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Messages written on the replica wall erected by Bethlehem Unwrapped at St James’ Church, Piccadilly last Christmas. Photo Rachel Lever

Not The West Bank Wall: Permits available

Hastings Palestine Solidarity Campaign is planning a street theatre spectacular, when the big 5-Day May Day celebration of cross-Channel solidarity lands in Hastings. Not to give too much away in advance, we are focusing on the West Bank Wall. Security is the top priority but Permits will be available if you wish to pass through. Come and join us at Wellington Place, Sat 3 May, 11am til noon.

Rachel Lever writes for Hastings Palestine Solidarity Campaign

West Bank Wall Photo from HPSC

The West Bank’s Wall of Death

The West Bank Wall has become today’s iconic symbol of oppression as the Berlin Wall was for nearly 30 years of the past century. However, it is higher, longer and far worse than the Berlin Wall.

Israel uses the wall to control and humiliate Palestinians; to separate them from their lands, which it then takes for settlement expansion on the grounds that they have not been cultivated; to undermine and destroy commerce and employment in its vicinity and throughout the West Bank; and to demarcate areas to annex officially into ‘Greater Israel’ at a time of its choosing.

The Wall is a prime instrument of land acquisition and of ethnic cleansing  —  and also the means to fragment Palestinians from each other within the West Bank and create dozens of separate enclaves that can never become the ‘contiguous State’ that Israel recently pretended to negotiate over.

Ten years ago in July 2004, the International Court of Justice, responding to a request from the UN General Assembly, ruled that the building of the wall was illegal and in breach of international laws and conventions, which are intended to prevent states from acquiring territory by force and then changing their character. It ordered that the wall should be dismantled, its ‘associated regime’ ended, that Israel should pay for all damage caused by its construction and that all States are under an obligation not to recognise or help to maintain it. This includes Britain and British firms such as JCB, so we are all involved.

Yet the wall (and the high-tech military fence-works that form parts of it) is still being extended, and is expected to run for 435 miles: more than seven times the distance from Hastings to London.

It now runs around neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem too. Several towns including Qalqilya and Bethlehem are almost surrounded by it. 80% of it cuts through territory supposedly slated for a Palestinian ‘state’. It traverses 10 out of 11 Districts of the West Bank. It has now effectively annexed around 46% of the West Bank and changed the demographic character of East Jerusalem.

At 28ft in height with watch-towers housing snipers, and cattle-grids to control those queuing to pass through, it is a shockingly ugly and menacing sight. In the northern West Bank alone, 26,000 claims for material damage caused by construction have been lodged with the UN. All around, it has created a wasteland.

Nearly 10,000 Palestinians now need special permits to live in their own homes. 150 communities need special permits to access their own lands, but 42% of permit applications have been rejected for ‘security’ reasons, or claiming ‘lack of connection to the land’. To get from East Jerusalem either to the West Bank or the rest of Jerusalem, Palestinians have to queue up for hours to show their permit.

In addition to the wall, Palestinians face a multitude of other obstacles to their freedom to move. There are around 530 checkpoints on roads, some of them unmanned for most of the day or at all, some ‘flying’ checkpoints that can appear in a matter of hours by dumping tons of earth and rock across a road.

The West Bank is also criss-crossed by wide roads bordered by security fencing, on which only the Israeli occupiers are allowed to drive or even to set foot. A Palestinian teenager was last month shot and killed going through a gap in the fence to harvest crops on his family’s land — and another killed for being on the ‘wrong’ road. Amnesty International described such casual killings as ‘trigger-happy’.

All this has created dead zones where communities die: once thriving shops, businesses, agricultural enterprises and workplaces have ceased to function. One area has seen unemployment rise from 18% to 78% in just three years.

For Palestinians in the West Bank, no journey of any sort can now be taken with any confidence. Education, work, social and family life and medical needs have all come under the cosh: dozens of people, including women in labour, have died at the wall trying to reach hospital, or been suffocated in the crushing cages. Over 100 babies have been born at the roadside. A new-born baby that needed urgent medical attention died after he was held up for three hours, while Israel’s army demanded to see his ID and travel permit.

We’ve all been told that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, no matter if it breaks a few hearts, ignores a bunch of international laws and subjects a few million Palestinians to an intolerable regime. To us, this Occupation is one of the longest-running military dictatorships of modern times.

Come and support our Not the West Bank Wall installation 11am – noon at Wellington Place on Saturday 3 May.

Hastings Palestinian Solidarity Campaign holds its next meeting on 14 May at 7pm at the White Rock Hotel, marking the 66th anniversary of the ‘Nakba’, the brutal ethnic cleansing of Palestine that made way for the State of Israel. Dr. Khader Abu-Hayyeh, who survived the massacre at Lod as a child, will recall his personal experience – and talk about his vision for a future democratic country. Also, we’ll be showing films about the movement of young people to try to restore and re-claim the ruins of some of the 560 villages that were destroyed in the aftermath of the Nakba. 

Read the 5 Days in May HOT article here.

If you’re enjoying HOT and would like us to continue providing fair and balanced reporting on local matters please consider making a donation. Click here to open our PayPal donation link. Thank you for your continued support!

Posted 16:15 Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 In: Campaigns

1 Comment

  1. DAR

    But Zionists (in particular) say that the lands in question were “given to them by God”. Oh, that’s all right, then.

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, May 1, 2014 @ 10:07

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