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PALESTINE: Border Police detain, humiliate and arrest men trying to go to Friday prayers; CPTer’s camera taken.

CPTnet |  February 11, 2014

On 7 February 2014, CPTers went to the routine Friday mosque patrol around prayer time. Often during Friday prayers, Israeli Border police will take the IDs of young Palestinian men while they going into the Ibrahimi Mosque, check to see if they have any outstanding warrants and then return the IDs when the men come out of the mosque. This Friday, however, Border Police were not allowing the men to go to the mosque while they were checking the IDs.

When CPTers called members of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), TIPH personnel told them that Border Police were detaining men at several H-2 checkpoints. The CPTers decided to look at Checkpoint 29 and found Border Police detaining twenty to thirty men there. Several of them were quite angry because of the way the Border Police had been treating them. Other men were trying to calm the situation. When one man, after realizing he was going to miss prayers at the mosque, began to lay his prayer rug on the ground to pray at the checkpoint, one of the Border Police shoved him against a wall, which really enraged several people in the crowd.

Soldiers pepper-sprayed a boy who appeared to be about eleven or twelve and an older man, who was later hospitalized. The boy passed out and was taken down the hill to a shop. Additional soldiers arrived and began deploying sound bombs and teargas. Police arrested eight men.

Video of Border Police pepperspraying man

After the police took away the men they had arrested, CPTers remained in the area because of the heavy soldier and Border police presence. Civilian police approached one and asked for his passport and his camera. They insisted on taking his camera to the police station and he accompanied it. While he was at the police station, they asked him questions about what he had witnessed, periodically coming out of a room and telling another CPTer that “your friend isn’t arrested; he is just giving testimony.”

As of this writing, six of the men arrested on Friday have been released, while two are still in custody.

February 11, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drawing the Kafr Qasem Massacre: An Introduction to the Ongoing Project

[Samia Halaby,

[Samia Halaby, “The Kafr Qasem Massacre of 1956, the Third Wave of Killing, the Child Fathi” (2012).]
By Samia Halaby | Jadaliyya* | January 19, 2014

When I first accepted the challenge of drawing the Kafr Qasem massacre, I wanted to represent its events as though I were a camera on site. Documentary drawings, I thought, could recreate what photography might have given us if done on a historical basis. I would learn all I could and present the specific individuals and the documented events. I worked on the project in three major periods, each occupying most of a year or several years. I began work in 1999 and continued into 2000. In 2006, on the occasion of the fiftieth memorial of the massacre, I created both a web page and an exhibition of the drawings. In 2012, I returned to the project with the intention of finalizing it by making large-scale drawings and developing a book.

The story of the Kafr Qasem massacre is compelling. At first hidden from the world, it was members of the Communist Party who broke the military and information blockade in order to call attention to the horrific massacre; a detailed press release was finally published by party member Tawfiq Toubi twenty-six days after the massacre on 23 November, 1956 in Arabic, English, and Hebrew. His comrade, the distinguished Palestinian writer, Emile Habibi covered the massacre in issues of the CP organ, Al Ittihad, and in 1976 published a booklet on the subject. In one chapter, Habibi recounted the events and provided a structure whereby the chronology of events were numbered and termed “waves” of killing.

Israel’s military campaign against Egypt and the Suez started at 3pm on 29 October, 1956. One and a half hours later, at 4:30pm, the mukhtar (mayor) of Kafr Qasem was informed of an imminent curfew to begin at 5pm. Twenty-five minutes after this sudden warning, at 4:55, soldiers of the Israeli Border Police began killing anyone they found outside their home—be they man or woman, child or elder. Many were workers unaware of the curfew, as they were just then returning home. At the end of the night, forty-nine civilians lay dead on the roadways. Although each event of the massacre was nightmarish, the last one seemed to shock the villagers most of all, as fourteen women who had been olive picking were forced off a truck and shot at continuously from close range until they all fell dead over each other. The sole survivor of this wave of killing was a fifteen-year-old girl, who, when heavily wounded, lost consciousness, and lay under the corpses of the other women for most of the night. To add terror to brutal injury, the Israelis buried their bodies while their relatives were imprisoned in their homes on pain of death through the use of a twenty-four hour curfew.

