About this Blog

"Ordinary People" is something of an intentional misnomer. I live and work with Palestinians practicing nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation. They are doing things that are hardly "ordinary": committing themselves to active nonviolence and to loving their enemies -- following the commands of One who was anything but ordinary. And yet, the Palestinians with whom I work are also very ordinary -- they are not some kind of spiritual superheroes/superheroines who do things most folks can't do. They are simply ordinary people daily committing themselves to living a higher calling -- a calling of love and active nonviolence.

Friday, February 27, 2009

At-Tuwani Release: Video Available of Israeli Army Harassment

The following video has been posted by CPT on YouTube. It documents an incident of Israeli army harassment in the village of Mufaqara. (see At-Tuwani Release: Soldiers Kill Palestinian Migrant Worker, Increase Harassment of Villagers in South Hebron Hills, February 12, 2009). Mufaqara is a Palestinian village in the South Hebron Hills in the occupied West Bank.

The video documents Israeli army harassment of local Palestinians as well as the soldiers' dismaying attitude toward the widespread killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. A soldier says, in full view of the camera, that the children killed in Gaza "will be terrorists in about 20 years anyway."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Israeli Settlers Kill Donkey in the South Hebron Hills

Dear readers, as you may (or may not) have noticed, I'm catching up on some blogging backlog that occurred during some months that I spent away from At-Tuwani. In my 2 February post "At-Tuwani = Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance = An Amazing Village", I referred to Israeli settlers killing a Palestinian's donkey, which happened last November. My teammates created a video from the footage they captured.

Sometimes describing these situations in writing is not quite horrific enough.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

At-Tuwani Release: Soldiers Crack Down on Palestinian Migrant Labor

6 February 2009
At-Tuwani Release: Soldiers Crack Down on Palestinian Migrant Labor

Three incidents in recent days indicate that Israeli occupation authorities are stepping up their aggression in the South Hebron Hills, particularly in response to Palestinian migrant laborers.

Since Israel's sealing of the West Bank behind a separation barrier and subsequent destruction of its economy (unemployment is currently around 20%), growing numbers of Palestinian men travel to Israel for work. Israeli army and police are increasing mobility restrictions and arbitrary arrests of Palestinians, chasing vehicles, and even shooting them.

Under Israeli law it is illegal for Palestinians to cross the 1949 Green Line (the internationally recognized border between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories) without a permit, which is extremely difficult to obtain.

Along part of the West Bank's border near the Israeli town of Be'er Sheva, the barrier is not yet completed, and instead is heavily enforced by armed Israeli patrols. At-Tuwani, 5km north of the border, lies directly on the primary route traveled by Palestinian workers. For a map of this area see <http://tinyurl.com/bt629r>.

On the morning of Monday, 2 February, Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man on the Israeli side of the border near the Palestinian village of Jinba and the Israeli settlement of Beit Yatir. Taysir Manasra, 27, from the Hebron-area village of Bani Na'im, was attempting to travel into Israel for work.

CPTers, along with other human rights workers, arrived on the scene at 1:30 pm to find a bullet-riddled car, a puddle of blood, and soldiers and police detaining about 10 Palestinian men. A corpse had just been removed from the scene.

The Palestinians told the internationals that they had already been detained when Manasra drove his car through an army ambush. The soldiers ordered them to lie face-down before they shot at Manasra's car and killed him.

The same morning, Israeli soldiers set up a checkpoint on the Palestinian road from at-Tuwani to al-Birkeh. They stopped two Palestinian vehicles, removing and physically assaulting the drivers.

One of the men was delivering goods to at-Tuwani. Although he showed valid documents, both for his van and the road he was using, the soldiers removed and confiscated his license plates. The man was indignant and told CPTers, "The soldiers asked to see my papers, so I showed them. I have the correct papers, but they punched and shoved me. I am an older man, and I showed them my papers, but they still hit me."

The other man transports Palestinian schoolchildren daily between at-Tuwani and the village of Susiya (3km southwest). He also showed the soldiers valid papers. One of the soldiers grabbed and struck him repeatedly on the face and upper body, before letting him go.

The following day, 3 February, Israeli soldiers arrested a Palestinian at his home in Mfagara, 1km southwest of at-Tuwani. They claimed that the van parked outside his home was not correctly registered. CPTers videotaped him as he showed the soldiers his documents, which they confiscated. The man, a well-known local peace activist, calmly agreed to go with the soldiers in order to settle the dispute. The soldiers handcuffed him, placed a black hood over his head, and drove him away in an army humvee.

For images of these incidents, go to <http://tinyurl.com/cgkqll>.

Monday, February 2, 2009

At-Tuwani = Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance = An Amazing Village

Tomorrow I go back to my work in the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani. I am incredibly excited. I am going back to *amazing* teammates, a village of incredible people, and work I love so dearly. In the months that I have been away, Tuwani has continued in its nonviolent resistance. And the village has succeeded in gaining dozens of small victories that feeds into this beautiful, replenishing cycle of nonviolent resistance --> small victories ---> life gets just a little bit better in the South Hebron Hills --> the movement for Palestinian nonviolent resistance grows, little by little. Every year, the village gains access to more land; valleys that were once perpetually declared a closed military zone by the Israeli military are now in frequent use by Palestinians. Every year, through the power of nonviolence, Palestinians gain victories over the violent Israeli settlers who are trying to force Palestinians off their land.

Of course, these victories do not come without great sacrifice, courage, and commitment. For example, Israeli settlers from Ma'on and Havot Ma'on have stolen property, shot at Palestinian flocks (wounding three. One sheep died from its wounds), and killed a donkey while shepherds were grazing their flocks on their land. (To name just a few violent incidences.)

And yet, Palestinians in At-Tuwani and the surrounding villages persist in their commitment to nonviolent resistance. For instance, less than a week after Israeli settlers killed the Palestinian donkey, the Palestinian villagers organized and successfully used the land on which the attack occurred. Instead of driving Palestinians off their land, the Israeli settler violence only strengthened Palestinian nonviolent resistance and commitment to their land.

This -- the strength of Palestinian nonviolent resistance -- is one of the many reasons why I am thrilled to be going back to Tuwani. Also, I can't wait to see the Palestinians I have missed while I was away. I am excited to play with the village children, with whatever book or toy is most taking them at the moment (last summer, the fad was spending hours paging through "Where's Waldo?"). I look forward to being in the beautiful South Hebron Hills once again, working with beautiful, amazing people.