Back to PLO Bulletin 1-15 July 1979

Uprising in Nablus against Zionist settlement policy June 17, 1979


"He is a hero whom history shall talk about", Begin described his Agriculture Minister, Ariel Sharon. "As for me, when I die and stand in the door to heaven I shall say: I am the one who established Elon Moreh settlement. Then I shall be allowed to enter."

While Begin and Sharon were exchanging compliments, tension and anger spread over the occupied territories. The entire town of Nablus rose denouncing the settlement policy. On June 17, hundreds of Palestinian citizens demonstrated, raising their fists in the face of the Israeli troops. Palestinian flags were raised on the roofs of many houses and mosques. The demonstrators headed for Elon Moreh settlement, established in a lightening fast operation on June 7, chanting slogans hostile to the Israeli occupation, its settlements and its coercive policies. They clashed with the Israeli troops three kilometers away from Nablus on the road to the Gush Emunim settlement. The demonstrators used sticks, stones and empty bottles to defend their land and themselves. The occupation troops fired their automatic weapons in the air to terrorize the people, threw tear gas grenades, and hit even young boys with their clubs. Many demonstrators were wounded, and so were some soldiers. But those who were wounded refused to go to hospitals and continued demonstrating in the streets of Nablus.

A reporter who observed Israeli soldiers dragging a child (8 years old) while others were hitting a boy (11 years old) with their clubs, said: "They were challenging the occupation military authorities and its repressive measures," The Zionist army banned newsmen and reporters from entering the city, and even confiscated films taken by a French and an American cameraman. The Israeli troops attacked shops and broke their locks in an attempt to quell the general strike that was observed throughout Nablus.

In the municipality building, the national and progressive organizations in the city held a meeting during which Bassam al-Shaka'a, Mayor of Nablus, gave a speech. He said:

"Our confrontation with the Israeli authorities' provocation of our national feelings, is an experience which necessitates further cohesion and struggle to protect our national interests. In this respect, this conference attended by representatives of the whole Northern region, aims to formulate a program for the development of our struggle to encompass all the occupied territories and to stand against Israeli repression and settlement policy."

He added: "I told the Military Governor my job is not to maintain peace and order, and I will never be a policeman preserving the occupation's order. My responsibility is to safeguard Palestinian land and preserve the interests of the Palestinian people in the region. We want to express our right to our land and our attachment to it and to our national identity and rights, to stage a peaceful and quiet march to protest the Israeli settlement policy and the denial of the Palestinian people's right to self-expression, and to condemn the closure of the educational institutes. The occupation authorities, however, deprived us of our right to self-expression. We are also looking to these sectors of the Jewish population which oppose the Israeli government policy of occupation and the establishment of settlements... The whole world is also looking at us."

At the end of the meeting, a communique was issued calling for the annulment of the Elon Moreh settlement and all other Israeli settlements established on Arab land. The participants also declared their firm rejection of the Camp David accords and their outcome, including the self-rule plot, calling for self-determination and the establishment of a Palestinian state, and protested against the Israeli soldiers' breaking up of the march and the arrest of many demonstrators.


In the wake of the uprising in Nablus, the Israelis stopped issuing permits to Nablus citizens for travel to Jordan, banned Shaka'a, the Mayor from leaving for the U.S. to participate in political seminars on the Palestinian cause, and launched a campaign of mass arrests. Among the arrested are Hana Bassam al-Shaka'a, the Mayor's daughter, Issmat and Anan al-Attiri, daughters of a member of the Nablus Municipal Council and the trade union activist Omar al-Qassim.


As a result of the Israeli wave of settlements aimed at perpetuating the occupation of Palestinian land and uprooting the Palestinian people, and after the Military Governor's refusal to meet the Hebron Municipal Council, various Hebron groups and institutions decided to hold a popular meeting on June 19 to expose the fascist Israeli practices currently being carried out by the Gush Emunim Movement against the Palestinian citizens in Hebron under the protection of the Israeli army and to take the necessary measures to confront the wave of settlement activities.

Fahd Kawasmeh, mayor of Hebron
But the Israeli authorities blocked the entrances to the city, and at the time set for the meeting, the Deputy Military Governor with a group of Israeli soldiers broke into the Hebron municipality building, arrested Fahd al-Qawasemeh, Mayor of Hebron, Mohammad Melhem, Mayor of Halhoul and a number of representatives of the nationalist bodies and institutions in the occupied territories and declared the region a restricted military zone. Hundreds of citizens who were attending the meeting confronted and clashed with the Zionist troops, using their fists and stones.

However, the Municipal Council held its emergency meeting on schedule and adopted the following resolutions:

1. To send cables of protest against the Israeli practices to the Secretary-General of the U.N., Dr. Kurt Waldheim, to the Human Rights Commission, to foreign consulates in Jerusalem, to the Israeli War Minister, to the Israeli Military Governor General and the Israeli Military Governor of Hebron.

