Hundreds of Palestinians intend to cross Qalandia non-violently in Nakba Day Protest

Hundreds of Palestinians headed to Qalandia for non-violent protest starting at 11am, intend to cross thru checkpoint.

Palestinian protesters intend to cross through Qalandia checkpoint today without permits or military checks, as if it were not there… as if they were free, and not under direct military occupation.

For 1st time in a while, post-reconciliation Hamas is coming out + has joined the call to participate in non-violent Qalandia protest today.

Qalandia is a terrible cul-de-sac under IDF control where many 10s of 1000s of Palestinians must pass daily between Jerusalem and West Bank.

Qalandia, always congested, becomes terrifying parking lot w/o escape when stone-throwing meets tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets.

Palestinian Authority Security has reportedly vowed to block Palestinian protests from Area A to checkpoints…

Israeli solidarity anarchists told Palestinian youth movement organizers they will head to Qalandia from Israeli side of checkpoint today.

As Hamas in West Bank decided to come out + join #Nakba Day protest at Qalandia, Hamas leader in Damascus Khaled Meshal reportedly asked Egyptians for stop of their march across Sinai to Rafah.

"Nothing is going to happen": predictions on stand-off as Palestinian Third Intifada (non-violent, this time) said to be launched

Some of the calls for action on this weekend of commemoration of the Nakba (catastrophe), or the Palestinian dispossession that took place some 63 years ago, in the fighting that surrounded the creation of the State of Israel, said this would be the start of the Third Palestinian Intifada — which they want to be decidedly non-violent.

The coordination of demonstrations within the West Bank and Gaza, with simultaneous action by Palestinian refugees demanding return from the borders of Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, caused a serious case of jitters in the Israeli military and security establishment, who did make real preparations to prevent any upset to the current status quo.

Not-fully-trained IDF recruits were prepared to confront mass popular demonstrations along The Wall in the West Bank.

Police were deployed throughout East Jerusalem.

Other Israeli preparations were made along the borders.

This has been the talk at dinner tables and social gatherings over the last month.

However, some Palestinians predict that despite the build-up, in expectations as well as in troop deployments, not much will happen.

Certainly, they say, not much will happen if most people will continue only to discuss the matter at their dinner tables, while just a few others will be putting their bodies on the front lines. No one is willing to pay the price of the predictable reaction as long as most Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank are going to stay comfortably at home, participating mainly only virtually.

One death has already been recorded in clashes in East Jerusalem.

But, most of East Jerusalem is still quiet…

YNet is reporting here that “Israel’s political leadership instructed the IDF not to take risks and assume major precautions. Indeed, the army already reinforced its troops in the West Bank and prepared reserve forces as well. The IDF will deploy in force at potential trouble spots, in order to make its presence felt and create deterrence. In the first circles of friction with protestors, soldiers will not be carrying weapons, but rather, only crowd-control means. The orders call on soldiers to show restraint and avoid casualties, which are the tested and true recipe for escalation; we want zero funerals, as the army refers to it. In the next circles of security, there will be a response for the possibility that the protestors will also include gunmen in their midst. Soldiers have been instructed to put an end to any escalation at its early stages, using massive force. Meanwhile, Israeli officials hope that their coordination with the Palestinian Authority will remain effective, as it was in the past”.

Though nobody knows for sure, the YNet article says, and an escalation could easily happen despite the best intentions, “Officials in the defense establishment and at the Prime Minister’s Office have a feeling that the Palestinian Authority’s interest – despite the coordination with Hamas – prompts the conclusion that ‘wasting’ the public’s energies on ‘Nakba Day’ is not a worthwhile move. These energies are better reserved for September, when Palestinian statehood may be declared”…

The YNet article does note, however, that ” ‘Nakba Day’ events will be taking place at various locations, in different geographical areas, and may deeply affect each other. Hence, any pledge by any element, but it Israeli or Palestinian, to maintain restraint in the West Bank promises nothing. The situation in the West Bank may escalate to uncontrolled violence as result of external influence, such as the following: Protests by the Islamic Brotherhood and opposition elements in Jordan; marches towards that border that will be aired on TV and inflame emotions; mass demonstrations in Egypt under the banner of the ‘Third Intifada committee’; mass marches in Gaza; violence among Arab-Israelis; and a flare-up in the Middle East’s most problematic theater: Friday prayers”…

Total IDF closure of West Bank for Israeli holidays, followed by IDF build-up in preparation for Palestinian demonstrations this weekend

The tension is thick enough to cut with a knife.

