Al- Masara is located approximately 13 km south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The village is one of several villages which has been cut from their traditional land due to land confiscations and the expansion to the Gush Etzion settlement block and the construction of the Apartheid wall. Israel’s colonies and Wall have resulted in serious restrictions on freedom of movement of village residents. The loss of their traditional land has resulted in many of the residetns of al-Masara and the surrounding villages being forced to live under the poverty level, dependent on food aid from American aid agencies.
In 2006 work commenced for construction of the Separation Wall in the area of southern Bethlehem, a Wall that de facto annexes to Israel not only Gush Etsion but also 3,500 dunams of the villages’ agricultural land. New neighbourhoods of the nearby Israeli colony of Efrat are planned on some of these confiscated lands and the Apartheid wall will result in al Masara residents being denied access to Road 60, the primary road through Bethlehem. While construction of the Apartheid Wall has temporarily halted due to Israeli budgetary restrictions, al-Masara continues its struggle against the Wall and Israel’s occupation.
Beit Ommar is a large village in the southern West Bank with a population of approximately 17,000 persons, most of whom make their living as farmers. Five Israeli settlements are built on Beit Ommar’s land, and the main road leading in to the village has a permanent watchtower guarded by the Israeli military. Several hundred residents from Beit Ommar are currently political prisoners in Israeli prisons, and the village is subjected to late-night raids by Israeli forces almost every night. Despite the oppressive presence of an occupying army, Beit Ommar villagers have a strong history of popular resistance, with active participation from the area during both the first and second intifadas.
In early 2010, Palestinian organizers in the village united to form the National Committee Against the Wall and Settlements. The idea behind this committee is hardly new; rather, the activists are seeking to return to models of organizing used in the first intifada which transcend political party affiliation and combine political struggle with social programs and support.
Additionally, these organizers are seeking to link popular resistance in surrounding villages, and strengthen communication and cooperation especially in Areas C and B in the West Bank. Under the Oslo accords signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip were carved up into areas A, B and C, the latter of which indicates full Israeli control. The National Committee works with the Palestine Solidarity Project, an anti-occupation organization founded in 2006 to facilitate international and Israeli solidarity activists’ involvement in demonstrations and other actions in the area. While participation from these solidarity activists is welcome, the committee maintains its focus on strengthening and empowering Palestinian leadership and popular struggle organizing.
Bil’in is located approximately 12 kilometres west of Ramallah in the West Bank of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The village of approximately 1800 residents have played a leading role in the non-violent Palestinian struggle against Israel’s occupation and apartheid wall. The first Israeli colonies were established on some of the lands belonging to the village in the 1980′s. In 1991, 200 acres of Bil’in agricultural land was confiscated for the construction of the Kiryat Sefer settlement, which is now part of the Modi’in Illit block of illegal colonies.
In late 2004, more of the village’s land were confiscated, with Israeli army posts the construction order for the building of Israel’s apartheid wall. In 2005, the village establishes the Bil’in Committee of popular resistance against the Wall and Israel’s colonies.
By annexing close to 60% of Bil’in land for Israeli settlements and the construction of Israel’s separation wall, the state of Israel is strangling the village. Every day it destroys a bit more, creating an open air prison for Bil’in’s inhabitants.
Non-violent demonstrations begin in February 2005. Supported by Israeli and international activists, Bil’in residents peacefully demonstrate every Friday in front of the “work-site of shame”. And every Friday the Israeli army responds with violence, both physically and psychologically.
In December 2005, documents reveal that the settlement constructions on the lands of Bil’in lack even Israeli permits and use false documents.
In January 2006, Bil’in file a complaint in the Israeli Supreme Court and the Court issues an order to stop the construction of housing units in Mattiyahu-Est. In February, the Supreme Court orders the State of Israel to justify why its refuses to alter the intended course of the wall in Bil’in.
The first year of Bil’in’s peaceful fight is marked by a conference on non-violent resistance.
In September 2007, The Israeli Supreme Court unanimously adjudicated that the Wall path is prejudicial to Bil’in and must be altered. This decision should allow Bil’in to recoup close to 50% (about 100 hectares) of the lands that have been confiscated in late 2004. In parallel to this decision in favour of Bil’in, the Court issues another decision ordering the preservation of the buildings already built on the village lands.
These decisions do not stop Bil’in’s non-violent resistance; the villagers keep fighting to advocate their rights and implement justice. Bil’in also gets involved in other actions, among others, by participating – with other villages as well as Israeli activists – in demonstrations against the roads of Apartheid (see the site Apartheid Masked as Peace Initiative) and collaborating with non-violent resistance against the Occupation arising from other Palestinian.
