Monday, February 26, 2007
A new United Nations report has compared Israel's actions in the West Bank and Gaza to apartheid South Africa. A South African attorney named john Dugard wrote the report for the UN Human Rights Council. The 24-page report criticizes Israel for demolishing the homes of Palestinians; for restricting the movement of Palestinians; and for giving preferential treatment to Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Dugard said "Israel's laws and practices in the Occupied Palestinian territories certainly resemble aspects of apartheid." The Guardian newspaper reports Dugard's comments represents some of the most forceful criticism from the UN of Israel's 40-year occupation.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
(with added pictures!)
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Israeli soldiers demolished homes in three Palestinian villages near bypass road 317 on 14 February 2007. Starting in Imneizil at around 9:00 a.m., about forty Israeli soldiers with two bulldozers demolished one home, an animal pen and a stone bake-oven. At noon, the soldiers moved to Qawawis
where they demolished the homes of five families and one bake-oven, then on to Um Al-Kher where they demolished one home and damaged a wall of another home.
At Imneizil, several young children were in their home eating when the Israeli military arrived. The soldiers gave the family time to get out, but did not give them time to remove their personal belongings. The animal pen was demolished with a few animals inside; two lambs were injured. The Palestinian family began immediately to build a makeshift pen for the animals as the majority of the sheep were just returning from grazing in the fields.
In the village of Qawawis one of the demolished homes was over sixty-five years old, and sheltered two families. Photos of the families amid the rubble are in the CPT photo gallery
The Israeli military, in concert with Israeli settlers, has been trying to force the Palestinian residents of the south Hebron hills to leave their homes for years. Due to harassment from the nearby Israeli outposts several of the young families of Qawawis moved to a nearby town. When the Israeli army then forcibly evacuated the remaining families, a court ordered that the families could return to their homes. According to a lawyer representing the families, the Israeli army now claims that this court
ruling allows only the last inhabitants of Qawawis to return, not their children who earlier fled the assaults of the Israeli settlers.
"Our children need homes," said one villager. "What do they want us to do?"
The Israeli army reported, "Twenty illegal structures were destroyed after demolition orders were issued, and offers were made to the owners to pursue the available options before the planning organizations. The supervisory unit of the civil administration will continue to operate against illegal
building activity in the area, and to implement the steps mandated by law against this illegal activity." The Israeli military made no provisions for shelter for the families whose homes they demolished. The families asked the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide them with tents.
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions commented, "A building permit is unavailable there [in the south Hebron hills.]"
The preceding day three Israeli peace activists and two internationals, including CPTer Sally Hunsberger, joined approximately fifty Palestinians in working on their land near Imneizil. The Palestinian men, women and children planted 600 olive trees in fields that they had been afraid to walk
on for the past four years due to threats of settler violence. During the action, soldiers and settlers watched from a distance, but did not interfere with the tree planting.
The Israeli military has issued stop building orders to five Palestinian families living in the Khirbtkasah area of Hebron district. In the past, such orders have often been followed by demolition orders. Five extended families live in seventeen dwellings in Khirbtkasah, near the village of Idhna. The families, consisting of 235 people, already face severe hardship because their homes and land lie in a 'closed area' between Israel's Separation Wall and the Green Line.
Since Israel began construction of the Wall in 2002, observers have feared that the Israeli government would eventually forcibly remove thousands of Palestinians living near the wall from their homes. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that the wall adversely affects 250,000 Palestinians. Of those, 17,000 live in 'closed areas.' They cannot legally travel to Israel, or access any services there. The Israeli army also controls their access to markets, schools and hospitals in the occupied Palestinian West Bank through a gate in the wall. They are thus enclosed by a physical wall on one side and by an administrative one on the other.
The families in Khirbtkasah, who have legal documentation of ownership of the land dating from the time of the Ottoman rule, will appeal the stop building orders in an Israeli military court on 22 February 2007.
Please, e-mail or write to your embassy in Tel Aviv. Copy your Members of Parliament or Representatives and Senators. Urge them to send a clear message to the Israeli government that driving Palestinians from their land is a violation of international law and must stop.
SAMPLE TEXT FOR MESSAGE
"Please protest Israeli Military harassment Palestinians trapped between the Separation Wall and the Green Line.
Five families living in the Khirbtkasah area of Hebron district, near Idhna, will present an appeal petition in the Military Court on 22 February 2007. The families of Ahmad Shehdeh Hamed Natah, Isat Muhama Abu Sa'adum, Saley Ahmad Natah, Yosef Abdelkader Natah and Aref Muhamad Ahmad Abu-Sa'adin have legal documentation proving ownership of this land. Threats to displace these families are a violation of international law.
At present, the families farm their land, raising goats and sheep and growing wheat. The Israeli army controls the families' access to markets and other services because the area is between the Green Line and the Israeli Separation Wall. These restrictions of movement have already threatened their livelihoods.
I urge you to investigate these cases and send a clear message to the Israeli government that driving Palestinians from their homes is wrong and must stop.
[Your name and full address]
USA: Embassy in Tel Aviv -- US Embassy, 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv 63903,
Israel. Email: Mary Glantz, Human Rights, firstname.lastname@example.org
Or Michelle Schohn, email@example.com
President George W Bush, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC20500
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520
To contact your Senator go to
To contact your Representative go to http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/
For more information on land issues
in the Hebron district contact Abdul Hadi Hantash of the Palestinian Land
Defense Committee, phone 972 599 838 180; or Christian Peacemaker Teams in
Hebron, phone 97-22-222-8485
"Bulldozing Peace" Video from Alternative Focus
Portland Catholic Worker Dorothy Day House is beginning a dialog with our local CAT distribution point about CAT's involvement in demolishing Palestinian homes. This video is a look at the campaign we will be a part of. Check it out!
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Today I learned that that the words and art work of my friend Samih Abu Zakieh has finally made it to the world stage. 100 Doves for Peace in Palestine has been published in Canada! Those of you paying careful, and undue, attention to this blog may remember that I was involved in editing this lovely book while I was in Bethlehem this summer. I'm so excited that the world now has access to this wonderful story of determination, cooperation, hope, and peace.
100 Doves for Peace in Palestine includes all 100 of Samih's intricate drawings as well as the remarkable story behind. Samih Abu Zakieh is an artist living in Hebron who drew these doves while living under curfew. In this book, Samih shares his own hopes for a world in which children smile and the peace of Jerusalem is restored. Although Samih's doves were drawn under terrible circumstances - Samih and his fellow Hebronites spent most of the year trapped in their own houses under Israeli military curfew - Samih's book rings with hope.
I'm not sure if this addition is trilingual - Arabic, French, and English - or published just in French, but Samhi's drawings transcend language. Pick up a copy for yourself or request that your local library purchases one!
Image above copyright of Samhi Abu Zakieh. Kindly respect his ownership.