Riflessioni 2012

Five years of illegality

Oxfam International, July 2009

Time to dismantle the Wall and respect the rights of Palestinians

Lire la suite : Five years of illegality


How to take care of your http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/download?Id=364309&dl=http://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/oxfam/bitstream/10546/112389/1/rr-five-years-illegality-wall-palestinians-080709-en.pdfolive trees when you are separated from them by an impassable wall? How to give birth in a hospital when your village is enclosed? How to earn a living without knowing if the access permit you need will be granted or renewed? And how to hope for a better future when going to school becomes a daily ordeal?




Since the construction of the Wall and the setting in place of its associated regime, the deepening impoverishment and ‘dedevelopment’ of the communities in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) are undeniable. Even though the recommendations of the ICJ were clear, the construction of the Wall continues, well beyond the Green Line, depriving Palestinians of their livelihoods and of access to basic services.
These are basic rights that Israel, as an occupying power, must guarantee.

(...) For five years now, different Israeli governments and the international community have turned a deaf ear to the appeals by the General Assembly of the United Nations and have refused to yield to the opinion of the ICJ.
This inaction gives the wrong signal: that international law can be violated without accountability.

(...) It is time to condemn and challenge the construction of the Wall in occupied territory and its associated regime, together with the construction of settlements and the confiscation and control of natural resources (land and water), which all de facto contribute to the altering of the demographic composition of the occupied Palestinian Territory and are all in gross violation of international humanitarian law. (...)

Jeremy Hobbs
Executive Director
of Oxfam Internationalhttp://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=15270

Lire la suite : Five years of illegality


The Wall is de facto fragmenting the West Bank into three different parts and up to 22 smaller isolated enclaves. (...) Due to the construction of the Wall inside the Green Line, tens of thousands of Palestinians have found themselves trapped between the two, in areas called the ‘seam zone’, ‘closed area’, or ‘buffer zone’. These are also some of the most fertile lands in the West Bank.
The Wall and its ‘buffer zone’ pave the way for large-scale demolitions. Family ties have been disturbed, farmers separated from their families, children from their schools, and movement has become more difficult.
Palestinians residing in the closed area face an uncertain future in terms of their personal status and land status. (...)

Since October 2003, the residents of the ‘closed area’, as well as visitors and humanitarian staff, have been required to obtain a special type of permit, usually referred to as a ‘green permit’. This allows them to move in and out of the ‘closed area’ through specific gates in the Wall, which do not operate regularly.

Once completed:
• The length of the Wall’s route will be between 726km and 790km in total. (...) Only 14 per cent of the total planned route of the Wall runs along the Green Line; 86 per cent is located within the Green Line.
East Jerusalem will be completely cut off from the West Bank.
• 125,000 Palestinians will be surrounded on three sides.
• 35,000 Palestinians will live in closed areas (enclaves).
10.2 per cent of the West Bank lands, including 42 Palestinian villages, will be enveloped by the most recent route of the Wall. The enclosed areas include valuable agricultural and substantial water resources.
• The Wall will incorporate over 414,000 Israeli settlers (up to 90 per cent of the total settler population in the OPT) on its west side (Israeli side).

(...) So far [the Wall ] has resulted in the confiscation of 49,291 dunum of land, the isolation of another 274,607 dunum, and the displacement of some 3, 880 households (about 27,841 people).

There are 630 closures in the West Bank (as of March 2009). Closures take the form of checkpoints, partial checkpoints, road gates, roadblocks, earth mounds, trenches, road barriers, earth walls, etc. This number does not include a weekly reported average of 60–80 flying checkpoints or 78 obstacles in Hebron City, gates in the Wall, and eight Green Line checkpoints.

The Government of Israel has to date created 70 agricultural ‘gates’ in the Wall. In practice these do not guarantee access of Palestinian farmers to their lands but instead strengthen Israel’s strangling system of permits and checkpoints imposed on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. (...)

The Wall and its associated regime put Palestinian communities further at risk of forced displacement
Since 1967, internal displacement in the OPT has directly and indirectly followed policies and actions of the Government of Israel, including house demolitions and the expropriation of land for settlement expansion, construction of the Wall, revocation of residency rights, and military incursions and clearing operations. People have also been displaced where the regime of closures and limitations on freedom of movement have made the situation of residents of OPT’s enclaves untenable. Following the Oslo Accords most displacement has been reported in the West Bank’s ‘Area C’ and East Jerusalem.

