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PHOTOS: Thousands of Palestinians and Israelis protest home demolitions

Over 5,000 Arabs and Jews gather in Wadi Ara, northern Israel, to protest against recent home demolitions in Palestinian communities.

Photos by Keren Manor, text by Yael Marom

More than 5,000 Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel converged on the town of Ar’ara in the Wadi Ara region of northern Israel on Saturday, to protest a recent slate of home demolitions targeting Arab communities in the country.

Particularly in focus were Wednesday’s demolitions in the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran, prior to which Israeli police shot to death village resident Yaqub Abu al-Qi’an as he was driving, and whose vehicle struck and killed Erez Levi, an Israeli officer.

Hundreds of police officers — some on horseback — met the demonstrators in Ar’ara.

Around two hours after the protest had begun, hundreds of protesters blocked the junction at the entrance to Ar’ara. Police threw shock grenades and fired “skunk” water at the demonstrators, injuring several. Some of the protesters responded by throwing stones.

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PHOTOS: Palestinians build village to protest West Bank annexation bill

Police arrest six Palestinians for building a protest village to demonstrate against a bill that would annex the Ma’ale Adumim settlement bloc to Israel.

Photos by Activestills.org, text by Yael Marom

Fifty Palestinian activists established a protest village Friday morning adjacent to the West Bank settlement bloc, Ma’ale Adumim, to protest a bill that would annex the area to Israel.

The activists re-erected the Bab al-Shams protest village, four years after it was first built to protest the planned expansion of settlements that would cut the West Bank into two and deny territorial contiguity to any hypothetical Palestinian state.

The protest village was timed to coincide with Sunday’s cabinet meeting, where Israeli leaders are set to discuss a bill that calls to apply Israeli civilian law over Ma’ale Adumim, including the ‘E1’ area, which Palestinians say is crucial for any two-state solution.

Shortly after the village was built, Israeli police and Border Police officers were called to the scene to take down the tents. The demonstrators then marched alongside the main road nearby. Six were arrested.

“We are standing on Palestinian land, which Israel claims is part of a park that belongs to Ma’ale Adumim,” one activist told +972. “We are here to say that we oppose the annexation of Ma’ale Adumim. This is Palestinian land, and the entire settlement must be removed from this land.”

The activists also hoped to send a message to the people of Umm el-Hiran in the Negev, showing their solidarity with the victims of home demolitions against Palestinians on both parts of the Green Line. “We hope to send a message of strength to our people in Umm el-Hiran, Al-Araqib, the Naqab, and Qalansuwa, who are victims of home demolitions, just like the Bedouin in East Jerusalem, who are struggling against Israel’s attempt to transfer them to E1.”

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here

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WATCH: Visual analysis undermines police version of events in Umm el-Hiran

A visual investigation of footage recorded in Umm el-Hiran during an incident that left a Bedouin man and an Israeli police officer dead shows that, contrary to police claims, Israeli forces opened fire on the vehicle before it sped up.

Video by Forensic Architecture / Activestills, text by Natasha Roth

A visual and aural investigation of two pieces of footage recorded in Umm el-Hiran on Wednesday, during an incident which left a Bedouin man and an Israeli police officer dead, appears to contradict the official police narrative of a car-ramming attack.

The Israeli authorities say that the driver of the car, Yaqub Musa Abu al-Qi’an, intentionally accelerated toward a group of police officers and plowed into them, killing Erez Levi. But eyewitnesses counter that the police opened fire on Qian’s vehicle before it sped up and that the car struck the police as a result of Abu al-Qi’an losing control.

Early on Wednesday morning, hundreds of Israeli police officers arrived in the unrecognized Bedouin village ahead of scheduled demolitions, as part of plans to replace Umm el-Hiran with a Jewish town, Hiran. Eyewitnesses in the village reported hearing a few single shots of live fire shortly after the Israeli forces arrived, before then hearing several longer bursts and shouts of people having been killed.

