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Izbat at Tabib - Daily Harassment

The story of Izbat at Tabib began in 1948 when the residents of Tabur (now Israel) came under attack by Zionist extremists. As a result a number of families moved 20 miles west to settle in Palestine, forming a new village, Izbat at Tabib. In 1968 the Oslo accords declared this village to be in Area C, which means total Israeli control and no new construction or any building repairs are allowed. When the illegal apartheid wall was built in the early 2000s farm land was confiscated from the village, including olive groves which is a main source of income.

Homes fall in disrepair because no repairs are allowed by the Israeli government.

Today Izbat at Tabib consists of about 300 villagers living in about 45 homes, most of which are in very poor condition. The only construction completed in recent years is a kindergarten and child care center, in defiance of Israeli regulations. Recently the road to Azzun (about 1.5 miles), which is the nearest center for medical and educational services, was blocked by an earth, rock and concrete barrier. All traffic is forced to go to Azzun on a 7-mile one-lane highway.

This past week, two MPTers went to Izbat at Tabib to spend the night and observe conditions there. They learned that the mayor's 14-year-old son had recently been taken from the family home during a night raid by the Israeli occupation forces. He was released a few days later after his father intervened with various authorities for him.

MPTers monitored the actions of the Israeli army at a "checkpoint" at the village entrance. An Israeli police jeep with four well armed military police kept an amost constant presence at the entrance during the course of the day. The military police, apparently at random, stopped cars and pedestrians, checking their IDs which resulted in long back-ups for vehicular traffic.

All day long the Israeli military stopped and checked pedestrians
and vehicles going into the village.

Drivers waited not knowing if they would be checked
and someone taken by the Israeli military.

Well-armed Israeli soldiers in jeeps are a daily occurence in this small village.
In the morning it was learned that at least two homes were invaded by the Israeli military police during the night. Villagers related that sometime around 10:00 p.m. military police entered their homes, ordered the women, children (even sleeping babies) and the elderly to leave the house while they looked in every possible location for "young men." None were found. Villagers said that home invasions of this kind are frequent occurences.
Of great concern to the people of Izbat at Tabib is the Israeli government demolition order for 23 of the 45 homes in the villages under the pretext that they were illegally built.

What is the life of a child in a village
under constant Israeli military harassment and nightly home invasions?


Bil'in Photographer Arrested

Haithan, the photographer with the short sleeved blue shirt partically hidden behind the Israel soldier, was arrested September 25th by the Israeli army.

This Friday at the Bil'in weekly demonstration against the illegal apartheid wall, two Bil'in villagers were arrested by the Israeli Occupation Forces. One of them was Haithan al-Khatib, age 33. He was the main photographer and his videos can be seen on YouTube. The Israeli army continue to harass and arrest leaders of the nonviolent resistance in this small village.

Return to Iraq Burin

After a month recess during Ramahan, the weekly Friday protest at Iraq Burin, a small village 6 miles south of Nablus, resumed this week. Seven internationals, including 3 MPTers, were invited to be present. By noon on Friday a group of 200 or more from the region and the village gathered together in front of the village mosque.

Villagers, other Palestinians and internationals prepare to march toward the confiscated land.
All joined in in chanting and clapping.

At 12:15 the march began with flags, banners and the chanting of Arabic slogans. This was to be a peaceful, nonviolent demonstration. As the march approached the area claimed by the illegal Har Bracha Israeli settlement which was built on confiscated Palestinian land (including 25 acres of confiscated Iraq Burin land), Israeli soliders were seen across the valley and others above the hill crest.

Israeli soldiers targeted the group from both the north and south of the march.
(Click on picture to enlarge it.)

Suddenly white clouds were seen on the ground as the Israeli Occupation Forces started shooting tear gas bombs. (For more details on Iraq Burin and the Har Bracha settlement, see an earlier MPT blog, August 22, 2009: http://mptinpalestine.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2009-08-28T05%3A33%3A00%2B03%3A00&max-results=10
This Palestinian woman spoke fiercely against the illegal Israeli occupation.

