Thursday, May 29, 2008

Peace and human-rights volunteers needed in Palestine

IWPS calls for new volunteers
Peace and human-rights volunteers needed in Palestine

- Are you a woman who is interested in working for international justice?
- Do you want to support Palestinian non-violent resistance?
- Are you willing to accompany farmers while they harvest their olives
in the fall?
- Are you able to spend two weeks to three months in the rural West Bank?

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. IWPS 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.Computer skills, technical skills and some
knowledge of Arabic 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;
• Observing and providing written and photographic documentation of
human-rights abuses, both for use of the project and for use in your
home country;
• 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;
• 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. You can contact us at our house in Haris, Salfit,
Palestine at .

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wars Between Worlds

Dear friends and supporters,

please find below, the farewell article by Ed O'Loughin who was the Australian Fairfax papers Middle East Correspondent for the past 5 years. O'Loughlin who has a reputation for honesty and integrity has come under a lot of pressure from the Zionist lobby in Australia who mounted a campaign against him. Despite this, he was able to resist any pressure to pull any punches in his reporting on the situation in Palestine and Israel.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said of the editors of the Sydney Morning Herald, who pulled O'Loughlin's final article and did not print it (it did run in SMH's sister paper, The Age).

The Australian ABC's Media Watch program ran a story on the pulling of the article and the pressure by the Zionist lobby, which can be viewed here:

O'Loughin's last article is below.

in solidarity, Kim
Wars between worlds

Ed O'Loughlin

The Age

May 10, 2008

As Ed O'Loughlin's five years as Middle East correspondent comes to an end, he reflects on his time covering one of the world's most intractable conflicts.

THE car was still burning when we came upon the scene. A bullet-proof plate from a flak jacket lay near the wreckage, its plastic layers peeled open like the pages of a book. My "fixer" recognised the silver Pajero at once, and he hurried over to a colleague to find out what had happened. When he came back he looked almost puzzled. "It's Fadel," he said. "He's dead!" And he started to weep for his friend.

In fact four were already dead, men and boys, and two more were to die of their wounds a few days later. But 23-year-old Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana was the one who made headlines.

Hundreds of innocent people die in Gaza every year - far more than we bother writing about in the West. But footage from Shana's camera revealed that he had actually filmed an Israeli tank firing the shell that killed him, as he stood in his clearly marked press flak jacket, by his clearly marked press vehicle.

A second tank shell, fired several minutes after the first, sprayed would-be rescuers with a second cloud of three-centimetre "flechette" steel darts, killing 19-year-old Khalil Dogmoush and injuring several others, including freelance photographer Ashraf Abu Amra.

We didn't know all of this at the time, as we stood by the wreckage of Shana's vehicle. All we knew was that a press vehicle had been targeted minutes earlier, that we were standing beside that vehicle, fully exposed to a hillside where Israeli tanks were operating, and that an Israeli drone was whining overhead.

And we knew from long experience that, whatever had happened, the Israeli Defence Force would deny responsibility. This it duly did, claiming that its troops had fired only at armed militants who had attacked them at close range.

I have covered quite a few stories like this over the past 51/2 years, in Gaza and elsewhere. Since the present uprising began in 2000, close to 5000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli action, according to figures from the Israeli rights group B'tselem. Slightly more than 1000 Israelis were killed by Palestinians. In the first three months of this year, 11 Palestinians died for every Israeli civilian.

Eman al-Hams was a 13-year-old schoolgirl who was machine-gunned to death at point blank range by an Israeli officer, who admitted the act on army radio. The officer was subsequently acquitted, promoted and decorated.

Asma al-Mughair, 16, and her brother Ahmed, 13, were both shot in the head on the roof of their home in Rafah, which was in the sights of an Israeli sniper's nest, only 100 metres away. Seven members of the Ghaliya family were blown to bits while picnicking on a Gaza beach which Israeli artillery was shelling.

But if you Google any of the above names you will quickly learn - from armchair bloggers and Israeli Government spokespeople - that all of these stories are false, elaborate hoaxes concocted by anti-Semitic journalists to smear the state of Israel. Little wonder, then, that Israeli talkback was generally of the opinion that Fadel Shana got what he deserved.

And you can't help asking yourself, as you stand exposed on a roadway stained with blood and gristle and carbonised rubber, with a killer robot circling overhead, what would they say if it was you who'd been hit? For the average Middle East correspondent this is not a difficult question to answer. As a character remarked in the BBC political satire The Thick of It, looking up your own name on the internet is like opening the door to "a room full of people who are trying to throw shit at you". Fortunately, the job gives one a thick skin. But the Israeli Defence Force's culture of denial and impunity, repeatedly condemned by Israeli and foreign rights groups, does nothing for your confidence when you have reason to fear that someone you can't see is studying you on a computer screen, or through a gun sight.

