‘A Nonviolent Che Guevara in Gaza’

A Nonviolent Che Guevara in Gaza
Yesterday at 3:27pm

By Ashely Bates, reprinted from her Dispatches from Gaza blog with permission

(Ed’s note. The spreading of the unarmed protests for real democracy to Gaza shows that the tactic is working. And if it works people will want to try it, in ways that defy stereotypes of “violent” Hamas-controlled Gaza. The only difference is that Israel can get away with a harsher response in Gaza so paying attention to stories like this is all the more important.)
In August of last year, I observed the weekly protest in Bi’lin, a West Bank village where the security fence under construction by Israel separates farmers from their land. As they had every Friday for more than three years, Palestinians, left-wing Israelis and international activists marched towards the fence. Kids at the front of the group threw stones at the Israeli tanks, who replied with tear gas, skunk canons and rubber bullets. It was a sobering and unpleasant experience, but I never feared for my life.

Bil’in is one of the few places in the Palestinian territories where protesters have won victories in the Israeli courts. In September of 2007, the Israeli Supreme Court decided that the wall created “undue hardship” in Bil’in and must be rerouted. The IDF began carrying out the court’s demands last month, but declared Bil’in a “closed military zone” and forbad internationals from entering Bil’in on Fridays.

Today I observed a Bil’in-inspired demonstration the buffer zone near Beit Lahiya—but instead of skunk canons and tear gas, Israeli troops immediately fired live ammunition to disperse the 100 or so Palestinians and ISM activists. No one was injured and the gunfire was aimed at the ground, but it was a terrifying experience. Protests like this have happened every week for the past two months and are attracting a growing number of participants from across Gaza.

I shared lunch with the organizer of the protests, Saber Al-Zaaneen, his wife and three young children. Mr. Zaaneen, a self-declared “left-winger” chose a gigantic picture of Che Guevara as the central decoration in his living room. (Most Gazans chose a picture of Yasser Arafat or Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the quadriplegic founder of Hamas.) He said he admired Guevara for “starting an international revolution against oppression.”

As we sat down, Mr. Zaaneen extended his hand. “You are Israeli. I am Palestinian,” he began. “No,” I interrupted, a bit startled and confused. “I am not Israeli. I am American.” He smiled kindly. “This is just an example. I want to have you in my house to drink tea. I want us both to say to our governments that we can live together in peace.”

After this awkward introduction, Mr. Zaaneen shared some of his life history. He studied sociology at the Islamic University of Gaza, has never traveled outside Gaza, and was a Fateh police officer before Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. He has hosted Israeli journalist Amira Hass in his home and corresponds with left-wing Israeli parliamentarians. Mr. Zaaneen is among about 100,000 former Fateh police officers who still receive their salaries from the Fateh government in Ramallah, even though he cannot work as a police officer under Hamas rule.

In July of 2008, Apache helicopters dropped fliers (see picture) warning Palestinians that they were not permitted to go within 300 meters of the border. Mr. Zaaneen knew that Israeli soldiers had shot at people and destroyed farms and houses within one kilometer of the border. Feeling that Israel would continue encroaching unless Palestinians resisted, he began organizing non-violent direct actions in the buffer zones, such as accompanying farmers as they tended their fields and searching for bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops and left to rot.

During and after the Gaza War, Mr. Zaaneen dropped his plans for larger-scale demonstrations. However, he was inspired by developments in Bil’in. “I wanted to experiment with that strategy in Gaza,” he said. “The strength of these demonstrations is that they attract international activists and journalists to see what’s really happening.”

On January 9 of this year, a new flier arrived from the Apache helicopters telling Palestinians not to go within 800 meters of the border. This reenergized Mr. Zaaneen because he “wanted to send a message to Israel that this is Palestinian land and the farmers are not leaving. They bring money only from working the soil.” He visited universities and community organizations, and ultimately rallied a broad base of support. The transportation expenses and equipment are funded by private individuals; he receives no money from Fateh or Hamas.

People of all political stripes are welcome at his demonstrations, which now occur five days per week at border areas across Gaza. He calls his organization the Local Initiative Against the Buffer Zone. Every demonstrator must not bring weapons and must commit to non-violence. “I don’t resist because I want to die,” he said. “I resist because I want freedom, land, education, opportunities, no occupation. This is the message of our movement. We want the whole world to know why the Palestinian people resist.”

