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(en) Palestine, Update #4 from comrades.

From J Uprising <juprising@yahoo.com>
Date Sun, 5 Jan 2003 13:01:35 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

All of Chris' writings from his stay in Palestine can
be found at www.burningriver.org
 Chris In Palestine!
 Our friend Chris is in Palestine with the International
 Solidarity Movement participating in nonviolent,
 direct-action resistance against the Israeli occupation.
 Listen to an interview with Chris in occupied
 Palestine on Guerilla Radio.
 More about the International Solidarity

 Read Chris' updates
 email Chris in Palestine

Stop The War, Fight The System!

Burning River
Revolutionary Anarchist Collective
Monday, December 30: Love Me, Love Me, Love Me, I'm
a Liberal

The demonstration in Gaza City was moved here to Rafah (which was quite
convenient for us).  The World Social Forum people arrived in the city at 3:00
in their tour buses.  After about half an hour of  standing around, we began
the march to the Apartheid Wall on the Egyptian border.  It was 20
International Solidarity Movement people leading the march with two tour buses

About half of the way through, the buses stopped and 30 WSF people exited
their bus and joined us.  The rest (approximately 90 people) stayed in the
buses, which remained parked.  Quite a show of force to help the Palestinian

Regardless, there were 30 who joined us and we were ready to go to the wall
with them.  The first thing they did was lock arms and prepare to march
forward.  Keep in mind two things when you picture this scene.  First, if the
Israeli Occupation Forces approach, they won't come like riot cops with
shields and batons.  They're going to come in tanks with heavy machine guns.
I'd like to see the WSF people hold a line against a tank.  Secondly, THEY
WERE BEHIND US!  It's not like these people were the front line.

Anyway, that was the situation at that point.  We all started to march forward
and at which point came the bad chants.  "Hey Hey Ho Ho the Occupation's Got
to Go!"  "End End the Occupation!"  After a few minutes they actually sang
"Give Peace a Chance."  What an astute observation of the complex political
forces leading to occupation and intifada.

We continued marching down the street and approached the point at which the
buildings end and Israel's so-called "security zone"
begins (this is the area where they've demolished any buildings that are
deemed "too close" to the apartheid wall.  This is usually about 100 meters).
Just before reaching the zone, the organizers of the march said it was over
and they were moving to another part of town for some sightseeing at another
part of the wall.  We were in such a safe spot that local Palestinians
were still walking along to see what was happening.  So that's it.  It was over.

It was pathetic.  It was embarrassing that we took
part.  And it's not as if we're adventurers looking for action; we just want
to do things that are effective and this came nowhere near it.  What's
really upsetting is that the WSF people are going to go home now and talk about
how they took part in a demonstration in Rafah.  They actually think they've
put themselves on the line to help the Palestinians when all they've
really done is activist style tourism.

So, other than that we did more planning for future
action.  We'll be going back to Muwasi at some point.  We're going to do
some spray painting of the Wall (which is actually more effective an action
than it sounds).
Today was also a day to relax.  After yesterday, we
all needed a chance to re-center ourselves and get ready for future
actions.  The most fun thing was a few hours ago when we went to see some local
dancers preparing for their performance at a celebration Wednesday.  They're
doing traditional Palestinian dancing and they're really good at it.  It's amazing
that amidst all the death and destruction, people still do things like
theatrical dance.  It's a remarkably inspiring sight.

I'm not sure what we're doing tomorrow.  Probably
more planning, but we may do the spray paint action.

Tuesday, December 31:

We went back to Muwasi today.  It went much better
than Saturday as far as the IOF's reaction.  Our approach was essentially the
same.  The Army's response nearly approached human in a shallow sort of sense.
No shots were fired.
They didn't let food, medical supplies and villagers
in, of course (threats to
security, I'm sure).

It was encouraging that they not only didn't shoot
at us, they negotiated with
us and we won several times.  They first said that
only one negotiator could
go forward to speak to them.  We demanded two and
got it.  They said the two
could only be women.  We demanded one woman and one
man and we got it.  They
said the rest of the group couldn't walk past the
fence and we did anyway.
They said that if we didn't leave they wouldn't let
the Palestinian workers on
the other side go home.  We didn't budge and the
workers got to go anyway.  In
the end we didn't achieve our main objectives, but
we set the stage for a
future success.

