West Bank boiling as popular resistance grows

by Maan News: 01,03,2013 (updated on 03.03.2013)

  
Protester uses a sling shot to throw stones towards Israeli forces
during clashes at Hawara checkpoint near the West Bank city of
Nablus March 1, 2013. (Reuters/Abed Omar Qusini)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Dozens of Palestinian protesters were hit by rubber-coated bullets while others suffered from tear gas during clashes Friday across the West Bank between Israeli troops and protesters.

Hundreds of young Palestinians rallied after Friday prayers to protest the death of a young Palestinian man, Arafat Jaradat, last week only five days after he was detained and interrogated by Israeli intelligence, and to show solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners.

A Ma’an reporter in Ramallah in the central West Bank said clashes broke out in different areas in the district including nearby al-Bireh, a neighborhood in Beitunia close to Israel’s Ofer detention center, the Qalandiya checkpoint and the town of Bilin west of Ramallah.

He highlighted that more than 15 young men were hit by rubber-coated bullets in addition to dozens who were hurt by tear gas which Israeli troops fired heavily near Ofer detention center.

Large numbers of Israeli troops deployed heavily in the area. They showered the protesters with foul-smelling liquids. The protesters, for their part, threw stones and empty bottles at the soldiers.

Similar clashes erupted near Qalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem during which six young Palestinians were hit by rubber-coated gunshots, and several others were hurt by tear gas.

The Ma’an reporter highlighted that high velocity tear-gas canisters the soldiers fired hit some vehicles as they traveled on the main road near Qalandia.

In Bilin to the west of Ramallah, locals marched after the Friday prayer commemorating the eighth anniversary of the popular resistance movement which started in the village when Israel started to build the separation wall.

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad joined the rally in Bilin along with Palestinian officials and faction leaders. Among the participants were the governor of Nablus Layla Ghannam, secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Front Wasil Abu Yousif, DFLP official Ramzi Rabah, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouthi, official in the Popular Struggle Front Rizq Nammura, and others.

Fayyad and the governor of Ramallah were among hundreds who choked seriously as they inhaled tear gas. Foreign solidarity activists who joined the rally were hurt as well, while four young Palestinian men were hit by high-velocity tear gas canisters.

According to a Ma’an reporter, Israeli soldiers showered the participants with tear gas canisters, stun grenades, and foul-smelling liquids while others fired rubber-coated bullets.

The soldiers, he said, chased the protesters in military jeeps between olive trees in the fields. As a result four young men were hit by high-velocity tear gas canisters. They were identified as 17-year-old Muatasim Mansour, 20-year-old Issam Yasin, 22-year-old cameraman Ali Abu Rahma, and 18-year-old assistant paramedic Nimir Malasa. Two of the victims were hit right in the head, and were evacuated to Palestine Medical Compound in Ramallah. The other two were hit in the abdomen and one on the foot.

Two ambulances were also hit by tear gas canisters smashing their windshields.

Bethlehem district in the southern West Bank saw clashes after Friday prayers in several locations across the district including in Tuqu to the east where Israeli troops dispersed a rally using tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets. No injuries have been reported.

Other skirmishes broke out in the town of al-Khader south of Bethlehem city. The clashes took place near al-Nashash gas station very close to the Israeli bypass road known as route 60. Locals told Ma’an that dozens choked as a result of inhaling tear gas.

More clashes erupted in Nabi Salih village after Israeli forces forcibly dispersed the village’s weekly protest against Israel’s separation wall and settlement activities. A statement by a local popular resistance committee said Israeli forces assaulted the participants using tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets as they arrived at Mustafa Tamimi Street. Six demonstrators were hit by rubber-coated bullets and a foreign female activist fainted during the clashes.

Confrontations were also reported at the entrance to the east Jerusalem town of Anata. Witnesses said several young men were hit by high-velocity tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets.

Fierce clashes also erupted in the central West Bank city of Salfit, namely on lands belonging to the Palestinian ministry of endowment.

Locals said the ministry decided to perform Friday prayers on that land to protest damages to the land by the Israeli Ariel industrial zone. After the prayer, hundreds of worshipers rallied before Israeli soldiers stopped them using tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets. Several demonstrators were hurt.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said hundreds of people in Abu Dis, Nablus and Bilin threw rocks at Israeli forces, who responded with riot dispersal means.