One of the group, a Palestinian woman, took the megaphone and passionately told the Israeli Occupation forces in English that the Palestinians people were there to protest that their land had been unjustly taken away and that the Israeli army had no right under international law to be there.

As some young people began to encroach more into the "off-limits"area (but Palestinian land) near the Israeli soldiers, more than 30 soldiers were visible. A total of about 30 tear gas bombs were volleyed by the Israeli soldiers at the nonviolent protesters. Protesters protected themselves by moving away from the tear gas smoke.

Tear gas bombs were fired by the Israeli army at unarmed nonviolent protestors.

The group moved quickly away from the direction the wind blew the tear gas.

However one young man who had moved ahead was hit in the head by a tear gas bomb and had to be evacuated. (It was later reported that he had a head wound requiring five stitches.) Two other individuals, including a member of the media, were overcome by tear gas and had to receive medical treatment.
Village youth carried the press agent to the ambulance for treatment from tear gas inhalation.

Ambulances were on alert for effects of the tear gas bombs - injuries or inhalation.
After about an hour, demonstration leaders called the group together and advised them to end the protest. The group slowly returned to Iraq Burin, vanquished again by overwhelming force, but satisfied that they had made a statement against the illegal occupation.

Having made a statement against the illegal occupation,
the marchers return to the village.

The Nablus fire truck came to put out the fire in the olive grove.
In the distance is the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Bracha.


Bil'in: Beseiged Village

Illegal Israeli settlements inside the Green Line [border] as seen from a Bil'in village roof.

Bil'in, a small village west of Ramallah, lost 65% of its farm land, mainly olive groves, to Israel for illegal Israeli settlements. There has been constant settlement construction in the area for about five years. Every Friday since 2004, the villagers have had nonviolent demonstrations against the confiscation of their land, the illegal apartheid wall [three rows of fencing, one electrified] and the construction of the illegal settlements.

The village recently filed a law suit against two Canadian companies who were building the Israeli settlements here. [www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3414]. This seems to have brought harsher treatment by the Israeli soldiers against the villagers.

An Israeli Occupation Forces tower provides surveillance to the area
near the settlements and the village.

This week MPTers joined other internationals, Israeli activists and Bil'in villagers in a night watch for possilbe Israeli Occupation Forces incursions into the village. Two days ago six Israeli military jeeps entered the village. Soldiers returned to Abdullah's home, searched and tear gassed the home and shot live ammunition into the air. Abdullah, a nonviolent resistance leader, was not there. The army also invaded the home of Mohammed Khatib, also a nonviolent resistance leader, who had been beaten the week before, but they were not disruptive perhaps because of the presence of internationals as well as Israeli peace activists. Soldiers presented documents written in Arabic to three homes demanding that certain men in the homes surrender to an Israeli prison.

The night MPTers did night watch, one group did a walking patrol, and two other groups watched from two different homes. MPTers with another international went to the roof of Abdullah's home. That night no incursions by Israeli soldiers occurred.
Watchers looked for the lights of the Israeli army jeeps.

Palestinians, Israeli peace activists, and internationals will continue the night watches. The Israeli Occupation Forces are intent on threatening, harassing and arresting Palestinians. Their intermittent actions continue so that few villagers have peaceful nights of sleep.

The Abu Rahme home is under constant surveillance and harassment by the Israeli army.


Night Raid in Bil'in

On Tuesday, September 15th, MPT was called to assist with a possible invasion of Abdullah Abu Rahme's home. Abdullah is a nonviolent resistance leader in the village of Bil'in.

For three months there have been frequent raids at the home of resistance leaders. These home invasions are carried out by commando-type soldiers of the Israeli Occupation Forces. They gain entrance by jeep or by foot and climb over the gates and walls of the village homes in the middle of the night.
Armed, masked and well equipped Israeli soldiers invade Palestinian homes.

Palestinian photographer [green vest] is at the scene.

