Bil’in, Occupied Palestine – On October 21st, Human Rights Defender Abdallah Abu Rahma was found guilty by an Israeli military court of “disturbing a soldier”.
“Demonstrating against the occupation cannot be a criminal offence. Finding Abdallah guilty only shows that the [Israeli] military force is a tool to perpetuate the occupation.” Stated Gabi Lasky, lawyer of Abdallah Abu Rahma, to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).
Abdallah spoke to the ISM about his recent conviction. “Yesterday the military court ruled that I was guilty, showing once again that they stand on the side of the occupation, and not that of truth and justice.
I was arrested on the 13th of May 2012 in front of Ofer Military prison at a demonstration commemorating the Nakba and in solidarity with the prisoners, many of whom were on hunger strike. I was imprisoned in Ofer for 16 months a year earlier, for my role in the non-violent demonstrations in my village, Bil’in, against the Apartheid wall and settlements built on our land.
This time when I was arrested I was held for a few hours and released on bail, I was not summoned to court until the beginning of 2013, following the success of the popular committees in the construction of the Palestinians villages Bab Al Shams and Bab Al Manatir.”
Abdallah Abu Rahmah is the coordinator of the Bil’in popular committee, which began popular demonstrations against the Apartheid wall and settlements in January 2005. The route of the Apartheid wall originally planned to separate the village form 50% of its agricultural land. As a result of the village’s continued popular struggle, the route was changed and 25% of the village land was effectively annexed by the wall to the illegal settlement of Modiin Elite.
Hundreds of protesters have been arrested and injured by Israeli forces in Bil’in since the popular struggle in the village began. In 2009 during a demonstration, Bassam Abu Rahmah was shot directly in the chest with a high velocity tear-gas projectile, dying of his wounds minutes later. On Januray 1st 2011, Jawaher Abu Rahmah died of poisoning after inhaling excessive amounts of tear gas during the weekly demonstration the previous day.
|This photo was taken in a supermarket in Gilo – an illegal Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem – by an activist who documented the sale of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the settlements of Gilo (pop. 28,980), Pisgat Ze’ev (pop. 39,748) and Ma’ale Adumim (pop. 35,673), and in the industrial park of Mishor Edomim, which services Ma’ale Adumim.|
Ben & Jerry’s Caters to Illegal Israeli Settlements
In August, 2011, an Israeli Jewish activist working with us contacted Ben & Jerry’s factory in Israel, by e-mail and telephone, and confirmed that the company delivers ice cream to Israeli settlements in the occupied territory. Here is an e-mail communication, translated into English, between an employee at the factory and the Israeli activist, discussing arrangements for an ice cream cart to travel to the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim:
B&J Employee: Thanks for writing. Our ice cream cart comes with 5 flavors to choose from, glasses, wafers, ice cream toppings, 2 stewards and all accessories. The cost for 250 people (free distribution); 3,500 [NIS (Israeli Shekels), or $919 US] including VAT. Attached is a list of flavors. I’ll be happy to answer any questions.
Activist: Is there an extra cost that relates to the distance of your factory to the location of the party? i.e., is there an extra cost because the event is held in Ma’ale Adumin? I’m sorry about the need for detail but it’s necessary for our accounting department.
B&J Employee: Yes, the cost of transportation is 250 [NIS (Israeli Shekels), $65 US]. This is because we come from Be’er Tuvia (near Kiryat Malachi) to Ma’ale Adumim.
Israeli Settlements are Illegal Under International Law
Israel’s settlements in the Palestinian Territory violate Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which declares that “the Occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” The commentary to the Convention states that this provision was intended “to prevent a practice adopted during the Second World War by certain powers, which transferred portions of their own population to occupied territory for political and racial reasons or in order, as they claimed, to colonize those territory. Such transfers worsened the economic situation of the native population and endangered their separate existence as a race.”
Transfer of settlers to occupied territory by an occupying power is also an international war crime under Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Moreover, the UN Security Council and General Assembly, the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and most legal scholars have concluded that Israel’s settlements in the oPt contravene international law. The International Court of Justice declared in a 2004 decision that “the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”
Ben & Jerry’s business in illegal Israeli settlements also violates its obligations under the U.N.’s “Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises,” which asserts that corporations “shall not engage in nor benefit from war crimes, [or] crimes against humanity…” nor take actions that obstruct or impede economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.