(...) Communities in areas under threat of expulsion or eviction (...)  include between 50,000 and 90,000 at risk of displacement due to the construction of the Wall, several thousand families in Area C and East Jerusalem affected by demolition orders, and the Arab Jahalin Bedouin community, whose traditional land rights are not recognised by the Government of Israel. Meanwhile the Israeli state remains the primary perpetrator of forced displacement and does not provide assistance or protection to IDPs. Internal displacement is generally not recognised by the Government of Israel.

(...) NGOs and experts have warned that the failure of the international community to address the underlying sources of forced displacement is increasingly rendering any notion of a two-state solution defunct. Prioritisation of the rights of those affected is ever more pressing, in light of the demographic changes that displacement entails and the continuing consequences that these changes will have for contested areas.

Lire la suite : Five years of illegality

‘If the Israelis want a wall, let them build it on their side of the Green Line!’


‘If the Israelis want to build a wall, that’s their problem,’ exclaims Salah. ‘But let them build it on their side of the Green Line, not on our land! Not right in the middle of Bethlehem, miles awayfrom the settlements that it’s supposed to protect!’

Lire la suite : Five years of illegality

A block of new housing units of Har Gilo settlement


Lire la suite : Five years of illegality The Wall and the checkpoint, the scene of daily humiliations

The Wall and its checkpoints are important instruments, part of the control system imposed on the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank (...)


The Bethlehem neighbourhood next to the Wall was one of the first places to suffer the economic, social, psychological, and religious asphyxiation created by the Wall that now spreads throughout the occupied West Bank. Suhail Al-Khalila, a researcher for the Palestinian organisation the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), recalls the beginning in 2000, when the Israelis started blocking the entrance to Rachel’s Tomb, a holy place for both Jews and Muslims. ‘First they surrounded the tomb with blocks of concrete but left the entrance visible, before closing it completely in 2003.
(...) Today, the neighbourhood around the tomb is deserted. No one comes here any more, whereas ten years ago it was one of the most prosperous neighbourhoods in Bethlehem. The economic consequences were devastating for its businesses, most of which had to close shop,’ he says, regretfully.


‘By uprooting our olive trees, it is us they are destroying’ Youssef Salim


‘Before the construction of the Wall, we harvested over 3,000 tonnes of olives; now we only have between 500 and 1,000 tonnes depending on the year,’ explains Youssef Salim, an olive grower from Beit Jala. ‘We were self-sufficient, but today we are forced to buy from elsewhere. The result is that most Palestinian farmers now live under the poverty line.

Youssef Salim is directly affected by this situation himself. Because of the Wall, a section of his olive groves is now no longer accessible to him. ‘I have 18 dunum (1.8 hectares) of olive trees isolated behind the Wall,’ he explains. ‘For years now I haven’t been able to tend to them because it is absolutely forbidden to enter this zone. (...) These 18 dunum allowed me to produce 1,350 litres of olive oil per year. And I risk losing 23 additional dunum because they are surrounding water sources.’

The olive tree: a symbol of Palestine
Thousands of olive trees are regularly uprooted as the Wall is built (...). When the Israelis uproot and burn down our olive trees, they are destroying us, the humans, at the same time.’ (...)

Eight years: 1.6m trees uprooted

For many Palestinians the olive tree is irreplaceable; it is the primary source of income for more than 100,000 Palestinian families in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
However, since 1967, the Israeli army and settlers have regularly destroyed olive groves and orchards. The uprooting of trees has increased since the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000 and since work started on the Wall in 2002.

Between September 2000 and August 2008, more than 1.6m trees were uprooted in the occupied territories, contrary to international law. It is estimated that more than 10 per cent of the Palestinian land isolated by the Wall is used to cultivate olive trees.
Attacks by Israeli settlers against olive fields and farmers have increased over the years and are particularly frequent around the harvesting period. (...)

Lire la suite : Five years of illegality


Confiscating land by all possible means

Sharif Omar


Permits by drip-feed
A permit to access your own land? (...)

Obtaining this precious document is no easy task. Some Palestinians find themselves blacklisted by the Israelis and cannot obtain a permit. Those who have passed security clearance can demand access to their lands. But first they have to produce identity papers, have documents proving that they are the owners of the land or that they have inherited it, fill out various forms, and produce photographs of the land plots. (...)

