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Palestine - A country under constant and invasive military surveillance

Walk anywhere in Palestine and you will see cameras on walls and rooftops, scrutinizing people's every move. It is not that much different than in the US, but it is much more invasive in occupied Palestine. The occupying Israeli military has set up armored military observation towers on top of Palestinian homes.  They have also put video cameras on Palestinian homes.  There are military observation balloons and unmanned air surveillance drones. There are 522 checkpoints and road blocks obstructing Palestinian movement in the West Bank. The Israeli border police and Israeli military communicate via radio at each of these locations, thus maintaining complete control over Palestinian movement and privacy.

The armored military observation tower shown was constructed on a Palestinian rooftop before there was a way to get to it, so the Israeli military forced access through the Palestinians home to get to the tower. 

Basic human rights of privacy and dignity for Palestinians continue to be eroded away by the Occupation.  The right to privacy is considered a basic and natural human right. The right to travel is a recognized human right reflected in article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Armored military observation tower
Israeli surveillance camera on Palestinian home

Israeli military observation balloon

Israeli military invades Palestine Technical University, shooting 10 unarmed students

On November 25, 2015 the occupying Israeli military invaded the campus of Palestine Technical University (PTU), sending 10 unarmed college students to the hospital with gunshot wounds and another 20 with respiratory issues from tear gas and wounds from rubber-coated bullets.

Israel has set up a military training facility on the campus of PTU,  and beginning in October of this year, the soldiers there began attacking students.  Over the last two months, the Israeli military has injured over 400 students.

Palestine Technical University has 6,300 students that attend classes in areas as diverse as Agriculture, Arts and Science, Business, Accounting, and Engineering. Several students approached MPT Team members as they took photos to document the bullets holes in the campus library windows. They said that life as a student here is very difficult, and that it appears that the Israeli military is using the campus as a training location for new soldiers to practice. The soldiers begin shooting to incite students, and should a student throw a stone towards the training facility, Israeli snipers will shoot at the students.

The documentation of soldiers entering campus and shooting at unarmed students can be found here:

#فيديو اقتحام الاحتلال لحرم جامعة #خضوري، وسط اطلاق للرصاص وقنابل الغاز بشكل كثيف
Posted by Mohammad Qashou (Palmedia News) on Tuesday, November 24, 2015  

Watch Video


Enraged Israeli settler throws stones at kindergarten students, injuring two.

Early in the morning, Palestinian boys, ages five to seven, gather in front of the Monte Nabe boys school in al-Khalil. One child threw a stone at a settler's car passing in front of the school, and the enraged driver jumped out of his car and began screaming and picking up large stones and throwing them at the children. When a young woman from International Solidarity Movement tried to intervene, the settler pushed her,spit on her and called her a whore. The Israeli settler then picked up more stones and started chasing the children into the fenced-in school yard. The Israeli border police pulled up and watched as the settler kept throwing stones at the children until the ISM volunteer pleaded with the police to make him stop. Finally after injuring two of the boys, the police decided to tell the settler to stop.

Israeli settler chasing children
The hypocrisy of this situation is not lost. If a Palestinian throws a stone at an Israeli, the Palestinian can be imprisoned for up to two years - according to Israeli authorities - or be shot....something which happens regularly in Palestine. Yet, per International Law, it is legal for an occupied nation to resist their oppressors.  Still, Israel is allowed to get away with this and other blatant human rights violations.  And there is also the matter of a grown man - the Israeli settler - throwing stones at children while Israeli police look on.  In this case, if it were not for the intervention of the ISM volunteer, more children could have been injured - or worse.
Enraged settler holding stone
Israeli border police escort settler back to his car


Occupying Israeli Military targeting International Solidarity Movement members

It appears that occupying Israeli forces new strategy in al-Kahlil is targeting alternative news sources, international peace organizations, and Palestinian solidarity movements. In the last several weeks, the occupying Israeli military has raided and destroyed cameras, computers and transmitters of a local Palestinian radio station and Youth Against Settlements. The International Solidarity Movements apartment has been raided several times and members have been ordered to leave under arbitrary closed military zones that have incorrect dates, no official stamps and are handwritten. Today, two ISM members were arrested (in effect, kidnapped) by Israeli soldiers, who claimed they were in the arbitrarily closed military zone. Just a few minutes ago (as of this writing) the International Solidarity Movement was informed that members of the military would force them out of their new apartment.

