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Twinning with Palestine

The Britain - Palestine Twinning Network - "promoting twinning and friendship links"

Activities for the network in 2011 include * Women's visit - March * Twinning Conference in Palestine - April * Visits to Palestine April and October * Conference in Liverpool - November.

Tower Hamlets Jenin Link -

Renamed Tower Hamlets Friendship Association (July 2008)

April 2009 visit photos -

2011 local newspaper article -

Leaflet for the campaign

Aims / Visit, Press Release / Local newspaper article / From a volunteer in Jenin / Latest news


a) To raise profile and make meaningful contacts throughout groups, organisations, individuals, etc. in Tower Hamlets with people and organisations in Jenin, to develop projects together.

b) For Tower Hamlets council to twin formally with Jenin municipality with all that entails in terms of making the informal twinning easier.

c) Get a delegation from councillors and others to visit Jenin,

d) Develop more projects e.g. between schools, hospital workers, council workers, arts groups, theatre group, etc.

Latest news

Achievements so far

Public meetings, entertainment, films, comedy and music fund-raisers, delegations to Jenin x2 (1 abortive). delegation from Jenin of five Palestinians including a councillor, visit involved going to a number of schools, QM University (where we hope to have passed a twinning resolution), healthworkers, council workers, teachers union meeting, also to Mayor, on BBC, Islam Channel Bangla TV, and an Arab channel, other activities.

Best thing yet was delegation from Jenin to Tower Hamlets. Fund-raising easy if time-consuming organisationally, allows a lot to happen! Public meetings, films, speakers : shown Arna's children twice once with Juliano Mer Khmis visit, also shown Iron Wall which Peace cyclists and Bow Stop the War helped organise etc.

Raising money for particular projects

Free Theatre in Jenin- money

Local Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled Jenin CampHospital in Jenin- money

Al Quds University Jenin-computer books sent out

Violin- to cultural centre Jenin

Football kit donated from school here- to be sent. Aim to raise money

Finola Owens from Tower Hamlets - Jenin Twinning Group managed to raise £1,000 from Tower Hamlets UNISON for Jenin projects prior to her recent visit in April 2006.

The group is aiming to see the Cultural and Creative Centre in Jenin develop as a Friendship Centre and that aims to raise funds to buy computers so that communities in Jenin could use the centre as a communication facility.

Support is being given to the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, around which the film Arna's Children was centred. A showing on 19th April 06 raised a good amount of money for the Theatre.

The group is aiming to bring over some Palestinian musicians later in the year.

Attempts are also being made to get formal twinning links going.

The Small Achievements Twinning Brings (Press release issued by the local group)

On the week of 20th November 06, an exciting initiative will become reality. Throughout Britain various towns and cities will be receiving Palestinian visitors from their twinning towns.

In Tower Hamlets, the Tower Hamlets/Jenin group will be welcoming 2 musicians and one singer as well as the co-ordinator of the twinning campaign in Jenin and a female councillor. During the week, there will be meetings, social events and lots of Palestinian music.

This visit takes place at a critical time in the lives of our visitors, whose children are not receiving an education, whose hospitals are closed and whose basic human rights are being denied.

The delegation from Jenin are visiting Edinburgh first, and after Tower Hamlets, on to Nottingham which also support the twinning of Jenin.

To receive the delegation in Britain was no small task. On 30th October, the co-ordinator of the Jenin Creative and Cultural Centre travelled through checkpoints across the West Bank to collect the delegates’ visas from the British Consulate in Jerusalem. On his arrival, he found that whilst his visa and that of a Jenin councillor in Jenin municipality had been granted, the visas of 3 musicians had been denied.

Immediately our friends in Scotland challenged the decision that they were denied entry on the basis of paragraph 41 of the Immigration Rules. In short, as a result of not being able to prove that they had financial means, the consulate came to the conclusion that they may overstay their visas in Britain. There was a clear implication that they may try and seek public funds in Britain.

