The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 21-23.5.10

The demonstration in Bil’in was conducted in solidarity with the Israeli settlement boycott movement. Two children, including a mentally disabled boy, were injured and three Israelis, including myself, were arrested after the soldiers, yet again, invaded the village in order to make arrests.  Cuffed and blindfolded, we were taken to the Benjamin police station at the Beit El/Adam settlement, which can be easily found on the map.

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The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 15-22.5.10

After the Israeli soldiers arrested the reporter, they used this incendiary device to start a fire. (Photography by Edo Medicks, http://bit.ly/959T8h

In Bil’in, the villagers tried yet another creative attempt at ending apartheid, dressing up as the assassinated Naji al-Ali’s Handala and carrying the symbolic 1948 key.

The army, like a well oiled machine, attacked with chemical warfare, invaded the village to abduct an Al-Arabiya reporter, using a smoke screen canister that spits fire as well.

Fires sparked due to the combination of Middle Eastern heat and ammunition. About 20 olive trees were lost, as it took the fire truck about an hour to arrive and the army had to be begged to stop gassing us, so we could approach the burning areas. Video clips after the fold.

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The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 23-25.04.2010

Emad Rezqaafter being shot with an aluminium canister. Photograph by Hamde Abu Rahmeh

Friday in Bil’in, friend and fellow activist, Emad Rezqa was hit in the forehead by an aluminum tear gas projectile shot directly at him by Israeli soldiers during the weekly anti-Wall demonstration. He suffered a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage, and is currently hospitalized at the Hadassa Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem. The demonstration Rezqa was injured in concluded the three-day International Bil’in Conference on Popular Struggle, and was attended by hundreds of people. Several other demonstrators were injured from gas inhalation, direct hits by gas canisters, and falling

This is the man who fired the canisters:
Bil'in 23.04.2010 - The day Israeli soldiers started shooting randomly into the crowd. one fractured skull and five arrested. - 16
I was later arrested along with Palestinian journalist Moheb Barghouti, two fellow Israelis and a Mexican activist, after staging a sit-in. (more details soon)

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The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 09.04.2010

Haitam being kidnapped by the Israeli Army - Kfir BrigadeThis Friday’s demos were themed in respect to the Deir Yassin massacre. In Bil’in, the village committee and B’tselem photographer (who’s videos you often see here) and dear friend, Haitham Al-Khatib, was abducted near the end of the demonstration. Al-Khatib was returned home, battered and bruised, after over 24 hours in which he was unreachable.

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The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 26.3.2010

In heavy rain and under heavy threat, all the weekly demonstration insistently ensued, across the West Bank. The village of Al Ma’asara demonstrated against the latest arrest and torture of the local demonstration organizer, Omar Alaaeddin:

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The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 12.3.2010

In Nebi Salah The soldiers were eager and waiting, within the village when the march had reached its outskirts. Under the cover of the clashes between the army and the village youth, some villagers managed to reach their natural spring, only to find settlers swimming in it. Soldiers who eventually got to the group politely ordered the settlers to leave, while attacking the demonstrators with tear-gas in order to push them back to the village. The two groups had regrouped back in the village, where Border Police officers shot at demonstrators from behind the stone terraces that crosshatch the fields between the village and the settlement. It took the army until seven in the evening to retreat:

The injured 14 year old boy, Ehab Barghouthi, has awaken from his coma, caused by a rubber coated bullet to his head, fired by an Israeli army Soldier.

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The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 5.2.2010

Israeli army hits hard against children and saplings in Nebi Salah:

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The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 22.1.2010

The biggest protest to date in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood (350 people strong). The police riot again, 22 of our friends arrested:

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From the Belly of the Beast: An Inside look into the Israeli Justice System

Looking mighty dangerous from where I'm standing..

“Sorry baby, I won’t be able to make it tonight, I’m in the police van.” A sentence every Israeli pro-Palestinian activist will utter soon enough, just as I have, this Friday afternoon. Already 70 activists have been wrongfully arrested during the weekly protests in Sheikh Jarrah, under the charges that we riot, conduct unlicensed demonstrations and assault officers.

Demonstrating in Israel 2010
Our day started at Al-Ma’asara village, where the army has escalated its repression of the local popular struggle [1,2]. Fortunately, this week’s demonstration was as calm as a demonstration can be, when you’re surrounded by hostile armed forces, and we were relieved that there were no incidents out of the ordinary occupation. (Unfortunately, the one week I don’t go to Bil’in, an escalation occurs, and I wasn’t there alongside my friends.) The protest was kept short and we all hopped in the cars to get to Sheikh Jarrah.

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This is what the Only Democracy in the Middle East Looks Like

This Friday, International Human Rights Day was marked for the first time in Israel. In Tel-Aviv, some 5000 people marched in a general human-rights march. It was a quiet event that was covered very favorably and widely by the press. What wasn’t being covered by the press? The second March to Sheikh Jarrah, which ended up with 24 arrests and one demonstrator in the hospital.

Putting Sheik Jarrah in Context
In 1875- Ottoman times- the Committee of the Sephardic Ethnic Group bought these lands. There was a small Jewish community living there until they gradually started fleeing, during the violence, in the area, during the 1920’s and 30’s and up until 1948. From 1948 to 1967, the land was under Jordanian control. At that time, 28 Palestinian refugee families were given lodging on this land by the Jordanian government, under the condition that they give up their UNRWA benefits and pay symbolic rent, for three years, by which time the houses will be passed under their names. The last part never happened.

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