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update [Feb. 3rd, 2008|07:01 pm]
AN update: the person who got hit with a live bullet at Beit Ummar on friday had to have his leg amputeted at the knee, I heard today. The bullet was pparently a 'dum dum' bullet, a kind with a hollow tip which causes it to explode from the pressure of impact to it explodes inside the person causing maximum damage.
How can the army justify using this kind of ammunition on a civilian population?
A picture in a Palestinian daily newspaper showed this guy throwing a stone with a slingshot, I guess that makes him an armed combatant.

ON a better note, we had a really interesting meeting today with a group of young people associated with the Palestinian Centre For PEace and Democracy. It was a really inspiring and interesting and heartwarming mtg, hearing young men and women together speaking about their consciousness of the need to channel the anger which is a natural reaction to the violence of occupation into activities which can undermine it and recreate something else, not ones which simply react, playing the same game but without the resources to compete.
We spoke of positive ways to move on from our encounter, ways to mutliply exchange between them and people elsewhere.... sometimes these things sound like pissing in the wind, but even blowing one's self up has been proven not to end this occupation, and since they seem to believe, as I do , that human relationships are the building blocks of any change, and that real change happens from and on the level of people and their inter-relationships, anything which causes people anywhere to understand in their hearts and lives the urgent necessity to act to end the occupation, is a positive thing.
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pictures [Feb. 2nd, 2008|09:39 am]
The funeral proccession

the women

the army moving between the houses after young men

people running from the shooting

my leg, a far better outcome from a shooting than most of what we've seen here

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ouch! [Feb. 1st, 2008|07:10 pm]
Here is our report from today, a little editorial afterwards...

Army Fire on Funeral Proccession, Invade Beit Ummar

Today, Friday, February 01, 2008, the Israeli Amry fired rubber-coated and live ammunition, tear gas and sound grenades at villagers from Beit Ummar as they participated in a funeral proccession.

This morning, the bodies of the two young men who carried out last week’s attack in Kfar Etzion settlement were returned to their families for burial. At around 12.30pm, after Friday prayers, hundreds of mourners left the mosque to take the bodies to the cemetary, about two kilometres away. The army had already closed the road gate at the entrance of the village, thus blocking the main road to the cemetary.
As the proccession approached the gate, soldiers fired on them from the military tower which sits beside it. There was no warning or instruction to stop, and no stones had been thrown when the first shots were fired. At this time one man was taken away in an ambulance with rubber-bullet injuries, and a Human Rights Worker (HRW) was also hit in the thigh by a rubber bullet. Young men from the village responded by throwing stones towards the army.
The army continued to shoot tear gas, live and rubber-coated ammunition towards the crowd, which was retreating towards the village. A smaller group of mourners entered the cemetary via another road, and were able to bury the two men.
By 1.50pm at least four people had been injured by rubber-coated bullets, one of them in the head.
At 1.55pm the army began to invade the village, driving jeeps up the main street while soldiers on foot moved between the houses chasing young men, some of whom threw stones. They continued to use live ammunition as well as tear gas and rubber-coated bullets, at one time firing a sound grenade at a greenhouse.
At 3.30pm, the army were still inside the village. By this time, at least eight people had been injured, one of them by live ammunition, whose condition was said to be serious.

SO in case you didn't guess, the aforementioned "human rights worker' with the rubber bullet in the thigh was me! IT was I think the first shot of the day.. importantly BEFORE any stones were thrown. The army provided the provocation today, closing the gate blocking the way to the cemetary, and then firing without warning on the crowd before stones were thrown (see how it has passed into some kind of twisted common sense - that if stones are thrown its OK to shoot live ammunition and kill people).
As for the injury it is pleasant in a way to know that rubber bullets (strictly - rubber-coated, they are steel inside) aren't so painful at least from a distance. It means I dont have to be so afraid of them in future, and can save my fear for the live ammunition which killed Mahmoud Awad last week.

We went on the roof of a palestininan activist from where we watched one part of the absurd and deadly drama unfold. BOys sneaking behind houses, looking for either a safe way home or a vantage point to throw stones, while soldiers with their laser sights and radio communincation move around amongst the trees and houses. We were visible on the roof, they sometimes pointed their weapons our way, but seeing who we were moved them away. Our friend told us not to point, saying if they think we are helping the shabaab, telling them where soldiers are, they could shoot at us.

