Friday, July 27, 2007

The Israeli Siege of Zawata Village

On the morning of July 19, 2007, the Israeli Occupation Force invaded the village of Zawata just north of the city of Nablus. The army proceeded to demolish the house of Asad Natoor. Moving deeper into the village, the force sieged another home and proceeded to destroy the external walls while "interrogating" an individual inside.

Human rights activists arrived to the scene alongside medics - attempting to halt the destruction. The Israeli Army blocked the entrance of an ambulance called for a pregnant woman. The army used force to repell human rights observers from the first home demolition.

Upon the arrival of human rights legal observer, the army openly admitted they had no demolition order. Furthermore, the District Command Office (DCO) continually ignored calls. When officials from B'tselem (Israeli Human Rights Organization) inquired as to the presence of a demolition - the civil authorities indicated they weren't aware of the operation. Soldiers then assaulted the human rights workers requesting documentation and authorization from the soldiers.

Zawata: Witness to Israeli War Crimes is a short documentary covering the events of this day. It includes extensive interviews from the victims of that day and film of the soldiers who committed these crimes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Human Rights Activists Evict Israeli Snipers holding 35 Palestinians (20 of them Children) Hostage in their Own Home

After a standoff in ‘Ein Beit Al Ma’ refugee camp, Friday morning, July 20, 2007, in which six international human rights activists confronted the Israeli Occupation Forces, at 11:30am several Israeli snipers were forced out of the home they had occupied since 3:00 am that morning. The internationals entered the house after the withdrawal of the snipers and found 35 civilians inside, 20 of which were children.

Several Palestinian boys approached the activists to point out Israeli snipers in a building on the hill above the camp. The Israeli soldiers had forced four families, 30 people, into a first floor room and held them hostage for over eight hours.

Occupying and using a civilian home as a military position is illegal under international and Israeli law.

Nablus, a city in the North of the West Bank is surrounded by military bases and invaded nightly by heavily armored Israeli Occupation Forces. These incursions kill and injure civilians on a daily basis. Not only are the individual actions of this platoon, these soldiers, and the Israeli Occupation Forces illegal, but the entire occupation of the West Bank since 1967 is in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention and in contravention of numerous UN declarations.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A tough day for Nablus

On July 10th, a large scale invasion of the city took place, lasting until the morning hours. Clashes in the old city took place throughout the night whereupon the army moved into the upscale neighborhood of Rafidia, the location of one of Nablus' largest churches. In Rafidia, the soldiers cleared out two apartment complexes of all of their residents, forcing the men to strip, and detaining the women and children. The men were taking to a villa, in interviews there with the family living in the villa, torture of the detained men was described. The Israeli Army placed bombs around one of the apartment buildings and threatened to blow it up unless two wanted men inside surrended. These men surrendered, as well as the owner of the apartment. Two of them were reportedly taken to the villa as well and subject to the same torture. I was there, I saw it, now you can too.

In other news, last night July 11th, fighters from the Izzideen al Qassam Brigades of Hamas cooperated with fighters from the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades of the Socialist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to repel soldiers who had entered the Ein Beit Al Ma refugee camp, located in Nablus. The brigades said in a statement that three Israeli soldiers were injured. The statement explained that the PFLP fighters ambushed an Israeli infantry patrol and detonated two explosive devices before they clashed with the Israeli troops.

Israeli military forces reported that an explosive device was detonated while an Israeli patrol passed in Nablus, yet they claimed there were no casualties.

From the sweet city of Nablus,


Lies "Live" from Israel

Since the siege of the city of Nablus at the beginning of this month, there have been invasions by the Israeli Occupation Forces every night in multiple areas of the city. Stories from the siege are still sifting down through interviews - I spoke with a foreign educated doctor at some length as to the denial of ambulance and medical personnel into areas where there are wounded. He was turned away many times when trying to get to his clinic. The brutality of the occupation will quickly become apparent as I write and post more - it's so impossible to relay to someone who has lived a normal, predictable, and safe life what it is like to have an army of 60 vehicles storm into the city you live in, shoot out all the lights, throw grenades on the streets, and bulldoze everything on the streets out of the way BEFORE beginning to take over their homes for use as sniper posts and kidnapping entire buildings. Those who are lucky just get kept up all night by the noise.

This brings us to the question of why such intensity at this present moment. Even those in the city can feel it - Israel is on a brutal campaign at present to kidnap as many people as possible. This comes on the heels of the Sharm el Sheikh summit where the Israeli President Olmert declared a goodwill gesture of releasing 250 Fatah affiliated prisoners. The truth on the ground here, though, is that more than that number of prisoners have been arrested since this promise was made. It's a classic Israeli promise & switch move. It's how they get away with this all, and why no one notices. I remember it very explicitly from last summer - in the last days of the Lebanon War they pushed 30,000 troops into the occupied Lebanese territory so that they would appear to be making concessions to the rest of the world when they withdrew 20,000.