The story that had brought Fadel Shana to central Gaza that day, April 16, was the killing of three militants and six civilians in Israeli air strikes against the border hamlet of Johara A'diq, close to where three Israeli soldiers had died in a militant ambush earlier that morning.

Twelve people dead - six civilians and six combatants including, unusually, Israeli soldiers. A story worth taking a look at, even in Gaza. But locals warned us that the road to Johara a'diq was exposed to fire from Israeli forces. So we got out of our taxi and walked for a few hundred metres more, bickering over our single helmet and press flak jacket: my fixer refused to wear either of them. "What difference would it make?" he asked bitterly. "You saw what happened to Fadel."

Several hundred metres short of the village, a group of agitated onlookers told us that the road beyond that point was swept by tank and sniper fire. So we stood around for a while, watching the smoke and hearing the odd thud, and then we turned and trudged back again.

This part of the story was not worth taking any more risks for. And the truth was, I hadn't even come to Gaza that day to write about the conflict. I had come to prepare an article looking back on my own five years plus in Jerusalem - this article - to be published the day after I left. It was supposed to be a personal piece, elegiac rather than angry, a touch of melancholy instead of the usual journalistic attrition.

So instead of writing more about the thousands of people who'd been killed since I first went to the Gaza Strip, the blockaded economy, the human misery, I had decided to write about an aspect of its social and political deterioration that had touched me personally: the fact that you can no longer get a drink there. I had gone to Gaza that day to look up an old acquaintance, Hafez Daoud, the last barman in Gaza.

Hafez Daoud is a 49-year-old member of Gaza's ancient Orthodox Christian congregation, a carpenter who spent most of his life happily working on building sites in Israel. But when the second intifada broke out almost eight years ago Israel revoked his work permit and he found himself, along with 1.5 million other Palestinians, locked away from the world in a fenced-off ghetto.

Luckily for Daoud, he was offered a job as barman in a United Nations-run social club beside Gaza's fishing harbour. After years of creeping Islamisation, it was the last place in Gaza where alcohol was openly served - albeit only to foreigners.

"I liked working there," he remembers fondly. "It was like a different atmosphere to anything else in Gaza. There was always music, people having a good time."

Then in the early hours of New Year's Day 2006 unknown gunmen broke into the closed building and blew it up. The Beach Club never reopened and Daoud lost his job.

Apart from all its other problems, Gaza City is a town with no cheer. Following Hamas' military takeover last year Israel tightened its already severe blockade on ordinary goods entering or leaving the strip. While restricted goods - pretty much everything apart from basic food and medicine - are still available at a hefty mark-up, smuggled through tunnels from Egypt, Hamas' watchful agents tolerate no alcohol.

For Gaza's dwindling population of 2000-odd Christians the highlights of the year are the brief periods, at Christmas and Easter, when Israel permits some of them to leave the strip for a few days, to visit holy sites and relatives in the West Bank and Israel. "The last time I got out was last Christmas," said Daoud. "We went to Tiberias and Nazareth and Jerusalem and we went for a few drinks there - great. After this place it was like going to paradise."

Before I was sent to the Middle East in October 2002, I had spent the best part of eight years reporting on Africa, for this newspaper and for others. When people asked me which beat I preferred, I always said Africa, because it was bigger, and more romantic, and because you got to fly around in helicopters and light aircraft for free quite a lot, which I enjoyed.

In my entire time in the Middle East I never once got to go in a helicopter or private aircraft - mainly because it's a region where you pay for your flights, and where in any case it's usually safe to go by road. I was already preparing to leave Jerusalem when a colleague told me that The Israel Project, a leading pro-Israel advocacy group, offered regular free helicopter tours for foreign journalists. Bingo, I thought.

Our helicopter took off from Netanya, north of Tel Aviv, and flew south along the "Green Line" between Israel and the West Bank, to demonstrate the strategic vulnerability of "Israel's narrow waist" to Arab attack. Then it turned south towards the town of Sderot.

Our guide, Avi Melamed, was a former intelligence agent. On the ground in Sderot, he escorted us through sunny streets studded with reinforced bus stops and bomb shelters, some gaily painted by children. Behind Sderot's main police station Melamed demonstrated racks full of crumpled "Qassam" rockets, some of the 7000-odd home-made missiles fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip in the past seven years, killing 12 civilians and terrorising thousands.

"The lunatic result is that everyday life, everyday decisions - should I take the kids to school? Should I go to the mall or the coffee shop? - become emotionally very difficult," he explained. As he was talking loudspeakers placed all around the town began to crackle the warning "code red, code red". Radar had just detected the launch of four rockets in Sderot's direction. Fortunately the only casualty, on this occasion, was a dog who required veterinary attention.