Bil'in has lost sixty-five percent of its village land to Israel for settlement construction. A nonviolent demonstration at the apartheid wall in Bil'in has been taking place for five years. At 2:00 a.m., six internationals, including three MPTers, went to the home of a nonviolent resistance leader, Abdullah Abu Rahme, and found soldiers had already invaded the home and blocked any further entrance. When international presence was noticed, the Israeli commandos radioed for reinforcements.

Israeli occupying forces barred the gate.

From behind the gate, soldiers ransacking the home could be seen and heard through the windows. Two internationals and several Palestinians scaled the fence and tried to enter the home. Other Palestinians pounded the gate and demanded entrance. MPTers called through the gate rebuking the soldiers in the yard and near the gate.

Israeli soldiers forced entry into the home.

Palestinian scaled the gate.

Those who entered the yard were blocked from entry to the home. However, one Palestinian, Mohammed Khatib, slipped in the door when the soldiers were not blocking it.

An additional twelve soldiers arrived and continued with the invasion. Many soldiers mingled inside and outside the gate and in the street.

MPTer confronted one of the invading Israeli soldiers.

Suddenly two MPTers discovered that the next door home of Abdullah's brother was also being invaded. MPTers and other internationals followed the soldiers into the home to provide protective accompaniment to the parents and three small children.

Israeli squadron leader directs the invasion of the home
where small children are present.

Children listened as the soldiers confronted their parents.

Parents and children watched while soldiers searched their home.

The frightened children clung to their mother and father. Soldiers asked the MPTers to "babysit"the children while they ransacked this home. MPTers refused this request as the mother wanted to be with her children and have MPT go with the soldiers.

Four soldiers ordered the father to open the door to every room in the home where they searched for Abdullah. In the basement, the soldiers found Palestinian flags, posters and banners, including posters with the picture of Bassem, a young Palestinian who was killed by a tear-gas bomb in March 2009. These flags and banners, used during the village demonstrations at the apartheid wall, were confiscated by the soldiers.

Soldiers confiscated posters used during the weekly Bil'in demonstration.

MPTers and other internationals interacted with the soldiers with comments such as "You are violating international law!" "This is an illegal invasion." "I am embarrassed that US tax money is being spent like this." "Go home and go to bed."

One Israeli soldier said, "I know what I am doing is illegal." Another said, "This is Israel."

By 2:45 a.m., the invasion was coming to a close. Abdullah was not found, but the Israel army will continue to harass his family and invade his home and village looking for him.

At that time, Mohammed Khatib came out of the house badly beaten with head and abdominal injuries. He was transported by ambulance to the hospital in Ramallah.

Mohammed Khatib was beaten by Israeli soldiers.

The soldiers left in several jeeps. Internationals stayed in the street to be with the accumulating crowd of villagers.

Villagers gathered to discuss the night raid.

Bil'in: Mohammed Khatib beaten by Israeli Soldiers

Mohammed Khatib leaving the invaded house after being beaten by Israel soldiers.

Mohammed Khatib's face is one some readers will recognize because he visited the USA in the winter of 2007-2008. On September 11, 2009, Israeli Occupation Forces broke into his home, frightening his four children and his wife and arresting him.
[see op.ed http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090928/khatib]

His arrest is part of an Israeli effort to crush the growing Palestinian nonviolent movement opposing Israel's construction of illegal settlements and the illegal apartheid wall. In the small village of Bil'in more than 29 villagers have been arrested in the past three months. Some of these are children.

Mohammed was given an order by the Israeli military not to be in Bil'in his village on Fridays. The village of Bil'in has demonstrated every Friday for the past five years against the illegal apartheid wall which cut the village off from 65% of their farm land. This land was confiscated to build illegal Israeli settlements inside the Green Line.

Throughout the West Bank there is increased suppression of demonstrations and efforts to break the spirits of protest leaders because Israel realizes that the nonviolent struggle is spreading.