 

Palestinian West Bank protest leader, Bassem Tamimi: ‘Israel killed the two-state solution’

By  and  | Feb.17, 2013 | Haaretz

Bassam Tamimi returned to the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh this week after completing his ninth sentence in an Israeli jail. The Palestinian activist explains why he now believes in one state for all.

nariman bassem and ahed big haaretzBassem and Nariman Tamimi, with daughter Ah’d  Photo by Alex Lavac, Haaretz

Only the remains of a cream cake on the kitchen table and a few fluttering flags on the roof are testimony to the happy atmosphere in this home. However, the joy over Bassam Tamimi’s release from prison this week was considerably dampened by the grief over the death of his brother-in-law, Rushdi Tamimi. Rushdi, 31, died three months ago when Israel Defense Forces soldiers fired 80 live rounds at him − without any justification, according to a subsequent IDF investigation.

The first thing Bassam did after his release was to visit Rushdi’s grave. Bassam’s cousin, Mustafa Tamimi, was killed over a year ago, also by IDF gunfire. And soldiers did not hesitate to fire tear-gas canisters at his funeral, which I attended.

Bassam’s sister, Bassama, was killed 10 years ago when she went to the military court in Ramallah, where Bassam was being remanded in custody. An army interpreter allegedly pushed her down a staircase; as a result, she broke her neck and died, leaving five young children behind.

Photographs of the three hang in the family’s living room in Nabi Saleh, a determined village that is part of the popular Palestinian uprising. Bassam Tamimi, the leader of the uprising, was released this week after his ninth incarceration in an Israeli prison. The latest spell behind bars came after he participated in a nonviolent demonstration calling for the boycotting of Israeli products, held at the entrance to the Rami Levi supermarket in the Geva Binyamin industrial zone, southeast of Ramallah.

 

This four-month sentence can be added to the other four years Tamimi has previously spent in Israeli prisons. In a poster that reads “Free Bassam Tamimi,” also hanging on one of the living room walls, there is no date. His wife, Nariman, explains that the absence of a date has enabled the poster to be used all the times he has been arrested. She herself has been arrested four times.

For several years, Bassam, 45, has been trying to complete his requirements for a Master’s degree in economics. The problem is that, whenever he makes a little progress toward finishing the requirements, he is arrested and sent to prison. Now he is determined to get a Ph.D.

His village, in the Ramallah district, began its struggle in 2009, on the anniversary of the first intifada 22 years before. Tamimi and his friends from the village, as well as international and Israeli activists, wanted to return to the days of that first intifada, to protest the expulsion of villagers from Nabi Saleh’s well by settlers from the nearby settlement of Halamish ‏(previously called Neve Tzuf‏).

Since that time, though, Tamimi has changed his outlook. Whereas previously he supported the two-states-for-two-nations idea, he is now fighting for the concept of a single state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

This week, the day after his release from prison, Bassam explained his new worldview: “The seizure of the well is only a manifestation of the problem, not the problem itself. The same can be said about the checkpoints, the settlements, the theft of Palestinian lands and the arrests. The real problem is the occupation.

“When the village of Budros succeeded in changing the route of the separation fence, this was a minor victory. The problem is the separation fence, not its route. The problem is not the settlers’ attacks, but rather the settlements themselves. The problem is the occupation, not its various manifestations.

“When a representative of the American consulate visited here a short while after we began our struggle,” he adds, “I told her: ‘Let us say you were Wonder Woman and you could, simply with a toss of your head, make Halamish disappear. Would you solve the problem? Just look around you, at the settlements.’ We believe that our fate is not the occupation but rather the resistance.

“Israel has killed the two-state solution. That is why we must adopt a new strategy, and find a new partner for that strategy in Israeli society. We must kill the occupation and the [sense of] separation in the Israeli consciousness: The separation of people from one another is a question of consciousness. We must never return to this failed pattern of thinking. The future will not change if we continue to think with the same concepts of the past. The solution is a single state. If we believe we have a right to this land and the Israelis believe they are the ones who have a right to this land, we must build a new model. If both of us believe that God gave us this land, we must put history aside and begin to think about the future in different terms.

