Video

Gaza as seen by an Israeli soldier and street artist Banksy

A revealing interview

Everyone should hear how a former IDF soldier explains the similarities of what his grandmother experienced in Auschwitz and why he has to speak out against Israel and the USA. Eran Efrati is a former IDF soldier who recounts his experience, assignments and killing protocols along with what he witnessed as a soldier to Aby Martin:

Abby-MartinClick here for the YouTube interview.

 

When Banksy sneaked into Gaza

It is not the first time that Banksy, a street artist revered by millions for his socio-political commentary on the walls of the world, has been to the occupied Palestinian territories. His graffiti are on the segregation wall in Bethlehem and in Ramallah, and now also on the ruins of Gaza:

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Gallery

Israel’s Wall: Is it legal? Is it secure?

The Israeli Wall is not on a border. It is on occupied Palestinian land and Palestinians need Israeli permits to go to work, to church, to a hospital, to school, or to a wedding.  See for yourself what a check point looks like early in the morning when thousands of people go to work…

The short video in the link could have been filmed in any of the other Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank.  In Bethlehem, for example, the dark, cage-like corridor of Checkpoint 300 starts to fill up at 02h00 with the sleeping bodies of those who await the opening of the gates two hours later.  They are mostly Palestinian labourers who risk losing their employer-endorsed permits if they are not on time for work.  Sometimes they buy coffee and tea from the vendors to stay warm in the mornings that are ice cold – even in summer.  (I love their peppermint or sage infused tea.)

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During peak time on work days about 2 500 people need to pass through the turnstile, then queue for clearance at a metal detector and finally for a passport check.

Checkpoint 300 is not between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, but within Palestinian territory.

At any point in this sequence the gates may close.  Sometimes this happens because a soldier shaves himself in the face of those waiting to earn their daily bread or need to go to a hospital, but more often it happens with no clear reason and for an undefined period.

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Israel started to build (what is commonly known as) the Wall in the West Bank in 2002 and almost 62% of it is now complete. In reality it consists of fences from between three to twelve meters, ditches, razor wire, groomed sand paths, patrol roads, buffer zones, electronic monitors, watch-towers and – of course – checkpoints.

Is this legal?

According to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Israel “has the right, and indeed the duty, to respond in order to protect the life of its citizens the measures taken are bound nonetheless to remain in conformity with applicable international law.”

Yet the ICJ, in its 2004 advisory opinion to the UN, found that the Israeli Wall violates applicable international law.  It demanded that Israel cease construction of the Wall, dismantle the sections already completed and “repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto”.

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But over the years Israel has extended the route of the Wall, despite the ICJ’s viewpoint. Part of Wall’s route is through the Palestinian city Bethlehem and its governorate. Since its building started here, Palestinians have submitted 520 cases to the court in an attempt not to lose property to the Wall, mostly to no avail.

The city’s surrounding hills offer a clear picture of how the Wall twists away from the internationally recognized border, the Green Line, to grab fertile Palestinian-owned agricultural land in and around Bethlehem. On completion the Israeli Wall will be 709 km long, more than twice the length of the  internationally recognised border.  Moreover, only 15% of the Wall will be constructed on the Green Line (the internationally recognised border) whilst 85% of the Wall will be inside the West Bank itself.

Says Haggai Matar, an Israeli journalist and political activist in +972:

Most countries in the world and the International Court of Justice would agree to Israel’s building a security wall on its recognized border, the Green Line. Yet as long as 85 percent of it is built beyond the Green Line on Palestinian land, as long as it remains transparent to Israelis, as long as it harms (Palestinian) farmers and workers the way it does, and as long as the occupation continues – no solution and no barrier can truly offer Israelis security.

The question, therefore, is not whether or not a wall, any wall, offers security – but rather whether this specific wall with this specific route offers true and lasting security more than other existing alternatives.

The answer to that is almost certainly: No.

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Santa in distress, three wise men arrested


FROM BETHLEHEM, in the occupied territories of Palestine…
read a brilliant Christmas parody issued by BDS South Africa,

 Santa in Distress, Three Wise Men Arrested (24 Dec 2011)

Is the Christmas Star still shining?

Or is it mourning
over the little town of Bethlehem?