Maybe its just cos of getting hit with the rubber bullet, but today provoked an even greater than usual sense of outrage in me, a sense of the utterly frustrating injustice, calculated cruelty, and disproportionality of the actions of the Israeli military. I guess in Hebron I've seen more of settlers as the shocking element, with the army even sometimes cosmetically restraining them.

I'm a bit lost for words actually, it's just so fucked.
Will post pictures soon.

PS update from arrests the other evening of young boys - all were released same day, 2 have trial for entering the settlement area looking for scrap metal.
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reports from yesterday [Jan. 28th, 2008|01:23 pm]
Settlers Rain Stones and Urine on Palestinian Home and Street

By ISM Hebron

Sunday, January 27, 2008. This morning at around 10.30, settlers from Beit Hadassah Settlement in Hebron city rained stones, bottles, urine and dirty water on their Palestinian neighbours. The attack continued sporadically for the next hour and a half.
Shopkeepers on Old Shalalah St in the Bab Iz-Zawiyye neighbourhood reported that a number of youths began throwing things, and when the shopkeepers apporached soldiers to report this, they were told that the settlers were allowed to be in the settlement and could do as they liked. A family whose home overlooks the settlers schoolyard showed Human Rights Workers (HRWs) their bathroom, which was filled with stones and rocks. The family report that over the last four days stones have been thrown constantly from the schoolyard by boys as young as 5 or 6. HRWs were able to photograph and video the stone throwing.

At 4pm HRWs passing the area were taken to the same house where settler boys were again throwing stones into the bathroom from the schoolyard.

Beit Hadassah settlement overlooks Hebron’s old market and old city, and such attacks have been a feature of life for Palestinians in the area for many years. Metal grills and canvas have been hung over the street to protect people below. In addition to stones and urine, settlers have been known to throw dirty nappies, metal objects and oil.


On Sunday the 27th of January at 4.15 pm the israely army arrested 6 palestineien boys, all of them 15 years or younger in the old city of hebron acousing them of breaking into a house and stealing.
The soldiers took one boy who was walking with his mother and picked up another one, who was just walking down the street.
They took them from the inner older city to a place near the Avraham Avinu settlement, where they had four more boys. palestinians are not allowed to go there, so the boys were out of sight for their families and friends.
The soldiers made the boys stand hands up against the wall for two hours. There were international human right workers from Ism and CPT, later also from TIPH watching. The soldiers would not let all of them near the boys.
Some of the arrested boys were crying, one of them was not wearing a jacket, even though it was cold and sometimes raining.
A palestinian boy offered his jacked to the arrested boy and a CPT woman manadged to give it to him.
At 6.15 the army blindfoldet the boys, tied their hands behind their backs and took them into an army vehicel. At this point five palestinian women, one of them with a baby, on palestinian boy and one palaestinian men, some of them related to the arrestet children, approached the vehicel. They stood in front of it and tried to stop it from moving. The women were crying and shouting and clinging onto the vehicel, the soldiers responded in a very aggressive way, some of them removing the womens hands by force. One woman manadged to open the back door of the vehicel, but a soldier closed it very quickly telling another soldiers, that maybe she wanted some beating.
After about ten minutes a group of about 15 settler kids arrived aplauding the army. The clapped their hands, sang and danced around the army vehicel, pushing some of the people who were trying to stop it from moving. They insulted and spat at them and tried to take cameras and bags from the internationals.
at 7 pm the police arrieved and told the palestinan women to mopve away from the vehicel. They did so under tears, the vehicel left and took the boys away.
The settler kids tried to attak the palestinian women and a palestinian boy, when they were passing on their way home. they also stole a camera of Ism.

