No time off

By Returned EA Margaret, Northern West Bank

My previous blogs have been about some of the violations of international humanitarian law that I have witnessed here in the occupied West Bank: illegal Israeli outposts of Itamar encroaching on the tiny village of Yanoun (here); the intimidation and detention of young boys outside As-Sawiya school (here); and shepherding families enduring violence and harassment from Israeli soldiers on military exercise (here).  These violations are just a small part of a much, much bigger picture – the Israeli military occupation of Palestine.

I am on days off now, taking some much needed rest before completing my placement and heading home, but the occupation has no days off – last night my phone told me ‘Ongoing demolition of premises’ in East Jerusalem and at 5.00am this morning the same in the Jordan Valley. The impact of the occupation on every aspect of daily life continues day and night, around-the-clock.

Some of the Israelis and Palestinians I have met have shared with me how the occupation has impacted them – here are just a few examples.

  • A reserve Israeli soldier told us, through the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, how he struggled with being ordered repeatedly to enter Palestinian homes in the middle of the night to frighten and intimidate families.
  • The village of Jifna where I am staying only has a water supply two days a week; every house is covered in black water tanks to try to preserve some water for the rest of the week. Water is more expensive for Palestinians than Israelis. Read about the water situation in the West Bank here.

Water tanks

Water tanks [Photo: EAPPI/Margaret]

  • An Israeli mother, whose son refused to serve in the army on the grounds of conscience, has faced years of hardship and struggle as a result and could only find support from ‘underground’ sources. Read more about the impact of militarisation on Israeli society here.

Israeli peace activist talking to EAs

Israeli peace activist talking to EAs [Photo: EAPPI/Margaret]

  • Halla, a Palestinian woman whose first baby is due any day, has gone to stay with her mother so that she does not have to face the tense and dangerous checkpoint of Zaatara and the nightly flying checkpoints between her village and the maternity hospital while she is in labour. Read about the impact of checkpoints here.
  • Manala, a Palestinian woman, described how her village teaches its children resilience to maintain their health and well-being in the face of the frequent violence and intimidation from the army. She tells how her young son always wears his Spiderman outfit when faced with the army. Read more about children under occupation here.
Manala and her son

Manala and her son [Photo: EAPPI/Margaret]

  • A former Israeli soldier who served in Gaza was one day ordered to intimidate a young Palestinian girl. He suddenly realised as he saw her distress that this could be his sister. Read testimonies from Israeli soldiers here.
  • Hussan, who told me about the Israeli Intelligence Officer who refused him a permit to work in Israel as a young Palestinian man unless he agreed to collaborate with the Israeli authorities against his friends. We watched the same Israeli Intelligence Officer at a flying checkpoint outside his village, pulling a group of young men out of their cars to interrogate them in public view.
  • A concerned Israeli who told me that he is despairing of democracy in his country because of the recent Israeli legislation to legalise settlements and outposts, still illegal under international law, and to ban the Muslim call to prayer.

GGraffiti in lower Yanoun

Graffiti in lower Yanoun [Photo: EAPPI/Margaret]

I could go on. This year marks the 50th year of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.  Over breakfast this morning my Palestinian host and his wife told me again of their despair for the future for themselves and their children. Issa said “My father hoped for justice and peace for 70 years, he died ten years ago, now I have to live in hope, should my children also have to live in hope of peace and justice – the occupation must end – khalas! [enough!]”

Take action box 2

Follow or support one of the organisations cited in this blog piece:

Talk to your MP about one of the issues outlined above. You can find and contact your local MP here.

Join Amos Trust’s walk to Jerusalem to mark 50 years of occupation and call for equal rights for everyone who calls the holy land home.