Ashely Bates is a freelance journalist reporting from Gaza for the first time. She speaks Arabic and previously lived in Jordan as a Peace Corps volunteer. She currently serves as Program Director at Hands of Peace, a dialogue camp for Israeli, Palestinian and American teenagers.

UPDATE: Israel’s army attacked the group’s unarmed protest again, according to the Palestine Telegraph. “Israeli occupation forces opened fire today toward a peaceful demonstration in Rafah against the Israeli buffer zone in the Gaza-Israel border, no injuries were reported.”

Source: http://www.facebook.com/notes/jewish-voice-for-peace/a-nonviolent-che-guevara-in-gaza/383563668491


5 thoughts on “‘A Nonviolent Che Guevara in Gaza’

  1. kruitvat Post author

    Bassem Ibrahim Abu Rahma, known to many of us as Pheel, was murdered by ITF soldiers during a non-violent protest in the Palestinian village of Bil’in on April 17th, 2009:

  2. kruitvat Post author

    Remembering Bassem (Pheel) Abu Rahma
    Friday, April 16, 2010 at 4:29pm

    Exactly one year ago, Bassem Abu Rahma (who everyone called Pheel, which means “elephant”), was killed by Israeli forces. Pheel, as he did every Friday, was demonstrating at the Wall which cuts off Bil’in from its own lands. His last words were to ask the soldiers not to shoot because an Israeli had been injured. He was shot in the chest by a tear gas canister, as can be seen in this video (somewhat graphic).
    Pheel was by all accounts a very special person, as the video below makes very clear. It is somewhat long, but worth watching. Pheel is one of six peaceful Palestinian demonstrators who have been killed in the villages of Bil’in and Na’alin alone in the last year and a half.

    Here is the link to the video.
    I hope that they don’t block it.


  3. kruitvat Post author


    Our dear friend Bassem Ibrahim Abu Rahma, known to many of us as Pheel, was murdered by ITF soldiers during a non-violent protest in the Palestinian village of Bil’in on April 17th, 2009.

    This film was done in his memory, which we so fondly remember and greatly miss.

    ~ Bassem’s friends


    His name was Bassem, which means smile, and that is how he greeted everyone. But we all called him ‘Pheel’, which means elephant because he had the body the size of an elephant. But Bassem had the heart of a child.

    He loved everyone, and because of his sweetness and ability to make us laugh, everyone loved him. Bassem was everyone’s friend: the children talk about how he would play with them, scare them and then make them laugh. He would tend the garden in the playground and bring toys and books to the kindergarten. The old ladies in the village talk about how he used to visit, to ask after them and see if they needed anything. In the village, he seemed to be everywhere at once. He would pop in to say hello, take one puff of the nargila, and be off to his next spot. The morning he was killed he went to the house of Hamis, whose skull had been broken at a previous demonstration three months ago by a tear gas canister projectile – the same weapon that would kill Bassem.

    Bassem woke Hamis and gave him his medicine, then off he went to visit another friend in the village who is ill with cancer. Then a little girl from the village wanted a pineapple but couldn’t find any in the local stores. So Bassem went to Ramallah to get a pineapple and was back before noon for the Friday prayers and the weekly demonstration against the theft of our land by the apartheid wall. Pheel never missed a demonstration; he participated in all the activities and creative actions in Bilin. He would always talk to the soldiers as human beings. Before he was hit he was calling for the soldiers to stop shooting because there were goats near the fence and he was worried for them. Then a woman in front of him was hit. He yelled to the commander to stop shooting because someone was wounded. He expected the soldiers to understand and stop shooting. Instead, they shot him too.

    People came to his funeral from all the surrounding villages to show Bassem that they loved him as much as he had loved them. But those of us from Bil’in kept looking around for him, expecting him to be walking with us.

    Pheel, you were everyone?s friend. We always knew we loved you, but didn’t realize how much we would miss you until we lost you. As Bil’in has become the symbol of Palestine’s popular resistance, you are the symbol of Bil’in. Sweet Pheel, Rest in Peace, we will continue in your footsteps.

