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News ::
Letter from Jenin (english)
07 Jul 2003
The Apartheid Wall is nearing completion on the West side of the West Bank - where its estimated to have confiscated around %10 of the most fertlie land. As well as cutting through or displacing - redefining - 30 towns or villages. This is ethnic cleansing on a massive speed and scale. Remember that when the media talks about a roadmap to peace.
can't even put my anger into words. Really, its so much worse than you suspect and fear.

While the media talks about a roadmap to peace, here's whats happening:

People want to know if its true that the Israeli military have pulled out of Bethlehem. Of course they haven't, but so what if they had? Can people from Bethlehem leave Bethlehem? "We haven't left this camp in two years," say my family in the Azzeh refugee camp. Where can they go? They are trapped by checkpoints, fenced in by bypass roads, and choked by settlements. The hills around Bethlehem are alive - with huge, monstrous settlements, built on stolen land.

Bethlehem residents can visit the church of the Nativity. But what about the other major holy site in Bethlehem, Rachel's Tomb? Rachel's tomb is off limits to Palestinian Christians and Muslims. Only Israelis have access to this major holy site. The several hundred yards around it are also confiscated. In fact, the Israelis are in the process of confiscating more of Bethlehem, to "annex" Rachel's Tomb into Israel. If they change the definition of Bethlehem - redefine it into a fraction of its former self - then its easier to "pull out."

This is what's happening in the whole West Bank. The definition of what is the "West Bank" is being physically changed. Once the Israeli Government has cut the West Bank into tiny pieces a fraction of their current size, it will be easier to "pull out" of the West Bank.

The major tool of this confiscation is the "security wall" being built by Israel. They call it a "seperation fence". Fine, lets call it that. And lets recall the the Afrikaans word for "seperation": Apartheid.

The Apartheid Wall is nearing completion on the West side of the West Bank - where its estimated to have confiscated around %10 of the most fertlie land. As well as cutting through or displacing - redefining - 30 towns or villages.

But this is just the beginning. The Israelis are also beginning a Wall along the east side of the West Bank. The exact dimensions are unclear, because the Israeli government wont say its plans. Some estimate it will take another %40 of the West Bank. Heres some of what I've seen here in Jenin:

All of the villages here along the "green line" border are facing land confiscation. There is no formal notice. One day, Israeli engineers come onto their land, leaving behind blue flags marking a line. Within days or weeks, the bulldozers come. Then, the builders. And within weeks, their land is gone, and a Wall is in its place.

One farmer uprooted his own trees, hoping to replant them somewhere, rather than see them destroyed. He is currently being threatened with a prison term.

The wall is being built at a devastating speed. In the Jenin area, there are at least seven Israeli companies working at building the Wall, so it is being built in several places at once.

In some areas, the Wall is almost 100 meters wide. There is barbed wire, followed by a trench, followed by a fence, followed by a settler road, followed by another trench.

The atmosphere in the cities is different from before - a quiet desperation. People are still being terrorized by regular invasions: last night, there was an explosion, and all the power in Jenin went out, tonight, there was a tank outside our building - but the real terror is in the villages, where a massive land grab and depopulation is happening, with almost no media attention.

This is ethnic cleansing on a massive speed and scale. Remember that when the media talks about a roadmap to peace.

-------------------------

This is my fourth time here with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). ISM activists have been called "tank chasers" and "human shields". Neither is accurate. Human shields is particularly inaccurate, as it refers to a specific human rights violation regularly practiced by the Israeli military.

This Summer, we are working hard at community building and outreach. The ISM Freedom Summer campaign was officially launched in Tulkarem, where we attended a demonstration organized by the residents of ten local villages affected by the Wall. ISM organizers in Tulkarem spent three weeks organizing in advance of this demonstration, meeting with at least three individuals, organizations, or municipalities every day. Here in Jenin, we have kept a similar pace. I can't say all of our plans, but I will say this: in the West Bank, the Wall is coming down this summer.

See also:
www.NewsFromTheFront.org
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