Popular Struggle is a key to Face the Israeli Settler-Colonial Enterprise- Stop the Wall’s Victories in 2019

Popular Struggle is a key to Face the Israeli Settler-Colonial Enterprise- Stop the Wall’s Victories in 2019

During 2019 Stop the Wall has played an important role in the popular struggle against the settlement expansion and the prolonged apartheid practices Israel imposes on the Palestinian people to achieve its settler-colonial objectives on the ground. Despite of the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and the ghettoization of them in ever smaller enclaves, Stop the Wall has proven once again that popular struggle and strengthening the steadfastness of Palestinians are a key to end the colonization and occupation, increasing the glow of the dim light of hope at the end of the tunnel for our people struggling to maintain their existence on their land. 

As we believe that our unity is the essence of our strength and success, we took a major part in holding the national conference, which brought together popular struggle committees in the West Bank within a common plan and strategy!

Amid a year of inconclusive Israeli elections and led by a prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, with several corruption charges pending on him, Israel intensified settlement expansion activities around the West Bank to gain more votes from pro-settler forces in Israel. However, we have stood up against Israel’s settlement policy and won where the United Nations and the international community have failed. We have disrupted the construction of 2 settler outposts around the West Bank!

We have taken part in reinforcing our people’s rootedness on their land threatened with confiscation by planting over 4000 olive trees. We have remarkably contributed to our people’s struggle against Israel’s continuous ethnic cleansing and apartheid practices-from the Jordan Valley to Qatana, Qalandia, Ras Karkar, Jabal Al-Risan, Deir Istya and Burin. We fought back against virtual walls built between Palestinians and their land due to both the settlers’ and the Israeli occupation forces’ attacks on Palestinian farmers by helping them with harvesting their olive trees.

We have commemorated the 71st anniversary of the Nakba day to emphasize our right of return to our ancestral land. We’ve strengthened the Palestinian struggle against Israel’s routine punishment of our people, standing in solidarity with our prisoners and fighting home demolition.

As Palestinian youth are the future leaders of their society, in 2019 we continued to inject positive principles and practices in new young leaders as a necessary step to ensure their involvement in the public sphere. We held common meetings among the representatives of each governorate where main common issues emerged; then we focused on each governorate with its own specificities and meanwhile working on activities to connect the youth to local communities.

Observing from Palestine the growing number of walls and the corresponding rise of ultra-right-wing, racist, supremacist and militarist narrative and policies, it seems as if the world is undergoing a process of ‘Israelization’. This has made Stop the Wall continue building ties and strengthening already existing ones with the people experiencing and challenging walls and militarization across the world through the initiative #WorldwithoutWalls. On the global day of action marking the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the wall of Berlin, we have emphasized once again that quest for justice, freedom and equality should be a shared call to demolish walls of exclusion, exploitation, and discrimination around the world. We continued to intensify our efforts to build alliances and campaigns calling for boycotts, divestments and sanctions to hold Israel and all the complicit parties accountable.

Although the conditions of the coercive environment created by the Israeli occupation have intensified due to homes demolition, movement restrictions, arbitrary detention and forcible transfer, doing resistance on a daily basis through small and huge initiatives and actions were what made us achieve victories on the ground. Below we bring you some of the highlights of our struggle during 2019.

Since its beginning, 2020 has brought with it a wave of new and intensified struggle following Trump’s announcement of his ‘Theft of the Century.’ Palestinians are now facing serious attempts by Israel and the US administration to liquidate their just cause. Trump’s ‘no peace plan’ through which Israel’s right-wing government would legitimize and legalize its apartheid and settler colonial practices menaces the entire framework of international law. We are gearing up to unify our national efforts to resist the confiscation of every part of our land, especially the Jordan Valley as the main target by Trump’s plan, to defend every community facing the imminent ethnic cleansing from their land, and to stand steadfast against every attempt aiming at Israel’s settlement expansion. We sound the alarm about the urgency of taking action under the motto: “united we stand, divided we fall.”

Highlights of Stop the Wall’s struggle on the ground in 2019

1) In Union there is strength-the ‘United in Struggle’ National Conference

 One of the most remarkable achievements in 2019 was the ‘United in Struggle’ national conference. After generations of struggle, the conference envisaged a renewal and rebuilding of our struggle to respond to Israel’s and Donald Trump’s practices and attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause. Through the conference, a vision of a unified and intensified popular struggle has been forged. Representatives of various popular committees all over the occupied West Bank and international solidarity activists attended the conference trying to put some meat on the bones of coordinated national and international efforts to disrupt Israel’s settler colonial goals that are being realized on the ground. Strengthening the role played by the BDS movement and internationally raising more awareness of the Palestinians’ suffering and struggle for self-determination and freedom were two major topics discussed during the conference. Women were also an active part of the conference forging their own view of popular resistance that reverberates with the larger vision of our national struggle from a feminist perspective. They emphasized that if Palestinian men are footnotes within the settler colonial context imposed on them, Palestinian women should no longer be treated as footnotes to the footnotes by stressing the need to play an active role in any popular resistance initiatives and projects.