In July 2008, Bil’in starts legal proceedings against two Canadian Companies, Green Mount Inc. and Green Park Inc. Both registered corporations in Quebec, these are currently building and selling condominium units in Modi’in Illit, a settlement currently spreading on lands that were confiscated from Bil’in under pretexts of “security”.
After ten months of waiting and a new injunction from the Supreme Court President, the State of Israel finally announced a new alternative path for the separation wall. In September 2007, the Supreme Court had ordered that a new path be drawn within a “reasonable” period of time.
The proposed alternative path would allow Bil’in to get back only 200 on the 2,000 dunums of confiscated lands the villagers were hoping to recoup. In August 2008 , following a two-hour hearing in front of Judges Beinish, Prokachya and Rivlin, the High Court of Justice concluded on August 3, 2008 that the new route of the barrier in Bil’in is in violation of the Court ruling released on September 2007. The Court ordered the State to present within 45 days a new route, which will uphold the principles of the ruling, and to allow the plaintiffs and the other sides to respond on the new route within 21 days afterwards. Another hearing will take place shortly afterwards.
In March 2009, American activist, Tristan Anderson, 38, a member of the International Solidarity Movement was struck in the head by a high velocity teargas canister fired by Israeli occupation forces. The impact caused massive damage to his frontal lobe, and to his eye. Even after several brain surgeries, the 38 year old Anderson was kept in a medically induced coma in a Tel Aviv hospital for many months.
In April 2009, Bassem Abu Rahma, a member of the Bil’in Popular Committee was killed by the Israeli military during one of the non-violent demonstrations after being hit in the chest by an high velocity tear gas canister fired directly at him by an Israeli soldier.
Adeeb Abu Rahma, a member of the Bil’in Popular Committee was arrested in July 2009 when the Israeli military attempt to break the non-violent struggle in Bil’in by arresting protest leaders. Abu Rahma spends the next 18 months in prison. He is released finally in December 2010.
In December 2009, Coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee, Abdullah Abu Rahma, was arrested by the Israeli military. Rahma was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. After spending 16 months in prison for non-violent activism he was released in March 2011.
On 31 December 2010 Jawaher Abu Rahma, 36, was died after being overwhelmed by tear gas fired by the Israeli military. Jawaher was the sister of Bassem Abu Rahma who was killed by the Israeli military in 2008.
Bil’in residents have continued to withstand these injustices despite the frequent night raids of Israeli soldiers in the town followed by an increasing number of arrests of inhabitants and of activists. But now, the army has toughened the oppression by systematically arresting members of the Bil’in committee in charge of organizing the non-violent resistance actions. The aim of the arrests is to discourage Bil’in residents and reduce their resistance to the occupation.
To find out more about Bil’in visit: http://www.bilin-village.org/index.htm
Budrus is located 31 kilometers north west of Ramallah in the Occupied West Bank and is home to approximately 1400 Palestinians. The village lies 3 kilometres from the Green Line. After the 1948 war, Israel confiscated about 80 percent of the land area of Budrus, leaving less than 5,000 dunums, and later established a military training base.
In 2003, the village founded the first non-violent Popular Committee to resist against Israel’s apartheid wall. The committee comprised all
Palestinian political factions, in those villages that are suffering from the construction of the Apartheid wall. The villages decided to resist its construction on their land through civil, unarmed resistance. Unarmed Budrus residents put their bodies in front of bulldozers. In response to their non-violent resistance, the Israeli military conducted mass arrests and repeated invasions of the village.
Ayed Morrar noted in a recent interview, published on Electronic Intifada, that Budrus’ model spread ” to many villages across the West Bank. In the Jerusalem district, there was Biddu, Beit Suriq, Beit Duqqu; in the Ramallah region there was Beit Liqia, Saffa, Kharbatha, Deir Qaddis, Nilin, al-Midya, Budrus; in the Salfit district there was al Zawiyya, al-Masaha, Jayyous; and near Jenin there was Zbouba, and many others. Every single one of these villages was struggling on a daily basis. I would often call the people in al-Zawwiya or Biddu, put my phone on loudspeaker and hold it to the megaphone during our actions, so that our people could hear the chants of others from demonstrations across the West Bank, and they could hear ours. It was a very strong movement at the time, growing very quickly”.
