Israel's war on solidarity activists

March 21, 2009

Israel's tactic of targeting of Palestine solidarity activists has claimed another victim.

United States-based International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist Tristan Anderson was critically injured after being shot in the face with a teargas canister during a protest in the West Bank town of Ni'ilin on March 13.

He was attacked while demonstrating against the apartheid wall, which will cut off 2,500 dunams (approximately 620 acres) of the land belonging to Ni'ilin residents. The land will be annexed to the nearby Israeli settlement.

The construction of the wall was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004.

Anderson's partner, Gabrielle Silverman, explained to on March 14 that even as Palestinian medics attempted to put Anderson onto a stretcher, "the army began firing tear gas directly at us ... again and again and again".

"The Israeli army does not recognize the Palestinian people's right to demonstrate. There's always unreasonable and overwhelming force against demonstrators," Silverman said.

The Palestinian ambulance carrying Anderson to hospital was held up at a border crossing. Silverman said, "Palestinian ambulances are not allowed to enter into the state of Israel from the West Bank.

"Tristan's life was in serious danger. He was bleeding terribly everywhere from the head.

"We had to just sit and wait until eventually an Israeli ambulance from god knows where showed up and we had to change to another ambulance."

This latest attack came within days of the sixth anniversary of the killing of US solidarity activist Rachel Corrie. On March 16, 2003, Corrie was crushed by a US-made Israeli Catapillar bulldozer while protesting the demolition of a home in Gaza.

ISM eyewitnesses reported to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights that the Israeli soldier driving the bulldozer deliberately ran over Corrie twice. Despite this, a June 2003 Israeli Defense Force (IDF) investigation concluded that the killing was an accident.

Calls by Amnesty International, among others, have yet to yield an independent inquiry into the death.

Israeli attacks against protesters, especially Palestinians, are a regular occurrence across the occupied Palestinian territories.

Last year, four Ni'ilin residents were killed during protests against the confiscation of their land, according to the ISM. Three were shot in the head and one in the back. The four killed were aged 10, 17, 20 and 22 years old.

On February 21, hundreds of protesters marked the fourth anniversary of the struggle against the apartheid wall in the West Bank town of Bi'lin. The demonstration included Palestine National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, secretary general of the Palestinian National Initivative, Mustafa Barghouti and Palestinian Israeli Knesset member and Hadash chairman, Mohammad Barakeh.

The protest was targeted by IDF soldiers with teargas and rubber bullets.

Following the Bi'lin protest, Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz threatened Barakeh with an indictment for criminal charges for causing a "disturbance" at demonstrations over recent years.

The constant attacks are only one way Israel is attempting to force the Palestinian population into submission. From severe restrictions on movement, to midnight raids against suspected resistance sympathisers, to barbarous bombings and artillery shelling of civilians, Israel is attempting destroy the Palestinian people's will to resist.

Part of this campaign has been to obscure the facts of the occupation from the international community.

On March 13, human rights organisations B'Tselem and al-Haq were awarded the Geuzen Medal award for their coverage of the occupation. Due to Israeli restrictions, one of the recipients was unable to leave the West Bank to attend the award ceremony in Vlaardingen, Holland.

The Geuzen Medal award is awarded by the Geuzen Resistance Foundation — a group established in memory of the Netherland's Guezen resistance group that fought the Nazis during World War II.

Israeli authorities described the award winning al-Haq executive director, Shawan Jabarin, as a security threat.

Jabarin has never been charged with any crime, but has been accused by Israel of involvement in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Jabarn has been unable to leave the West Bank since he became al-Haq's executive director in 2006.

Jessica Montell from B'Tselem's, who will accept the prize on behalf of Jabarin, said the ceremony, "will not be complete as long as al-Haq, our partner in the struggle to realize universal human rights principles, is prohibited from sharing this occasion with us".

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