Sunday, December 30, 2007

Peace and Human-Rights Volunteers needed in Palestine in 2008

•Are you a woman who is interested in working for international justice?

•Are you willing to accompany farmers while they harvest their olives in the fall?

•Do you want to support Palestinian non-violent resistance?

•Are you able to spend two weeks to three months in the rural West Bank?

International Women's Peace Service

The International Women’s Peace Service (IWPS) is a team of international women based in Haris, a village in the Salfit governorate of the West Bank, which provides accompaniment to Palestinian civilians, documents and non-violently intervenes in human rights abuses, supports acts of non-violent resistance to end the military occupation of the Palestinian Territories – particularly Palestinian women’s resistance – and opposes the Wall.

Our project is run entirely by long-term and short-term volunteers. We are currently seeking new volunteers who ideally have experience in Palestine and/or with non-violent direct action and political activism in their home countries, as well as some competence in Arabic. Computer and technical skills are also useful. Volunteers are welcome to apply from their home countries or from within Palestine.

The role of IWPS volunteers includes:

•Living and working in a village alongside the Palestinian people, gaining a first-hand understanding of their problems;

•Observing and providing written and photographic documentation of human-rights abuses, both for use of the project and for use in your home country following your term in the house;

•Accompanying farmers to their fields, especially during the olive harvest;

•Responding to emergency calls requiring mediation, intervention or care, in coordination with the house team;

•Providing non-violent intervention in human-rights abuses;

•Engaging in acts of non-violent civil resistance alongside Palestinians, in coordination with the house team;

•Assisting in the development of village profiles in Salfit in order to document the long-term effects of the military occupation;

•Communicating with independent media and international press.

Want to find out more?

You can find out more about IWPS and what we do by viewing our website at, where you may also download our volunteer information kit.

Contact us by email at:

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas in Occupied Bethlehem

Dear friends and supporters,

The festive season is once again upon us and many of us will be spending time with our loved ones and friends. For many of us, this is a time of reflection and celebration. For those of us who are religious, Christmas is a time to remember the birth of Christ and to celebrate; for those who are not so religious but come from a Christian background, we have been taught that this time of year is a time of joy, celebration of family and renewed hope for our loved ones and people around the world.

During this time, many of us in Australia (whether we are religious or not so religious) will sing songs of joy remembering a little town called Bethlehem on the other side of the world. For many of us, our image of Bethlehem is a peaceful little rural/pastoral village, awash with shepards and sheep. The Bethlehem that we know and imagine is the one we see on the front of Christmas cards or the one we read about in the bible or heard about at church services. Today, however, the real Bethlehem is very different. While it is a town of incredible beauty, it is also a city under siege and occupation.

Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Christ, is also part of Occupied Palestine.

As part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the residents of Bethlehem – both Christian and Muslim – suffer each day under the brutal and illegal Israeli occupation. In Bethlehem, the town of the Christ’s birth, there is no freedom of movement, there are checkpoints and curfews and there are constant invasions by the Israeli military.

In this beautiful city, the Palestinian residents, like their brothers and sisters in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories suffer home invasions and home demolitions, leaving families without shelter or comfort. The residents of Bethlehem –whether Christian or Muslim – like their brothers and sisters in the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza – are subject to arbitrary arrest and detention without charge or trail. Their brothers, sisters, son and daughters, teenagers and young men and women, their fathers and mothers are taken in the dead of night (and often in broad daylight) to Israeli prisons, where they are interrogated and are often tortured.

Throughout this beautiful city, there is razor wire, steel cages, Israeli occupation soldiers and an ugly concrete apartheid wall, 8 metres high (28 feet) – three times the height of the Berlin Wall, topped with watchtowers and snipers nests - dividing families and communities, stealing land and water resources. The illegal wall, now three quarters built, cuts Bethlehem residents off from 70% of their land.

In Beit Sahour, where Shepard’s Field is located (the place traditionally attributed with where the angels announced to the Shepards the birth of the Christ) thousands of dunams of Palestinian agricultural land has been confiscated and stolen. On some of this land, the Apartheid Wall has been built, the rest of it has been annexed to become part of the illegal Israeli settlements that surround Bethlehem. In the last few weeks, despite all the pomp and ceremony of the Annapolis conference, Israel announced that it would expand the illegal settlement around Bethlehem, such as Har Homa, further.

In the rest of the West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem, Israel continues to also demolish homes, steal and annex land, carry out mass arrests, restrict freedom of movement, impose curfews and carryout home invasions. In the first two weeks of December alone, more than 30 Palestinian were killed by Israeli occupation forces, while another 34 were injured. Israeli occupation forces also arrested 84 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children, razed 155 dunams of Palestinian agricultural land, invaded and terrorized 41 Palestinian communities in the West Bank and carried out several invasions in the Gaza.

In Gaza, Israel has imposed a total siege, illegally carrying out collective punishment against 1.4 million Palestinian civilians, cutting of their electricity, gas and water supplies.

As a result of the Israel blockade, which has been sanctioned by the US and Europe, Palestinian hospitals are reporting zero stock availability for 90 drugs, including pediatric drugs and anti-biotics, as well as shortages of chronic disease drugs, cancer treatment drugs and kidney dialysis drugs and IV glucose solution. More than 15 patients have died at the Gaza borders due the refusal of Israeli security forces to allow them to access medical treatment in the West Bank, Egypt, Jordan or Israel. Doctors have warned of a looming epidemics of typhoid and hepatitis.

Fuel, which is needed for just about everything, including cooking, running hospitals, schools, purifying, sterilizing and pumping water, running garbage collection trucks, ambulances and ordinary vehicles is increasingly expensive and scarce. 80,00 workers are now jobless, their families going hungry, due to the Israeli blockade which has forced the closure of hundreds of factories in the wood, clothing, food, construction and agricultural industries.

In this season of joy and goodwill to our fellow human beings, please remember the struggle of Palestinian people for human rights, freedom and justice in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

In 2008, please consider how you can join the campaign for a free Palestine:

It can be as simple as writing letters to your local paper or your local poltical representative in support of the Palestinian people's right to justice and freedom and/or joining a Palestine solidarity group in your town/city and/or making a donation to aid the Palestinian people under siege in Gaza.

Palestinian Red Crescent Society (Gaza Appeal)

Break the Siege - Free Gaza Campaign

Palestine Relief Fund Australia

You can also become part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign:

Palestine BDS Campaign:

Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott

It could also include considering joining the international struggle by coming to Palestine as part of one of the solidarity organisations based or working in solidarity with the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories (or make a donation to assist their work).

International Women’s Peace Service

International Solidarity Movement

Anarchists Against the Wall

Whatever you chose to do, it DOES make a difference.

Merry Christmas (and Eid Muburak) to all.

For an end to the illegal Israeli occupation and justice and freedom for the Palestinian people in 2008!

in solidarity, Kim

Monday, December 17, 2007

Brothers and Sisters in Struggle: the joint struggle against Israeli apartheid and occupation

Bil'in 2 years of struggle

Four weeks ago, Y, the brother of one of my Israeli friends was shot in the head with a rubber coated steel bullet by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). He was attending the weekly demonstration against the Apartheid Wall and the illegal Israeli occupation in Bil’in village in the Occupied West Bank. Y had marched, along with other peaceful demonstrators, towards the apartheid wall. The IOF, as usual, began to violently attack the peaceful and unarmed demonstrators by firing teargas, sound grenades, rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition. Y and a group of others were separated off from the main section of the rally and targeted by the IOF. It was here that an IOF soldier took aim at his head and fired - deliberately, methodically and in violation of IOF regulations and Israeli and international law.

The IOF then began firing a constant barrage of teargas making it impossible for medical aid to get to Y immediately. It was only after sometime that other demonstrators were able to get to him and drag him to safety and to get medical aid for him and two others (both Palestinians) who had also been shot by the IOF in the leg and thighs.

My friend’s brother is not the first person to be shot or injured by the IOF at Bil’in or in the OPT. Every week, the IOF open fire on peaceful demonstrators throughout the Occupied West Bank and Gaza. Every week, the IOF shoot, with impunity, unarmed Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza. Every week, they take directly take aim at innocent people, in direct violation of not only international law but also Israeli military regulations and Israel state law.

Demonstration at Bil'in

In 2000, a report issued by the Israeli based Physicians for Human Rights revealed that the IOF consistently violated their own regulations on a regular basis. According to IOF regulations, a solider must only use a weapon in the event of immediate "danger to life," and when it is impossible to effectively defend one's self from the assailant other than by the use of the weapon. In their report, PHR noted that the IOF “used live ammunition and rubber bullets excessively and inappropriately to control demonstrators, and that based on the high number of documented injuries to the head and thighs, soldiers appear to be shooting to inflict harm, rather than solely in self-defense”.

PHR's analysis of fatal gun shot wounds in Gaza revealed that approximately 50% were to the head revealing that IOF soldiers were specifically aiming at peoples' heads. In addition, PHR noted that there were numerous head and eye injuries as a result of “rubber and rubber coated steel projectiles” [ie. Rubber coated bullets] revealing the “frequent misuse of these weapons, such as firing at a range of less than 40 meters and firing at the upper part of the body”. PHR went on to note that events on the ground revealed that the IOF were not following their own regulations. Instead, they were “allowing soldiers to fire when they are not acting solely in self-defense”. PHR noted that while the IOF could construe stone throwing, for example, as a “danger to life”, regulations state that soldiers must only use weapons to strike the assailant and not others, and should not cause loss of life to others or grave bodily harm. IOF regulations also prohibit soldiers from opening fire on and towards women and children.

