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STL Activist with ISM in Palestine Sends Reports

A St. Louis activist, "Anna," known to many of us, sent me the following accounts and photos of Occupied Palestine. She asked me to repost them here.
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bilin.jpg
[According to "Anna," Sylvester Browne of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch may be doing a column about St. Louis area activists with International Solidarity Movement (ISM). If he does a good job, please compliment him and encourage the StLP-D to have more balanced coverage of Palestine([search]). - Mike]

ASKAR
Yesterday I awoke to find a fellow ISMer shouting, "everyone wake up! Incursion in Askar!"

I threw on some clothes from the day before, already feeling slightly nauseous about what might be happening. We rushed to a taxi and then into Askar refugee camp([search]). The air was filled with smoke. We heard sporadic gunfire and suddenly the taxi driver stopped. He looked at us as if he was ashamed of his fear. He said he could go no further.

From a distance we saw camera crews, and approached them for information about what we had already missed.

"One woman is dead," they said, "and two homes have been demolished."

We saw the first army jeep sitting next to the mosque. We were told they were possibly using the school as some type of base. The school sits just behind the mosque. As we approached the jeep we saw the barrel of an M16 being shoved out the window. I had my video camera in my hand, and I convinced myself that it was some type of shield as I zoomed in on the windows of the jeep. I like to see their faces…to look in their eyes maybe, for answers of some kind. They shouted at us in Hebrew, but we continued to walk, all the time hearing shots. Some near some far. Everywhere we looked we saw jeeps, all sorts…border police, hummers, APC's, some I dont know…they were in front of us, behind us, to the sides of us. I knew from my previous experience that there were snipers watching us too, but in this moment I had not seen them. I studied each window carefully, keeping my hands up and visible at all times, wondering if my camera would get me shot or save my life.

We saw medics and firemen down an alley, trying to get civilians past the jeeps. They were being refused. Medics here are not just refused, but often targeted. They are some of the bravest men that I know, placing their bodies in the line of fire, knowing that to the man behind the gun they are nothing. We stopped here for a moment and helped them to pass. We were unsure about the purpose of the operation. Someone had mentioned occupied houses, but we couldnt figure out where they were. If we knocked on every door, no one would answer anyway. We were also searching for the demolished houses. There were jeeps everywhere, still constant shooting.

I heard something in the distance towards the farthest jeep…like a chainsaw sound, and we decided to follow it.

We rounded the corner past the border police, to find something so disgusting. 4 army jeeps, two bulldozers, 2 women and a child stuck inside a house b/c the doorway had been demolished, 4 men waiting to be used as human shields, and 2 lots filled with what used to be people's possessions in what used to be people's homes. For a moment I left that place. I went back to Nov. 1st 2004 when I watched them demolish a house just down the road from where we were standing. Every feeling came back, every detail of the man's face as we watched his house fly over our heads. I wanted to curl up in a ball on the ground. I wanted to throw up or cry or just punch them all in the face until my hands broke, but I just listened to my breath. If the bulldozers were still there, maybe they were waiting to do more. If I couldnt do anything about those 3, maybe I could do something about the next one.

So we approached the detained men (The ones they had hoped to use for human shields), and of course we were met by 6 angry soldiers before we got anywhere close. They grabbed at my camera, and my instincts to curl into a ball came in handy. They pushed us with their hands and guns shouting, "This is for your safety! This is a dangerous place right now and there is a lot of shooting!" I told them to go home and stop shooting then so that everyone could be safe. Other ISMers argued with them as well. However, they heard nothing, but we managed to stand our ground, one moving forward as one was pushed back.

Then in came 2 more jeeps. A man of about 40years with a bright red face steps out shouting to the men in Hebrew and pointing towards me and my camera. They come straight for me and again I curl up. He was a captain of some sort and told the other men to let us go to the detained Palestinians and then make us all leave. One victory.

We were led through the alleys of the camp towards a group of Palestinians stuck outside their homes. We passed 6 jeeps along the way and multiple snipers. The jeeps tried to block us and pin us against the walls of the alley, but from inside a jeep all you can do is shoot, throw tear gas and the occasional sound bomb. Weapons such as rubber bullets (these are very hard, some only having the tiniest layer of rubber…making it, in my opinion, a real bullet….you can wrap a piece of paper around metal and call it what you want, but its still a bullet), sound bombs and tear gas are said by Israel([search]) to be, "nonlethal means of controlling a population." Rubber bullets kill. IOF shot an Israeli activist on Friday with a rubber bullet that went through his brain and put him in a coma. Tear gas is deadly for anyone with respiratory problems, and sound bombs send shrapnel that can pierce, cut you or burn you. I got hit with one yesterday and it felt like a baseball hit my leg. It would have been worse if I hadnt been so far away.