In Bethlehem today people are fenced in

behind a concrete wall
that cuts across fields and olive groves,
separating people from schools,
hospitals and work places.
In Bethlehem today Mary must give birth
at a military checkpoint,
shepherds cannot reach the stable,
the three Wise Men, gifts in hands,
stand helpless before the wall.
In Bethlehem today the star has vanished
where angels sang

hilltops are scarred by
illegal houses
Yet while we search
the darkness in vain
The angels’ message is still
Peace on Earth
So let us listen
Let us stand up and act.

Peace and Justice for Palestine.

(Ulrike Vestring 2009)

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Bethlehem se onwettige Israeli Muur

Bethlehem se onwettige Israeli Muur
(soos verskyn in Die Kerkbode, Desember 2011)

Die donker, hok-agtige staalgang van Checkpoint 300 in Bethlehem, Palestina, begin reeds om 02:00 opvul met die half-slapende liggame van diegene wat wag op die hekke se opening om 04:00. Dis meestal Palestynse werkers wat, as hulle nie betyds opdaag vir werk nie, hul werkgewerpermitte en dus hul inkomste verloor. Ander probeer hospitale bereik.

Tydens spitstyd op werksdae moet ongeveer 2500 mense daagliks hier deur die draaihek, metaalverklikker en die paspoortkontrole gaan. Soos baie ander kontrolepunte in die Wes-Oewer is hierdie Israeli-beheerde punt nie ‘n deurgang tussen Israel en die besette Palestynse gebied nie, maar binne-in Palestynse gebied.  Die prosedure kan ‘n paar uur duur en die hekke kan sonder aankondiging en onbepaald op enige punt sluit. Soms gebeur dit omdat ‘n soldaat homself skeer in die aangesig van diegene wat hul brood wil verdien, maar meermale is daar geen duidelike rede  nie.

Israel het in 2002 begin bou aan (wat algemeen bekend staan as) die Muur in die Wes-Oewer na ‘n reeks selfmoordbomaanvalle. 60% daarvan is reeds voltooid.

Die Internasionale Geregshof meen Israel “has the right, and indeed the duty, to respond in order to protect the life of its citizens (but) the measures taken are bound nonetheless to remain in conformity with applicable international law.”  Volgens die Internasionale Hof voldoen die Israeliese Muur nie aan toepaslike internasionale wette nie en hulle het Israel reeds in 2004 versoek om alle bouwerk te staak, voltooide dele af te breek “and to repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto”.

Maar deur die jare het Israel se planne vir die Muur herhaaldelik uitgebrei en die bouwerk gaan voort. ‘n Deel loop deur Bethlehem en die aangrensende distrik. Sedert bouwerk aan die Muur hier begin het, het Palestyne 520 hofsake in Israel aanhangig gemaak, meestal sonder enige effek.

Bethlehem se omliggende heuwels bied ‘n duidelike blik op hoe die Muur wegswenk van die internasionaal erkende grenslyn (die “Groen Lyn”) om vrugbare Palestynse landbougrond in te palm.  Wanneer dit klaar is, sal die Israeli Muur 709 km lank wees, dus meer as dubbel die lengte van die Groen Lyn.  Slegs 15% van die Muur sal wettig en op die Groen Lyn (of in Israel) wees met 85% daarvan onregmatig in Palestynse gebied.

Die dorp Al Walaja, wes van Bethlehem, is in 1948 uitgewis waarna talle inwoners vlugtelinge geword het. Dié wat terug gekeer het, het weer huise gebou, maar talle hiervan het tans slopingsbevele van Israel waarvan baie reeds uitgevoer is. Muna (40) en Aisa (50) Hagahla is op Maandag 3 Oktober onregmatig van hul familiegrond vervreemd ten spyte van hul regsaansoek.

Al Walaja is daardie oggend om 06:00 afgesper sodat niks buiten stootskrapers en soldate die dorp kon binne nie.  Teen 14:00 was 50 volwasse olyfbome reeds ontwortel en die nuwe “slegs-Israeli’s” pad en area vir die Muur reeds skoongeskraap was.