According to PHR, while the IOF use pure rubber bullets or “non-lethal” weapons for riot control against Jewish citizens in Israeli, it use “rubber coated steel bullets” in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. These rubber coated steel bullets can be just as lethal as live ammunition. While there have been no deaths reported as a result of pure rubber bullets, there have been dozens of deaths recorded in the OPT, as a result of “rubber coated steel bullets”.

Y was lucky.

The rubber coated steel bullet, while penetrating and fracturing his skull, did not penetrate deeply enough to kill him, He has, however, continued to suffer debilitating headaches, nightmares and post-traumatic stress. Despite all of this, Y is determined to go back to Bil’in. He is determined to rejoin the non-violent demonstrations. He is determined to oppose the occupation and dehumanization of the Palestinian people that is being carried out by the Israeli government in his name.

My friend K, along with his brother Y, are just two of the many hundreds of Israelis, both young and old, who have taken a stance against their government and the illegal and brutal Israel occupation. They are just two of the young Israelis, who each and every week go to the Occupied Territories choosing to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The solidarity between the Palestinian residents of Bil’in village, internationals and the anti-occupation and anti-Zionist Israelis who each week trekked to the village has become an inspiring model for joint popular struggle, not only in Palestine but also around the world. The importance of this joint struggle was recounted by Basel Mansour, one of the leaders of the struggle against the wall in Bil’in. In speech in September to mark the Bil’in’s partial victory of succeeding in getting the Israeli high court to move a small section of the wall, Mansour praised their Israeli partners in the struggle saying:

“You came to us without considering the consequences -- the Zionist occupational government attempts to implant the deceptive and distorted idea that the Palestinians are your enemy and want to kill you. By way of this shared journey, we proved the opposite and together we demonstrated the truth -- that Israelis can stand beside Palestinians and live with them in peace and security, and even struggle with them against injustice and occupation, on the fundamental basis that this occupation is an enemy of humanity”.

You succeeded in overcoming the army's roadblocks in order to arrive here through a difficult mountainous path and were vulnerable to its shooting attacks. In this way many of you were wounded by bullets that originated from the unmerciful occupation army -- and not from Palestinians, who the occupation attempts to distort and portray as vicious animals that want to devour Israelis or throw them into the sea.

You were braver than your fearful government. You participated in the struggle actively and in every way -- morally, physically, in the courts and in the media. In the battlefield, you were on the frontlines, calling with us for freedom, in your belief that only the manifestation of justice will guarantee the creation of peace and security for our two peoples, and not the building of walls and the expanding of weapons warehouses.

You have been real partners -- awake with us late at night, in confronting the almost daily invasions of village homes by the army; together with us you opposed many attempts to arrest, and you yourselves were injured and arrested -- and you conveyed the true picture to the Israeli society. You disputed the positions of the government and the army in every arena -- until the entire world was a witness to this special connection that was created on the land of Bil'in, that united the conversation and the meeting between cultures, creeds and religions. A connection like this must be victorious, history must immortalize it.

Honorable audience, one of the biggest difficulties in this campaign was how to organize and manage the connection with the Israelis in solidarity, after the Palestinian people have always suffered injustice from the Zionist occupation. This was done while Palestinians aspire to lives of freedom, respect, and culture, and the mobilization of the most amount of Israelis possible and international representatives to stand up to the injustice. Once the Israelis in solidarity understood all of this, they became dedicated to the work and became real warriors that earned the trust of all. They contributed much by revealing the true face of the occupation -- its tactics, its lies and its organized terror against Palestinians -- in opposition to those that attempt to normalize and whitewash the occupation.

These people were always willing to take upon themselves whatever was asked of them by the Popular Committee, and more than this, often taking the initiative, offering ideas and suggestions. In this way, they demonstrated that they were true fighters -- not only fans or friends, or cogs in the machine of the occupation. They are heroes in the nonviolent campaign of the brave”.

(the full text of speech can be found at:

Bil'in Victory Celebration, September 2007

For the past two and half years, the villagers of Bil’in and their Israeli partners have been one in their struggle against apartheid and occupation. Today, they continue their struggle. Not only in Bil’in but they have now mounted a new joint campaign which has become known as “443”.

This campaign is an audacious attempt to highlight the apartheid nature of the Israeli state by blocking and shutting down illegal Israeli bypass roads.

443 is just one of the Israeli bypass roads. It runs between the city of Lod, through the occupied West Bank, connecting Lod to a number of the illegal Israeli settlements built in the Occupied West Bank and eventually to Jerusalem. On this busy highway, only Israeli plated cars are allowed to travel. No green plated vehicles allowed! (Israelis have yellow plated cars, while Palestinians from the OPT must use green plated cars, similarly Israelis carry blue ids, while Palestinians carry green ids). These roads are usually are constructed as overpass roads above Palestinian roads and Palestinians are prevented from traveling on them, supposedly in the name of “security”.

Bypass roads such as 443 are constructed on stolen Palestinian lands, where Palestinian olive and fruit groves and villages once stood. These ancient groves and villages are destroyed in order for the apartheid road to be built.

In late October, the Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall and the International Solidarity Movement and other internationals joined forces again with the Palestinian leaders of the anti-wall and anti-apartheid struggle in Bil’in. They along with Palestinians from surround villages began the first action in their new campaign – to shut down 443 for the first time. Armed with the element of surprise and carrying a long pipe barrier with the wording “Caution Apartheid Road”, more than 70 demonstrators were able to make it onto the apartheid road close it down for an hour or more.

443 Demonstration - 25 October 2007

Despite being attacked by the IOF and Israeli border police, the demonstrators were jubilant. Over the next few weeks, word spread around the villages near 443 and more and more people came to join the Internationals, Israelis and Palestinians from Bil’in village.

Three weeks after the first demonstration, I was able to make it to 443. On the day I attended more than 120 peaceful demonstrators came to participate - the majority from the surrounding Palestinian villages. This time, however, we did not have the element of surprise and as we marched to bypass road amongst a sea of Palestinian flags, the IOF were already stationed at the entrances leading up to the highway. Barbwire and barriers had been erected to prevent us accessing the bypass road above us. Many of the demonstrators remained at the road blocks determined to confront the IOF. After some time, the IOF dressed in military riot gear began advancing on the demonstration. As I looked up to the bypass road, I could see Israeli snipers with their guns trained on us. Some of the IOF began to pick up rocks and began to hurl them down at us. Some of the young Palestinian men came to check if myself and the Israeli activists were okay. We assured them that we were.

As we fell back to the tunnel that ran under the apartheid highway, the IOF began firing of more teargas and sound bombs. The noise was deafening as it echoed through the tunnel. As I approached the tunnel cautiously, I could see teams of IOF soldiers running up the hillsides, weapons raised, hunting the young unarmed teenagers who had joined the demonstration to demand an end to the occupation of their homeland. We paused as the soldiers ran by. They ignored us, to intent on finding their young quarry. As I made my way into the village, a local woman welcomed me and asked me to come up on to her balcony, worried that I would not be safe on the street. It is always hard to refuse Palestinian hospitality, but even more so in situations like this. So from her balcony, I could see the IOF gathering and the Israeli anarchists arguing with them.

I soon discovered that a young boy from the village had been detained, along with one of the Israeli activists. For an hour, the IOF and the Israeli anti-occupation activists refused to budge, each holding their ground. The activists attempting to negotiate the release of the two detainees more worried about the young Palestinian boy as they knew that the situation would be more dire for the young boy, then for their comrade. As this took place, the sound grenades and tear gas exploded through out the village behind me. The IOF continued to terrorise the village, despite the fact they were in absolutely no danger.

443 demonstration - 23 November 2007

After an hour and half, it was agreed that the Israeli activist and the young Palestinian boy would be released but they would have to be first taken to a nearby settlement. As the detainees were driven away in the border police jeeps, the Palestinians and the Israeli activists made final plans for the day and for upcoming actions.

Over the next few months the campaign around 443 will intensify, bringing more and more Palestinians and Israelis into joint struggle together. This more than anything else is a threat to the Israeli Zionist state. Israelis and Palestinians working collective, with respect and in solidarity with each other is a powerful weapon, one that the Israeli state tries repeatedly to undermine through fear campaigns and demonisation of the Palestinian people.

It is in this joint struggle that the real seeds of peace can be found. Real peace will come not through the machinations of Olmert and the Israeli state or by Abbas and the selling out of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian resistance. It will only come when Israeli apartheid and occupation ends and justice for the Palestinian people is enacted. Real peace will not be found in the hollow words bleated at Annapolis or Sharm el Shaik or at any of the other fake peace festivals. The real seeds of peace are being planted today in the fertile lands in Bil’in, Umm Sulummuna and elsewhere throughout the West Bank, where the Palestinian people and Israeli anti-occupation and anti-Zionist activists come together, as brothers and sisters in struggle. As the joint Israeli and Palestinian struggle for justice and human rights flourish, so will the prospects for a real just peace.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Abbas' road to capitulation: Annapolis and beyond

The situation in Palestine continues to deteriorate, both on a political scale and humanitarian scale. The international blockade of Gaza and the continued illegal collective punishment of its residents by Israel has resulted in soaring food prices (eg. a bag of flour has risen from 80 shekels to over 200 shekels ie. A $23 to A $57). In addition, many foodstuffs, medicines and other goods, such as building material are no longer available. According to the United Nations Office for Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories there are zero stocks available for 91 drugs. Hospitals are reporting zero stock availability of pediatric drugs and anti-biotics, as well as a shortage in chronic disease drugs, cancer treatment drugs, a range of kidney dialysis drugs and IV glucose solution. In addition, there are also shortages of kidney dialysis machine equipment.