As we approached the group of Palestinians we saw snipers in the house next to theirs. They were shooting into the house across the alley. Soldiers from the ground were also shooting inside. We were told the house is empty b/c they arrested the 5 people inside earlier that morning, 4 boys and a mother. So if no one is inside, why are they destroying the house? We approached them to negotiate, maybe at least they would let the family wait in their home and not in the alley in their pajamas with all of the children. They allowed some of the women and kids to go inside, but strangely a few moments later came rushing down the alley towards us with guns aimed, shouting in hebrew. They grabbed the father of the family in his slippers and his pajamas and began to drag him down the alley. We latched onto him as well forcing the soldiers to release him and retreat.

We heard the bulldozers start up again and three of us went back to the site to see what was going on. Almost immediately, the captain shows up again yelling, "Ill give you 1 minute! 1 minute to get out of here or you will all be arrested!" I say to him in my calmest voice, "Sir, we are trying to get to the women and child stuck inside this house." (The house we are speaking of is next to the demolished one and behind the one they are shooting in). He says he doesnt care. I try again, still calm, "Sir please, we are not trying to interrupt your work, we are simply trying to help these people who have nothing to do with your operation. Please let us get them down and we will leave. If you are going to tear down a house, we need to get them out." As sick as it makes me to lie and speak to him like this, it works and that is what is important. He smiled and said we could get them down, but could not bring the firetruck or medics to help. He continued to tell us that they would be demolishing the house they were shooting into very soon, and then they would leave.

Unfortunately, we could not get the ladies and child out.

We went back to the group, to see how we could stop this demolition. The group explained that soldiers were already in the house, and that it was not possible now for us to get inside. They would just push us back out the door. We also were told that the army was shooting live ammo at kids, and we knew we could help there.

There were so many jeeps and snipers…all shooting. We stood amongst the kids throwing stones, hoping the army would now at least use rubber bullets. They shot live ammo at our feet, and one sound bomb.

Then one by one they began to leave as quickly as they came. They didnt demolish the house, they didnt need to, it was trashed already and everyone who lived there was in jail.

The incursion started about 1am and lasted about 10 hours. The operation included about 20 jeeps, 3 armoured bulldozers, multiple other army vehicles mentioned above and Im not sure how many snipers. At least 4 homes were occupied, many families were forced out into the streets, and multiple cars were smashed, shot and burned. At least 8 people were injured some with live and rubber bullets. As the army left the cut off the electricity to the entire camp.

The person who died was Um Khalil. She was 70 years old and died of a heart attack that started when the IOF (Israeli occupation forces) forced their way into her home to use it as a sniper post. She was refused medical care and held hostage in the house with the rest of the family, who was forced to watch her die. When she was finally able to receive medical care, she was made to go alone and the family remained hostages. She died without them in the hospital.

All of the arrests were from the Annadi family. During the incursion, the mother, three cousins and nephew of a man named Murad were arrested and transported to an unknown location. Murad is an employee of the Palestinian Authority.

The army claims the houses were demolished b/c there were "wanteds" hiding inside. No bodies were found in the rubble.

BILIN
Today I joined the Palestinians of Bilin in an action of nonviolent resistance against the theft of their land. The Israeli army is confiscating their farmland to make room for the illegal annexation wall and illegal Israeli settlements. Bilin has taken the issue to court (Israeli), and requested that the construction be put on hold, until a decision from the court is given. However, the request was denied and the construction continues. The people of Bilin will hold a demonstration every Friday until a decision from the court is given.

