Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland PSC
By now you all are undoubtedly familiar with the murder of 5 members of one family (the parents and 3 of their 6 children). Israel’s PM made the most of the event. Among other things he demanded that the international community condemn the murder (item 1). The international community did not. There were reports about the murder in all the 12 online international newspapers that I checked, and one (the LA Times) even reported the event emotionally, but for the most part the stress was on Netanyahu’s announcement that he had given permission for continued construction in colonies that he says will be retained by Israel even should their be an agreement with the Palestinians.
If Netanyahu had been keeping up with the news he should have realized that he had serious competition due to a happening that was much more important and mind-boggling than the murder of a family: the events in Japan, and the danger of nuclear contamination. He should also realize that the world seems to be losing patience with Israel. The United States censured Netanyahu for the planned additional construction in the West Bank (item 2). Moreover, a poll shows that Israel is losing its goal of imposing a guilt trip on the world (and especially Germany) about the Holocaust (item 3). And on top of this, when Israel tried its best to prevent the screening of a film in the General Assembly hall, a film that Israel considers uncomplimentary to itself, it lost (item 4).
Item 5 is independent commentary (with which I agree) on the murder and the events following it.
Items 6 and 7 relate some of the events that Palestinians are being subjected to as a result of the murder.
Item 8 moves to a totally different subject: the participation of Palestinian women in International Women’s Day, and their call to the international community for solidarity and help in getting the occupation off their backs.
This message ends (item 9) on a positive note: Abdullah Abu Rahmeh was released today. He should never have been imprisoned, and hopefully will not be again. But the last thing that Israel’s leaders and the IOF know how to deal with is non-violent protest. And so they throw its leaders into jail, not realizing that others will continue the work.
Perhaps tomorrow the world will shine and there will be nothing unhappy to report.
All the best,
1. The Guardian,
13 March 2011
Binyamin Netanyahu calls on world to act after killing of Jewish settlers
Israel’s prime minister demands international condemnation after murder of five members of West Bank settler family
Harriet Sherwood in Itamar
Medics remove a body from the house where five family members were murdered in the Jewish settlement of Itamar. Photograph: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images
Israel’s prime minister demanded international condemnation of the murder of five members of a Jewish settler family that Palestinian militants said was in reprisal for Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
Binyamin Netanyahu’s robust statement placed what he described as a despicable act – which shattered the relative calm in the West Bank over recent months – at the centre of strenuous efforts by the US and European countries to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israeli soldiers mounted a massive search in the West Bank after a mother, father and three children, aged between three months and 11, were attacked with knives in their house in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, near the Palestinian city of Nablus. It was believed that two of the dead had their throats cut.
The alarm was raised by the couple’s 12-year-old daughter who returned home from a youth event on the settlement to find the bloodstained scene. Two other children asleep in a separate room at the time of the attack were unharmed. The surviving children were being cared for by grandparents.
The area was sealed off by Israeli police and soldiers. The army launched an operation in the nearby Palestinian village of Awata, arresting about two dozen young men.
The dead were named as Udi Fogel, 36, his wife Ruth, 35, and children Yoav, 11, Elad, four, and Hadas, three months. The family previously lived in the Gush Katif settlement in the Gaza Strip, which was evacuated in 2005, and recently moved to Itamar.
Rabbi Yaakov Cohen, a neighbour who entered the house with the 12-year-old girl, told the Ynet website that her two-year-old brother “was lying next to his bleeding parents, shaking them with his hands and trying to get them to wake up, while crying … The sight in the house was shocking.”
According to an Israeli settlement security official who visited the scene of the attack, one or two intruders scaled the security fence surrounding Itamar and entered the family’s home through a window. The father, said the official, who did not want to be named, was a teacher in a religious school.
The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Fatah, the dominant political faction in the West Bank, said it had carried out the “heroic operation … in response to the fascist occupation against our people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip”.
