Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Israeli Settlers' Vandalism and Designs on
By Mazin Qumsiyeh
ccun.org, February 8, 2010
(Note: I will be in eastern coast of the USA March 1-10; let me know if
you are interested in inviting me to speak).
Video glimpses from the
last 48 hours with emphasis on Israeli colonial activities in Bethlehem
Monday started with
the news that the Israeli military has decided to reoccupy part of Ush Ghrab
in Beit Sahour after having left it in 2006 and Tuesday saw the army begin
clearing land of Ush Ghrab. Ush Ghrab is part public (Palestinian)
land but a major part of it is private lands that was put off limit to their
owners for nearly four decades and used as a center for the occupation
forces in Bethlehem district. From this military camp, nearly 300
Palestinian homes were partially or completely destroyed in 2002 and 2003.
This camp was also where in 28 December 2000, Palestinians and
Internationals walked into the military camp taking it over for a few hours
(organized by the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement between People).
The participants felt empowered and moved on to form the International
Solidarity movement at PCR (becoming independent movement in 2001 and moving
to Ramallah in 2004). This symbolic place was vacated by the army in 2006
but the locals were prevented from using the site located in area C (60% of
the West Bank is under this category of full Israeli control).
Colonial settlers (funded by tax-deductible donations in the US) have been
visiting the site since 2008 trying to establish a new colonial settlement.
If they succeed, that would mean the remaining canton/ghetto of Bethlehem
would be surrounded on all sides by settlements. Ten days ago, the
settlers horde moved down the hill to the childrens' park and vandalized it.
On Monday, we not only faced this news of planned Israeli military
"reoccupation" of part of Beit Sahour, but we also joined an event at Jeb
Al-Theib near Beit Sahour where settlers have already taken lots of lands
from Arab Al-Zawahreh and regularly harass the remaining Palestinians.
Settlers, soldiers, and police from the apartheid state surrounded us as we
tried to plant trees. The media was ordered out first and then threats
and intimidation started. The standoff lasted nearly four hours.
One settler who had three viscious looking dogs and drives an SUV was there
and was obviously on good terms with the soldiers. I tried to talk to the
soldier in command. He was extremely racist. He also told me
that they will not let us start something here "like Um Salamuna." Um
Salamuna is a threatened Palestinian hill near a colonial settlement built
on stolen Palestinian land. For the past few months, we had regular
activities there of land reclamation and tree planting with help of
Internationals and Palestinians from other areas (invited to help by the
land-owners). Clearly, as they intensify their colonial activities
(primarily land theft), Zionists are worried about the spreading popular
resistance. But on Monday case unfortunately, we did not have enough people
and the land owners were threatened and told to visit the officials Tuesday
(in their headquarters at an illegal colonial settlement of Gush Etzion).
They felt it maybe worthwhile to do that to find a solution. Since we
always respect the wishes of the owners who invited us, we had to disperse.
The colonial settlers must be happy but the local Palestinians assured each
other that they will resist (popular resistance).
So the next day
(Tuesday) we head to the site with a lot of media and see the army already
bulldozing land around the abandoned military base. We are told to
leave but we hang around. We explain to journalists. We gather
lots of data (including photos and video) to use later. The Municipality
calls for a meeting in the afternoon and we form a popular committee to
thwart plans for either a new colonial settlement or the revival of the
Israeli military base in the middle of our town.
After that meeting, we
hear a talk from Professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan about racism in Israeli
school curricula. Tomorrow, Berlesconi of Italy is coming to Bethlehem
and meeting with Abu-Mazen and a minister is coming to visit and a meeting
with local leaders.... There is so much to do here.
Background on Ush Ghrab: Liberated Land Under Attack
An activity 16 October 2008
A daycare at Ush Ghrab
Children Fly Kites at Ush
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home