“I began to be active in the Fatah movement, which means that I supported its ideas,” Bassam says. “For me, as someone who never worked in Israel, the Israeli was the soldier who is shooting, the soldier who is at the checkpoint, or the investigator in prison who caused me to lose consciousness for ten days and to suffer partial paralysis in 1993 after he used considerable physical force while rocking my body during my interrogation. For me, the Israeli was the woman who killed my sister. This was the image of the Israeli in my view, and it made me hate Israelis.

“However, when we began the popular uprising, I met other Israelis, people who believed that I have a right to this land, people who were partners and true cousins. This strengthened my belief that we can learn how to live together. I have no problem in suggesting to Jonathan Pollak [one of the anarchist leaders opposing the separation fence] that he build his house on my roof. But I cannot tolerate the idea that the settlers have settled on my land. My consciousness has changed and it has taken me to the one-state solution, which means the acceptance − not the removal − of the Other. In the past I wanted all of this land without any Israelis. Today, I also accept the Israelis. If we can all change our consciousness, we can create a just country.

“This is hard, I know,” Bassam admits. “Israel wants to kill that idea as well. It wants to build a wall against it, which means that they do not want us. They are returning to the old idea of the desolate land. But we are here and we will continue with our resistance.”

Tamimi’s daughter listens to our conversation. Ahed is a beautiful, blonde-haired young girl of 11 who made her worldwide media debut a few weeks ago when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan invited her to visit Turkey, together with her mother. A large, elegant album with chrome paper pages − a gift from the Turkish government − displays breathtaking photos from the visit of Ahed and her mother, a visit that was given extensive media coverage. On returning from Turkey, Ahed told her father that, when Erdogan suggested she accompany him on a visit to a refugee camp for Syrian refugees, she turned down the offer. She told the Turkish prime minister that her heart already had enough pain.

A unique case

Bassam Tamimi’s latest sentence came after he saw Israeli police officers attempting to arrest his wife Nariman at the Rami Levi demo, and he ran over in order to free her. The judge at his trial, Maj. Meir Vigisser, wrote: “The accused participated in a demonstration that was declared illegal, and fought with Chief Inspector [Benny] Malka in an attempt to free his wife. In his actions, he was guilty of assaulting a police officer. The case we are dealing with here is unique to a great extent … It does not appear that he intended to enter into a confrontation with the police. A few seconds beforehand, he was seen standing alongside his wife and Chief Inspector Malka and appeared to be in a relaxed mood.”

The Ofer military court in the West Bank sentenced him to four months in prison, a fine of NIS 5,000 and a suspended sentence that will be activated if he dares to participate in “any procession for which no permit has been issued, or in any gathering attended by more than 50 persons.” I ask Bassam what he has gained through his struggle? “The occupation,” he responds, “is still here and is present in every aspect of our lives, so it could be said that we have not attained anything tangible. However, on the other hand, our message is being heard throughout the world. Part of our success is the fact that you two came today to hear what I have to say. And the fact that our children now have more courage to talk about their fate. And the fact that we can correct the negative image of Palestinians in a segment of the international community. And the fact that people in Turkey saw Ahed and heard her speak. But our main target is Israeli society, and there we have made very little headway. Israeli society is moving
further to the right and that is the reason why it is hard to believe that we are getting closer to something substantial. Israel is pushing us back to the idea of the armed struggle in order to again spread the lie that we are terrorists. This worries me very much.

“I am also afraid of [Habayit Hayehudi leader] Naftali Bennett’s plan. He wants Israel to annex all of Area C.”

‏(In accordance with the Oslo II Accords [Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip], signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1995, Judea and Samaria is divided into three sections: A, B and C: Area A, which includes most of the large Palestinian population centers, is mostly under Palestinian Authority ‏(PA‏) civil and security control; Area B is mostly under PA civil control and Israeli security control; and Area C is mostly under Israeli security and civil control, although the PA has authority in civil matters not related to land.‏)

‘Everything is interconnected’

“That means apartheid,” Tamimi continues. “This is Israel’s plan: to banish the Palestinians from all of Area C. For instance, my home is located in Area C and a demolition order has been issued against my home. Yes, you are now in Area C and you can feel secure because here Israel is responsible for security. Some of the houses in this village are in Area C. Half of my cousin’s house is located in Area B and the other half is located in Area C. Thirteen demolition orders have been issued against houses in this village. I have a building permit for part of my house from the Jordanian government; it was issued in 1964.