[Citations for the references above are in Our Report on Ben & Jerry’s business practices in the occupied Palestinian Territory.]
|The Israeli supermarket chain Shufersal distributes Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at stores both in Israel and in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian Territory.
The map at left, with dots denoting the locations of their stores, was displayed in their store in Mishor Adumim (an industrial zone that services one of Israel’s largest settlements, Ma’ale Adumim). Notice that it depicts Israel and occupied Palestine as one state. Palestinians under occupation are not allowed to enter most Israeli settlements, so the supermarkets in those places only sell Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to Jewish settlers.
Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel Calls on Ben & Jerry’s to:
Until Israel ends its occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands in compliance with international law:
- End the marketing, catering and sales of Ben & Jerry’s products in Israel and Jewish-only settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
- Stop manufacturing ice cream in Israel.
- Issue a statement (a) calling on Israel to end its occupation and settlement enterprise and (b) appealing directly to other socially responsible companies to do likewise and to cease business operations in Israel and its illegal settlements.
Click here to send a message to
Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in Vermont.
Tell Ben & Jerry’s that its complicity in Israel’s military occupation and illegal settlements is wrong and must stop!
Boycott Divestment & Sanctions:
In Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel’s opposition to Ben & Jerry’s business practices in Israel and occupied Palestine is motivated by the grave human rights abuses being committed by the State of Israel. We are are also aware that in 2005 Palestinian civil society called for an international campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with three rights codified in international law.
- End Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle its separation wall;
- Recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
- Respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in United Nations Resolution 194.
|Ben & Jerry’s CEO, Jostein Solheim, said in an interview:
“My mantra that I’ve repeated a hundred times since starting at Ben & Jerry’s is: ‘Change is a wonderful thing,’…. The world needs dramatic change to address the social and environmental challenges we are facing. Values led businesses can play a critical role in driving that positive change. We need to lead by example, and prove to the world that this is the best way to run a business. Historically, this company has been and must continue to be a pioneer to continually challenge how business can be a force for good and address inequities inherent in global business.”
Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel agrees: The world – including Israel-Palestine
Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activity, told Ma’an that a group of settlers broke the doors and windows of the Abu Baker al-Saddiq mosque and vandalized the interior with racist slogans.
The settlers then set fire to part of the mosque before being chased away by Palestinian villagers.
Locals managed to extinguish the fire and prevent it from burning down the whole mosque.
In Jan. 2014, settlers torched a mosque in Salfit and sprayed “Arabs out!” on the building.
Settlers in the occupied West Bank attack Palestinians and their property routinely yet rarely face prosecution by Israeli authorities.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Today at the Salaymeh checkpoint in al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli soldiers fired four long-range tear gas canisters, and threw three stun grenades, all towards children leaving school to walk home.
One tear gas grenade was also thrown directly at ISM activists documenting the military violence.
Israeli soldiers were positioned very close to the school, due to the new position of the concrete blocks that designate the end of H2 (the area of Hebron under full Israeli military control).
Yesterday they were moved further away from Salaymeh checkpoint to further encroach upon Palestinian territory.
Two Israeli soldiers also occupied the top floor of a Palestinian apartment block and positioned themselves above the schoolchildren.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Today in al-Khalil (Hebron), as part of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, thousands of settlers and Zionist tourists descended upon the city. The Israeli military presence in Hebron, which is already a large and oppressive part of everyday life, greatly increased.
Hebron is the only city in the West Bank where there is an illegal settlement in the heart of the city. It is split into H1 and H2, H1 under Palestinian Authority Control, and H2 under Israeli military control.
This morning, in both the Salaymeh and Qeitun neighbourhoods, the checkpoints designating the end of H1 were extended further into Palestinian territory.
Israeli soldiers drove between Salaymeh and Qeitun, entering houses, hiding in alleyways, and aiming their guns at passing schoolchildren and other people in the area.
In the afternoon, the army presence was just as heavy, with children walking home past heavily armed soldiers.
In H1, Bab al-Zawiye (the centre of Hebron), Israeli forces partially closed the road to allow settlers and Zionist tourists through the checkpoint to visit a religious holy site.
They were escorted by approximately 45 Israeli border police and soldiers. Several Palestinian shops were forced to close for several hours, to allow the setters and tourists to pass.
The Ibrahimi mosque and nearby checkpoint was also closed today, with all Palestinian shops in the area forced to close with it.
