2015 Freedom Ride, Day #11: Jerusalem and Ramallah

The original plan was to spend the two last days of the Freedom Ride in Jerusalem. A symbolic and actual defiance of the enforced separation between Palestinians in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. However, realities on the ground came in the way.

Despite several attempts, the Palestinian members of the Freedom Bus were denied permits and thus could not cross the checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. The international members of the Freedom Ride were put in a dilemma – should they continue or stay? In the end half the group stayed behind to plan a playback performance in central Ramallah and the other continued into East Jerusalem.

A partner of the Freedom Bus, Grassroots Jerusalem, hosted the group who crossed the barrier for a tour of the eastern part of the annexed Jerusalem. During the tour we saw how the wall and the settlements have confiscated Palestinian land, and how Palestinians are being marginalised in East Jerusalem under the Israeli apartheid regime (see UN OCHA or Stop the Wall for more facts on the separation barrier and East Jerusalem).

Later in the afternoon we walked to El Hakawati theatre (The Storytelling Theatre) located close to the old city of Jerusalem. El Hakawati is the home of Palestinian theatre. We heard the early history of Palestinian cultural resistance through theatre told by Amer Khalil, one of the founders of the theatre in the 1970’s and its current Artistic Director.

Inside the Hakawati theatre the reduced (due to some of its members still being in Ramallah) playback troupe was reinforced with a few brave volunteers, and performed a playback event. The audience shared several stories about the difficulties of having to separate from the Freedom Riders who were not granted permission to enter their own capital.

Meanwhile the group in Ramallah had organised a playback event that took place in parallell with the event in Jerusalem. They likewise performed stories of isolation and marginalisation and also solidarity between people from around the world with Palestine and how that inspires and gives hope. 

This day thus ended in two places, at the Hakawati theatre in Jerusalem and at the Al-Manara square in central Ramallah. It was decided that in the morning after, the last day of the Freedom Ride, the group in Jerusalem would travel back to Ramallah to carry out the evaluation with the rest of the group and hope for better luck with a third application for permits in order to join the closing event on Land Day in Jerusalem. 

El Hakawati

Photo: Fredrik Westerholm

El Hakawati

Playback Ramallah II Laura Book

Photo: Laura Book

To exist is to resist

2015 Freedom Ride, Day #9: South Hebron Hills

Friday’s activities included informative and inspiring visits with representatives of shepherd communities that continue to survive after multiple demolitions, as well as observation and presence support with one of our Palestinian hosts during a confrontation with the Israeli occupation forces.

After our morning circle groups and a hearty breakfast in Atuwani, we walked a few hills over to the 158-person village of Al Mofaqara. Sipping tea in a large tent, we met and heard from Sausan Mahmoud Al Sen Hamade, a young woman who walks 2 hours on the way to and back from the university where she studies. Sausan’s family lives under the tent in a carved-out cave that housed her ancestors, with bare rock walls blackened by the fires they light inside the cave in the winter months. Sausan told us of a day in 2011 when the army came and demolished her house, which sat where the tent is now. She was arrested and imprisoned, but her family was not notified of her whereabouts. Sausan asked all of us to tell our governments, wherever we live, to put pressure on Israel to stop evicting people from their ancestral homes and destroying their way of life.

We returned to Atuwani for lunch, and then headed out on foot again for Um Elkheir, also a sheep herding community of about 130 people that abuts the fence of the colony whose settlers consistently harass children and adults in surrounding communities. The walk to Um Elkheir ends in a barbed wire barrier that has wounded their sheep. The barbed wire was erected to protect the settlement. In Um Elkheir we were greeted by an elder Bedouin shepherd, Sleman Al Hadelin. Sleman was so delighted to see us that he implored us to skip the community work we had promised to do and just sit and have tea with him. He told us of how the army came and demolished buildings here despite the fact that he has papers showing he owns the land. He reiterated with great pain how unfair this is, and pleaded with us to share his story. Freedom Riders eventually persuaded Sleman to let us do some work. It was brief but meaningful. One group moved stone rubble from a demolished house to the ground under what will be the foundation for a new caravan (mobile home), while a second group helped rebuild a stone wall nearby.

We retired for tea with Sleman but were quickly interrupted by the presence of Israeli soldiers nearby. Called to provide support, we marched behind and around Sleman as he led the soldiers on a walk around his land. Surrounded by internationals and hearing the spirited protest of Sleman, the soldiers retreated, and Sleman was lifted in triumph. He had already told us that the community would pay the price for our visit for the next three months. After some playback theatre, many of us reflected on the difficult dynamic we create for locals, although we knew that Sleman wanted us there and appeared to feel that today’s victory was worth tomorrow’s likely outcome, which is that the Army will return in the night and destroy everything.

