Nikki at Change Boutique, corner of Williamson and Baldwin on the eastside, has some Women in Hebron’s embroidery and earrings for the holidays.
If you know anyone who shops on the eastside tell them to stop by!
Nikki at Change Boutique, corner of Williamson and Baldwin on the eastside, has some Women in Hebron’s embroidery and earrings for the holidays.
If you know anyone who shops on the eastside tell them to stop by!
Since the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, extremist settlers in the West Bank have been emboldened, displacing more than 1,000 Palestinians, according to the United Nations.
“Since 7th of October, the soldier came and sit down under this tree. And they put the Israeli flag here. And right now, if we try to cross 10 meters, the soldier will start to run, chasing us to go back here. And if we say, ‘This is my land,’ they start to shoot live.”
Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in southern Israel, violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank has intensified. Extremist Israeli settlers have been emboldened in what Palestinians say is an increased effort to seize their land with support from the Israeli Army.
On Oct. 13, Sami Hourani’s cousin Zacharia al-Adara was shot and wounded by an Israeli settler in the Palestinian village of at-Tuwani. It happened just a hundred meters from Hourani’s home.
“The settler was holding a gun and he was clearly with civilian dress coming towards my village, he was attacking a house. The settler started to walk towards Zacharia and just shot him. Zacharia is since the 13th of October in the I.C.U. in the hospital. And the most scary part now is that if this will be the new reality that they want to do after the war.”
Since Oct. 7, the U.N. has recorded more than 280 attacks by settlers in the occupied West Bank, opening fire on Palestinian villagers, destroying their farmland and setting fire to their businesses and homes. Observers say the attacks are part of the campaign for settlement expansion.
“The closed house is here in front of us. Here is the village of Tuba, and that up there, there is the settlement of Ma’on.”
Across the West Bank, there are more than 700,000 Israelis living in settlements that most of the world considers illegal. The Israeli Army says that it takes the violence very seriously and that it’s taken action to apprehend those responsible. However, human rights groups say arrests are rare, and soldiers have been seen accompanying settlers during some attacks, including the man who shot al-Adara on Oct. 13.
Zvi Sukkot is a member of Israel’s Parliament representing the far-right religious Zionist party. He’s become a prominent voice in the movement to expand Israeli settlements. Sukkot first started making headlines more than a decade ago as a member of the hilltop youth, young Israelis who would squat areas of the West Bank with the hope of claiming the land for eventual new settlements.
In 2012, Israel’s Security Agency accused him of leading covert and violent activity against Palestinians, and he was temporarily banned from entering the West Bank. But after Oct. 7, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed him to lead a committee handling security issues in the territory.
Reporter: “What changed for you after the Hamas attacks of October 7?”
Reporter: “Do you condemn the acts of violence being committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinians?”
But for Palestinians that claim to the land means displacement. In the past seven weeks alone, the U.N. says more than 1,000 villagers have been forced to leave their homes due to settler violence across the West Bank.
Dalal al-Awad and her family are farmers from a village called Tuba. They’ve survived multiple attacks by settlers who told them to leave. For now, the family has little choice but to pack up and move to the hills every night, sleeping outside, away from their home.
I was born in February 1998 in Tuba, a rural shepherding community of 80 Palestinian residents in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank, where my family has lived for generations. Over the years we have suffered repeated attacks by Israeli settlers, part of an ongoing campaign to remove us from our land. Still, nothing prepared me for what our life has become since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. In the last six weeks, the raids and harassment by settlers have become so intense that I do not know how much longer I and the other members of my community will be able to live here.
Under the cover of war, settlers have been storming villages in the West Bank, threatening Palestinians and destroying their homes and their livelihoods. International attention has been mostly focused on the atrocities in Israel and in Gaza, including the internal displacement of more than half of the population of the Gaza Strip.
In the West Bank, increasingly violent assaults on villages have forced at least 16 Palestinian communities — more than 1,000 people — to flee their homes since Oct. 7. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, settlers have attacked Palestinians in more than 250 incidents in the West Bank. So far, 200 Palestinians have been killed, eight by settlers and the others during clashes with Israeli forces.
In my village and in other villages around us, settlers have been raiding homes and harassing us relentlessly, sometimes multiple times a day. Less than a week into the war, according to a video published by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, an armed settler came into At-Tuwani village in the South Hebron Hills, approached a group of unarmed Palestinians walking after Friday Prayers and shot one of them in the abdomen from point-blank range. Ten minutes down the road, in Susiya, villagers said that settlers threatened to shoot residents if they did not evacuate their homes within 24 hours. On Oct. 30, settlers set fire to several homes in Khirbet a-Safai, a village less than a mile east of Tuba. And residents in the neighboring village to the west, Umm al-Khair, told human rights activists that armed settlers in uniform held people there at gunpoint and forced them to condemn Hamas and promise to raise Israeli flags in the village or they would be murdered.
For those of us in Tuba, this wave of attacks is part of a long string of attempts to force us to leave our homes. And it’s not only the settlers who want us out: Successive Israeli governments have also tried to get rid of us over the last decades.
In the early 1980s, our village, along with a group of others in an area called Masafer Yatta, was designated by the military as Firing Zone 918, land that Israel decided it wanted for training its forces (A government document indicates that there was an intention to displace residents living in the area). We have been fighting for the right to remain on our land ever since. We live in Area C of the West Bank, which means the Israeli military has complete civil and security control over our lives. Israel has tried various tactics to get us to leave, including enacting policies that prevent us from building homes in our own village and not allowing us to be connected to the main electrical grid or water infrastructure.
Sometimes it’s been much less subtle: In November 1999, when I was a year old, the Israeli military loaded all of Tuba’s residents and livestock onto trucks and dumped us on the side of the road several miles away. We spent the following months crowded in makeshift tents, fighting to shelter ourselves and our livestock from the cold winter rain. We were eventually allowed to return to our village “temporarily,” pending a final court decision.
Settlers from the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on — built near Tuba and partly on private Palestinian land not long after we returned — have done their share as well. In 2002, they cut off the main road that connected Tuba to the surrounding villages, including the children’s closest school and the city of Yatta, where we buy all of our food and medical supplies.
Settlers have also resorted to violence, some directed at my own family. We believe it was nearby settlers who stabbed my uncle, attacked my cousins with stones, and, as I’ve written before, set fire to a year’s worth of food for our flocks of sheep.
Throughout it all, we had been awaiting the final ruling from the Israeli high court about whether the Israeli military could force us to evacuate. Then, last year, the court ruled in favor of the state, allowing Israel to evict about 1,200 Palestinians, including those in my village. We have remained steadfast in the face of this pressure and refuse to abandon our land and our traditional way of life. But in recent weeks, attacks by settlers have rattled our resolve.
We have always felt that the work of the military, which demolishes our houses and prevents our ability to move freely, was intimately intertwined with and reinforced by harassment from settlers. However, since the war started more than a month ago, the settlers and soldiers in the region seemed to have fused into one entity, ending whatever semblance of distance existed between these two violent systems. Settlers whom we recognize from years of harassment in our villages have suddenly become soldiers, as reservists or as part of Itamar Ben-Gvir’s civilian security teams. Army reservists who are new to the area are apparently now taking their orders from local settler-soldiers or security teams. Together they patrol our communities with their M16s and threaten anyone who tries to bring his flock to graze or leave the village for work or errands.