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freezer prison [Jan. 28th, 2008|12:12 pm]
today I met a very nice woman called Nida from the Palestinian Centre for Peace and Democracy. They run workshops, trainings and meetings for young people (actually 17-40 but mostly under 30), where they try to explore issues of working together, womens and human rights, education (eg trainings for teachers about how to have a 2-way method with students - Nida and I bonded over a mutual admiration of Paolo Freire, who is being read by the mixed-gender group of 18-25 yr olds who meet regularly at the centre to discuss books).
They dont work with Israeli orgs. Their political vision is for 2 states living in peace, but they feel that while occupation continues it is not the time for dialogue on the level of 'peace and democracy'. Instead they address these issues in Palestinian civil society to strengthen it for the time when occupation is over (not leaving aside the idea of strengthening people to struggle for the end of occupation, but they dont support doing this with rockets)
It was interesting and maybe we will meet together the young ppl from there and some internationals to talk about the situation and our perceptions and ideas of it.

Nida during our conversation also told me some new things I didn't know about Israeli actions in this occupation. Right now we are awaiting a call from Beit Ummar to say that the bodies of the two young men who died when they attacked in the settlement are on their way to be returned to their families. This is cos the village expect violence at or after the burial and so we want to go there to document and deter it.
Anyway, firstly Nida told me her nephew was in prison with those 2 men. for 5 not 3 years, and was released the same day, so all the family are terrified that he will take the same decision. Also she told me we may wait a long time for the phone call, as Israel routinely keeps the bodies of dead Palestinians who were wanted for a crime, frozen in Israel for the length of their prison sentence. Nida recounted an experience of hearing a woman screaming in the street at midnight. When she asked what was wrong she was told that the army had just dropped off the body of her husband, who had died 25 years before. Nida's neighbours also have a man in the freezer prison in Israel. He was wanted, and soldiers shot and killed him in his home when his son was 6 months old. They anticipate that his body will be returned for burial when his son is twenty.

She also recounted an incident from years ago, when she was a kindergarten teacher, travelling to school on the bus with a group of 5 and 6 year old children. Near Kiryat Arba, a group of settlers with guns pulled the bus over, forced everyone to get out, and made them stand with their hands in the air. They were next to a muslim cemetary and the settlers told them, "now we are going to kill you". They stood there like that for 5 minutes (which she said felt like a century) before being put back on the bus. Nida did not say anything during the incident, afraid to provoke them and make things worse. She was afraid for the lives of herself and the children. When they were back on the bus they asked her why she didn't say anything, tell the settlers not to do it.... all children here learn this lesson.. that the people supposed to care for and protect them are powerless before the guns of soldiers and settlers. Their homes, schools, hospitals are not sanctuaries.
IN this vein, Nida said to me, "How can I feel protected by the Palestinian Police when I have seen that at any time Israeli soldiers can come, take their guns, force then to take off their jackets?" This is such a feature of the unevenness of occupation.... this total lack of protection, where in the end all safety is contingent on Israeli whim, is essentially illusory...

Yesterday was busy. After this I will post the reports. The second concerns the arrest of 6 youths (or 5?) for allegedly breaking into a settlers home and stealing something. Some were literally plucked from the street - maybe just for being the right age to fit the description given.
WHJen they tried to take them away (the army), some women and men from their families blocked the jeep front and back for a while before eventually being pulled away by soldiers. The woman were crying, desperately pleading to be allowed to see their sons and brothers before the were taken. Twice they opened the doors of the vehicle, hoping to see their boys, each time soldiers stopped them. A Hebrew speaking friend told me that when an elderly woman opened the door one soldier said to another "ah, so maybe she wants to have a beating".
After this weeks experiences all this made me reflect on the enormity of such a situation. I've been arrested only once, in the UK, and it was a little scary knowing I could be locked up alone for a day or so. But this is different. These mothers dont know when their sons will come back. It could be five years. The Israeli Miltary regime is so murky that this is totally unpredictable. And when they are eventually released, they could be so broken and so hardened as to desire martyrdom, to value a holy death more than their life.
During this scene of resistance, a lot of small boys from the settlement came out, taunted the Palestinians, sang songs, tried to hit and kick us and the Palestinians when they thought they weren't being filmed, and also stole one of our video cameras. They were laughing and joking at the whole scene.
Afterwards a man from TIPH (the temporary International Presence in Hebron, set up in 1993 when hebron was divided under the Oslo Accords, and famous among other groups for not doing much in the way of intervention, as they are here as neutral observers and their mandate is to write reports only see by the PA , the Israeli Gov't and their home gov'ts) was shouting at the soldiers, asking why they had not moved the settlers, since legally they are not permitted to be in the middle of an incident. I was heartened by this sight. For me this is not any deviation from neutrality. He was referring to the law, and somehow remaining quite while basic humanity, let alone international and often Israeli law is violated, would be far less neutral.
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martyrs..... [Jan. 26th, 2008|05:39 pm]
The day before yesterday, two young men from Beit Ummar, a village on the boundary of Hebron and Bethlehem areas, entered Kfar Etzion settlement dressed as Israeli soldiers and started to attack settlers with knives. Both of them were killed inside the settlement. They did not kill any settlers before being killed themselves.