The growing trend indicates that occupying Israeli soldiers do not want an international presence to bear witness to and report their human rights violations and war crimes.  If international peace and justice organizations are forced to focus on military kidnappings of their members, house raids evicting these human rights monitors, and having to grapple with constantly changing, ambiguous closed military zones, it makes it difficult for them to provide protective accompaniments for children going to and from school and olive farmers trying to harvest their crops, It compromises their ability to act as human rights witnesses at public demonstrations, where they observe, document, and report violations of  international law. These international peacemaking groups do not wish to take the spotlight off of the slow-motion genocide that is being perpetrated on the Palestinian people.
Occupying israeli military forcing ISM out of apartment


Israeli Forces destroy alternative media headquarters and equipment, thus silencing the voice of the people.

Last night, the occupying Israeli military invaded a Palestinian city and raided the Hebron radio stations headquarters destroying their cameras, computers and transmitters. The headquarters was completely destroyed and approximately 40 people were taken into custody. The same radio station was raided three weeks earlier with similar results. This is Israel's attempt to silence the voice of alternative media sources in Palestine. Last week the occupying Israeli army raided the Youth Against Settlements location and destroyed approximately $15,000 worth of cameras and computers used to help document the war crimes of the Israeli Settlers and military. The attached photo shows a demonstration in Hebron protesting the destruction of the radio station.

Occupying Israeli Military force Meta Peace Team from home

Meta Peace Team members and International Solidarity Movement members were forced out of their Kahlil home in Palestine yesterday. I was told this was the third time the military has done this recently. Shortly after arriving at the home, we were greeted with a delicious meal and while we were eating the meal, the Occupying Israeli army forced the door in and told us to leave at gunpoint. They claimed we were in a closed military zone and we argued to be allowed to stay, but they ended up only giving us 10 minutes to pack our belongings and leave. The ISM called their attorney as the paperwork was not stamped with official seals and was hand written, but the military and police became angry and more forceful when we challenged them. As we left the house the Israeli police demanded our passports and took down our information. We were escorted several blocks away and told to go.

Earlier that day, when we arrived to the city by taxi, the entrance to the city was closed by occupying Israeli forces, so we had to get out of the taxi on the highway and hike into the city. Kahlil is a unique city because it was a Palestinian city that occupying Israel has cut in half and enforces part of the city as Palestinian and part as Jewish settlers.


Israeli occupying forces continue to harass olive farmers even with valid permits

Meta Peace Team members helped the same olive farmer that was forced to leave his land the previous day. Immediately after the team began to set up, the Israeli border police, the Israeli military and settler security all pulled up and got out of their vehicles and began watching us, pointing at us and talking. Phoenix and Bud began to photograph them and they began yelling at us to come down to them. The farmers began down the hill and then they motioned for us to come down as well. When we got to them, the settler security person told me that we have a problem. I told him that there was no problem because the farmers had a permit to pick their olives for today. Then he told me that we were making a mess. I told him that there we were not making a mess, we were just picking olives. He mumbled something I did not understand, then told me that it is prohibit to photograph the IDF (Israeli defense forces). I asked why? Are you ashamed of what you are doing and the military said no we are not ashamed. The settler security person then told me I had to delete all of the photos of IDF that I had taken. Then we went back up the hill and began picking olives. The Israeli occupying forces stayed there watching us for several hours when the settler security and the military vehicle left. The border police was there for another few hours and was even taking photographs of us. When he finally left, several Israeli soldiers showed up on the hill just above us that stood there watching us until about 2:30 pm when they informed us that we had to leave by 4:00 pm. Occupying Israeli authorities only gives olive farmers a two-day permit for them to pick their annual crop that usually takes about 10 days. This includes any time to weed, prune, fertilize or any other farming practice they wish to observe. The team was rushing to get the bags of olives to the vehicles which included a hike through a rock quarry and one farmer and Scott both slipped on the stones and injured themselves. It was clear during our encounter with the military, police and settlers that the settlers are calling the shots. It was the settler security that was telling the police and the military what to do. And the reason the Israeli military claims they are stationed over us with automatic weapons and bullet proof vests is because they are supposed to protect us from the settlers. To date, the Israeli police, nor the military have held settlers them accountable for any violent crimes they have committed against Palestinians.
From left to right: settler security, Israeli border police, Israeli military, olive farmer

