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Three Weeks in the West Bank

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June 28, 2010

Three Weeks in the West Bank

Resistance, destruction, life in Palestine

by David Parker

WEST BANK—In the wake of the Conservative government funding cuts to NGOs critical of Israel, independent journalist David Parker travelled to the West Bank in April to learn more about the reality of life in Palestine.

Israel maintains a three-year long siege on Gaza, and continues to actively colonize the West Bank, displacing Palestinians, stealing land, and enforcing a matrix of control.

Villages across the West Bank protest weekly against the construction route of the separation wall, which annexes Palestinian land and places Palestinians in walled communities under Israeli military control. In this photo, demonstrators at the non-violent protest in Bil'in village are met with volleys of tear gas launched by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). Despite IDF regulations, soldiers shoot high velocity tear gas canisters directly at protesters, causing regular injuries. On this day an Israeli protesting in solidarity with the Palestinians suffered a fractured skull and internal bleeding.
A protest in the Old City of Hebron calls for freedom of movement for Palestinians. Jewish settlers watch from the safety of a Yeshiva compound, surrounded by IDF. In the H2 district of Hebron, where 30,000 Palestinians live with 800 settlers, Palestinian movement is heavily restricted, while settlers are allowed freedom of movement and are protected by the IDF.
Immediately following a court-ordered eviction of the Palestinian Al-Kurd family from their home in Sheikh Jarrah in November 2008, Jewish settlers occupied the house. The Al-Kurd family has erected a “protest tent” in the front yard beside their house, and international and Israeli activists keep a 24-hour watch in the tent to prevent violent attacks. Settlers claim ownership of the land due to property documents dating to the Ottoman Empire. Though the Israeli state may recognize Jewish title to this land, it does not recognize Palestinian ownership of land before 1948. Settlers hope to displace Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah, and to create a Jewish community in its place.
Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza: non-violent Palestinian demonstration against Israel’s policy of border region aggressions. Marchers came within 100 metres of the border wall. “This is the first time in a decade Palestinians have been on this land,” according to one organizer.
Two international activists are dragged by IDF officers. The protesters were demonstrating against the construction of the border wall by blocking a bulldozer in Al-Walaje.
Palestinian shepherds continue a centuries-old tradition of grazing their flocks of goats in the South Hebron Hills, despite harassment and violence from the residents of Jewish-only settlements and outposts, such as Avigail, which was constructed in 2001.
The Jewish-only settlement of Gilo overlooks Palestinian farmland that will be annexed by Israel with the construction of the wall around Al-Walaje. The wall will completely encircle the Palestinian village, allowing only one entry and exit checkpoint, and reduce the area of the village from 500 hectares to 200-300 hectares.
Archaeological excavations for the City of David in Silwan, Jerusalem, are displacing Palestinians. Palestinian homes are being demolished to make way for underground tunnels to expand the archaeological site, and build new homes for Jewish settlers. "Our goal is to turn all this land into Jewish hands," states the ELAD Association, the settler-NGO directing the excavations.

David Parker is Spoken Word Coordinator at CKDU 88.1 in Halifax.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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