Netanyahu said: “I expect the international community to sharply and unequivocally condemn this murder, the murder of children. I have noticed that several countries that always hasten to the UN security council in order to condemn Israel, the state of the Jews, for planning a house in some locality … have been dilatory in sharply condemning the murder of Jewish infants. I expect them to issue such condemnations immediately, without balances, without understandings, without justifications. There is no justification and there can be neither excuse nor forgiveness for the murder of children.”
He said he was disappointed in the reaction from the Palestinian Authority. Earlier he had blamed its “incitement against Israel” for the attack.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, telephoned Netanyahu to condemn the attack. “Violence will only bring more violence,” he said, urging a comprehensive agreement to end the conflict. Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, said that “violence does not justify violence … whoever does it and whoever the victims are”.
A statement from the White House said there was “no possible justification for the killings of parents and children in their home”. Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, denounced the attack as “an act of incomprehensible cruelty”.
It was the first killing of settlers since four adults were shot dead near Hebron on the eve of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians in September. The talks stalled following Israel’s refusal to extend a freeze on new settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The West Bank has seen few militant operations in recent years as the Palestinian Authority has stepped up security as part of its efforts to build the basis of a future state. Last month, Israel removed the Hawara checkpoint near Itamar. But there has been continued tension between Palestinian villagers and hardline settlers, with regular clashes over the destruction of olive trees.
In the nearby Palestinian village of Awata, Khalil Shurrab said that “many, many soldiers” had come in the early hours, going house to house to round up people. Residents showed visitors rooms in houses that they said had been trashed by soldiers and spent tear gas canisters.
Hilary Minch, a volunteer with a Christian monitoring group based near Nablus, said the army had used live ammunition and stun grenades. “The next 24 hours will be very tense,” she said. “The villagers fear retribution by the settlers.”
2. Washington Post,
US criticizes new Israeli plan to build hundreds of Jewish settlement homes in West Bank
By AMY TEIBEL, JERUSALEM
— The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv said Monday it was “deeply concerned” by Israel’s plans to build hundreds of new homes in the West Bank following a deadly attack on a settler family, calling Israeli settlements “illegitimate” and an obstacle to peacemaking.
While agreeing with the U.S. criticism, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reached out to the Israeli public, granting a rare interview to state-run Israel Radio and denouncing the weekend attack in the settlement of Itamar as “despicable, immoral and inhuman.” Abbas rejected the Israeli charge that his government was indirectly to blame, and Israel’s prime minister said his denunciation was not enough.
While the country was still reeling from the gruesome attack, in which two parents and three young children were fatally stabbed as they slept, the Israeli government announced Sunday that it had approved the construction of between 400 and 500 new homes in major West Bank settlement blocs.
“They murder, we build,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday during a condolence call to the grieving family. Palestinian militants are presumed to have carried out the assault.
The plans for new construction infuriated Palestinians, and together with the attack, drove prospects for renewed peacemaking even further out of reach. A Netanyahu aide said the Israeli government informed the U.S. — which has been toiling with little success to break the negotiations deadlock — of the decision.
“We’re deeply concerned by continuing Israeli actions on settlements in the West Bank,” the statement from the U.S. Embassy said. “As we said before, we view these settlements as illegitimate and as running counter to efforts to resume direct negotiations.”
Just last month, the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction. The U.S. said it agreed with the wider world about the illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity but thought Israelis and Palestinians should resolve key conflicts between them, and the council wasn’t the proper venue for the dispute. The council’s 14 other members voted in favor of the resolution.
A senior Israeli official responded to the U.S. criticism by reasserting Israel’s expectation that the major settlement blocs, where most of the 300,000 West Bank settlers live, will remain in Israeli hands under any final peace accord.
An additional 200,000 Israelis live in east Jerusalem, captured along with the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians want both territories, along with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, for their future state. They say all settlements are illegal.
Early Monday, the Israeli army pressed forward with its search for the attacker in Awarta, a Palestinian village next to Itamar. Residents said soldiers using loudspeakers ordered men between the ages of 18 and 40 to report to a village school for questioning. The military confirmed the operation was under way.
Israeli officials say the army has arrested about 20 suspects but has not identified the assailant.
