On Wednesday, Nakba Day, I attended the Eye-Witness Stories from the West Bank & Israel event held at the Friends Meeting House and heard first-hand from Andy Walton who has returned from Jerusalem.
Andy Walton spent three months there as a human rights observer. He had slides to compliment what he said. He mentioned that the media only reports on events when things are hot. He mentioned that he spent Christmas Day in Bethlehem. He mentioned that Bethlehem was six miles from Jerusalem but a lot of residents are unable to go there.
He then talked about Jaba Bedouin camp. Children of Jaba have to go through a tunnel and a sewage pipe to get to school the other side of Highway 437/Highway 60. He showed us pictures of the tunnel full of used needles and other rubbish. Obviously a footbridge over the road would be good or the building of a new school would be good but 94% of building permits are denied.
The West Bank is divided into three areas. Area A, which is under the Palestinian Authority, Area B which is partly under Palestinian control and partly under Israeli control and Area C, which is under total Israeli control. This basically means that in 60% of the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority has no authority.
As I said, 94% of building permits are denied. As a result, they build regardless and then the Israeli’s later demolish what has been built.
Andy Walton is part of Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) Website here. their objective is to be a protective presence in Palestine and call for an end of the illegal occupation.
Later he talked about Nabi Samwil. Nabi Samwil is in the seam zone. The seam zone is the part of Israeli Occupied Palestine between the 1967 border and the
apartheid separation wall. Nobody is allowed in Nabi Samwil unless they live there. An advantage of being in the seam zone is that Israeli activists can go there.
There are half a million settlers in the west bank in
colonial outposts illegal settlements. Andy mentioned the work of Rabbi’s for Human Rights
One of the saddest things is that Israeli’s use Palestinian workers to build their
colonial outposts illegal settlements because Palestinian labour is cheap. So Palestinians who are in need of work are driven to build their country out of existence.