2) Dismantling Settler-Outposts.

Depending on his right-wing pro-settler base to win the elections, Benjamin Netanyahu’s relentless efforts to expand the illegal settlements and build new ones has made 2019 witness a culmination in the settler-colonial practices and the seizure of more land from Palestinians. In 2019, 13 new settler-outposts were constructed in addition to about 300 that have already swallowed up large swaths of the land of Palestinians in the West Bank. While Israel was waging a war on area ‘C’ to develop settlement expansion and increase Israel’s hegemony over the area, popular struggle was able to remove two settler-outposts installed on the lands of Turmsayya , Kufr Malek and Al-Meghayyer villages-Ramallah district. Demonstrations took place in these villages until the Israeli occupation forces dismantled the outposts they have constructed.

Palestinian protestors in Turmsayya the moment the outpost was removed

3) They can’t uproot us! Our rootedness in the land is as strong as the rootedness of our olive trees.

In 2019, the Israeli occupation uprooted 5019 olive trees. At the same time, STW planted 4000 olive trees in Bab Al-Harsh & the Hama Khallet Hamad areas in the Jordan Valley, Qatana town and Qalandia town. These areas are threatened with confiscation by the Israeli occupation.  The cultivation of olive trees in such locations is an attempt to support the Palestinian farmers there and reinforce their steadfastness on their land. This action was a way to raise awareness amongst Palestinian youth and international activists of the political situation and the Israeli settler colonial practices on the ground by involving them in the planting of olive trees.

Planting olive trees in Qatana town. 

4) Olive trees harvesting: replenishing a central source of life and attachment to the land of Palestine!

As the majority of Palestinian towns and villages are surrounded by Israeli illegal settlements, many of them have fallen prey to the brutal attacks of extremist settlers. This has made it difficult for many Palestinian farmers to access their land and harvest their olive trees safely. We, therefore, launched an initiative that included volunteers from the Palestine Youth Forum to collectively pick olive trees in Burin village-Nablus district, Dier Istya-Salfit governorate, Jabal Al-Risan, Kafr Naama and Kharbatha-Ramallah district as a way to protect the farmers there from the settlers’ attacks. 

This initiative coincided with the launch of the #WorldwithoutWalls campaign calling for a world without walls of discrimination and exclusion. Supporting the menaced farmers is a way to demolish a virtual wall created between them and their lands by the settlers. The olive trees harvesting invokes the communal life qualifying the Palestinian culture, which the Israeli occupation threatens to obliterate by reducing Palestinian towns to Bantustans fragmented from each other through settlements,  military road blocks, bypass roads and the apartheid Wall. By organizing such initiatives, we try to assert Palestinian nationhood and culture. We also seek to emphasize that the land of Palestine is not uncultivated as well as it is not ‘a land without a people’ to be taken over by the Zionist colonial project.  

Palestinians and international activists harevsting olive trees in Burin.

5) Nakba Marches- the right of return

The Nakba Day represents a national day of remembrance for Palestinians. Although every Palestinian has his/her stories of the Nakba either experienced first-hand or passed down to the younger generations, the commemoration of the Nakba Day creates a shared collective memory in the consciousness of every Palestinian: The day when the newborn State of Israeli was baptized with the blood of thousands of Palestinians and the tears of over 700, 000 refugees!

  • We will return to our Palestine!

On the date of Nakba May 15th, 2019 Stop the Wall contributed to the organization of the “Raising the Flag of Return” day of action. Palestinian students from various universities in Palestine, Palestinians inside the Green Line and in the diaspora hung up posters on the walls symbolizing the Nakba and the right of return and distributed a unified statement emphasizing the right of the Palestinian refugees to return and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination on their land from which they were ethnically cleansed when Israel was created in 1948. The initiative aimed to strengthen the Palestinian national identity around the call for return despite the geographical fragmentation created by the Zionist regime of settler colonialism.