As it happened, this particular salvo of rockets came a couple of hours after the deaths of housewife Miyasar Abu Muatak and her four children, aged 18 months to six years, during Israeli air-strikes in the town of Beit Hanoun, just across the border in Gaza. The Israeli Defence Force denied responsibility for their deaths. And Melamed did not believe that there was a causal relationship between Israeli policies and IDF operations and the bombardment of Sderot. "We had Qassam rockets coming yesterday, and the day before that, and nobody was killed in the Gaza Strip," he said. The pilot, a veteran IDF aviator, could have been speaking for many ordinary Israelis when he complained that "we have to start fighting back: the problem is that our response wasn't fiercer and more disproportionate seven years ago".

But were not the people of Gaza already paying a terrible price for the militants' rockets, I asked him. Instead of escalating the violence, why not explore the Palestinians' latest offer of a ceasefire?

He smiled indulgently: most of the stories of suffering and death from Gaza were fake, he said. "All the reporters there are Palestinians. You give them cameras but what they do is not reporting, it's propaganda. If you wanted to go to the other side and be a free reporter in the Gaza Strip you'd be kidnapped. You can only say what Hamas will tell you to say."

I TOLD him that I'd been going to Gaza for more than five years and that no one there had ever tried to tell me what to write. The pilot just smiled and shook his head. He knew better.

It is customary, in articles such as this, for the writer to tie things up at the end with some heavy-handed symbolism. Which brings us to the Erez border crossing. Symbols don't come much heavier than that.

Israel's massive new border terminal at Erez is the sole legal crossing point for human beings trying to enter or leave the Gaza Strip. Only a trickle of foreign journalists, aid workers and seriously ill Palestinians are now allowed to negotiate its sci-fi nightmare of concrete passages, steel cages, sliding blast doors, turnstiles, metal detectors, inaudible loudspeakers, sniffer machines and - for the unlucky - a bare concrete strip-search room with a metal-grille floor yawning over a three-metre drop to the basement below.

Five years ago Erez consisted of little more than a couple of well-fortified checkpoints, with a small entry-exit office for aid workers, diplomats and hacks and a parallel complex of cages and turnstiles for the thousands of Gaza workers who were then permitted to enter Israel each day.

But following repeated Palestinian terrorist attacks, the new terminal was designed to eliminate even the tiniest risk of injury to Israeli personnel. Passing through, you no longer see IDF soldiers, just the border police at the final hurdle, passport control, and the private security guards provided by a firm with close links to former prime minister Ariel Sharon.

In the West Bank, meanwhile, the roadblocks, checkpoints and anti-terrorism barriers have steadily increased down the years.

These include a new generation of "mini-Erezes" that control access to the mini-Gazas that the Israeli army is quietly fashioning around the major towns and cities. Sometimes a wall is a symbol, and sometimes it's also a wall.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Remembering Al Nakba in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

15 May, 2008

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Al Nakba, the catastrophe, which saw the destruction of Palestinian society and the ethnic cleansing of more than 700,000 indigenous Palestinians from their historic homeland.

It has now been more than 21,915 days since the Palestinian people were expelled by force by Zionist gangs and militia and forced to become refugees in their own land or in foreign lands. In Palestine today, the Nakba continues. Millions of Palestinians have been denied the right to return to their homes or to live in freedom. Israel continues to carry out its illegal and brutal occupation of the Palestinian people, while also carrying out mass illegal collective punishment (which is a war crime under international law) in the Gaza Strip.

On May 15, throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Palestinians remember their dead, their imprisoned, their loved ones in refugee camps throughout the Middle East and their family and friends who make up the 7 million strong Palestinian Diaspora around the world.

Al Awada (return) key place on Gate of Return in Aida Refugee Camp, Occupied Bethlehem (with the aparthied wall in background)

A week earlier on May 8, Palestinians began a week of commemoration with more than 1000 Palestinians from Dheisha, Al Azaz and Aida refugee camps in Occupied Bethlehem marching on May 8 (Israeli Independence Day) to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Al Nakba. The march began at Dheisha refugee camp, marched to Azza camp and then onto Aida camp. Hundreds of Palestinian school children joined the rally, as did Palestinian refugees who experience the events of 1948 first hand. The world’s largest key also accompanied the march and was later erected on top of a specially built “gate of return” in Aida camp, which was erected next to the apartheid wall. As the Al Awada (return) key was lifted up to the sky to be placed on the gate of return, Israeli warplanes performing a flight show to mark the Israeli Independence celebrations flew overhead. Through out the crowd, people began to call out as this very telling clash of Palestinian Nakba commemorations and Israeli independence celebrations in the sky over Aida refugee camp.

Al Nakba Rally in Occupied Bethlehem, May 8, 2008

On May 14, in the occupied Palestinian cities of Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem on the eve of Al Naka events, Palestinians, internationals and Israeli anti-occupation activists gathered to begin the mammoth task of blowing up 21.915 black balloons – one for each day of the Palestinian dispossession – which would be released the next day.

