Is there a nonviolent Palestinian movement?

These reports are culled from a number filed by various observers and participants in nonviolent resistance movements among the Palestinians.

Land Day Actions
April 1st, 2006

Since 1976 Land Day is marked by Palestinians on the 30th of March to protest against the grabbing of Palestinian lands by Israel.

This year, thousands of Palestinians, along with Israeli and international activists held a series of large-scale peaceful protests against the ongoing occupation and continued theft of Palestinian land by Israel.

Demonstrations took place in the villages of Beit Sira (Ramallah area), Zabda (Jenin area), Rafat (Salfit area) and Tulkarm city (Tulkarm area) with marches alongside the annexation barrier where local residents attempted to plant olive trees.

In Beit Sira, about 400 or 500 demonstrators marched down to the village land where they were met by a large presence of Israeli soldiers blocking the path to the area where they wanted to plant olive trees. They were geared up with riot shields, clubs, rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas and live round. After roughly a 5 minute stand-off, the soldiers decided to attempt to drive the demonstration away with physical force - beatings and sound bombs.

The Palestinians responded to this mostly by running away, though some threw stones. The soldiers then used the stone throwing as an opportunity to open up with rubber-coated bullets, which in turn provoked further stone throwing. By the end of the demonstration, the soldiers had used a lot of their tear gas and some live rounds were heard. An ambulance was directly hit with a tear gas canister. Several minor injuries were inflicted on Palestinians by the soldiers, including one boy who was shot in the head with a rubber bullet.

Thursday's nonviolent demonstration in Rafat was quickly met by Israeli soldiers and border police jeeps which blocked the main agricultural road leading to the Annexation Wall. Israeli soldiers threw sound bombs to disperse the demonstration which was peacefully walking with Palestinian flags and signs and chanting "No to the Wall" in Arabic. Despite the sound bombs, the demonstrators pushed forward and more sound bombs and few tear gas canisters were thrown directly in the middle of the crowd._

The demonstrators then sat in front of the jeeps and the Palestinians demanded that they be allowed to go to their land. The Israeli military recently declared 300 of the remaining 500 dunam of village lands are in a closed military zone and have restricted access to pasture and olive groves on the east side of the Wall. After the noon prayer in the road, the Palestinians returned to the village.

Recently, Rafat and the adjacent village of Deir Ballut have been the site of demolitions and access restrictions. While the construction of the Apartheid Wall in the area has winded down, the Israeli military have issued demolition orders and restricted access to pasture and olive groves on the east side of the Wall. Bulldozers are flattening part of the hillside for unknown purposes.

In 2003 and 2004 the Salfit region, particularly the villages of Deir Ballut, Azzawiya, Rafat and Mas'ha, was the center of mass actions against the building of the Apartheid Wall. While not stopping the building of the Wall completely, the resistance of the villages resulted in the High Court ordering the re-routing of the wall in mid-2005. Still, Rafat lost all but 500 dunums of its land. Rafat is adjacent to the 27-settlement bloc of Ariel, the largest Israeli settlement network in the West Bank after Greater-Jerusalem. As he campaigned in Ariel last week, Kadima frontrunner Ehud Olmert pledged to supporters that "the Ariel bloc will be an inseparable part of the state of Israel under any situation."

United action against apartheid wall
March 13th, 2006
By Harrison Healy

Since January 2005, there have been regular demonstrations in Bil'in against the apartheid wall being constructed in the West Bank. The wall has divided Palestinian towns, destroyed homes, removed access to fertile land and imprisoned the Palestinian people.

The town of Biddu was one of the villages that succeeded in Its campaign to divert the route of the wall, but five Palestinians lost their lives in that campaign. Four of those killed were shot during the first demonstration, yet the town kept on fighting. Actions in villages like Budrus and Biddu also helped get many locals involved in anti-wall demonstrations in other villages. Nine Palestinians in total have been killed in anti-wall demonstrations.

There are rallies every week after Friday afternoon prayers in Bil'in, Abud and Beit Sira, and since March 4, weekly Saturday demonstrations are organised in Tulkarem, where the wall has cut off nearby villages such as Jubara. The rallies are organised by popular committees in each village and are supported by international solidarity activists and Israelis.

In Beit Sira, people have planted olive trees to replace those the army tore down and in Abud the demonstrations have involved burning army blankets used to flatten the road. In Bil'in, the villagers have organised mock lynchings on the wall, international conferences attracting hundreds of participants and soccer games across the wall. They also use mirrors to reflect messages like "Stop the wall" onto soldiers' flack jackets.

Bil'in villagers have also constructed two outposts on the other side of the wall, facing multiple illegal Israeli settlements. The army would like to destroy these small rooms. Every night, Palestinians and international activists camp out at the outposts to have fun together and express their solidarity.

The number of villages wanting to take action is growing. The ISM, the International Women's Peace Service and Operation Dove have all contributed to the success of the demonstrations, along with Israeli activists ho commute to the West Bank each week to support their Palestinian comrades. The impact of the Israeli presence at the demonstrations is significant - an Israeli border police officer admitted in court that police are given different shooting instructions if there are Israelis in protest crowds.

Yet injuries and deaths have still occurred and even Israelis aren't safe from being harmed. On February 24, 17-year-old Israeli activist Matan Cohen was shot in the eye by a "rubber" bullet (metal coated with a millimetre of plastic) at a demonstration in Beit Sira. He may lose much, if not all, of his sight in that eye. Palestinian demonstrator Hussni Rayan was also shot at close range with a steel rubber coated bullet that entered 8cm into his body during the protest.

Harrison Healy is a member of the Australian socialist youth organisation Resistance. He is currently working with the ISM in Palestine.

Nonviolent direct action in Bilin -
Report, International Solidarity Movement , 1 June 2005

The villagers of Bil'in, joined by Israeli and International activists, built a mock security fence in the bulldozers' path to the construction site of the annexation barrier on their land.

The villagers' fence was constructed on a long metal box that Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists locked themselves into. On the fence hung signs saying "the wall... over our dead bodies" in Hebrew and Arabic. In order to remove the activists the Israeli military first had to dismantle the mock fence!

The villagers distributed a letter in Hebrew to the soldiers that read:


Wait a minute please before you aim your weapon. You and your friends are on our land. Had you come here as guests, we would show you the trees that our grandfathers planted here, the vegetables that we grow, the slabs of stone that we played on as children.

But you've been sent here as representatives of an army and a State that has been occupying us since 1967. You have been sent here to uproot our trees, to dry up our land, to deny our children the slabs of stone on which they could play.

That is why we are demonstrating here. Without weapons, facing all your weapons. Only with pain and the knowledge that in this area there will be security for no one without the Israeli people respecting our rights to this land; without ending the Israeli occupation; without us achieving our freedom.

The Popular Committees for the Struggle Against the Racist Separation Fence.