Fuel which is needed for just about everything, including cooking, running hospitals, schools, purifying, sterilising and pumping water, running garbage collection trucks, ambulances and much more is increasing scarce and expensive.

At the end of July, the General Director of the Democracy and Workers' Right Centre in Palestine gave testimony to the UN on the state of workers in Gaza. He outlined the mass closure of factories in the wood, clothing, food, construction and agricultural sectors, resulting in more than 80,000 workers losing their jobs. Since July, the situation has deteriorated, more factories have closed and more workers are now left without an income to feed their families. There is no social security system in Palestine, so workers are forced to rely on what little savings they may have and their families. Many turn to crime, while others engage in dangerous acts such as trying to collect scrap metal near no-go zones or try to enter Israel illegally, both of which often results in them being killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).

Those workers still with jobs often continued to work for months without pay. Currently, municipal workers (mostly garbage collectors and street cleaners) in Gaza are striking for the fourth time, demanding back pay from February. Thousands of tonnes of refuse is now piling up on the street causing a major health hazard (combined with the lack of clean running water). UN agencies are reporting an increase in rates amongst children of diarrhea which can be fatal and the possibility of outbreaks of typhoid and hepatitis if the blockade is not lifted.

The closure of the border crossing has resulted in dozens of Palestinians in urgent need of medical treatment dying, including at least two terminally ill cancer patients were refused entry to Israel or Egypt by the Shin Bet (Israel's secret police). Dozens of other sick patients have also been denied access to hospitals in Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the West Bank.

The IOF continues to bomb and attack Gaza, killing Palestinians indiscriminately (in October alone more than 30 people were killed). However, Hamas is putting up a strong counter-attack. While the Israeli war machine is making almost daily invasions into the strip, their area of operation has been limited to around 3 kilometres on the ground. Hamas has been able to stage ambushes and counter-attacks, inflicting damage to the IOF, resulting destruction of military hardware and the loss of several IOF soldiers. According to Israeli journalist, Amos Harel, the IOF is reporting that they’re no longer facing an untrained guerilla force but that Hamas is now better equipped and trained and "fighting like an Army".

However, the blockade and political isolation is continuing to exert pressure on Hamas, resulting in Hamas aligned police shooting on a rally crowd during the anniversary of Arafat's death. Both Fatah and Hamas are blaming the other side for provoking the attack, with each claiming the other side shot first. The shooting resulted in at least 6 people being killed (early media reports stated that those killed belong both to both factions). The day following the shootings a general strike took place in Gaza. In response to the memorial day shootings, the ousted Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh has called for an inquiry into the events, while Fatah has sought to use the deaths of the Palestinians at the rally to further its factional war against Hamas.

Some veteran Israeli journalists such as Amira Hass are suggesting that Hamas is starting to lose control of the Gaza as a result of the shootings. However, while Hamas has come under extreme pressure and this pressure is beginning to take its toll, it should be noted that according to a number of experts on Hamas, there already a natural division between the political and armed wings of Hamas [1]. So while the Hamas leadership exerts a reasonable influence on the Izzidine Al Qassam brigades, the two wings in fact operate on the whole quite independently as a security precaution. As a result, the political wing is not always 100% in control of what its military wing does. This in the past has proven to be an effective security measure for Hamas, but in the current conditions this may actually undermine the political leadership of Hamas if they can not bring their military wing under more disciplined control.

However, the primary issue in relation to Hamas is how much has former Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh and other moderates been sidelined? Over the past 5 years, as a number of writers on Hamas have noted that Hamas has moved towards a more "moderate" position compared to their original 1988 charter [2].The question now is will the current political pressure that Hamas is under result in it returning to its former more hard line positions.

It is hard to tell at the moment whether this has happened. While there seems to be increasing statements coming from the hardline Hamas leaders, it is hard to tell whether this is because Haniyeh has been sidelined or it's a distortion due to the media blackout imposed on Hamas by Abbas.

Since June, Abbas’ regime have forcibly closed down any media outlets including newspapers they deem to be either affiliated with or sympathetic to Hamas. Abbas has also made it illegal for West Bank media outlets to broadcast speeches by Hamas or mention them. This has been applied more stringently to television and radio media, than print media. As a result, some media outlets such as Maan News, which is based in Bethlehem, have continued to report Hamas statements on their websites. However, when Maan's executive director broadcast an interview with a Hamas leader on the privately owned Amal TV station, he was immediately arrested. Maan News closed down its website in protest.

In the past few months, all around Ramallah there has appeared huge billboards posters of Abbas and Arafat. The idea is to try and invoke the memory of Arafat to try and bolster Abbas, who enjoys little real support amongst the Palestinian people (even amongst those loyal to Fatah). In many ways, the appearance of these billboards is a sign of the desperation within Abbas' leading circle. They know he can not win the support of the people himself, so they must invoke Arafat to try and justify his rule and actions.

In the past week, both Abbas and Fayyad have also sought to use the November 11 anniversary of Arafat’s death and the shootings in Gaza to step up pressure on Hamas. The anniversary was marked in Ramallah by the opening of a new Mosque and mausoleum built in the Moqata (Arafat's headquarters) to honour him, where Abbas gave a speech. During his speech, Abbas said about the Israeli occupation, instead condemning Hamas and projecting the Annapolis conference as a "new phase in the middle east". During the speech sections of the Fatah dominated crowd began chanting "Shi'a, Shi'a, Shi'a". While Fatah warlord and CIA collaborator, Mohammed Dahlan may have been ousted (temporarily) from power, this reveals he still has influence amongst many Fatah members. Palestinian media also reported that the same chants were used at the rally in Gaza before shooting started. In the days following the shootingsm at the rallies organised in Ramallah by Fatah and the PLO, the same sectarian chants could also be heard.

Prior to 2006, this sort of sectarianism didn’t exist amongst the Palestinian community, only beginning under the auspices of Dahlan in Gaza (no doubt with the tactic approval of Abbas). Hamas isn’t Shi’a, but Sunni like the rest of the Palestinian Muslim community. However, Dahlan tried to use it as a divide and rule tactic, hoping to isolate Hamas and tar them as being simply tools of the Iranian government and to promote sectarian fear amongst the Palestinian Sunni community. This tactic was furthered after the June emergency declaration by Abbas when he tried to equate Hamas with Al Qeda. While this may have pleased Israel and the US, most Palestinians know that Hamas isn’t in anyway like Al Qeda. Abbas soon stopped saying this because it became obvious that he was just making a fool of himself by pursuing such a line of rhetoric.

In the lead up to the Annapolis conference, Abbas and Fayyad are continuing to step up pressure on Hamas. There is much speculation in the Israeli and Palestinian media what the failure of the conference (they all expect it to fail) will mean in relation to Gaza and Hamas. Abbas will push hard to gain something from Annapolis (although he will win nothing) because he is aware that if he comes away empty handed that it will be very hard for him to continue to ignore Hamas and refuse to negotiate with them. Both sides are trying to play up that it will be real, but also playing down what will not be discussed. Olmert is under pressure from his government coalition partners, who are from the extreme anti-Arab right. While he wouldn’t have offer much, he will now not even make the pretense of offering anything as his coalition partners are threatening to walk even if Jerusalem is mentioned at the conference. As a result, there will not even be a pretense of trying to discuss the final status issues of Jerusalem, borders, settlements or refugees.

Abbas argues the conference will be real and they won’t concede anything. However, he and his coterie are already conceding an immense amount by attempting to dismantle the Palestinian resistance, refusing to reconcile with Hamas and establish national unity (the thing most wanted by the Palestinian population at the moment). Months of “photo op” discussions with Olmert have result in, as predicted, very little except for the release of a few hundred prisoners out of 11,000 languishing in Israel’s prisons. Most of those released had only months left of their prison terms and in meantime Israel continues to abduct and detain almost twice as many as they release.

Maan News in the past week posted an interview with the Abbas' appointed Prime Minister, Salaam Fayyad, who correctly identified that in relation to their agenda, what is actually more important is not Annapolis but bringing Nablus under PA control. Nablus has a long tradition of being the centre of Palestinian resistance to Zionism. It was one of the first areas to rise up in the 1936 Palestinian revolt, as well as during the first and second intifada. All the factions are represented there. If Abbas and Fayyad can bring Nablus under their control, they will have succeeded in capitulating fully to the US and Israel by all but destroying the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank (it should be noted that under international law, which Israel is a signatory too, an occupied people have the legal and legitimate right to armed resistance against occupation).

