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April 24, 2010

Bilin to Beit Jala

The past two days witnessed further Israeli war crimes from shooting at unarmed protesters in Gaza, to destruction of land and property, and to raids in the middle of the night. But we also had a good first day of the International conference in Bilin. It was so good to meet with dear friends (e.g. Neta Golan, Huwaida Arraf, Lubna Masarwa, Iyad Burnat, Mohammed Al-Khatib, etc) and make many new ones. Hundreds of people attended on the first day from many countries. Speeches from dignitaries (e.g. Archbishop Atallah Hanna) to politicians (e.g. Salam Fayyad). There were representatives of all political factions. But the most interesting of all was the video-uplink with Gaza. Facilitated by Lubna Masarwa on this end and our dear friend Dr. Haidar Eid in Gaza. The site of the video uplink was a destroyed three story residential building whose residents still remain homeless. We also heard from a daughter of one of the abductees (many activists were abducted by the occupation soldiers and are still held in the gulags of the fascist occupation army). We also heard from relatives of the martyrs (murdered mercilessly by the occupation authorities). Everybody especially remembered the wonderful positive spirit of Bassem Abu-Rahma murdered one year ago at peaceful demonstration against the apartheid wall.

My excitement about the achievements in Bilin was needed to balance the pain as we watched the Israeli bulldozers destroy a familys front yard (the family of Mitri Ghneim in Beit Jala). The olive trees did not stand for two long. Nor did the childrens playground. The carefully tended garden lasted even less. Feelings of anger, sadness, pain, misery and more fluctuated but the emotions settled always on a sense of betrayal. Why is the world letting this happen. Israeli soldiers behaving like sadists dragging internationals out of the way and preventing all activists from getting close to victims family as they ravaged the yard. Six activists managed to get through and were beaten. They included two Palestinians. One international was taken asnd the others released on site later. My eyes welled up with tears as I watched two of the familys children return from school and look in horror at what is happening to their gardens.

In Al-Walaja village, the fascist Israeli army uprooted over 50 trees as it bulldozed areas around the illegal colony of Har Gilo. Much of the Land of Al-Walaja (near Beit Jala). THe demonstration there on Friday was inspiring as villagers also blocked the road for the vehicles of destruction.

Holocaust Tax Allowance by Gilad Atzmon

I do think that taking Tax from Jews is nothing less than Anti Semitism in practice. After the Holocaust and 2000 years of Jewish suffering we should accept that Jews have the right to hide some money from the tax authorities, just in case the horror repeats itself.

The BBC reported today that A US watchmaker told the American court that he “hid $10,000,000 in a Swiss bank account because of ‘survival behaviour’ learned from the Holocaust”.

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Armored bulldozers invade Gaza strip

Two Palestinians and an International activist shot with live ammunition at a non-violent demonstration against the Buffer Zone in Gaza

El Maghazi, Deir Al Balah, Gaza, Occupied Palestinian Territories, 24th April 2010, 12PM – At a peaceful nonviolent demonstration against the forceful cessation of farming within what Israel defines as a “buffer zone,” which was attended by 150 people, two Palestinians demonstrators and one International activist were shot. Israeli soldiers opened fire on the demonstrators from the border fence. Nidal Al Naji (18) was shot in the right thigh. Hind Al Akra (22) was shot in the stomach and is undergoing emergency surgery. Bianca Zimmit (28) from Malta was filming the demonstration when she was shot in her left thigh. The wounded are currently being treated in Al Aqsa Hospital.

Shortly after 11 a.m., women and men, including 6 ISM activists, marched from Al Maghazi towards the Israeli fence closing off the Gaza strip. After being met with live ammunition upon cresting a ridge, some demonstrators continued walking forward. This group included six women, two ISM activists and 20 men. The 20 male demonstrators reached the border fence. Zimmit was shot while filming the demonstration between the ridge and the fence, at a distance of roughly 80-100 meters. Hind Al Akra, also standing between the ridge and the fence, was shot in the stomach, and Niadal al Naji was shot in the leg near the fence. Demonstrators carried the wounded back across rough terrain to taxis for transport to Al-Aqsa Hospital.

The demonstrations are held in protest against the arbitrary decision by Israel to instate a 300 metre buffer zone as no-go area for Palestinians where “shoot to kill” policy is implemented. People have been shot regularly as far as 2 kilometres away from the border. Popular Campaign for the Security in the Buffer Zone, an umbrella organization that includes organizations representing farmers and Gaza residents living near the border, and also a number of political parties are present at many of these demonstrations.

Those venturing to the border regions to gather rubble and steel do so as a result of the siege on Gaza which, along with Israel’s 23 day winter war on Gaza, has decimated Gaza’s economy, including 95 percent of Gaza’s factories and businesses, according to the United Nations. Additionally, these recycled construction materials are vital in Gaza where the Israeli-led siege bans all but under 40 items from entering.

The siege prevents vitally needed construction materials from entering Gaza, where over 6,400 houses were destroyed or severely damaged in the Israeli war on Gaza, and nearly 53,000 sustained lesser damages. Hospitals and medical centres, schools, kindergartens and mosques are among the other buildings destroyed and damaged during the Israeli war on Gaza.


Mourid Barghouti on Writing as Displacement

I had just finished I Saw Ramallah, which was published in English in 2000 by AUC Press. I have no excuse for being 10 years late to this beautiful book, and am reading it now because of translator Ahdaf Souief’s upcoming visit to Cairo, as part of the AUC’s “in translation” series.

I will have to say more about the book, because it’s creaking and shifting inside me, but for now I just wanted to quote this passage on writing:

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