Jewish settlers bent on retaliation threw rocks at cars driving on a main road linking the Palestinian cities of Nablus and Ramallah and set several cars on fire outside of Ramallah and in the town of Qalqiliya, Palestinian officials said.
Israeli officials had accused Abbas of only tepidly condemning the carnage in the settlement of Itamar. They suggested his government was indirectly to blame, calling it the product of incitement against Israel.
Abbas spoke to Israel Radio on Monday, harshly condemning the violence and saying his government would have prevented the attack if it had advance knowledge. He said he would not allow violence to expand.
Abbas disputed Israel’s allegations that Palestinian clerics preach incitement, saying his government hands out a uniform sermon to be delivered by all. He called for a joint Israeli-Palestinian-U.S. team to examine claims of incitement in Palestinian textbooks.
Israel has long contended that Palestinian textbooks and official media preach hatred toward Israel and that the killers of Israelis are often glorified.
Later Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the gesture, but said Abbas had to go further.
“There is importance to the things he said, but in my view what is more important … is that he says the things on Palestinian radio,” Netanyahu told lawmakers in his Likud Party.
© 2011 The Washington Post Company
3. The Guardian,
13 March 2011
Jerusalem should be a neutral city say European voters
Opinion poll on Israeli-Palestinian conflict reveals Europeans prefer contested Jerusalem to be no one’s capital city
European voters, polled by ICM, want Jerusalem to be neutral, not a national capital. Photograph: David Silverman/Getty Images Europeans believe Jerusalem should be a neutral, international city, as opposed to being a national capital for either the Israelis or the Palestinians, according to a poll undertaken by ICM in six of the continent’s big nations.
Some 57% of the 7,000 voters surveyed for Middle East Monitor, a thinktank with Palestinian sympathies, believe the divided city that Israel claims as its capital should not be a capital at all, with 45% favouring the option of internationalisation. Only 9% and 6% respectively believe the city should serve as the capital of Israel or of a prospective Palestinian state.
The predominant European attitude is war weariness, with 65% citing “violence/fighting” as one of the first things to come to mind when Israel/Palestine is mentioned, and some 32% naming the unwillingness of the two sides to compromise as the single biggest obstacle to peace, almost three times the number who single out any other problem.
But there are some signs of Europeans laying more blame on Israelis: 25% describe Israel as “the primary aggressors”, but 13% say the same of the Palestinians, who are, by a five-to-one margin, deemed the primary victims. For 51%, the besieged Gaza strip comes to mind when conflict is mentioned, against 30% who name suicide bombers, a possible sign that Israel’s 2008-9 Gaza campaign damaged its reputation.
Unlike in some past surveys, a plurality of Europeans – including Britons – is clear that Israel is the occupying force, and that settlers are Israelis and not Palestinians. And while there is an overwhelming belief that Palestinian rockets are illegal (75% of respondents), the balance of European opinion also believes Israel’s armed response to supply ships (64%), its Gaza blockade (53%) and its separation wall (46%) fall foul of international law.
One controversial belief uncovered in the research, which was presented at the al-Jazeera forum in Doha is that Israel exploits the history of Jewish suffering to generate public support – 48% of respondents agree with this, against 23% who disagree. Some may find it disturbing that 53% of Germans take this view.
Overall, however, Europeans are strikingly even-handed in their concern about the conflict’s tendency to stoke prejudice – 39% of respondents say it stokes Islamophobia, as against 36% who worry it fuels anti-Semitism.
The countries in the ICM survey: UK, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.
March 14, 2011
Pro-Palestinian film takes center stage in UN hall, despite Israel’s opposition
Delegates and envoys of member nations have been invited to view the debut of Miral, a film based on Palestinian writer Rula Jebreal’s novel about an orphan girl growing up in East Jerusalem during the Intifada.
By Shlomo Shamir
Tags: UN Israel news Palestinians East Jerusalem
A pro-Palestinian film will be screened at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on Monday night, despite Israel’s vehement opposition.