Inshallah, that success will be tomorrow.  As the
workers were leaving they
told us that they've demonstrated against the IOF
before and won some demands
and that they'd be willing to go march with us
tomorrow morning.  So, tomorrow
we're meeting them at 6:00 AM to go to the
checkpoint.  The worker's advantage
is that they work in the nearby settlements and if
they don't go to work, the
settlements lose their low-income workers.  Sort of
a mini wildcat general

After that, we're moving to a protective action were
doing for the water
engineers.  The sewage system has been destroyed in
one area and it's gotten
so bad that the sewage is starting to sink into the
ground water.  Rafah's
water filtering system leaves something to be
desired and it certainly can't
handle sewage.  So, engineers have approached the
site of the damage several
times to fix it, but each time the IOF shoots them
at.  So tomorrow we're
standing around them all day so they can fix the

I wasn't terribly surprised that the Army was doing
this, but it really
highlights the cruelty of the IOF.  They essentially
want to get rid of Rafah,
but they can't just go in and raze the whole place,
because world opinion
wouldn't stand for it.  So they get around it in
sneaky and horrible ways.
They turn neighborhoods into war zones.  The
residents obviously flee and then
the Army bulldozes their houses because they're
empty.  This is simply another
way of getting around it.  A certain part of the
sewage system is in desperate
need of repair.  Then they prevent engineers from
fixing it, claiming security
reasons.  The plan would be to ruin the water system
so people leave.  It's
biological warfare, plain and simple.  The U.S.
government has done the same
sort of intentional infrastructure damage in Iraq.
It's blatantly illegal
under international law (not to mention its obvious
immorality), but they get
away with it because it's hard to prove.

The other big event today was the preparatory rally
for the anniversary of the
founding of Fatah (that's Arafat's group).  So we
visited the rally for a
little bit.  It wasn't exactly the type of rally you
see back in the States.
Some bits of it were familiar: big, jubilant crowd;
large banners; flags;
chants and so on.  Intermingled with these aspects
were some new ones (to me),
namely Kalashnikov rifles.  Also, the Al-Aqsa
Martyrs Brigade was there with
Kalashnikovs and mortar bombs.  The funny thing was
that, by now, this didn't
phase me in the least.  I almost found myself
disappointed that they weren't
carrying more.  Not that I'm a big supporter of the
Al-Aqsa Martyrs, but if
you're going militant, why not go the whole nine?

On a personal note, I'm really starting to love
Rafah.  I've settled into most
of the culture.  The people here are wonderful.  I'm
feeling quite at home
here.  I'm really going to miss this place when I

Tonight should be interesting.  Because of the
celebration, people are firing
off their rifles and every once in a while, someone
blows up a hand grenade
(away from others, of course).  Not the New Year's
Eve celebration I'm used
to, but I guess it'll do.  Hopefully, the
celebration will keep the Army away.

Tomorrow we go to Muwasi at six and the sewage place
at 8.

Wednesday, January 1: Everything Can Change on a New
Years Day

We did it.  We got medical supplies through the
Muwasi checkpoint!

We first walked up with the workers who have to get
checked before passing
through the checkpoint.  After they did that, half
of us approached with the
supplies.  After some roughing up, the group
returned to everyone else.  We
then made one large go at it.  This time the
soldiers came up to us and
stopped us.  At this point we had a big, drawn out
discussion about getting
the supplies through.  This went on for about 20
minutes before some of us
(myself included) had to leave for the sewage
protection action.  We were at
that action for something like 20 minutes when the
rest of the group showed up
and said they got the supplies through to an
ambulance that called them upon
reaching the village.

This is great, of course, but it's not the main
goal.  What we'd like to do is
open the checkpoint so people can pass through.
That's going to take some
time.  We're heading back there tomorrow to try to
get some food (50 kilo
sacks of rice) through.  And, after that, we're
heading to the sewage place,
as well as to an action where we spray-paint the
Apartheid Wall.

As I write this, we're staying in a quite dangerous
house tonight.  The family
has abandoned it, but we're staying in it to keep it
up and to protect the
next line of houses (and families) as well.  We've
already heard several very
close shots.  They may try to scare us away tonight,
which won't make for a
very comfortable sleep, but I sincerely doubt
they'll try to demolish the
place.  Even still, I'm sleeping in my clothes with
my bag ready to go.

