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July, 2010:

OCHA: Israeli Authorities Demolished 17 Structures Last Week

Read original article on the Palestinian News Agency website.

JERUSALEM, July 31, 2010 (WAFA)- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs  (OCHA)- occupied Palestinian territory, said that Israeli authorities demolished 17 structures in Area C of the West Bank this week on grounds of “lack of permit.”

In its weekly Protection of Civilians report, OCHA said that ten structures were located in Al Lubban Al Gharbi village (Ramallah governorate), and included two newly built houses (not yet inhabited), two animal shelters, a stand for selling vegetables, a car repair workshop and a car wash.

OCHA added that eight families (80 members including 38 children) reported losing their primary source of income or their entire life savings. Of the remaining structures demolished, two (a room and an animal shelter) were located in the village of Bani Na’eim (Hebron governorate) and five (fruit and vegetable stalls) near Al Jalama village (Jenin governorate), affecting 14 people. Five houses and one animal shelter in the town of Idhna (Hebron governorate) and another seven animal shelters in Beit Nuba village (Ramallah governorate) were issued stop-work orders.

This week’s demolition of structures follows the demolition of 86 structures in Area C last week in the Jordan Valley and southern West Bank.

The spate of demolitions raises concerns over whether Israeli authorities could further escalate demolitions throughout Area C, particularly following a commitment to that effect given by the Israeli Civil Administration to the Israeli High Court of Justice, and recently reported in the Israeli media. According to official Israeli figures, there are more than 3,000 outstanding demolition orders throughout Area C.

OCHA continued on saying that currently, it is nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits to maintain, repair or construct homes, animal shelters or necessary infrastructure in Area C. Since the beginning of 2010, Israeli authorities have demolished 199 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C, (more than half of which were demolished in July) and displaced 242 people. In comparison, 182 structures were demolished and 319 persons displaced in the equivalent period in 2009.

Also  this  week,  the  Jerusalem  Municipality  demolished  three  plant  nurseries,  a  shop  for  selling construction materials, and a car wash in an area of Hizma village included within the unilaterally-declared municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. A total of 65 people, including 49 children, were affected, the report continued.

Israeli forces killed one Palestinian and injured ten others this week, including five children. Eight Palestinians and two members of the Israeli forces have been killed in the context of the Palestinian- Israeli conflict so far this year, compared to 14 Palestinians and two Israeli military force members killed in the equivalent period in 2009.

OCHA added that, this week, Israeli forces wounded four foreign nationals and one Israeli activist in weekly protests against the construction of the Barrier in the villages of Bil’in (Ramallah governorate) and Al Ma’sara (Bethlehem governorate); against the access restrictions to agricultural land near the settlement of Karmei Zur (Hebron governorate); and against the ban on Palestinian travel on the main commercial street in H2 area of Hebron City.

Israeli forces conducted 82 search and arrest operations inside Palestinian towns and villages compared to a weekly average of 99 operations since the beginning of 2010.

Settler violence witnessed a marked escalation this week, particularly in the northernWest Bank. OCHA documented 12 incidents involving Israeli settlers that resulted in either Palestinian injuries or damage to Palestinian property. A total of 161 such incidents have taken place in 2010 to date, resulting in one Palestinian child killed, and 60 other Palestinians injured. The same period last year witnessed approximately half that figure. A number of incidents involving prevention of access, intimidation and trespassing by Israeli settlers were also reported during the week. According to Palestinian media source, four settlers were injured during clashes between Palestinians and settlers in the village of ‘Iraq Burin (Nablus governorate), OCHA went on.

Five of this week’s incidents reportedly occurred in the context of the “price tag” strategy, where Israeli settlers retaliated for the demolition of two structures by the Israeli Civil Administration in an outpost near Bracha settlement (Nablus). In one incident, one Palestinian from Burin village was wounded in clashes with Israeli settlers after the latter set fire to agricultural land and damaged an area of approximately 2,000 dunums (estimated by Palestinian sources) planted with olive trees and vegetables. In a separate incident in the same area, settlers set fire to a few hundreds of dunums of Palestinian fields and stoned Palestinian-plated vehicles causing minor damage. In addition, settlers from the Elon Moreh settlement (Nablus governorate) installed caravans on Palestinian agricultural land in Deir al Hatab, causing damage to the land planted with wheat and legumes.