I got a call from someone in ISM asking that we try to find out which village they were from and go there, because in cases of ‘suicide missions’ like this, the army regularly carry out collective punishments on the families of those who made the attacks, as well as on their whole town kind of by default. They used to routinely demolish the family homes of the attackers but now the Israeli High court has forbidden this.(Incidentally collective punishment of this sort is against international law – internet down as I write but will try to remember to look up the exact laws later…). Experience in other areas shows that Israeli court decisions favouring Palestinians are regularly not implemented, but apparently the routine demolition of homes in such cases has stopped.
I spoke to a contact in Beit Ummar who confirmed that he’d just heard on the radio that the 2 men were from there. We did not go straight there but waited until he called us saying the army had invaded the village (at about 11.30am). We decided this because he did not sound too worried when we spoke and there was a lot of activity here due to a settler funeral (unconnected)… it is really hard to make decisions and prioritise where to go each day when I have so little experience of life here, and anyway it is SO unpredictable… feel like maybe it was the wrong decision…. but anyway when we did arrive, as only 2 we were not able to really be useful.

The army had left the village after arresting 3 ppl (probably from the families of the 2 men), and throwing tear gas into their homes. Also, we learned later, they had forced all the women from one of the houses to walk in front of their armoured personnel carriers as kind of human shields. The youth of the village were throwing stones and bottles (also later I saw a molotov cocktail flying), and some of the women were injured as the young men did not see them in front of the vehicles. Also the army shot rubber coated and live bullets and sound grenades during this visit.

Before I progress to the hellish afternoon that followed, I want to say something about the feeling of all this…. So, the 2 guys who did the attack in Gush Etzion were about 18 or 19 years old, friends, and had just been released from 3 years in jail, a few weeks ago. This creates for me a disasterous picture of two boys deprived of their liberty and dignity at such a crucial age, that by the time they were released they were so full of hopelessness and anger and hatred and zeal, that ‘martyrdom’ was the most appealing option. (Of course, I am imposing my western view on this… especially I am conscious that I do not share the experience of living as a muslim and the meaning of a shaheed (martyr) in this framework, and most especially in the Palestinian context. But also I feel like locking up a 15 or 16 year old for 3 years is something very likely to produce a violent or in some other way very negative outcome.
But then I can see perhaps from round a corner how it must or might seem to Israelis of a certain view. First, a random and violent attack on people just going about their lives in a settlement. Second, the feeling that if this is what happens when we release prisoners, we should not do it (rather than seeing this as the result of having imprisoned them in the first place).

Also I want to say something about language. All yesterday I was referring to these 2 boys as ‘the martyrs’ because that is what all the people in the village call them, just as they call anyone killed by Israelis or as a result of the occupation. The word is not that comfortable for me, having as it does such a positive connotation. But also I feel that the way it is used by all Palestinians across the spectrum of political and religious beliefs displays not only a recognition of the pain of the loss of any son or daughter, regardless of their actions, but also a deep awareness that even the most violent killer is also in some way a victim and a product of this intolerable, intractable occupation.

So in this piece I am struggling to describe them. I can call them ‘those who did the attack’ describing them by what they did, or ‘those who were killed’, describing them by what was done to them. Somehow the second seems to diminish the fact that they attacked first before being killed, but maybe the first diminishes the whole context of occupation. Somehow to speak of this at all is propaganda one way or the other.
In the ISM training we had a section called ‘definitions’ to discuss just this issue, and when we spoke about ‘suicide bombers’ I asked Sarah, the American who was giving that section, how Palestinians refer to them (I mean specifically, distinguishing them from other martyrs). She asked Abed, who said fist “we don’t like to speak about them” and when pressed, said they might be called “those who wanted to be martyrs”, as opposed to all the many many unwilling martyrs here.

