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.