West Bank: Checkpoints, teargas and other daily oppressions

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Here’s a riveting account of what life is like in the West Bank. Making a guest appearance today is political scientist John Hilley, who has just returned to Scotland from a trip to Palestine with the Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign. He describes his time there “between getting tear-gassed and shot at in Bil’in to being around our wonderful projects and friends in the West Bank refugee camps”.

I thought it was particularly courageous of John to engage with the IDF soldiers manning checkpoints and to point out their role in the crushing Occupation. In doing this, he puts into practice the powerful moral force of non-violent resistance.

This piece deserves a wider audience; so here it is, reproduced in full with kind permission from John. It’s a longish piece, but it’s worth the read to catch a glimpse of life beyond the checkpoints.

Checkpoints, tear gas and other daily oppressions:

10 days in the West Bank

With the Glasgow Palestine Human Rights Campaign

July-August 2007

by John Hilley

“What is the purpose of your visit?” I want to tell this young, abrasive soldier at the passport terminal on the Israeli side of the Jordanian border crossing that I’m here to witness her state’s illegal, apartheid treatment of the Palestinians. “Tourism.” Aware of the many people around being subject to intense interrogation, and likely refusal, it seems, for the moment, the more practical reply.Across the hall, a more lengthy queue of Palestinians waits to enter, their treatment, as I will witness these next days, part of the humiliating ritual of life under Israeli occupation. Boarding the bus for Al Quds/Jerusalem, one feels an immediate sense of imposing militarism.

Around Damascus Gate and Arabic part of the Old City, soldiers strut and observe Palestinian youth, constantly stopping, checking, questioning. I imagine what it must be like to endure this harassment every day. A demoralised shopkeeper tells my campaign friends and I how the local authorities here are facilitating the steady acquisition of Palestinian dwellings, describing the constant hostility he and his family feel living next to these brooding urban settlers.

Although a fascinating admixture of peoples, cultures and religious sites, my main feeling being around this city is one of underlying tension, and it’s good to get on the service bus heading for the West Bank. But, first there’s the physical and psychological tragedy of the wall and its barbaric checkpoints to consider.

Criminality by design

We approach Qalandia, separating East Jerusalem from Ramallah, a fortified edifice that makes one want to weep on first sight. I tell a soldier in passing through here that I feel violated, and can only wonder at the daily humiliation Palestinians must feel.

There’s also the repulsive thought that Tony Blair recently passed (more easily, no doubt) through this gate on his way to meet Mahmoud Abbas, a prima facie war criminal contriving to talk ‘peace’ with a President collaborator who commands little respect even in the Fatah-controlled West Bank.

Hamas may have had their ‘street presence’ severely curtailed here, but, in casual conversations with Palestinians, on buses and elsewhere, over the next week, I hear nothing but words of condemnation and distrust of Abbas. He, Olmert and Blair can conduct their window-dressing talks about ‘rebuilding’ the West Bank, but while Palestinians here crave normalisation of their lives, they are still deeply united against the suffering siege of Gaza and the collaborative efforts to split and disconnect the Palestinian territories.

More immediately, it’s the disconnecting brutality of the wall and its checkpoints here and around the West Bank that Palestinians have to live with; a kind of designer oppression intended to maintain fear and conformity. And there’s no more brutal example of such intimidation than the one to follow.

“No pictures, no pictures!” The voice comes from a booming speaker, the Israeli soldier barking his order from one of the reinforced steel and perspex-fronted inspection boxes. We take the pictures, anyway.

From atop the x-ray bag and body scanners, high metal turnstiles and fingerprint recognition machines, a heavy-booted soldier, machine gun dangling, clanks across one of the upper gantry walkways. His measured downward stare is intended as another intimidatory warning to observe the procedural rituals of this all-seeing place.

Welcome to the clinical interior of Checkpoint 300, Israel’s separation terminal at Bethlehem, a surveillance and human processing complex that could have been designed by the Nazis.

Coming through a maze of corridors and steel doors, we encounter a Palestinian family at the scanning machine, their humble belongings scattered on the floor, the yelping soldier inside the booth haranguing them as they throw their things in panicked confusion onto the conveyor belt. We help them and offer friendly support, jesting with the kids.

It’s all part of the daily humiliation faced by Palestinians trying to maintain contacts and eke out a living across the wall in Jerusalem. I also speak to many with no such permits, trapped behind this monstrous lump of concrete.

