Nabi Saleh activists in France on solidarity speaking tour

by Nabi Saleh Solidarity: 25 March 2013

nariman boshra manal france

(the date stamp on the camera appears to be incorrect – the photo was taken in March 2013)

Three of the leading woman activists from Nabi Saleh are currently on speaking tour in France.  Manal Tamimi, Nariman Tamimi and Boshra Tamimi have spoken at a number of meetings, with their visit covered by some of the French media.

Below is a report in French about one of the solidarity meetings, along with clippings from the French media.

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Compte rendu de la venue à Montpellier de Manal, Nariman, Bochra de Nabi Saleh

Posted on mars 18, 2013 par

Nariman Manal et Bochra de Nabi Saleh ont séjourné les 12 et 13 mars à Montpellier.

Une conférence de presse –  tenue dans les locaux du CCFD/Pax Christi qui nous ont accueillis – a réuni les journalistes des deux quotidiens de Montpellier, le rédacteur en chef du journal du diocèse, et des représentants de deux radios (dont RCF). –  Une rencontre avec une vingtaine de personnes du CCFD, de Pax Christi et de l’ACAT  s’est tenue ensuite avec des échanges fructueux. Les sujets abordés : la résistance populaire non-violente, la place et le rôle des femmes, les prisonniers ont permis d’aborder des questions auxquelles Nariman, Manal et Bochra ont répondu en traitant le niveau local et le national, situant leurs actions sur le plan politique de la lutte du peuple palestinien contre l’occupant.

Après un repos bien mérité à la mer et une « ballade » dans Montpellier pour nos trois amies palestiniennes, 90 personnes sont venues à la rencontre du soir. Après le témoignage des femmes, la vidéo sur Nabi Saleh a été suivie d’un moment d’intense émotion. Le débat a été riche. Beaucoup de questions sur la résistance populaire et les prisonniers. Comme lors de la conférence de presse, les trois femmes ont toujours relié leur lutte à celle de leur peuple en indiquant que celui-ci est bien déterminé à mener la lutte jusqu’au bout.

A la fin du débat des amis de Kaïna TV (télévision locale associative par internet) ont remis deux caméras pour Nabi Saleh afin de remplacer celle qui a été brisée. Ce fut moment très fort et émouvant.
Merci à toutes ces personnes qui ont permis que cette soirée soit intense et riche en émotions.
Ci-joint les premiers articles du Midi Libre et Hérault du Jour (bon article, avec une coquille sur Nabi Saleh devenu Nassibala)

La photo :
Bochra, Nariman et Manal de Nabi Saleh, Kamal, Robert, et Mourad, Akli Alliouat,  Estrella Hernandez (à droite sur la photo) de KaïnaTV et Patrick Beaunieux (arrière)A droite sur la photo les animateurs de Kaïna TV 13_03_13_MIDI LIBRE_NABI SALEH002 13_03_13_HDJ_NABI SALEH001

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One Palestinian Village Obama Should Visit

by Sunjeev Bery: Amnesty International USA: 21 March 2013

Former prisoner of conscience Bassem Tamimi holds plastic and rubber-coated bullets fired by Israeli forces.

Former prisoner of conscience Bassem Tamimi holds plastic and rubber-coated bullets fired by Israeli forces.

Yesterday morning, US President Barack Obama arrived in Israel to much fanfare.  He has said that he has come to listen.  One place he should start is the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

I visited Nabi Saleh last week as part of an Amnesty International research mission to the West Bank.  The village sits atop a hill, facing the illegal Israeli settlement Halamish.  The settlers of Halamish, like so many other Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), are backed by the lethal force of the Israeli army.

For protesting against the settlement, the residents of Nabi Saleh have paid a heavy price.  I spoke with village resident Bassem Tamimi, a man who Amnesty International previously declared a prisoner of conscience when he was imprisoned by Israel for involvement in peaceful protests.  During Bassem’s most recent jail term, his brother-in-law Rushdi Tamimi, 31, was shot by Israeli soldiers at another protest in November 2012 and died days later in a hospital.  In December 2011, another member of the village, Mustafa Tamimi, died after being hit in the face by a tear gas canister fired at close range from an Israeli military jeep.