Delegates and envoys of member nations have been invited to view the debut of Miral, a film based on Palestinian writer Rula Jebreal’s novel about an orphan girl growing up in East Jerusalem during the Intifada. The movie includes a number of scenes depicting Israel Defense Forces acting cruelly against the Palestinian population.
Swiss diplomat Joseph Deiss, the current president of the GA, had initiated the event and approved the screening in the plenum hall. Israeli diplomats had approached him and demanded that he rescind the plans, but Deiss denied their request on the grounds that the film was a story about peace.
In an interview with Haaretz, the deputy chief of Israel’s delegation to the UN, Haim Waxman, called the whole matter a “scandal”.
“This is a clearly political and one-sided film, which advances the Palestinian agenda,” Waxman told Haaretz. “It is difficult to understand the intolerable ease with which the decision was made to screen a commercial film in the GA hall – something which it itself is unusual and unacceptable.”
Waxman, who sent a letter of complaint to Deiss over the matter, called the matter a “severe incident” undertaken by “a very senior member of the organization’s echelon, who by nature of his position is obligated to clarify irascibly and without bias the content which he chooses to present to the United Nations.”
Waxman added that over the course of efforts to prevent the screening of the film, senior UN officials were asked whether they could remember any previous times when a political film was screened in the GA hall – and none could.
“We respect the filmmakers’ freedom of expression, but it clear that this is an attempt to advance the Palestinian agenda,” he said.
The fact that the film was being debuted in the GA hall meant that it would be given “central stage, again, to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which already receives too much attention at the UN,” added Waxman.
Jubreal and the Jewish American director Julian Schnabel will take part in a panel discussion following the screening of the film.
5.Independent commentary from Israel & the Palestinian territories
Sunday, March 13 2011
Why I fail to be impressed by the wails emanating from the religious right, in four points
The strange call for denunciation: My colleague, Dimi Reider, wrote a sensitive post, calling upon leftist activists to denounce the massacre in Itamar. A list of leftist organizations – from Peace Now to Rabbis for Human Rights – have already done so, as did the Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall.
I must say I find this demand strange. It plays straight into the hands of the right-wingers who say the leftists are responsible for the Palestinian struggle; it dances awkwardly with Ariel’s mayor Ron Nachman’s mad waltz on the blood, in which he demanded the left be investigated for its alleged participation in the massacre. As if someone has to earnestly explain he objects to the slaughtering of infants; as if you have to explain you truly support a heavy punishment for the perpetrators, assuming they are caught and legally convicted. A denunciation is, in its way, participation in the all-too-Israeli orgy of victimization we’ve seen since yesterday morning, and your role is that of the demon who has seen the light and begs for forgiveness. No, thanks. Not from the settlers.
The Beasts: When I woke up yesterday morning and read about the massacre, there already were reports about settlers’ reprisals, pogroms which the IDF, as usual, did not stop. Were one to use the IDF’s logic, all of the settlements should be have been put under curfew as soon as the massacre took place, to prevent acts of vengeance: After all, after Baruch Goldstein carried out his massacre in the Cave of the Patriarchs, the IDF put the Palestinians under curfew, precisely for this reason. The IDF proved, once more, it either incapable or unwilling to defend the majority of the residents of the West Bank, contrary to its duty under international law.
The leaders of the settlers went into a seizure, challenging each other to be more ruthless (Hebrew). The prize goes, as usual, to the representative of Kahane and Rabbi Wolfa in the Knesset, Michael Ben Ari: “I call upon the government to carry out a ‘price tag’ [euphemism for pogrom – YG] and expel the residents of the village from which the murderers emerged, and to demolish the village and build in its place apartments for young couples of army veterans.” In short, Ben Ari wants a Lidice-like collective punishment. MK Zevulun Orlev, supposedly more moderate then Ben Ari, blamed the government for the massacre – the usual tactic of the settlers, from the 1970s onwards – and also demanded a ‘price tag’ operation.
The government rushed last night, several hours after the end of the Sabbath, to accept those settler demands, and announced it will build 500 new housing units in the settlements. This wasn’t enough for Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who demanded the price (the price tag?) to be “a thousand apartments per child.”