If there is hope on a longer term basis, part of it comes from the presence of Operation Dove volunteers with whom we met in the evening. These human rights workers are from Italy, and do accompaniment on an everyday basis. The two volunteers who spoke to us are committed to doing this for 2-3 years, while other volunteers come for a month or two. I was in awe of their work, but even more of the courageous villagers whose lives we all want desperately to help protect.

Written by Todd Davies, 2015 Freedom Ride participant
Photos by Bridget Mullins, 2015 Freedom Ride participant

Sausan Atuwani

Samer oud

Playback Um Elkheir

Sleman Al Hadelin

2015 Freedom Ride Day #8: South Hebron Hills

Soil and soul 

Day eight of the Freedom Ride and we are in Atuwani – a beautiful village in the South Hebron Hills. After a great morning circle, sharing where we are all at with the roller coaster of emotions that comes with a trip like this, we are sitting on top of a hill with Nassar from the Popular Struggle Committee for the region. To the left of us the village is nestled neatly among the slopes, sheep roaming, scattered olive trees, and traditional stone walls lining the roads. To our right, an illegal settlement is plonked on the hill top, surrounded by fences. 

It’s hard to digest what Nassar describes of the problems the village faces. In addition to the usual struggles in Area C – where people are not allowed to build at all, not even plant a tree, or develop infrastructure in any way, Palestinians living in these hills face consistent and violent attacks from the settlements. 

Just a few days ago, a six year old girl suffered injuries to her head and leg after being hit with stones by settlers. This is not unusual, children travelling to the school in Atuwani from the neighbouring villages have to pass close to a settlement, often incurring attacks and abuse as they make the daily journey to get an education. 

In order to report an assault, Palestinians in the region have to go to the Israeli police station. Despite hundreds of incidents, with incontrovertible evidence presented, not a single settler has ever been charged with anything. The rule of law simply does not apply to them. 

After a long process of complaints from Palestinians and internationals, and following news coverage of a settler attack on international solidarity activists, the Israeli occupation decided an appropriate solution would be an army escort for the children, to protect them from the settlers. Rather than use normal methods of justice for these radical and violent settlers, the occupation prefers this non-solution. Needless to say, the army takes their role less than seriously. The children are often waiting for hours for their army escort which may or may not show up.

Last week, one child had a panic attack faced with their usual route to school, past the settlement. Today, a couple were assaulted; thankfully they were not hurt, but badly shaken by the experience. It is practically a daily occurrence, Nassar tells us, and for most attacks, the psychological impact remains a lot longer than the wounds.

Just as we were all feeling quite depressed and concerned about what Palestinians in this area are having to face, their lack of safety in their own homes, and the pure lack of humanity shown to them by the settlers and occupation authorities, we were reminded once more that it would take more than even this to destroy their spirit!

Celebrating Palestinian heritage day we were treated to wonderful acts of singing, dancing and theatre from children in the school, and people of the community. It was Palestinian culture at its most vibrant, energetic, and fun. 

After speeches, graduations, and lots more dancing, we ate a feast of traditional Palestinian dishes. The food was delicious, with an amazing variety of flavours and textures.

It was disturbing and incredible to witness these people, with such a wonderful rich culture face such injustice. The occupation and the settlers are trying every tool in the book to make their lives here not worth living, but the resolve of these Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills is strong and powerful. They are not leaving their land so easily. 

In the afternoon, we split into two groups. One group rebuilt a tent, which the children can shelter in while they wait their escort to go to school. The Freedom Ride built this last year (and the year before!), but it has consistently been destroyed by the Israeli military. We will keep rebuilding; while they destroy, we will create. Now the children have somewhere to wait in the shade, and will have shelter when it rains. Let’s hope the bulldozers stay away.

The other group was helping maintaining and building the stone walls that line the roadside. We were taught the traditional technique and were able to complete this work, even when a military jeep turned up and two soldiers got out and watched us from the road. It was clear that had there not been a big international presence, the Palestinians of the village would have been prevented from carrying out this basic maintenance work by the army.

As the sun set on another day, we sat on the hill playing, singing, and enjoying Palestinian songs. Once again, the Palestinians we’ve met have been an example of strength, resilience, and determination.

Written by Bella Croaks, 2015 Freedom Ride participant
Photos by Bridget Mullins, 2015 Freedom Ride participant

Atuwani stones

Atuwani cultural celebration Atuwani cultural day

2015 Freedom Ride, Day #7: Jericho & Jerusalem Gate

Waking up in Jericho, our seventh day was supposed to be a day of rest and relaxation. Some of us planned to spend our time sightseeing in the city; others intended to catch up on e-mail or sleep. During our morning breakfast, however, we learned the urgent news that several Israeli soldiers were currently in the process of clearing a piece of land in Abu Dis near Jerusalem which protesters have renamed “Jerusalem Gate.” As a group, we decided that rather taking the entire day off, we would leave Jericho early to pay a visit to Jerusalem Gate.