Not much else to write tonight.  Tomorrow we go to
Muwasi, the Wall and the
sewage treatment center.

Thursday, January 2: Terrorism

[NOTE: When I reported what happened last night to
people, I was under a
mistaken notion which I address below.  I told
several people and reported it
on Guerrilla Radio.  I apologize for the error, but
that's how bad things are

I suppose I wrote yesterday's update a bit too
early.  After finishing the
entry, I got my things all packed up and ready to go
and the three of us went
to bed.  A few minutes into it, we heard an
explosion fairly close but not
right nearby.  So, we calmed ourselves down and
tried to go to sleep.  Fifteen
minutes later, another explosion rocked our house.
This one was right next
door, loud enough to feel, and we could see the
flash.  We jumped up, grabbed
our stuff and ran into the hallway.  As we did this,
the gunfire began and
didn't really let up for another 15 minutes.  During
this time, we made as
many relevant phone calls as possible while we
listened to the shots, the
bulldozers and the Apache helicopters overhead.
Closer fire drove us into the
room with the back door to the outside, where we
sat, terrified for another
five minutes.  At this point, our coordinator called
and advised us to open
the door, yell that we are internationals and leave
with our hands up.  There
was a lull in the firing and we followed her advice.
 Thankfully, there
weren't any shots fired (we're not even sure if they
knew we were there) and
we quickly made our way to relative safety.

The whole group went back there today so we could
take a look at the damage.
Our house, somehow, wasn't demolished.  The real
tragedy is that there were
ten other homes demolished last night, leaving 30
families homeless (luckily,
no one was injured or killed).  To top it all off,
the Israeli Occupation
Forces were there again today, shooting at those
families who were trying to
salvage whatever they could.  We had a standoff with
two tanks for about an
hour and a half during which time they fired 100 or
so warning shots and eight
or nine tear gas grenades.  And, as a lovely side
note, while we were out
there a soldier in the tank yelled to the
Palestinians in Arabic, "Fuck you
and fuck your God!"

The area that used to be a neighborhood is now
rubble and mounds of dirt.
There was no indication that life had ever existed
there.  We were originaly
told that the house we were in was destroyed.
Things were so bad that we
believed it until we could see the actual house.
Any context identifying
specific homes had been destroyed.

Needless to say, I'm really shaken up about the
whole thing.  And the horrible
thing is that that the whole operation is part of
their plan.  The houses
demolished last night had been abandoned because of
the threat of IOF bullets,
bombs and bulldozers.  Last night the houses fell.
Today, the people living
in the next line of houses cleared out their
belongings and went to live with
friends and relatives.  Next week those houses will

Both the local Palestinians and I had a horrific
night last night.  The
difference is that next week at this time the
Palestinians will still be under
Occupation while I'm sitting in a dentist's chair
getting heath services paid
for by insurance.

Other than that, the Muwasi checkpoint action was
cancelled, the continuing
water action went on as planned and the spray
painting was put off due to our
presence at the site of last night's tragedy.

Tonight I'm staying in the apartment we rented
(which is ridiculously safe)
and tomorrow I'm going to do the water action all
day.  I need a little time
to calm down and center myself before going back to
the other stuff

Sunday, January 5:

Sorry I haven't written for a few days, but things
have been very busy.  On
Friday, we returned to Block J, where the
demolitions had taken place.  This
time, we really got a chance to look around at the
rubble as well as in the
houses that had been abandoned.  In one of them,
Ross (from Conneticut) made
one of the most touching discoveries I've ever seen.

It was a children's coloring book that had been left
behind in family's hurry
to leave.  It was originally blank so that the child
could draw what s/he
wanted.  In it were the typical pictures you'd see
from any child: a day at
the beach, a family sitting at the dinner table,
children playing with a ball.
 Interspersed with these drawings were scenes from
the Occupation.  There was
a picture of a crane building the Apartheid Wall
with a tank nearby.  There
was one of a house being demolished by a bulldozer
with an Israeli flag.
Another showed an Israeli sniper tower overlooking
barbed-wire fences.

It reminds me of something one ISM coodinator said
during our training.  She
had written an article entitled "The Geometry of
Tanks."  In it she wrote
about a phenomonon among very young Palestinian
children.  If you ask them to
draw some shapes, many will draw something like a
square, a circle, a tank and
a triangle.  That's how everpresent the Occupation
is for these children.