The co-ordinator of the centre in Jenin reassured the Consulate that he was their employer, that they were paid cash for teaching children in Jenin how to play oud, tabla and yargoul. He said that he would hold onto their passports whilst they stayed in Britain, a humiliation that few in Europe and the West would tolerate whilst visiting other countries. Their supporters in Edinburgh argued that they had undertaken to meet all financial requirements and pointed out that at least two of these men had French and German stamps in their passports, where they had performed and returned to Jenin.

Despite their supplications, on 2nd November 06, the consulate upheld their decision not to grant visas with no right of appeal. By this point, supporters in Edinburgh, Tower Hamlets and Nottingham had contacted MP’s and human rights groups. MP’s from Scotland raised the issues of human rights and the isolation of the people of Palestine in Parliament. The Islamic Human Rights Commission made representation on their behalf.

On 9th November 06, I received calls from Edinburgh and the Islamic Human Rights Commission, stating that the British Consulate had overturned their own decision not to grant visas. Within 24 hours and organised by the Co-ordinator of the centre, the visas were collected and sent to the musicians in Jenin. Had they attempted to collect them in person, they would have been denied entry to Jerusalem as this is a restriction placed on young Palestinian men attempting to travel by Israel.

They now begin their tour of Scotland sharing their music and culture with their friends there. This is a small success for the people of Britain who want justice for friends in Palestine.

During their week in Tower Hamlets, they will visit schools, hospitals, unions and members of the council. They will share their music in a benefit on Thursday 23rd November 06 and speak at a film showing on Tuesday 21st.

Their visit will culminate in a National Twinning Conference on 26th November when the British and Palestinian delegates will meet, celebrate our successes and seek development of our grassroots support for areas in Palestine. It will involve speakers from Britain and Palestine and various workshops.

Further details of these events can be found on the website for the national site for the local site.

Tower Hamlets – Jenin Twinning Campaign

A local member visited Palestine in April 2006. This is the report of her visit to her Union newspaper (click on image to enlarge)


From a volunteer who was in Jenin in early 2007

Marking Palestinians Prisoners Week

In Jenin

I have been writing my diary of life in Jenin tonight. I try to update it when possible. I have been interrupted by other events. Since approximately 6.30 p.m, minutes after I heard of a further 3 assassinations in Jenin this afternoon, there has been intermittent gunfire coming from Jenin camp. This is happening every 5 minutes. I am concerned that this means that Israelis will continue to fire on the camp throughout the night and its traumatized residents will get no peace.

The background is this: last Tuesday 17th April on my return from visits with the TRC, I passed the scene of the assassination of a 25 year old police man, close to Jenin. He was also working as a taxi driver and had 3 other people in the car with him. I have subsequently spoken to 2 witnesses to this murder. And this is why I use this definition. He was shot while driving and injured. Special Forces (disguised) dragged him from the car and shot him. They could have taken him alive. Nor was there the necessity to shoot him through the eye removing that and a large part of his skull. A woman witness said that after death, one soldier took his legs, another his arms and threw his body in a field.

Today while attending a Women’s Union Conference, I learned that there had been another assassination of a police officer 23 years of age in a village in Jenin, Kafr Dan. They shot him at home, unarmed, by sniper fire from a nearby roof. His family witnessed his murder. Neither of these murders have been necessary acts of bloodshed in a war. They have been strategic acts that dispose of young men who are working for the Palestinian Authority as policemen.

Three men killed this afternoon in Jenin were “wanted” by Israel. This tends to imply that they have a connection with resistance forces. Before evaluating the rationale, as is often encouraged by Western media, behind’s Israeli action to eliminate “terrorists,” I suggest that this be contextualized and that balance is applied.