We’ve heard much about the bottomless monstrosity of the Palestinians who carried out the terrorist attack. What shall we say, then, of the humanity of people who measure the lives of children in acres and real estate? A teenage girl is good enough for a three-room apartment, but an infant – that’ll cost you a whole villa. And, again: This isn’t new. This is how the settlers have operated for decades. Every body is, as far as they are concerned, the equivalent of real estate. They used to call it “a proper Zionist response”: Perhaps a better name would be “construction for cadavers.”
What can you say about a public that moves so speedily from mourning to organized violence to the demand of ransom? I lived in Greater Tel Aviv when it was the preferred target for suicide bombers. Twice, all that stood between me and death was a delay of ten minutes. I never even considered the idea of grabbing the nearest Palestinian, burning his property, or beating him up. And most Israelis were just like me. We took the attacks on the chin, gritted our teeth, and kept ourselves from whining. The settlers, on the other hands, have gone native. It used to be Palestinians who brandished bloodied Israeli bodies; now it’s the settlers who do so. Things being what they are, I have a hard time accepting their demands that I join them in mourning. So sorry, you have besmirched it – and in record time.
Demons: The Israeli media preferred treating the murderers of the Fogel family as human-shaped monsters. The record was broken by Gilad Sharon, the shady son of the former prime minister, writing in Yediot. According to Sharon (Hebrew), “You can put a mask on the Palestinian wild beast, such as a speaker who speaks fluent English. You can put it in a three-piece suit and a silk tie. But once in a while – when the moon is born, when a raven defecates on the head of a howling jackal, or when the pita-bread with za’atar (hyssop) has gone wrong, the beast feels this is its night, and out of a primal instinct it goes ambushing its prey.” And to think that Netanyahu has the gall to speak of “Palestinian incitement.” President Peres brayed that “this is an act showing the lack of humanity, and no religion or faith in the world allows such acts of horror.” Peres apparently has not read the new bestseller in the settlements, “Torat Hamelech,” which not only allows those acts of horror but actively promotes them, according to the teaching that the commandment ‘though shalt not murder’ applies only to a Jew who murders a Jew.
There are, of course, no two-legged beasts; there only humans, and most of them can rationalize just about anything. The person who popularized the term “two legged beasts” in Hebrew was Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who dispatched the Israeli air force to bomb Beirut indiscriminately. The Lebanon War of 1982 cost the Lebanese no less than 17,000 dead (this number does not include the number of Palestinian and Syrian fighters killed, estimated at 9,798). The total sum of Israeli dead from terrorism since the creation of Israel did not, at that time, exceed 500. Begin, one of the more decent prime ministers we’ve had, had no qualms at killing 34 Lebanese civilians for each Israeli dead.
Hold on! How dare you compare the two? Is there any Israeli, who would kill a Palestinian child? Of course there is: You only need a bit of memory. The Bat ‘Ayin Underground (Hebrew) tried to activate a cart bomb next to a Palestinian girls’ school. Its members were acquitted of the killing of eight other Palestinians, one of them a child (then who did kill them? the case were never closed). Two of the Bat ‘Ayin conspirators were sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment, another was sentenced to eight years, and two others received two years’ imprisonment each. The security coordinator of the Hadar Beitar settlement, Nahum Korman, was convicted of the killing of a 10 year-old Palestinian child, Hilmi Shusha, after hitting him on the head with the butt of his pistol. Korman was sentenced to six months of community service (!). Pinchas Wallerstein, one of the mainstays of the settler movement, chased a Palestinian boy, Rabbah Rhanem Ahmed, whom he claimed threw stones at his car, and shot him dead. Naturally – Wallerstein is a Jew and a settler – he was not charged with murder, but with manslaughter, was convicted of wrongful causing of death, and atoned for his actions with a mere four months of community service.