Both Abbas and Fayyad believe that if they succeed in disarming the Palestinian resistance they will be able to win concessions from the Israeli. This, however, as a number of writers, including former CIA analyst, Kathleen Christison, has pointed out is pure delusion on the behalf of Abbas and Fayyad .
As Christison noted in the wake of the June state of emergency, that while Abbas and his leadership are desperate to be seen as “moderate” and “reasonable”, there has never been any clear evidence that “Israel will never make meaningful territorial concessions to the Palestinians or even any real political concessions to Fatah, such as release of significant numbers of Palestinian prisoners” or that the US will pressure them to do [3] .

This has not stopped Abbas and Fayyad, however, in the past month seeking in Fayyad’s word’s "permission" from Israelis to increase the number of PA security forces in the West Bank. This has resulted in 300 newly trained PA security forces being deployed to Nablus, supposedly under the pretext of bringing the criminal gangs in Nablus under control. The reality, however, is that the purpose of the PA security forces is to bring the Palestinian resistance under control, disarm it and kill it off. This was confirmed on November 18 by a Fatah official from Nablus who stated that the PA was increasing its collaboration with Israel and that “Whatever the Israelis can not do, the (Palestinian) Authority comes to do it for them" [4] .

Within two days of the security forces arriving in Nablus, they besieged Balata refugee camp. A fight was put up by members of Al Aqsa Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Over the past few days, the PA security forces and IOF have once again attempted to go in and disarm the Palestinian resistance, this time in Ein Beit Al-Ma refugee camp (there are 3 refugee camps in Nablus), however, they are currently being held at bay by PFLP fighters. According to the November 18 Ynet article, Palestinian security sources confirmed that "through the operation PA forces were working to disarm the last traces of the PFLP's infrastructure in Nablus and the northern West Bank. Palestinian officials see the Nablus security plan's success as the key to the strengthening of the PA throughout the entire West Bank".

While the focus on the Israeli and international media has been on Hamas' transgressions in Gaza, such as the shootings at the rally, the arrest of Fatah members, attacks on journalists, they’ve failed to mentioned that Abbas and his regime have been systematically arresting and detaining Hamas members in the West Bank for months. Since the June, Fatah aligned PA security forces have detained and arrested without trail or charge at least 900 to 1000 Hamas members, many of whom are then handed over to Israel. In addition, they have continued to carry out brutal beatings and attack on other Hamas members, raid their offices and destroy them. They have also shut down at least 110 Hamas affiliated charities (many of whom provide aid to some of the poorest Palestinians) and arrested journalists who have reported Hamas speeches and statements. In Ramallah, the PA security forces stop and detain people at will. On a number of university's Fatah students have attacked Hamas students resulting in the death of at least one Hamas student.

Currently most of the other factions have opportunistically fallen in behind Fatah, as many see it as an opportunity to sideline Hamas. Many of the so-called Palestinian Left, who are dependent on salaries from the PA, while having staged rallies and spoken out against the excesses of Hamas and the Gaza take over, have failed to make any public statements or organise any activity in opposition to similar activity by Fatah and the Fatah dominated PA security forces. In addition, they have had little to say about the unconstitutional nature of not only the unelected Fayyad technocrat PA, the illegal decrees being issued by Abbas and the continued undermining of the democratically elected Palestinian Legislative.

As Palestinian feminist Majda Hassan noted recently, the Palestinian Left has taken "the opportunistic and unprincipled position taken by the right-wing "left" of the PLO vis-a-vis the current standoff between Hamas and Fatah". Hassan notes that instead of "harnessing all effort to fight the outcome of the Oslo Accord and instead of respecting the outcome of the 2006 elctions and forming a Unite Front with the party that won the election (Hamas) with a clear majority on a platform of resistance and reforms, the Left has, alas fallen in line with the undemocratic methods adopted by the controlling party (Fatah) and failed the historic test" [5]

In the wake of this failure by the Palestinian left and the ongoing brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine, the next few weeks after Annapolis will be a crucial time for the Palestinian liberation struggle. Whether or not Abbas and his regime will be able to continue as they have is in doubt, something which Israel, the US and even Abbas recognises himself. If Hamas can maintain control of its forces in Gaza and with stand the blockade a while longer, they continued to place themselves strategically in a good position. Abbas will not be able to continue to ignore them and will be forced to the negotiating table. Also if Fayyad and Abbas continue seek to actively disarm the resistance, this may result in pushing some of the other factions closer to Hamas, thus placing more pressure on Abbas and Fayyad. However, if Hamas are unable to keep control of its forces and starve of defeat in Gaza, they may well begin to revert to their former hardline positions rather than capitulate to the dictates of the US's favourite quisling in Ramallah.

Either way, if the failure to re-forge a united Palestinian liberation struggle continues, the biggest loser will, of course, once again will be the Palestinian people.


1.See Hroub’s Hamas for Beginners and Tamimi’s Hamas: A history from within
2.see Amayreh's Hamas Debates the Future recently published on Conflicts Forum).
3.Christison, K., The siren song of Elliot Abrams, Counterpunch
4. Waked, A., PA Security forces carry out mass arrests in Nablus, YNet,,2506,L-3472708,00.html
5. Hassan, M., The Osloisation of the Palestinian Left, Palestine Chronicle

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Politics of Fear and the Dangers of Occupation

I have lost count of how many times I have been warned by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) about how dangerous it for me and others to travel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories or to enter Palestinian cities.

On my first day in the OPT in 2004, myself and one of my team mates decided to take a walk down the settler road outside of our village to get an idea of our surroundings, including the illegal settlements. About one kilometre into our walk, an IOF jeep pulled over and the soldiers in it asked us what we were doing. We politely explained we were just going for a walk. The soldiers were clearly taken back and responded by saying but don’t you know that it’s dangerous and you should not be out walking. We responded that we were fine and after a few minutes the soldiers left, looking even more perplexed.

On another occasion, when I was leading a team of 15 internationals from Austria and Germany who had come to assist with the annual olive harvest, on a visit to Palestinian city of Qalqilya, the same thing happened. When we arrived at Qalqilya it was chaos, the whole city was locked down with only one entrance open for traffic in and out of the city which was home to 40,000 Palestinians. Palestinian cars, pedestrians, taxis, trucks carrying goods, furniture, as well as horses and carts with produce were banked up for hours as they waited to pass through the checkpoint, at the discretion of the occupation forces. As we piled out of the service (shared taxi) and lined up at the checkpoint to present our passports, the soldier on duty was clearly shocked to see so many foreigners wanting to enter the city. He looked at me incredulously and asked, “where are you going?” I responded that we were going to visit some Palestinian friends of mine (which was true).

He looked once again at my passport and then again at me and the 15 others internationals in line and then at my passport again. It was clear he could not quite get his head around that fact that we actually wanted to enter the city and we not frightened. After a minute or so, he paused and said, “you know it’s dangerous in there”. This exchange became a regular experience, as time after time both in 2004 and 2007, I had soldiers and occasionally illegal settlers tell me how dangerous it was to enter a Palestinian city or village.

During Ramadan this year, I was also told for the first time that it was dangerous to enter East Jerusalem. A friend and I had planned to take a tour of the old city offered by the Centre for Jerusalem Studies which explained the rituals and practices of Ramadan. However, when we arrived in the old city where the Centre was located, we were prevent by IOF from entering the souq (market area) that lead down to the Centre, which was located about 50 metres from one of the entrances to the Al Aqsa Mosque. According to the IOF soldiers we couldn't enter because "it was dangerous". I explained we were not going to the Mosque (although there was no danger even if we were); we just wanted to go to the Centre. The soldier refused to allow us or any other person who they thought was not Palestinian to enter the area. When I asked why, the soldier responded that it was against the law to allow non-Muslim/Arabs into the area. “No, its not”, I responded. When I asked him to cite which law or to produce a copy of it, he just repeated blank faced “it’s just against the law” (Two weeks later, I was able to pass freely into the area, past the barricade manned by IOF soldiers. Clearly “the law” had changed in that period of time).

On Friday, I was once again told that it was “dangerous” and “against the law” (but only if I was Jewish) to enter a Palestinian area. Myself, a Palestinian friend and another international friend on our day off decided we would make a day trip to Jericho in the Jordan Valley. I had never been and was keen to see the area. After 40 minutes we arrived at the checkpoint into the city and a young soldier asked to see the IDs of our Palestinian driver, my Palestinian friend, as well as my and my other friend’s passports. The soldier was clearly trying to be friendly and helpful, trying to put a human face on the occupation. He asked me to wind down the window and to my surprised asked me if I was Jewish or Christian (but didn't ask if I could have possibly also have been Muslim).

Although, I often describe myself as an agnostic leaning towards atheism, when I am asked in Palestine it usually just much easier to say I am a Christian because generally it would take to long to explain what an agnostic is and why I was one (perhaps it’s the Catholic upbringing/guilt that has prevent me from becoming a true atheist like other good socialists :)

So in response to the IOF soldier’s question, I said I was Christian but then asked him why it was relevant. The soldier responded that he could not let me enter Jericho if I was Jewish. When I asked why, he again responded with the familiar line of “it’s dangerous”. I responded saying, well even if I was Jewish it would not stop me from going to Jericho. No, he said, "you can’t it’s against the law". Once again, I responded "No, its not". After a few minute, the soldier responded with, "well its seems quite in there now but..." and then decided to wave us through.