In southern Hebron, one man from the hamlet of Khirbet Bir al ‘Idd was injured by Israeli settlers who physically assaulted him while en route to a water well nearby. In 1999-2000, some 20 families residing in this community were forced to evacuate their homes and stay with relatives, following repeated attacks from settlers. Last year, residents returned to their homes after an agreement was reached between the residents and the Israeli army mediated through an Israeli human rights organization, OCHA added.

According to the local council of Safa village (Ramallah governorate), tens of dunums of land belonging to the village, partly planted with olive trees, were burnt, allegedly by Israeli settlers. The land concerned is on the western side of the Barrier, between the Barrier and the Green Line. The Palestinian fire brigades managed to access the location and extinguish the fire only after lengthy coordination  procedures  between  the  Palestinian  and  Israeli  District  Coordination  and  Liaison offices.

Concerning tha Gaza Strip, OCHA said that this week, Israeli forces killed three Palestinians and injured seven others near the fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip. In addition, a 14 year-old boy was injured when an Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) exploded in the area of Beit Lahiya. In 2010, 38 Palestinians (including 12 civilians), three Israeli soldiers and one foreign national have been killed in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel. Another 147 Palestinians (including 130 civilians) and five Israeli soldiers have been injured.

On 21 July, Israeli troops fired a number of tank shells at an open area in the outskirts of the town of Beit Hanoun, a few hundred meters from the fence. Two men were killed, at least one of whom was an armed militant, and seven bystanders were injured, including four children aged between 6 and 9 years. Five houses sustained damage and two shells landed without exploding and were later collected by the local police. According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, some of the shells fired in this incident were flechette shells, which explode in midair and release thousands of metal darts in a conical arch up to three hundred meters long and about ninety meters wide, it explained

OCHA elaborated that in a separate incident the following day, Israeli forces targeted a group of armed Palestinians in the vicinity of the fence, east of Khan Younis, killing one. On three occasions during the week Israeli forces entered a few hundred metres inside Gaza and withdrew after leveling land.

All above incidents took place in the context of a wider policy implemented by the Israeli military aimed at preventing and discouraging Palestinian access to areas up to 1,000-1,500 meters from the perimeter fence, OCHA said air strikes in the Gaza Strip also continued. The Israeli Air Force targeted and hit an alleged military base and several tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, resulting in no injuries. Palestinian armed factions continued firing a number of rudimentary rockets towards southernIsrael, resulting in no injuries or damage.

Tunnel situation remains dangerous

Gaza crossings imports continue to increase however impact remains limited.

OCHA stated that the number of truckloads allowed into Gaza continues to increase following the 20 June 2010 announced Israeli decision to ease the Gaza blockade. A total of 979 truckloads entered Gaza between 18 and 24 July constituting a 77 percent increase compared to the weekly average of 553 truckloads that entered in 2010, prior to the announcement. However, this week’s figure only represents 35 percent of the weekly average of truckloads that entered Gaza during the first five months of 2007 (2,807), before the tightening of the blockade.

New items allowed entry this week included raw materials for the local biscuit production industry and air conditioners. Despite the increase in the variety of items allowed into Gaza since the announced ease on imports, food items continue to make up the majority of imported goods (69 percent).

Since the new Israeli measures do not specifically include the lifting of current restrictions on exports from Gaza, the scale of economic activity remains heavily dependant on domestic demand, which in

turn is constrained by the low purchasing power of the population and the relatively small size of the local market. Until crossings are opened for export, the impact of the new measures on unemployment.

There was a significant decline this week in industrial fuel imports needed to operate the Gaza Power Plant compared to last week (0.83 vs. 1.45 million litres). This week’s figure represents 26 percent of the actual estimated weekly amount of fuel (3.15 million litres) required for the power plant to operate at full capacity. As a result, the majority of the population in Gaza continues to experience power cuts 8 to 12 hours per day, according to OCHA.

Similarly, imports of cooking gas declined; 781 tonnes were imported this week compare to 969 tonnes last week. This week’s imports represent 62 percent of the average weekly needs (1,400 tonnes) estimated by the Gas Station Owners Association (GSOA). As the cooking gas shortfall continues, the rationing scheme introduced by the GSOA in November 2009 remains in place, it concluded.