The Israeli soldiers have been particularly violent over the past few weeks. 2 weeks ago, they beat a young woman from Denmark in the head with the butt of their gun. She suffered a skull fracture and brain contusion and is currently hospitalized in Hebron. She is conscious but unable to walk. After this, they shot an Israeli lawyer with rubber bullets. They were so close to him that the bullets went through his skull into his brain. They are unable to determine the severity of brain damage at this time, but Ive heard he no longer in a medically induced coma. You can read the report and watch the video here:
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/08/11/bilin-4/

So today we joined them with the intention of simply making it past the army to the place of construction. We marched through the village, clapping and singing songs with a 7 ft Palestinian flag leading the march. As we rounded the last corner, we saw what I estimate to be about 70 soldiers waiting for us. This was new. Normally, they would use weapons to keep us away, but it seemed as though this time they were planning to use brute force. We marched towards them and they towards us. They marched in rows with shields, guns and batons. We didnt back down. We continued forward armed only with our voices, posters and cameras.

When they were about 10 feet from us they began throwing sound bombs. One after another. I stayed with my fingers in my ears, my mouth open and my back turned to keep as safe as possible from any injury. We stood our ground as a group and when they realized we would not be dispersed by sound bombs they came forward towards us. Immediately they began pushing us with shields and beating us with batons. We shouted, "We are unarmed! Why are you hitting us! Please stop being so violent!" They continued and we decided to sit down with the hopes that they would no longer be able to push us back into the village. They then began beating people with their batons, so brutally, in the legs, in the head…anywhere they could hit. I tried to cover the men as they usually take most of the beatings, but soon we all realized that everyone was a target.

They began grabbing at people and pulling them away to arrest them. We latched onto each other, not knowing whos body was whos and where the blows were coming from. They got tired and ran towards the people who had retreated, leaving us with the second line of soldiers and splitting the group into 2 parts.

I stopped to help a man who had been beaten badly in the leg. When I turned around towards the group I saw a wall of soldiers with one man in front, down on his knee aiming and shooting a new weapon in the direction of the demonstrators who had already retreated. This new weapon, I am told, shoots a strange type of rubber and chemical bullet, that sticks to your skin and continues to burn you. I was a bit more safe because I was covered by jeans and long sleeves.

I pushed past 2 soldiers and went directly to the man with the gun. I moved my body in front of the gun saying, "What are you doing?! You are shooting at people who are unarmed! This is crazy! How could you do this?!" This forced the soldiers to grab me and pull me away. The demonstrators were out of sight and around a corner so the line of soldiers began to move forward again. I stayed in front of them with my arms wide out to the side, trying to stand still. They pushed…I stumbled and stood again…they pushed…I stumbled and stood again…they started beating me with the batons. One went straight for my left knee, while another was beating my right arm…the rest pushing. Then the soldier with the new gun went down again and I again took my spot in front of him. A soldier grabbed the collar of my shirt and almost lifted me clear off the ground and threw me behind him. The other soldier was shooting.

Behind the line I saw some internationals waiting in the fields. They said they had tried to come and help me, but they were shot with rubber bullets. I saw other internationals walking injured men into nearby homes. They were cameras everywhere, walking with me and the soldiers. The kids from the village started to throw stones, and I went into the fields to take a short cut back to the rest of the group.

I waited a few moments as the ambulance treated my hand injury. Then I went back up the road towards to soldiers to join the other frontliners who were also being beaten and arrested. When I made it to the group I found 6 soldiers in the fields trying to find a covered place to kneel and shoot. At this point we had far retreated into the village. We pleaded with them, "the demonstration is over! Go home! You are shooting children with only stones!" They stayed. They would not leave.

After a long time, I have no idea how long, the soldiers walked back down the road. We began to walk in the opposite direction. Suddenly, we saw several Palestinians running full speed towards us from behind and we knew the army would be following. We walked slowly backwards as we waited for them to round the corner. We wanted to be in front of the Palestinians. Maybe if we did this, they couldnt shoot them. Normally, my white skin and International passport is a huge "Dont shoot here" sign. Its disgusting.

They knelt down and aimed at us. It seemed to happen all at once. I heard the "BOOM's", I heard the screams from my friends and I felt the first bullet strike the right crest of my pelvic bone. I instinctively grabbed it and turned around. I felt the next one hit my back. There was no place to duck. I couldnt run. I limped towards the stone wall to my left, hoping to be out of their sight. They ran towards us and immediately grabbed a young man from Spain. We grabbed onto him, and were drug down the road in a pile of bodies. The quit and grabbed the next closest guy, a man from Ireland. Again, we grabbed him. All of this while simultaneously feeling the pain from the rubber bullets and beatings. They said, "We are going to take him to the hospital!" It was a lie and we knew it.