“Does this place remind you of anywhere?” The two teenage-looking male and female soldiers behind the perspex window affect a bemused expression to my polite, but probing question. The repeated enquiry is again avoided before one finally offers a sheepish admission: “Yes, you mean the Holocaust?”

Point made, I seek their reaction to some other basic and uncomfortable truths: “Are you aware that the obscene wall you are protecting has been declared an illegal construction under international law?” “Do you understand that the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land is not only immoral, but contrary to multiple UN resolutions?” “Have you thought about your personal part in such inhumanity and illegality?”

In seemingly Pavlovian response, the words “security”, “terrorist threat” and “just doing my job” bluster out through their microphone. Finally, they exit the booth to speak in person, possibly surprised and interested in what we have to say, but still robust in defending this brutal procedure.

Apartheid and responsibility

It’s typical of many such rationalisations offered by young IDF conscripts on our travels through brutal checkpoints around the West Bank. Many of the soldiers on checkpoint duty combine their standard excuses for repression with a more obvious contempt for ‘internationals’ and Palestinian sympathisers. The dehumanising treatment reserved for the Palestinians, of course, makes our reception seem comparatively respectful.

Some reflective thoughts follow. How could such soldiers fail to see the obvious impact of the occupation, this grotesque wall and their successive governments’ open violation of international law? How much do they really think about their own personal part in these apartheid policies? What allows them the confidence to justify such murderous and degrading treatment of an entire people? How would they like their families to be persecuted and humiliated like this every day of their lives?

As with the mutual conduct of all human beings, military or otherwise, this can be viewed as an existential issue of individual responsibility. It calls to mind the admissions (as featured in the film Downfall) of Hitler’s personal secretary, who in her belated old age, conceded that youth and career should not be regarded as a cloak of immunity:

Quote:

We should listen to the voice of conscience. It does not take nearly as much courage as one might think to admit to our mistakes and learn from them. Human beings are in this world to learn and to change themselves in learning.

Of course, the terrible things I heard from the Nuremberg Trials about the six million Jews and the people from other races who were killed, were facts that shocked me deeply. But I wasn’t able to see the connection with my own past. I was satisfied that I wasn’t personally to blame and that I hadn’t known about those things. I wasn’t aware of the extent. But one day I went past the memorial plaque which had been put up for Sophie Scholl in Franz Josef Strasse, and I saw that she was born the same year as me and she was executed the same year I started working for Hitler. And at that moment I actually sensed that it was no excuse to be young, and that it would have been possible to find things out.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traudl_Junge

Thus, the human capacity for ignorance and/or self-deceit cannot, in itself, absolve the participant actor from the truth and manner of the crime. Yet, as with the Nazi demonisation of the Jews, the abrogation of individual responsibility in the case of the IDF soldier is deeply informed by the conditioning ‘mindset’ of the Israeli state itself; as in how it effectively views Palestinians as a sub-species to be militarily corralled, economically subjugated and politically marginalised.

At Huwwara checkpoint, entering Nablus, another degrading ‘security’ assemblage. The construction here is more reminiscent of a cattle-processing installation, with its staggered turnstiles and farmyard-style pens where ‘suspect’ Palestinians are held back for interrogation. A number of Palestinians have died here and at other checkpoints after being denied proper medical treatment. It was here, also, in March 2007 that 18-year old student Mohammad Jabali was punched and kicked by four soldiers, causing permanent damage to his genitals.

We take pictures of another young man in a sweltering single holding cell, detained, the IDF tell us, for having an ‘incriminating’ photo on his mobile phone. A discussion with the soldiers ensues. Again, the familiar justifications: “We are only here to protect Israelis and Palestinians from terrorists.”

It’s vital, of course, to keep soldiers’ minds concentrated on the fiction that state violence is not actually violence, but legitimate force.

“Has it occurred to you that Israel is the main perpetrator of terrorism here? Does the indiscriminate use of Apache killing helicopters and other such armoury (all supplied by the West) against a civilian population constitute acts of terrorism?” A mixture of contempt and incredulity greets these suggestions.

I suggest that, rather than being the terrorist fanatics Israel would have us believe, most Palestinians simply want to live in a state of peace and justice. Unimpressed, a dismissive soldier offers a half-grinning riposte: “There will never be peace here.” Depressingly, it’s an opinion laced with caustic defiance rather than humanitarian regret.

