Sunday, May 20, 2007

From Gaza to the Wall

In the the West Bank town of Beit Ummar Palestinians are rather ashamed and disturbed with what is taking place between their brothers in Gaza. Many West Bank residence feel a total disconnect with Gazans, they are separated by Israeli checkpoints and borders that are inaccessible for a majority of Palestinians. These borders have driven a wedge between these two communities that are one people. It is the more obvious of the two examples of Israeli’s strategy of Conquer and Divide being utilized to fragment and divide Palestinians between each other, West Bank from Gaza, Hamas from Fatah, exiles outside of Palestine from Palestinians within.

Abu Louai kept repeating how depressed Palestinians are, there is so little hope, such a bleak outlook for the future, he told me, "compared to Gaza at least here in Beit Ummar we have work." In Om Salamona near Beit Ummar ongoing efforts are taking place to demonstrate the building of the wall there. Just this week I understood why Palestinians are calling this the third Nakba, catastrophe, because it is the third time that their land is being annexed by Israel. First in 1948, then 1967 and today its ongoing. In Om Salamona land is being lost yesterday, today and tomorrow as the Israeli bulldozers build on land that is not theirs, in order to wall off further land that is not theirs. And all our friendly Western institutions sit by writing reports that have no teeth says Amira Hass an Israeli journalist living in Ramallah.

“In 2002, following the release of a report on the impact of Israel's closure policy, the previous World Bank representative in the occupied territories, Nigel Roberts, praised the Palestinian society's endurance and suggested that any Western society would have collapsed had it undergone an economic disaster similar to that experienced in the territories. Today, five years after that report's warnings and pleas, Palestinian society's collapse is more worrying than ever - primarily in the Gaza Strip and Nablus, which not coincidentally are the areas facing the harshest Israeli siege.”

“And why should Israel take into consideration the warnings of the World Bank when they have no teeth? The Western countries chose to punish the occupied with very concrete means - but not the occupier, which it sees as part of their Enlightened Civilization. They thus signal to Israel that it may adhere to the same policies whose impact the reports are warning against.”

In Gaza, Israel is imposing economic subjection is an unseen enemy, far away. In Om Salamona, a village just south of Bethlehem, the bulldozers are there in sight, the soldiers stand by their side as more and more land is unjustly confiscated from Palestinians. Here, the villagers are doing something about it, using non-violence.

On Friday Palestinian villagers, international and Israeli activists demonstrated the route of the wall, which runs right through Palestinian land. The army showed up en masse in opposition to any public efforts of disapproval of Israeli policies.

On Saturday a small field of a Palestinian family was planted with olive trees, where trees had been cut down by the Israeli army. The army again appeared, took lots of pictures, surrounded the activists and farmers and then disappeared. Later piles of stones and dirt were removed from a small road that leads to a farmers land. The Israeli army had blocked it preventing the farmer from cultivating his land; another form of collective punishment.

Unless the world speaks out, this will be the course of the wall around the town and villages of Bethlehem.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this blog. I appreciate it very much.

Kim

Joe said...

Beit Umar is a strange ghost-like place. There are still businesses there - including textile factories and quarries, cement works etc - but they feel quite isolated from the Bethlehem district even though it is so close by.

Valencia said...

Good for people to know.

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