Permit refusals are increasing, and are usually justified on security grounds. This is an explanation that puzzles Sharif Omar, a 66-year-old farmer: ‘Two years ago, I had to wait seven months before being able to go to my land. My eldest son, Azzam, is a businessman. He has a permit to go to Israel – to Netanya, Tel Aviv, or Haïfa – but he has no permit to go with me to our land here in Jayyous.’

Agricultural gates in the type="cite"Wall
Once the permit is obtained, a farmer can then go to the nearest agricultural gate. In Jayyous, this gate is supposed to be open three times a day, for half an hour at a time.
‘But the soldiers are often late, don’t come at all, or close the gate a quarter of an hour earlier in the morning,’ explains Sharif. The fact that the Jayyous gate opens at increasingly irregular times is, in his view, absolutely deliberate. ‘They are pushing us to use the Falamiya gate, four kilometres from here, where, theoretically, we’re not allowed to pass but where the solders turn a blind eye,’ he says. ‘Why are they sending us over there? Because the Jayyous gate is near the area where the Israelis are planning new land confiscations! So, I suppose they want to get rid of this gate in the future.
Why do you think, by chance, the Falamiya one is open 12 hours a day...’

Legal ploys

‘As we do not accept to be dispossessed of our lands, all means are used to take them from us by force. Then, legal ploys do the rest,’ he continues. Once the Palestinian farmers are separated from their lands by the Wall or by the closed military zones, the Israeli authorities invoke laws dating back to the time of Ottoman or British rule, as well as the ‘absentee property law’, to try to give a legal framework to these confiscations.
The Ottoman law specifies, for example, that any land neglected by its owner eventually becomes public property. ‘By preventing us from accessing our land, the Israelis can then easily say that we are not taking care of it,’ protests the farmer. ‘The land is under constant surveillance and the Israeli authorities take aerial photographs in May and November, that is to say before planting and after harvesting. And so it’s difficult to prove that you are taking care of your land all year round.’ (...)

Lire la suite : Five years of illegality

The gate is supposed to be open three times a day, for half an hour at a time


Lire la suite : Five years of illegality

The labyrinth of bans and restrictions


 Abdelkarim Ayoub, secretary of the local council, lives with a number of other families in the most remote part of the village.
‘My neighbours and I are completely boxed in,’ says this father of five children. ‘It’s out of the question for us to bring in a donkey or a vehicle: everything we want to bring back here has to be carried by hand.’

When he leaves the house to go somewhere outside the village, Abdelkarim has to go through two checkpoints, gates in the Wall: the first one to enter another section of the village, where some 75 other families are also locked in, and the second one to leave the village’s main gate.

The Sha’arei Tikva settlement, east of Azzun Atmeh, is steadily expanding. Its first houses are now adjacent to those of the villagers and to one of the schools. Every morning and evening, the school’s pupils and teachers undergo the same experience of waiting and humiliation at the checkpoint.
The olive groves next to the settlement are also isolated. ‘For us to get there, the soldiers have to be present,’ explains Abdelkarim. ‘But the problem is that they show up when they want to. They arrive at eight o’clock in the morning instead of six, and in the evening they don’t come and get us until it’s pitch black. Sometimes they don’t show up at all. How can we work and look after our trees properly under these conditions? For the olive harvest, some families are given permits, but not until December when the olives are already on the ground.’

A permit to live at home
The permits system in force in the village turns the right to live in one’s own home into a privilege. ‘“Permanent residence” permits allow us to pass the checkpoint and continue to live... in our own homes!’ exclaims Abdelkarim Ayoub. ‘Some people have to renew their permit every month, others every six months or every year. So the soldiers can decide at any time to prevent a villager from going home. (...) We are a small community and there is no doctor living here full time. So we don’t have access to basic health services. We called upon a mobile clinic that comes here once a fortnight. But even the mobile clinic team has to have a permit to be able to enter.

From 10pm to 6am, the village is completely cut off from the world. ‘At night, it’s out of the question for us to be ill, to have to give birth, or have any problem at all at home: neither ambulances nor the fire truck can enter. (...) We try to talk to the soldiers in an emergency but they make us wait for one or two hours, tell us that they are not allowed to come and let us in or out, or just admit that they don’t feel like coming.
This village has become a real prison.’