Ons het die middag saam met die Hagahla gesin in die skadu van ‘n boom gesit en kyk hoe die Israeli stootskraper se geel tentakel die ledemate van gebreekte, ontwortelde bome hys deur stofgevulde lug.

“Waarheen kan ek gaan?” het Muna gevra. “Die Israelis praat van menseregte, maar hulle respekteer dit nie.  Hierdie grond is ons brood en botter en dateer ses geslagte terug. Ons eet hieruit en verkoop die res om ander dinge te koop.  Wat het ons nou vir ons kinders?“

Artikels 47 and 49 van die Vierde Geneefse Konvensie verbied ‘n besetter om privaatgrond te konfiskeer en eienaarskap oor te dra aan sodanige besetter.

Ons was daar todat dit stil geraak het, die stof gesak het en die gewapende soldaat op die oorkantste heuwel saam met die stootskraper weg is. Die wind het opgekom.  Ek het bly kyk na die beskadigde bord van World Vision wat die dorp se fontein in 2003 herstel het. Wanneer dit klaar is, gaan die Muur hier alle landbougrond inpalm en die dorp afsluit van ander Palestynse gemeenskappe.

Bethlehem se area strek oor 660km2, maar Palestyne beheer net 13% daarvan, die meeste daarvan gefragmenteerd. Israel se onwettige setlaarsdorpe en Muur verbied Palestyne op die meeste van hul eie grond.

In die stad wat geboorte geskenk het aan ‘n Boodskapper van inklusiwiteit, menseregte en liefde, lei toergidse hul reisigers verby die onwettige Muur en die effek daarvan op Christen en Moslem inwoners.

Die Bethlehem EAPPI-span moniteer Checkpoint 300 elke dag vir vyf dae per week, twaalf maande van die jaar, reeds sedert 2003. Ek was daar op ‘n plasingsbesoek. Ons staan om 3:00 op om 3:40 by die kontrolehek te wees waar mense reeds sedert 2:00 wag.

EAPPI is die enigstes wat deur Israel toegelaat word om diens in die kontrolepunt te doen.  Ons tel hoeveel mense deur die normale ry gaan asook hoeveel deur die humanitêre lyn gaan en skakel die “Hot line” wanneer van die hekke sluit in ‘n poging om dit weer oop te kry.  Hiefdie nligting word deur die VN se Humanitêre afdeling gebruik om tendense te moniteer en aksie te neem waar nodig. Hulle gee weer op hul beurt die inligting aan politici en ander rolspelers.

Ons mag nie daar foto’s neem nie, ek kon net ‘n paar op redelik veilige plekke neem:

Ons begin in die donker werk… hier breek die dag

Wagtend

Let op die mense bo-op ander se skouers

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Qalandiya Checkpoint, Jerusalem

Demonstration at Qalandiya Checkpoint, Jerusalem on Saturday 17/09/2011, a week before Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' proposal to the UN Security Council to declare Palestine as an independent state.

The proposal was for the establishment of an independent state for the Palestinian people in Palestine on land that was occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967 and before by Egypt (Gaza) and by Jordan (West Bank) since 1949. The proposal included the Gaza Strip, currently controlled by the Hamas faction of the Palestinian National Authority, the West Bank (administered by the Fatah faction of the Palestinian National Authority) and East Jerusalem which is under Israeli sovereignty. The proclaimed State of Palestine is currently recognized by over 120 countries.

Ek en my EAPPI spanlede van Yanoun het op Saterdag 17/9, ‘n week voor die Palestynse leier Mahmoud Abbas se toespraak by die VN vanaf Yanoun na Jerusalem gereis vir die laaste deel van ons opleiding.

Ons bus kon nie ry tot by die kontrolepunt nie as gevolg van die betoging. Ek het hierdie foto’s geneem terwyl ek en my bagasie te voet is na die kontrolepunt (sien ook die muur en wagtoring op die foto).  Qalandiya is die kontrolepunt tussen die Wes-Oewer en Oos-Jerusalem.

Toe ons uiteindelik deur die kontrolepunt is (‘n mens voel soos ‘n skaap wat gedip word), lyk die toneel agter ons, dus waar ek min of meer ‘n halfuur tevore die vorige foto’s geneem het, soos op die foto hierbo.