Wednesday, 23 October 2013

A portrait of steadfastness in the Gaza Strip’s deadly “buffer zone”

Abu Jamal Abu Taima (right) poses with an international activist. (Photo by Charlie Andreasson)

An older man meets us when we step out of the taxi, a patriarch, his back straight, with a firm handshake and a welcoming smile. The other activists I shared a taxi with have all been there before, and we sit with no major ceremonies at the gate of the house as the sun casts its last warm rays upon us.

Soon we are served soft drinks and biscuits, followed by coffee, tea and dates. Our visit is clearly expected. Around us gather children and grandchildren. By Palestinian standards, Abu Jamal Abu Taima is a large-scale farmer with his 50 dunams. But he also has many mouths to feed: three generations with 71 people. “It was crowded during Eid,” he says with a smile that shows more pride than concern with making room for everyone. But as we begin to discuss the conditions of this great crowd, the smile vanishes.

The years between 1995 and 2001 were something of a golden age. He grew a variety of products, and had greenhouses and a substantial income from what he could export. Then the worries began. His land is adjacent to the Israeli separation barrier, and as Israeli forces expanded the “buffer zone,” it swallowed more and more of his land beside it.

Within this zone, there are no longer any olive or other fruit trees. In 2003 Israeli bulldozers devastated his greenhouse and former home. All he can grow there now is wheat, because it does not need to be tended as regularly as other crops.

And it is only wheat that he hopes to sow when the rains start in November. The occupying power does not allow irrigation. They destroy any irrigation pipes in the area. There is also the danger of death if farmers go onto their fields to manage crops.

Today Abu Taima can grow enough to feed his family, but no more. Before his olive trees in the “buffer zone” were destroyed, they produced enough olives for 70 bottles of olive oil. Those left this year gave six. No exports of what he can grow are allowed. more

Thousands attend funeral for Ramallah man killed Tuesday

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Thousands of mourners on Wednesday participated in the funeral of a man shot dead a day earlier by Israeli forces near Ramallah.

Muhammad Assi, 28, from Beit Liqya was killed Tuesday when Israeli soldiers stormed an area between the West Bank villages of Bilin and Kufr Nemeh, sparking a gunfight which ended at a cave, Palestinian witnesses and medics said.

The funeral procession started at the Palestine Medical Center in Ramallah and Assi was then transferred to Beit Liqya where he was wrapped in Palestinian Islamic Jihad flags.

Dozens of cars followed the procession and thousands of people carried the body while chanting slogans calling for revenge and resistance against Israel's occupation.

Mourners also chanted for an end to negotiations with Israel. more

Settlers uproot 53 olive trees in Qalqiliya, attack farmer

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers on Tuesday uprooted 53 olive trees in Kafr Laqif village west of Qalqiliya, officials said.

Ghassan Douglas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, said that a number of Israeli settlers from the Karni Shomron settlement uprooted around 53 olive trees belonging to Suleiman Jaber.

In a separate incident, Israeli settlers from the Yitzhar settlement assaulted and beat a Palestinian man, Mohammad al-Zein, from Burin village south of Nablus.

At the time of the attack, al-Zein was cultivating his land. He suffered from various wounds as a result of the assault. more

Child hospitalized after soldiers violently assault him in Hebron

A number of Israeli soldiers attacked on Tuesday [October 22, 2013] a Palestinian child at one of the military roadblocks in the Old City of Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank. The child lost consciousness and was moved to a local hospital.

Medical sources said that Red Crescent medics provided the child, Hamdan Mohammad Sha’abna, 15, with the urgently needed first aid, and moved him to the Hebron Governmental Hospital in the city.

The child suffered concussion due to being repeatedly hit and punched in the head, and suffered internal bleeding as the soldiers also kicked him in his abdomen, in addition to kicking and punching him in the arms and legs, the Radio Bethlehem 2000 has reported.

His mother said that as she and her child were trying to cross a military roadblock in Bab Az-Zaweya area, two Israeli soldiers stopped them and asked the child to show them his ID card. The child said he does not have one, as ID cards are issued at age 16.

The soldiers then forced the child against a wall before a soldier kicked him in the legs and continued to punch him and hit him with his rifle on his abdomen, followed by several blows to the head; the child fell unconscious, barely breathing. more