Monday, March 12, 2012

23 Palestinian killed, 73 Injured in 4th Day of Air Strikes

IOF Continued Offensive on Gaza for 4th Consecutive Day:

5 Palestinians, Including a Child and an Old Man and His Daughter, Killed and 38 Others Wounded Since Yesterday Afternoon, Raising Deaths to 23 and Injuries to 73

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continued the military offensive on the Gaza Strip, which they initiated on Friday evening, 09 March 2012. Today, 3 Palestinian civilians (a child and an old man and his daughter) have been killed and 36 others, including 19 children and 7 women, have been wounded. Two members of resistance have been killed, and two others have been also wounded by a series of Israeli air strikes. Thus, the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of this offensive has risen to 23 and the number of those wounded has risen to 73, most of them civilians.

Investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) into alleged crimes committed by IOF from Friday evening, 09 March 2012 until Monday noon, 12 March 2012, indicate as follows:

At approximately 01:40 on Monday, 12 March 2012, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at an agricultural plot on ‘Oujan Street in the east of al-Shuja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. A number of nearby houses were damaged, and Ahlam ‘Arraf Jundiya, 18, was injured in her forehead by fragments of glass while she was at home.

At approximately 02:00 also on Monday, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a house belonging to Bahjat Mohammed Hammad near Jabalya Martyrs Elementary School in ‘Izbat ‘Abed Rabbu in the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya. The missile hit the first floor of the three-storey house, where 9 individuals, including 3 children live. As a result, the house was completely destroyed and 7 members of the family, including 3 children and 3 women, were wounded. Eighteen neighboring houses were also affected by the missile, 3 of them sustained heavy damages. Twelve members of the Abu al-‘Eish family, including 3 children and two women, and 7 members of the Sukkar family, including 5 children, were also wounded. The houses of the two families are adjacent to the targeted house. In addition, 350 windows, 7 wooden and 3 iron doors in the above school were damaged. Two windows from the Palestine Red Crescent Society premises were also destroyed.

At approximately 02:30, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a empty area in ‘Abassan village, east of the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis. No casualties were reported.

At approximately 05:40, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at Hamada Salman Ahmed Abu Mutlaq, 20, from ‘Abassan village east of Khan Yunis, a member of the al-Quds Brigades (the armed wing of Islamic Jihad), when he was near Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Mosque in ‘Abassan village. Abu Mutlaq was instantly killed by shrapnel throughout the body. Additionally, windows of three nearby houses were destroyed, injuring the head of two-year-old Muhannad Eyad Abu Hamad.

At approximately 06:10, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at Sara Hill in the east of al-Shuja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. No casualties were reported.

At approximately 06:40, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a empty area in al-Shuja’iya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. No casualties were reported.

At approximately 07:00, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at 3 members of the al-Quds Brigades (the armed wing of Islamic Jihad), who were traveling on a 3-wheel motorcycle near al-Radwan Mosque in al-Qarara village, northeast of Khan Yunis. One of the members of resistance, Ra’fat Jawad Adeeb Abu ‘Eid, 25, was killed by shrapnel throughout the body, while the two other members of resistance were wounded, one of them is in a serious condition as his legs were amputated.

At approximately 09:25, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a gathering of Palestinian civilians, mostly children, near al-Khuzondar fuel station in the west of the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya. As a result, Nayef Sha’ban Nayef Qarmout, 14, was killed, and another 5 children were wounded by shrapnel.

At approximately 13:30, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at Mohammed Mustafa al-Hussoumi, 65, and his daughter Faiza, 30, when they were on their agricultural plot near Tal al-Za’tar School in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia. The old man was instantly killed, and his daughter died a few minutes after her admission in Kamal ‘Edwan Hospital in Beit Lahia.

PCHR reiterates condemnation of these crimes and expresses utmost concern over such escalation, especially in light to continuous Israeli threats, and:

1. Stresses that the IOF is committing grave breaches of international humanitarian law for using excessive and disproportional force in disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians.

2. Calls upon the international community to immediately take an action to stop such crimes and reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1 which stipulates "the High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances," and their obligations under Article 146 which requires that the Contracting Parties prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 and Protocol I Additional of the Geneva Conventions.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

18 Palestinians killed over the weekend

7 Palestinians, Including a Child, Killed and 24 Others Wounded, Raising Number of Victims of Ongoing Israeli Military Escalation against the Gaza Strip to 18 Deaths and 35 Injuries

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continued the military offensive on the Gaza Strip, which they have initiated since Friday evening, 09 March 2012. This morning, two Palestinian civilians, including a child, were killed by an Israeli air strike. Thus, the number of Palestinians killed since the beginning of this offensive has risen to 18 and the number of those wounded has risen to 53.

Subsequent to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) into crimes committed by IOF from Friday evening, 09 March 2012 until Saturday noon, 10 March 2012, investigations conducted by PCHR into the latest incidents indicate:

At approximately 12:45 on Saturday, 10 March 2012, an Israeli warplane fired two missiles at a motorcycle that was traveling on a branch road in ‘Abassan village, east of Khan Yunis. Two activists of the Nasser Saladin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, who live in Bani Suhaila village, east of Khan Yunis, were traveling on the motorcycle. The missiles hit the motorcycle, killing the two activists who were identified as:

1- Hussein Saleem Hassan Barham, 52; and

2- Mansour Kamal Abu Nussaira, 21, who died shortly after having been admitted to the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Yunis.

At approximately 14:00 also on Saturday, Israeli soldiers stationed at observation towers at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east of the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya opened fire at a number of Palestinian civilians who got close to the border and threw stones, during the funeral procession of a number of victims of Israeli air strikes. Five civilians were wounded by gunshots, including two ones who were in serious conditions.

At approximately 15:10 on the same day, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a training site of the ‘Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, to the west of al-Maqqoussi apartment buildings in the north of Gaza City. A number of nearby houses were damaged, and as a result, 6 Palestinian civilians were injured by fragments of glass.

At approximately 15:50 also on Saturday, an Israeli warplane fired two missiles at Mahdi Ahmed Abu Shawish, 26, from Rafah, an activist of the Nasser Saladin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, when he was getting ready to ride his motorcycle in Block J in the south of Rafah refugee camp. Abu Shawish was instantly killed by shrapnel throughout the body. Additionally, 5 civilian bystanders, including a 15-year-old child, were wounded.

At approximately 22:15 on the same day, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a space area in the east of al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. No casualties were reported.

At approximately 01:20 on Sunday, 11 March 20122, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a number of activists of the Nasser Saladin Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, who were near Doula intersection in the east of al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. An activist, Ahmed Nafez Saber Deeb, 23, was killed and two others were wounded.

At approximately 07:10 also on Sunday, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a number of Palestinian civilians, mostly children who were playing near their houses in ‘Assaliya Street in the northern Gaza Strip town of Jabalya. As a result, Ayoub ‘Aamer Mohammed ‘Assaliya, 13, was killed, and two of his relatives, including a 7-year-old child, were wounded.

At approximately 08:20, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a number of Palestinian resistance activists to the east of the Car Market in al-Zaytoun neighborhood in the southeast of Gaza City. Two activists were moderately wounded.

At approximately 11:45, a missile fired by an Israeli warplane landed near an agricultural plot belonging to the al-Wehaidi family in al-Fakhoura area in al-Nafaq Street in the northeast of Gaza City. As a result, the guard of the plot, ‘Aadel Saleh Fares al-Essi, 63, from al-Tuffah neighborhood in Gaza City, was killed by shrapnel throughout the body. Additionally, two resistance activists were seriously wounded.

PCHR reiterates condemnation of these crimes and expresses utmost concern over such escalation, and:

1- Stresses that these crimes are part of the escalation of crimes committed by IOF in the occupied Palestinian territory, especially in the Gaza Strip, in which IOF have used excessive and disproportional force in disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians.

2- Calls upon the international community to immediately take an action to stop such crimes and reiterates its call for the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1 which stipulates "the High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances," and their obligations under Article 146 which requires that the Contracting Parties prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and under Protocol I Additional to Geneva Conventions.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

PCHR: 3 Years After Operation Cast Lead Justice has been Comprehensively Denied; 23 Narratives Documenting the Experience of Victims

Today marks the third anniversary of the commencement of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009 offensive on the Gaza Strip. 27 December also marks the anniversary of the single bloodiest day in the history of the occupation; on this day three years ago 334 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces, 76.6% of whom were civilian.


In total, 1,419 Palestinians were killed during Operation Cast Lead, 1,167 (82.2%) of whom were civilians. A further 5,300 were injured. Israeli forces directly targeted and attacked private homes and civilian institutions, including hospitals and schools. Exacerbating the effects of the continuing illegal closure, the offensive had a devastating impact on the overall economy of the Gaza Strip. Civilian workshops and factories were directly targeted and agricultural land was razed, destroying farms, fields and irrigation systems that formed the basis of farmersสน livelihoods. As reconstruction is virtually impossible due to the illegal closure, the hardship brought about by this destruction has only increased in the last three years.


To mark the anniversary of the attacks, and to highlight the continuing lack of justice, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) will release a series of narratives, documenting the experiences of victims in the three years since the offensive. The story of the Al Ashi family is released today. This series is also accompanied by a factsheet providing an overview of the flaws inherent in the Israeli justice system and the criminal complaints submitted to the Israeli authorities on behalf of victims of Operation Cast Lead. Further information is available in Genuinely Unwilling: An Update.


PCHR believes that Israeli forces committed serious violations of IHL and IHRL over the course of the offensive. Violations entailing individual criminal responsibility include – but are not limited to – the crimes of wilful killing, the extensive destruction of civilian property, the direct targeting of civilians and civilian objects, the use of human shields, and the launching of indiscriminate attacks.


PCHR has submitted 490 criminal complaints to the Israeli authorities, on behalf of 1,046 victims of Operation Cast Lead. To-date, only two substantive replies have been received. The overwhelming majority of complaints have been simply ignored.


It is evident that these crimes demand judicial redress. If the law is to be respected – if it is to prove capable of protecting civilian populations – it must be enforced; victims’ rights to the equal protection of the law and effective judicial remedy must be upheld. Those responsible for committing such crimes must be investigated, tried and prosecuted in accordance with international standards.


If the occupation has taught us anything it is that as long as Israel is granted impunity, it will continue to violate international law, Palestinian civilians will continue to suffer the horrific consequences.


In light of the clear and unequivocal failure of domestic justice systems, it is clear that recourse must be had to mechanisms of international criminal justice. PCHR call upon the UN Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, to refer the situation in Israel and Palestine to the International Criminal Court. PCHR also reminds States, as High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, of their pressing legal obligation, to search for and prosecute all those suspected of committing war crimes, regardless of their nationality.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Report: Israel issues over 1,000 settlement tenders


Published today (updated) 18/12/2011 19:02
A general view of Har Homa settlement.(MaanImages/file)
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- The Israeli ministry of housing and construction announced Sunday that they will market tenders for over 1,000 housing units in illegal settlements in the West Bank.

"Some countries won't be pleased with this (tenders), but they won't be surprised," Ariel Atias, Israel's housing and construction minister, was quoted as saying by Israeli news site Ynet.

The housing units include 500 in Har Homa south of Jerusalem, 348 in Betar Illit, southwest of Jerusalem, and 180 in Givat Zeev, northwest of Jerusalem.

"The decision was reached last month after the Palestinians were accepted into UNESCO," Atias said.

Last week, Israel approved the construction of 40 homes and a farm in two new settler enclaves near Bethlehem.

"Israel's military establishment has approved the establishment of a new, permanent neighborhood and a farm near the West Bank settlement of Efrat," Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

"The building in Efrat is especially sensitive in my opinion, because it is east of the road leading to Bethlehem," Peace Now's Hagit Ofran told AFP in response to the move.

"That means that if Israel wants to annex Efrat, it will cut off Bethlehem from the southern West Bank."

Israel has come under renewed international criticism for its surge of settlement activities since a government decision on November 1 to speed up building in response to Palestine joining UNESCO.

More than 310,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and the number is constantly growing.

Another 200,000 live in a dozen settlement neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in 1967 and annexed in a move never recognized internationally.

The international community considers all settlements in territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 as illegal, whether or not approved by its government.

For more information:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Israel builds Gaza sea border at 3 miles out

Ref: 142/2011

Date: 15 December 2011

Time: 12:50

PCHR Condemns Placing Large Floats 3 Miles from Gaza Seashore to Tighten the Siege Imposed on the Gaza Strip

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the placing of large floats by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) 3 miles from the Gaza Strip seashore, beyond which Palestinian fishermen are banned from sailing. This measure serves to institutionalize the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, and enhances IOF’s control over the Gaza Strip’s regional water. PCHR warns that this measure will lead to more attacks by IOF against Palestinian fishermen, depriving them of their means of subsistence, under the pretest of sailing beyond the sea floats.

PCHR has obtained affidavits from a number of Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, in which they expressed concerns that such Israeli measures would tighten the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip and restrict their work by limiting the permissible fishing area to only 3 nautical miles.

According to Mr. Mohammed Subhi al-Hissi, Head of the Union of Fishermen in Gaza City, the Israeli naval forces started to place large floats to serve as border signs, above which are lights and devices believed to be photographing and monitoring devices, at a distance of 3 nautical miles from the Gaza Strip seashore. The Israeli naval forces warned Palestinian fishermen through leaflets not to sail beyond such border signs, otherwise, they would be subject to shooting, detention and confiscation of fishing tools. Al-Hissi warned of the repercussions of this measure on the fishing industry in the Gaza Strip, which is the sole source of income for hundreds of fishermen and their families.

It should be noted that IOF have imposed a long term closure on the Gaza Strip since 1991, under which they have deprived Palestinian fishermen their right to fish Gaza’s waters. They also decreased the permissible fishing area in the Gaza Strip’s seawater from 20 nautical miles, as agreed under the Palestinian-Israeli Oslo Accords,[1] to 6 nautical miles in 2008, and to 3 nautical miles in 2009. During the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip in the period 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009, IOF imposed a total closure on the Gaza Strip, completely preventing Palestinian fishermen from fishing. Following the offensive, IOF imposed a partial closure on the Gaza Strip preventing Palestinian fishermen from fishing beyond a distance of 3 nautical miles.

In light of the above:

1. PCHR condemns placing such large floats 3 miles from the Gaza Strip’s seashore, banning Palestinian fishermen from fishing beyond them.

2. PCHR calls upon the international community to exert pressure on IOF to open the fishing area up to 20 nautical miles.

3. PCHR condemns attacks by IOF against Palestinian fishermen, and believed that such attacks are part of the collective punishment measures against the Palestinian civilian population, including denying them of their means of subsistence, which is prohibited under the international humanitarian law and human rights law

Sunday, December 11, 2011

IDF Kills Demonstrator at Weekly Nabi Saleh Protest Site

Ref: 134/2011

Date: 11 December 2011

Time: 11:00 GMT

IOF Use Excessive Lethal Force and Kill Palestinian Civilian in al-Nabi Saleh Weekly Peaceful Protests

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the crime of killing a Palestinian who was peacefully demonstrating in al-Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah, by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). PCHR notes that IOF have intentionally used excessive lethal force against weekly peaceful protests organized by Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders against the construction of the annexation wall in the West Bank. PCHR calls upon the international community to take immediate action in order to put an end to IOF’s crimes. PCHR calls also upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1 of the Convention which requires the Contracting Parties to respect and ensure respect for the Convention under all circumstances.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, following the Friday prayer on 09 December 2011, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders gathered in the center of al-Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah, to start the weekly peaceful protest against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities. The protesters walked towards the gate erected by IOF near the entrance of the village and leading to Palestinian lands that Israeli settlers from the nearby "Halamish" settlement are trying to seize. Israeli soldiers who had been extensively deployed in the area and near all the entrances of the village since the morning, began to confront the protesters who wanted to walk towards the affected lands. Israeli soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the protesters. A result, Mustafa Abdul Razzaq al-Tamimi, 27, was hit by a tear gas canister to the right side of his face. Al-Tamimi fell down and he was evacuated in a Palestinian taxi which drove towards Ramallah. IOF stopped the taxi, took al-Tamimi, and transferred him to a hospital in Israel. At approximately 10:00 on Saturday, 10 December 2011, medical sources at Israeli hospital pronounced al-Tamimi dead. Al-Tamimi's body was transferred to Ramallah Public Hospital at around 19:00 on Saturday, 10 December. Eyewitnesses told a PCHR fieldworker that the tear gas canister was fired at al-Tamimi from an Israeli military jeep that was located approximately 10 meters from him.

PCHR renews its condemnation of this crime and:

1. Stresses that the use of extensive lethal force against peaceful protests organized by Palestinian civilians has become a systematic policy by IOF, which reflects disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians;

2. Holds IOF accountable for the deterioration of the situation in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip;

3. Believes that it is time to convene a conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions in order to take immediate action to protect Palestinian civilians in the OPT, in view of the continued violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention by the State of Israel and IOF.


For more information:


Palestinian dies after hit by tear gas canister

Thousands mourn protester killed at Nabi Saleh


In photos: Nabi Saleh mourns Mustafa Tamimi


Three hurt, eight arrested after funeral of Palestinian protester killed by IDF

A day of memorial for Palestinian human rights

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Maan News Agency: Israeli military courts 'have 99 percent conviction rate'

Maan News Agency: Israeli military courts 'have 99 percent conviction rate':

Published today 16:56
Font- Font+
Two Palestinians arrested by Israeli troops squat against a closed shop in
Hebron. (AFP/Hazem Bader, File)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli military courts in the West Bank have a 99.74 percent conviction rate for Palestinians brought before them, according to data published by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Tuesday.

The newspaper, citing data from an annual military courts report, said military courts in the West Bank heard 9,542 cases in 2010, including over 2,000 involving "hostile terror activity."

Of those 9,542, just 25 resulted in full acquittals -- a conviction rate of 99.74, the newspaper said. But in four percent of all the cases heard, the defendant received a partial acquittal on one or more charge, it added.

The data also showed military tribunals overwhelmingly granted requests for administrative detention of Palestinians, approving 98.77 percent of the 714 requests received in 2010.

And, the newspaper said, the figures showed prosecution appeals to the military tribunals were granted much more frequently than those filed by the defense.

Prosecution appeals were upheld 67 percent of the time, the data showed, while defense appeals succeeded just 33 percent of the time.

Palestinians in the West Bank accused by Israel of criminal or security offenses are almost always tried before military tribunals, rarely appearing before Israeli civilian courts.

In addition to over 2,000 "terror" cases heard by the military tribunals in 2010, the courts also heard 763 cases involving "disorderly conduct" as well as cases involving illegal residence in Israel, traffic offenses and criminal activity, Haaretz said.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Palestinian Freedom Riders

Freedom Riders: “I felt like I was witnessing history”

by Ben Lorber

15 November 2011 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

Earlier today, 7 Palestinian activists were arrested as part of the Freedom Rides attempt to board segregated buses going from the West Bank into occupied East Jerusalem.

Freedom Riders - Click for more images

Palestinians, Israelis and ISM activists waited at a bus stop outside the illegal settlement of Psagot, while four settler buses pulled up and drove away, refusing to open their doors. Israeli police and occupation army surrounded the activists, while a group of settlers massed to observe. Finally, a bus took the activists aboard, and the bus made its way to Hizmeh checkpoint, trailed by army jeeps and police vehicles.

At Hizmeh checkpoint, occupation forces stopped the bus, refusing to allow it to pass. During this time, border police attempted to enter the back of the bus and violently drag one Palestinian off the bus. When both attempts failed, border police commandeered the bus, and forced it to park by the side of the checkpoint.

After about half an hour, border police entered the bus, and forcibly dragged the six Palestinian Freedom

Riders off of the bus. “When they pulled them out of the bus, it was not gentle,” said ISM activist Crystal. “A girl next to me was almost crying.” Activist and lawyer Huwaida Arraf was rendered unconscious by the forcible removal.

The Palestinian activists were arrested and taken to Atarot prison, on the grounds that they had entered Jerusalem illegally.

Later that night, ISM activists held a demonstration outside of Atarot, demanding that occupation forces release the prisoners.

“I felt like I was witnessing history,” said ISM activist Wajed.

Ben Lorber is an activist with International Solidarity Movement and writer with Alternative Information Center.

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Freedom Riders: I witnessed six Palestinian activists demand freedom

by Holly

16 November 2011 | Carbonating Change

Yesterday I witnessed six Palestinian activists demand freedom, justice and dignity as they defied Israel’s apartheid policies when the group successfully boarded settler-only buses and attempted to enter East Jerusalem, where they were eventually brutally dragged off and arrested by the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF).

At the press conference and in the lead up to the event, the activists described how they had taken inspiration from the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and the heroic actions of Rosa Parks. Drawing on the struggles of African Americans who fought against segregation and inequality in the Unites States, and South Africans who battled against apartheid, the Palestinian Freedom Riders aimed to draw the world’s attention to the similarity of the struggle faced by the Palestinian people on a daily basis.

However, it must be recognised that the formation and continued policies of Israel’s apartheid state have far superseded the actions of both the Jim Crow South in the U.S. and the white supremacists in South Africa. Only last week when visiting Ni’lin, I was told of how when the wall was being built (which stole 30% of Palestinian land from the people of this small village), the IOF imposed a four day curfew on the village. This was enforced night and day, and if the people tried to leave their homes, tear gas and sound bombs were fired relentlessly into the narrow streets.

In South Africa, the white settlers sought to dominate the native population by incorporating them as inferior citizens in a state under exclusively white control. Zionism is founded upon a similarly colonialist ideology, but goes further in its attempts to establish a Jewish demographic through an ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people from their land.

Unlike in the American South of the 60s, you will not see signs around the settlements or at the checkpoints stating “No Palestinians here” – Israel manages its PR machine far too well for such overtly racist statements to be witnessed by the other “democratic” countries which fund its existence. Similarly, Palestinians are technically allowed to ride “settler-only” buses and drive on “settler-only” roads, something repeated by the Israeli media and the settlers who came off the buses yesterday.

But the segregation, inequality and the denial of Palestinian’s rights to enter their own land is implemented in a far more covert way by Israel. Whilst Palestinians may be able to travel on the buses and roads, these buses lead either into the internationally recognisedillegal settlements, or into East Jerusalem where Palestinians are forbidden to enter. East Jerusalem is the intended capital of a future Palestinian state, yet Israel has denied the majority of Palestinians access to the city without a permit, which are almost impossible to obtain.

As a result, Israel has been able to continually expand the settlements in East Jerusalem, particularly in the highly contentious area of Sheikh Jarrah, and this has lead to the annexing of Palestinian populated areas in the city so that it is surrounded by Israeli settlements, systematically destroying the possibility of having a Palestinian controlled capital.

As I hope is becoming evident, the Palestinian Freedom Riders movement is not simply about the segregation of buses, the problem here is much larger. Palestinians face an apparatus of military control over Palestinians that needs to be dismantled, along with the settlements themselves.

The Israeli government will continue to defend their denial of Palestinians into East Jerusalem and the segregation of settler buses and roads because of the “security” threat from suicide bombings, their continual excuse and reasoning behind the occupation of Palestine. However, Israel’s colonialist project and abhorrent treatment of Palestinians began long before the first suicide bombing took place, and the continued occupation will do nothing to deter the desperate and destructive acts of suicide bombers.

However, the violence that has blighted the region for many years was far from the minds of anybody who witnessed the Palestinian Freedom Rides yesterday, as they took part in a determinedly non-violent resistance that attempted to demonstrate the popular, direct action movements which have been been gaining momentum in Palestine to resist Israeli occupation.

Yesterday’s action was a well orchestrated media circus, with hundreds of journalists swarming around the riders trying to get the best shots and interviews for their stories. However, in order for the Freedom Rides to have a true impact on Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories, they will need to engage the wider Palestinian community and encourage these acts of civil disobedience in the next waves of the Freedom Rides. I have every faith that the activists involved in the initial wave will continue tirelessly to do so, facing arrest by the Israeli forces and attack by the settlers at every turn.

Furthermore, the onus is now on people around the world not to co-operate with the apartheid policies of the Israeli regime and to take action against them, starting with the boycott of companies – such as Egged and Veolia who run the settler buses – who profit from Israel’s illegal apartheid system.

This protest was not about the UN Statehood Bid. It had nothing to say about armed struggle. Instead, this is one of the most inspiring acts of people power I have seen since arriving in Palestine. The Freedom Riders are demanding that their very basic human rights are upheld in accordance with international law, and to demonstrate that they will continue to engage non-violently to win the freedom, justice and dignity for which the Palestinian people have struggled for so long.

Holly is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement.

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Palestinian 'freedom riders' board settlers' bus

Two Palestinian activists sit inside as Israeli bus as it rides between a bus stop outside the West Bank Jewish settlement of Migron, near Ramallah, and a checkpoint leading to JerusalemThe Freedom Riders say they are being discriminated against by the Israeli bus companies

Israeli police have detained six Palestinians dubbed West Bank Freedom Riders who boarded a Jerusalem-bound bus used by Jewish settlers.

The activists say they drew inspiration from 1960s US civil rights demonstrators who campaigned under the same name against segregated buses.

Palestinians from the West Bank are not allowed to cross into Jerusalem without Israeli permission.

Israel says such restrictions are for security reasons.

The group of six protesters gathered at a West Bank bus stop and waited for an Israeli bus to pick them up, then tried to enter Jerusalem, in what appears to be a first.

After being allowed to travel to an Israeli checkpoint at the edge of Jerusalem, the activists were eventually arrested when they refused to leave the bus.

The protesters say that by only serving Jewish settlements and not Palestinian areas in the West Bank, Israeli bus companies discriminate against them.

"These buses and this whole system is discriminatory to Palestinians," said activist Fadi Quran, as he waited at the bus stop.

The West Bank Freedom Riders punched above their weight, drawing a lot of publicity for what was a relatively small event, reports the BBC's Jon Donnison in the West Bank.

The comparison to the Freedom Riders of 1960s America seemed to capture the imagination as dozens of journalists gathered to see the small group board the bus, our correspondent says.

In actual fact, this was less a protest about segregation and more about freedom of movement, he adds.

There are around 500,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Settlements are illegal under international law although Israel disputes this.