Mazin Qumsiyeh, 23 Dec 2010
Wednesday December 22, 2010
Link to the pictures of arrests http://tinyurl.com/3xjky9j
If you are currently in the Bethlehem area, please join us for a demo set for this Friday morning December 24, 2010 at 9 a.m. at Al-Walaja. Contact 0569956478 for information.
This afternoon at around 2:30 Mazin said that we have to go to Al-Walaja immediately. He said he just got a call from the villagers that Israeli bulldozer was clearing an area in a different side of the village (the villagers were still trying to figure out the legal situation) than the familiar site where illegal Israel wall construction has been going on for the past year. We were at his office at Bethlehem University at the time. We dropped everything we were doing and took off. When we arrived at the site, the bulldozer was idle with a dozen solders and private security personnel around. We found out from the 20 some villagers gathered there that they managed to asked the work to be stopped pending further instructions. Thirty minutes later, some military spokesperson came to talk to the villagers in Arabic (which I don’t understand.) He came along with more armed forces – there were about 50 to 60 by then, more than the number of the local villagers present. If I understood correctly through Mazin’s brief translation, Israeli spokesperson was saying that their work was based on the 2006 order (but that order has expired and currently there is a supreme court case pending.) So as the bulldozer resumed, and the soldiers spreaded out getting villagers away from the work site and started arresting people who simply were hanging around there. While I was taking picture of a Palestinian male being taken away by Israeli soldiers, I suddenly noticed Mazin was surrounded by soldiers in a lower level terrace from where I was standing trying to speak to the solders (probably telling them they don’t have any valid work order and should not resume the bulldozing.) Right at that moment, they decided to take him away. That was around 3:20 p.m., less than an hour after we got there. I only remembered to take a picture of him being taken away from a distance. In rapid succession, Israeli soldiers snatched more Palestinian villagers – in all eight of them, including an older gentlemen, two teeagers, three other gentlemen, and Sheerin Al-Araj whom I knew as the vocal activist from the village.
Mazin was not reachable by phone after that for two hours. Then I reached him by phone and took down some notes from him during a short conversation. He said that they are detained outside Bethlehem Checkpoint 300 at the time. An Israeli soldier named Almog Kahalani was very rough with them. He beat the two young Palestinian men, causing one with stomach problem. The soldiers were very rough with Sheerin that I can hear in the background while talking with Mazin on the phone. Three of them had metal handcuffs, he and the rest were tied with plastic handcuffs that was very tight and causing circulation problem. A young men’s handcuff was so unbearably tight but Israeli soldiers refused to loosening it. The soldiers had just untied the plastic ones after about two hours (but kept the metal ones on the other three, Sheerin was one of them) and that’s why Mazin was able to use his hand to hold his phone and speak with me. They were asked to sign on a piece of paper (don’t know what’s the content but must be in Hebrew that nobody understand). But everyone of them refused to sign as advised by a Palestinian lawyer who was present there. While detained there, they tried to speak to the soldiers about international law, but the soldiers were saying that they don’t give a f— about international law and you people and they only care about obeying orders. Mazin reasoned to them that German soldiers were also obeying orders during the Nazi regime. The Israeli solders responded by saying that German soldiers would have shot you by now.
Another hour later, I got another update from Mazin that they have been transferred to Atarot (I don’t know where is this, but people familiar with this said it is near Ramallah.) They are waiting to appear in front of a judge. They are cold and hungry. The Israeli personnel there sprayed cold water on them and claiming it is an accident.
More update as I am still composing this — Mazin said that there were three arrested from Jenin joining them, so now there are total eleven at Atarot detention.
Mazin asked you all to keep Al-Walaja people and village in your prayer. We should be proud of the villager’s nonviolent resistance effort.
If you are currently in the Bethlehem area, please join us for a demo set for this Friday morning December 24, 2010 at 9 a.m. at Al-Walaja, and stay alert tomorrow all day. I will keep you updated as event unfold.
during Mazin’s absence
Below is another eyewitness account by an international present at the time:
“Eight Palestinians detained in al-Wallaje as bulldozers began to make way for the Apartheid Wall in the South of the village
Today at around 2 p.m. bulldozers started clearing trees, rocks, shrubs etc. to make way for the Apartheid Wall that is designed to enclose the village of al Walaje from the South, on the West Bank side. Three days ago, Israeli authorities had marked the route the Wall with orange plastic straps, indicating that the route of the Wall, which would swallow a natural spring, three graves and run through a small grave yard.
Villagers and a few local supporters walked towards the bulldozers and tried to stop their work. They were prevented from reaching the bulldozer by more than three times their number of Israeli soldiers, border police, and riot police. The villagers were arguing that the IOF had no right to destroy their land and that the legal situation concerning this part of the village was not yet clear, when a commander recognized Mazin Qumsiyeh from an action earlier this year on the other side of the village where the Wall is already being built. Mazin was standing in a group of people when he was suddenly arrested without the slightest warning or provocation. The IOF then started to violently push the crowd into the village, causing several villagers to fall on the rocky, uneven ground and sustain minor injuries. As the outnumbered villagers were being pushed further and further in, a commander suddenly ran into the crowd and randomly detained several Palestinians who – at that point – had their backs turned to the IOF and were facing towards the village.
Overall, eight Palestinians – one woman and seven men including teenagers and an elderly men were detained violently. Three were handcuffed; five were bound with plastic straps, one of them so tightly that the strap cut into his flesh, which the soldiers refused to loosen for several hours. Two were beaten badly after they were detained.
The eight were first brought to the police station at the “checkpoint 300” at Rachel’s tomb, and then transferred to Atarot, where they are being investigated currently.”
Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine. He serves as chairman of the board of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People and coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour He is author of “Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle” and the forthcoming book Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment.
A Bedouin in Cyberspace, a villager at home
Articles by Dr. Qumsiyeh on RamallahOnline.com.