Of which there was another yesterday. By the end of the day I would have to amend my terminology, to say “the first 2 martyrs” or “the first 2 that died”.
After arriving in Beit Ummar we had a cold drink and then took a walk around with a young guy who used to work with ISM. He showed us the homes of the 2 dead men, and at the second spoke to the boys brother. We stood for a few minutes and when an elderly man, maybe the father, arrived in tears we moved away wanting to give respectful space to the family.
Maybe another wrong decision, cos within a few moments the army were back, apparently in that house, shooting tear gas and soon rubber and live ammunition (now I think I can tell live bullets from rubber by their harsh ‘crack’ sound). We could not see the soldiers, caught as we were around a corner, seeing young men on rooftops in front of us hurling stones, bottles etc, and others on the street corner dodging bullets, moving back then forward again. We did the same, but further back, guided by our friend who was trying to get us to a place where we could take pictures of the army firing live ammo (our only real use in such a hectic situation.) We were driven back several times by tear gas, and people gave us pieces of onion to help us breathe more easily (tear gas tricks yr brain and lungs into thinking you cant breathe cos you think there’s no air only gas, and onion disctracts yr brain and lets you breathe better), and once when some kind of bullet ricocheted off a wall and hit our friend in the head (he was ok, no blood even, but it shocked us back a bit).
We were near his home and he kept pausing in between dodging and running to point out and introduce members of his family. This, and the constant phone calls I was making in some kind of desperate attempt to do something useful (the army was not very reassuring, saying in such a situation this level of violence is basically to be expected), jarred a bit with the running up, running away.

Somewhere in the middle of all this, at about 1.40pm, we heard shouts from ahead that someone was hit in the stomach with live ammuntion, and saw crowds of boys running back past us shouting ‘sayyara, sayyara! (it means car) for the Palestinians Red Crescent ambulances. One sped up the street, and at the same time a group of young men ran up carrying the injured guy. The ambulance took him and sped away. I could not really see him in the middle of the group of guys.

The shooting continued for a short time more, and then the army left the village again, having injured at least 8 people, We sat at our friends house (outside cos the power was off at that time in the whole village). Everyone was very worried about the boy, now confirmed as an 18 yr old in his last year of high school, a member of our friend/guide’s extended family, called Mahmoud Mohammad Awad. Within an hour the family called the hospital who confirmed that he was dead.
Our friend said that Beit Ummar had not seen such a terrible day since the first intifada (1987-93), with 3 martyrs in one day.

The rest of the afternoon was a bit of a blur of other people’s grief and the anticipation of more violence. We waited in the street where the whole town had gathered outside the family’s home. His death was announced from the mosque. There were a lot of women crying. Mohammad told us he felt jealous for the women as they were able to cry but for a man it is very hard. He said he thinks if you see a man crying you know there is a very good man inside. He had tears in his eyes but he held them in.
Masked men carrying weapons, apparently from Fateh, ran through the town to ensure all shops were closed in respect and get everyone out on the street (I could talk about the meaning of this kind of enforcement but maybe not now eh…)
Eventually the ambulance returned and the boy was carried into his home, on a stretcher above the heads of the men. Then he was carried to the mosque, his face uncovered, where first the men then the women entered to pay respects to him. His mother collapsed and was carried in by others.
Lina who was with me took a picture of him as he passed. She told me she did not really want to photograph a dead boy, but did it as she felt sure she recognised his face from the street earlier in the day, and wanted a chance to confirm this for herself later.