 

The village of Nabi Saleh is home to some 500 members of the extended Tamimi family.  The villagers say that the expanding Israeli settlement of Halamish has blocked their access to a nearby source of water, a spring.  For holding weekly protests against this settlement, they have suffered greatly at the hands of the Israeli Defense Forces.

Israeli military law imposed in the occupied West Bank places sweeping and arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly.  This makes any unauthorized peaceful protest by Palestinians a criminal offence. Palestinians engaging in such protests face arrest and excessive force from the Israeli military on a regular basis.

All of this becomes quite clear when visiting homes in Nabi Saleh.  Bassem Tamimi filled his hands for me with some of the plastic and rubber-coated bullets he has collected which were fired by Israeli forces in the village. Coatings aside, each bullet I examined had a hard metal interior.

Inside one of the Tamimi homes, a coffee table serves as an exhibit of used tear gas canisters and other spent munitions. And as I walked up and down the streets of this small community, residents had strung up countless more used tear gas canisters like Christmas tree ornaments.

The Tamimis have experienced this tragedy because they dare to protest against Israeli settlements. Since 1967, Israel has established some 150 illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The settler population has now grown to over half a million Israelis.

In opposing the settlements, the residents of Nabi Saleh have international law on their side.  A policy of settling civilians in occupied territory –  such as Israel’s settlement policy –  is a serious violation of the laws of war. It can be prosecuted as a war crime under the statute of the International Criminal Court.

While in Israel and the West Bank, President Obama would be wise to listen to Bassem Tamimi and other Palestinians about life in the shadow of settlements and the Israeli army.  But listening is not enough.  The US government must actively support Palestinians in their opposition to these illegal Israeli policies.

That means that the Obama administration must insist on a complete freeze on Israeli settlement construction, instead of calling on Palestinians to resume negotiations with Israel first, as Obama did earlier today.  This would be a first step to the total evacuation of all Israeli settlements from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem.

Without such a clear approach, the daily human rights violations and displacement that Palestinians face because of Israeli settlements will only get worse.  Israel’s new defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, is reported to oppose any limits on settlement construction.  Israel’s new housing minister, Uri Ariel, is himself a settler.  Without significant international pressure, Amnesty International fears that the new Israeli government will simply continue building illegally on occupied land and using excessive – and sometimes lethal – military force against Palestinians who get in the way.

President Obama must move beyond diplomatic pleasantries during his visit to Israel and the West Bank.  He should bluntly address Israel’s settlement policy and the devastation to Palestinian life that lies in its wake.  Bassem Tamimi, the villagers of Nabi Saleh, and Palestinians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories deserve no less.

Protest Voices in the West Bank

washington report cover with manal

By George Meek: Washington Report on the Middle East: March 2013, pg 20-21

When I visited the West Bank late last year, Palestinians told me how they suffer under the Israeli occupation.

In the village of Nabi Saleh north of Ramallah, scene of a weekly protest demonstration, Manal Tamini said that “the Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas into my home every morning before breakfast.”

Every Friday about 70 men, women and children, accompanied by Israeli and international observers and media, walk nonviolently down the street in Nabi Saleh singing, chanting and waving flags. Invariably their peaceful effort provokes a reaction of tear gas, sound bombs, rubber bullets and skunk water from the Israeli soldiers.

Tamini showed us a video with horrifying and heartrending images of soldiers beating women and children, a boy screaming after being shot in the eyes with pepper spray, and an observer being dragged into custody. We saw a picture of the bloody wound of her own 12-year-old son, who sustained liver damage when an Israeli soldier shot him in the side with a high-velocity tear gas canister. According to Tamini, more than half of the village’s 550 residents have been injured—160 of them under the age of 17, with one boy paralyzed. Tamini spent 10 days in jail; her husband has been arrested four times and had his camera broken. But despite the daily violence, she says, they have power from within to keep resisting until the occupation ends. Tamini believes the harsh military reaction to their peaceful protests reflects Israel’s fear that the virus of non-violent resistance will spread, and spark a third intifada.