Now the rumor is that the Israelis have a goal of taking 500. That's right, they aim a taking 500, letting 250 old prisoners go, and then collecting the appreciation of the world opinion for being such a nice brutal occupation force. Here's the latest news report on the situation:

Nablus – Ma'an – Statistical evidence has revealed that the Israeli authorities have intensified their arrest campaigns against Palestinians in the West Bank in the past two weeks, especially after the Sharm el Sheikh summit of Middle Eastern leaders. During the summit Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, promised to release 250 prisoners affiliated to the Fatah movement.

The pledge was portrayed as a gesture of good will towards the Palestinians.

Fatah's information office issued a statement announcing that Israel has apprehended more than 300 Palestinians affiliated to the Fatah movement over the past two weeks. The number arrested in just two weeks has already exceeded the number of detainees proposed to be freed by Olmert.

"Israel is arresting Fatah loyalists and simultaneously discussing the farce of releasing prisoners," read the Fatah statement.

The movement also stated that "Israel's policy of apprehensions cannot bring about peace, nor can Israel's deception of the international community plant the seeds of trust between Israel and the Palestinians."

With hope for peace,


Tough to be a journalist in Palestine

There has been a little bit of a lull in the postings because recently Israel cut a telephone and internet connection which passed from '48 into the West Bank/'67. They wouldn't let Palestinian repair crews nearby for some time, so it's been tough to access any media. Hamdulillah, we're back online.

I start first with a post on the difficulties of being a journalist in Palestine. If you're one of those people who upon hearing my stories or messages find yourself confused or uncomfortable about the things I have to tell - often it's because those in the Western world see or hear very little of the truth of the situation. For the most part the story in the Western Media is of a poor beleaguered Israel who is always the victim. This pervades even what people would consider the "liberal" media in the US due to a rather complex interaction of political power, money, and media. So as not to sound conspiratorial, I suggest the reader checkout the freely available movie "Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land" to better aquaint themselves with why the story of this amazingly historic place is mistold. (it is an hour and fifteen minutes, so take some time tonight to watch it if you're interested)

When you're on the ground though, it's a much different situation. As a part of and in addition to the legal work I'm doing, there is a healthy dose of media collection I'm involved with. It's not easy - forget about about major media covering the daily invasions here - worse though, is that the local and regional media are attacked by the Israeli Occupation Forces when trying to pursue their profession.

Journalists and observers are routinely shot at, arrested, and more frequently (in my case) told that my camera will be smashed by one soldier while the other points a gun at me. Recently, in Gaza, the Israelis shot a cameraman - not only did they shoot him once to drop him, they continued to shoot him while he lay on the ground nearly life-less, with a massive 50 Cal nonetheless. He has since had both of his legs amputated due to the massive damage the huge bullets caused. (one minute video)

With hopes of Peace from the Promised Land,


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Closed Military Zone

I write quickly because most of my other work is taking up time. I promise there will be more to come - so don't get bored of me yet. I have tons of content!!!

Nablus - my dear Nablus - I have finally gotten to the city I fell in love with when I visited it last year. A city of ~200,000 people, it is known for three things (they jokingly say): 1) Soap, 2) Kanafe and 3) that those in Nablus are gay. Nabulsi, the word for one from Nablus is another way of saying "ah, he likes men!". Maybe it's their social nature, maybe it's their friendliness -- either way, it's a wonderful city. The sort of place that as you walk through the old city someone will come up to you and say "welcome in Nablus" and offer you some peanuts to eat out of a bag -- then if you smile in response, you get the whole bag of peanuts as a present. You CANNOT stop the people here from giving you all the respect and hospitality. This despite the fact that the number of people living in poverty is now over 60% (yes, I will get you cites).

Maybe it's a social city because no one leaves the city much. It's certainly not exciting to leave, as when I tried to yesterday and was threatened with having my camera smashed by a 19 year old soldier. I'm foreigner though - for the Nabulsis the situation at present is much different. The city has been declared a "closed military zone". This may sound innocuous enough and in an era where all you hear in the Western media is a story of Palestinian sovereignty the idea doesn't make sense. Here is what it means - there are six checkpoints surrounding the city. You can't go in or out without passing through a post guarded by heavily armed soldiers, surrounded by sniper towers, and policed by brutal soldiers who frequently shoot civilians when frustrated. The current closure on the city means that no one under the age of 35 can leave the city if they possess a Nablus ID. Some place to vacation, huh?

More to come...