  • Marching above the ruins of Tantoura

At the invitation of the Stop the Wall Campaign, over 1, 500 people marched to the village of Tantoura to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the Nakba and the martyrs of the Tantoura Massacre. The protestors from both sides of the Green Line , remembered the massacre of Tantoura and the ethnic cleansing of its people by the Zionist paramilitary forces 71 years ago. The march was held for the third year in a row to assert the fact that Palestinian land is still colonized, Tantoura is still forsaken waiting for its people to return, but the aspirations to return to Palestine should remain intact until freedom, justice and equality in Palestine are achieved !

Commemorating the 71st anniversay of the Nakba in Tantoura. 

6) Free Palestinian Political Prisoners

At the end of December 2019, there were at least 5000 Palestinian prisoners being held in dire conditions in Israeli jails, including 461 administrative detainees, 41 female prisoners and 180 child prisoners. Palestinian prisoners are one of the most vulnerable groups under the Israeli occupation exposed to physical and psychological torture, ill-treatment, sexual harassment and medical negligence. Over 6 administrative detainees carried out hunger strike for the sake of regaining their freedom robbed of them by their colonizers without trial or charge. The Israeli occupation systematically worsens the conditions of the Palestinian prisoners. In 2019, Naser Taqatqa, Bassam Al-Sayeh and Sami Abu Diak died in Israeli custody due to the inhumane situation they encountered. 

  • No More Administrative Detainees! Throughout 2019, Stop the Wall took part in the initiative launched by the Higher Committee for the Follow-up of Prisoners’ Affairs and the Prisoners’ Club and the Prisoners’ Affairs Authority. We participated by being present in the sit-in in front of the International Red Cross headquarters to support the administrative detainees going through hunger strike.

The sit-in at the International Red Cross headqurters in solidarity with the hunger strikers 

  • Demanding respect to the humanity of our prisoners!

In response to the law Gilad Erdan has passed to further harshen the already harsh conditions of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, Stop the Wall and the Palestine Youth Forum participated in the march held to demand the withdrawal of the law. We also called on the international human rights organizations and the international community to intervene to hold the Israeli occupation authorities accountable for the inhumane conditions that the Palestinian prisoners live in.

7) Our Youth-next generation leadership

Palestinian youth face real challenges caused by the Israeli occupation and the PA’s practices and policies that hamper and undermine the demands of the youth for basic civil and political rights, such as the freedom of expression, opinion and assembly. Since its creation, the Palestinian Youth Forum has been a platform for Palestinian youth from different governorates in the West Bank where they can be involved more in the public sphere. To strengthen the youth’s role within the Palestinian society, Stop the Wall has held a number of meetings with the representatives of youth in most of the governorates in the West Bank. Through such meetings, youth have become more aware of the current political situation and how to respond to it through initiatives and projects launched by Stop the Wall and other active parties.

Cinema as a tool of intelligibility, awareness –raising… and change!

Stop the Wall launched a project where cinema was used as a means to promote alternative education techniques aimed at equipping youth with creative and critical thinking skills. The project was also an attempt to treat the phenomenon of drugs amongst youth between the age of 14-25 living in towns and villages adjacent to the Green Line and the apartheid Wall south of Ramallah. Drug abuse is one of the most dangerous threats to human rights, and one’s right to a dignified life and often a direct reaction to the unbearable living conditions created by Israeli occupation. The participants could raise awareness amongst children and youth regarding drug consumption and addiction as well as the role of the Israeli occupation in facilitating Palestinians’ access to drugs in area ‘C.’

Screeing of the drug abuse film in Ni'lin town-Ramallah 

Highlights of Stop the Wall’s struggle around the globe in 2019

Although our national initiatives and campaigns are an attempt to preserve our existence and identity as Palestinians in our land, we are still members in a broader class: “humanity.” Our humanity transcends geographical borders where we hold responsibilities towards each other. In 2019, we strengthened our ties with international actors and movements struggling, like us, for justice, equality and self-determination, particularly in the global south. For this reason, we are continuing the path started together with Mexican movements in the call for a World without Walls, which states that:

 “From Israel’s apartheid Wall on Palestinian land to the US Wall of Shame on indigenous land at the border with Mexico – Walls are monuments of expulsion, exclusion, oppression, discrimination and exploitation. […] Walls have not only risen to fortify borders of state control but demarcate the boundaries between the rich, the powerful, the socially acceptable and the ‘other.’”

1) Standing up against Israel’s arms industry militarizing Mexico

Stop the Wall has organized for 3 months together with almost 100 groups, networks, unions representing indigenous, workers, social movements and efforts of internationalist solidarity in order to investigate and denounce the way Israel’s arms industry has impacted the militarization of Mexico.