Local sources confirmed that Palestinian farmers confronted the settlers and prevented further damage to their olive groves located near Tafuh settlement.
Israeli settlers and forces have daily carried out systematic attacks against olive groves especially during olive harvest in order to prevent the farmers from picking their own fruits.
Meanwhile, dozens of Israeli settlers stormed Friday morning Suleiman pools south of Bethlehem in the West Bank, local and media sources said.
The sources pointed out that the settlers performed Talmudic rituals in the ancient pools area in total provocation to the local residents.
WAFA news agency quoted a Palestinian security source as saying that 70 settlers from Efrat settlement stormed the pools area under heavy Israeli forces protection and started performing their rituals.
Israeli settlers used to storm Suleiman pools in an attempt to impose a status quo in the area.
The pools, which were built by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman, are located between Artas and Al-Khader villages south of Bethlehem.
The Bedouin Jahalin Tribe had a historic existence roaming the expansive lands in the Naqab Desert which ended abruptly when the State of Israel was declared. Most joined the thousands of Palestinians fleeing, and the group was splintered and scattered.
Many of the Jahalin continued to herd their livestock between Ramallah, Wadi Qelt and Jerusalem until large swathes of land were confiscated to make way for mushrooming Israeli settlements following the beginning of the occupation of the West Bank. Some squeezed into the area off the Jerusalem-Jericho highway, which, after the Oslo Accords fell under complete Israeli military and administrative control. In order to expand the vast Ma’ale Adumim settlement, Israel razed some of the homes and packed their inhabitants away on trucks to live in containers beside a rubbish dump. The separation wall was then built severing the remaining community from East Jerusalem, the main market where they sold the milk and cheese made from their remaining livestock.
The semi-nomadic lifestyle of the Bedouin, hinged on land and livestock, has been continuously chipped away by Israel’s policy of demolitions and displacements. Now, sixty years after the Jahalin were first made refugees, they face being uprooted again as Israel advances plans to “relocate” 12,500 Bedouins from where they reside in the Jerusalem periphery. The plan is reminiscent of the Prawer Plan, the bill approved by the Israeli Knesset in 2011 to relocate some 40,000 Bedouin-Palestinian citizens of Israel from ‘unrecognised villages‘ into townships which was eventually frozen following mass protests within Israel.
This time the Israeli administration has said they won’t put the Jahalin on trucks as they did during the mass eviction in 1997, but they will take immediate action to demolish their residences and agricultural buildings, “because there is an alternative here”. The alternative referred to is a purpose built township north of the West Bank city of Jericho, where they will be lumped with two other tribes- against Bedouin customs- each family allotted a housing plot and a small area unsuitable for the rearing of livestock. A total of 23 communities will be herded into the area.
Jameel Hamadin, a Bedouin facing eviction said: “These areas do not suit our lifestyle or our traditions or our culture.” He added in his address to the European Union: “If they deport us to the city, our lifestyle will end.” The communities previously evicted were housed in Al- Jabal village on expropriated Palestinian land. The United National Committee of Economic Social and Cultural Rights “deplored the manner” those relocated were “housed in steel container vans in a garbage dump in Abu Dis in Subhuman conditions”. Their traditional lifestyle was destroyed by the move.
Israel has justified its expulsion plan through the rhetoric of improving Bedouin living conditions by allowing them to live in places with “suitable infrastructure” and as an appropriate response to the “dynamic changes” that Bedouin society is undergoing as it moves from an agricultural society “to a modern society that earns its living by commerce, services, technical trade and more”.
For the Bedouin, who claim they were not consulted about the plans, this is just another attempt to remove them from strategic land, one that they fear will destroy their traditional way of life for good. Abu Suleiman, head of the Jerusalem Bedouins’ Community Cooperative, asks “why do they not let us build here if they want to improve our living conditions”.
Residing in tin shack like structures perched on the unforgiving hillside terrain; many overlook the continuous construction in Ma’ale Adumim settlement. The homes in the settlement have running water, power, their occupants have access to medical services and top notch schools for their children. In contrast Israel does not allow the Bedouin community to gain access to running water and electricity, and prevents the building of permanent structures and even the tin shacks, which are no match for Israeli bulldozers, stand with the daily threat of demolition.