In a sheep-raising village in the hills south of Hebron called At-Tuwani, community leader Hafez Huraini said that every family experiences violence and harassment from nearby Jewish settlers. Every day the settlers harass village children on their way to school, and every week there is a house or cistern demolition and cutting of olive trees. Settlers have poisoned more than 100 village sheep. These settlers are the most violent and aggressive of all, Huraini says, and physically assault men, women and children alike, trying to make their life intolerable so they will leave. In his first experience with them, when he was 12, Huraini ran to escape when settlers beat up his brother. His community’s nonviolent demonstrations, legal work, and international pressure have paid off: the building of the illegal separation wall was stopped, and the Israeli High Court allowed residents of 13 forcibly evacuated villages to return. Huraini has been held under arrest for a month at a time after demonstrations, but he remains committed to the nonviolent path.

East of Jerusalem, expansion of Israeli settlements threatens the survival of the Jahalin, a beleaguered community of nomadic Bedouins harassed by settlers. With international aid, the Jahalin community has built a beautiful and functional school from mud and old tires for its 95 children, and has installed solar panels for lighting in the tents that are their homes. Jahalin leaders said that the community’s 160 people (along with their 140 sheep and goats) face forced relocation. The High Court has temporarily blocked an army order to relocate the Jahalin to Jericho, but it could be reinstated and executed any time. The Bedouins told us that settlers killed and maimed their children by luring them with toys attached to booby traps, then made the parents pay fines for trespassing. “Settlers are above the law, and have no restrictions,” the Bedouin leaders said.

The immediately visible signs of settler harassment in Hebron include a main street on which Palestinians cannot ever travel, hundreds of Palestinian shops that have been closed, and huge nets erected by Palestinian merchants to catch the trash and garbage thrown down on the shopping street by the Jewish families in the apartments above. A young woman in Hebron said she knows at least one person wounded by acid thrown down by the settlers. She also said that a settler tried to run her brother down, then beat him, and falsely told police she and her brother had attacked him. She was arrested and held for five hours.

“When settlers destroy one of my olive trees, I plant 10 to replace it,” said Daher Nassar at Daher’s Vineyard, near Bethlehem. Last year he planted 1,000 trees. For decades he has been fighting court battles to hold on to the farm, purchased by his grandfather in 1916. The hilltop site is a prime target for settlement expansion, but Nassar has refused offers to sell it at any price. “The farm is like my mother, and I won’t sell my mother,” he explained. The family’s motto is “refusing to be enemies,” and it hosts hundreds of visitors annually in its Tent of Nations project, which brings people of various cultures together to build bridges of understanding, reconciliation and peace.

Tear gas at protest demonstration at Israel’s illegal separation wall in Bil’in. (Photo G. Meek)

I observed a protest demonstration at the village of Bil’in, west of Ramallah, and was nearly overcome by tear gas. Although I was 50 yards away, I felt blinded, disoriented, and suffocated for a few minutes. A tear gas canister struck my shoe and left a mark on it, but did not injure my foot. Bil’in has been protesting for eight years against the separation wall, which took about half the town’s land. First the demonstrations took place daily, then weekly. As a result of the demonstrations, as well as litigation, Israel moved its wall, but it still deprives the Palestinian residents of 250 acres of town land. Leaders say the weekly protests will continue, because their goal is to end the occupation.

These are but a few of the voices I heard. I concluded that there is widespread violation of Palestinians’ human rights: the right of self-determination, the right of return, the right of assembly, freedom of movement, the right to property, freedom from collective punishment, the right to due process in civil courts, freedom from arbitrary searches and seizures, and the right to family unification.

Palestinians I met throughout the West Bank were sharply critical of Washington’s unconditional military and diplomatic support for Israel, which perpetuates the occupation, expansion of settlements, and human rights abuses. What I heard convinced me that there can be no balance or middle ground between the oppressor and the oppressed. As Bishop Desmond Tutu put it, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”


George Meek, a retired American journalist, spent four weeks in Israel/Palestine late last year listening and learning with D.C.-based Interfaith Peace Builders and the International Solidarity Movement. He currently volunteers in the West Bank with the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Program. For more on his impressions, see his “Palestine Journal” at <http://seekpeaceinpalestine.blogspot.com>.