In Occupied Ramallah, around hundred Palestinians and internationals gathered at the football field located in Qalandia refugee camp on the outskirts of Ramallah city at 10pm to begin the task.

Ten large tanks of helium were stationed around the field.and around each tank gathered 6 or 7 volunteers, taking turns to blow up balloons, tie them and attach string. Dozens of other volunteers carried completed bunches of helium filled balloons across the field and tied them to the rows of string stretched from one end of the field to the other or were busy measuring and cutting the string, while others brought tea to the volunteers many of whom worked until 3.30 am in the morning to fill the balloons. More volunteers continued to arrive through the night.

The atmosphere through out the night was one filled with solidarity and energy. Many of us ran into old friends and new acquaintances. We discussed the events of the week both in the OPT and internationally as we blew up the balloons. And we made new friends as the night wore on.

Al Awda camel, Al Nakba rally, Occupied Ramallah 2008

Al Nakba rally, Occupied Ramallah 2008

The next day, prior to the balloon release, a rally was held at Al Manara – the central square in Ramallah city. By the time, myself and my team mate from the International Women’s Peace Service, along with other internationals from the International Solidarity Movement arrived at Al Manara, hundreds of people had already gathered. Soon, hundreds and hundreds more joined them as they marched up from the Al Awda (Return) camp about 15 minutes away near the Moqata (the PA headquarters). The march from the camp was lead by riders on three camels. The camels and their riders signified the return of the refugees to the cities they had been expelled from. Students and young people joined the march, chanting and carrying flags. Some young women marched in silence, their mouth taped and with signs remembering the Nakba. Many young women were also dressed in traditional Palestinian dress and black balloons were attached to the stage and around the Manara. Soon the official speeches started and the crowd began to swell even more.

Balloons with children's messages attached

Reproduction of the Banksy mural "Balloon Girl" which is on the Qalanda section of the aparthied wall

At 1pm, my team mate and I and the other internationals made our way back to Qalandia to finish blowing up the balloons for the 2 pm launch. When we arrived, we discovered that the remaining balloons had already been blown up but volunteers were busily attaching thousands of notes written by Palestinian children. The notes outlined their hopes and dreams and were a message to the world, that despite 60 years of ongoing Nakba and 40 years of illegal and brutal occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian people were still strong in their resolve to be a free people once more.

As 2pm approached, volunteers began to bring out the thousands of thousands of balloons that been stored overnight in the football club hall. The 2pm release coincided with the time that American President George W Bush would address the Knesset to congratulate Israel on its 60th birthday. At a few minutes before 2pm, volunteers began to release the balloons. The wind which had been steadily increasing quickly picked up the balloons and carried the skyward. Over the next 20 minutes, thousands upon thousands of black balloons marking the Palestinian al Nakba filled the sky.

Bringing out the balloons - Qalandia refugee camp, Occupied Ramallah,Al Nakba 2008

Release of balloons - Qalandia refugee camp, Occupied Ramallah,Al Nakba 2008

After the release of the balloons, a group of internationals decided to make our way towards the Qalandia checkpoint, which is the main checkpoint leading into Occupied East Jerusalem. I had been wanting to document on film for over 12 months that section of the apartheid wall. As we made our way towards the checkpoint, we could hear gun shots and sound grenades being fired off. It quickly became clear that the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) were firing on groups of young Palestinian boys. The closer we got to the wall and the checkpoint, we could see the IOF firing on the shaabab (boys) who were hurling stones back at the Israeli military.

IOF firing on Palestinian youth along the busy road into Occupied Ramallah

IOF at Qalanda checkpoint taking aima at Palestinian youth

As more boys gathered and began to throw stones, the IOF retreated into their armed vehicle and left, only to return 10 minutes later. The soldiers immediately began firing live ammunition, as well as rubber coated steel bullets, along with teargas and sound grenades. It soon became clear that to stand out in the open was to put yourself in danger as the soldiers began firing teargas, sound grenades and ammunition in the direction of anyone in the open. We quickly retreated to a side alley where we could still film and document what was happening.

As the shaabab (boys) continued to throw stones in defiance of the IOF, the soldiers once again retreated to their armoured vehicle. As they moved back to the checkpoint, the boys and young man made their way up toward the apartheid wall. Some began to barricade the road with boulders and rocks to prevent the IOF vehicles returning. The other boys began to gather at the base of the wall and began to help one of their number up the wall where he planted a Palestinian flag.