Every night, in Jenin camp, Israeli soldiers open fire after dark, usually 11.30, after 12.00, sometimes 3 in the morning. I hear it. If they see a shadow, they shoot. Last night, I saw the remains of a concrete wall and steel gate of a family I was visiting in the camp. Last week, the Israeli army, in the middle of the night bulldozed through it. I sat with that family in their wide open, unprotected front garden last night smoking a Nargila pipe. This garden has become the route of bulldozers and tanks to gain easy access for incursion. One of the young people I sat with had a few years ago nearly died from stomach injuries that were the result of Israeli bullets. He had gone to help his friends during an Israeli incursion.

Occupation is force. A natural response to force is to resist.

If resistance is a kalasnikov against high powered bullets, shells, snipers and bulldozers, determine its effectiveness and thereby, its potential threat.

When that analysis is complete, consider the necessity to remove members of a national police force by death squad.

In a week where negotiations are reported to be taking place for the release of Palestinian political prisoners, there are implications of a strategy being employed in Jenin to deal with its political threat without imprisonment. That strategy is assassination.

21st April 2007

This morning a week of commemorations for Palestinian prisoners, ex-detainees and their families was opened today in Jenin Municipality. A number of councillors from Jenin spoke of their support for the families and their hope that prisoners would be released in negotiation with Israel. The conference was closed by an elderly woman whose five children, including a daughter, are in Israeli prisons. Most of those in the audience, effected by the deaths or detainment of members of their families, cried with her as she spoke of the loss of her children.

The programme for the day was changed from its original format because of the events of yesterday and last night. Protests took place, with every school, college and university closing to express their solidarity with the families of the victims and anger at the unrelenting brutality of Israel.

This morning in Nablus, two young men were assassinated in similar circumstances. A 45 year old man in Gaza was killed by an Israeli rocket. Today, in Ramallah, another young man was assassinated.

Last night, I knew that the situation was different from usual in Jenin. There had been early protests, with guns being fired from resistance members during the removal of the bodies of the assassinated.

At 10.30, the Israeli army went to a house in the camp, looking for a “wanted” man. Not finding him at home, they shot his 17 year old sister, Bushra Wahash dead instead. She was to sit her exams next month.

They continued to fire at the camp until nearly midnight when they began to explode sound bombs. I recognized them as such because the cats were wailing in distress. I do not know how the family of Bushra and the other dead managed the continued violence in addition to their grief.

I was in the camp this morning. It was silent with few people on the streets as if a curfew was in place. People may have become used to these acts of violence but there is no immunity. Everyone in Jenin was affected, grieving, not knowing what to expect next.

In a week when negotiations are to take place between Israel and Palestine on prisoner release and when Olmert and Abbas are due to have a cup of tea together but restrict their dialogue to comfortable topics; if in this week, factions of resistance in Palestine respond to this violence with their own, inequitable use of arms, contextualize the reports on mainstream media. I am aware that this media will show Palestinians breaking the possibility of settlement and accord with armed force

If a strategy is in place to maintain violence, where was that initiated and with what further impact on the people of occupied Jenin and Palestine?

5th June 07

The Ship Song: “…I must prune your wings and you must learn to fly…. We make a little history baby every time you come around…”

It has stayed in my mind as an analogy for a long time before I came here and being unable to maintain any concept for long enough to feel reassured, I hold on to these lines without any temptation to pull the analogy apart.

Today I was walking through the camp with a Municipality journalist and Jamal. A detainee had just been released and we were visiting to start a new case file and the journalist was doing a report. A and her family was the the first case I visited. During the Narrative Therapy course last week, the issue of re-traumatisation was raised as an issue that therapists raised as a major challenge in the work without it ever being fully addressed by the trainer, surprisingly. Jamal then told me that A’s daughter had just been arrested. I recorded in my diary at the time that I was concerned that this woman was placing all her hopes on her husband’s release. Her daughter is an articulate young woman who at the end of the term was about to leave college qualified as a lawyer. When the Israelis called around the camp last week, A thought they were coming to her neighbour’s home. They used loudhailers and an order came to leave the house. The 18 year old graduate, Banan Abu el Hija, her 15 year old brother and her 10 year old sister left the house with their mother after the soldiers hit the inside of their home with sound bombs. The Israelis demanded to know if there were any more members of the family. A said that there were 4 others who were all in Israel prisons. Then a soldier forcibly removed her daughter and put her into a tank. Her husband who has lost a hand and is extremely ill is now in solitary confinement and her oldest daughter who was about to use her intelligence, knowledge and ability to articulate to build the professional working classes of Palestine, has been removed from society without any redress to any law.

