The Latest From Palestine: Community Voices

Welcome to the rural community of Wad Rahal (the Valley of Travelers) in Palestine. Located only three kilometers from Bethlehem, 1700 people call this village home. This community sits in between Palestine’s hillsides creating a picturesque farming village.

 

Located only three kilometers from Bethlehem, 1700 people call this village home.

 

Throughout the course of the anti-Wall movement, Occupation forces have used and developed a variety of “crowd control” or “non-lethal” weapons, which they claim are used to contain demonstrations without causing significant injury to individuals.

***image2***Following the death of her daughter, the mother of Jawaher Abu Rahmah spoke to us in Bil'in about what happened in Bil'in on December 31, the day before Jawaher died.



"Jawaher and I went toward the demonstration near the Wall. In general, the role of women is important in the demonstration; we are always found in the front to protect the youth and to help the injured, to remove them from the clashes. Also, we try to stop the arrest of the youth.






The cement curb-like structure is deceiving to the viewer. It looks harmless next to the winding road. At most, its existence might strike the viewer with curiosity, not alarm. Yet this curb not only brings a reminder of the occupation’s past violent actions but also a bleak future. For this curb is the start to the route of the Apartheid wall that is being built in the small Palestinian village of Umm Salamuna. 

24-year-old Rafat Sa’id al ‘Aish was injured on the December 17, 2010 during a demonstration by a metal tear gas round during the weekly demonstration in al Nabi Saleh. Arafat lives in Kufr Dik, and when the road is blocked by soldiers on Fridays he is forced to walk the 4 kilometers on foot through the mountains.




Over the past year, Stop the Wall has been working with groups of youth to develop creative means of resisting the Wall and settlements, supporting activities in the Bethlehem and most in the village of Qarawat Bani Hassan. The village is in the Salfit district, just north of the “Ariel Finger” settlements of Barqan, Qiryat Netafim and Revava.

On January 18, 2010 Bezeq International signed an exclusive partnership agreement with British Telecom (BT). Bezeq is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bezeq, which not only provides telecommunications to settlements in the West Bank, but also owns some 60 properties (9,300 sq m of land in total) in the West Bank. The company provides services to larger, more entrenched settlements as well as so-called “outposts”, effectively serving to strengthen and expand the settlement project.




A village study of Battir was conducted by Stop the Wall around December 1, 2010. Battir is a village in the West Bank of Palestine with a population of around 5,000 people. People are employed as farmers or employees working in small projects or businesses. From the 1940s to today, farmers and the community fight against confiscation of their lands by Israel. Battir's is a story of resistance through the court system.
 
Forested hilltops surround the land of Jabai. It is a quiet village that displays the beauty of a typical Palestinian village. Less than one thousand people live here and rely on farming to provide for their basic needs. Yet Israel’s policy of land confiscation and the nearby settlers of Beit Ein have disrupted what would be a serene place to call home. 
 
The sun shines on Nahalin’s jasmine bushes that welcome visitors to this village close to Bethlehem. With a population of 7,000, it is situated on a small fraction of its former 17,000 dunams, about 6,000 dunams. Since the Oslo Accords, only 1,000 dunams of Nahalin is located in Area B, the rest is under the harsh restrictions of Area C.
 

Mitri Ghounam's land can be accessed only via a metal gate and fenced off road. The house is surrounded on three sides by either a concrete wall or a metal fence. Beyond the fence there appears to be a construction site. Although the machinery is quiet today because works are stopped for the weekend, one can only imagine the noise that must come from it during the rest of the week.




Mitri Ghounam's land can be accessed only via a metal gate and fenced off road. The house is surrounded on three sides by either a concrete wall or a metal fence. Beyond the fence there appears to be a construction site. Although the machinery is quiet today because works are stopped for the weekend, one can only imagine the noise that must come from it during the rest of the week.




Mazin Qumsiyeh, coordinator of the popular committee against the apartheid wall and the settlements in Beit Sahour and professor at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities, tells the story of his arrest:

For the past year, Mohammed Ameera managed to evade Occupation forces. Soldiers raided his home more than a dozen times in failed attempts to arrest him and his brother. The last time they did so, one of the commanders promised his mother that if her sons did not turn themselves in they would be killed at the demonstration. Ahmad’s mother has already lost her husband and did not want to lose her sons as well, and Mohammed decided to turn himself in.


Since protests started nearly a year and a half ago, more than 70 people have been arrested in Ni’lin. Those targeted in Ni’lin tend to be young men in their twenties, as well as children and juveniles. Currently, five remain in Ofer prison without charges.



***image1*** Name: Moath Fihmi Srour

Age: 24

Education: B.S. in Information Technology

Date of arrest: March 15, 2009

Time in prison: 221 days










***image1***Humiliation characterizes the Palestinian experience at checkpoints, an experience that is especially acute for communities between the Wall and Green Line. These communities, whose movement in and out of their isolated villages is under the total control of several checkpoints, must navigate them daily in order to go to school, visit a hospital, or visit family members living outside the enclave.




Abdullah Abu Rahma, coordinator for the popular committee in Bil’in, recently spoke to us about Basem Abu Rahma. Basem had participated in actions against the Wall since they began in the village in 2005 until 17 April, 2009, when he was martyred at age 31 during his last protest in Bil’in.

On May 1, people from al-Ma’sara and the neighboring villages in Bethlehem area commemorated Workers' Day with a march protesting the Apartheid Wall. Soldiers fired on the demonstration and arrested ‘Azmi Sheukhi from Hebron, Mustafa Fawagreh from Um Salamuna and Muhammed Brajiya, Mahmoud Zawahreh, Hasan Brajiya, all members of the popular committee in al-Ma’sara.




The Council on Ethics

Norwegian Government Pension Fund

Government of Norway





Cc:

Kristin Halvorsen, Minister of Finance

The Office of the Prime Minister

Henriette Westhrin, Deputy Minister

Roger Sandum, Deputy Minister

Geir Axelsen, Deputy Minister

Roger Schjerva, Deputy Minister

Ole Morten Geving, Deputy Minister

















Dear Members of the Council on Ethics,







The Wall has had a devastating effect on the 4,000 residents of Jayyus, separating the farmers from 75 percent of their agricultural land. This is a major disaster for those who cultivate seasonal fruit and vegetables, which require continual tending. The placement of entry gates (which remain locked almost around the clock) means that access to their farmlands is determined by whoever controls the gate keys.



Mazooz Qaddumi, who works in the village's municipality office for citizen complaints, described some of the problems faced by its residents.






A lot of anxiety and worry hovers over the lives of the people of Silwan in the Bustan neighborhood. This emotional strain is the consequence of the occupied municipality's plan in Jerusalem (Plan E/J/9) which calls for the demolishing of 88 buildings housing 115 families. Simply, this will make around 1500 Jerusalemites homeless; the number includes women, babies, and elderly people. All will lose houses they inherited from their parents and grandparents, most of which have been built before the Israeli state came to existence.




Recently, Occupation forces have been using live bullets against youth at weekly demonstrations. A large number of people have suffered leg wounds from a particular type of bullet fired by snipers often using silenced weapons.




The fertile Jordan Valley has long been a target of the Occupation’s colonial aims. Due to its abundance of water resources, rich soil, and natural minerals, the Valley has been the site of extensive land confiscation and expulsion of Palestinian residents, especially since the signing of the Oslo Agreement. Oslo severely restricted the Palestinians’ capacity for growth in the region, and effectively opened the door for increased military occupation and settlement expansion that is aimed at eventually eliminating the Palestinian presence in the Jordan Valley.

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