A massacre is like a hammer blow that shatters a hard mass to smithereens. At first the pieces, the individuals who suffer this blow, do not all see who wields the hammer nor are they able to attack it. Anger and blame are bottled up. Painful energy flies in all directions. The town receiving the blow is shattered, broken to pieces, and as the pieces settle, loss, recrimination, shock, disbelief, and desperation emerge. Added to all this, as in the case of the Kafr Qasem massacre, is the poverty and depression resulting from a brutal military occupation.

What does a father tell his wife when he returns home alive but their eight-year old child whom she sent to warn him dies in the massacre? Why is a small girl unable to tell her mother that her father lies dead or wounded in the street except to say that dinner need not be prepared for him? Why do men and women, unable to believe their own experience, return to the scenes of the massacre to confirm its reality with those who shared it only to find death instead of fellowship? Why was the only survivor of one of the events of the massacre insensitively asked why she was the only one to survive? Why does a wounded man who had escaped, return on seeing the Israeli soldiers killing fourteen women only to be shot dead himself? Why did some whisper that the pregnant woman in her final month dropped the baby in the agony of her death?

When I first met Aishy Amer of Kafr Qasem, the beautiful scent of revolution permeated her words and manners. We had met through the internet and from her first visit to my loft she began to persuade me that, as an artist, I must do drawings of the massacre. Aishy and I eventually visited Kafr Qasem together, where she introduced me to her large family and friends and opened the way for me into a tightly knit village society made up of only five extended families. Following this first visit, she would assign her friends to help me. After interviewing some individuals several times over a period of thirteen years, they came to trust me as a friend. In fact in 2012, during my last visit to attend the annual memorial march, I found myself receiving extended interviews while members of the press were disregarded.

Along with my interviews, I conducted extensive research for historical materials and found a gold mine in the locally published magazine, Al-Shorok, each October issue of which is dedicated to the massacre. In it are countless long interviews conducted by Majd Sarsour, editor and principal of one of the town’s high schools. In general, the outside press did not match this valuable source of detailed information. It was rare to find newspaper articles that contained more than small bits of quoted information. Yet Al-Shorok allowed each individual to fully tell his or her story. Al-Shorok also insisted on detailing not only the names of victims and their ages, but also those of their children, the gender of the children, and their ages at the time of the parents’ death. In one particular article, the magazine detailed the ages of over four thousand offspring of the victims who had already given birth. An intense need to replenish the village overtook the survivors.

I came to truly respect the village, now grown into a town, regardless of its various types and admire the combination of earthy nobility, innocence, and wisdom they possessed. I learnt of the depth of pain they experienced, causing many to be unwilling to tell their stories. I learnt to value their trust and grew to understand that documentation should respectfully memorialize, avoiding sensation and spectacle.

I began drawing immediately after the first visit and continued to do so in separate periods of intense focus. As I worked and my knowledge grew, many of my initial aesthetic decisions matured. I determined that I would avoid simply showing piles of dead bodies. I would show people in their dignity at the last moments of their life. There would be no blood. I determined that the individual victims should face out towards the viewer, be in control of the aesthetic situation if not the original situation, which brought their violent end.

I began drawing in an illusionist way in the traditions of Renaissance art, but as the project progressed, I often questioned whether I perhaps should use an expressionist method. I admired Diego Rivera and thought that working in that manner, which many of the Palestinian artists of the Intifada were influenced by, might be a more modern path. However, after a lot of thought, I decided that the expressionism and semi-cubist style of Rivera did not suite the ambition of presenting people as specific individuals in documented events.

There is a paucity of visual information on the massacre, leaving written material as the basic source. Transforming verbal description and researched information into visual images presented serious problems. Words can focus on one subject and describe it accurately but not wholly. Pictures describe a scene wholly (from one point of view) but cannot show what happened just before or after. Pictures lack the specificity of time while words lack the specificity of space.