At this time we were wating for other international volunteers to arrive, as ppl feared violence from the army during the procession to the cemetary or the burial. The 2 of us alone were not enough it seemed to be any use, or for example to protect the homes of the first 2 dead men.
We decided to go ahead of the crowd which was now starting to move with the boy towards the cemetary about 2km away. We ran ahead and with 4 other internationals decided to go ahead so as to be seen by the army before the crowd arrived, in order that our ‘more valuable’ foreign lives might be treated more carefully and hence be generally protective.
Anyway when the crowd arrived things were fairly calm. I and 3 others stayed outside the cemetary as the women did not want to offend by being caught up in a crowd of men (the procession was totally segregated by gender). Most of the mourners entered the cemetary and left again quickly, but as the last ones dispersed the army started firing and many stones were thrown (I honestly don’t know which started first). We ran around a corner with some boys to avoid the line of fire and stayed there until most people had moved, when we walked back into the vilage. The army was shooting tear gas into the village from outside but did not enter the village.
During all this, stoned were thrown at a car with a familt of settlers inside. Trying to escape this, they drove into 3 people (whether on purpose or in desperation I don’t know). Today we visited on of them in hospital, he has head injury but is going home today. Of the other 2 one is already home, and the other in a serious condition in another hospital. This incident is another certain to fuel hatred and fear on both sides.
Several times yesterday Palestinians said of Israelis (whether they meant the army, settlers or all Israelis was unclear, but it is definitely the case that it is the axctions fo the first 2 that provoke the sentiment) that they are not human. This is quite painful for my ears, but I feel like its firstly an emotive response to a horrific and tragic day (and a horrific and trasgic occupation), and secondly a result of very delibrate Israeli policy to force and keep Israelis and Palestinians apart, their only meetings being through violence and cruelty. I even hesitated to write about that, especially thinking of Israeli friends who might read it. But the situation is so complex and full of almost impossible impasses that it seems quite wrong to leave out something because it is inconveniently hard to digest. Only by trying to look at all the facets of reality fearlessly can something be done to change this situation in a deep and real way.

In the evening we were welcomed in peoples homes, fed and given beds. As I struggled to proccess the day (as I’m still struggling to proccess such proximity to the end of a life, while also thinking about giving English classes and shopping for food), the family we stayed with (also no doubt doing some processing) were watching tv, and seeing bits of english language films somehow jarred horribly in my head, a flash of something familiar, associated inextricably with a life far more known and comfortable, piercing into the totally alien and intense and intolerable day I had had.
This was only made worse when the channel changed, to a Lebanese version of the x factor, called superstar. I could not understand the words, but the familiar montages of tears of anguish from the rejected contestants and tears of joy from the successful turned my stomach a bit. I remembered what Mohammad said about men crying and thought, it doesn’t really apply in this case.

At around 3am I woke to the sound of shooting, not very close. We could not see anything. It continued and eventually we decided to go back to sleep, but I was restless until I got up at 9am. The shooting continued sporadically until about 7am. In the morning we learned that shooting from army watchtower at the entrance of the village, and stones being thrown towards it, are an almost nightly experience.

This was a fucking scary experience, also very intense. I am now in Hebron, but when the bodies of the first 2 dead men are returned to the village, probably tomorrow, people expect worse violence when they are buried, so we will return! I think it will be nasty but OK.
The bodies are right now in Tel Aviv. Maybe there is a good reason for keeping the bodies and performing autopsies, but its not clear to me and I cant help wondering if it is partly a decision to further punish the families (and the men themselves) by violating the muslim requirement to bury someone as soon as possible after they die. (Also in Judaism you should be buried the same day that you die).

Not a tidy end, but many are not.
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Gaza in crisis [Jan. 22nd, 2008|02:22 pm]
Hey, the situation in Gaza is really a crisis now. Israel is strangling the place and due to severe movement restrictions (few Palestinians allowed out and few internationals or Israelis allowed in) information from there is really limited in its ability to reach the world. ppl here in W. Bank are really worried, with daily demos to 'end the siege on Gaza'. Israel says it wont stop until the qassam rockets stop falling on the Israeli city of Sderot nr Gaza (2 Israelis dead in last few months). But with no electricity or petrol, shortages of food and medication and frequent breaks in water supply, how can the people of Gaza be expected to stop trying to fight back? And how can it be justified to hold 1.5 million people under siege for the actions of those who use the rockets?
SOmething like 38 died there in the last week. Israel says they estimate there are 10,0000 'terrorists' there and uses this to justify both the seige and continued incursions and air attacks. Anyone with a passing familiarity with the discourse of 'security' we have developed since Sept 11 2001 can see what is operating here. Here are 2 articles about Gaza.

