JDL in Palestine?

If you’ve been keeping up-to-date with all things Palestine-related, then you would know that with the advent of September and the UN vote, leaked documents show that the Israeli military are currently training and arming illegal colonisers (I won’t use the term “settlers” anymore, because it sounds too fluffy) with tear gas and stun grenades, to suppress any potential dissent and unrest in the coming month from the Palestinians, as part of  “Operation Summer Seeds”. Oh yeah, not to mention the “red-line” rule- when colonisers (I’ll get used to using this term!) can open fire on feet and legs if we cross this boundary.

Then there’s this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUJqDfft1U0&feature=youtu.be

Armed and trained colonisers, guard dogs (watch the above link!) and now….. the Jewish Defence League in France and its latest initiative is to bring foreign reinforcements with military experience into the West Bank to combat any unruly “Palestinian occupiers” (their words, not mine).

My friend forwarded me this e-mail:

 Here is something very serious : The French Jewish fascists of the LDJ (Jewish defence League, Kahana Mouvement) are publicly recruiting people with “military experience” to go to the West Bank from 19 to 25 September in order to help the settlers to agress “Palestinian occupiers” . This is on their website, and the French governement (that blocked normal passengers wanting to fly to Palestine last July) tolerates this.

We are going to call people to go to Roissy airport on Sunday September 18 (at 11 am) where El-AL stands in order to demonstrate against this outrageous “trip” and against the French Government’s complicity. We are asking other French associations to join.

Could you please circulate this and issue a press release or AN open letter to the french government to protest against this ?

And if you can read French, here it is featured on the Jewish Defence League’s website:

http://www.liguedefensejuive.com/voyage-de-solidarite-militante-en-judee-samarie/

Well, September is promising to be a very fascinating month…..

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I’m not Arab, but…..

I came back from Al-Aroub Refugee camp (more on that later) and it has been a long day. I didn’t go straight back to the apartment in Tel Rumeida though. I went through the Old City and the markets again, out of the checkpoint turnstiles on the other side, turning right so I was walking away from Ibrahimi Mosque and directly onto H2’s Shuhada street. It is dotted with checkpoints, including Checkpoint 55, with a huge military base situated somewhere in the middle. I could do an entire post about Shuhada street, but that’s for later.

Let’s say, Shuhada street goes on for about 1,000 meters (okay, well it is probably much more but I don’t know exactly). Between one checkpoint situated close to Ibrahimi Mosque and the Old City’s markets on one side, and Checkpoint 55 on the other, no Palestinian access is permitted at all. It is only for the settlers. And it is this area that includes the military base and the settlements. This part of the street is perhaps around 700 meters long, with the odd soldier and settler strolling by. Or patrolling.

Walking along, I was approaching Checkpoint 55. I could have been asked to show my ID, or maybe not. A settler was dropped off from his friend as he stopped the car and got out. I don’t understand Hebrew, but he gestured and called out to the soldier occupying the booth of Checkpoint 55. Turns out he took issue with me.

The headmistress of Cordoba School pointed out I looked Arab to her. Ah, that’s swell! I love it whenever I people mistake my ethnicity/background. This settler perhaps thought something similar. Not only that, I was wearing a keffiyeh. Given the type of treatment you would receive from the soldiers and settlers for wearing any Palestine-related articles such as a keffiyeh, you could have been wearing a “kick me” sign instead. Luckily, I was only stopped and questioned by the soldier at Checkpoint 55.

So the soldier stops me first, with an “excuse me” and asks where I’m from.  “The UK” was my reply. He points to my chest and neck, asking why as I wearing a keffiyeh? “Because I find it cold” (yeah right, it was hotter than I last remember). He didn’t tell me that this was a no-go area for the local Palestinians. He put it more nicely than that. “You should not be wearing this, people here would think you are an Arab.”

Well, if, as it is claimed, that Israel is the only Democracy in the Middle East, then I should be able to express my Arabness wherever I please.

What the fuck is his problem?

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School kids in Al-Bwayre

Though there is very little to report, the latest action of today is still worth discussing. Thank goodness, it was so calm! The children of Al-Bwayre leaving school for home each day (notice the Palestinian school kids theme of today’s posts) are in a similar situation to the children of Hebron. They must pass local settlements, and are vulnerable to their taunts and their attacks.

Path and fencing separating it from the settlement, but not preventative from settlers bullying children

Military presence in a form of an observation tower

Just like the initiative to facilitate children to Cordoba School, today’s action could probably been a repeat of this morning, minus the presence of the Israeli military.

The route to school is located past a settlement, the stretch of path is at around 300 meters. Within minutes, they arrive safely at home as they turn the corner leading into their own villages, but the road block beside the settlement makes the area rather quiet, and as one would imagine, no Palestinian vehicular access is permitted, despite young Palestinians taking the same route.