The visual analysis, conducted by Forensic Architecture and Activestills, assessed the sequence of events by comparing footage shot by Activestills photographers and police aerial footage of the incident. By synchronizing the clips and photos taken on the ground, while at the same time layering the sound from the Activestills video over the silent police tape, the investigators were able to determine that police opened fire on Abu al-Qian’s car before he sped up.

The footage begins with Abu al-Qian driving slowly in the general direction of the police, at which point three shots are fired. A further four gunshots are fired immediately afterwards.

According to the video, the car changes direction four seconds after the first shot, speeding up and heading toward the group of police officers. Six seconds after the first shot, Abu al-Qian’s car hits the officers. A longer series of gunshots is then heard, along with shouting and the car’s horn sounding continuously, which the investigators suggest may be due to Abu al-Qian being incapacitated. His car is finally brought to a halt...

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PHOTOS: Israel demolishes homes in Umm el-Hiran amid violence

Israeli authorities begin demolishing the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran in preparation for its replacement with a Jewish town, following violence which left a Bedouin man and an Israeli police officer dead, and a Palestinian MK wounded.

Photos by Keren Manor and Faiz Abu Rmeleh

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Two killed in Bedouin village slated to be demolished, replaced with Jewish town

Police shoot MK Ayman Odeh in the head with sponge-tipped bullet. Conflicting versions emerge of ‘car ramming’ and shooting that left one officer and a village resident dead.

By Yael Marom and Keren Manor

Two people were killed and several others wounded when large numbers of police officers entered the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, in southern Israel, to demolish the village at dawn on Wednesday. Police fired tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets, and there were reports of live ammunition as well.

Police officers shot and killed a resident of Umm el-Hiran, Yaqub Musa Abu Qi’an, claiming he drove his vehicle and struck and killed at least one officer. Police also quickly claimed, without offering any evidence, that Abu Qi’an had “connections” to ISIS. The police officer who was killed was named as 34-year-old Erez Levy.

However, local residents and activists at the scene deny the police version of events, saying that Qi’an’s car veered toward the officers only after he was shot and lost control of the vehicle.

Among those wounded was Joint List chairman MK Ayman Odeh, who police shot in the head and back with sponge-tipped bullets. Odeh was brought to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva in stable condition at the time of this report. The other casualties were both local residents and security forces.

 

Hundreds of fully armed police arrived at Umm el-Hiran around 5 a.m., pulling drivers out of vehicles, and attacking and threatening others, according to Israeli activist Kobi Snitz, who was in the village Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

Shortly thereafter, shots were heard, Snitz said, adding that he saw a white pickup truck about 30 meters from police. “They started shooting at the car in bursts from all directions,” he said, adding that only after the driver appeared to have been wounded and lost control of his vehicle did it strike the police officers.

Police reportedly sealed the village off and barred any additional journalists from entering by mid-morning.

Snitz said that state authorities had been pressuring residents to sign an agreement to leave voluntarily up until around midnight Tuesday night, but that negotiations broke down.

MK Odeh showed up at Umm el-Hiran early Wednesday morning in order to stand alongside the villagers, who were told by Israeli authorities that the demolition would take place imminently.

By late morning, bulldozers, trucks, and demolition equipment had begun preparing to clear and...

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PHOTOS: How the state builds a road for West Bank settlers

Israeli authorities continue to uproot Palestinian-owned olive trees in order to build a road for nearby settlers.

Photos by Keren Manor / Activestills, text by Yael Marom

Israeli authorities uprooted dozens of olive trees in order to build a settler road near the West Bank city of Qalqilya on Monday morning.

The Israeli army declared the area a closed military zone after the landowners, along with a number of Israeli activists, arrived in the area to protest and try to nonviolently stop the uprooting. Three of the demonstrators were arrested.

Israeli bulldozers accompanied by workers and private security personnel arrived at the village of Izbat Tabib in the early hours of the morning in order to uproot the trees, which belong to Palestinians in the area, and to pave the “Nabi Elias Bypass Road.” Approximately 700 olive trees are slated to be uprooted; last week authorities removed a total of 250 trees.

Shortly after the uprooting, the Israeli army was called to the area in order to prevent the activists from demonstrating. After declaring a closed military zone, the Israeli activists were removed from the area, while the Palestinian landowners were allowed to remain. The head of Izbat Tabib’s local council and another activist declared that they would refuse to leave and sat on an olive tree. The two were detained and later released. An Israeli activist was arrested was likely transferred to an Israeli police station in the settlement of Ariel.

On Sunday Civil Administration contractors came to survey the land to ask the locals where they would like their trees to be moved to. The residents responded that there was nowhere to move them to. On Monday, the majority of the uprooted trees were left in a giant pile.

The decision to build the settler road was made as part of a compromise with the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization that governs Jewish settlements in the West Bank. According to the text on the expropriation orders, paving the road is intended to “improve transportation between Nablus and Qalqilya.”

The Palestinian landowners previously unsuccessfully petitioned the High Court against the plan. According to the head of Nabi Elias’ village council Raed Khalif, those who will be able to prove ownership over the land will receive meager compensation for the property they lost — which makes up an essential part of their livelihood.

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PHOTOS: Israeli authorities uproot olive trees to build settler-only road

The Nabi Elias bypass road, which will serve Israeli settlers, requires the confiscation of 25 acres of Palestinian land.

Photos and text by Keren Manor / Activestills.org

Civil Administration contractors accompanied by Israeli soldiers uprooted around 250 Palestinian-owned olive trees Sunday near the West Bank city of Qalqilya, as part of a larger plan to build a settler bypass road in the area.

The Nabi Elias bypass road will include the expropriation of 25 acres of Palestinian land — including a total 700 olive trees — belonging to the Palestinian villages of Izbat Tabib, Azzun, and Nabi Elias, just east of Ramallah.

On Saturday the army prevented dozens of Israeli activists from joining a nonviolent Palestinian demonstration against the land confiscations. By Sunday only a small group of Palestinians came out to protest the uprooting.

The decision to build the road, which will serve settlers only, was made as part of a compromise with the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization that governs Jewish settlements in the West Bank. According to the text on the expropriation orders, paving the road is intended to “improve transportation between Nablus and Qalqilya.”

The Palestinian landowners previously unsuccessfully petitioned the High Court against the plan. According to the head of Nabi Elias’ village council Raed Khalif, those who will be able to prove ownership over the land will receive meager compensation for the property they lost — which makes up an essential part of their livelihood.

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WATCH: Soldiers prevent Palestinians, Israelis from protesting together

Israeli activists had hoped to join Palestinians to protest a new settler-only road that would uproot hundreds of olive trees. The Israeli army saw to that.

By Ahmad al-Bazz and Haggai Matar, Photos by Ahmad al-Bazz and Keren Manor / Activestills.org

The Israeli army prevented dozens of Palestinians and Israelis from protesting together against the expropriation of 25 acres of agricultural land near the West Bank city of Qalqilya on Saturday.

At around noon on Saturday, 70 Palestinians left the village of Izbat a-Tabib and marched toward Route 55 in order to protest plans to pave a new settler-only road, which would include uprooting 700 olive trees and would separate farmers from more than dozens of acres of their land. Shortly after the demonstrators reached the area slated for expropriation, Israeli soldiers arrived on the scene and declared it a closed military zone. The soldiers also arrested two of the demonstrators and pushed the rest back into the village.

Meanwhile 60 Israeli activists attempted to cross Eliyahu checkpoint on a bus and in several private cars in order to join the Palestinian protest, which was planned in coordination with Palestinian and Israeli activists from the anti-occupation group, Combatants for Peace. While cars usually pass through from Israel to the West Bank without any inspection, this time soldiers and police officers inspected every vehicle for potential demonstrators.

The soldiers identified the bus and the cars carrying the activists, warning them — and only them — that they were entering a closed military zone, and that they could not pass through the checkpoint. Other cars were allowed to pass. Activists from Combatants for Peace tried to convince the soldiers that they were on the way to a meeting with Palestinians, and that there was no justification for preventing them from passing through the checkpoint.

The majority of the activists were forced to return home, yet a small group was able to make it to the village through a different route. A number of activists and residents then put up signs ribbons on trees slated for uprooting.

In December 2015 the army published expropriation orders for approximately 25 acres of agricultural land belonging to the Palestinian villages of Azzun and Nabi Elias, east of Ramallah, in order to pave a new settler-only road that would bypass Nabi Elias. The decision was made as part of a compromise with the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization that...

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PHOTOS: Palestinian Santas protest the occupation in Bethlehem

Roughly 100 people march on a checkpoint in Bethlehem to protest the occupation and mark Christmas. Israeli forces respond by pepper-spraying and teargassing the demonstrators.

Text by Oren Ziv. Photos by Oren Ziv, Keren Manor and Shahaf Polakow

Around 100 members of the Palestinian Popular Committees marched towards one of Bethlehem’s main checkpoints on Friday to protest the occupation.

The demonstration was also held to mark Christmas, with some of the protesters dressed as Santa Claus.

Private security forces on the scene, who were not expecting the demonstration, pepper-sprayed the protesters.

Border Police officers arrived a few minutes later and started pushing the demonstrators back using tear gas and shock grenades.

 

Around six people were injured, including five journalists.

 

 

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PHOTOS: Hundreds of Israelis demonstrate in solidarity with Syrians

Hundreds of Israelis form a ‘human chain’ between the Russian and U.S. embassies in Tel Aviv, protesting the slaughter of civilians in Syria.

Photos and text: Keren Manor / Activestills

Hundreds of Israelis assembled in Tel Aviv on Sunday night to protest the ongoing slaughter in Syria and to show solidarity with Aleppo and with the Syrian people.

The demonstrators, holding signs and chanting slogans, formed a “human chain” between the Russian and U.S. embassies on Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Boulevard.

Protesters chanted against the crimes being committed in Syria and against the role of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government in the killing. There were also calls for the UN to intervene.

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PHOTOS: Jews, Arabs march on settler highway to protest the occupation

Hundreds of Palestinians and Israelis participate in a joint demonstration to protest the occupation, marching along a settler highway to an Israeli checkpoint.

Photos and text: Keren Manor / Activestills

Around 400 Palestinians and Israelis marched on an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank on Friday, protesting the occupation and marking a year of joint monthly demonstrations.

The march proceeded along Route 60, the main north-south highway in the southern West Bank, which connects Jerusalem, Beit Jala, the Gush Etzion settlements and Hebron. The demonstrators were escorted by Israeli soldiers and police for the entire march, which took place in full view of the Israeli settlers and Palestinians driving past.

Israeli and Palestinian activists from Combatants for Peace gave speeches at the end of the march, as did Joint List MK Ahmed Tibi. He told the marchers: “You are the response to hatred, colonialism, repression, exclusion and aggression,” and said they were a message of “peace and hope and a different future for our sons and daughters.”

Tibi also criticized a proposed law that is currently working its way through the Knesset, which would retroactively legalize West Bank outposts, currently considered illegal even by the Israeli government. The law, he said, would make legal “the biggest land grab in modern history — the 1967 occupation.”

After the speeches, a group of young Palestinian rappers from Qalqiliya performed. They were followed by Palestinian rap artist Tamer Nafar, who was joined by Israeli spoken word artist Yossi Tzabari for the song “Ana Mish Politi” (“I Am Not Political” in Arabic).

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Army forcing Palestinian families from their homes — to train on their land

Ninety-one Palestinians in the Jordan Valley were forced to leave their homes while the army trained near their homes. Military officials have previously admitted that ‘firing zones’ are being used to expel Palestinians from areas of the West Bank.