Lire la suite : Five years of illegality


Hanan Yacoub, 20, local resident of Azzun Atmeh

‘(....) My mother was expecting my brother and was about to give birth. It was evening. We were not allowed through the checkpoint to go to the hospital in Qalqilya. In the end, she had to give birth in the car. My little brother was still attached by the umbilical cord when my parents returned home. My mother and brother needed treatment. (...) I didn’t know what to do. My mother and my brother could have died! My little brother was named Karim, which means generous.
Because God was generous in keeping him alive.’ Today, Hanan is completing her training as a midwife and works as a nurse in a hospital in Nablus.

Shadia Maghaba, headmistress of the Ras Al-Tira school
(...) The Wall runs just next to this school. Some pupils live on the other side and so every day have to endure the arbitrariness of the soldiers in order to reach class and return home. ‘Many schoolchildren walk several miles to come to school. When a child is late home, the parents panic: a quarter of an hour late and they call me, worried sick.
And with good reason: their children can be held for an indefinite period at the checkpoint.
Sometimes, the parents have to go and look for their children at a military camp where the soldiers have taken them.’

Shadia Maghaba


Salah Khajawa


Ni'lin: ‘The Israelis will do everything they can to put this movement down’
From the plateau situated at the upper end of the village of Ni’lin, you can clearly make out the Green Line, the settlements, the Wall, and the impact of the forced displacement on Palestinians since 1948. That year, Ni’lin lost 50,800 dunum of land (5,080 hectares), then another 14,600 in 1967 (1,460 hectares). With the help of the Wall, the six settlements that have been constructed nearby are gradually taking what remains.

Here, as in the rest of the occupied West Bank, the land continues to be taken away from beneath the feet of its villagers. However, these villagers are famous for their non-violent resistance. (...) During the demonstrations that they organise weekly, adults and children face the soldiers and the bulldozers together. However, this resistance has a price: five inhabitants of Ni’lin have been killed in the past few years, including a child of ten, Ahmed Mousa, who was shot in the head.
Some 600 people – Palestinian villagers, Israeli pacifists, and international volunteers – have been injured at least once and dozens of others have been abducted from their homes by the Israeli army literally in the middle of the night, including children aged from 10–13 years of age. Salah Khawaja, a member of the Popular Resistance Committee is convinced that the Israelis will do anything to put down this peaceful resistance movement, ‘because they know that it can serve as an example’.

Bil’in: ‘The Wall is fully part of the system to steal our lands’
To try to recover their lands, many villages are also taking legal action. (...) The lawsuit has enabled the village to recover some of the lands – however, only in theory, because to date the army has refused to comply with the orders of the High Court. This is one of the facts that strengthen the villagers in their conviction that the Israelis do not want peace or the establishment of a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders.

Other trials of this type are under way, including in the Canadian courts. The targets are two Canadian companies that are constructing apartments in the Matityahu settlement on land belonging to Bil’in. (...)

Lire la suite : Five years of illegality


These examples show that many Palestinians are choosing a strategy of peaceful resistance against the mechanisms of colonisation.
‘The Wall and the settlements are killing us off economically, socially, and psychologically,’ continues Mohammad Abu Rahma. ‘The Wall is not just a physical obstacle: it is fully part of the system to steal our lands, just like the colonies which continue expanding at our expense. But we will not allow a repetition of the mass expulsion of 1948 or even that of 1967.’

Lire la suite : Five years of illegality

Rima, inhabitant of Ni’lin:

The Wall has repercussions for all of us. As parents, we are very worried about the future of our children. The unemployment rate is constantly rising and delinquency poses a threat to our young people. They risk losing their spirit of resilience, abandoning all hope of improving their daily lives. (...)
How could I fail to react when a soldier takes up position on the roof of my home and might well shoot my son? All of us, young people and adults, will continue together to face the occupation and the settlement policy, the army and the settlers, by taking part in non-violent actions near the Wall.’



Muwafaq Amer

No development is possible if you’re imprisoned and under occupation’

Cut off from Jerusalem by the Wall and by Israeli settlements, the inhabitants of Hizma also face serious problems
in accessing water. The ‘blue gold’ is first of all reserved for the neighbouring settlements.


In Hizma, a Palestinian village in the suburbs of East Jerusalem, the main impact of the extension of the settlements and the construction of the Wall is that of being cut off from its natural environment. The village has lost nearly 4,300 dunum of land (430 hectares) and no fewer than 35 wells. These springs, located in Palestinian territory designated as Area C, have been confiscated by the State of Israel, to give priority in water supply to its settlements.