In Tuba, as in nearby villages, settlers have also targeted the water systems and solar panels we have built and are entirely dependent on, as if to remind us of our vulnerability. They are clearly taking advantage of this moment to make our lives unlivable, and we have no reason to believe that, especially during a state of war, any of the violence we are experiencing in our communities will slow or stop soon. Local Israeli authorities say they are investigating some of the more violent attacks, including the killings, but they are showing no signs of being able to control them, and in fact, government ministers are fanning the flames.
In the last five weeks alone, residents from five other villages in the South Hebron Hills have been forced to pack up and flee from their homes. If the situation doesn’t change, I worry that Tuba will be next. As a letter signed by 30 Israeli human rights NGOs recently stated: “The only way to stop this forcible transfer in the West Bank is a clear, strong and direct intervention by the international community.”
Since I can remember, life in Tuba has been difficult, but it has also always been full of beauty and calm. It is the life my family has known for generations, and the traditional lifestyle we live is deeply connected to the land around us and the animals we care for. The hillsides are stamped with our footsteps and those of our flocks, the rocks on the top of the hill neatly arranged so we can watch the sunset over the desert. But the fear we feel, in Tuba and across Area C, now hangs heavy over this landscape. I don’t know if we will be able to stand it.
Ali Awad is a community organizer and journalist living in Tuba, in the Masafer Yatta region of the West Bank.
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The Israeli military committed a massacre of Palestinians in the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza on Oct. 31. The aerial assault struck a densely populated area that an Israeli military spokesman admitted was crowded with civilians—killing more than 100 people, injuring hundreds more, and leaving many trapped underneath the rubble. Young and old. Men, women, and children.
The Israeli government has dropped thousands and thousands of bombs on Gaza over the last few weeks. The bombs don’t discriminate between a cancer patient or a futbol player — and they’ve murdered both orphans and women praying, until their end, that they would one day become mothers.
That bombardment on Tuesday, which was part of at least two days of assaults on the camp, was so heavy—The Washington Post reported that the destruction spanned 50,000 square feet — that it created craters (including one about 40 feet in diameter) and Palestinians “tried to dig people out from smoldering piles of crumbled cement, rebar and wood” — that is, corpses which cannot be identified because of the intensity of the bombing. Al Jazeera reported that 19 family members of one of its engineers were killed in the attack. In questioning an Israeli military spokesperson, CNN’s Wolf Blitzerwas practically left speechless by the cruel rationale they offered.
No one is safe in Gaza, no one is safe in all of Palestine.
And this did not begin on Oct. 7, 2023. While the Israeli military is carrying out genocide in Gaza, it is also continuing to deploy its twin weapon of ethnic cleansing, a process that began in 1948 and has only accelerated since then.
Bearing witness to acts of genocide carries certain responsibilities, as does bearing witness to acts of ethnic cleansing. One requires that you not look away, despite the horrors. The other requires you to keep looking — and look deeper — for as long as it takes, because the careful work of ethnic cleansing isn’t always so obvious. It is carried out through laws, bureaucratic as well as physical obstacles meant to keep people from their homes, and sustained violence and dehumanization over a long period of time. Both are part of the Israeli settler colonial project in Palestine, facilitated in full force by the United States government, military and mainstream media.
Only 40 miles from Gaza, in the Masafer Yatta area of the West Bank, you can hear and see war planes flying to bombard our people. But with all eyes on Gaza, Israeli settlers in Masafer Yatta and other parts of the West Bank are taking advantage of this moment to intensify their violent attacks on Palestinian communities.
Last year was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2005. So far, since Oct. 7, at least 144 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed, including dozens of children. Another 2,200have been injured and some 1,000forcibly displaced.
My maternal lineage traces back generations in Masafer Yatta, to the village of Jinba, which was once a hub for merchants and trade and served as a pit-stop for pilgrims crossing from Africa to the Arabian peninsula during the Ottoman Empire. Masafer Yatta lies in the South Hebron Hills, on the edge of the al-Naqab desert. The large rolling hills have been home to communities of shepherds and farmers for generations, which used to be full of life and interconnected with the nearby city of Yatta. Now the area largely lacks basic infrastructure and has been left isolated from neighboring areas as it is difficult to reach and full of violent threats from extremist settlers and soldiers.
Over the last few decades, the settler project has only grown exponentially in numbers (in 2017 it was reported that more than 330,000 settlers had moved in to the West Bank in the previous 30 years) and the area has become increasingly violent and dangerous for Palestinians, fueled by settler organizations like Regavim, who operate under the guise of charitable organizations.
Since the Nakba in 1948, the primary form of resistance for the Palestinians of Masafer Yatta has been asserting — and reasserting — their agency and their relationship to the land. When Israeli settlers demolish the homes of my family and our neighbors, with the full backing of the military, we persistently return, rebuild and remain a thorn in the ultra-Zionist settlers’ plan. My family’s history in the area is a proud one interconnected with other villages and families, a community that has only grown stronger over the past few decades as they continue to fight the settler colonial apparatus determined to disappear them.
In the late 1970s, the State of Israel established a military firing zone that encompassed 12 of the villages of Masafer Yatta, including Jinba. Shortly after we saw settlements like Carmel developed in the South Hebron Hills. In the decades to follow, my community and our neighbors experienced frequent demolitions of our homes and entire villages, denial of building permits, harassment and violent attacks from nearby settlements, and, on the most basic level, a complete degradation of essential infrastructure. Residents of Masafer Yatta came together to create and maintain their own informal, community systems to provide water, education, roads, and healthcare in the absence of any governmental support.
Settler violence in the villages of Masafer Yatta is relentless and constant as settlements rapidly expand in the West Bank. For many years, school children in the South Hebron Hills have had cohorts of international solidarity activists in and out of their lives as chaperones because of the violence and harassment they face. Schools in Masafer Yatta have been destroyed and many Palestinian schools in the West Bank are now under demolition order.
In 1999, the Israeli army forcibly evicted nearly 700 residents from their homes after issuing them demolition orders for “living in the firing zone” — though their villages were there before the firing zone existed. Many later returned to their villages, either on their own or in the context of an interim legal injunction, which offered little protection for Palestinian communities. In the past decade, settler violence and the challenges of living in Masafer Yatta forced many to leave their homes. Since 2012, my uncle Ziad Makhamra has been the last remaining resident of his village, Bir Il-‘Id. Then, in 2022 the Israeli High Court ruled that there were no legal barriers to the planned expulsion of residents from these villages, effectively giving settlers and the military a green light to enact further ethnic cleansing.
One family, the Hathaleen’s of Umm al-Khair in Hebron, have long been at the front of the fight for Masafer Yatta, and community leader Sheikh Suleiman Hathaleen was a profound source of inspiration. I met him in 2016and, immediately upon meeting, he was planning with me about how to resist efforts to drive Palestinians out of their villages in the West Bank, offering that delegates from Masafer Yatta could help protect our home by speaking out to the world. Liberation was always on his mind. His nephew, Alaa, tells me that he would always pray for Palestinian prisoners and for their freedom, and would always say that change is achieved “with dignity or glory.” He was killed (run over by an Israeli tow truck during a raid) in the winter of 2022while protesting the army confiscating vehicles in Masafer Yatta. Sheikh Suleiman is someone who inspired us for decades and gave us a model of true integrity that was sorely lacking in so-called Palestinian leadership.