IOF firing on Palestinian youth, Qalandia checkpoint, Al Nakba 2008

IOF firing on Palestinian youth, Qalandia checkpoint, Al Nakba 2008

On the day, G W Bush congratulated Israel on advancing “the cause of hope, freedom and liberty, as the great alternative to tyranny and terror”, their military continued to fire on young boys gathered at the base of the wall [1]. Despite the boys being at least 400 or 500 metres away from the checkpoint and there was no danger to any Israeli military soldier gathered there, IOF continued its fire both towards the boys and into the oncoming civilian traffic, where hundreds of cars, buses and trucks were passing down the busy main road. At one stage, the IOF soldiers came out from behind the small cement pillars near the checkpoint running into the traffic stream and firing reckless into it, endangering many innocent civilian lives.
Israel’s advance of “hope, freedom and liberty” had also been on display the week before when its military police force attacked with teargas and batons, thousands of unarmed Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and other Israeli citizens who participated in a peaceful and non-violent march to one of the Palestinian cities razed by Zionist gangs in 1948 to commemorate Al Nakba, north of Nazareth. Prior to the march, the chairman of World Likud, Danny Dannon, demanded that the Israeli security minister ban the Al Nakba procession. He also demanded that any Palestinian-Israeli leaders be arrested who criticised the Israeli state, as well as anyone seen carrying a Palestinian flag [2]. Since the rally, the Israeli police have been arresting young Palestinian-Israeli youth, many of who participated in and lead the rally, including a number of them who are youth leaders in the Young Communist League.

Israeli armed police attacking peaceful Al Nakba rally in Nazareth, norther Israel. Footage filmed by local Alarz.Tv

Israel’s support for “hope, freedom and liberty” was also on display on Thursday (15 May) when Israeli foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni told the world media that Palestinians would only “be able to celebrate their independence day on the same day that the word ‘nakba’ or catastrophe was erased from their lexicon”. The same demand was made of the UN and its General Secretary by Danny Carmon, Israel’s deputy ambassador to the UN. Carmon demand that any reference to ‘nakba’ be erased from the UN’s lexicon.

And while the Israeli foreign minister and its deputy ambassador to the UN, were displaying their adherence to the principles of freedom and liberty and demanding that Palestinians and everyone else deny and forget the tragedy that had befallen the Palestinian people, the Israel Defense Minister, Ehud Barak told Israeli citizens “there is no future for a nation that doesn’t know its past” and urged them to remember and not forget the tragedy of the holocaust and the history of the Jewish people[3]

As Israel celebrates its “independence day” and world leaders gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate Israel’s 60th birthday, the Palestinian Nakba and the stories of murder, destruction and exile which paved the way for Israel’s independence were not recalled and neither were the millions of Palestinian refugees who have been waiting for six decades to return home.

However, while Israel and many other world leaders engage in what can only be called “Nakba denial”, the Palestinian people did remember, as did many of us, the ordinary people of the world. And we will continue to remember, as the Palestinian people continue their struggle for freedom and justice. Just as we will continue to stand in solidarity with them in their struggle to be free because in the words of late Edward Said, it is “a moral quest for equality and [for] human rights”

[1] Miller, S., Bush: We must be firm in face of those who murder the innocent, Haaretz, 15 May 2008

[2] Stern, Y., World Likud chief calls for cancellation of Nakba Day procession, Haaretz, 6 May, 2008

[3] Rotem, Sela, Israel protests UN chief Ban Ki-Moon's use of term 'nakba', Haaretz, 16 May, 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008

Falling from Heaven: the ethnic cleansing of Palestine

8 May, 2008

Abu Zureyk, Al Abbasiyya, Abu Shusha, Ayan az Zaytun, Awlam, Azz Zema, AHaiqia, Balad ash Sheikh, Bayt Daras, Beer Sheba, Bi'ne, Burayr, al Dawayima, Dayr el Asad, Deir Yassin, Eilbourn, Haifa, Hawwassa, Husayniyya, Ilut, Ijzim, Isdud, Jish, al Kabri, al Khisas, Khibbyza, Lydda, Majd al Kurum, Mansura al Khayt, Nasir ad Din Khribet, Qazaza, Qisarya, Sa'sa, Safsaf, Saliha, Sha'b, Al Samiyya, al Tantoura, al Tira, Tel, Geze, Umm al, Shauf, al Wa’ra al-Sawda, Wadi ‘Ara.

Like the names of the dead, the names of these villages bring heartbreak to all Palestinians. Sixty years ago, last month, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine began.

Sixty years ago, up to six weeks before the British mandate of Palestine was terminated and the state of Israeli was even declared, Zionist terror gangs began their forcible expulsion of more than 122 Palestinian villages and began carrying out military assaults on more than 270 other villages [1].

Sixty years ago on April 9, 1948, 254 unarmed Palestinian men, women and children were murdered in the village of Dier Yassin by Zionist terror gangs - the Irgun (aka as Etzel) lead by Menachin Begin (who was to become a later Prime Minister of Israel) and the Stern Gang (aka as the Lehi). More than 40 other Palestinian villages and towns were to suffer the same fate as Dier Yassin.