We arrived at the site in the late afternoon to the sound of bulldozers. Next to a busy road, several Israeli soldiers were guarding the demolition in a fenced off area. A number of Palestinian demonstrators were also at the site, waving flags, shouting slogans, and spraying protest graffiti against the occupation. One of the activist leaders addressed the group and told us about the history of the area. The Israeli attempt to control this area constitutes an attempt to divide the West Bank in half, from north to south. Several times during his talk, Israeli soldiers interrupted him in Arabic, with demands about where we could and could not stand.

Leaving Jerusalem Gate, we went to Ezariyah, a nearby hilltop inhabited by a group of Palestinian Bedouins. They live in very harsh conditions, in shacks and tents with little or not access to electricity or running water, and the Israeli authorities have issued them multiple demolition orders. Ezariyah thus threatens to become the next Jerusalem Gate. From Ezariyah’s high vantage point, one can see the Israeli settlements that are gradually being constructed to the east and west in defiance of international law.

As it began to get dark, we boarded our bus to head south to Atuwani. On the way, we made a quick detour to the refugee camp of Al Aroub where Freedom Bus coordinator Habeeb invited us into his home for dinner and refreshments. We stayed longer than we had planned, talking to Habeeb’s family and enjoying a wonderful impromptu musical concert. Even though our day of rest turned out to be filled with many stories of ongoing oppression and dispossession, the warmth we experienced in Aroub gave all of us a wonderful moment of generous hospitality.

Written by Greg Burris, 2015 Freedom Ride participant
Photos by Bridget Mullins, 2015 Freedom Ride participant


Jerusalem Gate

2015 Freedom Ride Day #6: Jordan Valley

Every day on the Freedom Ride we start with a morning warm-up and a session of sharing feelings and thoughts with each other. The day before was very interesting and tough at the same time. A lot of people shared their feelings about the playback performance, the walk during the Jordan Valley and the meeting with a shepherd who suffers from the lack of water. It is not easy for everyone to speak out in front of a big group but this day a lot of people felt more secure than before and so the day started with a lot of reflection.

In the morning Rashid, our Jordan Valley guide, took us to a farmland where we planted 50 olive trees. The farmer told us about the way the Israeli military activities made it difficult for him to work on the land and make a living. The planting itself was nice to do because of the teamwork and the immediate result of the work. Some of us were really good in handling the pick axe!

In the afternoon we continued the day with different kinds of community work in and around Fasayel. One group cleaned the area around the guesthouse from litter. Another group planted olive trees in the village. The group that did the hardest work were the ones who made bricks. A lot of houses in the Jordan Valley are made of bricks made of clay, water and straw. Next to our guesthouse is a machine which can make these bricks. Freedom riders filled the machine with raw materials and after the production process they laid them to dry. The afternoon sun in the Jordan Valley made sure the bricks dried quickly.

In the meantime The Freedom Theatre’s students made a playback performance for the children of the village. One of the children told the actors a personal story and the actors improvised and gave a show which caused a lot of joy with their young audience! The children were a great group for the students to practice their playback theatre skills with.

After a last dinner at the Friends House in Fasayel we said goodbye to Rashid and his colleagues. We enjoyed our stay in their guesthouse and we all endorse their resistance against the oppression against residents of the Jordan Valley. In the night we arrived in Jericho. After four days without a shower for some of us this was maybe the best part of the day…. 🙂

Written by Stan Verstraete, 2015 Freedom Ride coordinator

Freedom riders planting II

Jordan VAlley planting

Lena planting

Planting trees

2015 Freedom Ride Day #5: Jordan Valley

This day, the Freedom Riders were joined by staff and students from The Freedom Theatre and it was a happy reunion with both colleagues and new friends made during the first two days of the Freedom Ride in Jenin.

The blog post below is written by Sama, 2015 Freedom Ride participant:

The Freedom Ride was mainly on foot today, and discovering the two layers of the Jordan Valley – what one sees and what one lives. The beauty of the countryside is breathtaking! The rolling hills are covered with fertile soils and give some delicious produce such as citrus and dates, and bloom flowers of all different colours. But this idyllic setting is destroyed by the ongoing military occupation that stops the local Palestinians from living their lives peacefully.

This was experienced throughout the whole day and it started off in Al Jiftlik. Located in the centre of the Jordan Valley, we stopped in a conglomeration of five communities to visit Mash3l from the women’s association. She listed for us the multitude of problems for people living in the area. There is a lack of paved roads, places for child recreation, training centres, communication networks, childcare, internal transportation, jobs, electricity and above all… water. The Israelis have declared the whole area a military zone, which consequently pushes the local inhabitants off of their land. So Mash3l and others started up this women’s centre in order to provide a space for them to learn, make, expose and sell their crafts made out of sheep wool and seeds from their crops.