Ma’an: Gaza Strip’s water, sewage systems to shut down ‘within hours’
January 21st, 2008 | Posted in Press clippings, Gaza Region

The Gaza Strip’s water and sewage systems are hours away from shutting down as supplies of fuel used to run critical pumps run out, the international aid agency Oxfam said on Monday evening.

As of 5pm local time on Monday, only 37 of the 122 water supply pumps have fuel and most will run out of fuel within hours.

Oxfam fears the risks of an outbreak of water borne diseases if the water and sanitation system shuts down. According to Gaza’s water authority 40% of the population, 600,000 people, is now without running water.

Running water will be shut off completely on Tuesday, the water authority says.

“The risk to public health of a breakdown of the water and sanitation system is real and a massive case for concern. Israel must immediately allow fuel into Gaza to avoid any further civilian suffering. Cutting off water to civilians is both immoral and illegal, no matter what the provocation maybe,” said Barbara Stocking, Oxfam’s Director.

“The international community has allowed this chronic emergency to deteriorate and has the responsibility to help solve this crisis. Israel must allow these urgently needed supplies into Gaza today,” added Stocking.

The water and sewage system was already in danger of breakdown due to on going restrictions of goods into the Gaza Strip. There are severe shortages of spare parts, and other materials necessary for repairs and preventive maintenance. The importation of these has been repeatedly denied access since June 2007.

Gaza and the recognition of Israel
January 21st, 2008 | Posted in Journals, Gaza Region

By: Bobby Noe

As has been covered in the news extensively, Gaza’s only power plant has shut down as there is no longer any fuel left to run it. 1.5 million people are in darkness and according to a health ministry official the hospitals ” have the choice to either cut electricity on babies in the maternity ward or heart surgery patients or stop operating rooms,”. The UN is almost out of bags with which to distribute the pitiful amount of humanitarian aid Israel allows into the strip. Gaza is a humanitarian disaster on epic proportions.

Most western news outlets are talking incessantly about the rocket attacks, stating that they are the reason for the siege of Gaza, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Hamas have actually offered numerous ceasefires and the level of rocket attacks have decreased of late (ref 1). As the level of rocket attacks has decreased, Israeli military operations have intensified to include regular air strikes, and the level of supplies reaching the strip has been further reduced.

At the same time, Israel is offering tax breaks for Sderot residents (ref 2) and is offering free land for anyone wanting to build a home near the strip (ref 3). The only conclusion it is possible to reach from these actions is that Israel wants more of its citizens to die.

In the last year only two people died from the rocket attacks (ref 4). As tragic as these deaths are they do not come anywhere near close enough to justify one of the biggest man made humanitarian crisises of all time. Israel knows at some point people will realise this, and is hoping more of its citizens will die so it can continue justifying its murderous siege of the strip as a security measure.

So what does Israel want from Hamas if it not to stop the rocket attacks? The answer is recognition for free. Hamas currently does not recognise the state of Israel, this was the reason given for the economic sanctions imposed on the PA when Hamas won the elections in 2006 (#1), and this is the real reason for the siege of Gaza.

Under UN resolution 242, Israel is supposed to get recognition in exchange for its retreat to 1967 borders, the green line. 10 years after the 6 day war Egypt recognised Israel and got the Sinai back, as per 242. Syria will recognise Israel if exchange for the return of the Golan Heights (ref 5).

Hamas have actually stated they will recognise Israel if UN resolutions 242 and 194 (#2) are implemented (ref 6). The PLO recognised Israel in the late 80s in exchange for a peace process that has done nothing but further entrench the apartheid in Palestine (#3), and is leading to the creation of a Palestinian state cut into non-contiguous bantustans, completely surrounded by Israel, with no water or access to Jerusalem. Israel wants to bomb Hamas into submitting to the same process.

What sort of world do we live in where the ‘extremists’ call for is the implementation of international law and ‘moderates’ such as Olmert and Barak, order the starvation of 1.5 million people?

#1 Incidentally the first time in history sanctions were imposed on a people under occupation

#2 UN resolution 194 calls for the Palestinian right of return. A little known fact is that UN resolution 273, Israels admission to the UN, was supposed to be dependent on the implementation of 194. 194 has yet to be implemented but Israel is now a well established member of the UN.

