Revolving door occupancy

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Since its evacuation the summit and its buildings were at the centre of various contentious confrontations between Jewish settlers, the Israeli military and Palestinian organizations in which our office has been directly engaged. In May 2008, protesting against Bush’s visit to Israel and in anticipation of some ‘government concessions’ settler groups sought to use the emptied buildings of the military base as the nucleus for a new settlement-outpost. The topographical location of the base on the summit and its existing fortification would easily lend themselves, they thought, to their regimented and securitized way of life. The military declared the site a “closed military zone” but nearly every week settlers come back to occupy the base, hold picnics, heritage tours and Torah lessons there and raise the Israeli flag. Israeli soldiers are present to ‘protect’ the settlers. Palestinian and international activists including members of our office also occupy the site and confront the settlers. A set of competing graffiti written by one side and then obliterated by the other testifies for a ‘revolving door’ occupancy. Our proposal for the reuse of this site also becomes an intervention into the contentious political struggle for this hilltop.

Bingo at Oush Grab Plaza. On the 6th June 2008 about 40 to 50 Palestinians and internationals gathered to play bingo at Oush Grab. The military watchtower on top of the hill was turned into the till. While participants were playing bingo three soldiers arrived. The
soldiers seemed highly confused and uncomfortable with reporting a bingo game to their commander. [from Oush Grab Diary]

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Prayer Session at Oush Grab. Internationals and Palestinians gathered on top of the hill for a special prayer session. As the service started five or six settlers were already present at the other side of the hilltop setting up lights and chairs for their lecture series of the evening: ‘From Destruction to Redemption in Shdema’. Soldiers were witnessing the event from the top of the hill. At about 6.45 pm a hundred settlers had arrived, the Israeli flag was hoisted on the cistern, and they set out to start their lectures while children were spraying graffiti and waiving the Israeli and settler flags. At a certain point the soldiers came down from the top of the hill and lined up in between us and the settlers. The situation obviously grew more tense. More and more settlers approached the line of soldiers. Together they physically pushed us out, a number of us were hit by stones, were spit in the face and the priest was actually dragged over the ground by a settler while he was still praying. At About 9.30-9.45 the settlers cleared out and after this we too left the top of the hill. [from Oush Grab Diary]

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Oush Grab Grand Tour. Four NGOs and the Beit Sahour Municipality organized the Oush Grab Grand Tour in order to inform people about the area, its history and significance. The day started out with introductory talks. The AIC spoke about the political importance of the site, Paidia informed the people present of the social function of the park and environment. The Palestine Wildlife Society emphasized the importance of the flora and fauna in the area and Decolonizing Architecture spoke about alternative ways to find new meanings for the structures of occupation such as the old military base on the top of the hill. After this, the group moved on to tour the area, see the old military structures and make an alternative tour path with materials from the environment. Two soldiers appeared at the scene and ordered the activists to stop and disperse. [from Oush Grab Diary]

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Prime Minister inaugurated the Oush Grab Public Park. On Tuesday 9th November 2008 the Prime Minister Salam Fayyad came down to the site of the newly built Public Park at Oush Grab to inaugurate it. [from Oush Grab Diary]

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Graffiti.The drawing and erasure of the other side’s graffiti has marked the revolving door occupancy of the site.

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