Korman and Wallerstein, and to a lesser extent the men of the Bat ‘Ayin group, were embraced by their communities. Turns out that if you’re a Jew who shoots a Palestinian child in the back, or bashes his head in with a pistol, or just try to blow him to kingdom come with his classmates, you’re not a two-legged beast; you’re a pillar of the community.
Such are the joys: It’s not easy to remember the last time Binyamin Netanyahu danced such a jig on spilled blood. I think it was after the attack on the number five bus in Tel Aviv, during the Rabin government. Then, Netanyahu blamed the government for the attack. Naturally, that’s not how he spins it today.
Netanyahu has finally found his excuse to stall forever, and he’s going to squeeze this lemon for all it’s worth. Now he can avoid the hated duty of yet another hollow policy speech. There was a massacre! We’re saved! Once more Israel proves it is a peace refusenik: If there are no terror attacks, there’s no reason to speak to the Palestinians; if there are any, of course, we surely can’t talk to them.
There is only one viable way to end the conflict: Non-violent Palestinian resistance. It drives Israel crazy.
6. Palestine News and Info Agency WAFA Monday, March 14, 2011, Time : 18:24
Settlers Escalate Attacks on Palestinians in West Bank
WEST BANK, March 14, 2011 (WAFA) – Israel escalated attacks and arrests on Palestinians in various area of the West Bank on Monday including Nablus, Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem and Qalqiliya, following the killing of five settlers in the Itamar settlement constructed on land belonging to Awarta town east of Nablus.
Israeli army arrested 12 Palestinians Monday from Awarta after asking all residents between 15 – 40 years of age to come to one of the town’s schools, after an imposed curfew on Awarta for the last three days, according to head of the town council Qais Awwad.
Soldiers are assaulting anyone who does not conform to their orders, said Awwad.
The situation in Awarta is very difficult; families lack basic foodstuffs like milk and bread and Israeli soldiers have banned patients from going to hospitals to receive treatment, according to Sulaiman Qawareeq, member of Awarta town council.
He added that soldiers are detaining several families, most of whom comprise of children, women and the elderly.
In Hebron, Israeli soldiers arrested two residents on Monday and led them to an unknown location, according to security sources.
Armed settlers had closed roads leading to the Hebron area and thrown stones at vehicles. Soldiers opened fire at a Palestinian car carrying passengers north of Hebron and overturned it, its passengers scrambling away in fear.
Tens of armed settlers besieged a resident’s house in Baq’a area, east of Hebron, threw stones at it and caused damage.
Settlers from Beit El, a settlement north of Jerusalem, set fire to two vehicles in Doora Qare, a village east of Ramallah. Another group of settlers raided Jensafut, a village east of Qalqiliya, also setting fire to two vehicles.
Settlers around Bethlehem area escalated their attacks against residents, setting up caravans early Monday in agricultural land in the village of Jaba’a, west of Bethlehem, aiming to seize the land.
7. Forwarded by the JPLO List
14 March 2011
International Solidarity Movement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Today the village of Awarta, near Nablus, is facing the second day of a severe curfew imposed by the Israeli military, following Friday morning’s murder of a settler family in the settlement Itamar . Three ISM activists–Cinda, 23, Chad, 25, from Sweden, and Cissy, 53, from Norway–are currently trapped in the village. Anyone caught stepping outside of their house is arrested. Soldiers have said that they’ll maintain the curfew until they’ve apprehended the settler family’s murderer. The army hasn’t presented any evidence that the murderer was from Awarta, and villagers have said to the ISM that they strongly doubt the murderer was even Palestinian as the settlement is so heavily guarded it would be impossible to break in. Soldiers are beating people andcontinuing their house raids: destroying houses from the inside, cutting off electricity, and polluting the drinking water by throwing mud in the water-tanks. 30 homes were occupied by soldiers last night. Computers and phones have been destroyed and money and property were stolen by the soldiers. In the last two days soldiers have been throwing sound grenades inside and outside the houses, and shooting in the air. The ISM activists may be arrested soon, but they intend to stay as long as possible because they feel their presence improves the behavior of the soldiers, and villagers have asked them to stay. As of 12:30pm the ISM activists are locked in a room with the children of the family that they’ve been staying with while soldiers search the house. They’ve heard an unconfirmed report that 100 village men were taken into detention at the school for interrogation a few hours ago.