The people of Hizma depend on the Ramallah water company for their water supply.
This company bills its clients and then must pay the Israeli company Mekorot. However, the latter charges prices that are three to five times higher than those set for the settlements.

No work, no water
Separated from Jerusalem by the Wall, the villagers now have to go through a checkpoint to get to their places of work. But as permits are granted only for short periods and in an increasingly random way, many doctors, employees, and labourers working in Jerusalem now find themselves unemployed, unable to pay their bills. As a result, the families of Hizma become increasingly indebted and frequently have their water supply cut off.

But the problem of water in Hizma doesn’t end there. ‘The water main is old,’ explains Muwafaq Amer, the head of the village council. ‘It dates from the 1970s and is full of leaks, which leads to a lot of water wastage and pollution. The whole water supply network should have been replaced a long time ago. This would cost around €112,000.’

Since 1967, Israeli military orders have de facto prevented Palestinians from digging wells, which forces families to opt for building private water cisterns. (...)

Isolated behind the Wall

Due to the Wall, a hundred or so residents of Hizma are cut off from the rest of the village. This is the case for Ahmed and his family. ‘The total isolation began in 2006, when they finished the Wall in our area. We found ourselves separated from our families. In order to go home, we now have to face the soldiers and endure their moods,’ he explains.

These families do not have the right to enter with their cars, which means that everything has to be carried, on foot: bags of vegetables as well as gas cylinders and water containers. ‘Even wheelchair patients are not allowed in by car,’ sighs Ahmed. ‘My sister-in-law is disabled. We have to carry her ourselves, on our backs.’


'Making our lives as difficult as possible to make us leave’

Lire la suite : Five years of illegality

Sewage from Ariel settlement.


At first sight, it seems that nothing could disturb the tranquillity of the 2,400 inhabitants of Marda, a small village nestling at the foot of a hill, in the midst of olive trees. But the gate situated at the main entrance to the village is the first sign of an abnormal situation. In fact, the Israeli army has erected two gates, which it opens and closes as it sees fit. ‘Once they close the gates, we become prisoners in our own village, surrounded by barbed wire,’ says Imm Qayis, a nurse at the local medical centre. ‘Often we are even trapped inside our own homes, because the army regularly imposes curfews.

Looking up from the village, there is another danger that continually threatens the villagers. Right at the top of the hill, you can clearly make out the barbed wire and the first houses of Ariel, the largest Israeli settlement in the northern part of the West Bank.
Because of this settlement, the route of the Wall cuts deep into this region. There is a constantly present risk of seeing the settlers turn up in the fields to attack Palestinian farmers – a frequent occurrence here. (...)

Imm Qayis


The battle for water
(...) The villagers are forced to buy their drinking water from the Israeli company Mekorot, even though there are three significant springs very close by.
However, two of them are under exclusive Israeli control, being located behind the future route of the Wall. ‘The amounts of water that they allocate to us are inadequate and there is not enough pressure for the homes in the upper part of the village,’ explains Imm Qayis. ‘The Israelis charge us steep prices for water and, curiously, those prices fluctuate widely although we always use the same quota. But we don’t have access to the meter.

There is still the third spring, which is accessible because it is situated in the middle of the village. But analyses have to be carried out to check the quality of its water. The land and the groundwater are polluted by the outflow of waste water discharged by the settlers in Ariel. The only free water in the village is the sewage that makes its way along the hillside until it reaches the village houses, damaging the olive groves in the area.

The water supply problem is also accompanied by problems of access to electricity, which has deterred the village from installing an olive oil press. In the opinion of Sadiq Al-Khufash, chairman of the local council, all these problems have just one and the same aim: to make the life of the villagers as difficult as possible in order to make them leave. (...)

Water scarcity is a major concern in the West Bank

(...) Under international law, a significant part of the water sources that Israel uses to meet its needs, including that of the settlements, should be shared equitably and reasonably by both Israelis and Palestinians.

Israeli per capita water consumption is more than five times higher than that of West Bank Palestinians (350 litres per person per day in Israel compared to 60 litres per person per day in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem). West Bank Palestinian water consumption is 40 litres less than the minimum global standards set by the World Health Organization(WHO). (...)


Farouq Ghanam

The olive trees as a frontline

Although they are 17km away from the Green Line, the inhabitants of Immatin face a very real border each and every day: that of the Wall, which cuts deeply through this area in order to incorporate the three settlements surrounding the village. Here the villagers, when trying to access their land, are faced with their most serious problem, the violence of Israeli settlers.


