Friday, June 20, 2008

Update on Ibrahim (shot in leg last Friday)

Just called a couple of internationals staying in Bil'in -Good news, Ibrahim is doing much better. After his surgery his bleeding wouldn't stop and they were about to try to transfer him from Ramallah to Jerusalem, but they eventually stopped the bleeding and now, a week later, he is no longer in intensive care.

Also, today's protest in Bil'in was successful with protestors affixing posters of Ibrahim to the Apartheid Wall. They were able to reach the fence and open the outer gate before being tear gassed. No serious injuries.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bil'in: Activist/Artist Shot with Live Ammo by Israeli Soldiers

See Video Here:
We were very sorry to learn today that our friend Ibraheem Bornat was shot yesterday at the weekly Bil'in demonstration and badly wounded. He was shot with 3 live bullets in the thigh, severing an artery and a nerve and causing major blood loss. According to the Bil'in popular committee.

Ibrahim is currently in the hospital in critical condition and undergoing surgery. It is not clear if he will be able to walk. Although we only met him briefly during the Bi'lin conference, I would call him a friend because he immediately made a strong impression as a kind and gentle person. He is from Bi'in village, and is a very quiet and warm person -- you would never know what he had been through if you didn't ask. He has been attending the peacful protests in Bi'lin for a long time and was once shot in the head at 10 meters distance with a tear gas canister, breaking his skull. We asked him about the large soft scar in the center of his forehead -- exactly in the shape of the pointed end of the metal tear gas canisters that soldiers shoot from their M16s and from which he now makes his art (see below). He says he was unconscious for 20 days after the incident and even now has trouble reading.

Demonstrations in Bi'lin are peaceful and the effort is deliberately nonviolent. Sometimes young boys throw stones (harmlessly) at the (protected) soldiers, and in this case Ibraheem was trying to (symbolically) damage the wall that is build on his village's land by an illegal occupation army. It seems clear to me that the Israeli soldiers will use any excuse to inflict the maximum harm on protestors, while still trying to maintain an image of a "moral" army. Even assuming that the army has the right to dispers protesters on Palestinian land, the army has long used live ammo or misused tear gas canisters causing injury and death to hundreds of palestinians. This is well documented by respected Israeli and international human
rights organizations like Btselem and Amnesty International.

From video footage it appears that during the demonstration he began trying to damage the Apartheid Wall with stones when Israeli soldiers opened fire. Again, you can see the video of the shooting here:

For a full report, see:
above: M16 shell casings and rubber coated steel bullets
The bottom of this flower is a tear gas canister, maybe 10 inches in lenght and quite heavy when full. Also it is scorching hot. One hit me in the arm after falling from the sky, burining the hair off my arm! If fired directly (against safety rules), they can kill.
Various munitions used by Israeli soldiers against peaceful Bil'in protests heaped on an Israeli flag.
Building a model of the wall, with Israel on one side and the Palestinian "prison" on the other.
Ibrahim could usually be found with his art or spending hours walking around the conference pouring water for guests.

Hebron - tuesday june 12

Above: Market vendor in front of street taken over by Israeli settlers and closed by Israeli army in Hebron. Due to the presence of some 600 Israeli settlers who are "reclaiming" the old city of Hebron, Palestinian residents encounter Israeli soldiers daily.
Above: Many shops in Hebron's old city have been closed due to settler violence. Recently, some shops have been reopening.
A Palestinian shop keeper in the old city directs our attention to the upper floors of the shops which are now occupied by Israeli settlers (they enter from the street behind which has been blocked to Palestinians).
Looking up at the stones and trash settlers have thrown down onto the shopkeepers. Metal netting has been put into place to protect the shops and customers. Shopkeepers say settlers have thrown down hot oil and bleach to ruin the clothes they sell.

Above: The second and third floors of a building in the old city, now occupied by Israeli settlers. The first floor (below, out of the picture) contains a Palesestinian shop.
To see firsthand video of settler violence, visit:

Saturday, June 07, 2008

More Jordan Valley photos (see summary in previous entry)

Above: Israeli settlement agriculture on confiscated land - right in the middle of the Palestinian village of Jeflik. The Israeli government provides water for Israeli settlers while preventing access to Palestinians, who must buy it from trucks or pump it from the few old wells built before the occupation (they are not allowed to build new wells).
Village of Jeflik - homes under threat of demolition. many Palestinians are prevented from building livable homes at all and are forced to live in shackswhile Israeli settlers are given free land and live in modern, California-style air conditioned homes.
Making bread in Jeflik Vilage
Bus breakdown in the heat... but soon rescued by local Palesitnians, bringing big jugs of water and a mechanic who soon got us underway.

leaving the jordan valley back into the higher elevations of the central west bank.