The Jordan Valley makes up 20% of the West Bank, and it provides for 35% of the total produce distributed to Palestine. This agricultural success is associated with the area’s unique location below sea level, which is likened to a giant greenhouse where crops ripe early in the winter. However, the illegal occupation by Israeli settlers of what should be the breadbasket of the West Bank, means that only 5% of it is still under Palestinian control and the roads are severely controlled, making it difficult to trade or to access clinics, schools and water. The Hamra checkpoint is a good example of this oppression. Here, drivers are continuously checked by security officers as they try to drive through the main road. It 2005, it got nicknamed the Death Checkpoint due to the shooting and killing of five people. But this event wasn’t an exception. Unfortunately, each person we meet seems to have stories to share that are filled with sadness and injustice.

This was the case in Makhoul and Samrah, where locals told us about the third demolition of their house within a month, their stolen water that is diverted to the settlements, the blocked humanitarian assistance, the burning of native plants that feed their livestock or the destruction of schools. Here, “to live is to resist”, and this phrase is not said lightheartedly. By the simple act of waking up in the morning and going to bed at night in their own homes, most of the families in the Jordan Valley who have been living here for generations are resisting the occupation that is trying to push them out of their land. Here, it is clear that the historical process of Palestinian dispossession which the academic Ilan Pappe has called “ethnic cleansing” continues into the present.

The Freedom Bus project was not started as a way of doing touristic and artistic tours of the West Bank. And this is not why we joined either. It is helping us to understand more fully this occupation and to speak to Palestinians first hand. Our role as witnesses is to go home and share the reality on the ground, which is way too often distorted in mainstream media. We are not innocent and have to transform knowledge into action – action that has been called for by the locals themselves. They are asking for political support, which can be demanded and fought for back in our own countries. They are also asking for the support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which should be implemented on a personal level as well as in our schools, supermarkets, offices and nationally. As internationals we have a role and we can work in solidarity with the Palestinians to make a difference.

This was indeed re-iterated by Abu Saqeer, a strong resister of the occupation living in Al Hadedeye, a community 20 minutes further along on our walking route. Here we ate a delicious bulgur based lunch and then it was time for a bit of Playback Theatre. The Freedom Bus ensemble used improvisation to re-enact people’s stories and embodied fear, sadness, injustice, as well as happiness, excitement and hope. The troupe gave life to several stories of oppression told by local audience members. They also performed a reenactment of the murder of Eric Garner, the Black American who was choked to death last year by a white police officer. It was a wonderful performance!

We then went on for the last bit of our journey, where we encountered a bit of interaction with the Israeli army that was questioning our peaceful walk through the meadows and our interest in the stolen water and dividing trenches. Fortunately, they let us continue on our path after a few minutes, and we made our way back to Fasayel.

Amidst the injustices and difficulties imposed on the Palestinians on a daily schedule, there is so much beauty and human warmth that can be said about this region of the world, and that should be protected.

Walk in Jordan Valley

Playback Jordan Valley

Al Hadedeye Jordan Valley

Lunch in Al Hadedeye Walk to Al Hadedeye

المسير الكبير

المسير الكبير

اليوم انطلق الباص من قرية فصايل متجها لعدة مناطق وتجمعات سكانية في غور الاردن، اليوم من اكثر الايام تميزا في رحلة باص الحرية لانه يوم المسير الكبير بين عدة مواقع مختلفة هنا، ابتدأت الرحلة في قرية الجفتلك الفلسطينية، محطتنا الاولى كانت جمعية الجفتلك التعاونية التي نديرها مشاعل والتي تعتبر اصغر مديرة جمعية في فلسطين.


ابتدأت مشاعل بالحديث عن وضع قرية الجفتلك، قرية الجفتلك عصب اقتصادها يعتمد على الزراعة، وكانت قبل ان يبدأ الاحتلال الاسرائيلي حملته للتهجير القصري تزدهر اراضيها بمختلف انواع المحاصيل الزراعية من الحمضيات والخضار والفواكه بمختلف انواعها وكان عدد سكانها يساوي ثلاث اضعاف عددهم الحالي، حينها وعلى زمان الحكم الاردني تم بناء 8 ابار ارتوازية جف معظمها عندما بنت اسرائيل بئرين ارتوازيين وتحول باقي الابار الى مياه مالحة بسبب عدم السماح لاهل الجفتلك بترميمها،  الان وبعد ان بنت اسرائيل بئرين ارتوازيين احدهما قام بسحب مياه نهر الاردن وجفاف النهر وحرمان المواطنين منه جفت جميع الاراضي التي كان يغذيها والبئر الاخر سجحب مياه نهر العوجا وفي ظل عدم السماح لاهل الجفتلك بتجميع مياه الامطار او السحب من اي مصدر مياه موجود فهو حكر فقط للمستوطنات والمزارع الاسرائيلية بدأ سكان الجفتلك بالهجرة بعد حرمانهم من مقومات الحياة والزراعة الى مناطق السلطة الفلسطينية وادى ذلك الى نقصان عدد سكانها لاكثر من النصف.

