am also prohibited from entering the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood for

the next 15 days.


According to a Ynet news story titled "Leftists: Stop settlements in

Sheikh Jarrah",7340,L-3825182,00.html,

eight demonstrators were arrested at yesterday's nonviolent demonstration.


"Organizers of the protest claim police burst through lines of

demonstrators and used excess force to arrest some of them unlawfully.


"There are currently eight detainees being held at the Shalem Police

Station who were arrested illegally and in gross violation of a court

order," they said in a statement.",7340,L-3825182,00.html


Twenty-seven demonstrators were arrested at last week's protest, and

24 were arrested the week before.


It's getting harder not to let anger and frustration overwhelm me.

Everyday I watch more or less uselessly as Palestinians are harassed

and assaulted by both the Israeli Occupation Forces and right-wing

Jewish settlers, state and nonstate actors alike who appear to be in

open collusion with one another. Labeling the state of Israeli as an

apartheid state is a gross understatement. Palestinians and even

left-wing Israeli Jews are not granted permits to demonstrate, and

even the most civil and nonviolent forms of expression and popular

resistance are violently repressed at every turn. In contrast, the

settlers spew hatred and bigotry at every opportunity, are anti-woman,

anti-Christian, and definitely anti-Muslim. They are basically given a

free pass to deface property, commit vandalism, throw rocks at homes,

beat up little children in the streets, throw refugees out of their

homes, and worse. The Israeli security apparatus sits by and watches

and does nothing.


Everyday that I have been here it gets worse. When human rights

workers label Israel a colonial-settler apartheid state we are accused

of being Jew-hating anti-Semites. But why is it that it is always the

Palestinians who are kicked out of their homes, and always the Israeli

Jewish settlers who get new ones? One laughs, the other cries.


This conflict is not about religion, it is about economics. It is

about land and territory. And it's about power. The international

human rights movement has succeeded in restraining the occupation

forces somewhat, apart from the carpet-bombing of Gaza last year,

Israel is now restrained from committing blatant massacres, but the

reality is not much better. Through a complex process deemed legal by

the apartheid courts, the Palestinian people in occupied East

Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank are slowly but surely being

dispossessed of their homes, land, and livelihood, and nothing that we

can do is putting a dent in it. The Palestinians of Gaza are

essentially living in an open-air prison. It is incremental change at

its worst.




David is with the International Solidarity Movement, "a

Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation

of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and

principles" from Dec 10 to Jan 1.  David is

expected to return to Iowa on Jan 2nd.


For updates contact:

Frank Cordaro - Des Moines Catholic Worker

515 490-2490

frank.cordaro at


Phil Berrigan CW House

713 Indiana Avenue, Des Moines, IA  50314

(515) 282-4781





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