Nonviolently resisting the Israeli occupation

IssueSeptember 2009
News by David Polden

Palestinians, Israelis and international activists continue to resist the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. On 21 June, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, including clerics, held a nonviolent demonstration in a neighbourhood in Silwan scheduled for takeover by the Israeli municipal authority, which plans to destroy 88 Palestinian homes and blocks of flats, which currently house around 1,500 Palestinians.

The Israeli media reported on 23 June that the Israeli army had sentenced a soldier to 30 days in military prison after he refused to continue serving in the West Bank. The soldier said that he saw his friends from the Haruv Battalion mistreating Palestinians in the northern West Bank on 26 March.

Bil’in blockaded

When, on 7 July, Israeli soldiers forcibly entered homes in the Palestinian West Bank town of Bil’in in the middle of the night with the names of ten people to arrest, they were confronted by Palestinian, international and Israeli nonviolent activists, as well as community members.

Activists attempted to blockade doors and army jeeps. The soldiers responded with batons and percussion and “flash bang” grenades, but only managed to pick up one of the people they’d come for, leaving summonses for the other nine with their families.

Bil’in has lost 60% of its agricultural land to Israeli settlements and to the apartheid wall. For the last five years, a nonviolent march has taken place every Friday from the town to the wall. A second “Viva Palestina” humanitarian convoy, initiated by George Galloway MP – this time coming from the US - broke the Israeli blockade of Gaza on 15 July - from the Egyptian side. The convoy consisted of 200 people in 50 vehicles carrying, it is claimed, $250,000-worth of medical aid and supplies. The next Viva Palestina convoy is scheduled for 5 December.

Defend Ezra

The “sentencing hearing” of Ezra Nawi, a 55-year old gay Jewish Israeli man who was found guilty in March of “participating in a riot and assaulting a police office” has been postponed until 21 September.

On 22 July 2007, Ezra attempted to stop the home of some Palestinian Bedouins in South Mt Hebron from being demolished by an Israeli army bulldozer, first by lying in front of the bulldozer and then by entering the building.

Two Israeli soldiers claimed that the nonviolent activist “pushed” them when they attempted to remove him from the house. Sitting handcuffed in a military vehicle following his arrest, Ezra said: “Yes, I was also a soldier, but I did not demolish houses... The only thing that will be left here is hatred...”