جمعية الجفتلك التعاونية هي جمعية تديرها نساء من الجفتلك تهدف الى توفير فرص عمل للنساء معتمدة على موارد الجفتلك من صناعة الصوف، الخياطة والتطريز، عمل تحف واكسسوارات من نوا التمر والزيتون وغيرها بالاضافه الى توفير مساحة ابداعية لاطفال الجفتلك للترفيه والابتكار كالمسرح وغيرها.

خربة سمرا:

بعدها تحرك الباص لمنطقة خربة سمرا، وهي تجمع سكاني لعائلات فلسطينية تعمل في الرعي، تقع في ما رسمتها اسرائيل منطقة عسكرية مغلقة ومكان لتدريب الجيش الاسرائيلي الذي يتعامل معهم في هذه الحالة كأنهم غير موجودين.

في سمرا يوجد عدد من الاطفال الذين وصلوا لسن التعليم، والذين يضطرون لقطع مسافة عدة كيلومترات وانتظار المواصلات لمدة تصل لساعتين او ثلاث احيانيا حتى يتمكنوا من الوصول لاقرب مدرسة، في ظروف غور الاردن القاسية التي تتراوح بين البرد الشديد شتاءا ودرجة الحرارة اللاهبة شتاءا، عدى الخطر المحيط بهم من هجمات قطعان المستوطنين وتحرشاتهم بالاضافه لاعتدائات الجيش الاسرائيلي عليهم هذا مما دعى العديد من الاسر من عدم ارسال اولادهم من الاناث خصوصا خوفا عليهم وبالتالي حرمانهم من فرصتهم في التعليم.

قامت حملة انقذوا الاغوار وبالتعاون مع باص الحرية قبل سنتين بمشروع بناء مدرسة لهؤلاء الاطفال من الموارد المحلية متمثلة بالطوب الطيني المجبول يدويا وفعلا بدأ في عام 2013 ببناء هذه المدرسة والتي تعرضت لاثنين من انذارات الهدم من قبل الاحتلال الاسرائيلي.

الاطفال الان موجودين والمدرسة تقريبا في الطور الاخير من البناء، والمطلوب الان هو واجب السلطة الوطنية الفلسطينية المتمثل بفرز معلمين لتعليم الطلاب في هذه المدرسة والذي لم يتم الاستجابه له حتى الان، وهو مثال على تقصير السلطة في واجباتها تجاه اهالي الاغوار لدعم وجودهم وصمودهم ف وجه الاحتلال الاسرائيلي.

بدء المسير: مخول

من خربة سمرا ابتدأ مسير باص الحرية تجاه تجمع مخول خلف في ربوع جبال فلسطين، كان الجمال لا يوصف، حتى وصلنا الى مخول، تم هدم هذا التجمع ثلاث مرات في شهر واحد ولكن اهله المصرين على صمودهم وبثائهم اعادوا البناء وعهدهم ان لا يستسلموا ولن يتركوا ارضهم مهما استعرت هجمات الاسرائيليين وكبرت مخططاتهم.

الحديدية: ابو صقر

من مخول انطلقنا سيرا على الاقدام مسيرة ثلاثة كيلو مترات اخرى نحو منطقة الحديدية، ففي وسط المروج الخضراء غاية الجمال والروعة لاحت لنا مضارب خيام ابو صقر، المعلم التاريخي والوطني لمقاومة الاحتلال والنضال ضد مخططاته، ابو صقر انسان سبعيني ذو عائله كبيره تصل لاكثر من 21 فردا جميعهم يعملون في رعي الاغنام والزراعة، تم هدم بيته وبيوت مواشيه ست مرات احدى المرات التي تم فيها الهدم حصل اثناء ولادة  احدى بناته التي اسماها صمود،ابو صقر خسر احدى اولاده في حادث على جرار زراعي حين انه لا يوجد اي مركز صحي في المنطقة وتم تأخير سيارة الاسعاف التي استدعاها ساعتين مما ادى الى وفاة ابنه بسبب عدم تلقيه للعلاج ابو صقر مثال للفلسطيني الصامد المقاوم في ارضه الباق عليها، ملم بتاريخ القضية الفلسطينية وبالقانون الدولي ويجادل في حقه كافة المستويات من زواره.

