January 2003

ISM story about the Palestinian journalist who Marie was trying to get released

Date: January 4, 2003 Author: Patrick O’Connors
The Detention of Mustafa Shawkat Samha in Jayyous Area: Qalqilya

Mustafa Samha of Jayyous was detained by the Israeli military on December 29th at a rally in Jayyous against the Apartheid Wall. Mustafa was accused by Israeli soldiers of throwing rocks at them. The internationals and Palestinians present at the march deny that Mustafa was involved in any rock throwing. Nonetheless, Mustafa has been detained for the last six days.

As part of the Qalqilya rally against the Apartheid Wall on December 29, over 500 Palestinian and about 100 international and Israeli participants converged in the village of Jayyous for speeches and a non-violent march to farmland they are being prevented from reaching because of the construction of the “security wall”. After the nonviolent march was met with sound bombs, tear gas, rubber bullets and clubs by Israeli soldiers and private contractor security, Palestinian youths began throwing rocks at the soldiers. A small number of Palestinians and internationals, among them Mustafa Samha, took shelter on the porch of a home in between the Israeli soldiers and the remaining Palestinians and internationals. According to eyewitnesses, when Israeli soldiers approached the home, Mustafa stepped forward to present them with his Palestinian press pass. When the soldiers began to grab Mustafa, an American, Radikha Sainath, attempted to step in the way, but was thrown to the ground by the soldiers, who then took Mustafa away to army and border police jeeps parked in the olive groves. (more…)

Below is a brief story about Mustafa written in November by Barbara Thiel of the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Program. Ironically, as Mustafa noted in the story below in commenting about his brother in November, it appears that Mustafa is being detained “because he is a Palestinian.”

We hope that tomorrow Mustafa will be released.


A Young Man’s Life: Barbara Thiel

I met Mustafa on his field, where he and his brother started to replant their olive trees. The field is now divided into one part in the West of the Israeli Security Fence and one in the East; the place for the fence itself has already eaten the place for 77 Olive trees. Mustafa and his brother rented a bulldozer to open new holes in the Olive field, to transport the trees and to bring them into the new holes. The work is hard; most of the trees are old and heavy, so, that at least for every tree 3 to 4 people are necessary to manage the replanting. Good that they have friends here to help. The bulldozer is on his way to bring the next trees. Mustafa now has time to tell me:

Trees were uprooted to make way for security fence.“It is very hard for me. I am not a farmer. I studied psychology at the University in Nablus and got my B.A. But in this time there is no way to continue, the way to reach Nablus – only 25 km far away from Jayyous – is very difficult because of different road blocks and checkpoints and long term closures and curfews in Nablus itself, and beside this it is too expensive. So I opened a small shop in Jayyous, but, of course, if most people don’t have money, you can’t sell so much. By the way, we are able to replant 55 Olive trees. We miss 22 trees. We believe, that the Israeli contractor took them to sell inside of Israel.”

Some days later we visited Mustafa again on his field. It was the time, when he started to water the replanted trees. On the field he has a water reservoir, where he can collect the rainwater. We can see, how Mustafa starts his work. First he has to chop the soil. Then he takes his bottle and goes to his water reservoir, the bottle goes down on a long rope, and he gets the bottle back, full of water. He turns to the tree, waters it, and goes again to the reservoir. Ten or twelve times. It is a hard job. After he finished one tree he needs a rest. “Please excuse me. You know, I am not a farmer”, he says. The volume of the reservoir of 200 m3 is normally enough for the needs of one year. Now, short term before the raining period, it is nearly empty. But he needs in the next 3 or 4 years every year per tree approximately 3 times 100 l water. Then, after this time, he will know if his replanting was successful.

