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Second Burqa Demonstration and Background on the Situation

At the second Burqa demonstration, an MPTer and an IWPS [International Women’s Peace Service] met other internationals and the villagers in the center of the village. All then proceeded up a long steep and winding road to where the demonstration had been the week before. The stones blocking the road, laid by the Israeli soldiers, were a bit further up the road. The number of jeeps (5) and about 40 soldiers was more than double the previous week. Well armed Israeli soldiers with military jeeps behind them
block the road leading to the illegal outpost on confiscated Palestinian land.

Armed soldiers stand at the front and left of the demonstration

Israeli soldiers stand armed to the front and right of the village demonstration

As the demonstrators sat down on the road, a villager read a prepared speech and then the about 100 men, old and young, began the Muslim mid-day prayer on the road. The demonstration ended shortly after this.

Journalists here included Reuters. They get out the news,
but also serve as protection for the demonstrators.

Villagers sit in protest in front of the armed soldiers

Village protesters recite the mid-day prayer

A watchful boy prays

A couple young men threw stones, even though strongly forbidden to do so by the older men present. They were so far from the soldiers that their efforts were futile. These few stones resulted in rubber bullets, 15 to 25 tear gas canisters and sound grenades were shot or thrown. Three men where injured – two from the tear gas inhalation and one who was targeted with one or more rubber coated steel bullets and a tear gas canister. This targeted man was a gentle young man who had asked to take a picture of the IWPS woman. When he was visited in the afternoon, he had bandages on his shoulder which showed serious burn damage. He was in some pain.

Tear gas forced the demonstration back and caused injury to three

Young man injured by a tear gas canaster and rubber bullets.

Following the demonstration, a member of the village council offered to take the internationals to the homes that were invaded at night by the Israeli army, about two weeks earlier. The stories of the house incursions were similar. Sound bombs were exploded outside the home to wake up the families inside. Four soldiers from four jeeps entered the house, took the man in the house out with a gun to his head, then back into the house to sign and put figure prints on a blank piece of paper. The men were often then beaten. All of this happened in about 2 ½ hours. No one knew of any reason that these fifteen families were targeted.

The village councilor pointed out to the internationals the destruction that had been done to the village. Some of the actions seemed to have been recent and other in the last few years. Settlers had placed fire into the inside of ancient olive trees totally ruining them even if they were left standing. Village wells had some poisonous or distasteful materials put into them. Settlers burned wheat fields.

The councilor took us to an adjoining hill to view the recently re-established illegal Israeli outpost. This had been an area thick with olive trees. After the abandonment and destruction of the settlement in 2005, the farmer who owned the land was encouraged by the village council to develop it. He built some beautiful stone terraces and foundations for homes, and planted a variety of trees. Returning Israeli settlers polluted his well, damaged his building and water tank, burned his hay and pulled many of his trees up by their roots

Settlers damaged the property of the Palestinian landowner.

Damaged Palestinian water tank
Trees that had been planted by settlers before 2005
ring the land of the Palestinian farmer.

View of the outpost from former settlement.
Nablus can be seen in the distance. The village is lower left.

As the councilor drove the MPTer and IWPS woman home, he told them of his village. In 1948, this village had a population of 11,000, half Christians and half Muslims. Now it has a population of 5,000. Christians who have greater access to outside help fled. He showed us the older part of Burqa where Christians had lived and to where some return to visit their three churches.

He then told the two women about his experience in an Israeli prison. He said he had his jaw broken in three places, but was given no medical attention. He was held for 51 days, 49 of which he was handcuffed. He lost 20 kilos and could only drink liquids when he got out of prison. When he left the prison, he used a stick to pry open his mouth. One wonders who could commit these atrocities against another human being? What happens to their humanity?

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