Another young soldier seems more nominally sympathetic, but argues that he does what he does because he has witnessed the aftermath of a suicide bombing. That’s a brutal thing to experience, I agree, but ask him if he has ever really considered the context of such actions and why normally peace-caring people are driven to commit such desperate acts.

He is reluctant to endorse the point, but, in a further exchange next day, concedes that, yes, he recognises that Israel is occupying Palestinian land and, therefore, breeding hostility. What he can’t contemplate, though, is the idea that he or any other IDF soldier would deliberately target and indiscriminately kill women and children. I remind him of the multiple instances of such crimes and, for good measure, refer him to B’Tselem, UN and other documents which will, indeed, confirm these and other heinous acts by the IDF. He agrees to look at them.

Before leaving, I remind him that he is only twenty years old, and one day will have to reflect on his part in this immoral and illegal repression. In the meantime, I urge him to be very careful with the gun he is holding, and to think very critically about what he is actually doing here.

Does this, can this, make any difference, one may fairly ask? Efforts to cultivate a refusenik amid this show of naked force and self-proclaimed superiority might seem futile. But it’s worth remembering that consistent, non-violent persuasion, combined with legal and moral right, is still the oppressor’s most feared form of resistance. If little else, it’s important to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of those tasked with enforcing such brutal policies.

There are now over 500 checkpoints and security obstacles built into the West Bank infrastructure, with miles of modernised private roads to access and service some 135 Israeli settlements. Looking out across the Bethlehem hillside, we hear how one such expanding development has acquired priority over the main water supply, a key resource theft replicated throughout the West Bank.

The most striking thing to witness here is the sheer scale and establishment of these towns. One wonders how there could ever be a ‘two-state solution’ that would realise their closure. My distinct and certain impression is that Israel has not the slightest intention of relinquishing them. Observing, in contrast, the wall’s suffocating proximity to poor Palestinian homes, and the surrounding dereliction, one gets a crushing reality-check on Israel’s wilful determination to maintain their oppressive gains in perpetuity.

Balata days, Nablus nights

Part of that repressive agenda is the continuing ghettoisation of poor Palestinians in camps like Balata, Nablus. We visit the Yafa Cultural Centre there, a remarkable assembly of local Palestinians providing educational and recreational opportunities for young people. After leading us in some fine Dakbe dance moves, the organisers and youngsters present a series of their personally-made films of life in and around Balata, most of them themed around the occupation. Some of the girls are blushing and giggling at their (promising) performances. We laugh and tease them, soaking-up the happy atmosphere. It’s inspiring to sit and watch their creative articulations of life as an oppressed, yet still assertive, people.

As with other such projects in the West Bank, our role as a contributing donor here (every penny GPHRC raises goes directly to funding such projects, Palestinian students, medical needs and social outings for Palestinian kids) fits very easily with the solidarity and love we feel for these kindly friends.

Walking around Balata, we see and hear evidence of many Israeli incursions and arbitrary arrests. Here and elsewhere in the West Bank, we feel nothing but protective generosity from the Palestinian people. Indeed, one of our campaign founders, a frequent visitor, is greeted and regarded in Balata as a kind of revered/adopted sister and mother.

Above all, I am struck by the pleasing, well-mannered demeanour of the children, a remarkable sight when one considers both the harsh economic privation and psychological trauma they experience living in these dingy, tightly-packed alleyways and their fear of nocturnal visits from the IDF.

Every night staying in Nablus we are awoken by IDF explosions, automatic gunfire and the sound of soldiers on loudspeakers. Like most daily IDF brutality, it’s a constant feature of life rarely noted in the foreign media. A kind and engaging academic friend here tells how she cannot allow her kids out at night, part of the stressful prohibitions and developmental deficits people are forced to live with.

Here, and at other key locations, International Solidarity Movement members have been conducting brave and vital ‘actions’: monitoring checkpoint abuses; preventing IDF land grabs; giving supportive presence to fearful Palestinians. In one impressive initiative, a couple of ISMers have created Nablus News, a small video-documentary production. One notable film records, and helps end, an illegal IDF house occupation. Another documents the menacing efforts of soldiers in an armoured vehicle intimidating ISM activists while protecting a Palestinian home. It’s all part of the peaceful, patient and increasingly-organised spotlight on Israeli violence now finding exposure across the internet.