Under the contentious E1 plan the area of land that the Bedouin currently call home is to be turned into an urban block connecting Ma’ale Adumin and Jerusalem. The plan will divide the West Bank into two and in the process render the chances of a viable Palestinian state dead, and with it the future of a two state solution.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency has urged the plan to be halted, with Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner General of UNRWA stating it: “gives rise to concerns that it amounts to a ‘forcible transfer’ in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” He added: “The humanitarian impact of the planned transfer could be immense”.
This process is already in motion. According to analysis by the Association of International Development Agencies of data compiled by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the number of demolitions in the first eight months of 2014 was higher than in any comparable period in the last five years, as was the number of people who lost their homes as a result.
The Bedouin have a hard fight to remain on their land, a fight that has lasted decades long. For the traditional rural communities this is the next step in Israel’s long history of policies targeting their existence.
The Ir David Foundation, known as Elad, has published an announcement on social media networks in search of Jewish settlers to live in Palestinian homes that it has captured in the town of Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem, in return for a financial reward estimated at 500 shekels ($136) per day, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Elad is known for its Judaisation projects of the city of Jerusalem. According to the association’s advertisement, an amount of 500 shekels will be given to each settler who agrees to live in one of the homes that have been seized, with the settler only required to “keep his gun loaded and ready to fire at any time”, according to the declaration.
Haaretz quoted one of the advertisements as follows: “We are looking for people who can stay in the apartments and watch them until families move into them. The work will probably take ten to 30 days (perhaps even more). The daily wage is 500 shekels gross. The workers will stay in the apartments and guard them until they are inhabited by families. Only suitable applicants will be accepted. Please pass this on to friends.”
The following day, the newspaper reported that when asked about the details on what the job entails, an Elad official said: “You’re not the security guard … There are security guards and police when needed, and there’s someone to supervise you and call to make sure everything is all right all the time. We don’t need you as a security guard. As far as we’re concerned, you live in the house, but it’s better if you have a weapon.”
The official also stressed that Elad would be the employer. “I think the payment would be by bank transfer,” she said. “You come and fill out forms.”
With the assistance of armed guards, the Foundation seized, overnight on Monday, ten individual buildings that include 23 apartments in the Wadi Hilweh neighbourhood of Silwan, located just south of Al-Aqsa Mosque, claiming that the settlers now own them.
Silwan has been witnessing continuous and tense confrontations with Israeli occupation forces ever since the seizure of the Palestinian homes, with Israeli police and armed forces present in the streets around the clock to protect the settlers.
Palestinian medical sources in Bethlehem said that a child was seriously injured, on Tuesday evening, when an explosive device, dropped by the Israeli army during training, detonated near him as he was herding the family sheep.
The sources said Malek Abu Dayya, 12 years of age, was injured in the al-Manshiyya area in Teqoua’ town, southeast of Bethlehem.
He was first moved to a local clinic before he was moved to a hospital in Bethlehem due to the severity of his injuries.
The area is frequently used by Palestinian shepherds for grazing, while the army largely uses it, as well as other areas in the West Bank, for military drills using explosives and live ammunition.
There have been dozens of similar incidents, many leading to fatalities, mainly in the Plains area of the Jordan Valley, where the many military bases are located, and the soldiers use the surrounding areas for training.
Many Bedouin communities have been repeatedly displaced for settlement activities, and for the army to build bases, and conduct live fire training.
NABLUS – Israeli military forces on Monday destroyed an electricity network in the Nablus village of Aqraba, a Palestinian official said.
Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement activity, told Ma’an that Israeli military bulldozers raided the Khirbet al-Tawil area of the village and demolished the main power line established in 2004.
Israeli soldiers destroyed over 80 electricity pylons and wires, he added.
Israel is using demolitions to “pressure residents to leave their houses for the sake of nearby settlements.”
In August, Israeli forces demolished four houses in the al-Tawil neighborhood, some of which were over 100 years old.
The al-Tawil neighborhood is on the outskirts of Aqraba and locals say Israeli forces have targeted several properties in the area under the pretext that they were built without a permit.
Clashes erupted Wednesday between Palestinians and Israeli forces in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem after dozens of Zionist settlers– led by two government ministers and backed by Israeli police – forced their way into the holy compound, a Palestinian guard of the complex said.
“Ninety-three settlers protected by 40 Israeli police and special forces forced their way into the holy compound through the Al-Magharbeh Gate,” the guard, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency.
The Zionist settlers were accompanied by Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel and Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, in addition to several Jewish extremist leaders.
