I’m currently staying in Seikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, having stayed one night at the ISM appartment in Ramallah for the anti-wall demonstration in the village of Bil’in. My first experience of teargas! Its horrible, but you get used to it….. well, I may have to be in the next few weeks. I managed to document it on my rather crap camera phone, I’ll review it, try to edit it, and show it on this group if its decent.
So speaking of Sheikh Jarrah, I have spent one night here, though not one night with a good sleep. A Palestinian family still resides here, right at the back, no permit to build, with illegal settlers at the front, their “home” adorned with Israeli flags. These people are terrible, they constantly harrass us, and when they stop, it is only for very short intervals. I swear they conduct some kind of rota, so everyone that lives there can wake up in the night at a certain time to have a shot at us. It takes the piss and gets you angry. They swear, insult, spit at us, chucked random crap like water bottles and pistachio nuts (ARRGH, ALLERGIES!), sexually harrassed us (there are oinly women here at the moment, and they were making awkward crude gestures at us to have sex) and past experiences of other ISM-ers has it that they’ve used death threats, throwing oil, collected their vomit to chuck onto us, dog excrement…. gross. They try to snatch our stuff from us, they keep their dogs barking so we can’t ever sleep, and whenever they try to, they manage to find a good time to chuck something at us before we know it. We’ve heard some terrible things about these people how are particularly deranged…. terrible things, involving beastiliaty and underage sex (no I couldn’t believe it either) D-: They won’t really stop. They would go to any length to make you feel realy uncomfortable. Only thing is, we’re still here- they haven’t made us go!
However soul-sucking it is staying in Sheikh Jarrah trying to cope with these idiots, the Palestinian locals stay well and strong, despite constant harrasment etc. so I find that pretty heart-warming. We have our enemies here, but also some kind friends. Judging by how they have been behaving towards us today, it looks like these settlers will be making some more effort to give us all a hard time. Last night was fairly tame. In ISM, people tend to say that as a general kind-of “rule,” nobody should stay in Sheikh Jarrah alongside these settlers for more than two days because you’ll be so tired and frustrated by the end of it. I’m a little concerned about that bottle of “Javel” (bleach) that they have on their outer window sill….. It is mad- how the racist agenda of the governemnt boils and simmers down to these people who we would expect to be more on our “level.” They keep posing awkward questions, like, “Do you like Jews?” etc. and then they say stuff like, “Get out, this is Israel” (Typical, I know) and silly crap like “Arabs have twenty-two countries, so why can’t they get out of Israel?” blah blah blah.
I really don’t have much to say to these people, I just wanna fight, GRRRR. But that would be outta principle with the ISM, right? We have some Palestinian locals and some internationals to watch what they get up to. There is support, there is never one person. And we manage to keep it all together. If I can capture any footage of them tonight (well, I don’t think I’m gonna sleep) then I’ll upload it and see what you all think.
Sunday 31st July
Hello everyone, please let me share another ISM experience….
Trying to figure what’s worse than a racist zionist? A racist zionist misogynist paedophile with beastiality tendencies who likes to collect their own urine and excrement to chuck at you. Yup. This happened last night.
I feel so so awkward sharing this experience on a forum like this one, a nice and friendly forum. But I guess it helps to be exposed tot he reality of things, right? (Well, that’s obvious, lol.)
So, where do I start? I have been in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem for two nights, accompanied with other ISM activists, thank goodness. The first night wasn’t great, the second night was worse. Maybe its that the zionist settlers have found a better excuse to worsen their behaviour, since it became the end of Shabbat for a week. They tend to bring their other zionist friends to join them in their “fun”. A more experienced activist likened the settlers of Sheik Jarrah to the nutty ideological ones of Hebron. Woah.
This is from a trsuted source (i.e. another ISM colleague) who witnessed that, while I went away to the Old City (not for leisurely stuff, to sort out money, honest!) our taunters exposed their, err, “bits” and gestured to “suck”/”fuck.” EWWW! How do these fucking people live with themselves?
Yeah, its all about sexual harrassment with these guys. Makes my skin crawl. Wouldn’t it be HORRID to get chatted up by an illegal zionist settler? “Hey hey there, how about I occupy your territory?” That’s wrong.
I try to film them, but its not easy- they just place their hands in front of my phone, which renders my footage pretty useless.
There’s this guy who is well lanky- he looks like a hillbilly redneck type, only a zionist settler version. Sorry, that was so not PC. And very pervy, ewww.
Whenever I try to film him, he squares up to me and tries to hug me, I think even kiss me. Oh I swear I could just lay into him, he makes me so angry. Then he spat on me. He’s a spitting machine, that’s what he’s good at. Spit, spit, spitting.