اجتمعنا مع ابو صقر في خيمته وتحولقنا الذي بدوره رفض الحديث قبل تقديم الغداء الذي حضرته نساء البيت، بدأ ابو صقر يتحدث عن تاريخ الاحتلال الاسرائيلي للاغوار منذ العام 19خزينة الاسرائيلية،67 كيف ان بدأت عملية التضييق بأستهداف المواشي ورميها بالارصاص وقتلها لتكليف الفلسطينيين خسائر فادحة في مصدر رزقهم ولارهابهم وكيف انهم يحبسون الحويانات وتكليف اصحابها غرامات لارجاعها، ومصادرة الادوات الزراعية وهدم البيوت والهدف هو افقار الفلسطينيين واغناء الخزينة الاسرائيلية،  وتحدث عن عزل المناطق بالخنادق والبوابات وسحب المياه من تحت الارض واحتكارها وكيف ان اتفاقية السلام افسحت المجال لاسرائيل لتنفيذ مخططاتها بهدوء تحت تواطؤ المجتمع الدولي، ومنع بناء الدارس او المراكز الصحية وتحت كل هذه الظروف هاجرت العديد من العائلات الة المناطق المصنفة A  فقل عدد العائلات قل من 300 عام 1997 الى 13 الان.

رغم هذا وكله يصر ابو صقر على البقاء شوكة في حلق الاعتداء الاسرائيلي فهو يرتكز هو واولاده واولادهم على ارضهم يمارسون اسلوب جحياتهم ابا عن جد، صامدون لن ينكسروا في وجه الاحتلال.

بعد الحديث مع ابو صقر قامت مجموعة البلاي باك بتقديم عرض مسرحي يمثل قصص اهل الحديدية بطريقة تمثيلية ادائية فنية هدفةه مشاركة القصه في بعد انساني اعمق.

بعد ذلك وبعد توديع ابو صقر استمر المسير في الاراضي المحتلة لنحو خمس كيلومترات اخرى مارين بالقرب من مستوطنة روعيه وفي طريقنا مررنا ببئر الحديدية الذي حفرته قواة الاحتلال واحتكرت المياه لمستوطناتها واراضيها الزراعية وحرمت منها الفلسطينيين حتى المياه الزائدة عن الضغط ترمى في الارض ويمنع الفلسطينيين من استخدامها، سارت المجموعة حتى وصلت الى خندق خان الاحمر الذي عزلت فيه اسرائيل العديد من الفلسطينيين عن محيطهم وتمت العودة بعد ذلك في الباص لمقر حملة انقذوا الاغوار لمشاهدة عرض صور عن وضع الاغوار والحقائق المرصوده على الارض التي تثبت بالارقام والتواريخ المخطط الاسرائيلي لاخلاء الاغوار وتهجير سكانها بالكامل.

Freedom riders Jordan valley day 4

اليوم الثاني : بلعين

بعد مبيت من الامس في قرية بعلين احدى القرى البارزة في حركة المقاومة الشعبية الفلسطينية، بدأت فعاليات باص الحرية من صباح اليوم السبت في القرية بعد تقسيم المتطوعين لمجموعات العمل، وبعد انقضاء اليوم بالعمل التطوعي والتثقيفي حول الاوضاع  بلعين جائت هذه التعليقات من بعض المشاركين انعكاسا لتجربتهم هذه.

اسماعيل العالول، طاب في مدرسة مسرح الحرية للتمثيل ومتطوع تصويل في الرحلة،

كان من المهم لي جدا ان احمل الكاميرا عند الجداؤ وان احتك في الجنود وجها لوجه، صورتهم من قرب لم اصل به اليهم من قبل، كان تجربة قوية بالنسبة لي.

بعد مشاهدة الفلم التثقيفي حول بلعين، احببت هذه البلد جدا، ملهمون اقوياء لا يتزعزعون لحظة واحدة الصغار والكبار معا يتشاركون في النضال، واستعمالهم للفن في وجه الجنود اعجبني.

ستان منسق باص الحرية من هولندا،

اشعر بشعور جيد حول الرحلة وما وصلت له حتى الان،  كان مهما جدا ان نرى جدار الفصل عن قرب، وكان مسيرنا بجانبه بالعلم امرا مميزا وعندما زرعناه في وجه الاحتلال مثالا لغرس الفلسطينيين جذورهم هنا.

جورج بورراس، طالب دكتوراه من اميركا،

احببت جدا تواجدي في بلعين، احببتهم حبهم لوجودنا وايمانهم  بالاخوة بين البشر والتعاضد، اجريت كحادثات مميزة ورائعه عن الوضع في فلسطين لم اكن لاحظى بها في اي مكان اخر.

قبل ان اتي الى هنا كنت قد رايت افلاما وثائقيه وقرات عن الاحتلال والجدار والمستوطنات، لكن الرؤية على ارض الواقع مختلفة تماما الواثع ابشع بكثي مما يمكن لاحد ان يوصفه.

عندما زرعنا العلم الفلسطيني في الارض الفلسطينية وكنا من جنسيات مختلفة اعكى صورة لعالمية هذا النضال وهذه القضية، بعدها ليس محدودا بأهل فلسطين بل كل مؤمن بالعدالة.

كأميركي اعتقد ان اميركا هي قلب البلاء فيما يخص فلسطينيين اعتقد ان علي دعوة عدد اكبر من الامريكان ليزوروا فلسطين ويروا الحقيقة بأم اعينهم.