In Immatin, olive and almond trees are vital resources. Most of the villagers’ income depends on these trees, of which a large number are isolated behind barbed wire. In total, 4,000 dunum (400 hectares) of farmland have been separated from the village in this way. Attempting to access these land plots is a serious challenge for the farmers, who often face verbal and physical assaults from the Israeli settlers living nearby. ‘When we go to these fields, we always go as a group,’ explains Farouq Ghanam, an inhabitant of the village. ‘If we are alone, close to the future route of the Wall, it is even easier for the settlers to attack us. And this is without taking into account the army, which opens fire or throws teargas that is so powerful you think you’re dying on the spot.’

(...) ‘My family has a field very close to the outpost of Gilat [a settlement that is not recognised by the Israeli government],’ one of the villagers tells us. ‘One day, my father and brother went there to work, alone. Seeing that settlers were arriving, they called us and the whole village went up there. We were really scared. There were confrontations and the settlers set fire to our olive trees, in front of the soldiers. The soldiers would not allow
the firefighters to come
while the settlers were still there. So we also stayed, and the army then ordered the settlers to leave.’

The Israeli settlers also carry out raids on the village, with or without the presence of the army. ‘If the army is present, there are two options: either they decide that the group of settlers is not large enough to confront us and they evacuate them, or that there are enough of them and they let them vandalise the village’, says the villager.

Increasing Palestinian casualties

In the first 10 months of 2008, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) recorded 290 settler-related incidents targeting Palestinians and their property. This figure, while not comprehensive, reflects a worrying trend, since it surpasses the total recorded by OCHA in each of the previous two years (182 in 2006 and 243 in 2007). 293 Palestinians got injured and 4 killed as a result of settlers’ violencebetween 2006 and 2008.


During the same period, 116 Israeli settlers got injured and 10 killed as a result of Palestinian violence. (...)


Bedouins deprived of water and grazing lands

Abu Raeb


In order to survive, Bedouin families count on two things: sources of water and grazing lands for their animals. These are resources that are increasingly lacking for the tribes in the West Bank. Today, the 7,500 members of the hamula (clans or extended families) of the largest tribe, that of the Arab Jahalin, bear the social and economic consequences of the extension of Israeli settlements and the construction of the Wall.

One camp of the Arab Jahalin is located five minutes away from the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim (...). Although water sources and grazing for animals are not lacking in this region, the Bedouins themselves must endure extreme
living conditions. With each day that passes, the settlements and the Wall gnaw away at their living space. Access to water and to a large part of the land – essential for livestock breeding – is now forbidden. Basic services are non-existent. A drinking water pipe is in fact visible, but it is reserved for nearby settlements, on the other side of the Wall. ‘We had to make a connection in the pipe to reroute the water so that our families and animals could drink,’ explains Abu Raeb. ‘We’re merely taking back what was taken from us by the Israelis. They are trying to deprive us of everything we have to force us to leave.’

Lire la suite : Five years of illegality

Abu Nimr with the children of the Bedouin camp.


Displaced since 1948

(...) In 1948, there were between 50,000 and 90,000 Bedouins in the Negev, grouped in 92 clans living in an area
of about 11,870,000 dunum (1,187,000 hectares). Between July and November 1948, at least 11 of these clans were forcibly displaced from their land by the newly-created Israeli army. As the decades went by, the Bedouins
were forced to leave their land
, which is still threatened with expropriation today.
Some clans settled in the West Bank, in particular in the regions of Jericho, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jerusalem, where they continue to face forced displacement.

(...) The simplest habits of their way of life – such as sleeping under the stars when it is too hot in summer – are completely disrupted. ‘The security guards [private companies hired by the settlements] often turn up here at night with their 4x4s.
Our children are woken up with a start, frightened,’ says Abu Raeb, whose brother was recently arrested because he had tried to graze their herd of goats on land close to a settlement. ‘The security guards called in the army, claiming that he had thrown stones at one of their dogs and at a car,’ he sighs.



When studying becomes a day-to-day challenge

In Abu Dis, a Palestinian village adjacent to East Jerusalem, concrete blocks 8–9 metres high cut across the main road leading to the capital. The Wall, which blocks the sun from reaching the houses and shops located at its foot, runs alongside the road leading up to Al-Quds University (...). The university, which has over 9,000 students, can no longer be expanded: any extensions for new lecture halls or sports facilities are impossible due to this physical obstacle (...).