    — Mohammad Khatib, member of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements

  4. kruitvat Post author

    Les dernier visiteurs – Recent visitors

    1. 20 avril 02:14 Fastweb, Como, Lombardia, Italie
    2. 20 avril 03:42 HUGHES NETWORK SYSTEMS, États-Unis
    3. 20 avril 03:59 Voxmobile Interconnect and DSL/GPRS Service, Bertrange, Luxembourg
    4. 20 avril 04:00 Bell Canada – Cable VDN, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    5. 20 avril 04:36 Videotron Ltee, Anjou, Quebec, Canada
    6. 20 avril 04:36 Videotron Ltee, Saint-hubert, Quebec, Canada
    7. 20 avril 04:45 Multikabel, Enkhuizen, Noord-Holland, Pays-Bas
    8. 20 avril 05:02 Sympatico, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    9. 20 avril 05:59 Comcast Cable, Charlottesville, Virginia, États-Unis
    10. 20 avril 06:00 Telesystem Tirol, Innsbruck, Tirol, Autriche
    11. 20 avril 06:26 Bluewin, Zürich, Zurich, Suisse
    12. 20 avril 06:57 Videotron Ltee, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    13. 20 avril 07:05 Telecom Italia, Como, Lombardia, Italie
    14. 20 avril 07:09 Belgacom Skynet, Brussels, Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, Belgique
    15. 20 avril 07:57 British Telecommunications, Doncaster, Royaume-Uni
    16. 20 avril 07:59 Optimum Online (Cablevision Systems), Little Falls, New Jersey, États-Unis
    17. 20 avril 08:00 Rialco, Rubiera, Emilia-Romagna, Italie
    18. 20 avril 08:07 QSC AG, Mainz, Rheinland-Pfalz, Allemagne
    19. 20 avril 08:07 Belgacom Skynet, Belgique
    20. 20 avril 09:17 ASK JEEVES, Oakland, California, États-Unis
    21. 20 avril 09:17 Neuf Cegetel, Canteleu, Haute-Normandie, France
    22. 20 avril 09:29 NormandNet, Maisons-laffitte, Ile-de-France, France
    23. 20 avril 09:32 Free SAS, Paris, Ile-de-France, France
    24. 20 avril 09:34 Telecom Italia, Novara, Piemonte, Italie
    25. 20 avril 09:43 KPN Belgium IPv4 dynamic – Consumer, Sougné-remouchamps, Liege, Belgique
    26. 20 avril 09:46 Telecom Italia, Rome, Lazio, Italie
    27. 20 avril 09:50 Neuf Cegetel, Bondoufle, Bretagne, France
    28. 20 avril 09:57 XS4ALL Internet BV, Wolphaartsdijk, Zeeland, Pays-Bas
    29. 20 avril 09:57 Imprimerie des Editeurs, Evere, Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, Belgique
    30. 20 avril 10:06 NGI SpA, Vercelli, Piemonte, Italie
    31. 20 avril 10:11 Neuf Cegetel, Joeuf, Lorraine, France
    32. 20 avril 10:16 France Telecom, Paris, Ile-de-France, France
    33. 20 avril 10:17 Universita’ degli Studi di Verona, Verona, Veneto, Italie
    34. 20 avril 10:39 Free SAS, Paris, Ile-de-France, France
    35. 20 avril 10:39 Free SAS, Saint-pierre-des-corps, Centre, France
    36. 20 avril 10:54 NTT Plala Inc., Kasama, Ibaraki, Japon
    37. 20 avril 10:56 France Telecom, Saint-gervais-en-vallière, Bourgogne, France
    38. 20 avril 11:19 Telecom Italia Mobile, Faenza, Emilia-Romagna, Italie
    39. 20 avril 11:29 Belgacom Skynet, Braine-le-château, Brabant, Belgique
    40. 20 avril 11:34 IUnet, Italie
    41. 20 avril 11:38 @IP for Infrastructure and permanent customers, Alger, Algérie
    42. 20 avril 11:38 Burnley College, Burnley, Lancashire, Royaume-Uni
    43. 20 avril 11:50 Centre de Ressources Informatiques, Marseille, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, France
    44. 20 avril 11:54 Communaute Francaise Wallonie-Bruxelles, Braine-l’alleud, Brabant, Belgique
    45. 20 avril 11:58 NewICO, Braine-le-comte, Hainaut, Belgique
    46. 20 avril 12:06 United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultur, Paris, Ile-de-France, France
    47. 20 avril 12:12 Mac Telecom, Brussels, Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, Belgique
    48. 20 avril 12:21 Neuf Cegetel, Chambéry, Rhone-Alpes, France
    49. 20 avril 12:29 Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Piemonte, Italie
    50. 20 avril 12:32 Belgacom Skynet, Brussels, Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, Belgique