For more information:
Cinda, ISM activist inside the village: +972 59 741 4023
ISM Media Office, Ramallah: +972 59 760 6276
PLEASE FORWARD THIS UPDATE WIDELY
8. Forwarded by the Tuwani Team <[email protected]>
This article was originally published on Waging Nonviolence, written by Samuel Nichols. <http://wagingnonviolence.org/2011/03/palestinian-woman-call-for-justice-on-international-womens-day/>
All across the occupied Palestinian territories, women took to the streets on Tuesday in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.
In Gaza city, an estimated 500 women marched through the city center calling for national unity and an end to the rift between rival political factions, Fatah, which governs the West Bank, and Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip. Women called for a unified Palestinian voice, while hoisting a 10-meter long Palestinian flag, as a necessary step in resisting Israel’s expanding settlement project that includes the ongoing judaization of Jerusalem.
Palestinian women also led protests across the Israeli-occupied West Bank. In Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, dozens of women blocked an Israeli bypass road – a crucial piece of the transportation infrastructure built to connect Israeli settlements, a transportation system to which Palestinians have limited access – in protest of Israel’s vast system of roadblocks that limit Palestinian movement.
At Qalandia checkpoint, a monstrosity of a checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem, 150 Palestinian women demonstrators attempted to pass through to Jerusalem. Israeli border guards formed a human wall to prevent the women from proceeding through the checkpoint, demonstrating Israel’s restriction of Palestinians’ movement, including the denial of access to areas supposedly under Palestinian control such as East Jerusalem.
In Hebron, a broad swath of women’s civil society, including representatives from non-governmental organizations, schools, labor unions, and women’s cooperatives organized to distribute flowers to a large number of women across the city.
The Palestinian human rights organization, Al-Haq, released an excellent video for International Women’s Day highlighting the ways that both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupation are responsible for the suppression of Palestinian women’s rights. Alongside the video, Al-Haq released a statement reminding the world that the “struggle for the fundamental human rights of Palestinian women” is severely jeopardized by a “belligerent and unrelenting occupation”:
Throughout the OPT, women’s access to educational institutions, places of employment and healthcare clinics is severely impeded by restrictions on Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement. While the repressive and discriminatory policies exercised by Israel against the free movement of Palestinians have had a devastating effect on the entire population, the disproportionate impact on Palestinian women, who are denied the most basic economic and social rights guaranteed to them by international law, cannot be overstated.
Attending a protest in occupied East Jerusalem, Fadwa Khader, women’s activist and member of the Palestinian People’s Party, accentuated the point that women’s rights are routinely trampled by the unrelenting Israeli occupation:
Today is a celebration of International Women’s Day and the Palestinian women of Jerusalem are raising our voices and calling on the world to show solidarity with us and help us get rid of the Israeli occupation.
Part of the women’s rights issue is the harm caused by the Israeli occupation. Can you imagine women being woken up and kicked out of their homes in the early morning so their homes can be demolished to make way for settlements?
We are talking about human rights and women’s rights.
Too often we are quick to sound the alarm on the plight of women in the Arab world, often citing (by default) the role that Islamists play in the suppression of women’s rights in the Middle East. We routinely fail to listen to Arab women – in this case, Palestinian women – who clearly identify the obstacles that stand between them and their rights. On March 8, across Gaza and the West Bank, Palestinian women identified the U.S.-supported Israeli occupation of their land and livelihood as the biggest impediment to the realization of their rights.
[please ignore below the characteristic of ‘violence’ that the report below attributes to Bil’in protests. Bil’in lead the way to non-violent protests, which now are practiced in many Palestinian communities and East Jerusalem. Yes, the ‘shabab’ (kids) throw stones, but who usually begins? The IOF soldiers with their tear gas and other means of dispersing protests! ]
Haaretz Monday, March 14, 2011