Israeli military assaults activists in street-opening action

CPTnet Digest, Volume 31 Issue 20
A newsletter written by members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams
30 July 2010

The Israeli military seized local and international nonviolent activists trying to regain Palestinian access to a local street in Al Khalil (Hebron) on 24 July 2010.  About 100 Palestinians, Israelis and internationals had gathered for the weekly “Open Shuhada Street” demonstration in a plaza near the Beit Romano settlement and checkpoint. Two dozen Israeli soldiers had blocked three of the streets leading into the plaza; Border police were also present.

As the activists began to walk down the remaining street, Israeli soldiers and police followed.  Several soldiers dashed into the crowd to seize demonstrators.  CPTers observed soldiers grabbing activists around the neck and violently pushing observers.  One participant reported that soldiers pulled an international by her hair as she covered the body of another woman to protect her on the ground. Another reported being struck in the head by a soldier who approached from behind.

After the Palestinian leadership announced the end of the demonstration and urged participants to go home, soldiers continued to follow the departing demonstrators down the street and fired a sound grenade.  By the end of the episode, Israeli Military and police had arrested six activists: three French
nationals, a Swede, an Israeli and a Palestinian.

Thirty activists proceeded to Kiryat Arba police station, where the police were holding those arrested. The activists remained there three hours, trying to offer evidence on behalf of the arrested men and to file complaints against violent treatment from soldiers. The police refused to admit any
activists. At 11:00 p.m. they released the Swede. The Israeli and the three Frenchmen were released later. One Frenchman was deported; the other two were banned from the West Bank. Their fines totaled 20,000 shekels. The Palestinian was held and released after two days.

The “Open Shuhada Street” campaign kicked off on 22 February 2010, with demonstrations in Hebron and other cities around the world. Since then, Palestinians, Israelis and internationals have held weekly demonstrations in Hebron’s Old City every Saturday at 4:00 p.m. with chanting, drumming,
speeches and dancing. The campaign aims to reopen Shuhada Street to Hebron’s Palestinian residents.

Shuhada Street was a central, thriving marketplace of Hebron until 2000. Three Jewish settlements have grown along the street since 1979, interspersed with what were Palestinian shops.

In 2000 the street was closed to Palestinians, and even though the U.S. Agency for International Development renovated it for both Palestinian and Israeli use in 2004, it was subsequently declared a settler-only street. Israeli settlers and authorities have not only confiscated Palestinian buildings or welded shut the entrances, they now also control all the market and parking spaces connected to Shuhada Street. These lots once provided Hebron?s Palestinian community with meat and vegetable markets and accessibility to the Old City. Their closure to Palestinians has hurt the
local economy.

The Shuhada St. demonstrations bring together diverse groups nonviolently resisting the Occupation. During an evaluation session, a lead organizer summing up their resolve following the day’s events, said, This campaign must succeed.

Photos: http://cpt.org/index.php?q=gallery&g2_itemId=20991


CPT’s MISSION: What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war? Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks to enlist the whole church in organized, nonviolent alternatives to war and places teams of trained peacemakers in regions of lethal conflict.

COMMENTS: To ask questions or express concerns, criticisms and affirmations send messages to peacemakers@cpt.org.

NEWSLETTER: To receive CPT’s quarterly newsletter by email or in print, go to

DONATE: Donate to CPT on-line with your credit card! Go to

Palestine-Israel: Bedouin village demolished

CPTnet Digest, Volume 31 Issue 19
A newsletter written by members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams
29 July 2010

The Bedouin village of Al-Arakib, visited by a CPT delegation on July 25, was demolished at 5:30 a.m. on July 27.  Authorities arrived with around 1500 Israeli police armed with tear gas, a water cannon, dozens of vehicles, two helicopters and five bulldozers. Within three hours all the homes and outbuildings, as well as the village’s water supply and hundreds of olive trees, were demolished.

Before the demolition, Israeli and Palestinian allies to the Bedouins got word out to Jewish activists for support of the Bedouins, who are Israeli citizens, in protest to the demolition. One hundred and fifty activists along with some large news organizations including BBC, Al-Jezeera and Ynet were witnesses to this atrocity.

The demolition has left 300 Bedouins, mainly children, homeless; but as soon as the police left they began rebuilding their homes. Shlomo Tziser, an official with the Land Administrator’s southern district, was quoted in local media as saying, “Should the Bedouins return we’ll do it again.”