Saturday was almost typical; a calm day punctuated
with extreme excitement.
We were pitching a tent in the Hiasalaama
neighborhood in which to stay  that
night (we already had another in Block J), when we
heard that they were
demolishing houses in Brazil (another neighborhood).
 We immediately went
there and found two bulldozers destroying a home
with a tank keeping guard.
We stood by for about 10 minutes without incident
when more of us arrived.  At
that point we decided to put ourselves in between
the bulldozers and the
remains of the home.  At first they just stopped.
We could see the drivers
inside with astounded looks on their faces.  The
tank fired a few warning
shots, without any response from us.   It then
turned and fired at the media,
who immediately took off (this is apparently part of
their strategy, remember
the first Muwasi checkpoint action?).  Then the
bulldozers started towards the
home again.  We held our ground and they backed off.
 At this point they
shifted their strategy towards smoke.  The tank went
upwind of us and pumped
out thick white clouds of smoke for about 15
minutes.  It's a bit
uncomfortable, but not too bad.  Seeing their
failure, the Army stepped things
up.  They fired warning shots much closer (some
within five meters of people)
and another tank came up from the other side of the
house.  This one opened
fire on the house, sending chunks of cement and
drywall flying.  What they may
not have known was that there were sizable holes in
the house and some of us
(myself included) were behind these holes.  A bullet
very easily could have
flown through.

None did, however, and we continued to hold our
ground.  Now, the bulldozers
started going again and they made it clear that they
weren't stopping.  At
this point, only Jenny (England), Ross (Conneticut),
Joel (Sweden) and Nikola
(Italy) stayed in front.  The bulldozers actually
pushed them up against the
houses, almost crushing them.  Nikola sustained a
large gash on his ankle.
Joel was actually picked up by the bucket and lifted
eight to ten feet off the
ground.  After about ten minutes of this, we decided
that it would be best to
leave.  We failed to stop the demolition, but now we
can show people what
they're doing.  My film from the incident is
currently being developed, and
the Associated Press has expressed interest.

Last night, a few of us stayed in the tent in
Hiasalaama.  As we began around
7:00 PM (well after nightfall) some neighborhood
kids (boys in their mid to
late teens) were hanging around the tent.  Of
course, if the Israelis see
this, they'll shoot, so they're putting themselves
and us at risk.  We
explained this to them several times and they didn't
seem to care.  So we went
inside the house we were in front of to get them to
go.  They did and we
returned, only to be joined by them.  So we went
back inside and stayed for
about an hour.  During this time, our host was
gracious enough to offer a hot
shower for any of us, which I accepted.  As I
finished up and began shaving,
the others went back outside.  All of a sudden,
shots rang out and I hit the
floor.  Apparently, a tank saw a few people coming
out and opened fire on them
(Ellie and Tom, both from England).  They hit the
ground and got behind a
large mound of dirt.  At the same time, Ross was in
the tent and grabbed the
megaphone.  He told them that we're internationals
and the shooting
immediately stopped.  No one was hurt or killed, but
it was very close.
Judging by the new bullet holes, Ellie and Tom were
only about a meter away
from the shots.

We still spent the night in the tent; sheer
insanity, I guess.  Tanks kept
driving by.  We would stand with our hands up and
someone would announce our
presence.  Nothing much happened for the rest of the

This morning, another tank pulled up to the tent,
about 15 meters away.  A
flap opened and the soldiers inside began to talk to
us.  It became obvious
very quickly that they were just bored, so I went
back to the campfire to warm
my hands while the others attempted in vain to
reason with them.  The one
thing I'd like to report is that at one point, one
of the soldier said that it
was OK for them to kill children, because they're
just going to grow up to be
terrorists.  They left, firing off a few shots to
announce their departure.

Today we're pitching another tent in the
neighborhood of Brazil.  Tomorrow,
some of us will be heading north to Khan Younis,
where Palestinian media
members are protesting the fact that the IOF is
targeting them.

My existence sparks resistance with the profoundest persistence. I knock oppression like land done in by pestilence. Freedom be my preference, the books of revolution my
reference, putting this ruling class in check just like a checklist. J.Upryse.

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