The massacre that took place at Dier Yassin was just one of many carried out, as part of a co-ordinated effort between the Zionist terror gangs, the Irgun and the Stern Gang and the Haganah (which was the main Jewish underground organisation which later became the present day Israeli Defence Force) to ethnically cleanse indigenous Palestinians from historic Palestine prior to the UN partition in May 1948. “Plan Dalet” as the operation was known, was carried out under the authority and leadership of David Ben Gurion, the future first Prime Minister of Israel. Its aim was to strike fear and terror into the indigenous Palestinian population in order to ethnically cleanse them from the new state of Israel and to gain even more land for the Zionist state than had been designated under the UN partition plan.

Al Nakba 1948 (Video - 10 mins)

According to the operational orders listed under Plan Dalet, Zionist forces were to carry out the “destruction of [Palestinian] villages (setting fire to, blowing up, and planting mines in the debris), especially those populations centres which are difficult to control continuously”. The operational orders went on to state that the Zionist terror forces should mount “search and control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the village and conducting a search inside it. In the event of resistance, the armed forces must be destroyed and the population expelled outside the borders of the state. The villages which are emptied in the manner described above must be included in the fixed defensive system and must be fortified as necessary” [2]

The plan stated “in the absence of resistance, garrison troops will enter the village and take up positions in it or in locations which enable complete tactical control. The officer in command of the unit will confiscate all weapons, wireless devices, and motor vehicles in the village. In addition, he will detain all politically suspect individuals. After consultation with the [Jewish] political authorities, bodies will be appointed consisting of people from the village to administer the internal affairs of the village. In every region, a Jewish] person will be appointed to be responsible for arranging the political and administrative affairs of all [Palestinian Arab] villages and population centers which are occupied within that region”.

The absence of resistance, however, did not save Dier Yassin, just as it did not save dozens of other Palestinian villages and towns. According to Israeli Zionist historian, Benny Morris, the Zionist terror forces carried out at least 24 massacres against Palestinians between April and May 1948 before the declaration of the state of Israel. Palestinians, however, put the number of massacres as being as high as 40.

Morris notes in a 2004 interview with Ha’aretz reporter, Ari Shavit, that “In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves”. Morris goes onto note, that the action took place as a direct result of orders given by David Ben Gurion. According to Morris, “various officers who took part in the operation understood that the expulsion order they received permitted them to do these deeds in order to encourage the population to take to the roads. The fact is that no one was punished for these acts of murder. Ben-Gurion silenced the matter. He covered up for the officers who did the massacres” [3]

Upon hearing of the massacre, which took place at Dier Yassin and other villages, thousands of Palestinians in more than 85 other villages and towns fled their homes in fear of their lives [4]. The Zionist terror forces then wiped Dier Yassin off the map, as it did with hundreds of other Palestinian villages and built new Zionists towns and cities in their place. On the ground where Dier Yassin, once stood, now stands the Israel town of Givat Shul and the settlement of Har Nof.

Palestinian children remember the villages ethnically cleansed in 1948
60th Al Nakba Commemoration, Dheisha, Al Azaz and Aida refugee camps, Occupied Bethlehem 2008

The Zionist reign of terror against the indigenous Palestinian population in 1948, however, did not end with Dier Yassin. On April 18, Zionist gangs stormed the Palestinian city of Tiberias in the Galilee, ethnically expelling more than 5,500 Palestinians from their homes. Four days later, 70,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes in the port city of Haifa [5]. In the months prior to the assault, the Zionist terror gangs had carried out a series of bombings against Haifa’s Palestinian residents [6]. On December 30, the previous year, a Zionist bomb planted in a Palestinian residential neighbourhood killed 6 and injured 41 others. The Zionist bombing sparked riots amongst Palestinian workers at a nearby oil refinery and resulted in the killing of 41 Jewish workers. The Haganah and the Irgun (Etzel) planted a second bomb the following evening resulting what became known as the New Years Massacre at Balad al Shayk, killing more than 60 people. Two months later in February 1948, the Irgun (Etzel) rolled barrels packed with gasoline and explosives down Haifa’s hills into the Palestinian al’ Abasayah Arab neighbourhood. The barrels exploded in an inferno of flames, destroying most of the residential area, causing its residents to flee in terror. One month later on March 22, ten weeks before the state of Israel was declared, the Zionist terror gangs disguised as British officers planted a car bomb, killing 36 Palestinians, the majority of whom were women and children. The bomb blast was so intense it destroyed several public buildings.

Not satisfied with only ethnically cleansing indigenous Palestinians from the land designated as part of a new Jewish state under the UN Partition plan, the Zionist forces moved to begin ethnically cleansing Palestinians from towns and cities which UN had deemed part of a Palestinian state under partition. On April 25, the Irgun (Etzel) began a three week bombing campaign of the “Bride of Palestine”, the port city of Jaffa, which was supposed to be part of a UN sanctioned Palestinian state. Jaffa, which was often referred to as the “centre of heaven” by its residents because of its beauty and location half way between Haifa and Gaza, was the most populous centre in British Mandate Palestine: home to 90,000 Palestinians. With the advent of the Zionist terror campaign, however, the city was to fall from heaven. The assault was so fierce that in the Manshiyyeh quarter, every single building except one was obliterated (the one building left partly standing has since been turned into a museum to glorify the military prowess of the Irgun/Etzel). As the bombing continued, more than 55,000 people fled in terror.

