Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Face of the Israeli Occupation - Life in Beit Ommar (4 videos)

Beit Ommar Villagers Denied Access to Their Farmland, West Bank, Palestine, 12/25/10:

video & photos
by dave id
Monday Jan 3rd, 2011 11:11 PM

On December 25th, 2010, the weekly Beit Ommar demonstration against the Karmei Tsur settlement was once again met by Israeli Defense Force soldiers just outside of the village. This time villagers had marched down an unpaved road through Beit Ommar farmlands, in the direction of the settlement, until the military stopped their progress. As is usual, a declaration of a "closed military zone" was made and a 3-minute dispersal order was issued, but because there were no Israeli activists such as Anarchists Against the Wall or international solidarity activists present, tear gas was not dispersed and a discussion between villagers and soldiers ensued. Villagers demanded the right to tend to their orchards and fields. All but one man and a small boy were denied access to their lands, and they only with no tools for about 10-15 minutes. One Arabic-speaking soldier attempted to shake hands with villagers but was snubbed because the villagers refuse to shake hands with armed soldiers. That soldier later offered villagers a phone number they could call the next day to arrange for permission to tend to their lands, but the villagers were skeptical of such an offer and generally resent having to request permission to access their own lands when Karmei Tsur settlers have free reign to move about on land that Beit Ommar villagers once freely farmed before the settlement was built. While the soldiers on the unpaved road were attempting to appear peaceable, other soldiers in a military vehicle rolled into the edge of town just behind the demonstration, a move intended to provoke a confrontation with village youth. Near the end of the discussion between villagers and soldiers, one Israeli soldier approached me personally, seeking to identify me and requesting to see my passport. Another man in plain clothes from the army (or the secret police) stepped in to photograph me at close range. I identified myself as a journalist but it didn't matter. As per Israeli military policy intended to disrupt documentation of the occupation and to keep separate Palestinians and non-Palestinians -- via "closed military zones" declared at will anytime and anywhere, walled-off settlements, apartheid Israeli-only roads, countless checkpoints, and so forth -- I was threatened with arrest if I did not immediately return to the village.

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The Face of the Israeli Occupation in Beit Ommar, West Bank, Palestine, 12/25/10: video : Indybay:

"On December 25th, 2010, after the weekly peaceful demonstration against the Karmei Tsur settlement, Beit Ommar villagers speak about the demonstrations and the contradiction between the concilliatory words of one Israeli Defense Forces soldier, who offered to shake hands with villagers at that day's protest, versus the hostility Beit Ommar residents regularly endure from soldiers, as was the case on this very day just hundreds of yards from the demonstration in Beit Ommar. They speak of the release of massive amounts of tear gas near a wedding party two days earlier and the constant harassment and provocations of villagers by the IDF, often for no apparent reason other than the 'training' of new soldiers who come into the area. Military commanders are allowed free reign by the Israeli government to do as they please, from making nighttime arrests to even killing people. Seventy percent of the income of the village is dependent upon agriculture, but due to the presence of settlements in the area, villagers are denied access to all of their lands. In fact, settlements across Palestine have been expanding since the 10-month settlement freeze ended in September, with 13,000 new units built in the West Bank. Karmei Tsur alone has added fourty-two new housing units in just two months. The Palestine Solidarity Project opposes the Israeli occupation through non-violent direct action such as this day's protest and welcomes Israelis and internationals of conscience to come participate and bear witness to the occupation of Palestinian lands.

In this first video, on the walk back from the demonstration, Mousa Abu Maria of the Palestine Solidarity Project explains what happened in the discussions with the soldiers this day and how it contradicts the real face of the occupation:

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Shortly after demo, IDF releases tear gas to mask their exit from house they have occupied
by dave id Wednesday Jan 5th, 2011 10:13 AM

"(video 4:35)

The Palestinian family who lives in this house is pushed to one room when the IDF repeatedly occupies their home. &

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Woman from wedding party that was gassed on Dec. 23rd, and Jonas explains life in occupied Beit Ommar
by dave id Wednesday Jan 5th, 2011 10:13 AM

(video 15:15)

Jonas has three hundred plum trees inside the Karmei Tsur fence that he cannot access without first securing special permission from Israeli authorities. Rather than collaborate with the occupiers, when settlers can freely walk all around his orchard at any time, he refuses to seek such permission and has not visited his land since 2003.

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