While it is true there are laws that prevent Israelis from entering PA controlled areas, there are no official laws that prevent Internationals, Palestinians or Arabs who are Jewish from entering the West Bank or PA controlled area such as Jericho (in relation to the law prohibiting Israeli citizens entering the PA controlled areas, many Israeli Jewish solidarity activists defy this law and enter anyway, while in the case of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, the law is more often then not enforced).

The regular repetition of this fallacy by IOF soldiers and the constant refrain that "its dangerous" to enter Palestinian areas or zones is part of the politics of fear utilised by the Zionist state to advance the states interests and to justify and maintain the repressive occupation of 4 million Palestinians in the name of “security”. By promoting the idea the Israeli state (despite having the 4th strongest military in the world) is constantly in danger of being destroyed and is the perpetual victim rather then the oppressor, the Zionist state and their supporters are able to blur the line between reality and fiction and disguise its acts of aggression as defensive acts.

As veteran Israeli report, Amira Hass, noted last year in relation to the Lebanon war and the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine, “the purpose of instilling such fear in Israelis is to win ongoing support for the IDF's policy of constant escalation … They [the IDF] need public silence about the free use the IDF makes of the weapons and ammunition that it puts into its soldiers' hands. This serial intimidation is meant to give the IDF a free hand while it expands its operational infrastructure …”. In addition notes Hass “The military establishment in Israel is joined at the hip with the political decision-making establishment, and hyping the security threat facing Israelis, while completely disengaging from the reality of the Israeli occupation, assures continued Israeli support for the myth that there is a military "solution" but not a political one. This in turn provides support for the ongoing regime of occupation and dispossession and for the privileges that this bestows on Israelis”.

The politics of fear function in a manner so as to ensure that the source of the conflict becomes mystified and decontextualised. As Amira Hass notes in another of her articles published in 2001, most Israelis, including the young soldiers who serve in the IOF in the West Bank and Gaza, fail to make the connection that the ongoing Israeli occupation, which controls every facet of the lives of Palestinians, is the reason for the Palestinian resistance. Hass notes, that individual soldiers and most Israelis “can’t find any connection between the hundreds of Palestinians civilians who were killed by IDF fire in the last year and the widespread popular support for the terror attacks inside Israel”. They do not see the “connection between the expropriation of Palestinian land for expanding settlements for Jews only and the ban on Palestinian construction on their lands or even to install a water pipe, because it's in Area C, meaning under Israeli security and civil command - and the stone throwing at Israeli cars”. Israelis, including individual soldiers, fail to see the “connection between the green lawns of the settlements when there's not enough water to drink in Palestinian villages and refugee camps next door - and the Palestinian gunfire at settlements and Israeli civilians driving on roads that are forbidden to Palestinian drivers”.

In addition, notes Hass, they apparently “can't see that an assassination of Palestinian leaders is not only a successful military operation but a proven recipe for encouraging more Palestinians to choose the armed struggle”. Instead, individual soldiers, many Israelis and supporters of the Zionist state and its policy of occupation, as Hass notes, have convinced themselves that the “Arabs” (ie. Palestinians) simply hate all Jews. They convince themselves of the racist notion that Arabs must be an inherently violent race (or Islam is inherently violent), rather that they are an oppressed people who are resisting their occupiers.

By decontextualising the reason for the Palestinian resistance, the Israeli Zionist state and its supporters are able to demonise and present Palestinians as crazed psycho monsters who supposedly want to rip the heart out of any Jews that comes near them, who don’t love their children and enjoy seeing them die and who enjoy violence for the sake of violence. In doing so, they can also create and maintain the myth that Israeli is not the aggressor and is simply acting supposedly in self defense

By maintaining the politics of fear, the Zionist state is also able to erect a barrier, both physically and psychologically, which prevents the majority of Israelis and others from coming to the OPT to see the reality of the human suffering being experience by the Palestinians as a result of the occupation. Instead, Israeli citizens are told time and time again, how dangerous it is for them to come here (other then to go to the Illegal settlements). However, little by little more Israelis and more Jews and internationals are coming to the OPT. And when they do, they discover that the Palestinians aren’t as murderous or as dangerous as they have been told time and time again. They discover that the whatever real danger they themselves may face has been greatly exaggerated and that their fears have been feed on racism, in order to pit one people against another, ensuring perpetual conflict and violence.

By breaking through the politics of fear, Israelis and international peace activists, whether they are Jewish or non-Jewish, have discovered that the Palestinians are just like them and that they too aspire to live a decent life, free of war, free of injustice and filled with love, respect and dignity.

Breaking through the politics of fear, what they discover is that in reality the people most in danger in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is not in fact themselves. Instead they discovered that the people most in danger are the Palestinian people who are suffering under the brutal heal of the Israeli occupation: who endured home invasions, attacks on their villages with tanks and missiles, who endure repeated and ongoing artillery bombardment, aerial bombing, who endure house demolitions, abduction, detention without charge or trail and restriction of movement.

By breaking through the politics of fear, Israeli and international peace activists discover that the occupation and the injustices it perpetrates can not be whitewashed and that real peace can only be built when injustice, racism and oppression is opposed and the illegal Israeli occupation is brought to an end.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Peace" under Occupation

This weekend is Eid al-Fitr, the festival that marks the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Like Christmas for devote and not-so-devote Christians, it is not only a time for prayer, reflection, forgiveness and to be thankful, but it is also a time for family, joy and celebration. Over this weekend, my Palestinian friends, whether they be Muslim, Christian or secular in their beliefs will spend time visiting each other and their families and loved ones. They will share gifts, delicious food and each others company. They will give to the less fortunate and celebrate the joys of life. However, like so many Eid’s that have gone before in Palestine, this year’s Eid al-Fitr will be celebrated once again under the shadow of the illegal and sadistic Israeli occupation.

As a result, my friends and their families, along with hundreds of thousands of other Palestinian families in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, this Eid will also remember their loved ones who have died at the hands of the illegal Israeli occupation or can not be with them to celebrate the holiday because they are languishing, often with out charge or trail, in Israel’s prisons. Many others will have their festivities, family celebration and holiday time brought to an abrupt halt by an occupation force that has no respect for another peoples’ human, civil or democratic rights.

Already over the course of Eid al-Fitr, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has conducted several missile strikes on Gaza, ensuring the Palestinian death toll increases once again. In the Occupied West Bank, the Israeli war machine has conducted a series of raids on a number of Palestinian communities, abducting and detaining more Palestinian civilians. In other parts of the Occupied West Bank, they have carried out other military operations, invading peaceful villages and terrorising the local population.

Today, on the third day of Eid, myself and another IWPS colleague were called to the village of Dier Istyia in Salfit. The IOF had once again invaded the village (a regular occurrence over the past two months) and took over one of the houses in the village. All of the family, except for the four youngest daughters aged between 6 and 16 years of age, were out of the house harvesting their olives (many of the rural family’s use the last day of the Eid holiday, when family members do not have to go to paid work, to go to their fields to harvest their trees).

According to the young girls and the neighbours who came to their aid, 8 Israel occupation soldiers forced their way into the house and then used the young girls as human shields, forcing them to accompany the invading soldiers to the roof where an illegal military observation and surveillance post was established (under international law, not only is the invasion of civilian property illegal, it is also illegal under international and Israeli law to use civilians as human shields).

Later as we sat with the family taking their testimonies, the two youngest girls, aged 6 and 9, kept shyly staring and smiling at me and my team mate. As I sat there, I could only imagine how scared these little girls must have been to have 8 huge men that they did not know, decked out with automatic rifles, grenades and other high grade weaponry burst into their home. How terrifying it must have been to be forced, against their will, to act as human shields. All I could think as I sat there was what sort of psychological damage must this do to a young, vulnerable and impressionable child.

Over the Eid al-Fitr festival, the brutal Israeli occupation will continue unabated. At the same time, Israel will continue to announce to the world that it a true seeker of peace.

As Israel speaks of peace, the “on-the-ground” content of Israel’s “peace package”, however, reveals the hollowness of its rhetoric. During the last month alone, before the festival of Eid, during the holy month of Ramadan (13 September to 11 October), Israel’s idea of “peace” saw its occupation forces claimed the lives of 24 Palestinians, 3 of them children.

During this holy month, the Israeli state and the “most moral army in the world”, also wounded another 95 Palestinians, 26 of whom were children. During this same month, when Israel had been telling the world it wanted peace (yet again), its government voted to illegally and collectively punish 1.4 million Palestinian civilians – men, women and children - in the Gaza by cutting of their electricity, their gas supplies, water and other basic amenities, thus breaching international law and the Fourth Geneva convention to which Israel is a signatory.

As part of Israel’s “peace package” during the holy month of Ramadan, Israel’s war machine carried out military assaults on 97 Palestinian communities in the West Bank, ensuring thousands of Palestinian families were terrorised and traumatised. And while Israel made a big deal on the world stage of releasing 92 Palestinian prisoners from its jails, supposedly as a Ramadan goodwill gesture and in order to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, its occupation forces kidnapped and detained almost twice that number (172 in total, mainly from the West Bank) during the holy month ensuring that there would be more Palestinians languish in Israel’s prisons at the end of the month of Ramadan than at the beginning (the current figure now exceeds 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners)

The month of Ramadan, also saw the so-called “peaceniks” of the Israeli Zionist state sanction the razing and destruction of 370 dunams of Palestinian agricultural land, destroying the livelihood of hundreds of Palestinian families, as part of Israel’s renewed “peace package”. They also authorised the expansion of the illegal Israeli settlements and continued to construct the Apartheid Wall and stole another 1,130 dunams of Palestinian land in Occupied East Jerusalem. During this same period, “the most moral army in the world” left hundreds of Palestinians homeless by demolishing 23 Palestinian homes and destroying two apartment blocks.