The Israeli Defense Ministry declared a total closure of the West Bank from Sunday just after midnight until Wednesday just after midnight, to allow Israelis to commemorate Remembrance Day on Monday, in honor of those who have died in Israel’s wars, which segued immediately into Independence Day on Tuesday, to celebrate the creation of the State of Israel [according to the Jewish calendar].

Many visited the West Bank for picnics and barbeques, in ease and comfort. Checkpoints all around the northern West Bank town of Nablus were shut down to give extra reassurance to Israeli settlers and their friends and families. Israeli flags were everywhere, flying from windows, balconies, lampposts, and from plastic holders fixed on the front windows of both sides of their cars, like dogs’ ears.

The holidays passed uneventfully, apart from a mini-demonstration staged by the brother of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit at the important televised official ceremony on Mount Herzl during the transition from Monday’s sadness in Israel to Tuesday’s joy.

On Wednesday, as Israelis returned to work, the IDF began to deploy in watchtowers along The Wall, in preparation for demonstrations called by Palestinians for Nakba Day on March 15, to mark the catastrophic dispossession — much of it forced — of an estimated 750,000 Palestinians in the fighting that surrounded the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

The return, or right to return, of those Palestinians and their descendants is something that has been under discussion for the subsequent 63 years.

Most Israelis are adamantly opposed.

Some say, with emphasis, that this would mean war.

Others say they cannot allow any deterioration of their own lifestyle, which they are convinced would be in jeopardy with any significant Palestinian return.

Most Israelis say they don’t want to even see any Palestinians.

Proposals discussed at the unsuccessful Camp David peace talks in late July 2000 envisaged the return of Palestinian refugees only to a future Palestinian state, with strictly limited and symbolic “family reunification” of between 10,000 and 100,000 Palestinian refugees who would be allowed to enter Israel.

The recent Israeli Peace Initiative, signed by a group of some 70 Israeli ex-military, ex-security, and other officials, contains a distinctly ungenerous proposal to recognize “the suffering of the Palestinian refugee since the 1948 war, as well as of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries”.

This would apparently creates an accounting balance [of zero] on both sides of the ledger.

The Israeli Peace Initiative also notes “the need to resolve the Palestinian refugees problem through realistic and mutually agreed-upon solutions”.

The demonstrations planned this weekend by Palestinians and their supports are scheduled to take place globally — and some, perhaps many, will be on the internet.

There has been intense speculation in recent weeks about these demonstrations — which could be the first large-scale direct confrontations between demonstrators who have declared their dedication to non-violence and Israeli forces at checkpoints in the West Bank and in Gaza, as well as at the Egyptian, Lebanese, and Jordanian borders.

No one knows how many will turn out, how sustained their effort will be, or what will be the response…

On Friday 13 May, a coalition of Palestinian youth groups has announced they will be holding a training session in non-violence in Qalandiya refugee camp ahead of a planned demonstration at the massive and monstrous checkpoint on 15 May, during which time, they say, they intend to enter Jerusalem and “1948 areas” — peacefully, of course.
Also on Friday 13 May, marches were scheduled along Israel’s borders with Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

UPDATE: clashes between Israeli military, police, and private security for Israeli settlers (on the one hand) and adolescent male residents of Silwan, on the south-eastern edge of the Old City of East Jerusalem escalated quickly on Friday afternoon. A 16 or 17-year-old, Mourad Ayyash, was shot in the abdomen, and suffered massive blood loss while medical care was delayed due to a police cordon around the area; he died later in hospital after hours of surgery. According to an email from Jonathan Pollack for the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, the bullet came from a pistoMinor clashes were contained on Friday afternoon — with dozens of protestors detained — in an arc of East Jerusalem neighborhoods from Silwan to the Mount of Olives to Issawiya to Shuafat Refugee Camp to the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah. On Saturday at mid-day, there were what Israeli media reported were “violent” clashes at the boy’s funeral procession from his home in Ras al-Amoud to a cemetary outside the Old City Wall (just north of Silwan).