Creative dissent

Coming back through a smart part of Jerusalem on a service bus – the 40th anniversary signs celebrating the ’67 war still evident – a contemptuous soldier ushers everyone off. I ask him, at least, to show some courtesy to the Palestinian women. He ushers us all back on, a little taken aback that someone should question both his authority and his rudeness. On another such occasion, one of our party politely insists that the soldier says “please” when demanding her passport. He prevaricates, then coyly obliges, much to the quiet pleasure of the Palestinian passengers.

Little displays of support like this are kindly acknowledged by Palestinians who tell us that they fear being taken away or punished for speaking out. “They treat us like sub-humans,” one young girl confides. There’s a quiet, stoic softness in her voice which seems to epitomise the Palestinians’ joint feelings of despair and resilience.

Some express concern that no one outside knows or cares about their suffering. We respond to their moving testimonies with assurances that we and others do very much care and are intent on doing all we can to build awareness and support. Other Palestinians join in, pleasingly animated by such encounters, lifted by the easy fraternity and amiability we all feel. It’s a little moment of shared humanity, proving that happiness in adversity is also a form of resistance.

That spirit of creative dissent is visibly demonstrated for us on our visit to meet the kids and organisers of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin. After a cordial greeting, they and the project’s larger-than-life director, perform some improvised pieces for us on stage, including an inspiringly-adapted scene from Animal Farm. It’s encouraging to see how the kids take so-readily to acting and the sense of empowerment it gives them. I’m impressed, also, at how the project is seeking to draw-in Palestinian youngsters from the demoralised and broken Jenin camp, nearby, an initiative which serves to illustrate how many refugee camps in the West Bank sit as even more peripheral entities within an already battered socio-economic landscape.

The ‘wall of peace’

While the wall and its sub-human facilities invoke the dark machinations of Nazi efficiency and Orwellian surveillance, it’s the Israeli Ministry of Tourism’s giant declaration on the wall section cutting off Bethlehem which delivers the most offensive line in craven hypocrisy: “Peace be with you,” it proclaims, as though 60 years of murderous repression were some kind of side issue to be painted over by an ‘ecumenical’ slogan.

As the smart tourist coaches pass through this fortress gate to visit the sacred Manger Square and Church of the Nativity, how many are alerted to the wicked irony of the wall, with its cynical letterings of ‘peace’ and ‘humanity’? One also wonders how many will notice the bullet-riddled walls of the church courtyard where, during the 2002 siege, Israeli forces kept over 200 civilians in a state of terror for 39 days, killing nine Palestinians and two others. A guide, who was caught-up in the siege, tells us how the IDF used giant cranes fitted with telescopic rifles to pick-out people stepping out of the cloisters.

Neither are the sightseers here likely to make an ‘alternative tour’ of the nearby Azad and Azeh refugee camps, where – like Balata – people have been living since 1948 in conditions of crammed deprivation.

At Azad Camp, we laugh and joke with our marvellous friends running the Amal Almustakbal (community) Centre, discussing the upcoming day out to Ramallah for the kids and how we might help turn a small rooftop space into a play area. Outside, a flag-waving cavalcade of cars and music celebrates the prison release of a young Palestinian. His picture on a banner is shared with a photo of his father who had been shot by an IDF sniper while sitting drinking his tea. Everyone here has similar stories to tell of lengthy incarcerations, of young friends murdered by soldiers, of brothers and fathers lost, of mothers and wives left to cope.

With the assistance of a kind friend and resident, we also visit a number of our projects and houses in Azeh Camp, delivering a little relief, expressing a little solidarity. We’re greeted warmly by the carers of a struggling house for disabled and profoundly handicapped kids, some who can’t find enough money for essential care and medical attention. It’s a deeply touching, yet joyous, experience watching some of the kids dress up in the party dresses brought by a couple of our kindly colleagues. Through another ramshackle entrance, we enter the pitiful single-room dwelling of a man, his wife and three children, wondering how they cope with such a claustrophobic existence. In another, we sit among a lovely extended family struggling to find the essentials of life. But, amid all this deprivation, all the psychological distress of occupation, there’s a wondrous resilience, and, for us, a simple, humble pleasure in being among these warm and heroic people.