During the holy month of Ramadan, the “peaceniks” of the Israeli Zionist state fostered peaceful relationships with the Palestinian people by preventing tens of thousands of Palestinians from accessing their holy sites, including preventing them from praying at the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Temple Mount in Occupied East Jerusalem and forcibly closing the Ibrahim Mosque in Occupied Hebron for 9 days during the holy month.

During Ramadan, the Palestinian people also marked the 7th anniversary of the Al Aqsa Intifada, mourning the death of 4,329 Palestinians, of whom 3,413 were civilians, including 805 children. While Israel played pretend games of peace, Palestinians remember the 23,245 Palestinians, wounded by Israel’s war machine and that it had destroyed more than 38,350 dunams of Palestinian land, as well as 5861 Palestinian homes, either completely or partially, leaving thousands upon thousands of Palestinian men, women and children homeless.

As American academic and writer on the Middle East, Joseph Massad, noted in his March article, “Israel’s Right to Be Racist” ( which appeared in Egypt’s Ahram Weekly, Israel’s idea of peace is to be allowed, unchallenged, to impose apartheid in the West Bank and Gaza (as well as Occupied East Jerusalem) There can, however, never be “peace under occupation”, as the Palestinian people know from bitter experience.

As Eid al-Fitr draws to a close, I will marvel once again at the resilience of the Palestinian people and their ability to remain samoud (steadfast) in the face of such adversity. I will, once again, be inspired by the ability of so many Palestinians to open their hearts to others, to be able to love and forgive, despite all that has been done to them. And I will, once again, wonder if any of us had to endure what the Palestinian people have endured for so long, could we do the same?

As Eid al-Fitr draws to a close, the Palestinian people will continue in their struggle for justice and freedom and they will continue to demand an end to the Israeli occupation - as a real and lasting peace can only start to be built when an occupied people are no longer occupied.

Eid Marbarak to all...
(Happy Eid to all...)

Gideon Levy: The Children of 5767

This article written by veteran Israeli journalist, Gideon Levy, first appeared in the Israeli daily, Ha'aretz.

The Children of 5767
29 September, 2007

It was a pretty quiet year, relatively speaking. Only 457 Palestinians and 10 Israelis were killed, according to the B'Tselem human rights organization, including the victims of Qassam rockets. Fewer casualties than in many previous years. However, it was still a terrible year: 92 Palestinian children were killed (fortunately, not a single Israeli child was killed by Palestinians, despite the Qassams). One-fifth of the Palestinians killed were children and teens - a disproportionate, almost unprecedented number. The Jewish year of 5767. Almost 100 children, who were alive and playing last New Year, didn't survive to see this one.

One year. Close to 8,000 kilometers were covered in the newspaper's small, armored Rover - not including the hundreds of kilometers in the old yellow Mercedes taxi belonging to Munir and Sa'id, our dedicated drivers in Gaza. This is how we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the occupation. No one can argue anymore that it's only a temporary, passing phenomenon. Israel is the occupation. The occupation is Israel.

We set out each week in the footsteps of the fighters, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, trying to document the deeds of Israel Defense Forces soldiers, Border Police officers, Shin Bet security service investigators and Civil Administration personnel - the mighty occupation army that leaves behind in its wake horrific killing and destruction, this year as every year, for four decades.

And this was the year of the children that were killed. We didn't get to all of their homes, only to some; homes of bereavement where parents weep bitterly over their children, who were climbing a fig tree in the yard, or sitting on a bench in the street, or preparing for an exam, or on their way home from school, or sleeping peacefully in the false security of their homes.

A few of them also threw a rock at an armored vehicle or touched a forbidden fence. All came under live fire, some of which was deliberately aimed at them, cutting them down in their youth. From Mohammed (al-Zakh) to Mahmoud (al-Qarinawi), from the boy who was buried twice in Gaza to the boy who was buried in Israel. These are the stories of the children of 5767.

The first of them was buried twice. Abdullah al-Zakh identified half of the body of his son Mahmoud, in the morgue refrigerator of Shifa Hospital in Gaza, by the boy's belt and the socks on his feet. This was shortly before last Rosh Hashanah. The next day, when the Israel Defense Forces "successfully" completed Operation Locked Kindergarten, as it was called, leaving behind 22 dead and a razed neighborhood, and left Sajiyeh in Gaza, the bereaved father found the remaining parts of the body and brought them for a belated burial.

Mahmoud was 14 when he died. He was killed three days before the start of the school year. Thus we ushered in Rosh Hashanah 5767. In Shifa we saw children whose legs were amputated, who were paralyzed or on respirators. Families were killed in their sleep, or while riding on donkeys, or working in the fields. Operation Locked Kindergarten and Operation Summer Rains. Remember? Five children were killed in the first operation, with the dreadful name. For a week, the people of Sajiyeh lived in fear the likes of which Sderot residents have never experienced - not to belittle their anxiety, that is.

The day after Rosh Hashanah we traveled to Rafah. Dam Hamad, 14, had been killed in her sleep, in her mother's arms, by an Israeli rocket strike that sent a concrete pillar crashing down on her head. She was the only daughter of her paralyzed mother, her whole world. In the family's impoverished home in the Brazil neighborhood, at the edge of Rafah, we met the mother who lay in a heap in bed; everything she had in the world was gone. Outside, I remarked to the reporter from French television who accompanied me that this was one of those moments when I felt ashamed to be an Israeli. The next day he called and said: "They didn't broadcast what you said, for fear of the Jewish viewers in France."

Soon afterward we went back to Jerusalem to visit Maria Aman, the amazing little girl from Gaza, who lost nearly everyone in her life to a missile strike gone awry that wiped out her innocent family, including her mother, while riding in their car. Her devoted father Hamdi remains by her side. For a year and a half, she has been cared for at the wonderful Alyn Hospital, where she has learned to feed a parrot with her mouth and to operate her wheelchair using her chin. All the rest of her limbs are paralyzed. She is connected day and night to a respirator. Still, she is a cheerful and neatly groomed child whose father fears the day they might be sent back to Gaza.

For now, they remain in Israel. Many Israelis have devoted themselves to Maria and come to visit her regularly. A few weeks ago, broadcast journalist Leah Lior took her in her car to see the sea in Tel Aviv. It was a Saturday night, and the area was crowded with people out for a good time, but the girl in the wheelchair attracted attention. Some people recognized her and stopped to say hello and wish her well. Who knows? Maybe the pilot who fired the missile at her car happened to be passing by, too.

Not everyone has been fortunate enough to receive the treatment that Maria has had. In mid- November, a few days after the bombardment of Beit Hanoun - remember that? - we arrived in the battered and bleeding town: 22 killed in a moment, 11 shells dropped on a densely packed town. Islam, 14, sat there dressed in black, grieving for her eight relatives that had been killed, including her mother and grandmother. Those disabled by this bombardment didn't get to go to Alyn.

Two days before the shelling of Beit Hanoun, our forces also fired a missile that hit the minibus transporting children to the Indira Gandhi kindergarten in Beit Lahia. Two kids, passersby, were killed on the spot. The teacher, Najwa Khalif, died a few days later. She was wounded in clear view of her 20 small pupils, who were sitting in the minibus. After her death, the children drew a picture: a row of children lying bleeding, their teacher in the front, and an Israeli plane bombing them. At the Indira Gandhi kindergarten, we had to bid good-bye to Gaza, too: Since then, we haven't been able to cross into the Strip.

But the children have come to us. In November, 31 children were killed in Gaza. One of them, Ayman al-Mahdi, died in Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, where he had been rushed in grave condition. Only his uncle was permitted to stay with him during his final days. A fifth-grader, Ayman had been sitting with friends on a bench on a street in Jabalya, right by his school. A bullet fired from a tank struck him. He was just 10 years old.

IDF troops killed children in the West Bank, too. Jamil Jabaji, a boy who tended horses in the new Askar refugee camp, was shot in the head. He was 14 when he was killed, last December. He and his friends were throwing rocks at the armored vehicle that passed by the camp, located near Nablus. The driver provoked the children, slowing down and speeding up, slowing down and speeding up, until finally a soldier got out, aimed at the boy's head and fired. Jamil's horses were left in their stable, and his family was left to mourn.

And what did 16-year-old Taha al-Jawi do to get himself killed? The IDF claimed that he tried to sabotage the barbed-wire fence surrounding the abandoned Atarot airport; his friends said he was just playing soccer and had gone to chase after the ball. Whatever the circumstances, the response from the soldiers was quick and decisive: a bullet in the leg that caused him to bleed to death, lying in a muddy ditch by the side of the road. Not a word of regret, not a word of condemnation from the IDF spokesman, when we asked for a comment. Live fire directed at unarmed children who weren't endangering anyone, with no prior warning.