Today, the Hathaleen family homes — like my family’s homes — are under threat. On Oct. 12, the Israeli Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben Gvir, was seen handing out assault rifles to settlers who are part of a violent history of attacking Palestinians in the West Bank. The day after these guns were handed out, Zakariya Adra, a young man in at-Tuwani who was leaving Friday prayers, was shot by a settler. According to residents I spoke with, the community responded by collecting blood at the local hospital in Yatta and Zakariya is now recovering, with a spleen removed.
According to Mohammad Hureini, Zakariya’s cousin who is also a resident of at-Tuwani in Masafer Yatta, the settler shot him with a dumdum bullet, which expands dramatically on impact, and that has been internationally prohibited since the 1899 Hague Peace Conference.
“The Israeli settler militias benefit from this state of war, they are the ones who are ruling this area. Israeli settler militias in Israeli military uniforms have blocked and closed all the entrances of the villages in Masafer Yatta, which means all the entrances in Masafer Yatta are under siege,” says Hureini, who is also a local activist with Youth of Sumud, a long-running community group in the area (that has Jewish partners) which has consistently supported residents of Masafer Yatta by helping protect their villages through, among other things, agricultural and advocacy programs.
“These militias have destroyed agricultural lands, [they are] destroying crops, demolishing homes and burning their homes, attacking people in their homes, and shooting people with intent to kill,” Hureini says.
Relatedly, one of the most shocking settler and soldier attacks in the West Bank since Oct. 7, outside of the South Hebron Hills, was in the village of Wadi as-Seeq near Ramallah. And near Nablus, Bilal Saleh was shot and killedby a settler while collecting olives.
In the South Hebron Hills, Alaa Hathaleen has been making regular demands for the international community to not abandon Masafer Yatta, where the Palestinian population has fallen drastically and extremist settlers are regularly violent. At least 84 people have left in just the past few months alone in part because their vehicles were confiscated, making it impossible to travel to and from their homes in the already difficult-to-reach villages. Settler militia violence, fully under the watch and guard of the Israeli army, has only intensified and smaller communities have been subject to daily harassment and relentless destruction until residents have no choice but to leave. In the greater South Hebron Hills area, at least two villages have been depopulated as well as 13 other communities in the West Bank. When Alaa demands support, he demands all eyes on Masafer Yatta, because we as a people can sometimes count on our hands how many eyes are watching for us.
Alaa said that near the end of October, he and his family were attacked by one of the violent gangs of settlers, dressed in reserve soldiers’ uniforms and roaming around Masafer Yatta and other parts of the West Bank. Settlers lined up members of the Hathaleen family and made them sit facing the walls and took their phones. Alaa said they beat them and threatened them at gunpoint, forcing one member of the family to record a video praising Israel. Alaa made sure to tell his Instagram followers that anyone who views the forced video should understand that it is full of lies and done under duress. When the settlers finally left, Alaa said they told them that if they didn’t have an Israeli flag flying above the village in 24 hours, they would come back and massacre everyone.
Another night, settlers burned a home in the village of a-Safai at-Tahta and attacked Tuba where, according to an activist, they ransacked a home, “cut off the small village’s lights, punctured the water tank and threw the food for their animals on the floor.” The Israeli army then, according to a resident, barred Palestinians in those villages from even entering their destroyed homes.
Awdah Hathleen, writer, English teacher and resident of Umm al-Khair, shared with some comrades that, “The settlers were attacking many villages in Masafer Yatta last night. They burnt houses in a-Safai and they cut electricity in Tuba. … Let’s all pray that all this violence against Masafer Yatta will end.”
The scenes were a reminder of the pogrom against Huwara in the Nablus area in February and a similar pogrom against Turmus Ayya in June, when hundreds of Israeli settlers stormed the town and burned houses and cars and terrorized residents. These types of attacks, at various scales, occur with horrifying regularity for Palestinians living in Masafer Yatta and other parts of the West Bank. Villages are being dismantled, histories are being erased, generations of memories lost.
A few days before the assault on a-Safai at-Tahta, in nearby Susiya, settlers stormed the village, pulling men from their homes. Fatma, a resident of Susiya, confirmed the harrowing experience and wrote in a text that “they cursed our father yesterday at night, searched them, took his phones, threatened us, and filmed a video at gunpoint, denouncing Hamas and the terrorism it committed on the 7th of the month.”
The settler, Fatma said, told them, “Tomorrow I will come back to you and I want to see the Israeli flag flying over the houses in Khirbet Umm al-Khair. … If you fail, we will punish you with a severe punishment — all at gunpoint.”
About a week ago in Jinba, a settler militia attacked the village mosque and destroyed its speaker, apparently in order to prevent the call to prayer. According to my cousin and local journalist, Mahmoud Jamal, people stayed inside of their homes during this attack because it is understood that these kinds of acts are designed to bring people out of their homes and into danger. After the settlers destroyed the mosque speaker, Jamal says they then traveled to neighboring villages to harass shepherds and their flocks.
These violent methods by settlers, the military, and the Israeli and U.S. governments, are all echoes of each other. They’re connected to the same trick that Biden was apparently using to try and convince Jordan and Egypt to enact the mass forcible transfer of our people in Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula or somewhere else. The people of Gaza have been clear — as have the people of Masafer Yatta — that this is our home. If it was up to us, we would remain in our homes. Unfortunately, there are world powers that want to keep us from those homes.
Palestinians everywhere, like me and Alaa from Masafer Yatta, our people in Gaza, in Jerusalem, Palestinians inside Israel, and in the diaspora, need the world to stop looking away from what is happening. We need eyes on us for protection — and we need eyes on us for accountability.
Above all, we need those eyes to turn to action, and that action needs to end genocide and ethnic cleansing in Palestine.
RYAH AQEL is a filmmaker and creator based in Michigan and New York. Since 2015, she has been documenting her family’s decades-long battle to remain on their land in the South Hebron Hills.
Left: Bilal Muhammed Saleh from the village of As-Sawiya south of Nablus, shortly before he was shot to death by settlers in his olive grove.
We, the undersigned human rights and civil society NGOs in Israel, call on the international community to act urgently to stop the state-backed wave of settler violence which has led, and is leading to, the forcible transfer of Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
For the past three weeks, since Hamas’s atrocities of October 7th, settlers have been exploiting the lack of public attention to the West Bank, as well as the general atmosphere of rage against Palestinians, to escalate their campaign of violent attacks in an attempt to forcibly transfer Palestinian communities. During this period, no fewer than thirteen herding communities have been displaced. Many more are in danger of being forced to flee in the coming days if immediate action is not taken.
Palestinian farmers are particularly vulnerable at this time, during the annual olive harvest
season, because if they are unable to pick their olives they will lose a year’s income. Yesterday Bilal Muhammed Saleh from the village of As-Sawiya south of Nablus was murdered while tending to his olive trees. He was the seventh Palestinian to have been killed by settlers since the current war began.