In response, some 300 Palestinian Muslim worshipers converged near the Al-Qibali and the Dome of the Rock mosques to protest the intrusion, the guard said.
In a bid to disperse angry Palestinians, Israeli forces fired rubber bullets and teargas, he added.
“At least 16 Palestinians were injured by rubber bullets, including one in the head and two in the abdomen. Around 45 others suffered teargas inhalation,” the guard said.
According to Sheikh Omar al-Qiswani, the Palestinian director of the Al-Aqsa complex, the two ministers took a tour of the compound’s courtyards, passing by the Dome of the Rock, Qibali and Marawani mosques before leaving through the Al-Rahmeh Gate.
Israeli security forces withdrew from the compound after the clashes, the guard said.
“Israeli police and army troops pulled out of the compound after attacking Palestinian worshipers,” he said.
Israeli police have stepped up security at the gates of the Al-Aqsa complex for the second day in a row, barring a number of Palestinians from entering the compound, al-Qiswani said.
“Except for the Al-Magharbeh Gate, where [Jewish] settlers regularly force their way into the complex, the Israeli police closed all other gates with chains,” al-Qiswani said.
Jews will celebrate “Rosh Hashanah” on Wednesday, which will mark the first day of the new Jewish year of 5775.
Groups of extremists called for marking the holiday by storming the Al-Aqsa compound and performing Talmudic rituals.
In recent months, groups of extremist Zionist settlers, often accompanied by Israeli security forces, have stepped up their intrusions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, the world’s third holiest site for Muslims.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two prominent Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming Jerusalem as the unified capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli leader Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the “Second Intifada” – a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed and injured.
As-Sawia, Occupied Palestine – On the evening of the 10th September, unknown assailants broke into the As-Sawia Secondary School, forced open the door and set the school on fire. Bedouins living close to the school saw the fire and alerted the fire brigade. By the time it was put out, the principal’s office and teachers’ rooms were completely burned.
“We lost six computers, four printers, all the teachers’ books and materials, but most of all, the administrative documents and files of the students and about the school situation over the past years. The whole damage is around 140,000 shekels,” the principle Adnan Hussein told ISM. The school was closed for three days after the arson attack.
As in many schools in the occupied West Bank, the students and staff of As-Sawia Secondary School suffer from constant settler and military harassment. Three days before the arson, armed settlers who called themselves “security” from one of the nearby hilltop illegal settlements stood at the school gates. When the principal spoke to them, they claimed that children threw stones at the settler cars on their way to school.
The school is located by Road 90, which was paved in 1944 and runs across the West Bank. The road is used by Palestinians and by illegal settlers. The children have to walk alongside it to get to school in the mornings and to go home after school.
“Our school is suffering both for the settlers and the army,” explained Hussein. “We constantly have the army at our gates, checking ID’s and bothering children”
On the 3 September, armed settlers stopped in a car marked as the illegal settlement Eli’s “security” at the gate of the school. One of the settlers came out of the car, jumped over the fence and started following some of the children, who have finished their classes and were leaving for home. The principle approached the settler and told him that he is not allowed in the school with weapons, and the settler responded that he was looking for a child who threw stones and shouted at the settler car earlier.
After agreeing to move outside the school gate at the head teacher’s insistence, the settler with the machine gun was joined by another settler and they insisted that the boy in the red T-shirt was brought to them. They also wanted the head teacher’s mobile phone number so that they could call him in the future.
“I had a bad feeling that something horrible will happen and that they will start shooting,” related Hussien. “I left some teachers with the settlers and with other teachers went to escort children through another gate and send them home, when three soldiers appeared. I went to speak to them. I told them that they cannot be in school with their weapons and in their uniforms but they insisted that they wanted to speak to a boy in the red T-shirt for 10 minutes.”
The principal and staff stood between the soldiers and settlers and the pupils to protect them while they were leaving the school. By this time worried parents were at the gate and they took the children away.
Throughout 2013, the army entered the As-Sawiya 51 times and children and the staff had to put up with teargas, sound bombs and arrests of pupils.
Hussein explained, “It is a constant worry that the settlers and the army will come. It is hard enough to control 350 teenagers even in the countries where there is no occupation. It is not easy and we do what we can to try to do our best keep the education for our children going. We have no problem with Jewish people and I can say that many of them are nice and honest, but settlers are generally dangerous people. I know that people should be able to choose where they live, but that does not include taking someone else’s land without permission.”