A July 15 demolition order had given Al Arakib residents 30 days to leave their village or be forcibly evicted. Bedouins whose houses had been demolished on other occasions reported demolitions occurring in time frames shorter than those in the legal notices. About 160,000 Bedouins currently live in the Negev. Fifty percent live in townships created by the government in the 1960s in an effort to remove the traditionally agricultural people from ancestral lands and relocate tribes into small, contained communities in order to transfer ownership to the State. Some of the land is given to Jewish families for farming; some simply reverts to State possession.

More information about the Negev’s Bedouin people and their struggle for survival is available from the Negev Coexistence Forum (www.dukium.org).

CPT’s MISSION: What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war? Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks to enlist the whole church in organized, nonviolent alternatives to war and places teams of trained peacemakers in regions of lethal conflict.

COMMENTS: To ask questions or express concerns, criticisms and affirmations send messages to peacemakers@cpt.org.

NEWSLETTER: To receive CPT’s quarterly newsletter by email or in print, go to


DONATE: Donate to CPT on-line with your credit card! Go to http://cpt.org/participate/donate

The first few weeks

Falafel shop in Nablus

My first stop in what will hopefully be a year spent in the Middle East, is Nablus, Palestine.  I will stay here for just over two months, teaching a journalism workshop for students at An Najah University.

Falafel shop in Nablus

I live in a beautiful apartment in “majeen,” a neighborhood just outside the center of Nablus.  The complex is university housing and my apartment typically houses international visitors or An Najah professors.  Complete with hot water, cable television, a laundry machine in the kitchen and a tub in the bathroom, I am not living simply by any means!

I found my favorite falafel place – it has a salad bar where you can add your own toppings to your sandwich (pickles, cucumbers, tomatoes and lots of onions!).  Either shwarma or falafel are a once-a-day treat.  A new friend introduced me to freike, a Palestinian soup and my new comfort food.  It is wheat in broth served with a lemon for squeezing to taste.  Today I discovered Kibbeh, fried dough stuffed with meat and onions.  It might be my new favorite thing!  A midday treat is lemon juice with mint – refreshing and cooling on what have been very hot days.  Next, I have to find my favorite place for chai and a nargileh.

I arrived in Nablus on July 16 and was immediately embraced by a group of internationals and locals attending a Leadership Training Institute through the organization I’m volunteering for.  They were already a week into their 2-week delegation.  I arrived just in time to be part of designing a website with partners in a nearby village, Iraq Burin, for the village to use as a way to disseminate information, recent events and stories about their residents (It’s almost done!  Check it out at www.iraqburin.wordpress.com).  The delegation was an amazing way for me to meet locals and be immediately involved in an impactful project.

During the next two weeks, I will finalize a revised syllabus for the workshop I’ll teach, work on connecting with other organizations in the area, learn some Arabic with my new buddy Omar Othman and, hopefully, enjoy some time with new friends in town.

Arbitrary Arrests in Iraq Burin

Photo taken by an international observer (LdL)

Iraq Burin (Nablus Governate)

24 July 2010
Two residents of Iraq Burin were arrested this morning at a flying checkpoint set up outside the village.

Photo taken by an international observer (LdL)

Arrests in Iraq Burin

At 8am this morning, Adham and Nasser Qadous, in their early twenties, were traveling to work in Nablus when they were detained and interrogated on the main road from the village. Soldiers questioned the pair for almost two hours, accusing them of throwing stones during previous demonstrations.
A witness said the soldiers identified the two young men from a photo booklet containing images of previous demonstrations. However, the witness said the images revealed only blurred faces covered with scarves, making it virtually impossible to establish the identity of the people in the picture. The witness further stated the interrogations were in Hebrew which the young men could not speak, by up to five soldiers confronting each detained person at a time.
At one point, soldiers attempted to handcuff Adham, but stopped when a foreign observer who had been denied access to the village, began filming the arrest.
After continued interrogation and the arrival of a second military jeep, the boys were handcuffed, blindfolded and taken away in a jeep to an unknown location.
Israeli forces have erected the check points every Saturday for the past six weeks, which locals say is an attempt to filter human rights observers and international presence from attending the village’s weekly demonstrations.
Earlier this year, Israeli soldiers shot and killed two residents of Iraq Burin, which human rights investigators condemned as the willful killing of civilians, accusing the army of war crimes.
In recent months, residents of the town have reported escalating cases of physical assault, intimidation and threats, as well as arbitrary arrests, with young men being the main targets.
Witnesses have reported cases in which young men of the village are fingerprinted during home raids.
Residents and human rights groups are now concerned the flying checkpoint will be used to restrict freedom of movement by imposing a fear for arrests, harassment and violence in the village.
Since the summer of 2009, residents of Iraq Burin have demonstrated against land confiscation by the nearby illegal Bracha settlement, settler violence, Israel army violence and harassment (both during night raids and in the village’s lands and at flying checkpoints), and the restriction of the freedom of movement.
See also the Investigative Summary Report of the UNESCO Chair on Human Rights and Democracy (An-Najah University).