On Saturday 14 May, a demonstration is scheduled to be held in Walajee, ajacent to the north/western edge of Bethlehem, to protest the imminent completion of The Wall and further loss of Palestinian land there. Demonstrators may also be intending to enter Jerusalem — without permits — but peacefully.

UPDATE: There is a demonstration on Saturday afternoon in Yaffa, an Israeli coastal city once home to tens of thousands of Palestinians who fled in 1948, south of Haifa.

On Sunday May 15, the main anticipated demonstration will be at Qalandia checkpoint, which will certainly be shut down for most of the day.

IDF to deploy fresh conscripts to deal with May15 protests at The Wall

According to a report published in Haaretz today, here, the IDF is going to deploy fresh conscripts for May 15/Nakba Day protests along The Wall after crash training + “psychological preparation”.

The IDF preparations are apparently geared not just to contain, if necessary, but also to actually prevent planned Palestinian civilian non-violent protests to mark Nakba Day, which organizers say will involve marches to IDF checkpoints and to The Wall.

The Haaretz story says that “The Israel Defense Force is preparing to substantially bolster its presence near Palestinian population centers in the coming two weeks … [and] preparations are being made in the event that thousands of Palestinian civilians attempt to march toward Jewish settlements or the separation fence in the West Bank, or toward the border fence of the Gaza Strip”.

According to Haaretz, “To prevent such developments, the IDF is planning to halt training for many of the conscript units and deploy them near possible points of friction in the West Bank. Prior to their deployment, the units will undergo training on how to disperse demonstrations and also undergo ‘psychological preparation’ for dealing with civilians. Border Police units, which specialize in dispersing demonstrations, will also be significantly bolstered”.

Continue reading IDF to deploy fresh conscripts to deal with May15 protests at The Wall

ANOTHER 48-hour GENERAL CLOSURE of the West Bank – for Nakba Day

In an email sent on Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 10:40 PM, the IDF announced that “In accordance with the decision made by the Minister of Defense and as part of the security measures adopted by the defense establishment, a general closure will be implemented in the Judea and Samaria region [i.e., the West Bank] as of tonight, May 14th, 2009 at 23:59. The closure will be lifted on the night of Saturday, May 16th, 2009 at 23:59, in accordance with security assessments.  For the duration of the closure, persons in need of medical attention will be permitted to pass for care. Additionally, the passage of humanitarian aid as well as doctors, medical personnel, NGO members, lawyers, religious workers and additional professional groups will be authorized by the District Coordination and Liaison offices. In addition, commercial crossings will remain open for the passage of supplies into the Judea and Samaria area.  The closure has no effect on the movement of journalists, who are reminded to ensure that their GPO credentials, passports and visas are valid. Media personnel with Israeli or dual citizenship are required to sign release forms prior to visiting the A areas and are encouraged to coordinate their passage in advance with the IDF Spokesperson’s News Desk”.

Nakba [“Catastrophe” or “Disaster”] Day, marked on 15 May, commemorates the exile of some 750,000 Palestinians who were fled or expelled from their homes in the fighting that surrounded the creation of the state of Israel [proclaimed overnight on 14-15 May 1948, as British troops pulled out, ending the British Mandate].   The fighting [very little of which involved Palestinians]  started as the UN adopted resolution 181 on 29 November 1947, which proposed the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, and the fighting is considered to have continued until armistice agreements were reached between Israel and neighboring Arab States in 1949.