We need to take it in turns to sleep, because a few of us have to keep an eye on these idiots. The thing is, they find a good time to strike, they can be tactical. It was my turn to sleep at this point, which was half past two in the morning. You can’t sleep deeply here, on Settler-Watch. I got woken up, a “splosh” on the floor. I jolted out of the bed from my light slumber, only to see my ISM friend at the entrance of our gazebo about to wake me up. I beat her to it. She pointed out at this point, that from the window (which is on the same level as the gazebo) they compiled their excrement and urine in a bottle to pour and chuck it on the floor. Aiming for someone inside, no doubt. Thank goodness I got up.
And so, we spent our night *not* sleeping, but clearing up the yard which we stayed in. Fucking humiliating, innit? It wasn’t the last time they did this. They tried for a second time, hurling it through our gazebo again. This time, it went all over our belongings. So now they’re contaminated, great. And we had no food to eat.
And again, we had to be the ones who cleared it up. This is why they do this in the dark, and at night- its when we’re off-gaurd and so least expect it.
We never slept, not a wink. ISMers staying there need to take turns with their affinity group. Its so draining and soul-sucking. Its hard to feel radical and inspired when you’re watching settlers take the piss outta you and give you absurd tasks (in this case, clearing up their shit.) Staying there for wo nights is said to be enough- any more would probably drive you crazy. Even by seven o’clock in the morning, I was too afraid to sleep in case they had goodness-knows-what in store for us.
There is a Palestinian family there, living at the back at the home of these settlers (ahem.) It is a family that is pretty vulnerable- not only because they are Palestinian, but because Maysa (our wnderful friend) has a mother who is elderly and ill, a sister who has heart function problems and very young chldren. Makes ‘em easy targets for these zionist cowards.
Maysa says that she considers us her family and always makes us feel at home in her place. She is wonderful- After finding out what they did to us that night, she offered to call the police, gather evidence etc and said that the presence of International activists has improved her life, bit by bit. There are some activists who I’ve heard said that zionist attacks on international activists have exacerbted, whereas ones on Palestinians has imporved…..?
I’m grateful that Maysa appreciates us being present. Apparantley as witnesses, international activists can lack imperative for the zionists to behave more viciously towards the Palestinian members of the community, whereas others have rendered such an action useless. I guess that international solidarity works, right?!
There’s something about Palestinians- so resilient, hospitable, friendly! Maysa doesn’t seem bitter at all, bless her and her family. I guess I don’t have much to show the Palestinians, but they sure can teach me a thing or ten. I’m always angry, GRRRR.
She is helping to gather evidence against the setlers who tried to pour toilet matter over us. There was one incident that activists there before me wanted to report something to the police, but they refused to listen because they “don’t speak english.” What callous wankers. She said that when it comes to community action by the cops, they are completely unreliable. To her, it seemed that an international presence counts for much more, and for that, I feel that what we can do is worthwhile and respected.
I hope to keep you in the loop. I was gonna provide film and pictures, but I don’t wanna put anyone off their supper.
So, don’t let anything scare us off- not even flying shit. Our ideas and actions are shit-proof, folks!
Sunday 17th August
I wish I were updating this more often, but alas my internet access is limited, and not just because I am keeping busy lately. As a long-term ISM-er, it has been suggested that I am mostly stationed in Hebron so that I can help maintain a stable presence within this region, especially given that it can be the most volatile area. Especially when it comes to the settlers. Saying that, as Ramadan ends and school begins, children can be vulnerable to physical attacks by settlers. So within a few weeks, we’ll be walking children to school. But seemingly children don’t really like me, we’ll see how that one goes!
ANTI-WALL DEMONSTRATION IN NIL’IN, LAST FRIDAY: Maybe a little more sparse in numbers, since its Ramadan. It is a seemingly quiet demonstration, but its just a matter of time before you are visible to the military as you approach the concrete barrier, and tear gas (in the form of grenades and cannisters. EXTREMELY HOT!) are being fired. They say, if you don’t want to be hit by the tear gas, stay at the front! They fire it so high in the air that it lands meters away from the shebab throwing rocks at the soldiers, so you might be better off at the front…..
It has this thunderous sound to it, its going off right above your head. Or it sounds like popcorn. Or fireworks. Kind of scary. Made me think it was gonna fall on top of me, but that wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t fired on our level, and you’re close to the wall. I think its the type of thing you get used to. Well, certainly the demonstrating Palestinians have to.