2. Denunciation of the occupation of al-Dabwiyeh building by a group of Israeli settlers; and calling on the Israeli military governors to immediately evacuate the settlers without any delay.

3. Denunciation of practices of settlers from Qiryat Arba' and the Gush Emunim movement against the citizens of Hebron, such as raiding their homes, attacking them and spreading terror within the villages.

4. Denunciation of the Israeli Military Governor's decision to prevent the Hebron Municipal Council from holding its meeting despite the difficult circumstances the region is going through.

5. Condemnation of the settlement and land seizure policies; and calling for an end to such practices which violate all U.N. and other international laws and conventions and which constitute an attempt to change the geographic map of Palestine.

6. Denunciation of the decision to close all universities and schools and fail a certain number of students as in Ramallah, Bir Zeit and Bethlehem.

7. Condemnation of the closure of hospitals, specifically the decision of the Israeli authorities to close the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem and the National Hospital in Nablus.

8. The Hebron Municipal Council finally reaffirmed its firm stand in rejecting the Camp David accords and its implications, including the self-rule scheme, and stresses the justness of Palestinian national demands.

On the other hand, the Israeli authorities, on June 15, prevented al-Qawasemeh from leaving on a visit to the U.S.A. U.S. OMEN, the group that was to have sponsored Qawasemeh's visit, sent cables of protest to the Israeli authorities, to the White House, to the State Department and to several congressmen.

Al-Qawasemeh declared to a number of reporters who were able to by-pass the check points erected by the Israeli army on the roads leading to the municipality building, that the Israeli authorities are daily offending Palestinian national feelings, while they not only stand idly by in the face of the attacks by armed Israeli settler bands against the citizens of Hebron, but also protect them from the Palestinian people's anger.


On June 12, the Israeli authorities prevented Palestinian citizens from attending a popular meeting at Bir Zeit. Troops surrounded the town and erected check points at its entrances banning all traffic to or from Bir Zeit. The meeting was called for by the West Bank Mayors and representatives of the popular organizations, charity societies and cultural unions and clubs.

The next day, Yediot Aharonot revealed that the Israeli authorities had decided to close Bir Zeit University and cancel the rest of the 1978-79 academic year. The paper, which is waging a bitter campaign against Bir Zeit University, said that the reason behind the decision was a security force's report about "subversive" activities in the University. It also reported that the document mentions cooperation between the University students and the "Arabs of Israel" in establishing joint organizations.

Beside closing Bir Zeit University, the Israeli authorities have recently closed the Teachers Training Institute, the Secondary School in Ramallah and ordered Bethlehem secondary school students to repeat their classes in the wake of last month's uprising against the settlement policy and the repressive measures of the Military forces.


Meanwhile, a delegation comprising dozens of progressive Jewish personalities and a number of Israeli University professors visited Bir-Zeit and expressed their solidarity with the University administration, and denounced the military government's decision to shut down the University. The delegation reached Bir Zeit following the Israeli authorities' ban on a demonstration in solidarity with Bir-Zeit University on June 13. A number of Knesset members, as well as a group of progressive Jewish students and professors, were supposed to participate in this demonstration.

In related news, the Nazareth Communist Youth Federation decided to organize a campaign of solidarity with Bir Zeit University students and teachers, and called for the immediate reopening of the university. The Federation expressed solidarity with the struggle of all Palestinians who confront Israeli policies of land confiscation.

STRONG REACTIONS IN PARIS In Paris, a group of French Professors held a press conference which was attended by Bir-Zeit Professors and progressive Jews. Dr. Munir 'Assy, mathematics professor at Bir-Zeit, stated that these Israeli practices which aim to deny the Palestinian people their right to education, are a flagrant violation of the most basic human rights. Dr. Daniel Yamit, an Israeli Physicist who is also a member of the Israeli Committee for the Defence of Bir Zeit, confirmed Dr. 'Assy's statement, and added that in spite of the Israeli authorities habit of making charges against Bir Zeit University, there was never one definite accusation against this educational institution. The French Committee for the Defence of Bir-Zeit has decided to submit a petition to the Israeli authorities to reconsider their decision, and to send an investigative commission to the University, in cooperation with the "Committees to Defend Bir Zeit University" which were established in Israel, Italy and the U.S.A.


On June 19, the President of Bir Zeit University, Hanna Nasser, held a press conference in Amman in which he confirmed that the reason behind the closure is the Zionist's wish to place obstacles in the face of university education in the occupied territories.

The bitter Zionist campaign against Palestinian students continues as a part of a general Israeli policy aiming to repress our youth. But the uprising against the military occupation goes on.

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