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Waste Dumps Damage Palestinian Land

Three IWPS and one MPTer protested at a demonstration planned by Deir Shafar village, the surrounding villages, and the municipality of Nablus. As they headed toward the village, their car was rerouted because of the Israeli construction of a new, and third, checkpoint at the entrance to the village. These checkpoints make entrance and exit from the village difficult and time consuming.

In the mayor's office, the group was given a brief update on the situation of the waste/garbage during village.

In 2002, the Israeli Occupation forces confiscated a quarry and nearby land belonging to an Palestinian family. Since then the area has been used to dump waste from the Quedumim settlement and a nearby Israeli industrial area. Israel has plans to use this site for the garbage of all the settlements in the area, including some several miles. This waste dump is a tremendous health hazard to the thousands of inhabitants of the nearby villages in the Nablus district. There are five artesian wells in the area near the dump which the villages rely on for their water supply and irrigation. Directly underneath the quarry is a huge water reservoir, which supplies 40% of the city of Nablus with water. Experts fear that the dump will contaminate these water sources. Toxic pollution from the dump has a major impact on agricultural systems and water supplies. The inevitable contamination of the Deir Shafar aquifer would be an ecological and humanitarian disaster.

In 2004, the Israel High Court ruled in favor of the villages, ordering an end to the dumping of the waste in the area. Despite the court order, the settlement persisted in dumping garbage and confiscating more land well into 2005. A representative from the mayor's office said that recently the Israeli District Coordinating Committee told them that the Israeli govenment has plans to reopen this controversial toxic waste dump. Industrial wastes, including petrochemical wastes from the factories located in the area will be brought to this Palestinian land from the illegal Israeli industrial parks in the area.

Israel's construction and operation of this waste site violates international law. Article 55 of the Geneva Convention states that the occupier must protect the natural environment of the occupied country again severe long term damage. The health and survival of the population must not be prejudiced. http://www.poica.org/editor/casestudies/view.php?recordID=548

The day of the demonstration, over a hundred people from the villages and the Nablus municipality gathered near the dump to protest the confiscation of the land and environmental destruction caused by the dump. Trucks and bulldozers have leveled much of the quarry land. The garbage of the past, including tons of rubber tires, had been buried under several feet of sand, which does not prevent linkage into the ground water. Furthermore, there are plans to continue the domestic and industrial waste dumping in the area. http://stopthewall.org/photos/907.shtml

There were no journalists or Israeli military at the demonstration. The demonstration serves as a reminder of what it means to be an occupied people. The local people will wait to see what their Palestinian lawyers who continue to work on the case can achieve.

Farmland is lost to the quarry. Sand and gravel is used in the illegal Israeli settlements.

People begin to gather for the demonstration.
The garbage dump was bulldozed under and covered with layers of sand.
The area of the old dump is the size of a football field.
The banner, written in rather bad English, protests the effects of pollution on all life.
The right to move freely throughout their land is a human right denied to Palestinians under Israeli occupation.
[Left banner] The occupation and the illegal Israeli settlements have led to apartheid.
The boys proudly carry their nicely made protest signs.
Village leaders speak against the environmental degradation caused by the dump.
Reopening the waste site would be disastrous according to village leaders.
A spokeswoman from the Nablus municipality expresses her fear of water contamination.
Another village leader expresses his fear of the continued devastation of the land and water.
Nablus women express their hope that the site will not be re-opened.
A beautifully scrolled poster expresses the horror of the waste dump.
Another beautiful banner expresses the concerns of the people.
The confiscated quarry.
Huge machines carry and process the sand of the quarry.
The demonstrators pass the quarry as they leave.


Vandalism, Army Incursions and Arrests in Small Villages

Between the night of November 25 and November 28th four villages in the Salfit District reported vandalism to property. The villages of Deir Istiya, Jinsafut, Kafr Qaddum, and Haris all had tires slashed on verhicles and racist graffiti spray painted. On Wednesday morning, an IWPS and a MPT team member went to the municipality of Deir Istiya to survey the damage done to the village in an early morning incursion. The mayor drove them to the area near the village entrance where the damage had occurred. The following is the report from the IWPS [International Women’s Peace Service – Human Rights 382] website. http://www.iwps.info/en/articles/index.php?section=2&category=3

Description of Incident:

During the night of November 25th to November 26th, 2008 three private vehicles, a tractor and an ambulance were vandalized by so far unknown persons.

