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The Great Upset of the Palestinian Resistance

sexta-feira 11 de janeiro de 2013, por Baby Siqueira Abrão, Baby Siqueira Abrão

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The Palestinian resistance enters a new phase with the founding of the Bab Al Shams village. From now on it will create faits accomplis to resume in practice what is rightfully theirs.

Soon after most of the countries attending the UN General Assembly of 29 November 2012 recognized the State of Palestine within the limits prior to the Israeli military occupation

in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyhau, decided to challenge the decision. In retaliation to the UN, he announced the construction of 3,000 housing units for Jewish settlers, 2,000 of them, in addition to commercial and educational centers, in al-Tur area, around East Jerusalem, which Israel calls E1.

Al-Tur is located in the State of Palestine. And it’s very important from a geostrategic point of view. The building of an extension of Ma’ale Adumim Jewish-only colony – also illegally erected on Palestinian territory –, such as the plans of the Israeli government, would divide the West Bank into two parts. Palestine would remains, then, with three geographically separated blocks: the northern West Bank, the southern West Bank and Gaza. All of them without any communication with each other. And without access to Jerusalem.

The impact on the Palestinian population would be "disastrous", as remembers the Alternative Information Center (AIC), an organization founded and led by Palestinians and Israelis who support the Palestinian cause researchers. The communities would be isolated, natural growth would be prevented and, as a consequence, residents would begin to leave the areas surrounding Al-Tur. The way will be open for the government of Israel to annex more Palestinian territory.

In addition, about 2,300 Bedouins who live in small communities between Ma’ale Adumin (located in the West Bank) and Jerusalem would be expelled. Most of them, says the AIC, is made up of refugees forced to leave the Naqab desert (in Hebrew, Negev), south of Palestine, when the Zionists took over the region by force to establish Israel. More: about 50,000 Palestinians, from the towns of Anata, Abu Dis and Azaria, would be virtually isolated from the rest of the world, squeezed between the planned Jewish settlement in al-Tur on the east side and the Confiscation and Apartheid Wall on the west. The only communication with their own country would be made by a road through Bethlehem and Ramallah.

Time to change the rules of the game

And it was exactly in this sensitive area, central to the contiguity of the Palestinian State, where more than 250 women and men, under the intense cold of the dawn on January 11, founded Bab Al Shams (Sun Gate), the newest Palestinian village.

There, in the rocky plateau of al-Tur, they set up, with the help of activists from various parts of the world, dozens of rectangular tents, made from rubberized white and cream fabric, structured with iron beams. One houses a medical clinic. Another announces, with huge letters in Arabic and English: "Bab Al Sham Village".

The construction of the village is a unique initiative and marks a new phase of resistance. The Palestinians, according to a statement distributed during the founding of the village, are no longer willing to wait for the consumption of their country’s seizure. The union between popular committees, youth movements, civil society organizations and the true owners of that area, strengthened by the UN decision to recognize Palestine as a State, effected the more important and decisive nonviolent action of over 100 years of resistance to Zionism – the political movement that took, on the basis of terrorism and strength, the greater part of Palestine. But the real goal, as Ben-Gurion made it clear in a letter written to his son, and as the Zionists never hid - the project is part of the Likud, the party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and other Israeli parties’ programs –, is taking the entire Palestine.

Until this morning the Palestinians had been watching helplessly as the government of Israel carried out this plan, stealing their land, destroying their homes and their livelihoods. The construction of Bab Al Shams is the turning point of this story. Neither helicopters, which began to fly over the new village as the news reached the Zionist government, nor the numerous soldiers who surrounded the place can change that.

The Palestinians have given up hope that their right to self-determination is granted to them. They decided to conquer it on their own. And they have appropriated, in practice, of whatever been theirs. They showed, by regaining their lands, the willingness to fight for what is rightfully theirs, inch by inch. They placed the Zionists against the same wall they built.

In Bab Al Shams, amidst the assembly of tents, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, leader of the Popular Committee of Bil’in, declared to reporters, echoing the contents of the Declaration of Bab Al Shams, that "Israel imposed fait accompli for decades before the silence of the international community. Now it’s time to change the rules of the game. We are the owners of this land and we impose our reality here."