Abir Aramin was even younger; she was just 11. The daughter of an activist in the Combatants for Peace organization, in January she left her school in Anata and was on the way to buy candy in a little shop. She was fired upon from a Border Police vehicle. Bassam, her father, told us back then with bloodshot eyes and in a strangled voice: "I told myself that I don't want to take revenge. Revenge will be for this 'hero,' who was so 'threatened' by my daughter that he shot and killed her, to stand trial for it." But just a few days ago the authorities announced that the case was being closed: The Border Police apparently acted appropriately.

"I'm not going to exploit my daughter's blood for political purposes. This is a human outcry. I'm not going to lose my mind just because I lost my heart," the grieving father, who has many Israeli friends, also told us.

In Nablus, we documented the use of children as human shields - the use of the so-called "neighbor procedure" - involving an 11-year-old girl, a 12-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy. So what if the High Court of Justice has outlawed it? We also recorded the story of the death of baby Khaled, whose parents, Sana and Daoud Fakih, tried to rush him to the hospital in the middle of the night, a time when Palestinian babies apparently mustn't get sick: The baby died at the checkpoint.

In Kafr al-Shuhada (the "martyrs' village") south of Jenin, in March, 15-year-old Ahmed Asasa was fleeing from soldiers who had entered the village. A sniper's bullet caught him in the neck.

Bushra Bargis hadn't even left her home. In late April she was studying for a big test, notebooks in hand, pacing around her room in the Jenin refugee camp in the early evening, when a sniper shot her in the forehead from quite far away. Her bloodstained notebooks bore witness to her final moments.

And what about the unborn babies? They weren't safe either. A bullet in the back of Maha Qatuni, a woman who was seven months pregnant and got up during the night to protect her children in their home, struck her fetus in the womb, shattering its head. The wounded mother lay in the Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus, hooked up to numerous tubes. She was going to name the baby Daoud. Does killing a fetus count as murder? And how "old" was the deceased? He was certainly the youngest of the many children Israel killed in the past year.

Happy New Year.

Gideon Levy writes for Ha'aretz, where this column originally appeared.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Standing at Baruch Goldstein's grave: Breaking the Silence with Shovrim Shtika

A visit to Hebron:

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in probably in the one place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, I never thought I would ever be. But here I was standing at the graveside of the murder Baruch Goldstein in the illegal Israeli colony of Kiryat Arba, in the Palestinian Hebron hills. Goldstein, an American-Israeli doctor, illegal settler and devote Zionist follower of the racist religious fanatic Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1994 murdered 29 Palestinian men, women and children and wounded another 150, while they were at prayer in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. It was his murderous act during the holy Jewish festival of Purim and the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, that triggered the first Palestinian suicide bombing against Israeli citizens.

So how did I get to be in the one place I never thought I would visit in the beautiful country that I have come to love? The visit to Goldstein’s grave was the first stop in a tour organised by Shovrim Shtika (Breaking the Silence), a group of ex- Israeli soldiers, many of whom served in Hebron. Shovrim Shtika, which formed in 2004 and which aims to “break the silence” about what actually happens in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to lift the veil on the activities of the “most moral army in the world”.

Myself, my two housemates and another friend joined 45 other Israeli citizens and internationals on the twice monthly tour earlier that morning in Jerusalem. We were greeted warmly by Mikhael, former Israeli army commander who was wearing a yarmulke. For the next 40 minutes, as we drove to Hebron along the settler highways, Mikhael gave us a thumb nail sketch of the history of the holy land, Zionist colonisation, Palestinian resistance, as well as the religious significance of Hebron to Jews, Muslims and Christians. As we speed along the settler highway, I recalled how different and easy this journey was compared to my first trip to Hebron in 2004. In 2004, we had travelled from Haris to a demonstration just south of Hebron city. A journey that should have taken an hour and half was strung out to more than 5 hours. During the marathon journey (a regular occurrence for Palestinians), we were stopped at 8 checkpoints and we had no choice but to change vehicles 6 times, due to road blocks that prevented Palestinian vehicles from travelling extended distances. How different it was this time, sitting in an air condition Israeli number plated bus, hurtling down the settler freeway.

As we entered the illegal Israeli colony of Kiryat Arba, Mikhael explained Hebron is the only place in the OPT that has illegal Israeli settlements located in the centre of a Palestinian city. Mikael went on to explain how since 1997, Hebron has been divided into to two sectors, know as H1 and H2. Approximately 160,000 Palestinian residents live in H1, while around 40,000 live in H2. Also living in H2 are around 600 illegal Israeli settlers. H1 is supposedly under the control of the Palestinian Authority, while H2 – including Al Shuhada St and the Old City and Palestinian markets (Casbah or Souq area) - is under the control of the Israeli military. The reality, however, is that the Israeli military also control H1 and the illegal settlers are the real ones in control of H2, not the Israeli military or police.

Due to the location of the illegal settlers inside the city boundaries, the situation for Palestinian residents in both H1 and H2 is particularly horrendous as they are constantly under violent attack from the illegal Israeli settlers. According to the Israeli human rights group, B’Tselem “Over the years, settlers in the city have routinely abused the city's Palestinian residents, sometimes using extreme violence. Throughout the second intifada, settlers have committed physical assaults, including beatings, at times with clubs, stone throwing, and hurling of refuse, sand, water, chlorine, and empty bottles. Settlers have destroyed shops and doors, committed thefts, and chopped down fruit trees. Settlers have also been involved in gunfire, attempts to run people over, poisoning of a water well, breaking into homes, spilling of hot liquid on the face of a Palestinian, and the killing of a young Palestinian girl”.

B’Tselem notes that neither Israeli police nor soldiers do anything to protect Palestinians from illegal settler attacks and as a result, are in effect, sanctioning the violence of the illegal settlers. In addition, both Israeli police and soldiers are responsible for excessive violence against Palestinians carrying out arbitrary house searches, seize of Palestinian homes for observation points (often for years on end), detention, humiliation and beating of Palestinians. Both Israeli security forces and settler violence is designed, as B’Tselem notes, to force “a quite transfer” of Palestinian residents out of the old city.

I found it not a little disturbing as we made our way to the mass murder’s grave which was located in the park celebrating the life of another racist advocate of Palestinian and Arab genocide, Meir Kahane (the leader of the Kach movement which Goldstein was a member). More than anything else in Hebron and perhaps in the whole the occupied Palestinian territories, Goldstein’s grave represents clearly the racism of Zionist ideology. In the aftermath of his murderous act, Goldstein was and continues to be held up as a hero to be emulated by many illegal Israeli settlers and other Zionists. In the weeks and years after his death, a shrine had been erected around his grave celebrating him and the murder of 29 Palestinian men, women and children. The tiled shrine remained in existence for 6 years until 2000 when the Israeli government under intense pressure, finally forcibly dismantled it.

From where we stood near the murder’s grave, we could down into the hills and streets of Hebron city, where we would soon be visiting. From where we stood, the city looks so peaceful but for those of us who had been to Hebron before, including the former Israeli soldiers leading us, we knew we were about to enter a place which was, for the Palestinian residents who lived there, a veritable hell on earth.

When we reached the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which is sacred to all three faiths and where Goldstein carried out his massacre, we alighted from the bus. From here we would spend the next few hours on foot walking through the streets of Hebron city. Mikhael and Yehuda, the founder of Breaking the Silence, led us up Shuhada St, the main thoroughfare which ran though the city.

Anywhere else in the world, the main street of a city would be teeming with pedestrians, cars, shops and shop keepers hawking their wares. But the street in front of us was deathly silent. Except for an occasional army jeep or car belonging to an illegal Israeli settler passing by; the street was devoid of life. Mikhael explained to us that during the first three years of the intifada, the Israeli military imposed a round-the-clock curfew on the Palestinians in the city center of Hebron for more than a year (377 days in total), including a consecutive period of 182 days, with short breaks to obtain provisions.

Although, now not under around-the-clock closure, Israeli military restrictions are still severe with the many streets in Hebron city, including Shuhada St, being no-go zones for Palestinians residents. The Israeli military had created what B’Tselem calls a “contiguous strip of land in the City Center along which the movement of Palestinian vehicles is forbidden. The middle of the strip contains many sections of road that the army forbids even Palestinian pedestrians to use. The strip blocks the main north-south traffic artery in the city, and therefore affects the entire city”.

In 2000, in complete disregard for international law, the Israeli military forcible closed all Palestinian shops along the H2 section of Shuhada St and sealed the entrances of the Palestinians houses which opened on to the street, by soldering (welding) the doors closed. The purpose of the shop closures and the soldering (welding) of the residential doors were to ensure that only the illegal settlers had access to Shuhada St.

As we walked up the streets, we could see Palestinian children playing in caged balconies above us. The cages around every Palestinian balcony and window were to prevent the illegal settlers from throwing stones or rubbish at the Palestinian residents. As we stood outside the home of one family, we could hear them going about their daily routine inside. We could hear children playing and the parents busily doing household chores. As we stood there, looking at the bronzed lumps of solder which prevent the family inside from every being able to open the door to greet us, Mikhael told us how what we saw here had a profound effect on him as a soldier.

“What opened my eyes”, he said, “was that the people living in the house behind me have not been able to walk on the streets for years, but I as a Jew, I have the privilege to do that”.

