Monday, January 18, 2010


First, I will paste the report I wrote from the demonstration at An Nabi Salih. Below that will be my blog entry!

An Nabi Salih: Resistance to Settlement Expansion Met With Military Violence

Israeli forces must have anticipated the large response to the An Nabi Salih Popular Struggle’s callout for international solidarity in their 4th consecutive Friday demonstration on January 15th. Three International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists were turned away from the seldom-staffed partial checkpoint of ‘Atara, between Ramallah and An Nabi Salih. Fortunately, a back route was established and the group made it to the village, joining 10 other internationals, a dozen journalists and over 300 Palestinians.
The hilltop village of An Nabi Salih has a population of approximately 500 residents and is located 30 kilometers northeast of Ramallah along highway 465. The demonstration protested the illegal seizure of valuable agricultural land and the January 9th 2010 uprooting of hundreds of the village resident’s olive trees by the Hallamish (Neve Zuf) settlement located on highway 465, opposite An Nabi Salih. Conflict between the settlement and villagers reawakened in the past month due to the settler’s attempt to re-annex An Nabi Salih land despite the December 2009 Israeli court case that ruled the property rights of the land to the An Nabi Salih residents. The confiscated land of An Nabi Salih is located on the Hallamish side of highway 465 and is just unfortunately one of many expansions of the settlement since it’s establishment in 1977.
The plan for the demonstration was to march from the hilltop village and down to the seized fields in an attempt to reach the land. Less than one kilometer into the march, demonstrators met military jeeps, Israeli soldiers and unsparing amounts of tear gas blocking the road. Occupation resisters successfully forced the military to retreat a few hundred meters and an avenue to continue the march towards the fields through a valley between the road an the An Nabi Salih village was created. Military forces defended the settler-confiscated lands from multiple points including the road leading up to the village, highway 465 and a hilltop in An Nabi Salih using tear gas, sound bombs, rubber coated bullets and live ammunition.
Major struggles to reach the land occurred in the valley and on the lower portion of the access road to An Nabi Salih with sporadic outbreaks of force throughout the area. By 4pm, soldiers were forced into retreat to the base of the road (tear gas canisters rained intermittently until dusk) and a deal was made between the Popular Committee and the military for the release of the seven Palestinians arrested during the demonstration, three of which were woman arrested at the demonstration’s inception. Accounts of military violence during their detention at the Hallamish settlement were reported by multiple arrestees. One Palestinian resister was severely wounded by a tear gas canister resulting in a large gash in his head requiring emergency evacuation and medical attention by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.
Seven International Solidarity Movement volunteers participated in the demonstration by shooting video, taking photos, offering medical aid and witnessing frontline violence and arrests.