Unfortunately, the Israeli government is supportive of these attacks and does nothing to stop this violence. On the contrary: government ministers and other officials are backing the violence and in many cases the military is present or even participates in the violence, including in incidents where settlers have killed Palestinians. Moreover, since the war has begun there has been a growing number of incidents in which violent settlers have been documented attacking nearby Palestinian communities while wearing military uniform and using government-issued weapons.
With grave concern and with a clear understanding of the political landscape, we recognize that the only way to stop this forcible transfer in the West Bank is a clear, strong and direct intervention by the international community.
Now is the time to act.
A Land for All – Two States, One Homeland | Akevot Institute | Amnesty International Israel | Association for Civil Rights in Israel | B’Tselem | Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights | Breaking the Silence | Combatants for Peace | Comet-ME | Emek Shaveh | HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual | Haqel – In Defense of Human Rights | Itach-Maaki – Women Lawyers for Social Justice | Ir Amim | Jordan Valley Activists | Kerem Navot | Machsom Watch | Mothers Against Violence Israel | Other Voice | Parents Against Child Detention | Physicians for Human Rights Israel | Policy Working Group (PWG) | Psychoactive | Rabbis for Human Rights | Re’acha Kamocha | Social Workers for Welfare and Peace | The School for Peace in Wahat al-Salam Neve Shalom | Torat Tzedek | Yesh Din | Zazim – Community Action | Zochrot
Cody Taylor, Spectrum News, Oct. 20, 2023
MADISON, Wis. — Cassandra Dixon is a Madison resident who has been traveling to the Palestine territories for over a decade.
During that time she has developed a close relationship with Women in Hebron, which is a Fair Trade Co-Operative.
“These women are incredible, they are brilliant, artistic and creative,” said Dixon. “ They have a fantastic sense of humor and a lot of them have suffered things that would make you lay down and curl up in a ball.”
Prior to the pandemic, Women in Hebron would make enough money selling embroidery in their city, but as things changed financially, they were forced to broaden their reach to countries like the U.S.
That’s where Dixon came into play.
“They need this stuff to come to countries where the money is, and that’s how I started helping them sell their products here,” said Dixon. “From a business standpoint here it is very small but for them it makes a difference because it is all they have.”
Over the years, Dixon has developed a very close relationship with many of the women. Most nights, she speaks with a woman named Lyla, who is living in the West Bank.
“Lyla lives in a household with 14 people, more than half of them are children,” said Dixon.
Before the war started, their conversations were positive and enjoyable, but Dixon said that enjoyment and happiness are all gone now.
“When I talk with Lyla on the phone, which I do most evenings, I can hear the rockets hitting Gaza from there,” said Dixon.
The night a rocket hit the Al-Alhi hospital and killed hundreds of people, Lyla heard it happen.
“When that hospital was bombed, my friend Lyla could hear those rockets going over,” said Dixon. “I could hear her door rattling in the frame.”
Thousands of Palestinians have lost their lives in the Israel-Hamas war, and Dixon said the lives of everyone living in the Palestinian territories has been changed forever.
“It is trauma beyond anything that we have capacity to understand, we can’t make pictures of that for ourselves in our minds because we have never seen that,” said Dixon.
Dixon wants the public to know that citizens are not powerless when it comes to putting a stop to this war.
She encourages everyone to speak up or write to their local representative to help find a peaceful solution.
If you are interested in buying embroidery to support the Women of Hebron you can go to Palestinepartners.org.
You can also get involved by adopting an Olive tree in the Palestinian territories.
We will be appealing for emergency relief funds for Gaza but also expanding our campaign to plant olive trees in the Madison-Masafer Yatta grove. We also urge you to come and purchase the Palestinian olive oil, olive oil soap, embroidery and other products that will support the Palestinian producers.
There will still be food, but the menu will be reduced in the face of the massive hunger and thirst that Israel’s cruelty is inflicting on Gazans.
And we plan to conclude the event by a show of support for Palestine along East Johnson Street, so bring your Palestinian flags, wear your kuffiyehs, and bring your signs. There will be some signs provided and we’ll have sign-making supplies.
Sponsored by Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Palestine Partners, Madison Playgrounds for Palestine, and Madison Jewish Voice for Peace.
October 14, 2023
At the request of supporters from abroad, we applied to friends of us, residents of south Mt. Hebron, and asked them to send reports about the current events in their places in the midst of the war in Gaza. Below is the detailed report sent to us. This report covers much of the events in the region between last Saturday and yesterday [October 7-13].
I want to begin by expressing my gratitude for all the friends who have reached out to check on us during these difficult times. Your concern means the world to us.
The situation is very tragic and horrifying right now in all of Palestine, and what is happening in Gaza right now is unimaginable. On the small margin of that, here are some of what is happening in the region of South Hebron Hills. These were what I could record in a small geographical area, which we call South Hebron Hills and Masafer Yatta.
• On Saturday morning, precisely at 6 o’clock, things turned upside down as people awoke to the sound of explosions echoing from all directions. An unsettling sense of worry began to grip the population as it marked the onset of the ongoing war. By nearly 10 am, one of the rockets struck a mere 100 meters away from the village of Al Khirwah, situated to the east of Umm Al Khair. Following that, and shortly after the commencement of the war, settlements experienced an escalation in military security measures. This included settlers donning military uniforms and an increased military presence, leading to a tightening of daily life for the region’s residents. Many villages were closely tied to the ongoing circumstances. The proximity of the Carmel settlement to Umm Al Khair community, for example, has resulted in heightened security measures, with settlers and soldiers guarding the settlement fence vigilantly, sometimes pointing their weapons in people’s direction. This constant threat has left them feeling vulnerable and fearful of even accidental gunfire.
• On Sunday, at least three people were injured due to shootings and attacks perpetrated by both the military and settlers. Soldiers at Susyiah military camp checkpoint shot towards the feet of [name withheld], where he was injured because of shrapnel from the bullets that were shot on the ground. The soldiers seemed to [terrorize] people, even though it would be a dangerous action and would hurt people. In the morning of that day, and as a collective punishment, the occupation military began an unsettling practice of obstructing all the roads in our region by indiscriminately heaping piles of [dirt] along their paths. This deliberate action has resulted in the disconnection of various communities, particularly impacting those residing in the remote corners of our region. The consequences of these roadblocks are far-reaching, as they hinder essential access to vital services and disrupt the daily lives of the affected residents, amplifying the isolation of those living in these remote areas. The situation has raised concerns and anxiety among the local population, as the communities grapple with the abrupt disruption of their connections and the uncertainty surrounding these military actions.