In terms of the behavior of the soldiers, they are on the other side of the barrier, but you can still see them through the fence which symbolises where the barrier will continue being built. You see the shebab gesturing and calling them, but they don’t responding to them, only with more and more teargas. Whenever I saw fire starting up across the field, things like settlers burning olive trees sprung to mind, but that is how hot teargas is. The soldiers don’t advance towards the protestors like they do in Bil’in, they remain stationary. Then again, this is my first Nil’in demonstration, so I could be wrong.
People who have been here longer than I have question why the soldiers seem to be more relaxed with demonstrators than usual. Not that they respect Ramadan or anything (though that may be the illusion they would like to set) but perhaps it relates to how much more intense things may become once September arrives? Nil’in- along with Nabi Saleh and various other villages- have experienced house raids during the night, for many nights in a row. Not just for a mere exercise of what power and control they have, but because “it is part of training for September,” suggested one local activist.
The best way I would describe the experience of tear gas, when it effects you, is that it is like rubbing chillies into your face and your eyes, and other parts of your flesh that is exposed. And then there’s the feeling that you want to vomit, you’re constantly spitting, you’re “crying” (well, they don’t call it tear gas for nothing!) and of course, you cannot see. Which is dangerous, considering you are on a hill covered in rocks and stones and are trying to get away from tear gas exploding a few meters away from you!
But if you thought that was bad….. some people were discussing “rumours” that the military wants to use tear gas that causes incontinence….. so if the feeling of having to puke in front of people wasn’t embarassing enough, then how about shitting yourself….. one Palestinian activist seemed confident that this could happen.
ANTI-WALL DEMONSTRATION IN WALAJEH, LAST SATURDAY: Now this one was more peaceful, but that doesn’t mean the soldiers aren’t twats. A local activist from the village called Sheerin gave a lecture on the hilltop to demonstrate/show the 2,000 dinnums (I think that’s the measurement, you do the maths ) of land that would be confiscated by the continuing apartheid wall project. Many people who turned up- Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals were not demonstrating, but clearing up an abandoned building consisting of rocks that was erected and then abandoned in 1938, if I remember correctly….. Still, the soldiers are a few meters from you, standing above to monitor what we were up to. What a daunting feeling it is (not in a good way) to have men in khaki uniforms, sporting huge rifles coming in their numbers to watch what you are doing, but coming and going just to throw you off-guard a bit.
You have to turn up to demonstrations hours earlier, so as not to go through flying checkpoints. I didn’t have my passport with me, so they never saw my ID, but it turns out that I managed to enter the village in the end anyway. Phew!
THIS MONDAY: Me and a few other ISM-ers based in Hebron met up with a local who was going to show us the settlements. But it got cancelled for another day, and so as we were making our way back home, we encountered four soldiers, with their rifles poised walking in a single file fashion. Seemed strange. They entered a building, which looked to me to be a little too quiet and maybe even abandoned? We immediately started to film them and followed them, verbally confronting them all the way. With me, it is typical that I get my knickers in a twist when I confront these types of, err, people. I get kinda angry, GRRR.
They say, “You’re distracting us!” and they try to be diplomatic. Distracting them from what? Raiding a house full of dangerous equipment, like tea cups, matresses, a television….. Our presence coupled with them being filmed at the same time means they tell us to stay back, though we were doing nothing much, apart from questioning them.
An elderly woman emerged from the bathroom that she was using, she was interrupted by the soldiers. Her head was covered with a towel, too late to place her hijaab on. She was encouraging us to come closer as a soldier harassed her, but another inhabitant of the house was gesturing at us to go back.b The poor little grrrl hid behind her mother, seemed frightened Initially, I did not know what to do, apart from see what the soldiers were up to. It was difficult, given that you do not know if that is what the family want. It is routine, they face this all the time, no stranger to arbitrary raids by the military. But I’m glad that we were welcomed into the home afterwards, for tea (“But isn’t it Ramadan?”) and they gave us whatever they had in their fridge, insisted on it! Very generous people, the Palestinians are. Can’t get over it! ^_^ I’m pleased that they appeared grateful that we tried to intervene….. I wonder, what would have been, were we not there, or if we were invisible?
Also on the same day, on our way to Sheikh Jarrah and walking up Salah Ad Din street to monitor the settlers, we encountered two young Palestinian men who owned a small stall near the markets, positioned near the kerb on the pavement. They weren’t working. Rather, they were being detained by three Israeli police (I don’t know exactly what their role is, but I would just say that they are between soldiers and police. That is at least how they look).
Of course we could not ignore it, so we questioned why they were being held, and couldn’t talk? I was told, “This is not your business!” Oh no….. militarist and very macho men shouldn’t tell a young queer feminist grrrl what her business is! He’s lucky I’m in ISM Made me mad, and they were ridiculing us filming them. They were trying to come over all friendly, and make humour out of our concern for these young men being detained. But as such, they have no better way for them to respond than to trivialise how you feel by laughing it off. Wankers.
