The Gate of Dignity

Don Bryant and Mazin Qumsiyeh, 21.01.2013

In the last few weeks, Palestinian and international activists have been setting up camps in the path of Israeli encroachment into Palestinian lands. Mazin Qumsiyeh, a blogger and professor in Bethlehem, sent this story.

Occupation soldiers “visit” Gate of Dignity early morning, then close checkpoint, confrontations now going on. You are neededIt was too cold to sleep for most of us last night at the Gate of Dignity encampment and the army “visited” us early in the morning. Yesterday we had to overcome the Israeli checkpoint at the entrance of Beit Iksa but today the occupation forces closed the checkpoint and are attacking peaceful demonstrators with tear gas and stun grenades. We were thrilled to see good friends from different Palestinian factions and to meet new friends from Beit Iksa who showed us that the site with the tents on village land overlooks the valley with the Green line border of 1948 (that has vanished in 1967). Just beyond it was the village of Lifta depopulated in 1948 and just a little further is depopulated village of Deir Yassin. Meanwhile all around and on both sides of the Green line Jewish only housing proliferates in colonial settlements built on Palestinian lands. Thoughts that passed through my mind included my mother telling me about her friend in school in Jerusalem who was from Deir Yassin. Hayah Balbisi was nearly just over 17 years old when she decided to go to Deir Yassin to help her relatives that she heard were being attacked. She was killed with hundreds of others (men, women, children) and this was one of the famous (though not the largest) of the 33+ massacres committed by Jewish underground forces to drive the exodus of the natives and make space for the “Jewish state.” My thoughts also ran to similar images I have seen of natives in North America in remaining reservations. But then I also had too little time for further reflections since we were very busy in meeting, singing, reminiscing, greetings visitors, eating, and of course trying to warm up around the bonfire. Palestinian officials came and went. Between 2-3 AM there was news of impending Israeli raid but this did not materialize. At 7 AM, the military visited us. The villagers want people to come and stay with them as they try to defend land that belongs to them. Before 1948, the villagers had over 14,000 dunums and now have access and use about 2000 and if Israeli additional apartheid plans go forward, they will have only 600.Sunday evening, people coming through the only entrance to Beit Iksa were blocked by the Israeli checkpoint and a peaceful demonstration at the checkpoint was attacked by tear gas and stun grenades. Your support is needed especially if you are a media person and can gain entrance tonight to Beit Iksa to report on what is going on (if not, please go the checkpoint or find an alternative route into Beit Iksa).

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