The Israeli Occupation of the West Bank

Yesterday I attended a meeting of Ipswich Amnesty International. There was a talk on the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. 25 different countries are involved in the EAPPI, which is partly organised by the Quakers, who provide training.

Andy Davey gave the most interesting and moving talk about his experiences in the West Bank. He began by describing one Bedouin nomad, and how he is denied free access to water, having to buy it at exorbitant prices, whereas the Israeli settlers use it freely for their swimming pools and irrigation. His home has been demolished eight times. The colonial outpost illegal settlement areas are green and lush, whereas the Palestinian lands are parched and dry due to the Israeli’s having better access to water. I didn’t realise how big the Israeli policy of building colonial outposts illegal settlements to create facts on the ground to make the two state solution impossible was. The average colonial outpost illegal settlement is the size of Colchester.

Andy described some of the situations he encountered, usually not overt violence, but insidious undermining of confidence and rights, making rules such as only one person is allowed access to their farm cut off by the wall. If people complain they are harassed and their homes and trees are destroyed ‘for security reasons’. Insidious and irrational control and permits are used to intimidate the Palestinians, in a Kafkaesque way.

Not all Israelis support the occupation, which is internationally agreed to be illegal.

Hearing first hand from a witness brought the situation alive for us. One thing that became clear that after 50 years of occupation the Palestinian people have had enough. It is a totally unbalanced situation with Israeli’s carrying machine guns to intimidate and the Palestinians having nothing but stones.

To put the situation in perspective after 40 years in the EU we British demonstrated that we’d had enough and our masters in Brussels didn’t have soldiers with machine guns harassing us in our land. Imagine 50 years of what the Palestinians are going through.

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