45 Jewish activists from across North America gathered to stand in coresistance with our Palestinian and Israeli partners. We cleared roads, laid concrete, painted murals, rehabilitated land, planted trees and built relationships rooted in resistance that will carry this work forward.
Activists joined in community co-resistance projects in Um al-Khair, A-Tuwani, Sarura, Susiya and Bir il-Eid in the South Hebron Hills, Batan al-Hawa in East Jerusalem, and Givat Amal and Lydd/Lod in Israel proper. On Friday, May 3rd we joined together with over 125 activists to rehabilitate a road in the southern West Bank. Israeli soldiers used physical force, stun grenades and mass arrests to suppress the efforts. Seventeen were detained.
South Hebron Hills – On 3 May 2019, over 125 activists came together to rehabilitate a critical access road for five rural Palestinian communities in the southern West Bank. Amidst the ongoing demolitions of structures across the region this week, the work was led by local Palestinian community leaders and included Israeli citizens, Jews from around the world, and international activists.
The road work began at 8:00 near the Palestinian village of Bir il-Eid and the illegal Israeli outposts of Mitzpe Yair and Nof Nesher.
While making significant progress in rehabilitating the road by filling potholes with gravel and dirt, dozens of Israeli soldiers were deployed to stop this work, and violently attacked activists using physical force, sound grenades, and mass arrest.
Seventeen activists were detained, including two Palestinian journalists, three Palestinian residents from the area, and twelve Jewish and Israeli solidarity activists.
Kifaa Adara, a resident of A Tuwani village said, “The group was composed of Jews, Israelis, and Palestinians who are all against the Occupation and want the Occupation to end non-violently.
I saw a lot of people there – people who were scared, people who were excited – but all were here to work on the road and to resist the Occupation. If we just sit here and do nothing, there will never be freedom.”
For decades, the Palestinian villages of the South Hebron Hills have faced ongoing pressures from the systematic Israeli efforts to push them off their lands, including violence and harassment from settlers and home demolitions.
As today’s extreme use of force demonstrates, Israel’s concerted efforts to advance annexation also relies on restricting Palestinians’ access to basic resources like water, food, schools, and hospitals.
Nidal Younes, Head of Masafer Yatta Council, said, “Rehabilitating this road is an important factor in stopping the expansion of the settlements, resisting the occupation and confiscation of more land, and ensuring humanitarian needs are met.
When these roads are maintained, families have access to basic resources, like water and food. Rehabilitating this land is also our way of resistance, by making the process of annexation of these lands and confiscation more difficult.
From 2000 to 2010 this road, which had for years been an essential lifeline for Palestinian communities across the region, was completely closed to Palestinian use, only accessible to settlers and the military.
Although legally allowed to use the road, Palestinian access is still essentially restricted. Continued degradation and the constant threat of violence from settlers and the army makes basic access to resources challenging and expensive for the families of the region. Delivering water to these villages, for example, costs ten times more for these villagers than it does in places connected to the Israeli water network.
“In general, with these kinds of actions, we protect our land and keep it for us,” said Sanaa Adara, a resident of the nearby village of A-Tuwane. “The settlers and the army always try to confiscate our land, to annex it, and instead build settlements or establish outposts. We are here to support the villages in rehabilitating this road, because if they were alone, settlers would attack them or try to prevent them from doing this.”
Joining Palestinian leaders from across the region were 75 Jewish activists from the Center for Jewish Nonviolence and All That’s Left: Anti-Occupation Collective. Both organizations have been supporting Palestinian efforts to remain on their land in recent years.
Elliot, an All That’s Left member from Tel Aviv-Yafo said, “We are constantly told the occupation is for our security, that settlements are for our security, but it’s just not true. The violence we saw today from the army—violence unleashed upon peaceful activists improving a road to connect a community to essential, basic resources—laid bare the oppressive and oxymoronic nature of the occupation. These soldiers were not protecting anyone, they were enforcing a system that has and continues to displace and cleanse Palestinians from their land to make room for more Israeli settlements.”
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, emboldened by Donald Trump, threatens to annex the West Bank, the continued denial of basic needs and rights for millions of Palestinians has only intensified. This week alone, there have been at least three home demolitions in the South Hebron Hills – including in the villages of Susiya and Umm al-Khair. Also this week, the Israeli High Court approved a draconian order that removes the rights of hearing and appeal procedures prior to the demolition of structures in Area C. In this context, this action demonstrates the power of grassroots leadership to create nonviolent resistance to demolitions, occupation, and annexation and build a future where civil and human rights of all people are recognized unequivocally.
Sarah O’Connor, Center for Jewish Nonviolence participant from Boston, said “The Occupation is the thing that is standing between the Jewish community and liberation, between Palestinians and liberation, and between Israelis and their liberation. The act of doing this work together is inherently disruptive to the project of occupation, which relies on the logic of separation in order to maintain itself. It feels powerful to be doing this work with leaders of Palestinian resistance, Israelis, and of the Jewish diaspora to be doing this work; the occupation and the Right want to prevent us from coming together. In doing this work together, we refuse the occupation’s fundamental strategy of separation.”
The action’s organizers represent a groundbreaking partnership comprised of Masafer Yatta Council, Susiya Village Council A-Tuwani Village Council, Youth of Sumud, the Sumud Protection Committee, the Good Shepherd Collective, The Rural Women’s Association of the South Hebron Hills, activists from the South Hebron Hills communities of Susiya, Umm al-Khair, Sarura, Tuba, and A-Tuwani, All That’s Left: Anti-Occupation Collective, and the Center for Jewish Nonviolence.
After decades of segregation, marginalization, and occupation, rehabilitating this road is an act of resistance against the continued and systematic displacement of Palestinians from their lands. Organizers are calling those who stand in solidarity around the world to hold decision-makers responsible, and for those who can, to show up and join the work and the growing movement for equality and freedom for all.
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One tactic used by the CJNV to resist the occupation is to amplify the voices of our Palestinian partners across the world. Toward this end, the work to repair the access road and the ensuing attack by the IDF received much media attention.