Ah! Fresh Air!

Wednesday was a quiet day in which I caught up with sleep lost to jetlag and fixed my email setup. On thursday there was a demo in Beit Sira that we went to. It was Land Day, which commemorates a 1976 uprising of Palestinian citizens of Israel. The idea was to plant trees in the land of the village. This was unsuccessfull because of the fully tooled up riot squad of Israeli soldiers that blocked our path. The most mild of pushing on their huge plexi-glass shields led to a full-on battering session which in turn led to immediate stone-throwing from the village shebab. The demo did have a lot a of spirit, but it could have been organised better. One problem was that it would have been beter if the shebab kept their stone-throwing antics separate from the demonstration. This is just a practical matter of us not wanting to have to worry about being battered with a stone before we can get out of the crossfire. Still, in an evaluation meeting afterwards, the concern was expressed that the organisers of the demonstration should bring this up with the youth of the village. So hopefully something will be done about this for future demos. It takes time to learn these lessons and build on successes and failures.

That afternoon we went to a sort of conference near Biddu commemorating Land Day in which various PLO representatives waxed lyrical about the importance of Land Day, commemorating the martyrs, the importance of recognising that the PLO is still the “sole legitimate reprisentitive” of the Palestinian people since “some parties” (Hamas was rarely named) do not seem to recognise this, rebuilding the PLO after the recent elections, etc. etc. There were some interesting points, but the speakers seemed to be mostly repeating the same things. I guess this was because of the internal politics of the PLO – each party’s representative (Fatah, PFLP, DFLP, PPP and a representative of the Christian community) had to have their own speech, even if they said mostly the same thing. Three hours of speeches is a bit much.

Friday, of course, was the regular Bil’in demonstration. It was great to be back! Spirits were high and there was a good attendance. The Israeli anarchists were there in force as always. Also there were a lot of folk from Gush Shalom this week. The village committee’s plan was to use a large metal frame as a ramp to be able to get over the gate in the fence. A good attempt was made at this, but the soldiers were particularly nasty this week and lashed out almost immedately to stop this dangerous bridge building attempt. Can’t let the Palestinians into their own land now can we? The usual beatings and usage of “less lethal” weaponry on unarmed demonstrators ensued.

That night, myself along with two others from ISM stayed overnight in the Bil’in outpost, which was fun. It was a nice camping trip – it’s good to be outdoors in the fresh air! We sat around the fire with guys from the village, learned some Arabic and drank loads of sweet tea. About 7 in the morning we were woken up by the sound of an off-road vehicle pulling away. M. had seen them and said that it was soldiers who peeked in the door of the outpost to watch us sleeping. Furthermore they had apparently done the same thing three times that night! Weirdos!

Today was the joy that is the ISM core group meeting where the big decisions are made. Only seven hours this month – fun fun fun! Still at least we made some deicisons. Haha.

Raining outside, though weather was warm yesterday. Training for new ISM folk tomorrow. Must sleep. Bed soon.

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