Al Manshiyya district after the Irgun terror - bombing campaign

Grand Saraya district of Jaffa after Irgun terror-bombing campaign

Over the next weeks, more and more villages and towns were to “fall from heaven”. In addition to Dier Yassin, Tiberas, Haifa and Jaffa, more than 400 other Palestinian villages and townships were ethnically cleansed during Plan Dalet and the subsequent war which took place. More than 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes, never allowed to return.

Today, as Israel celebrates “60 years of independence”, the Al Nakba of the Palestinian people continues. On May 5, the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz published a report which noted that since the creation of the Israeli state 60 years ago, there have been 1,634 Israeli civilians killed and 14,000 injured by “acts of terror” [7]. What the article did not mention, however, was that in the much shorter period of 7.5 years (from September 2000 to March 2008 since the beginning of the Al Aqsa intifada) that more than 3615 Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli state “acts of terror” and 25,650 Palestinian civilians had been wounded [8]

60th Al Nakba Commemoration, Dheisha, Al Azaz and Aida refugee camps, Occupied Bethlehem 2008

The Haaretz article, also failed to mention that since its creation 60 years ago, the Israeli state has continued the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people via a war of attrition and in the name of “security”. The illegal Israeli occupation which is now in its 40th year, along with all its manifestations – the checkpoints, the wall, the illegal settlements, the illegal confiscation of land, the restriction of freedom of movement, arbitary arrest and administrative detention, target assassinations, aerial bombing, the siege of Gaza – while all aimed at controlling the Palestinian population is also aimed at systematically driving the Palestinian people off their land.

Since the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada, Israel has destroyed more than 13% of Gaza’s agricultural land alone. During the same period the Israeli state, via its occupation forces, has demolished completely more than 2932 Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip alone, while a further 2848 were partially demolished [9]. These acts of terror against a Palestinian civilian population were carried out as illegal and punitive collective punishment or in order to make way for the illegal expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and the infrastructure needed to serve these colonies.

60th Al Nakba Commemoration, Dheisha, Al Azaz and Aida refugee camps, Occupied Bethlehem 2008

According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights, house demolitions have resulted in more than 13,000 Palestinians being left homeless [10]. In addition, through out the Occupied West Bank, dozens of dozens of Palestinian villages remained “unrecognised” and deemed illegal by the Israeli occupier, although they have existed for decades and even hundreds of years prior to the establishment of the Israeli state. The Israeli state’s refusal to recognise these villages is designed to legitimise the ongoing, systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the traditional homes and lands by its occupation forces and its “civil administration” in the OPT.

Israel continues its policy of ethnic cleansing by also regularly restricting the freedom of movement of Palestinians. Israel’s policy while carried out in the name of “security” is designed to ethnically cleanse the Palestinian population through “quiet transfer” by making life so difficult for Palestinians that they will “voluntarily” leave. According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the OPT, “the restrictions of movement that Israel has imposed on the Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories over the past five years are unprecedented in the history of the Israeli occupation in their scope, durations and in the severity of damage that they have caused to the three and half million Palestinians who reside there” [11].

Today, Israel will ‘celebrate’ its creation and as we hear the fire works the illegal settlements around us, the Palestinian people will remember their dead, their imprisoned and their loved ones in refugee camps through out the Middle East and their family and friends who make up the 7 million strong Palestinian Diaspora around the world. Today, as Israel baths itself in vulgar nationalism and the glorification of its military prowess, the Palestinian people will recall the Nakba and the ethnic cleansing of their home land. And today, as the Israel celebrates the ethnic cleansing of another people in order to create “a homeland for the Jews”, the Palestinian people will remain in a state of sumoud (steadfastness) in their determination to remain on what is left of their traditional land and to be a free people once again.


[1] Palestine 1948: Map of towns and villages depopulated by Zionist Invasion
Prepared by Salman Abu-Sitta, 1998. Produced by Palestine Land Society.
[2] Sefer Toldot Hahaganah [History of the Haganah], vol. 3, ed, by Yehuda Slutsky (TelAviv: Zionist Library, 1972), Appendix 48, pp 1955-60.
[3] Survival of the Fittest? An Interview with Benny Morris by Ari Shavit, 16 January 2004
[4] Palestine 1948: Map of towns and villages depopulated by Zionist Invasion
Prepared by Salman Abu-Sitta, 1998. Produced by Palestine Land Society.
[5] Neff, D., (1994) Arab Jaffa Seized Before Israel's Creation in 1948 in Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
[6] Haifa Refinery Riots, Middle East Web
[7] Haaretz, 5 May, 2008, 16 Israeli civilians killed this year in terror acts, 1,634 since May, '48
[8] and [9] Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
[10] and [11] B’Tselem: Israeli information centre for human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Sunday, May 4, 2008

