Update from a Sacramento activist in Palestine’s West Bank October & November 2013.

Israeli soldier and settler violence and land theft are causing great suffering to the Palestinian people. They are part of the Israeli government’s plan to ethnically cleanse all Palestinians and they continue with the support of the U.S. government and our tax dollars. Click on Take Action above to raise your voice to stop these human rights abuses so that there can be a just resolution for the people of Palestine/Israel.

● LAND THEFT. Oct 29 : Visit to the small village of Wadi Foquin near Bethlehem whose very existence is now threatened because of expansion of the illegal Israeli settlement, Betar Elit.  This settlement was built on land stolen from the village of Husan.  Its construction destroyed many Palestinian olive trees and dirty water discharge from the settlement continues to pollute Wadi Foquin’s crops.  More land is being stolen and the settlers are becoming more menacing as the settlement has been expanded very close to the village.  Israel won’t allow the village to do any building and just issued a cease and desist order on a playground.
♦ Earlier this year, members of the village overheard an Israeli soldier say that Wadi Foquin would be gone in two years.  The community is organizing with help from the U.S. (see friendsofwadifoquin.com). Israeli soldiers often come into the village; recently they came to a community member’s home in the middle of the night, intimidating and instilling fear so that residents will stop trying to save their village.
♦ Nearby Al Walaja is set to be completely encircled by Israel’s massive apartheid wall. The wall, cutting deeply into the West Bank, is a massive land and water grab by the state of Israel. It has nothing to do with security.

● SETTLER VIOLENCE. Nov 2:  Visit with the anti-occupation Israeli group Taayush to the south Hebron hills. The group confronted illegal settlers, defended by Israeli soldiers, in their theft of land belonging to the Palestinian villagers of Umm el Arais – more info: http://www.taayush.org/?p=3554.  The group also accompanied shepherds in the Bedouin village of Umm el Kheir whose homes and bread oven have been vandalized by illegal settlers.  The day wrapped up with a visit to At Tuwani where the illegal settlers of Havat Ma’on attack children on their way to school — the settlers hurdled rocks at us while we were walk on a public road. More info: http://www.operationdove.org

SOLDIER VIOLENCE & PROPERTY THEFT.  Nov 5 & 6: visit to Hebron, where fully armed Israeli soldiers provoke school children who throw stones in their direction. The soldiers then chase after the children and shoot tear gas and sound grenades at them. See: http://palsolidarity.org/category/hebron/
♦ On Oct 27, in the south Hebron hills, the driver of a jeep used to transport Palestinian children to school was detained and beaten by Israeli soldiers; on Nov 19, the Israeli army confiscated the jeep.  This occurred in an area designated by Israel as the “Firing Zone”, a military area from which Israel wants to ethnically cleanse several Palestinian villages so that illegal Israeli settlers can move in.
♦ Claiming that Palestinian land is off limits for military purposes is one of the ways that the state of Israel steals it.  Israel denies Palestinians entry to this land that is theirs, destroys Palestinian homes and communities that lie within this area and then allows illegal Israel settlers to move in. Manipulating ancient Ottoman law, Israel claims that the Palestinians have abandoned the land and since the Illegal Israeli settlers are now using it, the land belongs to them and not to the Palestinians.

VANDALISM AND MORE LAND THEFT.  On Nov 7, visit with internationals to pick olives for a family whose land and neighbors lands have been affected by another illegal outpost near Hebron. The settlers have cut down trees, stolen the family’s olives and the night before we came had started fires under two Palestinian cars and smashed the window of one.

● WATER & LAND THEFT. Nov 9-11 visit to the Jordan Valley with local activists who are trying to save the remaining Palestinian villages.  Since the Israeli occupation began in 1967, over 250,000 Palestinians have been forced from the fertile Jordan Valley.  In violation of International Law, Israeli has built illegal settlements and large agricultural operations.  Israel has confiscated nearly all the water and refuses to let remaining villagers build homes or schools.

● MILITARY INTIMIDATION. Courageously, Jordan Valley Solidarity, which made up of Palestinians from throughout the valley, is building homes and schools  – forbidden by  Israel.  Sometimes these non-violent activists pay a high personal cost.  In May this year, one of them, a young woman, was arrested in a flying checkpoint on her way home.  Charged with incitement because of her internet activism, she was kept in solidarity confinement for a month in a tiny cell with only a toilet – no mattress. Although she only advocates non-violence, she was subjected to humiliating and psychologically manipulative interrogation and when released contacted by the Israeli secret service to see if she would collaborate with them.  When she refused, she was told she could not leave the country for five years.
♦ On Nov 12, twenty Israeli soldiers stormed the family home of this young woman in the middle of the night.  Showing no warrant, they gave the family an unsigned paper for the woman to go to court the previous day.  She was not home, but clearly this was another attempt to intimidate her so that she stops her non-violent activism.
♦ A few days earlier on Nov. 7, Israeli soldiers rounded up 25 Palestinian activists, charging them with incitement because of their Facebook posts that presumably challenge Israel’s anti-Palestinian policies and practices. (www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=645448

● MILITARY INCITEMENT. Residents of the Palestinian West Bank village of Bi’lin,  the subject of the film 5 Broken Cameras, have been conducting non-violent demonstrations in the face of the heavily armed Israeli military since 2005.  Their efforts brought international recognition and support and they managed to have Israel’s apartheid wall relocated but it and an illegal Israeli settlement are still stealing much Bi’lin land.  So the demonstrations continue every Friday as community members and internationals walk to the apartheid wall.  During Nov. military violence has escalated.  On Nov 1, Israeli soldiers opened fire directly on demonstrations shooting three with plastic coated steel balls (approx ½ inch in diameter).
♦ On Nov 15, as peaceful marchers tried to approach the wall, soldiers shot multiple rounds of tear gas, including from jeeps that shoot three dozen canister at a time.

● FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT DENIED. Nov 25 on the early evening Palestinian bus returning to Bethlehem from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Israeli soldiers bordered the bus and yelled out “IDs!”.  One older man and four younger men were led off the bus to sit behind a metal fence in the darkness with what appeared to be other Palestinian men.  Evidently they either did not have the proper paperwork imposed on them by Israel’s illegal occupation or the soldiers didn’t like something about them.  The bus left without these men; their fate unknown.  Would they be interrogated, tortured and put in jail?  Would one or more of them be shot and killed as were two Palestinian men were at West Bank checkpoints on Nov 7?
♦ Why can’t these men move freely, as Israelis can between Jerusalem and the West Bank?  Quite possibility they are refugees – among the thousands of Palestinians forced to leave Jerusalem by the Israeli army in 1948, 1967 and today as Israel demolishes Palestinian homes in its ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem.