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Palestine | International | Fault Lines

Israel's Grip Tightens Around the West Bank
by Zeev bin Natan
Thursday Jun 9th, 2005 6:53 PM
The Great Wall of Palestine marches on. It is generating direct non-violent resistance and civil disobedience on a scale unprecedented in the struggle against the Ihtilal (literally the ‘Suffocation’, the Palestinian term for the ‘Occupation’). For many months, the International Solidarity Movement and the new Israeli group Anarchists Against the Wall among others have been protesting in solidarity with local Palestinian villagers, attempting by non-violent direct action to block further construction of the Wall and the uprooting of Palestinian olive trees. For numerous families, that land and those trees are their sole means of support and central to their identity.
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"As long as there is occupation the resistance should be there. It’s the only dignity we have left." --Said Abu Salah, a Palestinian farmer

The Great Wall of Palestine marches on. It is generating direct non-violent resistance and civil disobedience on a scale unprecedented in the struggle against the Ihtilal (literally the ‘Suffocation’, the Palestinian term for the ‘Occupation’). For many months, the International Solidarity Movement and the new Israeli group Anarchists Against the Wall among others have been protesting in solidarity with local Palestinian villagers, attempting by non-violent direct action to block further construction of the Wall and the uprooting of Palestinian olive trees. For numerous families, that land and those trees are their sole means of support and central to their identity.

As a May 3, 2005 report on www.ainfos.ca stated:
"No. It is not the Makhnovitsa, nor is it the Spanish revolution... It is just the only region in the world anarchists are in nearly daily direct action confrontation with the state - in a non-violent action against Israeli settler colonialism and especially against the apartheid wall/fence used for the creeping transfer of the Palestinians. This morning the main Israeli radio already reported twice about the anarchists against the wall solidarity action at the Palestinian village Bil'in, the apartheid fence is cutting its fields and orchards. The radio reports on the ongoing activity in which the anarchists chained themselves to olive trees - to hinder the uprooting of an olive orchard situated on the route of the apartheid wall/fence."

The struggle against the Wall at the village of Bil’in has become a recent focal point. On April 28, a large peaceful demonstration, including three Arab members of the Israeli Knesset, Palestinian civil rights activist Mustafa Barghouthi and veteran peace activist Uri Avnery, head of Gush Shalom (the Peace Bloc) was savagely attacked by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Israeli Knesset member Barakeh was injured by a teargas grenade tossed point-blank at him. In a new tactic, Israeli army provocateurs infiltrated the demonstration, throwing stones to spark IDF fire (rubber and salt bullets) at the protestors. As one eyewitness reported:

"The Israeli army made use of soldiers disguised as Arabs that took part in the demonstration. As a means to initiate a provocation that will provide reasons for the violent dispersion of the demonstration, the disguised Israeli soldiers started to throw stones on the Israeli army. The Palestinian organizers approached them and asked them to stop the stone hurling. From their reaction it was clear that they were indeed disguised soldiers and the Palestinian people therefore tried to force them to stop the stone hurling."

Two Palestinians that attempted to stop the provocation were arrested by the IDF infiltrators.

On May 4, the IDF continued to violently suppress protestors. During a demonstration against the Wall at the village of Beit Likia, two young Palestinians, Camal Assi (aged 14) and Udai Assi (15) were gunned down by Israeli soldiers.

Zionism’s Territorial Imperative

It is useful to put the continuing savagery of the Israeli army at Bil’in, Beit Likia and across the West Bank in perspective. Since the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000, Israel’s military strategy has not been one merely of ‘security’ or ‘counter-terror’ but part of a longer term strategy of spatial demolition and strangulation. This is evident in the dismantling of Palestinian private and public space, the destruction of property, especially family dwellings and Palestinian Authority institutions, the displacement of population, restriction of personal movement and, the most striking instrument of spatial strangulation - the erection of the Separation Wall around and within the West Bank.

The effect of this strategy is to imprison the Palestinian population in sealed pockets. They are creating a kind of archipelago of separated islands of Palestinians in the West Bank interspersed with numerous Jewish-Israeli settlements, within a powerful dynamic of dismemberment of Palestinian space. The northern West Bank is already truncated by the Trans-Samaria Highway, that runs from Tel Aviv east to the Jordan Valley, and services a network of colonies, including the burgeoning Israeli settlement of Ariel, now with its own ‘university’. There are suspicions that Israel is moving to unilaterally annex the entire Jordan Valley corridor to the east of the West Bank, which would then render the West Bank a kind of macro-enclave composed of smaller Palestinian enclaves, completely surrounded by the Israeli army.

