Wednesday 18 February 2015

Bawabet al-Quds Protest Camp

On Monday February 16th the Israeli military arrested five peaceful protesters: Hosam Oraiba, 24, Yazan Abu Helal, 19, Mohammad Matar, 40, and a previous CADFA volunteer, Dan Laverick, 26. The protesters were attempting to resist the seizure of Palestinian land which Israel plans to expropriate in order to make way for Bedouin communities, who they have displaced so as to continue settlement expansion elsewhere in the West Bank. Both Hosam and Yazan are dear friends who visited London with CADFA to speak about the realities of their lives under military occupation. 

In September of 2014 the Israeli government revealed its plans to forcibly relocate 12,500 Bedouin Palestinians living east of Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley(1), a move that is in clear breach of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention(2). Many of these communities were previously relocated in order to make way for the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, which Israel plans to illegally extend to Jerusalem, effectively cutting transport links between the north and south of the West Bank(3).

Munther Amira, head of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Coordination Committee said:

“This land belongs to the Palestinians of Abu Dis and Eizariya. We don’t want them to displace the Bedouin, we don’t want them to build more settlements on our land. We will not stop rebuilding our camps; we are planning to do the same all over the West Bank. This is popular resistance. Yesterday the Israeli military came with enormous machines to destroy the camp, land and the olive trees we had planted. They have already arrested us, and threatened us, but even if they arrest, deport and even kill us we will continue.”

Dan Laverick, 26, upon release stated:
“Throughout my arrest and detainment I was blindfolded, handcuffed, placed in stress positions, hit, kicked, had my hair pulled and my life threatened – at one point an officer threatened to stab me in the face with a pen for refusing to sign a document written in Hebrew. The three Palestinians with me started enduring harsher treatment than me before I was blindfolded. The officers’ statements against me included entirely fabricated accusations, such as “assaulting an officer.” I am extremely concerned for the safety of my Palestinian friends who are being held in prison on equally spurious charges. Innocent Palestinians are too often abused and imprisoned for long periods of time, and I feel it is important to recognise that this is not an isolated incident, but a regular occurrence for those living under Israeli occupation and apartheid.”

(1) The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, of which part 2 article 7(1)(d) states that “deportation or forcible transfer of population” is a crime against humanity.

(2) Article 49 of Fourth Geneva Convention, barring “Individual or mass forcible transfers”

(3) The E1 plan and it’s implications for the West Bank

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