• Monday, the attack on [name withheld] in the village of Khalet Adabe was a distressing incident. [He] was merely trying to protect his community when a group of settlers attempted to forcefully enter it. In the ensuing confrontation, he was violently assaulted, resulting in a broken arm. Fortunately, he was swiftly transported to the hospital by a Palestinian ambulance. The departure of the settlers left a lingering sense of terror among the local families, highlighting the tensions and challenges faced by many in this region. We also witnessed a series of distressing incidents that unfolded, with multiple reports of individuals falling victim to violence. One particularly unsettling case involved a man from Khalet Al Maieh, who was pulled over by the military while driving his tractor on the highway. After being detained for two hours, his keys, cell phone, and ID were confiscated, and he was subjected to severe physical assault by the military and ended up in the police station for investigation. It didn’t stop with the military; settlers have also started deploying bulldozers to further restrict people’s movement, taking advantage of the situation. Near Atwaneh, Ajawaieh, Sadet Atha’la, and many other villages. In Sadet Atha’lah, for example, settlers opened fire on those who approached them while they were blocking the road to their village, fortunately without causing injuries. People are already grappling with harsh living conditions, including a shortage of basic necessities like food and medicine, which could worsen if the current situation continues the same. The future appears uncertain and filled with fear.
• On Tuesday, settlers in military uniforms invaded Umm Al Khair village and terrorized the residents. They temporarily detained, for more than an hour, the village’s youth for questioning, checked their IDs, confiscated their cell phones, and prevented anyone from documenting them. Afterward, they claimed that someone posed a security threat and was dangerously close to the settlement fence. [. . .] It’s difficult to fathom or even endure such an accusation, given that the Carmel settlement is located merely one meter from Umm Al Khair village. Before leaving the village, they issued a threat, warning that they would shoot anyone found in close proximity to the settlement fence. This situation has become even more distressing, especially after the events that transpired today.
On the same day, not far from Umm Al Khair, inside Maghaier Al Abeed village, located within the so-called Firing Zone 918, a violent attack was launched by settlers, causing terror among families and physical assaults. The [name withheld] family was the target of this attack, leaving [name withheld], his wife, and their young children injured, necessitating their immediate transfer to a hospital. They were transported to the hospital by a Palestinian ambulance since driving on the highway was restricted due to the blockade. This incident underscores the ongoing challenges faced by Palestinian communities in this region, with Israeli settlers exploiting the situation.
Furthermore, settlers, accompanied by the military, brought a bulldozer to raid Simri village in the Shib Al Botom area. They took advantage of the absence of residents and proceeded to demolish five houses and two substantial animal barns. This demolition is not just illegal; it represents a grave crime against Palestinians and exposes the extent of the actions taken by these malevolent settlers.
• Wednesday, in several other villages, including Susyiah, Atwaneh, Adirat, Umm Al Khair, Al Karmel, and Ajawaiah, people faced gunfire from either the military or settlers, fortunately escaping injury. However, near Atwaneh in a harrowing incident, a lone shepherd found himself in a perilous situation when a random military patrol, who were traveling in a private civil car, opened fire on the shepherd without warning. Tragically, two of his sheep lost their lives in the crossfire, while two others suffered injuries. Miraculously, the shepherd managed to escape the relentless gunfire, leaving his flock behind in a desperate bid for survival.
Susyiah village has been plagued by a series of distressing night raids conducted by both the military and settlers. These incursions, carried out under the guise of security operations, have involved meticulous searches of each household, leaving families separated and detained outside their homes. These unsettling events have occurred at least twice in the village, with the most recent incident taking place in the dawn of Wednesday, casting a shadow of fear and uncertainty over the community.
• On Thursday, the residents of Atwaneh village faced a distressing situation when settlers, dressed in military uniforms, encroached on the village and began uprooting olive trees that belonged to the local people. The situation escalated when the settlers established a military point near the homes of the people. When people attempted to protect their trees, the settlers started shooting directly at them. Fortunately, no one was injured in the gunfire, but the settlers chased them back to their homes. This prompted the people to stand their ground, as the settlers had entered their community and were posing a direct threat. In response, the settlers resorted to violence, assaulting anyone in their path. The [name withheld] family, for example, was subjected to this brutality, with [name withheld] suffering an arm injury. Other members of his family and neighbors also sustained various injuries. The ordeal left a lasting impact on the people, especially the children, who had to endure this terrifying experience.
Later in the afternoon, a military patrol intercepted two vehicles owned by Jinba residents, who were on their way to Yatta for essential supplies. The occupants were detained for several hours, leading to a disturbing outcome. Eventually, one car’s passengers were released but had their vehicle confiscated, while those in the other car were arrested, and their vehicle was taken. Their ultimate destination remains unknown, and it is suspected they may be held at a nearby military facility, restrained and blindfolded. In a separate unsettling incident, a man from Arifaieh was apprehended by the military merely for standing near the highway, even though his house was right beside it.
Not far from there, in the villages of Anajadah, Khashem Al-Daraj, and Khashem Al-Karm, an occupation military patrol was stopping cars on the road and confiscating their keys, leaving people stranded at the roadside. Some individuals had to call mechanics to assist in starting their cars so they could return home. Meanwhile, others anxiously awaited the return of the military patrol to retrieve their keys, but unfortunately, the patrol never returned.
• Friday today marked a grim turn of events in Atwaneh village, where [name withheld] was tragically shot by a settler as worshippers left the mosque following Jumah prayers. This shocking incident raises concerns about the deliberate targeting of innocent villagers. [name withheld], rushed to the hospital in a private vehicle, currently fights for his life in critical condition. The absence of an ambulance, a result of the military blockade imposed on Palestinians in the region, has only compounded this dire situation.
These alarming incidents paint a grim picture of the situation here, and it’s important to note that these are localized events. The broader situation is equally dire. What is happening is unlike anything before; nobody can predict what tomorrow may bring. There seem to be no openings for hope or a clear vision of tomorrow at this time. As the ordeal enters its second week, the people endure immense suffering, despite limited media coverage of these distressing events. It begs the question: How much longer must Palestinians endure before the world takes notice and acts?
In these times, we turn to our faith and pray to Allah for safety and peace. Our hearts are heavy, and we stand together in solidarity with those affected by these tragic events. Please keep the affected individuals and their families in your thoughts and prayers during these challenging times.
Ruins of Khirbet Mufaqarah mosque, demolished on the grounds that it was not issued a building permit, March 2016. (B’Tselem, CC BY-SA 4.0)
A recent trial of an attack by an Israeli settler on a U.S. citizen shows how difficult it is to obtain justice.
Last March, Cassandra Auren Dixon, a sixty-four-year-old carpenter from Wisconsin, was attacked by Israeli settlers while visiting Masafer Yatta in the West Bank of Palestine. Dixon and another international activist, who has asked to remain anonymous, were near the village of Tuba, which has long been the target of settler attacks. As someone who has spent time in Tuba, I was disturbed but unsurprised to hear about this incident.
“We saw four settlers running from the outpost to the hills,” she told The Progressive. “One of them chased the person I was with . . . the settler had an iron bar that was sharpened [on] one end . . . . Then one of them came up behind me and hit me in the back of the head.” Dixon’s colleague captured the attack on video.
The Israeli army is currently attempting to evict the families of Masafer Yatta who live in what Israel has declared “Firing Zone 918.” Attacks similar to Dixon’s are commonplace, and it is not unheard of for the victims themselves to face arrest.
Though the other activist decided not to press charges, Dixon filed a complaint. Dixon’s Lawyer, who is an employee of the Human Rights Defenders Fund, told The Progressive that an initial trial led to Dixon’s attacker, Dovid Weinstock, being placed under house arrest. While Weinstock was residing in Havat Ma’on at the time of the attack, his house arrest is being served at his parent’s home in the illegal settlement of Shilo.
