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>.
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.