Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘West Bank’

On this last Saturday, June 6, Taayush members started the day by going to Safa.  Honestly, after last week’s violence I wasn’t that eager to go, but as Amiel said, for that reason, “the people there need us the most.”

We went to the fields where the villagers of Safa pick grape leaves.  Upon arriving we discovered that the army had declared a “Closed Military Zone” on the lands they use for agriculture.  Not only was the land off-limits, we were told that the order was in effect until June 21, over two weeks.  By that time, many of the grape leaves may no longer be usable.  Furthermore, this goes against an Israeli Supreme Court ruling stating that the Palestinians should not be prevented from accessing their agricultural lands.

The IDF, in trying to make their own job easier, is essentially punishing the Palestinians for the settler attacks against them.

After we photographed the military order for a Closed Military Zone we left.

Our next activity took place in the village of Susya, in the South Hebron Hills.  The Israeli-Palestinian group Combatants for Peace had organized a group of about 100 Israelis, Palestinians and internationals to erect a structure along-side the developing illegal outpost ‘Givat HaDegel’.

The land the outpost is on is unquestionably Palestinian.  The owner has documentation, the IDF did not dispute it, and Israeli news confirmed it.  Nevertheless, the IDF is allowing the settlers from the settlement of Susya to build there.

Back in January I wrote about the developments at Givat HaDegel. A couple months after that, I saw that they had started to build a cement floor.

Cement floor at Givat HaDegel

Cement floor at Givat HaDegel

On this Saturday, when we ascended the hill, I saw close-up that a full building had been constructed.

G HaDegel

The Combatants for Peace and the people that joined them built what was essentially a ‘sukkah’, and covered it with the colors of the Palestinian flag.  Immediately soldiers started to dismantle it.  After a short time they declared a Closed Military Zone.

Palestinians waving their flag and colors after their 'sukkah' was dismantled

Palestinians waving their flag and colors after their 'sukkah' was dismantled

I cannot say that I was surprised by what happened.  However, Givat HaDegel is not on the government list of illegal outposts, which has 26, far short of the actual number.  Also, Israel’s Channel 2 news had a brief piece on the event, but neglected to even mention the settler’s construction.

There is something very wrong here when it is regarded as radical action for people to go to their private land.  It is somehow normal here that the land owner is not allowed onto his own land, and that the IDF is used to keep him off, while permitting Israeli citizens to build on it.  This is the situation Palestinians find themselves in.  The Israeli police and military have authority over them, but only work to protect Israeli citizens, even when they are committing crimes.

Read Full Post »

dscn1011

This last Saturday I went along with members of Taayush to accompany some Palestinian shepherds who had recently been attacked by settlers.  The Palestinians are from a village called Sha’ab-el-But’un, which is about 200 meters away from the illegal outpost of Mitzpeh Ya’ir. 

As mentioned, the settlement is in close proximity to the Palestinians.  When the Palestinian shepherds take their sheep out to graze, it would make sense that they should be able to do so near their homes.  However, the settlers prevent this from happening by intimidating the shepherds and frightening their sheep.

 

a settler chasing sheep

a settler chasing sheep

 

 

I was standing along with a few Israelis near a flock of sheep, when three settlers approached.  They walked right up to the flocks of sheep and start yelling and frightening the animals,.  chasing them almost all the way back to Sha’ab el But’un . One of the Palestinians near me says that this happens every day.

Seeing a few 30 year-old adults running around, making strange noises to scare sheep was bizarre, and would be comical, except that these sheep are the Palestinian’s livelihood.  The shepherds tried to keep their flocks together, but gave up in the end, looking on helplessly.

Shortly after this, a number of IDF soldiers arrived, some of whom immediately shook hands with the settlers who had just spent the last 5-10 minutes yelling and running after frightened sheep.  It seems very unlikely to me that the soldiers did not see some of that behavior. 

 

3 soldiers standing in front of 2 settlers (Taayush member bottom left)

3 soldiers standing in front of 2 settlers (Taayush member bottom left)

 

 

More soldiers then arrived, along with other settlers and their children, numbering around 20.  

 

More settlers and their children come

More settlers and their children come

 

 

The settlers quickly engaged in argument with the Palestinians and members of Taayush as their children join in, hurling insults. One of the adults shouted, “We are on the right side of history.”  

The soldiers wanted the Palestinians to go back to their village, the settlers back to the settlement, and us to leave.

 

The commander

The commander

 

 

 The army commander accused us of provoking the settlers.  Apparently, Palestinian shepherds trying to graze their flocks near their own village is a provocation.

