The coordinator of European outreach for the Palestinian grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign has been for a week touring Ireland in order to raise awareness about the horrific crime the Israeli government is committing by building the Apartheid Wall in Occupied Palestinian Territories reinforcing the occupation and its dire consequences on the Palestinian people. She came to make the Palestinian national grassroots struggle – the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign – better known to the Irish public and activists, to strengthen existing ties with Irish solidarity groups and to create new ties with Irish social movements.
She participated in the press conference called for by the IPSC and the ECCP (European Coordinating Committee of NGOs on the question of Palestine) in occasion of the summit of the Foreign ministers and the handover of hundreds of thousands of signatures asking for economic sanctions as long as Israel continues its Human Rights violations and namely the construction of the Apartheid Wall, held in Dublin on the 4th of May. The press conference followed a meeting with the Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs who declared that economic sanctions would deprive Europe of “its capacity to exert influence on Israel” echoing thus the Israeli foreign minister Shalom’s warning that “Europe would lose its role as mediators if they were to take the Palestinian position”. It would have been interesting to understand in which ways Europe is exerting influence on Israel today.
She has further been meeting with various activists, trade unions and exponents of political parties in Dublin and Belfast. During the meeting with IRSP she explained the reality of the Wall -Â an over 600 kms long Wall that will annex circa 50% of the West Bank territory, and will expel half a million of Palestinian farmers and residents from their homes and lands. The Wall, which is not built on, nor hardly ever close to the Green Line (the armistice line of 1948), will close the majority of the Palestinian West Bank population into three ghettos, isolate Jerusalem completely from the West Bank and annex almost all relevant water resources of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Economic, social, cultural and political life inside these Bantustans will be almost impossible. Many villages are left without almost any fertile land; access to hospitals, schools or other infrastructures is either very difficult or impossible. To give only one example, Qalqilya, once a prosperous commercial centre in the West Bank is now completely surrounded by an 8-meter high concrete wall and access is restricted to one check-point controlled by the Occupying forces. Today, 2/3 of the city’s population is living from humanitarian aid and over 4000 residents have been forced to leave the city. Qalqilya has been target of Israeli aggressions since 1948 and has been completely destroyed in 1967, yet the population has resisted any Israeli attempt to conquer the city, so today Israel tries to annihilate Qalqilya turning it into an open-air prison.
The Palestinian population living in the West Bank territories that ends up outside the Apartheid Wall is facing an even harder fate: hundreds of thousands of Palestinians find themselves in a “closed military zone” and are hence forced to obtain regularly renewable permissions from the Occupation forces in order to access their lands outside the Wall or to continue to stay in the villages where they have been living for generations. This permit system applies only to Palestinians and not to Jews from Israel or any other place of the world that are instead encouraged by government subsidies to settle the Palestinian lands. Sadly enough, Palestinians already have clear examples of the real aim of these “permits”: In Dhahr al-Malih, the permits for the residents expired in mid April simply haven’t been renewed and since then the residents have been literally imprisoned in their own village as occupation soldiers would not allow them to leave or return to their village. The “gates” that are built in the Wall are evidently not a means to let Palestinians pass but rather to let the Israeli army cross the Wall for raids and incursions. They further serve to oppress the Palestinian people through a permit system aimed at “punishing” whoever dares to oppose the Israeli Occupation and the Wall, they serve for collective punishment as they are regularly closed for days after demonstrations and they are another place where Palestinians get humiliated, beaten up and shot at.
The Palestinian population is not prepared to live in the cages built for them and, as one of the farmers struggling in the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign said, “we will not lend our hands to the occupation forces through the razor wire of the Apartheid Wall.” Since the beginning of the Wall’s construction and the inception of the Anti-Apartheid Wall campaign dozens of local committees and three Emergency Centres have formed all along the Wall’s path in order to resist the Wall and to face the problems and needs arising from yet another Israeli War crime. In June the first national popular conference of the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign local committees is planned and is seen as an important step in the struggle against the Apartheid Wall and Israeli Occupation.
