Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Opps...finally posting details on Musab's arrest and torture

I could have sworn that I had posted details about Musab's arrest, but I guess I didn't. Here it is:

On 7 January 2010, soldiers detained Musab Musa Raba’i after attacking him and members of his family as they were complying with the soldiers' order to move their flocks off their family-owned land.(See 8 January 2010 release, AT-TUWANI: Israeli soldiers attack and injure Palestinian shepherds and CPTers; arrest Musa Raba’i)

The same eight soldiers who arrested Raba’i and attacked his family took him to a military base at the nearby Suseya settlement. For four hours, soldiers struck him in the back, in the face, and slammed him into walls. The soldiers questioned him about his brothers. Raba’i refused to give any information and refused to speak Hebrew with the soldiers, which infuriated them. The soldiers told him that they would come to his house in the following days and beat or kill him and his brothers. They tried to force him to say that they were the best soldiers in the IDF and beat him when he would not. Raba’i told CPTers the soldiers tied his hands and feet, blindfolded him, and sat him on a chair. Raba’i put his head in his lap, in an attempt to protect his head and his genitals, and refused to lift it. He said that at one point, a soldier cocked his rifle and told him to lift his head or he would shoot him. Raba’i refused. When another soldier tried to bring him food and water, as the military is legally obligated to do in such situations, the soldiers who were torturing him swore at the soldier and told him to leave. The soldiers also refused to allow Raba’i to pray.

After four hours of this interrogation and torture, they took Raba’i to Israeli police station in Kiryat Arba settlement. The Israeli police told him that they usually offer detainees food and water, but were giving him nothing because they wanted to punish him. They said that if they ever saw his face again, they would kill him. After thirty minutes, the police tied his hands and feet, blindfolded him, drove him to a location unknown to him and threw him out of the jeep. Fearing that soldiers, police or settlers might see him, he hid in a bush until he saw his family's car.

Raba'i was able to call his family, who, accompanied by CPTers, found him and brought him home.

For photos of Raba'i’s injuries click here.

250,000 Palestinians are vulnerable to Israeli settler violence. Meet two of them.

The United Nations has warned if Israeli authorities dismantle settlement outposts, 250,000 Palestinians are vulnerable to settler violence, including Palestinians living in the South Hebron Hills. "The concern about the possible outbreak of waves of settler violence and their impact on the Palestinian population stems ... from the inadequate level of law enforcement by the Israeli authorities," says a recent UN OCHA report. "[T]he main concern is the frequent failure of the Israeli security forces to intervene and stop settler attacks in real time, including the failure to arrest suspected settlers on the spot."

Tarek and Miriam are two of these vulnerable people. They already face settler violence daily as they travel to and from school. Here is their description of what happened when settlers attacked them recently:

Tarek and Miriam can't go to school safely because the Israeli government premits Israeli settlers to continue living illegally in the West Bank even after there is overwheleming evidence of their criminal activity. According to the UN's recent report, "Among the main reasons behind this failure is the ambiguous message delivered by the Government of Israel and the IDF top officials to the security forces in the field regarding their authority and responsibility to enforce the law on Israeli settlers." But for Tarek and Miriam one thing is clear: they wont be able to go to school safely as long as Israeli settlers continue to live illegally in Havot Ma'on and Ma'on.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Left in the Dark: Video on the Ongoing Campaign to Bring Electricity to At-Tuwani

Take a look at this video and stay tuned for further updates about the ongoing efforts to bring electricity to At-Tuwani.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


This morning, I got up while the morning midst still hung in the air and accompanied our friend Jamal* as he and his sons plowed their land near Avigail settlement. Fancy terms aside, that meant sitting on the hillside, my video camera in hand, and hoping settlers would leave the farmers in peace. This was the third day that they had been plowing their land and so far neither Israeli settlers nor the the Israeli army had attacked or threatened the farmers or tried to stop the work. I didn’t know if the lack of violence should make me feel confident or worried that today would be the day.

“It’s amazing how those prickly bushes stay put, isn’t it?” said my teammate. She gestured towards one of the small zatar bushes that dot the hillside. We watched as Jamal’s sons ran the plow over the scrub. Sure enough, the bush didn’t move an inch. It stay rooted to the ground.

Yesterday, I visited the village of Susiya. A of the group for whom I was translating asked our host to explain what his land meant to him. “We eat from our land. We drink from our land. We live from our land,” he answered. “This is where our ancestors lived. Our land is very, very important to us.”

The Palestinian people of South Hebron Hills are like zatar bushes. Their roots run deep. Whatever the Israeli army or Israeli settlers may do to them, they plan to stay put.

*Name changed

Friday, January 08, 2010

B'tSelem Campaign Video: Reminds me of Yesterday here in Tuwani

Breaking News: Musab is home

Just wanted to let you know that Musab has been released, but was beaten while we was in Israeli custody. That's all I know right now. I'll give you more details when I have them.
Details of Israelis soldiers attack on the Raba'i family and arrest of Musab Raba'i:

This morning, Thursday 7 January, 2010, Israeli soldiers attacked and injured Palestinian shepherds from the Musa Raba’i family, as they grazed their sheep in Humra valley, near the village of At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills. The soldiers also attacked the two CPTers accompanying the shepherds and broke a video camera. Before leaving the area the soldiers arrested one of the shepherds, Musab Musa Raba’i.