Being a student at Al-Quds University requires a strong will, if only to arrive at lectures on time each morning. (...)

The Wall now cuts the main road down the middle along its full length, and students have to make long journeys to get to lectures, even when they live close by. A journey that would normally take 15–20 minutes for the 2,000 students who come from East Jerusalem now takes about an hour and a half, without counting the checkpoint where soldiers deal in a particular way with students. ‘If you happen to forget your identity papers, it’s impossible to get through,’ complains Abeer, a law student. ‘To go to lectures, it’s more problematic to forget your identity papers than your books.’

The power of law
(...) For this young woman, the Wall is a daily ordeal. ‘I have to see it and go through it every day to go to lectures and to return home. At the checkpoints, I see Israeli buses passing through without any problems, whereas ours are immediately stopped and searched. Every day, we have to get out so the soldiers can check our papers and inspect the bus. It’s really humiliating. Since when has studying represented a danger to the Israelis?’ (...)

Lire la suite : Five years of illegality



Allegra Pacheco is head of the advocacy unit of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian Territory (OCHA-oPT). She explains to us the restrictions on movement (...).

Could you describe the system of restrictions on the freedom of movement imposed upon the Palestinians?
(...) The system in place includes more than 600 road obstacles such as checkpoints and earth mounds. In addition, it includes the Barrier: if construction of this continues as currently planned, it will be 726km long, nearly double the length of the Green Line. The objection to the route of the Barrier is simple: 86 per cent of it is located inside the West Bank itself and not on the demarcation line of June 1967 between Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territory. Because of this, the Barrier is separating Palestinians from each other and from their lands.

These physical obstacles are complemented by administrative restrictions. Whereby, more than 20 per cent of the West Bank has been declared ‘closed military zone’ by the Israeli authorities. Palestinians who want to build on their lands in these areas cannot access them and face house demolitions.
Moreover, 9 per cent of the West Bank is classified as ‘natural reserves’. This might sound nice, but when you look at the map you see that these zones are generally located next to the military zones, or in some cases even inside the military zones. They are actually an extension of the zones to which the Palestinians no longer have access. Access is also forbidden for Palestinians without a permit to approximately 3 per cent of the land where settlements are located.

Israel is currently building a lot of tunnels, refurbishing checkpoints, and rebuilding roads. What is the purpose of this?
Israel has already built 39 alternative roads and 30 passageways under primary roads in the West Bank. The objective is to put in place a separate and secondary road network for Palestinians and to reserve the original network for the use of Israeli settlers. For Israel, this road network is a kind of ‘compensation’ aimed at solving some of the problems caused by the Barrier, the checkpoints, and the settlements.
About 100km of the primary road network in the West Bank is already partly or wholly non-accessible for the Palestinians in certain sections, where they are blocked by obstacles, walls, or long fences. Israel has already renovated and expanded several main checkpoints located in the middle of the West Bank to facilitate Palestinian movement through them – but these large investments in checkpoint expansions raise our concern that these checkpoints are becoming permanent.

Currently the Israelis are investing a lot of money to reinforce this system. All of this is happening in an occupied territory where, under international humanitarian law, changes to the territory by the occupying power should be for the benefit of the local population. In this case, the major changes to infrastructure are designed to accommodate the commuting and security needs of the Israeli settlers.

Lire la suite : Five years of illegality

Demonstration against building the Wall, Brussels 2003 ©Eric de Mildt


What about the permits system, and the fact that the number of permits issued keeps on decreasing?
One of our surveys, conducted last year in several dozen villages in the north of the West Bank, revealed that approximately 80 per cent of the Palestinians who used to go to lands on the other side of the Barrier have not received permits from the Israeli authorities. The remaining 20 per cent who have received permits are often elderly people who no longer have the physical capacity to work in their fields, while their children or grandchildren do not have permits. We even came across the case of a permit delivered to a Palestinian who for the past 20 years has lived in Australia.

The same problem emerges with access to water and the maintenance of wells. Because of the Barrier, many agricultural water sources are cut off from the land that they supply, as in Jayyous, for example. Tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Palestinians have been affected by the construction of this Barrier: directly in the case of localities that are close by it, and also indirectly due to the physical and administrative obstacles associated with it, such as going to Jerusalem, for example. (...)