Alright….and now time for MY update:
Trip and I have spent pretty much every night at the sidewalk camp across from their occupied house in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah located in Palestinian East Jerusalem. We take shifts with other volunteers to ensure that the tent is staffed with internationals 24 hours a day. The days are chaotic and stressful for the Gawi family of 6 (3 kids under the age of 10 and one who is my age). The family does their best to maintain a consistent level of normalcy. Obviously, this is very difficult when your living space has been reduced to one pop up tent, a couch, table, plastic lawn chairs and a fire pit.
As the Gawi family shares a delicious Palestinian breakfast of fuul (fava beans), cheese, eggs, avocado and bread, the settlers occupying their home also start their morning routines. The house is a 7 unit apartment that housed nearly 50 members of the Gawi family. To me, it appears that there are probably two settler children for every adult and it looks like almost every women in the house is pregnant.
There is a campaign amongst Zionist Jews to “win the population war” against the Palestinians who tend to have large families (this has only increased with advancement of the occupation leading to the high unemployment rates in the West Bank and Gaza). While reading an article on Haaretz, I saw an advertisement that simply read “HAVE MORE JEWISH BABIES” in neon block letters. Ok, this is a tangent. If you’d like to continue along this path read this Now back to the daily life of the Gawi family…
After breakfast the three youngest children are taken to school and the eldest goes to work for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (ie Red Cross). Almost immediately after, a never-ending stream of journalists, local sympathizers, alternative tour groups and solidarity organizers show up and join Nasser Gawi, asking him questions about the expulsion, court cases and history of the land. Nasser speaks Arabic, Hebrew and English fluently and is always so polite to the guests, even when they try and challenge his take on the situation. For the most part, the visitors ignore me and the other internationals stationed at the tent. I always try and ask what they are going to do with their Sheikh Jarrah info and put in a plug for volunteers. So far, I have not yet found a person who is interested in putting down their camera/pen and staying a night with us. I know that movements take all kinds, and I do not have any idea what these people’s histories are, but I strongly believe that personal experience and the I/P conflict speak volumes.
As the strong Middle Eastern sun heats up the pavement and the tent offers no respite, the three Gawi children return from school with the accompaniment of their mother. They are usually tired and the youngest two get are brought to tears easily. On one occasion, a bulldozer passed by the tent and paused for a cruel amount of time (the Gawi tent has been demolished five times since their most recent eviction began August 2nd). This presence of the bulldozer terrified the children; even at their young age, they have learned quite well what bulldozers mean.
This moment, above all others, has been the most saddening in my time in Palestine. It seemed like nothing could consul the terrified children, even after the bulldozer continued on. The family did acknowledge that the children were upset by the presence of the bulldozer but I got the impression that things like this happen so frequently in Palestinian life that the parents and neighbors thought it best to “toughen up” the children, rather than comfort them. This probably sounds like a critique of Palestinian parenting however it most certainly is not. First, this was only my interpretation of the situation. Second, this is daily life in Palestine. “That’s life in occupation,” Palestinians say with a frustrated sigh as we discuss the conflict around the Gawi fire pit every evening.
The Gawi children make futile attempts at napping in the tent in spite of the visitors. They play with their neighborhood friends and have informal English lessons until dark. Sometimes the family eats dinner at the tent while other times they go to the hotel where the rest of the family has moved to. The mother and youngest 3 children usually do not stay a the tent must past 7pm however the eldest son hangs out until midnight and Nasser stays the entire night.
I enjoy the evenings in Sheikh Jarrah very much. Neighborhood boys around my age come every night to be at the Gawi tent. Trip and I have made friends with these guys. I brought my hacky sack and hula hoop, both of which are very popular. They help us with our Arabic lessons and keep us company until around midnight. On nights where there is anticipated tensions, the guys take shifts, like we do, to protect the Gawi and Al Kurd tents. I have to admit though, it is quite a brofest. Haha. Well, it’s true! There is very little “purpling” in Arab culture; even in harmless social settings things are pretty much segregated. As an “international,” I am of course, exempt to this and take every opportunity I can to unload firewood, stoke the fire, sit on the concrete instead of taking a guy’s seat and other acts of Arab gender bending.
Generally there are between three and five internationals that are stationed at Sheikh Jarrah during the night shift. We split the night into shifts of 2-3 hours, usually beginning at 11pm and ending around 7am. The sleeping tent is the Al Kurd tent which is set up to block the walkway between the settler-occupied Al Kurd front apartment and the rear house that the family was able to defend. Couch cushions are lined up and a mattress is brought out for one lucky night-watcher. My favorite shift is the 4-7am shift. I have probably seen more Sheikh Jarrah sunrises than any other place in the world. I also like being around people when they just wake up. Everything is slower, quieter and more thoughtful.
Life is a hectic blurr most of the time here. It is really wonderful to be surrounded by smart, motivated and dedicated activists. But the truth is that there is so much to do in Palestine. Every day there are military raids, settler attacks, demonstrations, court cases, and anything else that occupation life can throw at you (including waiting 2 hours at a checkpoint, daily!!!). Trip and I are trying to take a rest one day each week. Last week we went to Bethlehem and saw the EXACT place that lil baby Jesus was born. Sure, we took pictures but Trip was more excited about the Holy Shit(er)! Hahaha.
If anyone wants to know more about the Israel Boycott Divestment Sanctions campaign, I just learned this interesting fact: any product with a barcode that begins with 729 is from Israel! Focal points of the boycott include: Ahava beauty products, pretty much all Dead Sea beauty products, and Motorola.
Here is a brief overview of the other things I’ve done: Demonstrated against the Apartheid Wall is Bil’in, Demonstrated at An Nabi Salih (see above), stayed the night at with a Palestinian family were the Wall was built, putting them on the settler side and caging them in on all four sides, where they are frequent recipients of settler harassment and violence, and said my first two intelligible sentences in Arabic!
Tonight I am back in Ramllah. I made a tasty Palestinian-esq dinner and caramel corn for dessert!


  1. Hi Jasmine. Love your postings. It's so good to hear what it's like for you, Trip and the Palestinians. Keep em coming. Sarah and Howard

  2. Jasmine, great post - both the report of the resistance and your personal observations. I am amazed at everyone's courage in both situations. Your observations on everyday life are very enlightening for us here in the US where such details are seldom in the press. Keep up the good work, and we will spread your blog.
    Howard and Sarah

  3. Keep up the good work. We will do our best to take care of things back in the bubble.