So, why were they being detained? One Israeli told me it because “they have no ID.” So apparantley having lack of, or no ID makes you a nobody, and they were going to be arrested and sent away. We refused to leave until we were sure these Israelis left the street, but only went a few meters away so we couldn’t see them (but we could, mwah-ha-ha-ha). One ISM-er said she saw them harassing other people on the streets as well.
This was late in the evening, when the fast was broken. These two young men were first approached by those Israelis when they were engaging in prayer. They were told to stop, and they began physically assaulting them, slapping their faces, taking their prayer mats etc. One of those young men, whilst being detained, was clearly very upset and crying. We never saw them being physically assaulted when we were present, so I guess those Israelis saw something of a good PR opportunity once we arrived and started to show concern.
Again, I don’t know whether it is right to stay and observe, in case the Palestinians do not agree with our presence. At the time, we couldn’t communicate with them.
Finally, they were “let off,” and one of them was taken to our ISM shit-proof tent in Sheikh Jarrah. They shook our hands, expressing their gratitude in Arabic and a little broken English.
I was in Sheikh Jarrah for two nights. Another ISM-er was there for four. He described how quiet it has been of late, in terms on the behaviour of the settlers. It varies, its not predictably. I mean, who would ever think of shit coming their way? :-/
Though usually frustrating, some evenings monitoring the settlers in Sheikh Jarrah can consist of just singing “Muslamic Ray Guns” over and over, devising strange chat-up lines that pervy settlers may use, and or course, very deep thought-provoking intellectual and philosophical discussion. Or playing guitar and singing “Old McDonald”, only this time “settlement” replaces “farm.”
I’ve just about managed to keep things together. It can be emotionally draining, and hard to feel radical when there are so many crazy things going on around you, and you can only do so much. Loads of people here have some kinda “guilt complex.”
So, I’m missing you’ll dearly. Noone said it was gonna be easy, I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be a breeze or anything. And with that, I would just say that solidarity with Palestine is not something that begins in Palestine, nor end in Palestine. We must carry it out wherever we are. So, I hope you are all causing and getting into the right amounts of trouble back in the UK! Fight on!
Sunday 21st August
Israeli troops invaded Hebron and arrested around 35-40 people this morning, from 1:30am in response to recent attacks. Those arrested included an elderly man, whose son has also been arrested. The Shabak were also present (domestic intelligence gatherers.) No other reports of similar arrests in the West Bank have yet been confirmed. This news came from other ISM-ers who happened to be on Twitter at the time, right up there in Nablus!
We were awoken by a phone call at around 2:30am, only to come out onto the streets of Hebron to find no military, no police and the like. The word on the street from locals who probably were witnesses was that the military were moving from one place to the next, so not that we could keep up or anything. Perhaps the military have now disappeared, though according to one report that was written at about 6am Israeli time (I’m guessing) the military are still about…..
Oh wait…. my mate’s on Twitter right now, and says that similar arrests have been taking place in Nablus and Bethlehem, esp[ecially at/near Aida refugee camp. So it hasn’t just been in Hebron.
We hope to complete a report on this later today, with interviews etc, the whole shebang.
And it is never bad enough, is it? Nearby Qiryat Arba, a settlement in Hebron, a young 17 year old Palestinian man was killed by settlers who were driving along and ran him over.
Occupation, fuck off.
Thursday 25th August
Maybe some of you have heard of it before, but I’ll put it up here just in case you haven’t:
THE OLIVE REVOLUTION- KNOCKING ON JERUSALEM’S GATES:
Tomorrow is a very common day for local demonstrations to take place in the West Bank. Now, plans have it that many popular committees up and down the West Bank are coordinating actions from FOUR areas surrounding Jerusalem, to ease their way into the city and make way for Al-Aqsa Mosque.
These four entrances into Jerusalem- all of which will be expecting demontrators to be present- are….
WEST- Biddu, a village located very closely to the Wall
I wanna tear down Qalandia checkpoint (metaphorically speaking. Gotta keep it safe on Facebook) so I’m planning with an affinity group of internationals to attend the demonstration in Qalandia. Some of us will be attending the demonstration in Bethlehem as well.
As we would expect, the Israeli military will be stepping up their game for this huge protest going through Qalandia, Bethlehem etc. Tear gas and sound bombs aren’t the only things I would expect being fired from them. Hmmm.
Oh alcohol wipes. The only type of alcohol that I like. Perfect for countering tear gas.
Roads from Ramallah to Qalandia will be closed, they know that this is coming. Looks set to be intense, Insh’Allah nothing dreadful will happen. I hope that the worst will only be arrests….. :-/