Outside our host’s house in Azeh, a little musical street party is underway to celebrate the exam results that day. We all join in, swept up by the infectious mirth and laughter, the excited kids shaking hands, saying welcome, asking our names, posing for pictures. On leaving, one little boy ambles up, takes my hand, smiles a big smile and says “John, I love you.” I reciprocate the thought with comfortable ease. It’s a little moment of pure, simple happiness. And it makes me realise more certainly than ever that our capacity for mutual care and compassion is stronger and more enduring than anything the forces of hate, violence and state repression can ever muster up.

Ethnic cleansing, Hebron style

The checkpoint in and out of Tel Rumeida, Hebron, may be more rudimentary, but the intrusive bag-search and dismissive tone of the soldiers gives notice of the brooding atmosphere awaiting through the turnstiles. A menacing ‘welcome party’ of around fifteen settler youths gather close, swearing at, obstructing and intimidating our party all the way up the hill. The soldier at the top offers a token shrug. Tel Rumeida is widely-regarded as harbouring the most violent and extreme section of Israeli settlers. For Palestinian families in this neighbourhood, it’s a living hell.

Here, at a reclaimed Palestinian house (won back after a tortuous legal struggle), now designated to be a peace-building community centre, we are welcomed by the owner and a deeply engaging Israeli guy, all committed to the project’s particular ideals of non-violence and justice.

Almost immediately, a shouting female Israeli settler from across the back garden tries to come through the razor wire and onto the property, remonstrating with the owners and soldiers who quickly intervene. It’s one of many such incidents with incendiary possibilities – and a foretaste of more violence to come.

The immediate problem defused, I join a game of football with the Palestinian kids who, encouraged by the project, are beginning to hang around. We play on a piece of adjacent broken field, surrounded by more razor wire and soldiers patrolling the boundaries of other settler gardens. Alas, it’s game-over after only half an hour as the ball we bring the kids gets ripped by the razor wire. We all think the same symbolic thought.

Afterwards, we sit talking with one of the kids and a helper about how some very promising young Palestinian footballers will probably never get the chance to make the grade, part of the feeling of abandonment expressed to us across the West Bank. Later, our Palestinian host leads us through the dark olive grove to the local shops, pointing out the bullet-pocked walls where the IDF recently attacked local houses.

That night, we sleep in makeshift fashion on the ground floor of the project house, alongside other visiting internationals, the necessary bullet-proof door a reminder of the settlers’ past attempts to terrify and remove the residents. But it’s a quiet night, with only the weird early-morning incantations from the various mosques reverberating like a ghostly medley around the Hebron hills.

Alas, it’s just a lull before another storm. The day after our departure, one of the project leaders and a visiting international were injured following a confrontation with some settlers. It came after two settler families were evicted from their houses, an insulting, token gesture by the Israelis, used to maximum publicity-seeking effect by the settlers. It also gave them the excuse to attack Palestinian locals and attempt to burn down a Palestinian school. Even though some of the soldiers seem tired of policing the zealots, their principal sympathies and support remain with the settlers.

Those manning the checkpoint into the mosque section of Abraham’s tomb in Hebron’s Old City are no less unsympathetic and offensive to Palestinians and internationals. One wonders at their lack of basic courtesy even at this holy site. My exchange this time, following the bag-emptying ritual, includes a sullen enquiry from one soldier about the gathering international boycott of Israel. He wants to know what I think, but seems unimpressed by my warning that people are now acting in a morally practical way against the apartheid state he upholds.

His implicit defence of Israel’s ethnic-cleansing policies is symptomatic of the encroaching vulnerability felt by thousands of Palestinians here. In contrast, a mere 600 or so surrounding settlers have managed, with the aid of the IDF, to enforce the desertification of the Old City, closing-off entire streets of once-actively trading Palestinian shops. During our visit, another shop is closed down on the supposed grounds that the owner might break down the back wall of his premises leading on to a closed-down street.

We ask a bored looking soldier at the padlocked metal gate to the street why it has been closed. “Security”, came the reply. He seemed obviously embarrassed at what he was attempting to ‘defend’. As noted at the Tel Rumeida Project site (link below):

Quote:

The Israeli government closed this entire section of the city, closed the entrances and exits, the shops, homes, and the streets. Israeli soldiers, police, and settlers work together to try to force the remaining Arab Palestinian residents out, using constant violence, arrests, closures, and land confiscation.