The village, while not stopping the building of the wall, did manage to change its course and prevent the loss of some of the village land. Originally the Israeli military had planned to confiscate 1,200 dunams of village land and uproot 3000 olive trees. Budrus’ non-violent resistance result in the Israeli military only taking 74 dunams of land. The village has also managed to reclaim some pieces of land which were occupied in 1948.
Ayyed Morrar noted in the EI interview that “The biggest spark of the resistance is the occupation itself; as long as the occupation remains on our land, the Palestinian people must look, and will look, for any way to resist against it. Sometimes people feel tired, but it’s never forever. As long as the occupation exists, the revolution will exist. But I hope that our struggle will remain as a popular struggle, and we don’t allow the Israelis to pull us into their playground. It’s not enough for us to wish or to hope, we must continue to challenge this occupation at every opportunity.
We will never consider our situation as a humanitarian issue — it is an issue of freedom. Even if you were to offer us a life of paradise under the occupation, we would never accept it.”
To read the full EI interview with Ayyed Morrar: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11608.shtml
The village is hardly a kilometer from the West Bank city Nablus. However the distance can seem almost insurmountable when there are road closures due to Israeli checkpoints. This can leave Iraq Burin entirely cut off from the urban center on which it depends for municipal services such as hospitals, schools and universities.
On the hill across from Iraq Burin stands Bracha, an Israeli settlement fortified with watchtowers and barbed-wire just over two kilometers from the villagers. According to a 2010 report by the UNESCO Chair at An-Najah University, “Settlers from the Bracha settlement often provoke the residents of Iraq Burin by entering onto Iraq Burin lands carrying arms, praying on the land… and throwing stones at villagers. Simultaneously, the Israeli army started accompanying the settlers on their way to the village… acting violently against Palestinians who are present.”
Bracha’s population exceeds 2000 residents, and continues to grow, despite the Oslo agreements calling for an end to settlement expansion and the Israeli government’s guarantee of a building freeze. Bracha is but one of hundreds of Israeli settlements and outposts scattered throughout the Occupied West Bank, housing over 500,000 settlers. Although violent confrontations between Israelis and villagers are a relatively new development that escalated in March 2010, with the murder of two teenagers from Iraq Burin, the village’s popular resistance dates back to the general strikes of the 1930s, when Palestinians protested against the British Occupation.
In November 2009, Iraq Burin’s population began staging weekly demonstrations to protest Israel’s continual confiscation of their land. On Saturday, 20 March 2010, the Israeli military entered the village after the weekly demonstration and killed Mohammed Qadous, 16,
For more information on Iraq Burin visit: http://iraqburin.wordpress.com/
Ni’lin is located approximately 17 kilometres north of Ramallah and approximately 3 kilometres inside the 1949 Green Line.
Until 1948, Ni’lin villagers owned 58,000 dunums (580 hectares) of land, which stretched as far as Ramle and Lod, cities that now lie inside Israel. After the Nakba of 1948, 40,000 dunums of this land was annexed to the newly created Israeli state.
After the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, the illegal settlements of Kiryat Sefer, Mattityahu and Maccabim were built on village lands. In addition, new roads were created for the ever-expanding settlements of Nili and Na’ale. Together, these settlements and their associated infrastructure ate up another 8,000 dunums of Ni’lin’s land.
Moreover, an Israeli military base and scores of military checkpoints were also set up in the area.
These confiscations left Ni’lin with just 10,000 of its original 58,000 dunums of land. Yet construction of the Wall (started in May 2008) on the western side of the village, and a military base on the southern side will strip Ni’lin of a further 2,500 dunums of land.
In addition to this, the closure of the main entrance to the village to replace it with a tunnel running under the segregated settler-only road will involve the confiscation of a further 200 dunums. This will effectively turn Ni’lin into a prison, where the Israeli military will have the power to open and close the tunnel to the village indiscriminately and at whim.
Finally, this will leave the village with just 7,300 dunums, including the land on which the houses are built.
Since July 2008, Ni’lin is mourning its dead. Yousef Ahmad Younis Amera (17) and Ahmed Husam Yusef Mousa (10) were assassinated by the armed forces of occupation. Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22), was shot in the back and killed on December 28th while taking part in a demonstration in solidarity with Gaza. Mohammed Kasim Khawaje (20), who was shot in the head during that same demonstration, died on December 31st. On Friday, 5 June 2009, Yousef Akil Srour (36) was shot in the chest with 0.22 caliber live ammunition and pronounced dead upon arrival at a Ramallah hospital.