[News] How Beita became a model of Palestinian resistance against Israel

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Tue Aug 31 12:45:27 EDT 2021


middleeasteye.net
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-palestine-beita-became-model-resistance>
How
Beita became a model of Palestinian resistance against Israel
By Shatha Hammad in Beita, occupied West Bank - 31 August 2021
------------------------------

Alaa Dweikat grew up playing hide-and-seek with her father, Imad, and four
siblings. The nine-year-old Palestinian
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/countries/palestine> never expected it to
turn into reality.

Imad, 38, has now disappeared from their lives forever, killed by Israeli
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/countries/israel> forces in the occupied
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/topics/occupation> West Bank town of Beita.

<https://www.middleeasteye.net/video/beita-night-confusion-rallies-israeli-settlers-west-bank-nablus#autoplay>

Fires, lasers and honks: How Beita’s ‘night confusion’ rallies are fighting
Israeli settlers

Read More »
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/video/beita-night-confusion-rallies-israeli-settlers-west-bank-nablus#autoplay>

On 6 August, as Imad’s family waited for him to come home for lunch, phones
began ringing. Imad had been killed, they were told, shot by Israeli
soldiers who were confronting protesting Beita residents on the nearby
Jabal Sbeih, south of Nablus.

He is one of seven Palestinians, including two teenagers
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-palestine-beita-crackdown-protests-child-latest-victim>,
killed since a protest campaign against an illegal Israeli settlement on
the town’s outskirts broke out in May. Three of them are fathers, leaving
behind some 15 children.

The Palestinians of Beita demonstrate against the Israeli expansion with
peaceful methods. They are met with live bullets and teargas, leaving
dozens wounded, many shot in the leg.

Mass arrests have seen more than 30 Palestinian men from the town detained
in Israeli jails.

This once-sleepy West Bank village has become an epicentre of Palestinian
resistance.
Met with bullets

Alaa, who is Imad’s eldest daughter, says she dreams of being an ambulance
worker so she can prevent people’s deaths, like that of her father.

“Every day, I think of asking my mother when our father will be home from
work, but then I remember that he’s dead and that he will never return,”
Alaa tells Middle East Eye. “That is very difficult. I miss him every day.”

Like most young men in Beita, Imad went to Jabal Sbeih every Friday to
participate in the peaceful popular activities defending their land against
settler takeover.

'Wherever I look, I see Imad. I cannot stop waiting for him to return, even
though I bid him farewell and I know that he is dead'

*- Fathiya, Imad Dweikat's mother*

He was hit with a “direct bullet to the chest, and he died immediately”,
his brother Bilal tells MEE. “Imad was participating, like the rest of the
people, in peaceful activities and not in a war. There is no justification
for Israeli snipers to fire live ammunition."

Since his killing, Imad’s mother Fathiya, 77, can no longer sleep through
the night. Sometimes she manages to get a few hours’ sleep, before waking
up startled and sitting at the front door awaiting Imad’s impossible
return.

“Wherever I look, I see Imad. I cannot stop waiting for him to return, even
though I bid him farewell and I know that he is dead. We are living in a
pain that will go on forever,” she told MEE, cradling Imad’s
three-month-old son.
Families living the same pain

Said Dweikat sits in front of his house overlooking Beita, drinking his
coffee. Flocks of birds swirl in the sky.

The town seems calm, but its residents have undergone daily violence. Every
home has a connection to someone killed in the protests. Many residents
nurse wounds, too, and many houses have been subjected to frequent raids
and arrests.

“Every day, there is a family here waiting for one of its sons to be
killed, wounded or arrested by the Israeli army. We all say ‘it's our turn
now’,” Said tells MEE.

<https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-palestine-beita-crackdown-protests-child-latest-victim>

Palestinian child the latest victim of Israeli crackdown in Beita

Read More »
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-palestine-beita-crackdown-protests-child-latest-victim>

Usually, Said shares his coffee with his brother Shadi. But Shadi was shot
dead on 27 July, not as he protested, but as he voluntarily helped the
Beita municipality open water pumps at the town’s entrance. The Israelis
claimed he was armed with a metal rod – in fact it was his plumbing tools.

He left behind five children.

"His children ask us where their father is; we tell them that he is in
heaven. They respond: ‘We do not want heaven, we want a father’. I cannot
answer their questions anymore, it’s very painful,” says Said, tears
running down his cheeks.

The whole town was left distraught by Shadi’s killing, Said says. As a
plumber, he’d visited almost every home in Beita.

And if his death wasn’t hard enough, the Israeli army withheld his body for
two weeks after killing him, piling pain and anger onto the misery already
felt.

"Every hour, I think about how I'm going to spend the next hour without
Shadi, how I'm going to live my life without him," says Said.
Stealing Jabal Sbeih

Beita’s recent history of violence and resistance began on 2 May, when
residents spotted some twinkling lights on the top of Jabal Sbeih.

Settlers, accompanied by the army
<https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-soldiers-photographed-helping-build-illegal-west-bank-outpost-1.9897082>,
were building an illegal settlement outpost without prior notice of the
land having been confiscated.

