From: David Goodner david.a.goodner at gmail.com
Sat, Dec 26, 2009
I was teargassed in Bil'in and arrested in Sheikh Jarrah yesterday.
In the West Bank
Apartheid Wall and attempted to breach security and enter village land
that had been annexed to
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
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
http://www.bilin-village.org/english/. 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
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
Israeli settlement project in the occupied
of Sheikh Jarrah.
The Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in
and Jordanian government in 1956 to house 28 Palestinian refugee
families from the 1948 war. But after the start of the Israeli
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
We were thrown into an unmarked police van and taken to the Shalem
Police Station due South of
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
"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
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" http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,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."
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
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
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
essentially living in an open-air prison. It is incremental change at
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. http://palsolidarity.org/. David is
expected to return to
For updates contact:
Frank Cordaro -
frank.cordaro at gmail.com
Phil Berrigan CW House
(515) 282-4781 www.DesMoinesCatholicWorker.org
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