Friday, October 20, 2017

“We shall remain”: Palestinians stand with prisoners and bedouin community to demand basic rights


By The Palestine Monitor - May 03, 2017
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation] [Features]
Tags: [Bedouin] [E1] [prisoners] [Hunger Strike]

Residents of Jabal al Baba, a Bedouin community near East Jerusalem, invited activists who wished to rally in support of the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike to join them in a combined event in the hilly village last Friday.
 
The protest aimed at shedding light on both the issue of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, demanding for basic rights such as seeing their families, and the fate of the Jabal al Baba community.
 
Israeli authorities have specifically targeted this village for years and the pressure intensified over the past weeks, overlapping with the mobilization in support of prisoners.
 
    
 
The village's name means 'Pope mountain', because when Pope Paul VI visited Palestine in 1964, Jordan – which was at the time administering the West Bank - gave him a few dunums on this land to build a church. It is said that the Pope then gave the land to the Bedouin community. Today, 300 people live there. The majority are refugees from the Naqab (Negev) desert in present-day Israel and live from sheep herding.
 
The community received demolition orders in February, alongside many others in this area. Israel says the houses and tents where people from Jabal al Baba live were built illegally, but the community answers that permits, when requested, are never approved. All villages located in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank under Israeli control, suffer the same fate.
 
An Israeli court postponed demolitions in the village until the end of April, after human rights organization campaigned against the orders.
 
Meanwhile, more than 880,000 people have signed a petition by campaigning group Avaaz, calling on the EU to immediately intervene and halt the demolition.
 
     
 
Over the past years, the community has been targeted a number of times. According to the Palestinian News Network, in 2014 Israel carried out 43 demolitions in the community, which has a population of 300 people. In response, the EU and other donors have provided them with tents and houses whenever demolition occurred.
 
Jabal al Baba is located in the sensitive E1 corridor, an area slated for illegal settlement expansion, located between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim, one of the largest settlements in the West Bank. Earlier this year, Israel's Knesset discussed a bill to annex Ma'ale Adumim, but postponed it after an international outcry.
 
Two weeks ago, residents of Jabal al Baba wrote “We Shall Remain” with rocks and stones, in large letters, on top a hill near the village. The installation, which was said to be as much as 100 meters wide, was destroyed within hours as more than 150 Israeli soldiers stormed the village, according to locals. It was rebuilt in the next few days.
 
Fadi Quran, a Palestinian youth leader and a senior campaigner at Avaaz, said at an event at Jabal al Baba last week: “Today, the families of political prisoners and the courageous community of Jabal al Baba lit a fire of hope for all Palestinians who suffer unjust arrest, torture, demolition of our homes, and indignity simply for coming from this land”.
 
 
 

 Photos courtesy of Avaaz

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