There’s also the staggering economics of such protection to consider, illustrating the persistent racist policies Israel is prepared to use to break the Palestinian spirit. The settlers here have even been allowed to build on top of the Old City dwellings, forcing the Palestinians to put up makeshift protective nets to avoid the rubbish being thrown down on them from above.

Resistance at Bil’in

Any doubts one might have about Israel’s determination to develop its annexation of Palestinian land is more violently dispelled at Bil’in. There’s a good-humoured atmosphere, tinged with a little apprehension, in the house where we gather beforehand for the weekly Friday demonstration. I feel a deep admiration for these Palestinian villagers and assorted supporters who maintain this honourable statement of civil defiance. Before setting-off, one of the ‘notable’ internationals puts everyone at ease by playing an upright piano (in rather impressive fashion). It’s a surreal moment. Posters of Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter and others hang above, denouncing the occupation and comparing the brutality to apartheid South Africa.

We gather round for instructions on how to deal with the tear gas, sound grenades and rubber bullets to come, someone passing a bag of cut onions ready to inhale. From the house’s rooftop vantage point, there’s a panoramic view of the assembled Israeli forces up on the hill guarding the separation fence, weapons at the ready. Their threatening presence and the cynical clearance of these once natural groves strikes me as a kind of hellish visitation on the land.

On the march out of the village, down the twisting road, there’s spirited chants in Arabic and English to end the occupation. We are all Bil’iners together. At the last twist, the armoury opens up sending tear gas canisters into the first line of demonstrators. Most of us scatter in hasty retreat, blinded, skin stinging and choking on the (apparently ‘new improved’) gas. An old Palestinian woman in a field across is doubled up, retching from the spreading wind effects of the gas. Sound grenades and flash bombs follow on. People duck in the olive groves and shrubs from the sporadic rounds of lead filled rubber bullets, apparently to disperse the kids with their makeshift slings. Two are hit, while one of the internationals who makes it to the front in a stand-off with the IDF is struck in the side by a gun-fired tear gas canister.

Atop the village, a family and some internationals taking tea and refuge under a tented cover scatter to escape another tear gas missile. Just in front, a man, wife and small child take cover inside their basic house, seemingly resigned to the weekly assault around them. Besides the trauma of this constant militarism, one wonders at the long-term effects of the gas on their health.

Back at the house, the day’s spent armoury has been gathered and deposited in two already brimming giant containers, the smell of gas and hot metal filling the room. We leave Bil’in, pleased to have shown our support, aware of the spirited show of defiance and solidarity that will continue here every week.

Four basic truths and a promise

As a general principle, responsibility for, and complicity in, war crimes increases the higher up one sits in the chain of command. But while the Israeli elite are most guilty of fashioning and executing the policies of oppression and murder, it’s important, again, to remind IDF soldiers of their own responsibility, as contained in these elementary legal facts (links below):

1. The Occupation of Palestinian Territories has been declared unlawful by multiple UN resolutions.

2. The West Bank settlements are illegal, as recorded under associated UN resolutions.

3. The ‘separation’ wall and its fortifications are illegal, as judged by the International Court of Justice (July 2004).

4. Israeli treatment of Palestinians is in gross violation of the Geneva Convention.

Stopping at the last Israeli checkpoint before the Jordanian side of the King Hussein border bridge, a cocky soldier with big sunglasses looks at my passport and asks if I have a weapon. “A weapon? Now, why would I be carrying a weapon?” A few of the Palestinians suppress an appreciative grin. Another in the customs hall winks and smiles. As we move away, the last sight of Israel’s military oppression behind us, it occurs to me that, yes, indeed, I do, like many others, have a weapon, one which, in its physical and mental capacity to observe and relate an obvious and gross injustice, represents the most powerful of all ‘weapons’ against oppressive authority.

No amount of sophisticated armaments, no killing machine on earth, can suppress the truth of such injustice. It lies deep within the hearts and minds, the painful, tragic experiences of the people who endure it. It also resides in the memory and conscience of those who witness and care to enquire about it.

The consistent plea to us from Palestinians locked in this prolonged oppression was to tell the outside world what is going on. We promised to do, at least, that.

One day, as with the breaking of South African apartheid, that collective effort will bring an appropriate justice and, hopefully with it, a true and moral peace.

Inshallah.

This article was first published in the Medialens forum section.

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