At around 10:30am Palestinian shepherds were grazing their sheep on privately owned Palestinian land when they saw Israeli settlers observing them from the outpost of Havat Ma’on. A short time later an Israeli army jeep came to the area. After stopping to speak with one of the settlers, three Israeli soldiers approached the shepherds and ordered them to leave the area. The shepherds explained that it was their land, but agreed to move further down into the valley. The soldiers followed them and grabbed at one of the shepherds, so they all tried to quickly leave the area with their sheep. A second army jeep came to the area and a further three soldiers joined in the attack escalating the violence. Soldiers hit the shepherds with their rifle butts, pushed them and while some soldiers forcibly held them to the ground others kicked them.

Other members of the family came to the area, and the women tried to intervene, hoping to deescalate the situation. However, the women were also forcefully pushed to the ground. CPTers trying to video tape the violent attack were roughly pushed and a soldier grabbed at and broke one of the video cameras.

Other villagers came to the area and tried to calm the situation by talking with the soldiers, but the soldiers ignored all pleas for calm and instead fired percussion grenades and tear gas into the small group of women and children gathered nearby on the hillside.

Israeli police reported to the scene after receiving numerous calls from internationals, but arrived as the soldiers were leaving the area. The police told CPTers that there would be a military investigation into the actions of the soldiers.

During the incident a spokeperson from an Israeli Human Right Organization called the local Israeli Army Brigade Operations Room and the Israeli Army Coordination Office to find out what was happening. She told CPT “I called several time and they had no information and no idea that something was going on in At Tuwani.”

Additional information: At the time of writing Moussab Mussa Raba’i is still detained at Kiryat Arba police station. One elderly woman, Umm Juma’ Raba’i, and a young woman, Umm Ribhi Raba’i, who is 2 months pregnant, had to be taken to hospital, suffering from the effects of tear gas inhalation. Three of the shepherds, Kamaal Raba’i, Majde Raba’i and Juma’ Raba’i were hospitalized for their injuries, and a young boy, Ramze Jamaal Raba’i, had his tooth broken.
What We Can do: Pressure the US Consulate to Call for the release of Nonviolent Resistance Leaders

I just re-read my last post and it sounds very depressing. And I suppose in someways that's appropriate. There's no use pretending that Palestinians are treated justly in the Israeli military court system. But there is something that we can do to get our friend Musab out of prison. It's not much, but it's well worth trying.

International activists have launch a campaign to pressure the US Consult General Daniel Rubinstein to ask Israel to release nonviolent resistance leaders that have been arrested and jailed over the last months. You can send a letter from here, editing it to include information about Musab. Here's my suggested text, but if you can make yours sound more personal, that's all the better.

On January 6, 2010, the Israeli military arrested Musab Musa Raba'i, a Palestinian participant in the grassroots nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Mr. Raba'i was grazing his sheep on his land when Israeli soldiers attacked him and his family. Soldiers hit the shepherds with their rifle butts, pushed them and while some soldiers forcibly held them to the ground, others kicked them. During the attack, soldiers arrested Mr. Raba'i.

Mr. Raba'i joins many other leaders of Palestinian grassroots nonviolence in Israeli jails, including Jamal Juma', who was arrested without charge on December 16th, 2009; Mohammad Othman, who was arrested on September 22, 2009 while returning home from addressing the Norwegian government pension fund about the human rights violations of the Israeli company Elbit, and who has now been held without charge for more than 100 days; and Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a leader of the weekly nonviolent protests against the Apartheid Wall in Bil’in who was arrested in his home in the early morning hours of December 10, 2009—International Human Rights Day.

On December 14, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a major speech on human rights policy at Georgetown University, pledging the Obama Administration to hold itself accountable to universal human rights standards. In this speech, Secretary Clinton stated the following:

“By holding ourselves accountable, we reinforce our moral authority to demand that all governments adhere to obligations under international law; among them, not to torture, arbitrarily detain and persecute dissenters, or engage in political killings. Our government and the international community must counter the pretensions of those who deny or abdicate their responsibilities and hold violators to account.”

Israel’s arbitrary detention and persecution of dissenters such as Mr. Othman, Mr. Abu Rahmah, and Mr. Juma', and Mr. Raba'i —Palestinians who are participating a nonviolent movement of protest against Israeli occupation and violations of human rights—stand as a crucial test of whether the Obama Administration is truly dedicated to the human rights of political dissenters and nonviolent actors.

The imprisonment of Palestinian grassroots leaders is part of an active campaign by the Israeli government and military to quash nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation. I urge you to demand the release of these and other Palestinian prisoners who are being held for no other reason than their ongoing nonviolent activity against Israel's violations of human rights, international law, and equality for all.
Soldiers attack Palestinians in At-Tuwani, Arrest One

Yesterday in At-Tuwani, after they consulted with a settler, soldiers attacked Palestinians grazing their sheep. When members of the shepherd’s family came to the scene, soldiers attacked them as well, pushing Palestinians, including an elderly woman, to the ground. They smashed a video camera carried by a college of mine who was recording the attack. In the end, soldiers arrested one of the shepherds, a very dear friend of mine.

I know all too well how it feels to have my friends locked away, to wonder what might be happening to them in jail, to not know when they will come home. It feels like drowning, like knowing you simply must up for air.

But as familiar as this feeling is, I don’t know what to say about it. There is no way to believe that my friend will be treated justly. He is locked away in the jail of the occupying power and he’ll leave only when the Israeli authorities decide to let him go. There is no one to whom we can plead. We wont even be allowed to attend his trial.

Thousands of Palestinians are suffering in Israeli prisons. Today my friend became one of them. And I just want him to be able to come home.