Israel’s military corporations such as Elbit Systems, who builds the US Wall at the Mexican border as much as Israel’s apartheid wall on Palestinian land, have literally made a killing of the repression of the Mexican people from the northern to the southern border. We have helped to produce a study detailing how Mexico has financed the Israeli military industry with $US182 million, importing weapons, technology and training that continue to date and facilitate the ongoing human rights violations in Mexico.

See the full study here (Spanish only): https://brigadaparaleerenlibertad.com/programas/5777/

On April 9, a historic moment took place in the center square of Mexico City: a large tent hosting  600 people from all over Mexico, many of them the indigenous movements from the state of Oaxaca, as well as Palestinian, Israeli, Brazilian, Guatemaltecan, Honduran and US witnesses and experts of the effect of Israeli weapons, technologies and methods to over the space in front of the government palace. They have given powerful proof and statements during the event.

The Second People's Tribunal on Israel's role in the militarization of Latin America was held, this time with a focus on Mexico. The popular jury concluded that the Israeli government and companies such as the neoliberal Mexican governments of recent decades are both accused of planning, implementing, supporting and profiting from violations of the human rights of the Palestinian and Mexican people.

See the full judgement here (in English): https://stopthewall.org/2019/04/10/ii-popular-tribunal-role-israel-militarization-latin-america-mexico-chapter

2) Joining the struggle: the Palestinian people and the migrants 

Stop the Wall has facilitated the joint declaration of 73 European Palestine solidarity and migrants rights groups and networks from 17 European states on Nakba Day 2019. The Day Palestinians reaffirm their commitment to the struggle for the return of their refugees, the statement has brought together movements for a #WorldwithoutWalls in order to claim the right for all to move, to stay and to return in freedom, justice and equality.

This joint call is based on a common understanding that “European anti-migration policies, that in many cases resemble Israeli paradigms and are implemented often with Israeli technology, are targeting migrants, finance Israeli apartheid and military occupation against Palestinians and militarize European societies.”

See full call here: https://stopthewall.org/2019/05/15/73-european-palestine-and-migrants-rights-groups-unite-worldwithoutwalls

See background paper here: https://stopthewall.org/background-note-worldwithoutwalls-call-european-palestine-and-migrants-rights-groups

Based on this call, 32 European Palestine solidarity, anti-militarization and migrants organizations call on the EU, the European Maritime Safety Agency and Portuguese CEiiA, who has officially contracted Israel's Elbit Systems Hermes 900 killer drones at the service of the EU, to stop contracting Israeli drones and military companies in order to implement its inhumane anti-migration policies.

Read the full letter here: https://stopthewall.org/2019/11/15/european-civil-society-against-eu-use-elbit-systems-killer-drones

The campaign to stop Israeli killer drones from implementing EU anti-migration policies continues!

30 years after: For a World without Walls

30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, over 70 walls are militarizing borders or imposing state control on other people’s lands. Walls have become the sign of our times, of rising racism, exclusion, oppression and exploitation.

At Stop the Wall we believe it is time to unite and fight back. Instead of ceding to the temptation to become completely absorbed in the ever more dramatic and brutal crises and attacks,World without Walls is the moment in which we lift our heads, see beyond the walls, and perceive the struggles of the others and the connections between our struggles in order to gain strength and confidence together. This gaze beyond the walls is the moment where we can see in the horizon a world of justice, freedom, and equality that gives us hope and direction.

For the reason we have marked November 9, the anniversary date of the fall of the Berlin Wall and since 2017 the Global Day of InterAction for a World without Walls, with a series of initiatives:

·We have facilitated the 3. Global Day of InterAction for a World without Walls with actions and initiatives all across the globe, from Malaysia to the Bay Area, San Francisco, US.

For more see: https://stopthewall.org/2019/11/08/november-9-initial-list-action-world-without-walls

·We have worked with activists, academics and all those affected by walls: physical and ideological walls that divide us, to contribute to a collection of essays, short papers and other written contributions discussing and building the quest for a World Without Walls. The contributions in this reader are a deeply inspiring collection of visions, practices, information, and experiences of the movements and activists that are struggling against the walls of our times. We deeply thank all those that have taken time to contribute to the reader and have made this effort possible. This reader is not an exhaustive anthology but a start to bring together ever more reflections and actions that break down the walls between our movements and build a common ground for a World without Walls and, hopefully, serves a tool to organize our ideas and link our struggles.

Access the reader here: https://book.stopthewall.org/

  • Thanks to the support of our partners from the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, we have been able to host the Second World without Walls delegation, formed by Latinx and Indigenous movement leaders from the US that have been able to share experiences of struggle against walls with their Palestinian counerparts and experience the reality on the ground in Palestine.