Acts of Terror

I am sitting in the Tamimi home in Nabi Saleh. There is a group from France visiting and we are sitting around the living room with children running in and out of the room. All the sudden we hear what sounds like fireworks going off. We go outside to the porch to see if we can tell what is happening. It turns out the army is firing tear gas in the other side of the village. We go back inside and I ask my friend if tear gas being fired into part of the village is a regular occurrence? He replies that it is.

Along with the 14 young people who have been arrested this month from Nabi Saleh, there is a list of about 10 other youth who are soon to be arrested. The villagers do not know when these arrests will take place, but they guess it will be within the next two-three weeks. The arrests usually take place between 2:00-4:00 AM in the middle of the night, waking the whole family, including the younger children. The last round of arrests, however, took place around 5:00 AM, just after the youth and their families had presumed they would not be arrested that night, and let themselves drift off into an almost comfortable slumber.

Much is being said in the media about Israeli fear. Due to the recent escalation of violence, Israelis are right now, like they were during the second intifada, weighing the risks of doing things like riding public busses and visiting Jerusalem (Scheindlin, 2015). While certainly no one should live in fear, It is vitally important that we are not only concerned with the tension Israelis are currently living under, but are also concerned with the constant tension that Palestinians live under every day of their lives under, as the victims of Israeli state terror. Randomly shooting tear tear gas into villages as a means of collective punishment, middle of the night arrests, settler attacks, restricted freedom of movement, and much more, did not begin with the recent escalation of violence. These things are constants of life under Israeli occupation. The occupation is an act of terror. That Palestinian youth are rising up right now in an attempt to shake their oppression (the literal definition of intifada is to “shake off”) is not a coincidence. It is the result of Palestinians having lived their whole lives under ever tightening Israeli control. The answer to the increased violence we are seeing right now is not more control, collective punishment, and human rights violations. It is ending the occupation, granting the right of return to Palestinian refugees and their descendants, and guaranteeing full equality for all people in Israel/Palestine.

Ariel Gold

Walls, checkpoints, and Israeli Military Court Appearances

I spent my first night back in Palestine in Jerusalem’s old city. The “tension” some Israeli relative and friends of mine have described to me seemed to be far away from the bustle of the old city, with tourism seeming to be in full bloom and shop and restaurant life seeming to go on as usual. Shopkeepers I spoke to told me that the number of Israeli soldiers seemed to be decreasing.  

Yet, on October 26th, just two days before, Palestinian women of East Jerusalem put out a call to the international community to help protect them from “serious violations of Palestinian human rights, including physical attacks and injuries, severe psychological threats, and persecution by the Israeli settler-colonial state and settler entities violence, intimidation” (link to article). The same day, Since the beginning o October, Israel has erected 38 new barriers and 17 new checkpoints in East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhoods, disrupting the daily lives of at least 138,000 Palestinians link to article. Israel seems to believe that force and further repression is the solution to unrest from continuing occupation and human rights abuses. However, we as advocates for human rights and equality for all people know that the occupation is the root cause of the violence and that further oppression will only bring more unrest in the present and the future link to article.  

Along with increasing numbers of checkpoints and barriers in East Jerusalem, since October 1, Israel has arrested over 1000 Palestinians, most of them young people (link to article). The 600 resident West Bank village of Nabi Selah, where I am staying with the Tamimi family, has seen the arrest of 14 young people since October 1 (see image below of Tamimis’ currently being held prisoner. These arrests have been in retaliation for the village’s ongoing resistance to the Israeli occupation through weekly nonviolent demonstrations. The village of Nabi Saleh has much to resist as the occupation impacts every of their daily lives. Coming into the village, we passed through a gate that the Israeli military has at the entrance to their village. The gate is often closed, preventing the villagers from entering or exiting their village. On a plate on the coffee table in the Tamimi’s living room are empty tear gas canisters and rubber bullets that they have collected from their front yard. Yesterday, on the date of my arrival in Nabi Selah, the Tamimi’s had spent the day attending military court hearings for those recently arrested, including their 18-year-old son, Waed. Waed was arrested in a raid on the village a few weeks prior to my arrival. The Tamimis, along with a couple Palestinian activists with Israeli citizenship, spent the evening pouring through court papers in hebrew, looking for a way to help their loved ones avoid spending years in notorious Israeli prisons. Israeli military courts has an almost 99.8% conviction rate. Pro bono legal support organizations are swamped with cases, so volunteers with various day jobs become, at night, the equivalent of legal aids. I asked my hosts how we, as Americans in solidarity, can help with the Tamimi’s court cases. They replied that legal defenses are enormously expensive and funds are needed.  

Despite all of the work and hardship of having a family member in jail, Nariman Tamimi served a delicious dinner that included fresh avocados, hummus, ful, home cured olives, and more. Nariman told me that arab custom dictates that for the first three days of my stay, I am a guest, and as such, may not help with the housework. After that, I may help with the dishes.

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Back in Palestine: Reporting from the ground – Ariel Gold

Photo on 10-29-15 at 11.35 AM

I have just arrived back in Palestine. I flew into Tel aviv and easily got through passport control as my name is very easily recognizable as Jewish (this ease of entry is not usually the case for people with Arabic names). I spent the night in Jerusalem at the Citadel hostel in the old city. In the morning, shops opened as usual. So far, as of October 24, this October, 56 Palestinians and eight Israelis have been killed (Mapping the Dead).

This afternoon I will travel to Nabi Selah to stay with the Tamimi family and attend their weekly nonviolent demonstration tomorrow. This afternoon, Bassem’s oldest son, Waed, will have court. He was arrested recently in a raid on Nabi Selah. We are hoping for his release in the near future.