By Keren Manor / Activestills.org

For the past week, the Israeli army has been training in areas designated “firing zones” in the Jordan Valley, in the northeastern edge of the West Bank. As a result dozens of families belonging to the A-Ras al-Ahmar community, as well as three families from Khirbet Humsa — a total of 91 people, of them 15 children — were made to leave their homes midday. An additional hundred families living in various communities in the northern Jordan Valley, adjacent to the firing zones, were given military orders forbidding them to leave the areas around their homes or graze their sheep in the nearby hills during training days.

Evacuating civilians from their homes for the purpose of military training is a contravention of international humanitarian law. Israel, as the occupying power, is not allowed to use occupied territory for military purposes.

This is not the first time the Israeli army holds training exercises in populated areas of the Jordan Valley. In fact, members of the A-Ras al-Ahmar and Khirbet Humsa communities are forced to evacuate their homes every few months under the same pretext. According to statistics provided by Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, families from A-Ras al-Ahmar had been evacuated eight different times in 2015, while families from Khirbet Humsa were evacuated 19 times in the same year due to military training exercises.

On Thursday, the final day of the training, Ali Beni Odeh, a resident of A-Ras al-Ahmar told +972 Magazine that every time the army arrives for training, the community must evacuate and leave their livestock in enclosures by the tent encampments by themselves. The families’ inability to work their land or tend to their animals while they are at pasture means their livelihoods take a significant hit. “We leave without anything, only with the clothes on our backs, and stay away for hours without anything, without any provisions. We cannot even go to our homes to bring water.”

They carry few supplies by foot, since the army confiscated their tractor before the training was set to start. Just in the past two months the army confiscated 10 tractors from families in the A-Ras al-Ahmar...

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Farewell to an Israeli partner in the Palestinian struggle

Renen Raz died last week after a lengthy battle with an illness. For Palestinians activists, he was an example of an Israeli who truly believed in liberation for all.

By: Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Dozens of Palestinians have been expressing their condolences on social media since the death of Israeli activist Renen Raz last week, following a struggle with an illness.

Raz, who passed away at age 28, grew up on Kibbutz Dorot in southern Israel. From his home he could see Gaza, only three kilometers away, yet growing up he was never taught anything about the Strip or its inhabitants.

“I asked my teacher about Palestine. She was really terrified and said not to ever mention Palestine in school again,” Raz once said in an interview. The mystery shrouding Gaza motivated him to look into the history of Palestine and its inhabitants.

“I realized that there has been an ethnic cleansing, the Nakba, carried out by the racist Zionist movement which has nothing to do with Judaism,” Raz said. Later, he would come to terms with the fact that his own kibbutz was established on the ruins of the Palestinian village, Huj.

As a teenager he refused to be drafted into the Israeli army, leading to pressure from both his community and family, which he said grew ashamed of him, ultimately leading him to move to Tel Aviv.

Raz used to introduce himself: “I’m Renan Raz from Palestine, I live in Tel Aviv,” and described himself as “anti-Zionist, anti-fascist, and anti-apartheid.” He was an active member of Anarchists Against The Wall, Boycott from Within, and others.

Partners in struggle?

The concept of “occupation” is viewed differently by Israeli activists, some of whom see it confined to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (1967 borders), while Raz and his peers viewed it as including all of historic Palestine.

From a Palestinian perspective, these differences highlight the essential distinction between the Zionist Left, such as the Meretz party and a number of Israeli human rights groups, and the anti-Zionist Left, which analyzes the Palestinian-Israeli issue from its roots, often calling into question the legitimacy of the state itself.

Despite their radical ideas, the vast majority of Palestinians have not heard of these Israelis. They are entirely absent from Palestinian/Arab media outlets, which generally tend to ignore Israeli society out of a belief that there is “no dialogue with the oppressor.”

Anti-Zionist Israelis have been facing increasing internal pressure within their society, Read More

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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