They gave up and went back towards their base for the last time. Magan, who had taken a baton to the head, ran to me and gave me her shoulder. We all limped back to the apartment to regroup.

This is a lot of information about me and my difficulties, but what if I was Palestinian. There would be no de-arresting. No rubber bullets. No beatings on the street because they would save it for the seclusion of the prison. I am lucky. No, I am far beyond just lucky because at any moment I have the privilege of getting on a plane and getting the hell out of this insanity. When I do go home I have an apartment, 2 cats and I will see all of my family members and friends who arent in prison or who havent been assassinated. I am lucky because I dont have a gaping hole in my stomach right now from being shot in the back. I am lucky because I have the privilege of being white and American and I can say things like "Oh, I dont care about politics." I have the opportunity to remain blissfully ignorant of the truths, even the ones just a few miles from my home.

There is no life here, no peace and no justice. If you know anyone in the media, please pass this along. I am always available for discussion or interview.

[If any media folk read this article and are serious about doing a story on Anna, ISM and occupied Palestine, you can e-mail me at instruggle2002(at)yahoo.com and I will give you Anna's phone #. - Mike]

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Comments

ISM uses human shields

"So we approached the detained men (The ones they had hoped to use for human shields), and of course we were met by 6 angry soldiers before we got anywhere close. They grabbed at my camera, and my instincts to curl into a ball came in handy."

What an idiotic wanker. Using human shields is a crime against humanity. Maybe some thumbsucking would have helped.
 

Re: STL Activist with ISM in Palestine Sends Reports

The palestinians use the white guys (and girls) as human shields. The "internationals" believe that they are immune to harm in a war zone...just like Pancake Corrie. The palestinians chuckle in the background.
 

Re: STL Activist with ISM in Palestine Sends Reports

Zionists detained the men and it is the ZIonist "they" who were alleged to be planning to use him as a human shield. Sheesh, you can't attack the message so you make up a message to trash. what a pathetic way to run away from the light of day.

Zionists have been murderous thieves of Palestinian lands since 1948. The Zionist's bloodsoaked offenses didn't END when ZIonists raised thier flag over Zionist occupied palestine([search]) lands; 1948 is just when Zionists STARTED being murderous thieves of Palestinian lands. It is pretty stupid to expect anyone who respects the Palestinian's basic human right NOT to be destroyed by Zionist crusaders would be treated well by murderous thieving ZIonist crusaders.
 

Re: STL Activist with ISM in Palestine Sends Reports

the first 2 comments are so cold-hearted, and unempathetic to the pain of others. i would hate to have lived the lives you two must have led to become so unfeeling and uncaring. you are sad.
 

Re: Re: STL Activist with ISM in Palestine Sends Reports

Being a himan shield for Arabs is fun, and they'll even fed you until you get killed!
Join the ISM today! Meet strange and intresting people, and die for their right to slaughter innocent women and children!
Voluntary Martyrdom is much appreciated.
 

Re: STL Activist with ISM in Palestine Sends Reports

Then there are those who suggest that if you respect the Palestinian people's basic human right not to be destroyed by the murderous thieving Zionist invadors (or any other murderous thievng invadors for that matter), that you are really supporting the Palestinian's "right to slaughter innocent women and children." They are so pathetic in thier propaganda. Nazi also used to scapegoat the victims of thier war of conquest.

"Innocent"? Zionist crusaders??? Was Oscar Schindler and "innocent" Nazi because he didn't wear a military uniform???
 

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Re: STL Activist with ISM in Palestine Sends Reports

There is lot of misconception about muslims in United States you can visit St. Louis Muslim website. www.stlislam.org and enlighten yourself about Islam. You can also pose questions and read articles in the forum.
 

Re: Re: STL Activist with ISM in Palestine Sends Reports

Maybe they could have used a flattened Rachel as their shield.
 

Re: STL Activist with ISM in Palestine Sends Reports

 

Re: STL Activist with ISM in Palestine Sends Reports

 

Re: STL Activist with ISM in Palestine Sends Reports

Please visit the Hyderabad Muslim website for Muslim blogs, The site provides a discussion forum and Hyderabad and Muslim news
 

Hyderabad Muslims Online

Please visit the Hyderabad Muslim website for Muslim blogs, The site provides a discussion forum and Hyderabad and Muslim news http://www.hyderabadmuslim.com
 

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Source: "Glances at History" (suppressed)
 

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