More to come soon…

Read Full Post »

U.S. citizens critically hurt at West Bank protest – Haaretz – Israel News.

Tristan Anderson, an American with the International Solidarity Movement, was hit in the head by a tear-gas canister fired by IDF troops.  At the time he was apparently not involved in protest, and was not near people who were behaving violently.

This is from two days ago now, but there are a few aspects of this event that disturbed me.  As pointed out in this article in the Guardian, the IDF has started using a different type of tear gas canister. According to the International Solidarity Movement, this type of tear gas canister does not make a noise when fired, fires at a high velocity, and also does not release a visible smoke trail immediately.

It sounds to me like the soldier probably aimed at Anderson’s head.  Also, considering the specifications of this type of tear-gas canister, it seems that it does not make sense to use except as a weapon.

Correction: I made a mistake in presuming the intent of the soldier, there is no way I can know if he actually was aiming at Anderson.

However, I would like to note that B’Tselem recently put out a new report stating that some soldiers have used tear gas as a weapon, intentionally hitting protesters.

Read Full Post »

Another illegal outpost of some interest is Nof Nesher, also called Lucifer Farm.  I want to make clear that Lucifer Farm is a name the settlers themselves use, not some nickname the Palestinians came up with.

Here is a sign near Lucifer Farm.

Lucifer Tower

Lucifer Tower

The sign says Lucifer Tower in large print.  Above in smaller print it says ‘tradition/heritage/source  national water company’ (I am not sure which meaning is intended for the first word, possible all of them).

The Lucifer Farm is apparently home to only one family.  It was founded by Yaakov Talia, who, according to David Shulman’s book “Dark Hope”,  is a South African who converted to Judaism at the end of apartheid, and moved to Israel.  What does that say about the settlers in South Hebron?

Here is the settlement.

Nof Nesher/Lucifer Farm

Nof Nesher/Lucifer Farm

At the top of the hill is the settlement, and I want to point out a couple things in the picture.  It may be difficult to see, but along the left side of the dirt road there is a low cement barrier, and in one part there are rocks serving the same purpose.  This barrier was constructed to prevent the Palestinian’s sheep from grazing, and it also limits their freedom of movement significantly.

Also, note the power lines and radio tower.  All of this was built for one family – living in an illegal settlement.  It seems like an illogical use of resources beyond even the issue of legality, which is clear.

More on the Tour to come…

Read Full Post »

Israeli and Palestinian talking

(Above: Israeli and Palestinian talking)

The initial reason I decided to write a blog was to recount my experiences in the South Mount Hebron area of the West Bank.  Not many people know what is going on there, and I wanted to help disseminate information.

I sometimes go out with members of the Israeli-Palestinian group Taayush, which works for relations and cooperation between Jews and Arabs.  The specific activities vary, but involve establishing relationships with Palestinians in the area, and in trying to prevent settler violence.

This Saturday, I went out with the group to the very small Palestinian village of Susya.  It used to be larger and in a different location, which settlers now occupy.  On Saturday our group (Israelis and Palestinians) went to look at a new outpost being built called Givat Hadegel.  This outpost is an extension of the settlement of Susya (not to be confused with the village) and is illegal even under Israeli law.

With us was the Palestinian man who owns the land Givat Hadegel is being built on.  He even has the appropriate documentation to prove it, but the army still allows the settlers to build their outpost.

The Outpost

The Outpost

Above is a view of Givat Hadegel.  In the background the settlement of Susya is visible on the next hilltop.  Not visible in the valley is the illegal outpost of Havat Ya’ir.  Effectively Givat Hadegel will serve as another hilltop the settlers control, and they will then be able to take the places in between in order to connect them.

Givat Hadegel is still clearly not a real settlement, but this is how the outposts often start.  First they make a sort of hang-out spot

"Lounge"

"Lounge"

As you can see, there is a cot, a stove-top and such.  There were also a couple other places where people could sleep.  So the settlers might start hanging out here, and then sleeping here sometimes, and then, suddenly, they put up a real structure, get water and electricity connected,  and it becomes an extension of the settlement.

A 'flag' of sorts

A 'flag' of sorts

I want to stress again that this land is indisputably owned by a Palestinian.  Nevertheless, the IDF and the police are unwilling to remove the settlers or the structures they put up.

Despite the recent violence in Gaza and all the other problems, there are still Jews and Arabs who meet, work together, and desire peace.  I want to remind everyone that there are people to talk to on both sides, and there are people struggling to improve the situation, through small acts of peace.

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.