The committees and Emergency centres are the central locations in the affected areas where people can organize, obtain and provide information, communicate needs and priorities to the Campaign, and seek support both in mobilization and in tending to lands in order to safeguard them. Day to day resistance, demonstrations and protests aimed at driving the soldiers out of the villages and lands and blocking the construction/destruction works are organized. The Palestinian population is paying a high price for its determination to remain on their lands and the demonstrations are almost always met with military brutality. The Campaign needs to mourn already four martyrs killed during demonstrations. The Campaign promotes demonstrations of solidarity among the Palestinian population in order to overcome the isolation of the communities enforced by the checkpoints, roadblocks, the Wall and to strengthen the feeling of unity and determination to continue the struggle until the Wall falls.
A unity that links all the populations in the Middle East struggling against Occupation and for freedom and justice. “When we see the images of Baghdad, Najaf, Fallujah, Nassiriya, Mosul and Kerbala we see Rafah, Jenin, Nablus, Hebron, Tulkarem and the refugee camps. We recognize the same brutality, humiliating checkpoints, massive house demolitions, the same attacks on civilian cars and ambulances. We know the pictures of murdered children, of snipers, tanks, war planes, siege and ghettos built with razor wire erected around the residential communities, we see the same tactics of collective punishment when they destroy homes of the families of suspected resistance fighters, we recognize the soldiers opening fire on demonstrators and we dread US death squads that the Israeli military is training to kill the Iraqi people. We both live the assassination policies that seek to undermine our organization, leadership, and steadfastness; the threats on Muqtada A-Sader have the same roots as the assassinations of Sheikh Yassin and Dr. Rantissi”, says the letter of solidarity in which the Anti-apartheid Wall campaign addresses the people moving the Iraqi Intifada. The design of the allied forces is clear: While they are trying to make the final step in the occupation of Palestine by enclosing the Palestinian people in walled-in ghettos and forcing hundreds and thousands of them to leave their homes and land, they want to expand their control, imposing the occupation on Iraq. We know that the “Coalition” occupying Iraq is the same that is responsible for the ongoing occupation in Palestine and the expulsion of its people from its land. As Israel and its colonialist occupation has been the bulwark of the West in the Middle East since over 50 years, this new drive of colonialism extends the occupation from the Jordan to Baghdad and highlights the complicity of Israeli, US and European politics oppressing the Arab people in order to control the strategic area of the Middle East and to exploit its resources.
The struggle of the people, as well as their plights, are hardly ever heard and seen in Western Media. It is the people of the world that are listening to the voice of the Palestinian struggle against the Apartheid Wall and are amplifying it. The people in Palestine know about the importance of international solidarity that supports and strengthens its struggle on the ground pressuring the government of their countries to take clear steps against the Apartheid Wall, Israeli Apartheid and Occupation. The void condemnations expressed by the political leadership of the Western world will not stop Israel from implementing relentlessly its longstanding policies of land grab and expulsion of the Palestinian people. Concrete economic, political and cultural sanctions are instead unequivocal means that show Israel that it has to pay for its colonialist and racist policies. Continuous mobilization on the ground organized by hundreds of solidarity groups and supporters of the Palestinian struggle shows the strength of the solidarity with the Palestinian people and puts pressure on the governments world wide to stop their complicity with Israeli Apartheid and Occupation.
On Saturday 15th, in London the annual rally for Palestine this year dedicated to the struggle against the Apartheid Wall took place. Jamal Juma’, the coordinator of the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign evoked in front of the crowd of 10 000 people the history of the Palestinian struggle against the Zionist project and its ongoing crimes since the Nakba, the “catastrophe” of the Palestinian people in 1948, that is commemorated all over the world on the 15th of May. He remembered the tragedy of the refugees, the full occupation of Palestine in â67, the massacres of Sabra and Shatila, the first Intifada, Oslo and today’s crimes and Apartheid projects. However, “nobody and nothing has stopped the determination of the Palestinian people to struggle for their rights”. He called upon the British people to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people to Tear Down the Apartheid Wall! Stop Israeli Occupation and Apartheid!
There are many ways to support the Palestinian struggle. To know more about the Wall and the Campaign see: www.stopthewall.org and in order to participate at the activism list for international solidarity with the Palestinian Anti-apartheid Wall Campaign you can subscribe at:
“The Starry Plough/An CamchÃ©achta”