Roadblock restricting vehicular access. Children no longer driven to school safe from settler attacks

There were four volunteers present, and a very small trickle of children coming from time to time. Not as individuals, but as groups. And not a settler or a soldier present! A very quiet day.

As the approach us, we tend to greet the locals and the children themselves in Arabic. So they know which side we’re on 😉

Well, we made some wonderful friends! If only I knew Arabic though…. I’m not going to upload any of our pictures, that would be a little inappropriate me thinks. But Palestinian children are so wonderfully friendly!

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“We’re teachers, not terrorists…..”

For Palestinian children, school continues a few days after Eid, and today was one of the first days of their return. So, volunteers of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM, http://www.palsolidarity.org), the Christian Peacemaker Team  (CPT, http://www.cpt.org)  and the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI, http://www.eappi.org)  made arrangements to facilitate their walk to school. Thankfully, this morning was not so problematic. One experienced volunteer this morning said that attacks from the local settlers on young Palestinian children have been worst in the past, but it received so much attention (footage was uploaded online) that it has calmed down quite a bit. Uh-oh, bad publicity! Nothing is perfect though, and children have to encounter soldiers who can stop-and-search at any time.

I don’t recall walking on my way to school being anything like this….. do you?

We were not walking children to school, as in hand-in hand. Well, not because I’m bad with children. The arrangements we made with CPT and EAPPI was to facilitate their movements, so we have a connection with the local Cordoba School. We are based in Tel Rumeida, an area close to Shuhada Street, with an Israeli military base and checkpoints along the way. It is area H2, of the Old City. So, this pertains to the control of the Israeli Military, and includes the illegal settlements.

For the Palestinian child, an average school day would consist of going through two checkpoints, especially if they live in area H1. Area H1 is under the control of the Palestinian Authority, in theory. Though “Jewish Access is Forbidden,” little is done- or would be done- to prevent illegal settlers from entering the area, and certainly the local settlers are no strangers to the Old City, will pro-settler tours taking place on a weekly basis and Palestinian access limited by the military (more on this later, my friends.)

As such, the difficulty of walking to school five times a week- back and forth, is the susceptibility of verbal and physical attacks launched by local, racist settler children who inhabit the  street opposite Cordoba school. Condoned by the military, police and parents, the only intervention that there is to ease such troubles is from the international activists, and as a result, have become so widely publicized to the extent that they retreated a little to ward off such bad attention.

The bottom of the hill of Tel Rumeida is where checkpoint 56 is located. If you frequent here from time to time, no doubt you can catch arbitrary stop-and-searches. This was especially the case during Iftar in the Ramadan season, when such procedures grew ever-more humiliating if you were a Palestinian. But don’t worry, is all for our security (ahem).

Teachers began to object to passing through checkpoint 56 now. Because going through metal detectors is bad for your health, though simply because they are teachers, not terrorists. So, the military accompanying the checkpoint have compiled a list of people who work as teachers at the Cordoba school along the road, to permit some through, and to prevent others. The soldiers who usually accompany checkpoint 56 are young, twenty somethings who probably haven’t been briefed properly and are clueless as to what to do. And perhaps just can’t be bothered either. But they’re still a nuisance, GRRR.

Checkpoint 56 at the bottom of Tel Rumeida

A few meters up the road, and you will see checkpoint 55, located between the settlements and the steps which lead  to Cordoba School. Upon our arrival, and that of the Palestinian children, around seven Israeli soldiers appeared. Luckily , us volunteers showed up before them. They were so rude! The pricks. Some of them looked older, and probably are into what they do and choose to stick around for their love of bullying and tormenting defenseless Palestinians. But don’t worry, its all for security, remember!

Checkpoint 55, on the way to school

Well, nothing can stop the Palestinians really, no? And many children walking along don’t seem daunted by the presence of grumpy men in khaki sporting huge assault rifles on their way to school. A few did, some looked a little afraid, and were even in tears. One child was called over by a soldier to have his school bag searched. Wow, who ever thought that paper pads, textbooks and pens could be so dangerous?

The path children use as they set for school, directly opposite settler homes

Unless you want to get really mad, verbally challenging the soldiers comes of little use to anyone. Everything that is said is trivialized. No argument whatsoever. No surprise. What is the point? It’s now come to the extent that I have no interest on engaging with them on any level, and so, I ignore them. I won’t even glance at them, say hello, or put an argument forward anymore. The fashion in which they speak to you, ridicule you just goes to show just how very little they have to say for themselves. Its weak.

They hate being photographed. There have been cases of camera-snatching, but luckily I haven’t received such treatment yet. So, they start to film and take pictures of you. Yawn. Now, I could not care less if they have my face for all to see, captured at an action. After all, as a friend pointed out,  we’re not the ones who will be getting done for war crimes. So there.