According to the estimation of residents of Deir Istiya, the perpetrators must have entered the village through its main entrance after midnight.

In the morning of November 26th residents of the village found that three private vehicles, all parked along the main road of the village, had slashed tires. Two of the cars were additionally spray-painted with Hebrew letters reading "Death to the Arabs". The same message and a star of David were reportedly also spray-painted on a parked ambulance. Further two tires of a tractor were slashed, leaving damage amounting to 3000 NIS

[MPTand IWPS photos inserted here for the blog ]

Slashed Tire
Slashed tire

Slashed tire and "Death to Arabs" spray painted

Four tires slashed on this car.

Spray paint on car

Slashed tires on tractor. Very expensive to repair or replace.

Residents suspect either settlers or Israeli army personnel to be responsible for the deed.

The village of Deir Istiya has recently been the target of increased army activity. Apart from daily and nightly patrols, army vehicles are frequently parked at the main entrance of the village and civilians entering or leaving Deir Istiya are being stopped and ordered to show their identification. Approximately two weeks ago the Israeli army imposed a curfew and reportedly threw sound bombs and tear gas on the streets.

Additionally parts of the lands of Deir Istiya are currently unofficially confiscated and used for the expansion of the settlement of Revava. The affected farmers have been repeatedly prevented by settler security to enter their lands, which is slowly being turned into a construction site. [End of report]


Israeli military vehicles entered the village of Haris the evening of November 26th. They drove back and forth along the main street for over an hour. An MPTer was present, took photos and tried to communicate with the Israeli soldiers. They returned after midnight and boys were arrested in the early morning.

In Haris the wall of a private home was spray-painted with a five-pointed star and the name "Hebron" in Hebrew. According to Haris residents, the tires of seven vehicles parked alongside the main road were slashed and a window was broken.
[MPTphotos inserted here for the blog ]

Tire damaged

Sprayed painted wall

There was also vandalism –desecrating a Muslim cemetery in Kifl Haris villages near Deir Estriya in the last few days The day after the vandalism by settlers or the army, two youth, 13 and 17, were picked up by the Israeli army. Very worried parents are calling an Israeli human rights organization to try to locate their sons.

The following is the updated report on the army incursion into Haris by the IWPS [International Women’s Peace Service – Human Rights 383] website. http://www.iwps.info/en/articles/index.php?section=2&category=3

Description of Incident :

Two teenaged boys were arrested in the early hours of yesterday morning in Haris, Salfit following an army incursion into the village on Wednesday.

Late Wednesday afternoon four military vehicles entered the village and drove back and forth for approximately an hour and a half, leaving shortly after 6 p.m. Several boys responded by throwing stones at the vehicles.

Later that night the army came back and arrested two boys from the village. An aunt of the older boy, a 17-year-old student, said Israeli soldiers started to throw dirt and tear-gas canisters through the boy’s father’s bedroom window at about 1 a.m. Two adults and four children, including the arrested teenager, were in the home at the time. The aunt said the family had never been visited by the army before, and she was reluctant to open the door. Eventually she did, and said that soldiers took her brother and her nephew outside the house for questioning, demanding their identification. The 17-year-old was taken away in handcuffs and a blindfold, she said.

The second boy, aged 14 years, was taken from a nearby home. Soldiers arrived at the house around 2 a.m. and stayed for an hour, the boy’s parents reported. Several army vehicles were present, and although soldiers did not enter the house or use tear gas, they reportedly pelted the door and windows with rocks. The family of nine – two adults and seven children, ranging in age from two to 13 years – were eventually forced from their home. The mother of the family, who is six months’ pregnant, said that soldiers pushed her. Another four soldiers restrained her husband, she reported, while two more soldiers handcuffed and blindfolded their eldest son (age 14) and took him away.

The father of the 17-year-old boy reported that his son was returned to the family home from Ari’el police station at around 2 p.m. yesterday afternoon.

An Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson in the Humanitarian office told IWPS that the 14-year-old boy had likewise been taken to Ari’el police station, and then to the IDF base at Huwwara, Nablus district, where he was released because he is a minor. However, two other organizations (Defence for Children International and the Palestinian Prisoners Club) determined that the boy had been taken from Huwwara to Salem prison in Israel. On November 30th he appeared before a military court, charged with throwing stones, and was refused bail. His lawyer (from Defence for Children International) said he would appeal the denial of bail; the boy’s next court appearance is scheduled for January 11, 2009.