As we stood outside the welded door, Mikhael asked us to image what it must be like for the Palestinian family we could not see. As he spoke, I no longer was standing with our group, instead, in my mind I was traversing the roofs of the houses behind us. Imagine, he said, to leave this house, the family must do so by the roof tops. It may not seem that arduous, he said, but imagine.

Imagine having to carry your groceries or one of the huge heavy gas bottles that all Palestinian homes used for cooking. Imagine having to carry that over the tiles of the roofs, the guttering and up and down make shift stairs made of rubble and brick.

Imagine, he said, if you were old and/or sick. Imagine trying to get to hospital. Imagine, he said, if your loved one had died and you must carry that person on your back, out of the house, across the roofs. Imagine, he said, to live your life like that every day.

Video: The Rooftops of Hebron

And as I visualised and put his words into images, how could I not want to cry and shout out at the injustice and the inhumanity and immorality of forcing another human being to live that way. But I bit down on my words and swallowed them whole

As our journey continued through out the day, this reaction was to take hold of me again and again – when we visited the once thriving meat and whole sale markets, now desolate, which had been destroyed by the illegal settlers and now lay in rubble, when we witnessed the illegal invasion of Palestinian homes and shops by the settlers and when we visited the homes of Palestinian families living under siege below the illegal Israeli colony of Tel Rumeida in the centre of Hebron city.

“There are lives at the end of this story”, said Mikhael. “People are caged because of me and every Israeli should see this and claim responsibility”, he said.

As we walked around the markets, we could see what looked like empty closed Palestinian shops, but upon further inspection we realised that in fact there were illegal Israeli settler families living in the shops. Yehuda, who guided us during this section of our tour, explained that the settler would keep the fronts of the shops in tact, while breaking into the shops from behind and quietly establishing residence in them. He explained while the Israeli army had finally moved to evict some illegal families from the market area a few weeks ago (after they had been there for over 5 years), this was pretty much a staged drama, as hundreds of other settler families remained illegal in Palestinian homes and residences. The IOF and the Israeli state, he explained, were quite aware of the settler’s illegal actions but nothing to prevent the settlers from continuing such actions.

Soon we were standing outside of Beit Hadassah, the first of the illegal Israeli settlements to be established in Hebron city itself. Here it was Silvana’s turn to guide us. A tiny blonde international human rights activist who works with Breaking the Silence, she explained to us the role of the international peace teams, such as the Christian Peace Makers, the Ecumenical Accompaniers and the International Solidarity Movement, who work in Hebron.

Silvana explained that the one of the main role of the international teams was to accompany Palestinian school children to and from schools and to try and prevent both settler adults and settler children from attacking the Palestinian school children.

She went onto tell with chilling factuality, how one day when she was standing duty at the bottom of the stairs that the children must walk down, a settler youth attacked her from behind with a brick. The youth hit her with such force that he not only knocked her unconscious but also severely fractured her skull. Hearing Silvana’s story, I recalled how when I was in Palestine last time, two members of the Christian Peacemaker teams were attacked by an armed group of illegal settlers wielding chains, steel pipes and guns. Kim Lamberty, a CPTer from the US had her leg and arm broken, while her team mate Chris Brown had his lung punctured and his skull fractured. They were not the first or the last peace activists to be brutalised by the illegal settlers.

Video: Settler children attacking Palestinian school girls and their teachers

Silvana, along with Mikhael and Yehuda, explained that attacks by both settler adults and children were not uncommon, as under the age of 12 years, Israeli children can not be held responsible criminally for their actions. As a result, settler adults often would encourage and direct their children to attack Palestinian children and adults. Yehuda and Mikhael explained that soldiers did nothing to stop the settler children in their attacks because the role of the IOF was to protect the illegal settlers, not to protect the Palestinians the settler youth were attacking.

When we reached the section of Shuhada Street, where the Israeli checkpoint between H1 and H2 was established, we could hear the hustle and bustle of the Palestinian community on the otherside. While H1 was only a few metres away, it in reality was in fact a different world compared to the one we were standing in. Not far from this checkpoint was the illegal settlement of Tel Rumeida, which was located directly in the heart of Hebron city.

Before walking to the streets that marked the beginning of Tel Rumeida, Mikhael and Yehuda introduced us to Hisham, a tall Palestinian man in his mid 40s, who welcomed us warmly into his home. As he showed us around his garden, he explained that the settlers above him regularly dumped their rubbish and threw rocks at his family. He explained the derelict washing machine in his garden was courtesy of settler neighbours, who had thrown it down deliberately one day when he was in the garden, narrowly missing him at the time. Like many other Palestinians, his family home had been shot at by the illegal settlers and it had been invaded and its contents destroyed. The illegal settlers had also cut the electricity, the phone line, and the water pipes, ensure that at times his family would have to go for months without water or electricity.

The worst times, however, Hisham explained was when his father died and when his wife was about to give birth to his son. When his father died, the illegal settlers and the IOF would not allow an ambulance to come to the house. So he had to carry the body of his deceased father several miles on his back, through fields and checkpoints. A harrowing journey for anyone in a time of grief.

Later that same year, Hisham was forced to carry his wife who was about to give birth to the hospital. When he reached the checkpoint, however, the Israeli soldiers on duty refused to let him pass, despite the fact he had medical documentation. Instead they told Hisham to take his wife back to his house and “let her die there”. Several hours later, they attempted the journey again. This time a new commander was on duty when Hisham and his wife reached the checkpoint. This solider was more compassionate and let them through, however, it still took Hisham 3 hours on foot to get his wife to hospital and to the medical attention she needed.

Before we left the house, Hisham and Mikhael screened a series of videos taken by Palestinian residents and human rights workers. One showed young settler girls, aged abut 12 years attacking terrified Palestinian school children and pushing a 70 year old human rights worker to the ground. Another showed a settler woman taunting and threatening a Palestinian family caged in their own home, calling the women “sharmouta” (whore) The video of the settler woman was screened across Israel, bring home for one of the first time the viciousness that Palestinians in Hebron have to endure on a daily basis.

Illegal settler woman attacking Palestinian family who are forced to live in a cage.

The final video was of the 2003 settler rampage, which saw hundreds
of settlers break into Palestinian homes, destroy them and attack the families inside. Just watching the video sent shivers down me not only as the terror of the family filming the settler actions was palpable but also because of the joyful singing and dancing of the settlers as they carried out their bloody rampage.

Upon reaching Tel Rumeida, the IOF refused to allow us to enter the colony, saying that there were new arbitrary laws in place which prevented us from doing so. As we walked around Tel Rumeida colony, Yehuda and Mikhael, who had avoided throughout most of the trip making the journey about themselves and their Break the Silence colleagues, gave us an insight into the minds of Israeli soldiers serving in Hebron and how they came to form Breaking the Silence. Yehuda told us how when he first arrived in Hebron as a grenade machine gunner, he was shocked to be ordered to fire indiscriminately into Palestinian civilian areas. A grenade machine gun, he explained has a kill range of 8 metres and an injury range of 16 metres, it was not an accurate weapon, so often you would have to fire it 5 or 6 times before you could get an accurate fix on your target. This meant, he said, that often they would hit Palestinian houses, schools and hospitals.

Yehuda went onto explain, how despite his initial shock, within a week he had grown comfortable with the morality of firing into civilian residential areas. After he finished his service, he and a number of his comrades realised that they all shared such a common experience and that they could not speak with their family or friends about what they had seen or done in Hebron and how they had all so quickly succumbed to be part of a campaign to terrorise and collectively punish a whole Palestinian city in the name of “security”.

Shovim Shtika, he said, was formed so that they could “break the silent agreement between Israeli soldiers and Israeli civil society that ‘we know something is going on but we don't want to know’”. They wanted to “tell our daily life, so that other Israelis would understand what happened in the occupied territories” and how they “had become part of it”.

Collecting photos that they had taken, the ex-soldiers decided to prepare a photo exhibition, which was to send shock waves through Israeli society. In 2005, when the soldiers first put their exhibition one display at a college in Tel Aviv, it was raided by the Israeli government and the military police. The soldiers were detained and interrogated for more than 7 hours. This, however, did not deter them and the soldiers have sought to repeat their exhibition throughout Israel, the West Bank and internationally. They have continued to speak out, collect testimonies from other soldiers serving in the OPT and to “break the silence” to expose what the “most moral army in the world” is really doing in the OPT and to the Palestinian people.

As we made our way back to the bus and I looked over the Hebron hills towards where early that day I had stood beside Goldstein’s grave, I tried to take in all that I had seen this day. As I stood there, the words of Malcolm X came to my mind, that you did not need anything else except the truth as “truth is on the side of the oppressed”.

In Hebron, as in every other place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the truth is that the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people is brutal, cruel, violent and racist. It is only in raising our voices and speaking the truth about the brutality and racism of the Israeli occupation, like the ex-soldiers of Shrovim Shitka, that we break the silence. In Hebron, as in every other place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the truth is on the side of the Palestinian people and that its the duty of all of use who believe in freedom, justice and equality to raise our voices against the brutal and Israeli occupation and demand freedom, justice and equality for Palestine and the Palestinian people.

Video: (30 mins) Israeli soldiers talk about Breaking the Silence

To read the testimonies of the soldiers from Shovim Shtika and what really happens in the OPT:

To hear testimonies of soldiers from Shovim Shtika