New school with order to be demolished

Groups in England and Norway raised funds to build this small school, recently completed. The Israeli military ordered it demolished - something that could happen any day, or might take as long as five years, according to local people. Thanks to a letter campaign to the Israeli embassy, the Israeli ambassodor to the UK has given a verbal (but not written) promise that the school will not be destroyed.

Jeftlik Village in the Jordan Valley

rebuilding demolished home with mud (adobe) blocks
family now living in relative's old house - 6 people in one room. they moved temporarily into an old unused and decrepit adobe shack until one of the young girls was bitten by a snake.
Abdullah's demolished home
above: temporary shacks housing Palestinian families in the Jordan Valley village of Fasayil.

As part of the Bi'lin conference, internationals were taken to see different situations in the West Bank. We choose the often overlooked Jordan Valley. Other groups visited areas we will see later, such as the northern west bank and Hebron in the south.

The Jordan Valley is very hot - below sea level, but has an acquifer providing water for agriculture. According to the Jordan Valley Solidarity Organiazation (, 200,000 Palestinians lived in the Jordan Valley before the 1967 war displaced all but 55,000 of them.

Under the Israeli occupation, the scattered remnants of the Palestinian community are generally not allowed to build new homes or agricultural infrastructure (under the Oslo accords most of the Jordan valley was assigned to "Area C", under full Israeli military control).

Thus - the new generation is not allowed build homes for their families. Fearing demolition, they build temporary shacks, which are issued "demolition orders" and demolished by the Israeli military for "building without a permit." Even adding new rooms or floors to pre-existing homes is prohibited.

We met a man named Abdullah who's family home was recently demolished. He had dared to build an actual concrete home. He is now rebulidng with mud bricks that he and his family are making themselves.

The village has no water or electric connection. They use a generator for 2 hours a day and water is brought in by truck. A 3 day supply for Abdulla's family costs $20.

While such dire conditions exist in many places in the world - the situation here is striking because of the apartheid like conditions created by the occupation. Nearby Israeli settlements draw water from new wells and are hooked up to the electrical grid while the Israeli military prevents indigenous Palesitnian communites from drilling new wells or building new homes. It amounts to an policy of ethnic cleansing through economic pressure and deprival of the basic necessities of water and shelter. This situation is one of the most naked injustices I've seen in the occupied territories.

For more on the Jordan Valley see: "The Jordan Valley's forgotten Palestinians Ben White," The Electronic Intifada, 30 May 2008

For ways to support, see:

Jordan Valley Solidarity:

Demonstration in Bil'in

people taking cover from tear gas barage fired from israeli jeep - new weapon fires 30 canisters at once

soldiers wait in safety on confiscated land behind the security fence and concrete barricades. protestors chanted and raised thier hands to show they were unarmed. they approached the locked gate behind which lies Bil'ins lost land. after about 10 or 15 minutes soldiers opened fire on the entirely peaceful protestors with gun-launched tear gas canisters.

near the gate, two boys, some distance away from the demonstration threw some stones uphill toward the soldiers early on. their stones fell far short of the well protected soldiers and while harmless provided justification for israeli military to later report "protesters rioted and hurled stones at the soldiers." the two stone throwing children were were ignored and soon stopped.

Bil'in Conference June 2008

Bil'in is an agricultural village near Ramallah that is losing most of it's land behind Israel's security wall. The land is being allocated to an Israeli settlement. The people of Bi'lin have wages a nonviolent campaign against the wall since 2005 with demonstrations every Friday, and this year held their third international conference inviting people from around the world to join them in discussions and their demonstration. According to organizers, one thousand people have been injured in these demonstrations by tear gas and rubber bullets when the soldiers inevitably attack the demonstration. This time, no rubber bullets were fired, perhaps because of the presence of an Irish nobel prize winner and one of the vice-presidents of the European Union. There were injuries however, including an Italian judge was struck in the head by a tear gas container fired by the soldiers. The Israeli military also brought out a new weapon for the second time: a jeep that can fire about 30 tear gas containers simultaneously.

The village website including news, photos and Bi'lin's story is at:

More photos of this week's (june 7, 2008) demonstration are at:


dome of the rock, old city, East Jerusalem, from the Hashimi Hotel. Behind it is the Mount of Olives.

Israeli settlers are moving in, squatting, buying or otherwise confiscating property in the Palestinian areas of the Old City. This particular house is owned by an Israeli settler named Ariel Sharon, who never slept a night in the house but bought it for political reasons.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

youth film workshops continue (ages 10-16)

practice photos

practice photos

workshop facilitators

assortment, aug 7th 2007

sharing stories
Huwarra checkpoint outside the city of Nablus, inbound...
be careful with your grandmother there son..
camera training, Ramallah