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22/01/2009

Peace Day 2008 Ni'lin

The PCFF marked the International Peace Day 2008, with visits to Ni'lin and Kfar Aza and with awarding the Peace Sign.

A group of PCFF members, most of them Israelis, went to Ni'lin near the Hashmonaim settlement and not far from Modiin. We had come to listen to the villagers, to give our support in their non-violent way and express our deep sorrow for the loss of two bereaved families from the village.

 A whole village decided to demonstrate non-violently; to show their presence in the area of the dispute and hopefully, with the support of Israelis that will join them, to succeed in moving the planned route of the wall. They don't want to cancel the wall or to receive the land that was taken from them, just to change the planned route. Muhammad Amira and Ibrahim Amira took us on a tour on the ground.

Before 1948, Ni'lin was a big village and had 50,000 dunams as part of its territory. On their land, settlements were built like Kiryat Sefer, Hashmonaim and Matityahu. Today the village territory is around 10,000 dunams. Between Hashmonaim and Ni'lin there is a wadi with olive plantations which belong to the village and have an important part of the livelihood of Ni'lin. The planned route of the wall is going to attach the plantations as part of Israel and to leave the villagers without them.  Ni'lin residents have only one request, they don't want the dunams (plots of a quarter of an acre) that were taken from them back, neither do they want to hurt the settlers in any way, they only want to move the route of the wall a 100 meters back and to keep on earning their living from the olive plantations in the wadi.

 There is a path leading to the wadi at its side, where Sabra Cactuses grow. The army decided not to allow the villagers to walk on all of the path in order to prevent the demonstrations in the wadi. As a result, the villagers can't pick the Sabra fruit, and, just from looking at the plants, one can see that the fruit was picked from some while others are heaped with fruit, which makes it easy to tell where on the path the villagers aren't allowed to walk.

The PCFF members were impressed by a whole village decision to resist non-violently, a choice that Muhammad and Ibrahim kept talking about. The non-violent approach was repeated also in the words of the bereaved families we visited afterwards.
Ibrahim and Muhammad told us about the village peoples behavior in certain incidents. Once the army forgot n ammunition case and the villagers returned it all to the army without taking a bullet.
Ibrahim Amira was the teacher of eleven years old Ahmad Musa. One day he asked the children to draw and Ahmad drew both Palestinian and Israeli flags surrounded with doves. The classroom kids were cross with Ahmad and Ibrahim asked him to explain why he painted what he did. Ahmad said that he would like the Palestinians and the Israelis to live next to each other. The child, said Ibrahim, was a Peace child.

Two persons were killed in Ni'lin; a child and an adolescent during the 29th and the 30th of July 2008. Ahmad Musa was killed during a demonstration on the 29th of July from a bullet in his head and Yusuf Amira was injured fatally the next day, and died a week later.
Ahmad's mother is pregnant and his father is in Saudi-Arabia. His uncle and his young brother received six of us. Nurit Peled Elchanan gave Ahmad's brother our Peace Day sign of appreciation and was allowed go inside to meet Ahmad's mother and shake her hand. Ahmad's uncle, surrounded with photos of the child, talked about non-violence.
In Yusuf's house, a small group from the PCFF was accepted by his mother and a relative. Someone was sent to call Yusuf's father. The father, who speaks fluent Hebrew, told Yusuf's story. Yusuf wasn't part of the confrontation which developed after Ahmad's funeral; he was on his way to his grandmother who did not feel well. The Israeli media reported that the army went inside the village after Ahmad Musa's funeral and a violent confrontation developed in which stones were thrown at the army and the army returned fire. Yusuf, who was not part of the confrontation, was shot at zero range, he was fatally injured and died a week later from his wounds. Nir Oren gave the family our Peace Day appreciation sign and said some warm words to both families.

During the visits we felt their burning pain which was kept inside and restrained on the outside. Everything was said in great pain but without the intensity of  a desire for revenge.

Peace Day 2008 Kfar Aza
Israeli, Palestinian bereaved families meet







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