Dixon was not allowed to have her attorney present during the hearings, which were conducted in Hebrew, a language she does not understand.
Dixon’s second court hearing was scheduled for September 6, months after she had returned to her home in Wisconsin. Dixon told The Progressive that between medical fees, time off from her work as a carpenter due to her injuries, and airfare, she has suffered financial losses from both the attack and the extended legal proceedings.
Dixon was not allowed to have her attorney present during the hearings, which were conducted in Hebrew, a language she does not understand. “I know only what the doctors were able to tell me about their testimony, and what the prosecutor told me during a few minutes of conversation,” she said.
Cassandra Dixon (Photo provided)
In an interview with The Progressive, Dixon stated that Weinstock’s lawyers “refused to accept written hospital reports” and claimed that her injuries were not serious. They requested to release him from house arrest, but Dixon’s lawyer told The Progressive that this request was denied.
While a large majority of cases regarding Israeli settler attacks do not result in a conviction, Dixon decided to press charges and pursue legal action out of principle. She hopes the trial can raise awareness of the political reality in the West Bank and of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation. Dixon informed The Progressive she had a desire to “stick it out and stand in solidarity with the people of Tuba and Masafer Yatta.”
After the proceedings, the court scheduled another hearing on November 2 to hear testimony from Weinstock, after which the judge will issue a verdict.
Dixon’s story highlights that while Israeli civilians are often the ones carrying out physical violence, they are protected and reinforced by the state. After speaking with her, I couldn’t help but think of my own experience in August of this year.
When accompanying Palestinian shepherds in the West Bank, a strange man walking towards you is never a good sign. So when another activist and I were in this position in Masafer Yatta, not far from where Dixon was attacked, we were suspicious.
Area called Masafer Yatta in Hebron Hills of West Bank designated as Firing Zone 918 by Israeli authorities in 1980. (OCHA, UN., CC BY-SA 4.0)
The man claimed that he’d heard about the region in the news, and he simply wanted to see what was going on. Masafer Yatta, a rural area, is not the sort of place curious travelers simply stumble upon. Because we were already suspicious, we ignored him, but he continued. Any possibility that he might be some clueless but harmless bystander would disappear once he followed us—even after we began leaving the area. The shepherd finished grazing his flock and we began walking towards his village, but the stranger insisted on joining us at the shepherd’s home “for tea and coffee.”
At this point, he asked me, “Sam, where are we going?” I had not told him my name. I kept ignoring him, and he began to check some sort of database on his phone while muttering to himself, “Does he speak Hebrew . . . I know he speaks a little . . . Ah, here. English.”
The man was soon joined by two more, and an activist based in Jerusalem texted us letting us know that all three of them either worked for or volunteered for the far-right NGO, Im Tirtzu. Im Tirtzu is an organization that harasses liberal and left-wing activists. After the Facebook page, “Im Tirtzu is a fascist movement” criticized the far-right organization, Im Tirtzu sued them for libel. After hearing the case, a Jerusalem court ruled that Im Tirtzu exhibits enough characteristics of fascism that it isn’t libelous to call them fascist.
The first man who had approached us soon realized that I could understand the Hebrew he was speaking, and said, “You understand every word, that’s what’s most important.” When I showed my ID to a police officer who eventually arrived, the stranger made note of the fact that I have Israeli citizenship. I can only assume this information has since been added to their database.
After three soldiers and a police officer arrived, The other two men with him joined in on harassing me, making a show of mentioning specific information about me, such as my hometown and the fact that I was raised Orthodox Jewish. One accused me of fabricating settler violence and asked me if I’d ever “seen it with [my] own eyes.” He chose to take my silence as some sort of admission of guilt, even though I’ve written extensively about my experiences with settler violence, and have shared videos of settlers throwing rocks at me. The third man told me that “you guys [leftists] are going to go extinct in a few years” and “if [activism] is a business, then. . . you’re on the wrong side.”
While the police ordered both groups to not engage with one another, they made zero attempts to stop Im Tirtzu’s harassment once they didn’t comply, and they ignored our requests for help.
The use of my personal information was clearly a scare tactic.
The use of my personal information was clearly a scare tactic. All of the information they had on me can be found on Google. My social media platforms are all public. The people in Im Tirtzu think that creating the feeling that they’re watching will be enough to make me stop standing in solidarity with Palestinians.
Im Tirtzu has levied attacks on the heads of left-wing NGOs such as The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, and Hamoked: The Center for the Defense of the Individual. They were a leading actor in a smear campaign against activists Ezra Nawi, Guy Butavia, and Nasser Nawajah. They were also part of the mass harassment campaign that caused the former director of Breaking the Silence, Yuli Novack, to leave the country. They host an entire website that is simply a list of people they deem to be “destroyers of Israel.” The website contains information compiled by the far-right NGO Ad Kan, which refers to itself as “The Israeli undercover organization exposing Anti-Zionist actors.” Ad Kan has boasted about working and communicating with the Israeli police.
Im Tirtzu’s attacks on me did not let up after that day. They live-streamed the incident on their Facebook page, and clips from those videos have been published on YouTube as well. They dedicated a page to me on their website. It’s titled “Meet the Anarchist: Sam Stein,” and it features a video from my confrontation with the group in Masafer Yatta.
The web page’s headline states “Anarchists claim that there is settler violence against Palestinian shepherds, but in practice, when asked if they have seen violence with their own eyes, they remain silent. Why? Because there is no violence! They just come to incite the area and cause conflict between Jews and Arabs. Shame.” The page has more than 25,000 views.
Organizations like Im Tirtzu are the reason that documentation activism is so important. They attempt to erase the oppression Palestinians suffer and to push a delusional version of the role left-wing activists play. We must make sure that the reality is impossible for anyone to ignore.
Research has consistently shown that there are rarely legal consequences for settler violence. An indictment is more likely, however, if the victim is not Palestinian. According to data from the non-profit Yesh Din “Israeli law enforcement agencies are 2.5 times more likely to indict Israelis who harm non-Palestinians [Israeli security personnel and others] in the West Bank than Israelis who harm Palestinians.”
Incidents of Israeli settler and military violence against non-Palestinians or Palestinians with American citizenship have generally received more media attention than attacks against Palestinians. President Joe Biden made official statements regarding the killings of seventy-eight-year-old Palestinian-American Omar Assad and journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. The U.S. State Department made an official statement condemning a pogrom in the Palestinian town of Turmus’ayya and saying that they expect the Israeli government to prosecute those responsible. Roughly 80 percent of Turmus’ayya residents hold American citizenship.
Both Dixon’s experience and my own are elevated simply because we are both white. But as solidarity activists, it is our job to make sure that those who hear of our experiences pay more attention to the violence and oppression that Palestinians face on a daily basis.
Palestinians do not have the option of simply disengaging from the violence around them.
Though their methods may be different, both Im Tirtzu and Dovid Weinstock aim to keep activists out of the West Bank. In the case of Dixon’s assault, the legal system did little to help her or provide justice. In my case, police and soldiers allowed the political harassment happening in front of their eyes to continue.