[End of Report]

Ayn Karim - village of the Nakba

A cloudy Saturday, 2 MPTers, 2 IWPS [International Women's Peace Service] women joined with 2 California friends and a group of Israelis, a few Palestinians and several other internationals for a tour by Zochrot of the beautiful little village of Ayn Karim nestled in the hills south of Jerusalem. [Zochrot is a group of Israeli citizens working to raise awareness of the Nakba, particularly among Israelis.]

Ayn Karim is one of a very few villages which survived the Nakba of 1948 with its buildings intact. [Nakba – depopulation of Palestinians from what is now Israel.] The village was home for about 3700 Palestinians who overnight became homeless refugees. Today those village homes are inhabited by Jewish families, some of whom had been expelled from Spain and had moved to Morocco. One Christian Palestinian family, refugees from Iqrit village [near Acre], now lives in the village in an old school building attached to the Franciscan monastery. Palestinian Muslims and Christians lived as good neighbors before the Nakba. There are today 7 Christian churches and monasteries in Ayn Karim. European influence saved the churches and monasteries during and following the Nakba.

The Muslim cemetery in the center of the village has been left in shambles until recently when there has been a effort to turn it into a park. Israelis in the area have worked with the park constructors to show respect that this is a cemetery.

During the tour, people from Zochrot erected signs to commemorate sites that existed in the village before the Nakba.

Those touring enjoyed the beautiful area with blooming trees and plants everywhere. There is a deep sadness in remembering the Palestinian refugees who lost their beautiful village with its lovely homes. [For more information: http://www.nakbaonline.org/Jerusalem/Ayn-Karim/index.html

A Palestinian and an Israeli conducted the tour.

The Israeli came to the village 31 years ago in ignorance of its past history. Later he was expelled from the Likud Party for his pro-Palestinian views.

This convent hires a Muslim who lives in Bethlehem area village.
This man, a friend of MPT's is much respected by the Sisters
whose convent once was neighbor to many Muslims.

Hadassah Hospital was constructed in Ayn Karim by the Women's Zionist Organization of America which worked diligently throughout the last century for good health care in Israel.
Magnificent Russian monastery on the hill above the village.

The hillside is filled with beautiful churches and monasteries.

Israelis post the sign where the village school was stood.

A special gate guards the entrance to this home. This was the only kind of "protective" gate or fence seen in the village.St. John the Baptist Church. St. John is alleged to have been born here.

An Arabic phrase above the door, probably from the Koran,
is a reminder that the former owners were Palestinians.

Palestinians were part of the tour, probably seeing the village for the first time.

A Zochrot sign, placed by Israelis, marks the place of the old village cemetery.

This Israeli woman works to help the public remember that although this will be come a community park, it was a village cemetery.

The cemetery was left without care for many years.

The village mosque, in a state of disrepair, still stands with its minaret.

Inside the mosque is Mary's Spring. Christians and Muslems sharing water.

A Zochrot sign to remember the Muslim place of worship before the Nakba.

Palestinians wash before prayer.

Muslim Palestinians pray in front of the mosque.

The marker reminds all that the former, rightful, owner is remembered.


Three Fridays in Jayyus at the wall

Three Fridays at Jayyus near the wall
In “The Mending Wall” Robert Frost wrote,
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.'
Israel is constructing a barrier to segregate the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Berlin wall was 4 meters high in most places. This wall is 8 meters high. In some areas the wall is concrete, in some razor wire or electrical fencing. There are pillboxes, control and observation towers, concrete roadblocks and trenches along the barrier. Checkpoints can stop both pedestrian and vehicular traffic for hours without any explanation except”security”.

Section of the wall near Jerusalem

Observation tower
Contrary to Israel’s statements, the route of this wall is not along the green line (the armistice boundary declared after the 1948 war). The segregation wall is within the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Every year the United Nations publishes a map with the current cadastral locations of the barriers and the accepted green line. The map clearly shows the completed and planned routes that snake through Palestinian villages and impede movement. The wall is not built on Israel land. It is on the land of those who are occupied. It includes a “buffer zone”, or additional confiscated land that is needed to protect the wall that “protects” the citizens of Israel. The reasoning is as circular as the wall itself.

