Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Israeli soldiers throw tear gas at displaced Palestinian residents sleeping under tarps

From CPTnet: On Friday, May 6, the Israeli military declared the area of Amniyr, a Palestinian village south of Yatta, a closed military zone and chased away the families who own the land, after demolishing structures and trees on the land the day before.

The demolitions occurred at 5 a.m. on Thursday, May 5, when the military destroyed six shacks and uprooted 150 olive trees in Amniyr.

On Friday, the Palestinians of Amniyr had returned to the land and hung six tarps to create makeshift tents. The Israeli army issued a "closed military zone" order on the area at 9:00 a.m. At 2:00 p.m. seven military jeeps arrived, including police and border police. The commanders showed the order and gave the people one minute to leave.

Using sound bombs and tear gas, the soldiers and police forced off the land all the Palestinians present—about thirty adults, many of them elderly, and ten children—as well as accompanying internationals. One woman, Fatmi Mahmoud Jaboor, passed out due to the bombs and required medical attention. The Palestinian Red Cross evacuated her to the hospital, and she was dismissed in the evening. At 7 p.m. four military jeeps returned to Amniyr and destroyed the tarps and what had been left standing in the area.

This is the third time in ten weeks that the military has destroyed trees, tents, dwellings and other structures on the land of Amniyr, effectively demolishing the entire village and affecting six families. Although Amniyr is Palestinian-owned private property, Israel has declared it "state land" and prohibits the people of Amniyr from building any structures or using the land. A local Palestinian leader has told CPT that he believes Israel is trying to confiscate the land of Amniyr because of its proximity to the Israeli settlement of Susiya.

The outraging part of this video is the soldier who speaks very little Arabic, and refuses to listen to reason, questions, and pleas from the local residents. Instead, he keeps repeating the same refrain: Dqiqa, fesh wahad. Given it's gramatical mistakes, it roughly translates, "One minute, there is not one." Sure he says enough to convey the message he wants to get across, he wants people to know that in one minute everyone needs to be gone from this place. Message conveyed, but the dynamics are ugly. You demolished a village and the next day demand the residents get out from under the tarps they threw on their destroyed belongings to provide a semblance of shelter. When they ask questions you don't listen and probably don't speak enough Arabic to understand anyway. So you repeat one of the phrases you know (in addition to IDF favorites, "Show me your ID," "Stop," "Where are you going," "Go to your house," "It's forbidden for you to be here"), in all it's preschool grammar,  to demand that people leave.

So it total, we have Palestinian people living on a piece of land deep into the West Bank. They are farmers and shepherds, and having been to this village many times I can tell you it's mostly elderly people in their 50s and 60s, people who are tired and haggard from a life under the sun and under occupation. Their village has been demolished three times in 10 weeks. Each time their houses get a little shittier, because after each demolition they have less to rebuild with. When their home was demolished most recently they hung some tarps on the rubble of their houses for shelter. The next morning, soldiers arrived to evacuate the area with a 'closed military zone' order. The people wanted to show their displeasure and also ask questions to know the exact borders of the closed zone so they could actually leave the area. Palestinians living in Area C have seen closed military orders dozens of times, and they know it's not a hill worth dying on. The people in the video are clearly asking for further explanation and one person explicitly says, "Ok we will leave, but just clear this up for me..." Seconds later, tear gas and sound bombs.

Photos available here.

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