Truthful witness statements can hold up in a court of law but they lack the type of information pictures need regarding the appearance of a whole scene, information about color, light, background, relative positions of parts, and a host of other scenic details. This forced me into a certain amount of invention, which seriously conditioned my ambition to be a camera.

One of my initial inquiries was how to represent the killers, the soldiers of the Israeli Border Police who had executed the massacre. Based on things that I have seen in Palestine combined with my loathing, I made several horrifying renditions. In the end, I decided that the story was not about them and eliminated them from the drawings. However, in the final set done in 2012, I included fragments of them in outlined silhouette although I rendered their weapons carefully. By then I had researched the weapons and noted that they were semi-automatic weapons and that some of them were British made, reminding me of the part British colonialism had in arming and organizing the Zionist terrorists.

I asked for a great deal of criticism from residents of Kafr Qasem and from friends, and their opinions helped me greatly. I was not on a research mission to discover new formal languages but rather on a mission to tell a piece of Palestinian history in comprehensible visual form. I received a rating of seventy over one hundred on my drawing of the sixth wave of killing. I was flattered to have such a high grade for the man grading me, Omar Ahmad Hamdan Amer, known as Abu Naser, was the town’s historian, a man who lived his entire life immersed in the history of the massacre.

Did I meet my own challenge? An inner voice says: do it all over again and do it better. But another voice says: another way to fail is to disregard time. For now, I will be happy when my planned publication of drawings on the subject of the massacre is complete. The book will be called “Drawing the Kafr Qasem Massacre.” It will include a detailed history, a timeline, numerous witness statements, the drawings with my commentary, a roster of victims, and essays by scholars.

Below is a selection of drawings from the series with the artist’s captions:

                [The Kafr Qasem Massacre of 1956, Killing Inside the Village, the Easa Family (1999).]

During less than two hours on 29 October, 1956, Israeli Border Police killed forty-nine people in the Palestinian village of Kafr Qasem. They were mostly workers and children returning home in the evening. Most were killed on the western entrance, while inside the village it began when eight-year-old Talal Easa went out to retrieve a goat after the suddenly announced curfew. Talal’s father, Shaker, heard the shots and dashed out to his son. He was also shot. Talal’s mother, Rasmiyya, and, right after, Talal’s teenage sister, Noor, ran to their bleeding family and suffered the same fate. They remained where they fell, bleeding until morning when they were hauled off by truck to a hospital. Talal died. The grandfather, Abdallah Isaa, then ninety years old, was left alone and saw the massacre of his family. The following morning, Abdallah was found dead.

 [The Kafr Qasem Massacre of 1956, Killing in the Northern Fields (2012).]

In the northern fields of the village, three shepherd boys were out watering the family’s flock of sheep not knowing that Israel had launched a surprise attack on Egypt just hours before, nor did they know of the curfew imposed on their village. The oldest boy, Abdallah Easa was sixteen and the youngest, Abed Easa, was nine years old. Ibraheem Easa, their uncle who was thirty-five years of age, had learnt of the curfew and left the safety of his home to bring them back. They returned immediately with Ibraheem leading. Abed and Abdallah were just behind him while the third boy, Sami Mustafa, was watching the rear of the herd. The boys were met by Israeli soldiers of the Border Police, who immediately shot and killed Ibraheem, Abed, and Abdallah. Sami saw them being shot and fell to the ground, played dead and survived.

[The Kafr Qasem Massacre, the First Wave of Killing (2012).]

Five minutes before the curfew, and unaware of it, four quarry workers were returning home to Kafr Qasem on bicycles. When confronted by Israeli soldiers, with whose harassment they were familiar, they reached for their identity cards. Instead, an order to “harvest them” was given. Two, Ahmad Freij, age thirty-five, and Ali Tah, age thirty, died. Both were fathers of young children. Two others, Mahmoud Freij and Abdallah Badair, managed to escape. Mahmoud was wounded in the thigh and managed to crawl to an olive tree and hide until morning.