Vehicles from left to right: settler security, border police, military


Israeli army forces farmers and internationals off their land near Huwarra

Israeli occupying soldiers demanding farmers and internationals leave

On Wednesday, November 18th, 2015, Israeli forces stopped Palestinian farmers with Meta Peace Team, ISM and Rabbis for Human Rights volunteers claiming that they did not have a valid permit for that day. The group had been picking olives just up the hill from the Huwarra checkpoint most of the morning without incident. Sometime late morning the team noticed armed soldiers at the top of the hill watching. The farmers got nervous and collected the olives they had bagged and brought them to their vehicle while the rest of the group continued picking. Shortly afterwards a military jeep drove up towards the olive pickers. Three armed soldiers called down the farmer to speak with them. The military started to leave when a man in a black car wearing a purple shirt drove up and talked to the military and then they came back and demanded the farmers and internationals leave because they did not have a permit to pick that day, claiming that it was supposed to be in two days. An Israeli from Rabbis for Human Rights called the Military authorities and discovered it was actually supposed to be the following day. The team of olive pickers were forced off the land by the Israeli soldiers.
Israeli occupying soldiers watches as team picks olives

Israeli Military Injures 350 Palestine Technical University Students

The Israeli Military has been conducting daily raids against Palestinian students going to class on the campus of Palestine Technical University-Khadoorie. University administration reported that in these raids, the military has been using tear gas, shooting rubber bullets and live ammo at students and spraying them with sewage water. These raids have injured approximately 350 students in the last 6 weeks sending many to the hospital with gunshot wounds. Twelve students have also been arrested and held for the past 6 month with no charges nor possibility of release for up to one year. These students are simply carrying books, going to class and being bullied by an out-of-control military. One student who spoke at an NGO meeting said, "It felt like I was being hunted by Israeli soldiers and I felt helpless. What could I do? Throw a stone?"

After the Israeli Military began attacking students, the University Administration made daily attempts to contact Israeli Authorities and Military officials to stop the violence against the students. To date they have received no response. The University officials attempted to remove the military training facility with a bulldozer and the Israeli Military stole the University's bulldozer and detained the University Vice President, threatening to arrest. He was later released.

The Israeli's have been doing military training exercises on the Palestinian University campus for years within 200 feet of school buildings against international law. Palestinian Technical University was established in 1930 and became a University in 2007. An Israeli military aircraft destroyed 40% of the Administration Building in 2002 during the second Intafada.
Israeli Military Training Site on PTU Campus

Palestine Technical University with students


Occupation vs. Puppies

As much as I hope these blogs can inform the general public and help to make positive change in the world, I am reminded by several barriers that must be overcome. One, this is an emotional topic that will trigger people in many different ways. The media has sensationalized news in order to sell papers and get better ratings. What ends up suffering is the ability of the public to realize the truth of what is happening in the world and more importantly, ignoring those that suffer at the hands of those that own the media source or directly profit from the misinformation they sell as news. When the public hears, reads or sees news, they must always question the honesty of reporting and the omission of relevant information. In 2004, a US media source had the Florida Supreme Court uphold their First Amendment right to allow their broadcasters to deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves and further stated there were no written rules against distorting news in the media.(more

If I was reporting about cute puppies in Israel or sexy women in bikinis in Gaza, many more people would be reading my post than if I was posting about the longest
occupation in the history of the world. I get it, people want to be happy, to be inspired, to feel good about themselves and the world. However the reality is there is suffering and all of our collective awareness, all of our collective actions and all of our collective voices can do something to change this. We can make a positive difference. This journey begins with awareness. Populations are controlled by information. We base our understanding of life on what we are taught, what we read/hear/believe and what we experience. If we are indoctrinated with false stories of cultures, races and religion, we develop biases, prejudices, preferences and even hatreds. Breaking down those barriers to allow the light of truth into our understanding is paramount in moving forward as a loving human family. 

Secondly, If you are reading this blog, you are already likely to be sympathetic to the issues of peace and human rights, yet we must widen our circle of education to include those around us, those that have shut down, those that are disheartened and those that simply do not believe. The latter may be the most difficult because I believe the American people have been polarized between red states and blue states, between anti's and pro's and the "you are either with us or you are against us" mentality. One study found that, "misinformed people rarely change their minds when presented with the facts- and often become even more attached to their beliefs." (more

Never give up! The truth is the truth no matter how much it may be suppressed or distorted. Everyone can and does make a difference. Be impeccable with your words and experience life for yourself. Share what you have learned with your friends and their friends and create a growing network of awareness that will overshadow any attempts to promote ignorance, instill fear or distract people from their life purpose. 

Balance and Blessings, Blessings and Balance,
For from Balance, Comes all Blessings