كريستين فلادر، طالبة دوكتوراه حول المسرح التطبيقي من المانيا،

لقد كنت هنا قبل خمس سنوات، وما لفت نظري اكثر من اي شي اخر هو كيف ان المستوطنات تضاعفت وبنائها مستمر وتوسعها امر واقع وبدى الجدار اكثر رسوخا وقوه في المقابل كيف قل عدد المشاركين في مظاهرات بلعين، اعتقد انه بطريقة ما الاعتمانم بقضايا كقضية بلعين يقل على الاقل على الارض.

في عرض البلاي باك وكيف احمد شرح عن وفاة شقيقه وشقيقته بسبب الغاز المسيل للدموع وبنفس الوقت عدد المتظاهرين والاهتمام يقل هو بالفعل الواقع الذي يحصل ولا يريد الكثيرين الاعتراف له خوفا من كلمة ما البديل؟

بالاضافه انه من المحزن ان المقاومة برايي بدأت تأخذ شكلا سياحيا غريبا عل الخصوص.

اشعر بشعور متناقض تجاه اهمية الكامرا فبرأي على ارض الاقع لا تقوم بشي لا حقا توصل الصور لكل العالم لكن لحظتها؟ عندما يواجه الفلسطيني الة القتل، اتسائل عن مدى نجاهتها في اللحظة.

في عرض البلاي باك وتمثيل قصة احمد اظهر الفرق بين ان تشاهد عملا توثيقيا عن قضية على ان تشاهدها كأداء فني مسرحي، هنا بدى الدور المهم الذي قد يلعبه المسرح، القضية يتلقاها المتلقي كقضية شخصيةمن خلال المسرح تدخل في صميم الانسان ان كانت محكمة، امى الصور فبيننا وبينها مسافة.

Jordan valley mural


بداية الرحلة

الجمعة 20 مارس 2015 انطلق باص الحرية من مخيم ومدينة جنين حاملا معه مجموعة من المتضامنين الاجانب الذين جائو كمتطوعين في باص الحرية، سار الباص في رببيع فلسطين الاخضر الذي يشوبه بشاعة الاستعمار الاسرائيلي وفداحة ما يفعل على الارض ضمن الصمت الذي يرتكبه العالم ضد القضية الفلسطينية.

ان باص الحرية وكمحاولة لكسر الصمت واعلاء صوت الفلسطينيين امام العالم يقوم بجولته السنوية مصطحبا متطوعين من كافة ارجاء العالم ليرو بأم العين ما يحصل هنا على الارض خصوصا في المناطق التي يطلع عليها الاحتلال مناطق سي والتي يرسمها الاحتلال كمناطق عسكرية مغلقة خاضعة للسيطرة المباشرة للعسكرة الاسرائيلية اي مناطق معدة للاستعمال العسكري الذي ينكر وجود فلسطينيين فيها بهدف الغاء وجودهم فيها تماما.

كمحاولة لكسر هذا الحصار العسكري ولاظهار الواقع الممنهج الذي يتبعه الاحتلال من تطهير عرقي وطرد واقصاء للفلسطينيين وتحويل حياتهم الى جحيم.

المحطة الاولى وكأفتتاحية مميزة كانت قرية النبي صالح، القرية الفلسطينية  المعروفة بنضالها المتواصل الدؤوب ضد الاحتلال والذي لا يهدأ ولا يستكين.

ابتدأت الرحلة بأستضافتنا في بيت المناضلين الفلسطينيين ناريمان وباسم  تميمي حيث اشتركو بكل محبة وضيافة مع المتطوعين بقصصهم في مواجهة الاحتلال تحدث باسم عن رؤية المقاومة الشعبية الفلسطينية للنضال السلمي وناريمان شاركت قصص استهاد اخيها واصابتها البليغة وكيف ان الاحتلال لن يكسر ارادة اهل النبي صالح وانهم مستمرون باقوه حتى التحرر التام من نير الاحتلال الاسرائيلي.

بعض من اراء المتطوعين في الرحلة حول اليوم الاول

لينا سو  من السويد:

اعتقد ان كلمة مهم مميز ان نكون هنا صغيرة جدا لتصف ما اشعر به من قيمة هذا الوجود، البلد جميل والناس جمال قلوبهم لا يوصف والضيافه والترحيب والقلوب المفتوحة بمحبة وقوة.
اشعر الان بمسؤولية انسانية على لنشر ما ارى امام الجميع حين ارجع لبلدي واحكي عن الحقائق المخفيه عن اعين العالم في الخارج

فلسطين بلد ذو طبيعة خلابة ساحرة لم اصدق كم الجمال الذي شهدته، اعتقد اننا يجب ان نشجع للسايحة في فلسطين  والذي بدوره ينشر حقيقة مغايره عن ما ينشره الاحتلال عن اهل فلسطين.