These cases prove why activists engaging in solidarity work is needed. Palestinians do not have the option of simply disengaging from the violence around them.
We have an obligation to stand firm in our solidarity. Internationally, that means demanding justice for Palestinian victims of violence even if they don’t enjoy American citizenship. For Israelis and others living in the region, that means creating a culture in which harassing left-wing activists is neither acceptable nor effective and demanding that the perpetrators of settler violence face consequences for their actions.
Sam Stein is a Jewish-American activist based in Jerusalem. For more, follow him on Instagram and Twitter @sam_avraham
On the outskirts of the foothills of Masafer Yatta, south of the city of Hebron, sits Khirbet Umm Al-Khair, where its people cling to the land with a combination of pain and determination.
They endure the challenges of continuous Israeli persecution, including the demolition of homes and agricultural structures, confiscation of water tanks, and constant threats to wipe it the entire village out of existence. There is no reliable access to water, electricity, means of transportation, or access to the communications grid.
With all of their strength, the people of Umm Al-Khair confront the occupying military’s bulldozers, defending their modest tin-roofed homes, which barely protect them and their children from the heat of summer and the cold of winter. They cling to their village despite its transformation into a small “khirbeh” no greater than 400 dunams, half of which the occupation controls, which has severely limited their ability to sustain the livestock upon which their livelihood depends. They are prohibited from building, while the settlers of the “Carmel” settlement, which is located on the lands of Umm Al-Khair, enjoy the necessities of modern life.
It is a competition against time and a struggle for survival. We cling to the land of our fathers and grandfathers. Death will not stop us from defending it. They demolish while we rebuild. They confiscate our lands while we are steadfast. The settlers attack us while we are resilient and cannot respond. We are steadfast and we will remain steadfast, but for how long?
The entire village of Umm Al-Khair is suffering from a fierce ongoing attack by the occupation and its settlers. It began when the settlers prevented the shepherds from grazing their sheep or leaving the village, even to tend to the crops they themselves had planted. Eventually, the settlers completely prevented the shepherds from leaving the village, forcing some shepherds to sell their sheep, their only source of income.
One shepherd, who prefers to remain anonymous, said that for decades, herding has been dangerous because of the proximity of the “Carmel” settlement, where the occupation forces or groups of settlers sometimes open fire on them and threaten them if they try to approach their lands or graze sheep on them. That was only the beginning of the occupation’s assault on Umm Al-Khair. Eventually, occupation forces confiscated Palestinian lands on the northern and southern sides of the village, declaring them the lands of the Israeli state and under the rule of the settlers who live in the area.
About 5 days ago, one of the hateful settlers chased the shepherds. One of the shepherds reached the village. Then this settler began shouting at the residents and telling them they must sell their sheep because the land now belongs to him. The people of the village gathered and completely rejected that and did not accept the settler or his words. But he quickly called the Israeli police and the Civil Administration, and when they arrived at the village of Umm Al-Khair, they told the people of Umm Al-Khair that the settler is the new owner of the land and that the residents are not allowed to leave the village at all or to graze their sheep.
They also told us that the settler’s lands now extend up to the entrance to the village. The Civil Administration also told us to remove the village’s only water line, which is used by more than 200 people who live in the village. The reason is that, according to their claim, the water network is located on settler lands. This new confiscation of lands has put the people in a very, very difficult situation, as Umm Al-Khair has now become a prison. You cannot move at all according to their law. We are now completely surrounded by the Israeli settlement: the settlement continues to expand on three sides of our village, and on the fourth side, they have built farms for their poultry on other Palestinian lands that were confiscated.
Umm Al-Khair has been suffering for decades from a lack of water and electricity and the demolition of homes. Our homes have been demolished more than 17 times, and more than 109 homes have been destroyed, leaving behind many people who have become homeless. Now, the situation in the village is very, very dangerous, as more than half of the village’s land has been confiscated and residents cannot use it.
The people of Umm Al-Khair call on international institutions concerned with human rights to provide protection for them and to intervene to stop the repeated settlers’ attacks on them. people of Umm Al-Khair affirm that they will not leave their land, that they will face the challenge of the settlement, and that they are prepared to face the worst
Thank you all so much for helping me to come back to Palestine, and for sponsoring young olive trees to be planted in Masafer Yatta in the coming growing season.
I attended the September 6 hearing in the legal case against the Israeli settler who assaulted me in March of this year in the Palestinian village of Tuba, but the judge did not issue a verdict. The court scheduled another hearing for November 2, during which the settler will testify.
During the September 6 hearing both the prosecution and the lawyer for the settler questioned two of the doctors who cared for me after the assault. Lawyers for the settler refused to accept written hospital reports and documentation, and insisted on questioning the doctors at length in an attempt to claim that the injury was not serious. It was not easy for these doctors to travel to the hearing, and I am so grateful to them, both for their wonderful care when I was injured, and again now for their help in insisting on legal consequences for the settler.
The lawyer for the settler also argued that the settler should be released, however as I understand he remains on house arrest in the home of his grandparents.
The US consulate did not attend the hearing, which was held completely in Hebrew, and fairly early in the proceeding the judge forced the human rights lawyer who was accompanying me to leave the room. As a result I know only what the doctors were able to tell me about their testimony, and what the prosecutor told me during a few minutes of conversation after the day- long hearing. I am trying to get a court transcript.
Meanwhile in the area of Masafer Yatta, where the attack on me occurred last March, Palestinians continue to confront escalating attacks by settles, backed up by Israeli soldiers. In one village that I visited last spring, Widade, the violence from settlers has been so relentless and terrifying in these past months that the family has been forced to flee, leaving their home and barns and the livelihood they built over generations. Their sheep have been sold now and all they know has been lost. Settlers have already arrived to destroy everything that remained, and there is now no hope of them returning to their land.
The majority of legal complaints made by Palestinians to the Israeli police against settlers are dismissed before they reach the prosecution stage and legal consequences for settlers involved in assaults on Palestinians are almost unheard of.
At this time, in 2023, Palestinians are facing violent attacks by Israeli settlers at the rate of 2.8 per day in the occupied West Bank. This unrelenting pressure and violence is forcing families to flee, and resulting in the depopulation of villages that will be lost forever.
In addition to attacks on people, settlers continue to burn and slash olive trees, steal sheep and donkeys, vandalize homes, cars and personal belongings and destroy water wells and crops. The Israeli military and police routinely back up the settlers, and refuse to intervene to protect civilians. US taxpayers send Israel 3.8 million dollars per day in aid, the majority of which is received by the military, so when these attacks occur, we own a piece of the violence.
I hope that in response you will consider passing on to a friend this chance to sponsor an olive tree, at a cost of $24 per tree, to be planted here in Masafer Yatta in the coming planting season as an act of solidarity with these families who are struggling every day to hold on to their land.
Please visit https://tiny.one/MadisonOliveGrove
Many many thanks,
Please consider sponsoring one or more olive trees via the Madison-Masafer Yatta Olive Grove project. Thanks to your generous support, the initial goal of 40 trees has been met, and we are on our way to the next goal of 80 trees donated.