Mustafa is 23 years old. He has 3 brothers and 5 sisters, but nobody has a job. His father worked as a teacher in Jayyous for many years, later he was the manager of a charity for disabled in Qalqylia, now he lost this job and stays at home because of the circumstances, the closures, curfews, troubles of the checkpoints. One brother studied sociology, the other one and one of the sisters religion. One sister studied English, two married early, the last one is studying teaching. One of the brothers studied sports. He recently came back from the prison, a prisoner’s camp in the desert, where he had to stay for 16 months. I asked why. The answer was a laughing: “Because he is a Palestinian. Maybe, because he is religious. There was no court, no law, no right. This is our life.”

A letter from Marie to Jeff Weaver, CBC Radio in Victoria

Did you hear my message from the battle zone last Sunday with the percussion bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets, not to mention people yelling? All this happened when a peaceful protest against what is now being called the “apartheid wall” turned nasty, here in Jayyous, West Bank, Occupied Territories, as the border police and army combined to stop the protesters from leaving the village. The pictures that I sent Susan tell some of the story: the protest was a grassroots organized event, moving from 12 villages to a central point in Jayyous for speeches and the plan was to go out of the village to stand where we could see the land that is being confiscated and torn up by earthmoving equipment for the wall. The concrete wall is 8 metres high, buttressed by 50 metres of trench, with an electric fence and a military road, being built along side of it.

Here in Jayyous where I am staying for the next week, the distress is significant. The wall is surrounding the village and cutting off the farmers from their land and from their traditional means of earning their living. I have been assigned to this region near Qalquilya, near Nablus, which is unusually fertile and has important aquifers that make farming possible in this dry land. Of course such resources are appreciated by the Israeli settlements that have protruded into the Occupied Territories further and further, increasingly during the so-called Oslo Peace Process. These settlements are, of course, the hidden basis for the Second Intifada. (Hidden from the world, that is, but so very visible to anybody’s eyes here.)

The settlement movement escalated throughout the 90s. Looking west from where I have been living for the past 10 days, what you see is pervasive urban sprawl. It is especially obvious at night when lights burn all around my village. I feel as if I am looking at Toronto and environs – an encirclement of lights.

Well, that is what is on my mind this morning. But the story has many parts. “The occupation” itself is a story that is overwhelming to someone like me – how people can live in a place where an occupying army has control over one’s movements and can exercise that control violently, almost at will. Curfew means that people are supposed to stay home when it is called (Qalqiliya was under curfew constantly for the first five days I was here) and if caught outside, they are subject to detainment, or actual arrest, if not beating.

In my area, about ten people have been killed in the past two weeks, including an 8-year-old boy. Arrest is arbitrary – someone can be snatched, taken away, with apparently no need to follow legal procedures for arraignment, charges, etc. We lost a member of the local press in just this manner last Sunday. He is being held in prison although his charge sheet is clear. I have spent some time at road checkpoints, watching and talking to soldiers, reminding them that they have responsibilities as occupiers. It appears that they believe their job is to make Palestinians as miserable as possible, waiting in the rain, humiliated. The notion of “apartheid” is a big topic.

So, I am here at Jayyous till about January 13. I am spending the week accompanying farmers to their fields across the construction of the wall. Soldiers and private security officers harass them. Many, especially women, have found it so hard that they have given up going. They have to walk, as I did yesterday, and their harvested produce is hard to get to market anyway, owing to permanently blocked roads. The roads are another topic.

Bulldozer begins destruction of a tilled field where the security fence will be built.The people are so worried about their future, their economy, their families, their land held in some cases for centuries, and many with papers from the British Mandate. It is obvious that the wall, rather than the solution to Israeli security, is, in contrast, a new sort of trouble that is not going to end soon or easily. These farmers are going to fight for their land. And Jayyous, what was till now a peaceful agricultural community, is being turned into a very angry one. Even so, they are using nonviolent means to struggle. For instance, 1,000 fruit trees were delivered to Jayyous yesterday to be planted outside the wall to support their claim that this land is theirs, and they are not willing to relinquish it.


Marie Campbell is a retired University of Victoria professor who left on December 12, 2002 to spend a month in Palestine doing observational work with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Observers from Europe and North America act not only as witnesses, but also provide a measure of protection and emotional support to Palestinians.

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