[The Kafr Qasem Massacre of 1956, the Third Wave of Killing, Child Fathi (2012).]

The twelve-year-old shepherd boy, Fathi Easa, was leading his family’s herd of black goats home after pasture. His father was driving the herd from the rear having heard of the curfew and had come to hurry his son home. There were three weapons in the hands of the Israeli Border Police all aimed at the boy, an Uzi, a Bren, and a rifle. All were fired, and the boy collapsed and died.

[The Kafr Qasem Massacre of 1956, the Sixth Wave of Killing (2012).]

Evening was darkening as the Israeli Border Police ordered thirteen or more workers to lineup on one side of the road. They had arrived on bicycles and a mule wagon. One of the workers, seventeen-year old Saleh Easa, had arrived with his two cousins. They had heard about the curfew and only feared a beating. When the execution style shooting began six fell dead. Saleh, wounded, playing dead, was dragged to the pile of bodies. He remained quiet, gritting his teeth in spite of extreme pain. He witnessed the rest of the massacre and later crawled to safety.

[The Kafr Qasem Massacre of 1956, the Ninth Wave of Killing, Implosion (2012).]

Night had fallen when the truck arrived at the location of the massacre. Among the victims of the ninth wave were two men in the cab of the truck and fourteen women with two boys in the back. The driver, seeing the scattered dead, tried to escape at high speed. This interrupted the singing women, who unwittingly began to scream, thus alerting the recumbent soldiers resting at the school’s well. The soldiers ran after the truck, shot its tires and gas tank, and stopped it. Safa Sarsour, having just seen her sixteen-year-old son, Jum’a, dead on the side of the road, now witnessed her second son, fourteen-year-old Abdallah, being killed with the men. The women, some pregnant, elders and girls, pleaded for their lives. The only survivor was Hana’ Amer, fifteen years of age, who said that the women clung to each other for protection, even the two girls who had managed to escape returned to the circle. As they were being shot, they turned in a big group and one by one they fell. The soldiers continued shooting into their heads to insure their death. How does it measure western civilization when soldiers of the Israeli border police line up defenseless women—some pregnant, tired, returning home from work—and kill them with cold deliberation?

*All images copyright the artist. 

January 22, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | Leave a comment

International activists physically and verbally abused in detention

International Solidarity Movement | January 15, 2014

Occupied Palestine – On Wednesday 8th January, Vincent Mainville and Fabio Theodule were arrested by Israeli border police in Khalil (Hebron).

The two boys were handcuffed and taken to Jaabara police station where they were forced to kneel on the concrete floor for approximately 30 minutes. Fabio was blindfolded with his own keffiyeh and while kneeling he was pushed against the wall by Israeli border police officers and kicked in his legs.

After an hour passed, the makeshift blindfold was removed although their hands remained cuffed behind their backs for the next four to five hours.

Fabio and Vincent were questioned by Israeli forces, both refusing to sign documents that were written in Hebrew. They were went taken to Kiryat Arba police station, fingerprinted and then interrogated once again. Several hours passed and it was only at this point that they were allowed to call their legal representative.

They were transferred to a police facility near Ben Gurion airport where they were made to wait outside in a prison courtyard for two hours. Fabio asked for water and was told by a border police officer, “If you want to drink, you can drink my piss”.

Fabio and Vincent repeatedly asked for jackets or a blanket due to the cold weather, they were both ignored.

They were taken inside this facility for 30 minutes before being transferred back to Kiryat Arba police station in Khalil. Their handcuffed were removed at 12:30 at night and they were placed in a cell to sleep.

In the morning, on Thursday 9th January, Vincent and Fabio were awakened and handcuffed at 6:30 in the morning. They received no information about their situation and were not informed they had a court hearing that morning. When they arrived at court in Jerusalem they were allowed to speak to their lawyer for approximately four minutes outside the courthouse, with Israeli border police present.

