By International Women’s Peace Service – Palestine
Since 2002, the International Women’s Peace Service in Palestine (IWPS-Palestine) has been documenting and non-violently intervening in human rights abuses carried out by the Israeli military and Israeli settlers in the Occupied West Bank against the Palestinian civilian population. We are the only all women team of internationals working in the Occupied West Bank and we are currently looking for new volunteers to join us on the ground in Palestine. (See here.)
IWPS – Palestine is located in the Salfit district, a rural area located close to Nablus. The district, as well as the nearby Nablus and Qalqilya districts, are affected by more than 20 illegal Israeli settlements located in the “Ariel settlement bloc”. We were established at the height of the Al Aqsa Intifada in response to a call from the village of Hares for an international presence in their village.
Hares, which is home to 3000 Palestinians (mainly farmers), is located in the heart of the Ariel settlement bloc and was under curfew and almost daily invasion from the Israeli military. During one of these invasions in 2001, our neighbour Issa was shot by an Israeli soldier and paralysed. At the time of the shooting, Issa was attempting to bring to safety a group of small children who had been playing outside when the Israeli military invaded the village. (See here.)
After 7 years in Hares, we recently relocated to the neighbouring village of Deir Istyia, which like Hares and other Palestinian villages under the occupation, continues to suffer greatly. In the past months, Deir Istiya has been subject to semi-regular curfew and invasion. The village which is home to just over 3100 people has already lost much of its land to Israel’s occupation and is now struggling to keep more of its land being taken by the illegal settlements.
Since our establishment 8 years ago, hundreds of women from around the world have joined us in Hares and now Deir Istiya. They have played a vital role in not only documenting and non-violently intervening in human rights abuses carried out by the Israeli military and illegal Israeli settlers, they have also been active in supporting Palestinian non-violent resistance to end Israel’s occupation and to stop the building the apartheid wall. IWPS volunteers over the years have provided regular accompaniment to Palestinian civilians, including to farmers trying to reach their land and who have been prevented by the Israeli military and/or illegal settlers. We have also coordinated internationals teams to assist with accompaniment during olive harvest each year. Our team members have been part of the non-violent civil resistance which has attempted to stop the demolition of Palestinian homes and the construction of the apartheid wall.
In the last three years, our team members have been increasingly called on to try and intervene to stop and/or document the increasing number of Israeli settler attacks on Palestinian civilians and villages. While there has been a dramatic increase in the number of settler attacks on Palestinians across the Occupied West Bank, many of the worst attacks have occurred in the nearby Nablus district. These attacks by illegal settlers have included the poisoning of Palestinian livestock, the torching and burning of hundreds of dunums of Palestinian agricultural land, the invasion of Palestinian villages by armed settlers, the beating and stoning of unarmed Palestinian residents, the destruction of Palestinian property and the firing of homemade missiles at Palestinian villages on several occasions. In response to these attacks, our team members have regularly provided a temporary international presence in the villages under attack in order to try and stop the attacks, while also documenting the attacks in an attempt to bring them to the attention of the wider public, internationally.
In recent months, IWPS has been active in supporting the non-violent demonstrations in the village of An Nabi Saleh. Since December 2009, the village has been holding non-violent demonstrations against the creeping settlement expansion and land confiscation by the illegal Israeli settlement of Hallamish (also known as Neve Tzuf) and each week the demonstrations are brutally attacked by Israel’s military.
– IWPS-Palestine is run solely by volunteers from around the world and we have just issued a call for new volunteers to join us on the ground in Palestine. If you would like to find out more about IWPS, you can either visit our website at www.iwps.info or you can contact as at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you details of our application process. IWPS-Palestine contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.