“The Israelis have issued a demolition order for 300 square meters of my house, although my house measures only 200 square meters. Perhaps I can borrow 100 square meters from Halamish. Although perhaps they will not demolish my house, they have managed to scare me so much that I have decided not to add another floor. In other words, four of my children will have to move to Areas A and B. This is the quiet population transfer. This is ‘gentle’ genocide, where no one is killed. The next generation will leave Area C and only the elderly will remain. Perhaps they will be given Israeli identity cards, but that will be apartheid.

“Because it is for the most part Zionist, the Israeli left wants to change the Palestinian consciousness and adapt it to the Israeli left’s consciousness. It is not prepared to accept our right to our consciousness. The Israeli left wants to change us. It wants to make life easier for us under the occupation, but does not really want to put it to an end. After all, ever since the Oslo era, the total area of land that the Israelis have taken from the Palestinians is five times the area of land that they took before Oslo. However, when I see who comes here every Friday in order to demonstrate with us and to support us in our struggle, I believe that we do have a partner for changing the situation.

“The two-state solution is not just. Jewish holy sites are located in the West Bank. My children love to go to the beach, which is located in Israeli territory. I love to stroll in Jaffa and Acre, which are both located in Israel. Most of Israel’s water is in the West Bank. A large portion of Israel’s revenue comes from tourism, and part of the Palestinian economy is entitled to be based on tourism. Everything is interconnected. I do not want to deny anyone these rights. I want a solution for everyone. I know that such a thing has not always worked out in every place, but the world is moving toward the elimination of all borders and toward economic union.”

 

 

Amnesty International: Israel must release Palestinian prisoner of conscience, Bassem Tamimi

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT

2 March 2012   AI Index: MDE 15/008/2012

Photo by Oren Ziv - Activestills

Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Israel must release Palestinian detained for organising peaceful protests against expanding Israeli settlement

Palestinian human rights defender Bassem Tamimi is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for his role in organizing peaceful protests against the encroachment onto Palestinian lands by Israeli settlers, and should be released immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty International said today.

Bassem Tamimi was arrested on 24 March 2011 and charged days later with “incitement and support of a hostile organization, organizing and participating in unauthorized processions, incitement to throwing objects against a person or property” and other offences. Bassem Tamimi denies the charges. He is currently detained in Ofer prison while his trial continues.

Bassem Tamimi, aged 44, is married with four young children. He has repeatedly affirmed non-violent principles in his defence of villagers against the construction of settlements on occupied territories which violates international law. In a statement in court on 16 November 2011, Bassem Tamimi said:

“International law guarantees the right of occupied people to resist Occupation. In practicing my right, I have called for and organized peaceful popular demonstrations against the Occupation, settler attacks and the theft of more than half of the land of my village… I organized these peaceful demonstrations in order to defend our land and our people… The military prosecutor accuses me of inciting the protesters to throw stones at the soldiers. This is not true. What incites protesters to throw stones is the sound of bullets, the Occupation’s bulldozers as they destroy the land, the smell of teargas and the smoke coming from burnt houses. I did not incite anyone to throw stones, but I am not responsible for the security of your soldiers who invade my village and attack my people with all the weapons of death and the equipment of terror.”

Before his arrest, Bassem Tamimi had been organising weekly protests against the encroachment onto village lands of al-Nabi Saleh near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank by a neighbouring Israeli settlement, Halamish – Neve Tzuf. The protests began in December 2009 – a few months after the settlement began to expand rapidly despite a temporary settlement construction freeze announced by Israel following US pressure – and have been largely peaceful.

The Israeli army has repeatedly used excessive force in countering these demonstrations, as a result of which the organizers reiterate instructions for Palestinian demonstrators to adhere to non-violent methods. Occasionally, individual protestors have engaged in throwing stones at soldiers. One such protestor, Mustafa Tamimi, was shot in al-Nabi Saleh on 10 December 2011 by a high-velocity tear gas projectile fired at his head at close range from an Israeli military jeep. He died the next day in hospital.

At another hearing on 19 February 2012, Bassem Tamimi said:

“International law gives us the right to peaceful protest, to demonstrate our refusal of the policies that hurt us, our daily life and the future of our children… I do not know and do not care if they [the settlements] are permitted by your law, as it was enacted by an authority I do not recognize…True justice would not have me stand here before this court at all, let alone while I am imprisoned and shackled. This case is baseless and made up with the sole goal of putting me behind bars.”