After they had the short conversation with their lawyer they were taken to the immigration office in Tel Aviv. The two activists tried to refuse to enter this building as they knew their lawyer was attempting to argue against their arrest [which was eventually declared illegal]. It was at this point Israeli forces became extremely aggressive, dragging both Vincent and Fabio by their handcuffs causing their wrists to bleed.

Vincent attempted to resist as they dragged both boys up a set of stairs and it was at this point a man from the immigration center kicked him in his ribs and his face. They were taken into a room and after one hour, were able to contact their lawyer, though they were not allowed privacy for this phone call.

Vincent asked if he could file charges against the man who has beat him, and he was told he was not allowed to do this.

At this point Vincent and Fabio were given food for the first time in 25 hours.

The boys were then taken to Giv’on prison in Ramle, close to Tel Aviv. They were unable to contact their lawyer again and received no information about their case, until they were finally able to be contacted by ISM two days later.

Vincent and Fabio are very likely to be deported within the next few days, their arrest has been ruled illegal by an Israeli court but this has not made any difference to their situation. Their treatment since being arrested should serve as a reminder in terms of how Israeli forces are able to treat their prisoners, whether justified or not. However, Vincent and Fabio as internationals have received far better treatment then Palestinian prisoners. The brutal treatment of Palestinian prisoners echoes throughout Palestine and serves as a daily reminder of the Israeli occupation.

January 15, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two international activists to be deported after their arrest is declared illegal

International Solidarity Movement | January 9, 2014

Occupied Palestine – Yesterday, Wednesday 8th January, at approximately 11am in Khalil (Hebron), Vincent Mainville and Fabio Theodule (Swiss and Italian citizens respectively), were arrested by Israeli border police officers.

The two international activists were first detained while trying to stop Israeli forces firing live ammunition and tear gas canisters towards a group of Palestinian youth and children throwing stones towards the soldiers.

Israeli forces accused the two activists of trying to assault a border police officer and obstruction of military action. Both activists are committed to non-violent solidarity work.

Vincent and Fabio were handcuffed and transferred to Jaabara police station, where they were left in the handcuffs for over three hours before finally being allowed to contact legal representation.

The two activists attended Hasharon court this morning in Jerusalem; they were escorted by Israeli border police and were handcuffed throughout the night. When they arrived in the courthouse they were escorted to several different rooms before being led outside the court without seeing their lawyer. Vincent and Fabio were then taken to the immigration center where deportation procedures were begun without a court hearing.

Although the judge later ruled that the activists had been illegally arrested, it was too late to prevent their transfer to immigration and therefore prevent their deportation.

The activists are now being held by Israeli forces and it is not known how long they will be held for before they are deported from the country.

January 9, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Parents of Tristan Anderson, US activist critically wounded following West Bank protest, appeal to High Court of Israel

Parents of US Activist: Police Investigation was Shockingly Negligent

International Solidarity Movement | July 9, 2013

Jerusalem – Tristan Anderson (41, of Oakland, CA) was severely wounded after having been shot in the head with a high velocity tear gas grenade* (made in the USA) fired by Israeli Border Police following a protest in the West Bank Village of Ni’lin, resulting in severe permanent brain damage and paralysis to half his body.

Tristan Anderson with his parents

Tristan Anderson with his parents

Attorneys for Anderson’s family, along with Israeli NGO Yesh Din, will appear before the Israeli High Court of Justice on Wednesday, JULY 10. The petition challenges the investigation that they claim was blatantly inadequate, with the identity of the shooter still being actively withheld to this day.

“Tristan will live the rest of his life with serious mental and physical limitations and chronic pain. This has devastated his life and profoundly affected our family forever,” said Nancy Anderson, Tristan’s mother.

No criminal charges have been brought against any police or military personnel involved in the 2009 shooting of their son. Video evidence uncovered during the course of an ongoing civil lawsuit (trial begins November 10, 2013 in Jerusalem for the civil suit) raises further questions on the credibility of State witnesses, who in contradiction to sworn testimony, are clearly seen shooting tear gas directly at protesters from close range in the video, which was taken earlier that day. The video also raises serious questions relating to the true locations of the various squads of Border Police present at the time of the shooting, with investigators opting only to question those squads that were on the other side of the town at the time the shooting occurred, while failing to question the squad that was stationed on the nearby hill where activist witnesses say the shots came from. As well, investigators failed to visit the scene of the shooting and made no attempts to collect physical evidence.