Iraq Burin Website Project

During the next few days I’m working with a group of internationals and Palestinians to do a few videos about Iraq Burin. Iraq Burin is a village just outside Nablus. You may have read reports about two of their children being killed by Israelis in March 2010. Since then, the villagers of Iraq Burin have held peaceful demonstrations every Saturday that typically end in violence by Israelis.

We are hoping to help them build a website and give them some tools in order to disseminate information about the demonstrations and any updates, as well as provide some background on the village.

Click here to read a horrifically revealing report by An-Najah University/UNESCO about the two kids that were killed.

Click here to watch a video produced by The Real News about the events in Iraq Burin.

Israel’s Shame by Anthony Barnes

Click here to read Israel’s Shame by Anthony Barnes

Children's paintings in Deheishe Refugee Camp

Kindness of strangers

Orienting oneself to a new place often involves embarrassing mistakes, cultural ineptitude and the kindness of strangers.

Getting from downtown Nablus to my apartment requires taking either a 10 shekel taxi or a service (pronounced: ser-vees), a shuttle service that typically costs 2 shekels.

I took a taxi home from downtown after my first day out in Nablus.  It was getting dark and I didn’t know where to catch a service.  I ineptly stuttered through the name of the small convenience store near my home, a landmark I was told to use when taking taxis.  The driver, who spoke no English, indicated he understood where I wanted to go.

As we drove away in the wrong direction, I wondered where we would end up.

We eventually pulled up next to An-Najah University campus, which is where I will work, but not where I live.  I said “la” (no) and pointed in the direction of my apartment, across the valley and on the next hill under a copse of trees in the distance.  He then drove me to another place that must have been student housing associated with the university.  Again I said, “la” and pointed.  While living in India, I knew enough Malayalam to get myself places.  Here, I can’t yet complete a full sentence.

One of the An-Najah students, Muhanad, had shown me to my new apartment a few hours earlier.  He spoke beautiful English and was very kind.  He had given me his phone number and encouraged me to call whenever I needed to.  So, I called my Nablus lifeline.

“Hi Muhanad, it’s Catherine.  I am so sorry to bother you, but I don’t know how to get home!”

I handed the phone to my ever-patient taxi driver and Muhanad saved the day.  When I took the phone back from the driver, Muhanad said, “Call me when you arrive safely.”  It reminded me of what my girlfriends and I would do after a late dinner or night out in Chicago.  We’d part ways and take the CTA home, texting each other when we arrived.

The driver pulled up to the supermarket I knew was near my apartment but, even now, I wasn’t sure which way was my apartment.  He must have seen the look of confusion in my eyes, because he pointed to a driveway and nodded at me with encouragement in his eyes.  I paid him 20 shekels, not sure if it was jipping him or me (after all the driving, I’m pretty sure it was jipping him), and walked down the driveway, quickly realizing where I was.

I called Muhanad to let him know I was home and thank him for helping me.  A few minutes after tromping through the apartment, my seven roommates began to return home after their day.  Most of them are internationals who speak Arabic well if not fluently and they told me what to say to the taxi driver next time.  If it weren’t for a patient taxi driver, my emergency lifeline, Muhanad, and seven welcoming roommates, I might still be circling the city searching for my apartment!

50 Hours in Jerusalem – VIDEO

I spent the first few days of my time in the Middle East in Jerusalem, wandering the winding streets of the Old City. Here’s how I spent my time.

A shop in the Old City

Presbyterian GA and the Middle East

Click here to read Mark Braverman’s “Report from the Presbyterian General Assembly”