  5. kruitvat Post author

    Recent visitors (2):

    18. 20 avril 12:32 Belgacom Skynet, Brussels, Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, Belgique
    19. 20 avril 12:36 Deutsche Telekom AG, Merzen, Niedersachsen, Allemagne
    20. 20 avril 12:56 Ceres, Dallas, Texas, États-Unis
    21. 20 avril 12:59 Tiscalinet, Cagliari, Sardegna, Italie
    22. 20 avril 13:01 Commission Europeenne, Belgique
    23. 20 avril 13:04 Neuf Cegetel, Perrecy-les-forges, Bourgogne, France
    24. 20 avril 13:13 France Telecom, Colomiers, Midi-Pyrenees, France
    25. 20 avril 13:16 France Telecom, Colomiers, Midi-Pyrenees, France
    26. 20 avril 13:17 France Telecom, Colomiers, Midi-Pyrenees, France
    27. 20 avril 13:23 Academie d’Amiens – Education Nationale, Amiens, Picardie, France
    28. 20 avril 13:27 Teledisnet ISP, Soumagne, Liege, Belgique
    29. 20 avril 13:32 Free SAS, Cannes, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, France
    30. 20 avril 13:36 Romtelecom Data Network, Bucharest, Bucuresti, Roumanie
    31. 20 avril 13:52 SITA-Societe Internationale de Telecommunications, Europe
    32. 20 avril 13:52 SITA-Societe Internationale de Telecommunications, Europe
    33. 20 avril 13:55 Nerim SAS, Le Pré-saint-gervais, Ile-de-France, France
    34. 20 avril 13:55 Ethiopian Telecommunication corporation, Ethiopie
    35. 20 avril 13:58 France Telecom, Saint-brandan, Bretagne, France
    36. 20 avril 14:02 Ariacom Srl, Perugia, Umbria, Italie
    37. 20 avril 14:10 France Telecom, Allauch, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, France
    38. 20 avril 14:12 Italia OnLine S.P.A, Palermo, Sicilia, Italie
    39. 20 avril 14:14 Belgacom Skynet, Verviers, Liege, Belgique
    40. 20 avril 14:15 Free SAS, Metz, Lorraine, France
    41. 20 avril 14:17 Free SAS, Villeurbanne, Rhone-Alpes, France
    42. 20 avril 14:29 Telenet Operaties N.V., Kortrijk, West-Vlaanderen, Belgique
    43. 20 avril 14:34 Vodafone Omnitel N.V., Italie
    44. 20 avril 14:50 KPN Belgium IPv4 dynamic – Consumer, Furfooz, Namur, Belgique
    45. 20 avril 14:52 AUTORITA’ PORTUALE DI MESSINA, Messina, Sicilia, Italie
    46. 20 avril 15:06 Commission Europeenne, Belgique
    47. 20 avril 15:10 NC Numericable S.A., Bordeaux, Aquitaine, France
    48. 20 avril 15:12 France Telecom, Brie-comte-robert, Ile-de-France, France
    49. 20 avril 15:18 College de limoilou, Quebec, Canada
    50. 20 avril 15:33 Telecom Italia, Treviso, Veneto, Italie

    We have a litte problem with the skynetblog ‘Human Rights Belgium’.
    We can not add a comment at this article.
    Everytime we try to do it, we are transfered to the link http://www.facebook.com/ajax/ufi/modify.php on our computer (with a blanco page).
    Our comments are blocked on that way.
    Very strange. But it’s not the first time that we are censured…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s