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(en) UK, class war 86 - THE MILITARY OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Tue, 30 Mar 2004 10:16:22 +0200 (CEST)


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For hundreds of years the Palestinian people had suffered under
the rule of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The empire however
began to crumble when WW1 engulfed the Middle East. It was the
British who set up a mandate government with the promise that
they would slowly withdraw leaving the country governed by the
Palestinians. It was this same government that viewed with favour
the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in
Palestine. Unrest grew in Palestine as more settlers arrived and no
intervention by the British. Strikes and riots spread. The Zionist
power had grown and had world wide sympathy. Palestinians were
driven from their villages by the Zionists. The British left in 1947
and the violence in Palestine spread unchecked. The state of Israel
was finally established.

In the following months over one million Palestinians were driven
from their homes and fled to Lebanon, Syria or Jordan. Families
were forever parted and many died. The violence worsened.
IN 1967 Israel occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai
Peninsula and the Golan Heights. About three million
Palestinians still live in these areas under Israeli occupation,
surrounded by Israeli settlements built on their land.

Israelis leadership is still driven by greed for land, water resources,
and power. Since October 6th 2000, Israel has imposed a complete
closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip preventing any
movement in or out of the sealed areas. Their have been reports of
people getting shot going out to their work in the fields. The
closure has affected transportation of Palestinians with serious
injuries getting specialised care and doctors cannot get to patients
or clinics as travel between regions is impossible. Full closure and
curfews for months, Palestinian school?s shut down has now
become standard and is viewed by Israeli society as normal and
natural.

News from Nablus via the International Solidarity Movement
states that ?checkpoints are inside all the West Bank they mean
that people cannot move from village to village, village to city, city
to farms etc. There is a checkpoint at each turn. Soldiers have
complete control on who passes and when they pass. Palestinians
must have the ?proper papers? this permission is difficult to obtain
and rarely granted. To get to school, work or even the doctor,
meant Palestinians in the villages need to cross into the cities.
They are rarely allowed. Often people who sneak around to get
into the city are detained at the checkpoint attempting to out. This
involves confiscation of their IDs and holding them in separate
areas and often involves handcuffs, blindfolds and gags. Detainees
are often held for many hours, sometimes as many as twelve, in
the hot sun without water. Legally the soldiers cannot detain
people for longer than 3 hours before releasing them or arresting
them. This practise is rarely followed. Many times members of the
ISM have observed detainees taken out of view and beaten. Many
checkpoints are in place solely to control people crossing over
settler roads. Usually most people are denied passage. While
hundreds of Palestinians line up, waiting to pass to their homes,
settlers walk past freely. Many cases of settler brutality occur near
the checkpoints, often left unchecked by the soldiers watching.
Palestinians are left unsafe from both the soldier and settler
harassment. Checkpoints serve to control and humiliate
Palestinians on a daily basis and it is at these checkpoints that are
seen some of the most significant human rights violations and
violations of people?s dignitaries.?

With the majority of Palestinians locked in their towns , the Israeli
army is terrorising areas with massive force. Residential
Palestinians in the vicinity of Jerusalem, or other settlement
blocks such as Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, Bethlehem, El Birreh and
Hebron have been bombarded almost every night with missiles
machine guns and ?precision weapons? while the Israeli army call
on the Palestinians to evacuate. Israeli settlers , on the other hand
have been free to attack and shoot people and destroy property.

Class War met with Ted Curtis who recently went to Palestine to
join with the International Solidarity Movement, non violent peace
activists,. What follows is taken from that meeting with Ted.

Ted?s interest in the Middle East had stemmed from his
disillusionment with British politics. He was interested in
Medieval history, went to Rome and read a couple of historical
books about the Middle East. He read more and more and whilst
at the Anarchist Bookfair someone from the ISM gave him a
leaflet about Palestine and asked if he would like to go out there.