That strategy of strangulation, of which the building of the Great Wall of Palestine is a cornerstone, is predicated on two overriding Israeli geopolitical aims: unilateral separation from the Palestinian population and its concomitant territorial dismemberment. Withdrawal from a totally controlled and isolated Gaza, in effect turning Gaza into the biggest jail in the world, a huge enclave, is part of this strategy. Such an enclave will be in effect cut off from another chain of Palestinian ‘enclaves’ in the West Bank. All this is part of the long-term Israeli-Zionist policy of de-Palestinization of Palestine. It is driven by a territorial imperative to control ever more of the land and its water to remove, box in, demoralize and suffocate the indigenous Palestinians. That territorial imperative is as old as the Zionist colonial settler project of the past 120 years that led to the creation of the state of Israel. Ariel Sharon and his oligarchy are only the current administrators of those policies of land grab and ‘cleansing’. Uri Avnery, recently himself brutally attacked at Bil’in, cautioned two years ago to pay heed to the actions of Sharon and his ruling clique, not their rhetoric: "Never (but never!) pay attention to what Sharon says. The sole object of all his utterances is to divert your attention. One has to watch his hands and not avert one's eyes from them for a second.”

Upping the Ante —Ma’ale Adumin

Four months after the election of Mahmoud Abbas, the contours of the true face of Israeli ‘disengagement’ from Gaza are becoming ever more evident. A major plan to expand the Jewish condominium suburb of Ma’ale Adumim east of Jerusalem by 3,500 up-scale housing units - with nearly 30,000 residents it is already the largest Jewish settlement in the Occupied West Bank - threatens to smash all prospects for any meaningful ‘negotiations’ between the Sharon clique and the Abbas-led Palestinian Authority. The PA is, as many critics predicted, looking ever more like a ‘poodle’ on a very short leash for the policies imposed by the expansionist government of Sharon and Peres.

The expansion of Ma’ale Adumim will in effect cut the West Bank totally in two, making it impossible for Palestinians to travel from Ramallah to Bethlehem or Hebron. It will also box Palestinian al-Quds / East Jerusalem in from all sides, making it spatially impossible for East Jerusalem ever to be the capital of a Palestinian sovereign state.

As principal Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, a San Francisco State graduate, put it on Jan 14: “If Sharon continues to think that he can dictate to the Palestinians what they must do, impose his plan for a unilateral retreat from Gaza on them, imprison them behind a wall in 40% of the West Bank, never talk about either refugees, borders, settlements, or Jerusalem, and negotiate only when he feels like it, nothing will be possible.” Responding to the announced projected surge in the population of Ma’ale Adumim by 35-40% over the next three years, Erekat said on March 21: “If this is carried out, Israel will be dictating the outcome of negotiations on the future of Jerusalem before they even begin … The land that is supposed to be for a future Palestinian state is being eaten up. With this settlement building, and the wall that is being built, the question for President Bush is: What is left to be negotiated?"

So the radical nationalist politics of Israeli land grab continues unabated. The ‘disengagement’ from Gaza is a kind of smokescreen. It is this which progressives stateside need to expose and denounce while joining with others in Palestine, Israel and across the planet in struggling for justice.

What Can Be Done in the Bay Area?

1. Join the worldwide struggle against the Great Wall of Palestine. The Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign is a good place to begin: www.stopthewall.org.
You can also join the Yahoo group Anarchists Against the Wall: groups.yahoo.com/group/againstwall.

2. Raise demands and add your hand in ongoing efforts to END ALL U.S. AID TO ISRAEL – military, economic and political -- stopping the flow of all forms of tax dollars from Washington to the Israeli government which has now surpassed the $100 billion mark. It also means ending public and private investment in Israel, in Israeli companies, and in American companies doing business in Israel.

3. Expose and challenge the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in the U.S., AIPAC, which has much of the U.S. Congress in its stranglehold. AIPAC is also active in California. Its influence in shaping American pro-Israeli policy must be unmasked and denounced. The fear of its wrath is one of the reasons why so many American politicians unquestioningly support Israeli policy.

4. Join Al-Awda in the Bay Area! Mazin Qumsiyeh is the founder of www.al-awda.org, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, which has an active Bay Area chapter, find time to join in:
http://al-awda.org/sanfrancisco/.
§Israeli arrest
by Zeev bin Natan Thursday Jun 9th, 2005 6:53 PM
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IDF solder arrests Israeli demonstrator at gunpoint
§Palestinian arrested
by Zeev bin Natan Thursday Jun 9th, 2005 6:53 PM
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Two masked IDF provocateurs arrest peaceful Palestinian demonstrator.