Green Brigade in Palestine – Part One

I’m living in Palestine just now and working for a grass roots anti-apartheid campaign group. The main focus is on campaigning against the apartheid wall, whether that’s through global campaigns (boycott divestment and sanctions), compiling information or organising demonstrations.

The idea is to update this thread with more than just news, rather individual cases and examples that gives a different insight into what everyday life is like under occupation, covering stuff that the media chooses not to highlight. If it sparks a bit of discussion then I’ll keep it updated every week. It would be good to get the politics section of the board back what it can and should be, a place for people to contribute, ask questions and learn. This weekend I was in Beram Kayal’s town just 10 minutes from Haifa in 1948 Israel called Akka/Acre. The town was phenomenal, first mentioned in text around 3000 BC.

The Palestinian population in the town has been facing pressure since 1948. In one of the most recent cases, a widow in her 80’s had been given a confiscation letter by the Israeli courts 25 years ago, stating that she didn’t own her home , therefore, it would be taken and sold by the state. Years of going back and forward to court followed. 5 years ago the documents that proved that she owned the property were burned in an accidental fire in the building storing many of the town’s contractual documents. The women then provided the copy she had made, however, the courts rejected it saying it was not the real article even though the fire was well documented in the news.

The court sent an eviction notice saying that any time between the 25th of April and the 8th of May the police would come and seize the house. The town came together and mobilised a massive campaign against the confiscation of the house as it wasn’t viewed as a single case but that something that will affect everyone at some stage. The effort to ethnically cleanse the area of Palestinians has been going on for many years but it seems they are stepping up their efforts. A demonstration was called for the first day of the proposed eviction which I joined. The campaign was led solely by the community with all ages getting involved.

Around 700 people from the community turned out against what they all viewed as a continual attempt to ethnically cleanse the area. The people I spoke to were immensely passionate, constantly hearing that they were “ready to die for Akka”. When faced with losing your home that housed 3 generations you can’t help but understand the importance of what they are going through.

The march lasted around an hour with a low police presence apart from a few filming the activists. I was told the Israeli’s are sitting back and taking note of the new rise in defiance as it was the first time in years a demonstration of that size had been called in the area. The chants passionately called for a new “intifada (resistance/uprising) tomorrow” and “bring our brothers and sisters home, give us a new Gilad Shalit” talking about the Israeli prisoner held by Hamas in Gaza for 5 years before being exchanged for 1,027 Palestinian political prisoners.

The demonstration was viewed as a massive success by the organisers but to ensure the house is safe there will be around 20 men staying in the house 24 hours a day until the 8th of May. Palestinian political prisoners have begun mass hunger strikes (Thursday 24th) as well as a reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas to form a unity government, so will update next week with more.