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Silwan

Yesterday I visited Silwan, the village located very close to the Old City of Jerusalem. 80 houses are inhabited by about 1000 people. The situation for all of them is critical. Israelis are taking the advantage of their relligion, according to which the area was a King David’s garden 2500 years ago, so as to evict all the inhabitants and create a park there. Once the inhabitants of the village gave their children paints and asked them to paint the walls of some houses. Most of the children painted the bulldozers, soldiers, destroyed houses and their suffering owners. This is how their childhood looks like.

Most of the families have received demolition orders from the municipality and now are waiting for the army and bulldozers to come and destroy everything, what they have managed to gain throughout their life. It might happen anytime as the orders are obeyed randomly and they never expire. That means that your children may go to the school and when they came back, they would see nothing but the ruins of the house they have grown up in. On the other hand, you might wait ten years for the demolition, but what kind of life is that? Home should be a place where you can find peace and safety and how can it be like that, if you are living in the constant fear of becoming homeless?

 Sometimes the soldiers come in the morning and tell you, that you have ten minutes to leave your home. How can you decide what to take with you in ten minutes? But you don’t have a choice, they have guns, they are Israelis, they follow ‘the rules’.

Some families can’t stand the pressure and decide to move out. Their houses straight away are taken by settlers and the demolition order expires as it only applies to Palestinians. Other are evicted and in those cases, settlers also take over the place.

According to the Israeli law, since 1967 (the annexation of East Jerusalem to the West Jerusalem) Palestinians need a permission to build the house in the East Jerusalem. Since 95% of applications are being refused, Palestinians decide to build without permits. 50% of houses have been considered as illegal and either have already received demolition orders or will receive them in the near future.

Israelis obey 100 house demolition orders a year, which means that almost in every three days one house is being demolished. In every three days, one family loses it’s memories, dreams, the place where children can grow up and old men can wait for their last days to come. Moreover, the municipality can’t afford so many demolitions and  it is the owner, who has to cover the costs, which means that instead of getting compensation, you have to pay for your own house to be destroyed.

There is no other name for such actions than etnic cleansing. Israeli policy is simple: more land with less Arabs. Expropriation, creating constant fear and destroying the only place where people can feel safe – their own home, is the fearfully effective tool to acheive this goal.

Everytime I hear about house demolition, I think about my father who built our house with his own hands, like most of the Palestinians, and try to imagine his reaction if one day he comes back from work/shop/church and sees his creation has been destroyed. But for me it is only the imagination, not the reality you have to cope with every third day.

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‘Iron Wall’

If you have never heard about the Israeli occupation in Palestine and you don’t have a clue, what is the Apartheid Wall, illegal settlements, checkpoints, house demolition, land confiscation and so on, I recommend you to watch the documentary called ‘Iron Wall‘. On the other hand, if you are more or less familiar with the situation, but you still need to put the facts and dates together, I recommend you to watch the documentary called ‘Iron Wall’. Moreover, if you’ve already known it all and you want to tell your friends and family about what you’ve learnt, but you don’t know where and how to start, I recommend you to watch the documentary called ‘Iron Wall’ with them. You can find it on youtube/video.google.com. It lasts about 1,5 hour and gives a good summary of the latest history of the occupation, the current situation and possible future of Palestine. Just 1,5 hour of your free time and you become more aware and people around you might become more aware, without spending ages reading this blog;)

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Soon after I arrived in Palestine for the second time I had a chance to learn the occupation the hard way. On my very first day Israelis cut off the electricity in Bethlehem’s  neighbourhood. In the shop i was told that they do that sometimes out of the blue, plunging all the area into darkness. The sight of illuminated Har Homa (illegal under national law Israeli settlement facing Bethlehem) was the obvious manifestation of Israeli superiority and it only increased Palestinians’ frustration.

Not only the electricity, but also water resources in the Palestinian Territory are limited, and controlled by the Israeli authority. Here are some numbers. Of the water available from the West Bank aquifers, Israel uses 73%, Palestinians 17% and 10% goes to illegal Israeli settlers.  Statistics show that per year, each Israeli consumes as much water as four Palestinians.

Wells are considered the most important source of water in Palestine. Yet,  many of them have been confiscated for Israeli use. Israeli authority not only does not allow new wells to be drilled, but also set quotas on how much water can be drawn by Palestinians from the existing wells. The second source of water, is Israeli Water Company Mekorot, which sells Palestinians their own share of water. During the summer, when water supplies are low, Mekorot closes the valves, which supply Palestinian towns and villages so as to preserve Israeli supplies. In real life it means that, while illegal settlers are swimming in their pools and watering their lawns, Palestinians don’t have enough water to drink or cook. One of my friend asked me today if I have a water at my place, as she doesn’t. I still have it,  just because I am lucky to live with a family that uses water from the tank.

Illegal settlements are built on the very source of water and settlers destroy Palestinians’ water supplies by polluting wells with sevage, perforating  water roof tanks, vanadalazing the connecting pipes, just to name a few.

The Apartheid Wall isolates Palestinians not only from their land, but also from many important underground wellsprings.

Expropriation Palestinian water for the use by Israeli citizens and illegal settlers and controlling the electricity in the Occupied Territories are just examples of numerous of violations of the interantional law. Since water and electricity are crucial for wellbeing, it’s  hard to belittle such violations in everyday live here in Palestine.

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Anyway, we heard the men joking and laughing while queueing for hours. Some naive person might say: ‘Oh, they are not angry, they actually enjoy it’. Obviously, they do no enjoy it, but they laugh and joke as a way to deal with the reality, as a way of release tension, anger, impatience, every possible feeling that can be accumulated during this long and frustrating time of waiting.

To cross the checkpoint, one has to pass three points of checks. The first: checking permissions, IDs and passports. The soldier girl that was sitting in the boot did not seem the nicest. She turned away many people and when we asked Patrick why it could be so, he said she might not have like the way they showed it or the way it was printed, or they were in the wrong lane, and so forth. What if she has a bad day, will she turn away all of them?! (more…)

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“Rabbi David Batsri called Arabs “a blight, a devil, a disaster… donkeys, and we have to ask ourselves why God didn’t create them to walk on all fours. Well, the answer is that they are needed to build and clean.” – a fragment of the article

Please read this article by an Israeli human rights activist and a Holocaust survivor about religious fundamentalism in Israel. I think it is very interesting. Just follow this link: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/961/focus.htm.

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Checkpoint tower

Checkpoint tower

All over the West Bank, there are checkpoints restricting people from moving around freely. Interestingly, Palestinians do not cross the checkpoints exclusively when they wish to enter the territory of the State of Israel, but also when they travel within the Palestinian territory, for instance from Bethlehem to Ramallah. Without any reason given, they can be denied entry, kept waiting for hours, humiliated or questioned.

Many Palestinians can tell you stories of how bad they were treated while crossing the checkpoint. For instance, one man was driving his car through the checkpoint. He was stopped by a soldier and asked to give him car keys and his ID. So he stopped the car and did what he was asked to. The soldier took his car keys, threw them under the car, and told the man to take them out without moving the vehicle. This soldier could be the man’s son, in the normal situation, he is meant to show him respect, but at the checkpoint he thinks he is allowed to do whatever he wants. In the end of the day, he is the one with the gun. (more…)

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6. Muslims

‘There are problems with Muslims. In every country you come from there are extremist Muslims. There is more hatred from Muslims towards Israeli Jews than from Christians.’

7. Yaser Arafat

‘The late terrorist Yaser Arafat’

‘Psychopatic serial murderer’ (more…)

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