If you prefer to donate by mail, you can send a check payable to MRSCP and marked “Olive Grove” to:
Wednesday, Sept. 13: Storytelling as Resistance
Thursday, Sept. 14: The Legacy of Oslo: Thirty Years Later
Thursday, Sept. 14: Palestine Partners at the Madison Night Market!
Friday, Sept. 15: The Developers: Land/Life Grabbers in Palestine
Sunday, Sept. 17: March for Peace at Willy Street Parade
Sunday, Sept. 17: Virtual Tour of the Gaza Strip with Green Olive Tours
Sunday, Sept. 17: Adam Manasra speaks in Madison
Thursday, Sept. 21: Art Under Occupation
Thursday, Sept. 21: Online Screening and Discussion of Film Boycott
In this webinar, we will hear from a diverse panel of professionals – Christian, Muslim, and Jewish – who through their teaching and writing about Palestine for young people, convey a challenging subject in engaging and educational ways that overcome the all-too-common erasure of the Palestinian people and their story.
Bring the kids! Bring the adults!
Gaza is frequently referred to as the largest prison in the world and has been under closure since 2007. Join a virtual tour showcasing the way Israeli policy has created an ongoing humanitarian and political catastrophe. With almost annual military assaults by Israel and a near total ban on international observers, virtual technology will be used to cross the militarized border zone, visit major historical sites, and imagine a future in which freedom of movement will be guaranteed to all residents of the Gaza Strip.
Information and Registration here
Welcome Adam Manasra to Wisconsin as he provides an on-the-ground update from the village of Wadi Foquin located in the Bethlehem District of the West Bank of Palestine. Adam will share about his experience growing up under Israel military occupation, and about the loss of land and resulting economic suffering due to the policy decisions and actions of the Government of Israel.
Free and open to the public; Donations for a new community development project in the village to build a Guest House will be gratefully accepted. This project is a creative use of land as well as an expression of resistance.
Hosted by First United Methodist Church and Sponsored by the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church.
More info here
This second installment of their monthly educational Zoom series will feature Palestinian creatives like Sliman Mansour, Saleh Bakri & more.
Register here for Art Under Occupation
(Note: There is a donation requested, but if you can’t afford it there’s an option at the link.)
Join Churches for Middle East Peace and Just Vision on September 21 for a virtual screening of the film Boycott, with a discussion to follow. Boycott traces the impact of state legislation designed to penalize individuals and companies that choose to boycott Israel due to its human rights record.
Registration and full information here
“These settlers act with impunity because Israel has impunity in the world, and they have that because of the U.S.,” Cassandra Dixon (Mary House CW) says. She hopes the September 7 trial of the Israeli settler who attacked her might help to change that.
After being assaulted by an Israeli settler earlier this spring, Cassandra Dixon of Mary House of Hospitality (Oxford, Wisconsin) is preparing to return to Israel for the settler’s trial on September 7.
If the settler is convicted, she hopes it might make some in the United States rethink U.S. policy toward Israel.
“i don’t think that some white woman from Wisconsin going or not going to a trial there is going to change anything” fundamentally for the Palestinians who live there, Dixon told CatholicWorker.org last week. “But what could change? Maybe U.S. citizens, U.S. taxpayers, would have second thoughts about supporting this. These settlers act with impunity because Israel has impunity in the world, and they have that because of the U.S.”
Dixon suffered a fractured skull after an Israeli settler attacked her and another international observer on March 7 in the Masafer Yatta area, near the Palestinian village of Tuba.
Dixon was treated for her injuries while still in Palestine, but it wasn’t until she followed up with a medical professional back home that she realized how serious the incident had been. “The doctor that saw me said, ‘You do have a very hard head.’ That’s kind of true. I think I was also very, very lucky.”
Some of the people who provided emergency medical aid to Dixon in the wake of the March 7 attack were not so fortunate. They themselves were attacked by settlers in their own homes in mid-August, Dixon says—part of a larger attempt to depopulate the area using violence and harassment.
“My hope is that our support for this kind of vigilante violence and the demolition of schools by the military and the shooting of unarmed civilians and the the system of checkpoints that makes it impossible for people to get medical care and the harassment of ambulance drivers—all of these things, at some point, we will have had enough and they’ll be history.”
U.S. taxpayers “own” the unchecked harassment and violence of Israeli settlers toward Palestinians, Dixon says, because of the millions of dollars of support it provides to the Israeli military on a daily basis.
Dixon is asking supporters to help plant olive trees in the area “as a practical act of solidarity, and a means of helping families to hold onto their land.” You can read her personal appeal here: Dixon Appeals for Help Planting an Olive Grove in Tuba – Catholic Worker Movement
A press release prepared by the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project follows.
A Wisconsin woman who was assaulted and seriously injured this spring while visiting Palestine will travel to attend the September 6 trial of the Israeli settler accused in the attack.
Cassandra Dixon, 64, was assaulted by Israeli settlers on March 7 while walking with another international on the outskirts of the Palestinian village of Tuba, in the occupied West Bank. The attack fractured her skull and broke an eardrum. The settlers fled back to the Illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on, however Dixon’s assailant was identified and arrested some days later by Israeli authorities. He has since admitted to being present, and is on house arrest pending trial.
Since Dixon was assaulted in March, settler violence against Palestinians has escalated dramatically across the West Bank. In the same area where Dixon was attacked, settler assaults have resulted in multiple hospitalizations after shepherds were beaten with sticks and bars and pepper sprayed at close range in the eyes. Tuba village is located in Masafer Yatta, an area comprised of multiple small villages at the southern end of the occupied West Bank. These villages are experiencing a sharp rise in settler violence aimed at driving them out, including physical attacks on farmers, land and home invasions, theft & injury of livestock, destruction of personal belongings, theft of land, and destruction of a water well, crops and olive trees.
In addition, the villages lie inside Firing Zone 918, an area claimed by Israel for use as a military training area. Israeli authorities have issued demolition orders for all structures, including homes, schools, animal barns and wells within the area after residents lost a legal appeal to remain on their lands last year. One school was demolished last April and another is slated for destruction by the military before the start of school this year.
The upcoming trial is an important test of whether the US government will hold Israel accountable for violence against American citizens. Earlier this year, US citizen Omar Assad, 78, of Milwaukee, died of a stress-induced heart attack brought on by being dragged from his car, bound, blindfolded, gagged and dumped on the ground in a cold construction site by Israeli soldiers in his childhood village in the West Bank. His family is still waiting for justice.
All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. Until recently, unauthorized settlement outposts have been considered illegal even under Israeli law. But the Israeli government, now controlled by the extreme right-wing pro-settler movement, has moved to legalize a number of them, despite objections from the Biden administration.
This rise in settler violence, along with the internal anti-democratic measures being put in place by the current Israeli government, is causing many to consider reevaluating the $3.8 billion US taxpayer funded aid given to Israel annually. The figure is more than 10 times the US aid given to Niger, one of the world’s poorest countries.
Cassandra Dixon works as a residential carpenter and lives at Mary House, a hospitality house for families visiting the federal prison at Oxford WI.
United Nations report on displacement due to settler violence (also available in English on the page):
Ali Awad podcast on land theft in Tuba:
Cover image: By שי קנדלר – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0