See “Perpetrators of the Shooting of Tristan Anderson”.

See “Aftermath of the shooting of Tristan Anderson Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 for further video.

Michael Sfard and Emily Schaeffer, attorneys for the Anderson family commented:

“The astonishing negligence of this investigation and of the prosecutorial team that monitored its outcome is unacceptable, but it epitomizes Israel’s culture of impunity. Tristan’s case is actually not rare; it represents hundreds of other cases of Palestinian victims whose investigations have also failed.”

Tristan joined the ranks of scores of other protesters who have been seriously injured or killed during demonstrations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in recent years. On March 13, 2009 he was in Ni’alin demonstrating against the annexation of village lands to build the controversial “Separation Wall” when he was shot. Witnesses insist there was no stone throwing in his immediate surroundings at the time when he was shot, and that the shooting was “unexpected and unprovoked”.

“Tristan’s shooting is part of a pattern of deadly violence being used against protesters in the Occupied Territories, who are not recognized as having a fundamental right to political self-determination,” said Gabrielle Silverman, Tristan’s girlfriend, and a witness to his shooting. “We need real accountability and a high standard of human rights, but instead what we get is the military running cover for their soldiers.”

The family of Tristan Anderson is calling the investigation “a cover up and a sham”.

*Tristan Anderson was shot with a High Velocity Tear Gas grenade- sometimes also called “Extended Range Tear Gas”- which is manufactured by Combined Systems Inc in Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

July 9, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: Trapping children

CPTnet | May 27, 2013

Because of the dire economic situation in the Old City in Hebron every day children go to the Ibrahimi Mosque soup-kitchen to get food. Walking out through the mosque checkpoint shortly after noon on Sunday 26 May, I was surprised by the number of people standing at the other end of the checkpoint.

Upon passing out through the checkpoint I realized that the turnstile to enter the mosque area was closed and nobody was being allowed through. A dozen young boys held plastic tubs of soup they had collected at the soup kitchen. They told us they had been waiting for around half an hour. As the queue of people wanting to get through increased, so did the boys’ frustration. They started ramming the turnstile and shouting to be let through. The Border Police ignored them. Women with babies lengthened the queue.

A man said the turnstiles had lost electricity. This seemed highly unlikely to me, though, as the lights were still on in the tunnel above the turnstile and I am sure there must be a backup in case of fire or other emergency. My suspicion was confirmed when Border Police allowed some of the young boys through only to turn the turnstiles off again and trap the boys in the middle between the two turnstiles. The Border Police repeated this twice, trapping young boys and women in a fenced corridor between the two turnstiles.

For me this highlights how vulnerable people are here. The Border Police won’t let members of Christian Peacemaker Teams through the checkpoint unless we take off our CPT hats. I find this very frustrating, but imagine visiting a soup kitchen and being stopped on your way back home by a young Border Policeman who doesn’t want to let you through the turnstile. A day can quickly turn from positive to negative. Nothing happened today, but one day it might. Imagine day after day being stopped and reminded how susceptible you are to the whims of another person literally preventing you from returning home.

The power imbalance between the children trying to get through the checkpoint and the Border Police stopping them is huge. The Border Policeman has the whole weight of the occupation behind him. Border Police officers do not make mistakes. If they shoot a youth they are praised, such as when the female Border Police officer shot 17-year-old Mohammed Salayme in Hebron in December 2012. If they arrest children and break international law, no one will penalize them.

As Gordon Levy explained in a 23 May Haaretz opinion piece, Border Police learn to behave rudely and to solve problems with weapons, and they are rewarded for doing so. But if Palestinian children get too rowdy at the checkpoint or respond in any way, they could easily end up in Israeli prisons, after enduring hours of interrogation with no lawyer, parent or guardian present.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment