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Israeli forces protect settlers as they cut down Palestinian family’s trees

International Solidarity Movement | February 12, 2014

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On the afternoon of February 11, 2014, settlers in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Al-Khalil (Hebron) cut down trees belonging to the Abu Eisheh family. While attempting to film the destruction of the trees, four human rights activists were arrested by Israeli police.

At approximately 3:30 p.m., three activists, a Swiss-American, an American, and an Italian, were sitting in their apartment in Tel Rumeida when they heard a commotion outside. Outside the apartment, they found a group of settlers, Palestinians, Israeli soldiers and Israeli police. They were informed by the Palestinians that a group of settlers was cutting down trees at a house just up the road.

The three activists began filming but were not allowed up the road to where the tree-cutting was taking place. While filming, the American activist was physically assaulted by a settler. None of the soldiers or police officers present intervened. Instead, the Israeli police took the passports belonging to the American and Swiss-American and told them to sit on the ground.

At this time, the Italian citizen returned to the apartment, where she was joined by a fourth activist, an American, who had just arrived. Shortly thereafter, a group of soldiers and police officers attempted to enter the apartment. They were not allowed entry, but briefly questioned the two activists outside the apartment door. The Israeli police then confiscated the passports belonging to the American and the Italian.

Not long after, all four activists were transported to the police station near Kiryat Arba, where they were interrogated and threatened with deportation. After seven hours, the activists were released.

The following day, February 12th, two activists from Christian Peacemaker Teams visited Tel Rumeida to document the destruction of the trees. They were not there long before several Israeli soldiers approached them, told them to stop filming, and took their passports. They were held for two hours before their passports were returned.  Israeli soldiers informed the two activists that if they approached the trees again they would be arrested.

The destruction of Palestinian trees by settlers is a chronic problem, not only in Tel Rumeida, but all over the West Bank.  In the past month alone, more than 2500 trees in the village of Sinjil were destroyed by settlers. Trees have also recently been destroyed by settlers in Qusra, Ramallah, and Nablus. Fruit trees are an essential resource for the Palestinian community, and their damage causes serious economic loss. It takes as long as 12 years for an olive tree to reach full maturity.

dave

ISM activist with settlers in Tel Rumeida (photo by ISM Italy)

February 12, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Entery Denied: Part II*

CPTnet | September 24, 2013

* The word “entry” is intentionally misspelled to reflect the misspelling on the Israeli “Entery Denied” stamp.

I made a second attempt to cross the border. Spoiler alert, I didn’t make it.

I have been volunteering with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Palestine for one year. Due to visa restrictions all volunteers have to come into the country under a tourist visa, and leave every three months to renew our visas. Last week I was returning across the Allenby Border Crossing for my fourth stint. I was questioned extensively about myself, my family, my plans for my visit, and the work of CPT. After 7 hours of questioning and waiting I was told I was denied entry. I asked the reason for my denial. They did not give a clear answer, but did suggest that part of the reason involved not having sufficient evidence to support back my story. The soldier suggested I return later with a letter from CPT, evidence of where I was going to stay, and added that I should get a letter from the Israeli embassy. I took his advice, but the Israeli embassy was closed for over a week. So I returned to the border with a letter from CPT stating our work, my position, and my purpose for entering the country. I also printed out two letters from Israeli friends ‘inviting’ me.

My second attempt was similar to the first. I was questioned multiple times. I was asked to trace my family lineage back three generations. I was asked to prove my religion. I was accused of lying about my reasons for coming to the country. I found this ironic because I have always been honest about my reasons for entering, and it has brought me nothing but trouble.

Finally I was denied entry again. This time, the soldier explained it was because CPT is not a recognized organization. I told the soldier that we legally do not need to be recognized by Israel, and I asked why this was a reason for not letting me in. He said his commander said I couldn’t come in for that reason, and that was the end of the conversation.

In recent months Israeli border security has kept two other CPTers from crossing (that is 50% of the CPTers attempting to enter during that time). This is the first time someone has explicitly stated that it is because we are with CPT, although we assumed as much before.

CPT has been working in Hebron for 19 years. We are a member of the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA). We receive grants from the United Nations and from Save the Children UK. CPT is a well known, respected INGO in the region. We have no explanation for the targeting of CPTers at the border in recent months and I question why the Israeli authorities see people working for a ‘violence reduction program’ as a threat.

For Part I of Jonathan’s first border denial click here

September 29, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Military Training Amid Villages in South Hebron Hills

CPTnet | September 19, 2013

During their most recent weekly visit to villages in the South Hebron Hills, CPTers witnessed a large group of Israeli soldiers in the area and heard an artillery training activity. Every week, Christian Peacemaker Teams, along with other internationals, provides a presence in an area, home to twelve villages, that the Israeli military has designated as Firing Zone 918—a closed military zone for training maneuvers.

On Sunday, 15 September, CPTers witnessed soldiers and a military vehicle near the village of Halaweh and two helicopter flyovers as children studied and played at the school in Al Fakheit. They heard several other helicopters flying nearby during the night. On the morning of 16 September, CPTers heard what seemed to be bomb detonation and machine gun fire.  Later in the morning, when they visited the village of Jinba, residents confirmed that the Israeli military had conducted infantry training exercises nearby from about 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. that morning.

During their visit to Jinba village, CPTers learned that the Israeli authorities had stopped employees of World Vision as they were driving from Jinba to Al Fakheit and confiscated their car on 11 September. According to a United Nations employee, soldiers said they would not return the car for at least sixty days.

The area has been relatively quiet since May – with no training activities seen or heard, though helicopter flyovers continued even during this “quiet” time and settler violence and a military raid occurred in July.  Here is a video of an Israeli military helicopter harrassing the village of Al Fakheit:

On their way into the area, CPTers also witnessed the digging of a new cistern.  The Israeli government issued a stop work order on the cistern saying it is in a “nature reserve” (as well as the firing zone.) Nevertheless, the work continues.

The area is currently the subject of a court case in the Israeli Supreme Court. Eight of the twelve villages, where about 1,000 people live, are under eviction orders. Many structures within those villages also have demolition orders. When the case came to court on 2 September, the judicial panel proposed mediation. The case will again come before the court on 2 October. The military exercises CPTers witnessed were the first since the 2 September court date.

The U.N.’s 2012 Humanitarian Impact of Israeli-declared “Firing Zone” in the West Bank Factsheet reports that in addition to restriction on grazing livestock (the livelihood of many inhabitants of the area),

residents of firing zones face a range of other difficulties including the confiscation of property, settler violence, harassment by soldiers, access and movement restrictions and/or water scarcity. Combined, these conditions contribute to a coercive environment that creates pressure on Palestinian communities to leave these areas… International law also prohibits the destruction or confiscation of private or public property, unless for reasons of military necessity, as well as the forced displacement or transfer of civilians.”

September 19, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , | Leave a comment