May Day 2008 - Nazareth and Tel Aviv

May Day demonstration - Tel Aviv, May 2

May Day demonstration - Tel Aviv, May 2

May Day demonstration - Tel Aviv, May 2

May Day demonstration - Tel Aviv, May 2

Vetrans of the 1958 May strike, May Day demonstration - Nazareth

May Day demonstration - Nazareth, May 3

Young communists at the Nazareth May Day Rally

May Day rally, Nazareth

Banner in support of the Venezuelan revolution, Nazareth May Day
The banner says in Arabic: "The message of Venezuela to the poor and oppressed of the world - the future is ours".

May Day rally, Nazareth

May Day 2008 in Nazareth

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Summer Against Israeli Apartheid

Dear Friends,
the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) has issued two calls for volunteers to come to Palestine -one for volunteers to join them as part of their regular "Freedom Summer Campaign" and one is for a new Gaza Solidarity campaign. Details of both are below...

in solidarity, Kim


SUMMER CAMPAIGN 2008 - 'Summer Against Apartheid'

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is issuing a call-out for office and field volunteers for its "Summer Against Apartheid" in the West Bank and Gaza strip. Whether it's for a week or three months, you can help provide protection during non-violent demonstrations as well as help ensure that Palestinian voices will be heard. The 2008 'Summer Against Apartheid' runs from May 28th until August 2nd, with volunteer training sessions to be held every Wednesday and Thursday.

Why are so so urgently needed? Below are just four reasons.

1. The recent Israeli orders to use live ammunition against demonstrations close to the apartheid wall, unless there are internationals or Israelis present (, means an international presence offers some protection for the basic rights of Palestinians to nonviolently protest against injustice.

2. In the West Bank ISM will support Palestinians challenging the apartheid road system. Watch this video ( for a short film about the injustice of Road 443 and a previous action ISM participated in. Joining Palestinians in non-violent actions against Israeli-only roads, will increase the exposure of the road system that runs throughout the West Bank, and to link it to the wider implications of the Israeli apartheid system, including the expansion of illegal settlements as well as the checkpoints that cripple Palestinian's freedom of movement.

3. ISM volunteers will stand side by side with villagers in Bil'in, Tul Karem, Nablus, and Tel Rumeida, Hebron as Palestinians continue their tireless struggle to save their land from Israel's apartheid wall and the expanding settlements. In addition, ISM will be joining the third inter-national conference in Bil'in, Palestine from 4-6 June 2008.

4.In Gaza, ISM will continue our campaign to fight against the Israel's extreme collective punishment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. We will demonstrate in Egypt on the 30th May 2008 where we will aim to break the siege on Gaza. 'Put Your Body Where Your Heart Is - Break The Siege On Gaza', will be the starting point for the 'Summer Against Apartheid'. See here (there will be a link to the call-out that will be on the website) for more details regarding this action. In addition, many former ISM volunteers will take part in breaking the siege of Gaza by sailing into its port during the first week of August. See

Witness first-hand the suffering, the courage and the generosity of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation. Experiencing the situation for yourself is vital in the aim of conveying the reality of life in Palestine to your home communities and re-framing the debate to expose Israel's Apartheid policies, including creeping ethnic cleansing in the West Bank, as well as it's collective punishment and genocidal practices in Gaza.

For more information on how to Join Us in Palestine or contact


Put Your Body Where Your Heart Is - Break The Siege On Gaza!

On May 30th 2008, people of conscience from around the world will gather in Egypt to break through to the imprisoned people living inside the Gaza Strip. People will attempt to enter Gaza in an act to break the murderous siege and to stand in solidarity with those inside.

The siege, brutally imposed by the Israeli government in June 2007, following over a year of sanctions has resulted in lethal denial of medical access, shortages of food, fuel and electricity, and stands as a grave act of collective punishment.

It is time to stand up and shout, "No more!" It is time to show that we will not simply stand by while this atrocity is carried out, as our governments do nothing. It is time to use our bodies to prove what we believe is just in this world.

Our governments have backtracked on their responsibility, as stipulated in past agreements, to facilitate and over see the flow of people through the Rafah border crossing, making us complicit with the murderous acts of the Israeli government.

We call on international human right activists and lawmakers to join us in breaking the siege, entering Gaza, and standing in solidarity with the people imprisoned there. Join us in Egypt, come with us to Gaza and put your body where your heart is.

What you can do?

1. Join us in this act of solidarity with the people of Gaza, come to Egypt before the end of May, preferably as early as possible to help with preparations.

2. Have your organization endorse and circulate this call

3. Support this initiative financially - email for more information

Signed: The International Solidarity Movement - Palestine