Route of the barrier curving around Jayyus' land
Continuation of the barrier route - upper left snaking through the land
The International Court of Justice declared the wall to be “contrary to International Law” in 2004.
Jayyus is a small village in the Qalqulia district of the West Bank, Palestine. The segregation wall circles Jayyus; 70% of the arable land is behind the segregation wall. From Dec. 9 to Dec. 20 in 2004, Israeli bulldozers uprooted about 750 olive trees for the wall and the buffer zone. The six artesian wells that have provided water for Jayyus are on the “wrong side of the wall”…for security reasons? Farmers must obtain permits to visit their land. Permits are scarce, for security reasons. So a 65 year old farmer may access his land but cannot bring young sons to help with the work. The old Ottoman Land Law of 1858 is in force. If a farmer does not work his land for three years it is confiscated by Israel. Some farmers have not been able to obtain permits in three years. Is it security or a land grab of fertile productive land?
So Jayyus has joined a long list of villages that are staging non-violent protests against the wall and to resist the Occupation. Every Friday the list of villages demonstrating against the Occupation grows, and more and more Palestinians gather at the wall or a roadblock to demand access to their land, their livelihood, their dignity,and their human rights. As the number of protesters grows, the question becomes more apparent, “Is this wall making you safer?” Did the wall around Gaza provide security?
On Friday the menu of local demonstrations was: Burqa, Jayyus, Nai’lin or Bi’ llin. This MPT team member chose Jayyus. When we arrived, the army was patrolling the village and stopped us before we reached the starting point.

Soldiers approaching as we enter village
Asking for identification and passports
After a discussion we ignored their questions and met the other internationals gathering in the center of the village.
Street of Jayyus

Beginning the protest
The army jeeps blocked the main road out of the village toward the gate in the wall.

Israeli soldiers
Some of us were able to slip past the block and some Palestinians took side streets to bypass the block. The soldiers found themselves surrounded by protesters, chanting in Arabic. They were obviously unnerved when they found themselves in the center of the demonstration and in close quarters. It was too confined to allow them to use tear gas, concussion grenades or the usual methods of crowd dispersal. They broke ranks, retreating down the road toward the wall and leaving some of the soldiers stationed outside the village.
As we walked with the soldiers who were headed out of the crowd, a group of neighbor women came out of the houses to see what was happening. I linked arms with a Palestinian woman and smiled (because I have so little of the language and that is the only way I knew to communicate.) Soon there was a line of women with me following the soldiers, in djellaba or thawb and head scarves. The chant, “No, No, to the Wall” in Arabic rose up behind the military. The soldiers were anxious. As they spotted the army jeep positioned in the road they stopped and turned to face the crowd.

Face to face

Most of the soldiers are very young men, some in their late teens. As they turned, they were toe to toe with a line of women old enough to be their mothers and grandmothers. The look of surprise and confusion on their faces “was priceless”, to quote a US commercial. I spoke quietly to the soldiers near me, explaining that we were not a threat,. We were standing in front of them in peace and pointing out that we could have been their mothers. I hoped I could reduce some of the tension and anxiety so that we could make our statement peacefully, without tear gas and bullets. The soldiers were uncomfortable with the situation. When that became apparent, more women, both Palestinian and international, reinforced our position. It was a feminist’s dream come true. Women empowered had brought soldiers to a standstill. After about thirty minutes and some jockeying for position, the soldiers tried to move their line forward. The women and the crowd standing behind us did not move. There was a crush of bodies but no movement on either side. We stood for a while longer.

Discussing strategy

A military jeep came up behind us as though to plow through the line. They revved the engine. The women did not budge. After standing in from of the soldiers for an hour we sat on the road. There were piles of stones in the road and on either side. Photographers were scrambling over the rocks, filming and photographing the contrast of Palestinian and international women against a background of guns and olive drab uniforms. I was holding hands with the woman next to me and we all smiled up at the soldiers. The sweat was dripping off them. The leader of the demonstration brought us bottles of water. We took a drink and I offered it to the soldier. He was again confused and refused the drink.

Seated in front of the army
The demonstration lasted about three hours. There were no rocks thrown. The head of the village took the loudspeaker and declared that we had expressed our resistance to the wall and the occupation and we should reconvene in the village municipality. I believe the Palestinians felt they had controlled some part of their day and had been able to show their disapproval of the segregation wall.

View of the army from below

I felt so proud to have been with those women who were strong and determined to change the lives of their community. This one day was radically amazing because it worked. The protest was peaceful and effective.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall that wants it down.