Amnesty International has previously documented the torture of Bassem Tamimi by the General Security Service, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, in 1993. After his arrest on 9 November 1993, he was subjected to violent shaking during interrogation. He suffered a subdural haematoma, as a result of which he lost consciousness for six days, during which he underwent life-saving surgery. He was subsequently released without charge on 6 December 1993 (see Amnesty International, “Under constant medical supervision”: Torture, ill-treatment and the health professionals in Israel and the Occupied Territories , Index: MDE 15/037/1996, August 1996, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/037/1996/en).

Background

Some 490,000 Israeli citizens live in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as a result of years of government-sponsored settlement construction. The establishment and retention of civilian settlements in occupied territory violates international humanitarian law. The “transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” is considered a war crime under Article 8(2) of the Rome Statute of the ICC, “when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes.” Israel’s settlement policy is also inherently discriminatory and results in continuing violations of the rights to adequate housing, water and livelihoods for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli authorities continue to construct new housing and plan entire new neighbourhoods in settlements in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank, adding to over 230 already existing localities.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Israeli authorities to put an immediate end to the construction or expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to take measures to evacuate Israeli civilians living in settlements in the West Bank. All Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip were removed by the government in 2005. The establishment of settlements not only violates international humanitarian law, but also constitutes a serious violation of the prohibition on discrimination, as laid out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), to which Israel is a state party. The International Court of Justice found in July 2004 that the ICESCR is applicable in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The presence of Israeli-only settlements has led to mass violations of human rights of the local Palestinian population

Film Trailer: “We are Nabi Saleh!” – a portrait of a Palestinian village in resistance

The trailer of the documentary, We are Nabi Saleh!

**

We are Nabi Saleh’ is the portrait of a Palestinian village in resistance. Various aspects of the Israeli occupation are reflected in this village with only 500 inhabitants.
 This little village in the West Bank will never be the same when in 1977, forty Jewish families move into an abandoned British fortress, only a few miles from Nabi Saleh. With the coming of this colony (Halamish) begins the infamous scenario.

 
A checkpoint is installed at the entrance of Nabih Saleh, olive trees are cut for security reasons and orders for the demolition of houses follow.
 In 2009 the source of the village has been taken over by the colony. From that moment, every Friday the residents of Nabih Saleh organise a protest march towards the source. Every Friday the protest is beaten down with injuries and arrests as a result.

The creators of the documentary “We are Nabi Saleh” followed the protests for six months and stayed several weeks in the village to make a unique portrait of Nabi Saleh.

The first view of We Are Nabi Saleh is expected in April.

**

Check out http://www.wearenabisaleh.com/ for more info.
Stay tuned: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jan-Beddegenoodts/211554788917904

Bassem Tamimi: “Our destiny is to resist”

Max Blumenthal    The Electronic Intifada   2 May 2011

Bassem Tamimi at his court hearing in Ofer prison, 12 April 2011. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)

When I met Bassem Tamimi at his home in the occupied West Bank village of Nabi Saleh this January, his eyes were bloodshot and sunken, signs of the innumerable sleepless nights he had spent waiting for Israeli soldiers to take him to prison. As soon as two children were seized from the village in the middle of the night and subjected to harsh interrogations that yielded an unbelievable array of “confessions,” the 44-year-old Tamimi’s arrest became inevitable. On 25 March, the army finally came, dragging him away to Ofer military prison, a Guantanamo-like West Bank facility where he had previously been held for a 12-month term for the vaguely defined crime of “incitement.” His trial before a military court that convicts more than 99 percent of Palestinians brought before it is scheduled to begin on 8 May.

Like nearly all of his neighbors, Tamimi has spent extended time in Israeli detention facilities and endured brutal treatment there. In 1993, he was arrested on suspicion of having murdered an Israeli settler in Beit El. Tamimi was severely tortured for weeks by the Israeli Shin Bet in order to extract a confession from him. Tamimi said that during the torture he was dropped from a high ceiling onto a concrete floor and woke up a week later in an Israeli hospital. In the end, he was cleared of all charges.

Continue reading “Bassem Tamimi: “Our destiny is to resist””