شيرا ممثله من هولندا:

اشعر بفخر شديد لوجودي هنا، ادعشتني سلمية المظاهرة في النبي صالح في مواجهة الاحتلال، وجودنا هنا على ارض الواقع لتبادل الافكار امر رائع، مكان ملهم اطفال النبي مدهشون عظام بشجاعتهم وانتمائهم ووعيهم بقضيتهم، ان نتحول من جنين للنبي صالح تمايز من المهم الالمام به عن الواقع.

امل جميل انبعث عندما ارانا بلال التميمي المسرح المفتوح في القرية، مكان رائع لاقامة فعاليات ثقافية وفنية، لنتخيل ان يكون فعالية اسبوعية تجذب الناس من كل مكان، المقاومة فن، نتمنى ذلك.

سام كوليدج: مدير منصة من اميركا:

همناك مشهد مميز وغريب تسطره مظاهرة النبي صاح، الجنود في حماية المستوطنات، الفلسطينيين مع المتضامنين الدوليين، جعلني اتسائل من يبقى ومن يرحل؟ الجندي باق والمتطوع الاجنبي مهما طال امد وجوده فهو راحل، هذا يجبرنا بمنطق التضامن الحقيقي ان نفكر بحق بأسلوب ناجع لاستثمار وجودنا المؤقت وما هو دورنا حين العودة لبلادنا.

شينا لو: الولايات المتحدة:

طوال وجودي في النبي صالح وانا افكر بمعنى كلمة صمةد، كلمة تنبع من الروح الفلسطينية الخالصة، لقائي بأهل النبي صالح هو تمثيل حقيقي لمعنى هذه الكلمة، كيف انهم ورغم كل محاولات الترهيب الاسرائيلية لا زالون يشعون بالامل والاصرار على الاستمرار في المقاومة، مشهد الاطفال في النبي صالح يستيقظون في وسط الليل على دبيب الجنود الاسرائيليين وكاميراتهم التي تسلط في وحوه الاطفال بأضوائها القوية،، نجاحاتهم للان تعد بسيطة امام كم الخسارة بالارواح والحياة المريرة والسجن والاعتقال والحصار، لكنهم مستمرين مؤنون بقضيتهم ويبذلون كل شيء يحصلوا على الحياة الحقيقية التي يسعون اليها.

هذا اليوم الاول من مسيرة باص الحية 2015 لاقونا في ايام اخرى

Nabi Saleh demo II

2015 Freedom Ride Day #4: Jordan Valley

Day four of the Freedom Ride started early with a 7 am wake-up call and an 8 am breakfast at the Bil’in Center for Freedom and Justice. The group then said goodbye to our friends in Bil’in and boarded the bus. For the next two hours, we drove east through the West Bank, winding through Ramallah as we gradually descended into the Jordan Valley.

After getting waved through one of Israel’s notorious flying checkpoints, we came to a fork in the road where we stopped the bus and met our charismatic guide, Rashid Khudiri. Rashid gave a brief introduction to the Jordan Valley. Whereas our previous hosts in Nabi Saleh and Bil’in have chosen to resist the occupation through weekly demonstrations, the situation in the Jordan Valley is quite different. It is much more sparsely populated and the communities here do not receive as much attention as their fellow Palestinians elsewhere in the West Bank. Communities here suffer from a serious shortage of water. As Rashid pointed out, this shortage is not just geographic; it is political, and many of the water wells and springs these Palestinians have traditionally used have been redirected to Israeli settlements.

Continuing on our journey, we arrived in the village of Fasayel. We dropped our bags off at the Friends’ Meeting House and had a filling lunch. Rashid then took the group on a walking tour of the village. As he explained, many of the buildings here are made with mud bricks. Fasayel is a small agricultural community with some 1700 inhabitants. Nestled between the Palestinian hills and the Jordanian frontier, Fasayel’s beauty has also made it the target of the occupation. Only a few hundred meters away sits a newly-constructed Jewish settlement. It was built on land that had previously been used for farming by Fasayel’s residents.

In this part of Palestine, one of Israel’s main forms of harassment and intimidation involves building demolitions. Residents here frequently receive demolition notices for any buildings they construct – houses, shelters, fences, or even power lines and animal pens. No specific date is ever given for the announced demolition, so Israeli forces can arrive at any moment. In some cases, Fasayel’s residents have resisted by taking their case to social media, creating petitions against the demolitions and bringing international attention to their cause.

As the sun began to set over the horizon, we returned to the Friends’ Meeting House for dinner and a film screening, a 2012 documentary about the situation of Palestinians struggling in the Jordan Valley, The last shepherds of the valley. After a brief discussion following the film, the Freedom Riders rested for a long day ahead.

Written by Greg Burris, 2015 Freedom Ride participant


Freedom riders Jordan valley day 4 Jordan Valley

Fasayel kids

Jordan Valley kids