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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. Continue Reading »

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’ Continue Reading »

Israeli settlements on the land occupied since 1967 are  illegal under international law as the occupying power is prohibited from moving its population to territories it occupies. All of these settlements are built on land confiscated from Palestinians and their total population amounts to 0.5 million people. Some settlers choose to live in the West Bank as its econimically viable, namely the apartments are cheaper, the public transport is subsidized, and so forth. Others, on the other hand, are religious fanatics who see the West Bank as the land promised by God to the Jews.

Recently, I had an opportunity to meet with one of the settlers from Efrata settlement on the western side of Bethlehem. There are between 9 and 10 thousand people living in Efrata, which could be described as ‘a bedroom suberb for commuters to Jerusalem’. It was built in the early 1980s and currently, it comprises of middle class, religious and traditional community. Continue Reading »

3. The third driver was quite disturbed. His body language was very strange; when answering questions, he tended to constantly move and scratch himself or press some buttons. He had very serious shadows under his eyes.

He told us that he served in Gaza three years ago but refused to talk about his experience there. He claimed there was no war in Gaza last December and also that there was peace here ten years ago and Jews and Arabs were living together without any problems and wars. Then internationals came and caused problems and they are to be blamed for the whole mess here. He accused us of being one sided and not spending enough time in Israel, but when he heard that we saw a lot of places in Israel, he shut up. He also objected the fact that West Bank is under occupation. Continue Reading »

Hitch hiking is an easy way of moving around in Israel. Usually, it takes just a couple of minutes and someone stops to give hitch hikers a free ride towards their destination. I have done it numerous times during my stay in the Middle East. Since Israel is quite an expensive country, it is a good way to save money but it is also an opportunity to talk to people that one would not meet otherwise.

Last time I was hitch hiking, me and two friends of mine wanted to get from Jerusalem to the Upper Galilee, namely to Rosh Pina. We chose possibly the worst day for travelling this way – Saturday as it is a shabbat day (it begins on the sunset on Friday and finishes when three stars appear on the sky on Saturday) for the Jews and for Muslims, it is a second day of the weekend which starts on their holy day – Friday. Since Jerusalem is quite a conservative city, the streets were empty. I actually got worried that we would not manage to get to the north. But we were lucky and the journey did not take that long in the end. Here, I would like to write about those that gave us a ride as I think it was quite interesting. Continue Reading »

‘Neighbours’

Farm and the settlement in the background

Farm and the settlement in the background

Recently, I spent one day working on the farm near the Bethlehem city. This farm is located next to the Road 60 which connects Jerusalem with Hebron and was mainly built to make it easy and quick for settlers living in Hebron to get to Jerusalem. The road to the farm is in a very bad condition, a car has to move very slowly so as not to damage the chassis.

The farm is owned by a few families for whom its produce is the main source of income. Me and other internationals were warmly welcomed by the owners, greeted with a cup of tea with mint and also invited for lunch. Our job was to clear the fields of weeds. Theoretically not that hard but when it is done in the middle of the day in the ¬†scorching sun, I am telling you, it is not that easy. Continue Reading »

Soldier invading Bil'in at 2 am

Soldier invading Bil'in

Five years ago the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its advisory opinion declaring that the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is illegal and should be dismantled. After five years of silence and complicity of the international community in perpetrating this crime, several villages across the occupied West Bank have formed committees engaged in continuous demonstrations against the Wall and the settlements. Israel is getting scared by this phenomenon of mass popular resistance, especially because of the unity created amongst Palestinians, Israeli and International activists who have been demonstrating together against the apartheid Wall for more than four years. Continue Reading »