I mentioned the journalist because he questioned me, as all do, about the inherent contradictions between how my government respond to the Palestinian situation and my support for Palestine. I made another feeble attempt at extricating myself from this identification, using my N. Irish background again, when he insisted in maintaining that it was the government of the country in which I live. Halas, enough. I didn’t try to extricate myself any longer.

As we walked through, Jamal told me that he knew the young man of 24 years who was shot dead yesterday in the camp. He was Imon’s brother, another of the families that I visited on my first day. He was in the police, had never been detained but they came to his house, couldn’t find him there and when they looked for him, shot him dead. He was not ‘wanted.’ If he was wanted, they would have all known about it. He was sitting on a step with a group of other young men one day when he and Jamal greeted each other. As I was with Jamal, he handed me some of the seeds he was eating and welcomed me, as all do. Jamal said that he was Imon’s brother and I said that of course he was because I could see the resemblance.

I suppose I am beginning to see the cycle of people’s misery here after nearly 3 months. Today, I wondered how long I stay here before I hear of the killings of the women, men, boys and girls I have met, shook hands with, kissed and hugged. And I thought it again, when I visited N and I and their children.

The story of the day was that I had bought 3 chickens for N’s family. As a result, I had seen them moved from their cages by the legs, squawking in horror at the knowledge of their fate. And I wanted to leave the shop before they killed them for me. I did and I laughed to Jamal about it at the time. Then I spoke to Yousef about it and in so doing came to the realization that it was the safest aspect of my psychological processes today to focus on. Halas.

July 2007 - Banan Abu el Hija has now been released.

Disturbing video about the Israeli armies response to stone throwing Palestinian youth.

Article from Community Care magazine about Finola's visit

Latest News

The latest extra-judicial execution committed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on Saturday, 25 August 2007, which left dead 2 members of the al-Quds Brigades (the armed wing of Islamic Jihad).

At approximately 06:10 on Saturday, 26 August 2007, an IOF undercover unit moved into Jenin traveling in two civilian vehicles with Palestinian registration plates. The two vehicles entered the town through Jenin – Nazareth road, northeast of the town. They stopped in front of Jordan Bank in the center of the town. In the meantime, a car (a grey Mazda), in which 5 members of the al-Quds Brigades, was heading towards the center of the town. The car stopped near a man who sells coffee. Immediately, members of the IOF undercover unit opened fire at the car. ‘Alaa’ Saleh Mohammed Sorour, 30, was instantly killed by several gunshots throughout the body. The other four Palestinians were wounded:

1) Mustafa Nader ‘Ateeq, 21, seriously wounded by a gunshot to the head and was pronounced dead at noon;

2) ‘Ali Hasan Abu Rmaila, 42, seriously wounded by a number of gunshots to the abdomen, the shoulder and the legs;

3) ‘Ammar Fayez Abu Hatab, 20, wounded by a gunshot to the thigh; and

4) Fu’ad Mustafa ‘Ateeq, 19, wounded by a gunshot to the thigh.

Since the beginning of the current Palestinian Intifada, 657 Palestinians, including 221 civilian bystanders, have been extra-judicially executed by IOF. The victims have included 73 children.

PCHR strongly condemns crimes committed by IOF in the OPT, and:

1) Asserts that this latest crime is another one in a series of continuous crimes committed by IOF in the OPT in disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians.

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Events in 2011

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Women's Tour March 2011

Conference Palestine April 2011

Conference - Liverpool November 2011

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