In Italy, Luisa Morgantini, former member of European Parliament, applauded the initiative, only regretting not being in Bab Al Sham. Somewhere in the world, the group Anonymous approved the direct action of the Palestinian resistance: "This settlement is ours," they said on Twitter. "And it will remain standing until the other [the illegal settlements built by Israel] have gone."

In Ramallah, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, member of the PLO Executive Committee, congratulated the organizers and gave full support to action: "We encourage the nonviolent popular resistance against the Israeli occupation in the entire state of Palestine," she said, recalling the deprivations Palestinians face for living in their own country. "The initiative is a creative and legitimate tool to protect Palestine from the Israeli colonial plans. We have the right to live in any part of our State. We urge the international community to support actions like this and to give protection to those who are threatened by the occupying forces for exercising their right to peacefully resist the illegal occupation of Israel."

The reaction of the Israeli government

Challenged by an action based on their own methods – create faits accomplis to take Palestinian land – the Israeli government dispatched soldiers to install checkpoints at the accesses to the new village, and surrounding it, and issue an order for "evacuation", requiring residents to leave the area. None of them made a single movement to get out of there, including because at that very moment the Israeli Supreme Court decided in favor of an appeal by resistance. For six days, the court stated, Bab Al Shams will stay where it is.

As night fell, around campfires, blankets and warmed by the tea, the traditional Palestinian beverage, residents received the good news that the wiring of the village was ready. Lights were lit in the tents, and notebooks were connected again. Huddled in one another, Palestinians and foreign activists were preparing theirselves for the first night of the new village. The first night of a very special day, which marched the turn point of a people hitherto immobilized by external circumstances.

On January 11, the Palestinians have decided to make their own circumstances. The new phase of the struggle against the occupation will continue, as claimed by the historic Declaration of Bab Al Shams, which follows.

Declaration of Bab Al Shams

We, the sons and daughters of Palestine from all throughout the land, announce the establishment of Bab Alshams Village (Gate of the Sun). We the people, without permits from the occupation, without permission from anyone, sit here today because this is our land and it is our right to inhabit it.

A few months ago the Israeli government announced its intention to build about 4000 settlement housing units in the area Israel refers to as E1. E1 block is an area of about 13 square km that falls on confiscated Palestinian land East of Jerusalem between Ma’ale Adumim settlement, which lies on occupied West Bank Palestinian land, and Jerusalem. We will not remain silent as settlement expansion and confiscation of our land continues. Therefore we hereby establish the village of Bab Alshams to proclaim our faith in direct action and popular resistance. We declare that the village will stand steadfast until the owners of this land will get their right to build on their land.

The village’s name is taken from the novel, “Bab Alshams,” by Lebanese writer Elias Khoury. The book depicts the history of Palestine through a love story between a Palestinian man, Younis, and his wife Nahila. Younis leaves his wife to join the Palestinian resistance in Lebanon while Nahila remains steadfast in what remains of their village in the Galilee. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Younis smuggles through Lebanon and back to the Galilee to meet his wife in the “Bab Alshams” cave, where she gives birth to their children. Younis returns to the resistance in Lebanon as his wife remains in Bab Al Shams.

Bab Alshams is the gate to our freedom and steadfastness. Bab Alshams is our gate to Jerusalem. Bab Alshams is the gate to our to our return.

For decades, Israel has established facts on the ground as the International community remained silent in response to these violations. The time has come now to change the rules of the game, for us to establish facts on the ground - our own land. This action involving women and men from the north to the south is a form of popular resistance. In the coming days we will hold various discussion groups, educational and artistic presentations, as well as film screenings on the lands of this village. The residents of Bab Al Shams invite all the sons and daughters of our people to participate and join the village in supporting our resilience.

Baby Siqueira Abrão

Baby Siqueira Abrão is an independent journalist and human/nature rights activist from Brazil who has spent time in Palestina covering the political and human developments under occupation.

Baby works out of São Paulo, Ramallah, and Bil’in; the Palestinian village famous for its weekly non-violent protests that are routinely met with bullets, tear gas canisters and other attacks leveled by the Israeli Defence Forces, or occupational forces as they are known locally.

She attended Universidade de São Paulo and grew up during a tumultuous time in Brazil’s history, where revolutionaries battled with right wing government forces. Baby lost friends during those years to the ruthless forces of a past government and it is no wonder that she finds herself drawn toward covering Palestine and sharing the stories of some of the world’s most oppressed people.