In the middle of the night, September 14-15, masked Israeli soldiers burst into the home of Abdulla Abu Rahme, a Bil'in nonviolence resistance leader, and ransacked his home. [See above blog.] Internationals, including MPTers, were outside the gate and door unable to gain entry, however, in a quick moment Mohammed was able to slip in the door. Inside Israeli soldiers beat him in the upper body and head, blackening his eyes. His cries could be heard outside the house. After the home invasion, when Mohammed left Abdulla's house there was fear of internal injuries, but ex-rays at a hospital in Ramallah showed no internal injuries.

Mohammed may have been physically beaten, but his spirit is not beaten down. He will continue his nonviolent efforts against the occupation.

Mohammed the day after the beating.


Burin: Construction Site Threatened by Settlers

An outpost to the illegal Israeli settlement of Har Bracha
[Click pictures to enlarge.]

Burin has illegal Israel settlements nearby on the northeast and south.
Yizhar lies to the south.

The village of Burin, located 3 miles west of Nablus, is situated between the two illegal Israel settlements of Har Bracha and Yizhar. This small village has suffered constant harassment by settlers who come into the village with rocks and guns. Often there are stone throwing exchanges between settler youth and village youth. At times the Israeli Occupation Forces come. Frequently they too harass the Palestinians and even arrest them when they are trying to defend their village against the settler invaders from up the hill.

International and Palestinians in olive grove over the construction site.

Internationals were requested to help protect a Palestinian home under construction.

Roof of the house under construction.

The two previous nights, the settlers burned the wooden forms for concrete around the building and the roof supports were blackened before fire trucks came to put out the fire. Three MPTers and three other internationals responded to the request and went to the olive grove above the construction site. After sundown they moved to a gravel area near the construction site and spent a cold night intermittenly sleeping and rising in response to loud noises or cries of "Settlers are coming!"

Some 18 to 20 young Palestinian men [shabab] gathered at the site in support of their friend, the owner. The built a bonfire, played loud music, danced the dubka [traditional dance] and enjoyed spirited conversation.

Pruning from olive trees provide a fire.

Dubka Dance

[No one that night had anything to drink except coffee and water, according to Muslim tradition.]
Their obvious presence alerted settlers that there was "security" for the construction site. Twice during the night, the shabab ran up the hill as they thought settlers were coming. None were found. At sun rise MPTers returned home.

This rocky site made an uncomfortable bed!

The owner of the house and the villagers know that the new house going up on the edge of the village will continue to be a target for settlers, but is the land where the owner, who is the father of five, must build.

Construction site.

So night after night, at least until the house is partly finished, young Palestinians will spend the night guarding the house. With forty percent unemployment they have no jobs.

Night raids will continue from the illegal Israeli settlers who have the protection of the Israeli army. Palestinians have little or no recourse to police or military protection. They creatively continue to try to protect their land and their livelihoods. The presence of internationals is an act of solidarity with the Palestinians and encouragement to them to continue their resistance in nonviolent ways.

During this same night, in the nearby village of Einabus 12 sheep in a farmer's pasture were killed and he was shot in the leg by the settlers when he tried to defend his sheep, his livelihood.


Peace Needs Help

Children of Huwwara: What is their future?

Three members of the MPT Fall Team recently arrived in the West Bank. Shortly after our arrival we had an encounter, in his home, with a tall, articulate Palestinian who was educated in the U. S., and spoke excellent English. After the customary round of strong coffee and some pleasant talk about his family (he has five children), the conversation turned to the political problems in this region.

Sadat (not his real name) spoke of the Quartet: the US, the EU, the UN and Russia. He said no solution for Palestine/Israel was possible without the strong support of all of them, but particularly of the US. He stated that under Obama’s leadership something could happen, but he feared the American President would be “too busy” with domestic affairs.

Israel’s recent decision to build 455 new houses in West Bank settlements was very disturbing to him. It was his opinion that, unless something was done within the next two years, the West Bank would be divided in two by settlements and that a two-state solution would be impossible. He saw hope if the American public strongly supports the initiative to stop further settlements and urges the President to take strong leadership within the Quartet to achieve a just solution for Palestine and Israel.