On his arrival at Tel Aviv airport he states everyone had difficulties
with the Israeli soldiers. ? The Israeli?s hate everyone, the reason
being is because of the way they have took someone?s else?s land.
They have a siege mentality which is partly to do with two
millennium of anti Jewish feeling and their recent history.
Questioning at length why people are here and going to x. Most
of the time it was quiet there, but then you could be walking down
a road and suddenly there?s a checkpoint. Some guy has been
stripped naked and blindfolded and made to sing anti Arab songs
in order to get back to a house across the checkpoint. Extreme
measures to satisfy themselves of this.

Ted tells us more of his arrival in Israel. ? One thing I really
remember after arriving at Tel Aviv airport was that it is like an
American airport. When the taxi driver picked us up we drove
through Tel Aviv and then onto the highway which crosses round
very big houses with nice gardens. Then you get to Jerusalem and
its lovely, historic and polished. But as soon as you cross that
green line into the West Bank its so different. There?s no street
lighting, telephone wires are hanging across the streets joined
together by clothes pegs and dust is blowing everywhere. The
roads are full of holes, there?s nothing just poverty. During curfew
which can be for three or four months, if the Palestinians go out
they could be shot. They cannot farm and there is minimal
provisions in the shops such as flour. They break the curfew just
to survive.

Ted went to Nablus, Ramallah and Salfit, a large village with lots
of satellite villages right in the middle of the Zionists largest
settlement in the West Bank. ?Ariel? has one hundred armed
settlers and they want all the land around - for free. For this reason
they deliberately discharge their sewerage into the water supply of
the local villages and go around terrorising people, cutting down
their olive trees and shooting their sheep.

We were interested to hear about the fate of prisoners there. Ted
told us that when someone disappears or is put into detention no
reason has to given it is just said that they are a threat to security.
That automatically means six months subject to renewal, which
does not mean that you may get out in less than six months but
that in six months they will bring it up again and ask if that person
is still a threat to security. There was a guy released after some
deal months ago he had been in for 20 years all the way through
the Oslo accord and peace process. That?s not uncommon in the
imperialist occupation.

None of the ISM went into the villages without prior consultation
with the village leaders. If there was any discomfort on the part of
the Palestinians they would not go in. ? They do think we are a bit
weird at first mainly down to the culture gap. Often they think
that?s what?s broadcast on the media here is as they see it and
therefore they think that the world knows exactly what?s going on
and that no one cares. It takes a lot of talking and discussion for
them to understand it is not so and that people get a very skewed
view of the occupation through the world media. People then get a
view that they are all terrorists and want to kill Jewish babies. The
US controls the world media and the world media supports Israel.
Because it is a strategic asset for the US empire and it?s control of
the worlds resources particularly in the major petro-chemical
regions.?

We asked Ted if he was still in contact with the Palestine
Solidarity Campaign members and the International Solidarity
Movement. He said he was and for the past two years and
regularly receives e-mails as he is on their mailing list. Apart from
when, he says, there?s a crackdown by Israeli spoofs .
?There?s a small ISM group in London who carry out direct action
here. For example, the bulldozers that demolish Palestinians
homes are made by Caterpillar, their head office is in Oxford
Street. People of ISM dressed up as a 20 feet cardboard JCB
sealing off the area and saying to everyone ?this is a closed
military zone where we are going to pull down your houses now?.
There?s also a weekly picket of Marks and Spencer?s who are a
corporate donor to Israel.
When asked what people could do here to help the situation in
Palestine Ted suggested that they give money to the ISM to help
send more volunteers out there, or to contact the ISM and do
direct action here. If any one wants to go, there are regular training
sessions held in London.

Ted Curtis?s book about his time in Palestine - By Theft and
Murder is available by contacting
sparechang e b o o k s@yahoo.co.uk Price - &6.50

Ted?s novel ?Seaton Grove? is available from Centreprise and
Housemans bookshops in London and also from AK Press ?
www.akuk.com
For more on the International Solidarity Movement visit
http://www.palsolidarity.org/


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