In their second update, our blogger in Palestine talks about meeting others working with ISM, training and preparing for protest
We met our Palestinian coordinator at another Hostel in East Jerusalem and from there on we took the bus to the West bank, into Ramallah. The journey would have taken 15 minutes but with the checkpoints and controls under the illegal Israeli military occupation the trip to Ramallah now takes 35-40 minutes. As we were leaving Jerusalem, we passed over the Wall, the “Apartheid Wall” as the Palestinians call it. A number of actions of solidarity have been carried out over many years with graffiti paintings covering the Palestinian side of the Wall with messages, slogans and quotes condemning it or supporting the Palestinian struggle. We finally reached Ramallah where we stayed at a Hotel, in which we began our training programme. The training programme included the revision of ISM principles, the organisational skills needed in ISM, contact numbers and practical strategies both in demonstrations and outside them. We then left to travel around in Ramallah, taking pictures and getting to know each other by going to a Shisha place. I met many interesting people, very active ones with a high degree of experience at home and abroad. Hakim, for instance has been an eye-witness, infiltrator and journalist of the Honduras Coup and took part in the resistance movement against Michelletti. He’s been active in the Zapatista movement and worked with them in Chiapas, coming in touch with their structure and organisation for a period of 7 months in the mountains. He had also been kidnapped in Nicaragua by some criminal gang and by complete luck saved by the military forces whom caught the gang leader in their headquarter and within it the kidnapped Hakim. He’s been over all this experiences and he’s less than 30 years old. Fascinating!
The next day the international coordinators talked to us about the media, the de-arresting strategies, furthering our understanding on the legal sides, their own experiences and the weapons the Israeli army uses. The latter in former years being imported in Israel to support their military sector, but since Israel build their own military industry they have began exporting to other countries such as India. Although Israel still remains supported by US aid (from US tax money) with more than 4 billion dollars received each year. About 2 million dollars is spend on military technology and weaponry. Needless to say is that the Israeli military uses this weapons against non-violent Palestinian demonstrators and to fund invasions such as in Lebanon in 2006 and the Gaza massacre in 2008-9. So far we have been introduced to a number of weapons including tear gas, sound-bombs, live ammunition and rubber coated steel bullets (I will be sending some pictures ASAP). And most recently they have added the use of pepper spray to their military kit for close range attacks.
Tomorrow will be our first demonstration in Bi’lin, a small village of 2000 local Palestinians, with an important history due to its division by the apartheid wall and its continued construction. Most recently, though, a brief part of the Wall had been demolished, although the Israeli army still remains in control of the area (area: C in this case). We are unsure of what to expect, but we remain confident after establishing strong ties with some of the members of ISM.