Soldiers capturing images of the internationals facilitating the children

We haven’t witnessed any serious cases of assault on Palestinian children, whether it be by the soldiers or the settlers. Though arrogantly, the soldiers mimic the small children and their fear. They put on wobbly, high-pitched voices and say “Ooh, I’m a small Palestinian kid, I’m so scared,” blah blah blah, and make fun of their arabic accents. Sometimes, it only takes the little things to wind you up the wrong way.

All in all, it has been success. I’m not witness to any atrocious displays of violence perpetrated by settlers or the military unto the small school children. Though sadly, that remains to be seen yet, and no doubt it still happens.

Regardless of settlements and vicious settlers appearing around the school, the fact that Cordoba School still stands is, in itself, a signal of reisistance. Also given that the teachers are experiencing mounting pressure from the Palestinain Authority, with a delay in salaries being paid, and a lack of new teachers as a result, the teachers of Cordoba School are essentailly “volunteering,” said the new Headmistress herself, through over-working.

Racism is clearly overt. You need not look far when you are in Hebron. And not just because of the clear racial segregation. A few meters out, racist graffiti is plastered nearby the homes of Palestinians.

GAS THE ARABS, JDL (Jewish Defence League)

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Facebook Post, Thursday 25th August

Maybe some of you have heard of it before, but I’ll put it up here just in case you haven’t:

THE OLIVE REVOLUTION- KNOCKING ON JERUSALEM’S GATES:

Tomorrow is a very common day for local demonstrations to take place in the West Bank. Now, plans have it that many popular committees up and down the West Bank are coordinating actions from FOUR areas surrounding Jerusalem, to ease their way into the city and make way for Al-Aqsa Mosque.

http://www.olive-revolution.com/news/olive_revolution_news/80.html

These four entrances into Jerusalem- all of which will be expecting demontrators to be present- are….

NORTH- Qalandia
WEST- Biddu, a village located very closely to the Wall
EAST- Shufat
SOUTH- Bethlehem

I wanna tear down Qalandia checkpoint (metaphorically speaking. Gotta keep it safe on Facebook) so I’m planning with an affinity group of internationals to attend the demonstration in Qalandia. Some of us will be attending the demonstration in Bethlehem as well.

As we would expect, the Israeli military will be stepping up their game for this huge protest going through Qalandia, Bethlehem etc. Tear gas and sound bombs aren’t the only things I would expect being fired from them. Hmmm.

Oh alcohol wipes. The only type of alcohol that I like. Perfect for countering tear gas.

Roads from Ramallah to Qalandia will be closed, they know that this is coming. Looks set to be intense, Insh’Allah nothing dreadful will happen. I hope that the worst will only be arrests….. :-/

So, all eyes on Palestine, please!

Love and Rage, xxxxxx

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Facebook Post, Sunday 21st August

Good morning,

Israeli troops invaded Hebron and arrested around 35-40 people this morning, from 1:30am in response to recent attacks. Those arrested included an elderly man, whose son has also been arrested. The Shabak were also present (domestic intelligence gatherers.) No other reports of similar arrests in the West Bank have yet been confirmed. This news came from other ISM-ers who happened to be on Twitter at the time, right up there in Nablus!

We were awoken by a phone call at around 2:30am, only to come out onto the streets of Hebron to find no military, no police and the like. The word on the street from locals who probably were witnesses was that the military were moving from one place to the next, so not that we could keep up or anything. Perhaps the military have now disappeared, though according to one report that was written at about 6am Israeli time (I’m guessing) the military are still about…..

http://www.imemc.org/article/61862?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PalestineNews+%28Palestine+News%29

Oh wait…. my mate’s on Twitter right now, and says that similar arrests have been taking place in Nablus and Bethlehem, esp[ecially at/near Aida refugee camp. So it hasn’t just been in Hebron.

We hope to complete a report on this later today, with interviews etc, the whole shebang.

And it is never bad enough, is it? Nearby Qiryat Arba, a settlement in Hebron, a young 17 year old Palestinian man was killed by settlers who were driving along and ran him over.

Occupation, fuck off.

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Facebook Post, Monday 22nd August

Oh for fluff’s sake, it is around half past four in the morning.

The Israeli Military has been invading, attacking and making arrests at the Freedom Theatre, based in a Refugee Camp in Jenin since half past one in the mornining.

Here is the Freedom Theatre: http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/

Everybody is taking turns to give very very angry phone calls to the District Commanding Officer, pretending to be freelance journalists, demanding to know what is happening right now, but they refuse to tell us. So, the District Commanding Office is doing their job very very well, obviously…..

I tried to call as an angry British journalist (“I DEMAND TO KNOW RIGHT NOW WHAT IS TAKING PLACE AT THE FREEDOM THEATRE WITH THE ISRAELI MILITARY, I HEARD THAT YOUNG CHILDREN ARE EVEN BEING ARRESTED!!!”) But they don’t give in to not telling you. I’ll try as a French journalist right now…..

Shall I keep you in the loop? xxx

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