#3 the creation of areas A, B and C have allowed Israel to construct Israeli only roads connecting C areas, cutting the West Bank into isolated enclaves. The Israeli Army can invade area A whenever it wants, but Palestinians for the most part cannot get anywhere near area C. Israels main obligation under the process, the halting of settlement expansion, has been ignored. The settler population of the West Bank has more than doubled since Oslo, and settlement construction continues today at a frightening rate.

Ref 1) www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/946028.html

Ref 2) www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/946770.html

Ref 3) www.imemc.org/article/52068

Ref 4) A good report to read as well:

Ref 5)

Ref 6) www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3223438,00.html
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picture of settlers in the land they occupied [Jan. 16th, 2008|08:29 pm]
this is from last week - click on it to enlarge it and see properly the structures they built

this is one of the people from the house they attacked on saturday

this is another. Probably he knows he is about to be arrested while the settlers who attacked his house will go untouched

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boys with rocks, boys with guns [Jan. 16th, 2008|07:43 pm]
Below is todays report. It was like being in the crossfire of a very one-sided street battle - the usual story, stones against guns. We got the picture after a while and stayed near the soldiers filming them.... so as to be visible to them and therefore not get shot, and not either to be caught in the middle and get hit by stones. And also as we are visible to them and visibly filming them, hopefully they dont use live ammunition (which two Palestinians said they heard being fired during a period when we were not down in town filming.)
SInce the checkpoint was closed we had to go the long way around to reach the area of the fighting. It felt quite scary finding ourselves suddenly between the army and the shabab (young men), on both sides tense young men, just armend rather differently.
We were fortunate to have with us a Palestinian guy who has a lot of experience (like many many young men here) of such street battles, who could tell us, "now the soldiers will do this" "now the shabab will do this". Actually he said during the intifada such street battles were much more dangerous, and a camera would not prevent you being shot at (actually today they threw one sound grenade in our direction but I think maybe they did not know we were foreigners then.) HE said the army then would shoot at ppl looking out from windows, shoot water and gas tanks. Today they were more subdued, but still kept the fighting up until teatime.

*Update* Army Fire on Youths, Impose Curfew In Hebron After Actions Against Killings in Gaza

by ISM Hebron

7pm, 16/01/08

A curfew is in place in parts of Hebron this evening after an afternoon of tension between Israeli military and Palestinian youths.
The curfew was imposed during the day after tyre fires were started and stones thrown in Baab Iz-Zaawiya in central Hebron, reportedly in response to the killing of at least 20 Palestinians by the Israeli Army in the last 24hrs, most of them in Gaza. Checkpoints around the H2 area of the city remained closed for most of the day. The army reports that this morning shots were fired from the old city towards the Israeli settlements nearby, however this is unconfirmed.
Also unconfirmed are reports that 3 Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets.
Throughout the afternoon the army fired tear gas, sound bombs and rubber bullets towards youths in and around Baab Iz-Zaawiya, who threw stones towards the army. Paletinians also said that live ammunition was used by the army.
HRWs also filmed a soldier kicking a young man while searching him when he passed carrying shopping.
The Tel Rumeida checkpoint 56 remained closed at 6pm, although the situation in Baab Iz-Zaawiya was quiet by that time.

Actually I feel a little exhilarated now. Not sure what to think of that feeling.....

For video of a soldier kicking a young guy he is searching, look on youtube for Hebron or 'soldier kicks palestinian youth in Hebron 16/01/08'
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slippery [Jan. 14th, 2008|03:44 pm]
This is an anecdote I forgot, that I heard during the meeting for families in Tel Rumeida who have cameras from B'tselem to record problems with settlers or soldiers.

A woman who lives right across the street from the settlement described a couple of tactics of harassment that she faces. Firstly, oil has been poured on her doorstep to attempt to cause her or her family to fall over. Second, one particular settler, a student at the Beit Romano yeshiva (religious college) down the road, every day parks his car outside her house, so close to the door that it is difficult for the family to squeeze out of their own front door.
She said that she tells her kids to just go straight over the top of the car.

These kinds of almost invisible harassment continue consistently, although the more open street violence has abated around Tel Rumeida.
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