It is not the first time that Israel has tried to take control of the hill.
In 1978, with the opening of the settler highway 60, the Israeli army built
a military outpost there, forcing the Palestinian landowners to turn to
Israeli courts to retrieve their lands, which they managed to do in 1994.

The military outpost was removed, before being re-built during the
2000-2005 Second Intifada, and then removed again.

Huthayfa Budair, who owns land on the hill, says residents began to notice
settlers' advances in the area four years ago, attracted by its strategic
location.

'Every day, there is a family here waiting for one of its sons to be
killed, wounded or arrested by the Israeli army. We all say "it's our turn
now"'

*- Said Dweikat, Beita resident*

“A popular uprising took place with the participation of all the residents,
and we managed to move the settlers out of the area,” says Huthayfa.

This year, however, settlers returned to Beita. In a mere six days, they
installed 40 caravans, and paved a street leading to the hill, naming the
outpost “Givat Eviatar”.

On 9 June, the Israeli army began removing the outpost, claiming that it
was built during a tense security situation and without prior legalisation.
Shortly after, however, the army seized the outpost for itself, declaring
Jabal Sbeih a military area and preventing Palestinians from returning to
their lands.

It transpired that the settlers had struck a deal
<https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-palestine-west-bank-settlement-eviatar-beita>
with the government, which would see them leave their caravans on the hill
for the military to take care of, until the land is declared property of
the Israeli state, upon which they can return.

Huthayfa holds ownership documents over five dunams of land on Jabal Sbeih.
Five other families from Beita were also able to provide legal documents
proving their ownership of lands, as well as families from the nearby
villages of Qabalan and Yatma.

Despite that, the Israeli Supreme Court on 15 August refused
<https://www.facebook.com/JLACps/posts/10158351432886989> to consider an
appeal against the outpost submitted by the landowners, a ruling condemned
as premature by the Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights (JLAC),
which submitted the appeal on behalf of the Palestinians.

The Supreme Court has postponed any final judgement on the legality of the
outpost and the settlers’ deal with the government until the area has been
surveyed and a final decision has been made on declaring it “state land”.

It argued that the landowners have the right to appeal instantly if the
area is declared state land, but according to JLAC, the petition would not
be considered until a decision is made regarding the legal status of the
territory.

In fact, JLAC argued, the Supreme Court has already responded to the
appeals with “total negligence”, and ignored the “blatant abuses committed
by settlers on lands to which they have no right, which indicates that the
courts see no legal issue with literally bending the law”.
Creative resistance

Over the past few months, young men in Beita have developed creative means
of resisting settlers and the Israeli army’s bullets - in a campaign they
call a “state of confusion”.

This is a combination of traditional resistance methods, such as throwing
stones and burning tyres, and novel tactics like using lasers,
loudspeakers, alarms and false sounds of explosions.

Protesters and others participating in protecting the land from settlement
expansion have organised themselves into groups operating in day and night
shifts, each with a particular mission. The area is constantly populated,
and residents of Beita regularly make trips there.

“On Fridays, we young men go out with slingshots, while the old people go
out carrying Palestinian flags. We also use burning tyres, fireworks and
balloons,” one 25-year-old protestor told MEE, speaking on condition of
anonymity.

“We monitor Israeli newspapers on social media and see the settlers’
reactions. We found that we succeeded in pressuring them and forcing them
to leave the settlement - they also felt unsafe in the midst of the ongoing
popular rejection of their presence.”

[image: Palestinian youths set fire to tyres during a protest against an
illegal Israeli settlement outpost in Beita (MEE/Shatha Hammad)]
Palestinian youths set fire to tyres during a protest against an illegal
Israeli settlement outpost in Beita (MEE/Shatha Hammad)

“We want to preserve Beita and its lands. We managed to get them off the
mountain several times. This time will be their last - they’ll never
return,” he adds.

Once the families retrieve their lands, he said, the whole town will
celebrate. “It would be like a national wedding.”

Another activist, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of
Israeli reprisals, tells MEE: “We are here at all times to preserve our
ancestors' approach to preserving our lands and to prevent attacks or
confiscations at any cost, even if it costs us our lives and our freedoms."

'Beita does not know any calm. It is always ablaze, and the Israeli army
refrains from raiding it because it knows that it will pay a heavy price
for each military raid'

*- Beita activist*

Beita is known for its resistance, and has been forced to face off the
Israeli army several times over the years due to its geographical location,
overlooking the route between Nablus and Jericho.

“Beita always fights in support of Gaza and [Palestinian] prisoners, and
stands against any action taken by Israel in the West Bank. We sacrifice
martyrs, wounded and prisoners, and that does not frighten us or prevent us
from continuing,” the activist says.

“Beita does not know any calm. It is always ablaze, and the Israeli army
refrains from raiding it because it knows that it will pay a heavy price
for each military raid.”

Despite the settlers leaving Jabal Sbeih, the confrontations continue,
albeit at a slower pace.

Residents vow they will not retreat until the entire hill is retrieved.

"Even if the outpost is removed and we retrieve Jabal Sbeih, Beita will not
stop its struggle until all of Palestine is retrieved,” the activist said.
“We hope that the Beita experience will be transferred to all the
Palestinian villages that face settlement building daily.”
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