On Monday, the Israeli military arrested five peaceful protesters including Dan Laverick, a 26 year old from Nottingham, and four local Palestinians. At least 150 protesters had assembled at what has become known as the ‘Jerusalem Gate’ protest camp, near Abu Dis, in the West Bank. The Israeli military used tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades, and rubber-coated steel bullets against demonstrators, and destroyed the camp for the sixth time in two weeks.
The protesters were attempting to resist the seizure of Palestinian land which Israel plans to expropriate in order to make way for Bedouin communities. Bedouin displacement has been occurring for years as part of the Prawer Plan, which evicts residents of “unrecognized communities” and forces them to seek out alternative arrangements that are officially sanctioned. It is clear that Prawer is designed to erase communities that would interfere with settlement expansion in the West Bank.
Last September, the Israeli government revealed its plans to forcibly relocate 12 500 Bedouin Palestinians living east of Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley, a move that is in clear breach of Article 7(1)(d) of the Rome Statute, and also violates Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Many of these communities were previously relocated in order to make way for the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, which Israel plans to illegally extend to Jerusalem, effectively cutting transport links between the north and south of the West Bank.
“This land belongs to the Palestinians of Abu Dis and Eizariya,” said Munther Amira, head of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Coordination Committee. “We don’t want them to displace the Bedouin, we don’t want them to build more settlements on our land. We will not stop rebuilding our camps; we are planning to do the same all over the West Bank. This is popular resistance. Yesterday the Israeli military came with enormous machines to destroy the camp, land and the olive trees we had planted. They have already arrested us, and threatened us, but even if they arrest, deport and even kill us we will continue.”
“Throughout my arrest and detainment I was blindfolded, handcuffed, placed in stress positions, hit, kicked, had my hair pulled and my life threatened – at one point an officer threatened to stab me in the face with a pen for refusing to sign a document written in Hebrew,” said Laverick, who discussed the brutality he experienced. “The three Palestinians with me started enduring harsher treatment than me before I was blindfolded. The officers’ statements against me included entirely fabricated accusations, such as “assaulting an officer.” I am extremely concerned for the safety of my Palestinian friends who are being held in prison on equally spurious charges. Innocent Palestinians are too often abused and imprisoned for long periods of time, and I feel it is important to recognise that this is not an isolated incident, but a regular occurrence for those living under Israeli occupation and apartheid.”
Photographs courtesy of Independent Media Center.