This week’s update, I joined the May Day procession in Ramallah, went to a demonstration supporting hunger strikers in administrative detention in Hebron and met a family in Bethlehem effected by the continual building of the apartheid wall.
A few different groups turned out for the May Day procession in Ramallah, including the communist party and the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions being the largest. All ages marched behind separate banners followed by flute bands.
The next day I went to Hebron for a demonstration in support of around 200 Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike. The strike was called against the use of administrative detention, it’s a form of detention that first started during the British mandate of Palestine and continues to be used by the Israelis. It’s seen by many as a similar form of internment used in Ireland as you can be held for up to 6 months without going to trial. After the 6 months the detention order may be renewed as many times as they see fit, often saying charges can’t be made as the information against them is “secret”.This was the first time in two years since the attacks on Gaza that Hamas and Fatah held a joint demonstration with huge numbers.
After the demo had finished the shabab(youth) went to the Shuhada Street. Hebron had been split in to two sectors, H1 and H2, H1 being controlled by the Palestinian Authority and H2 controlled by Israel in an agreement reached in 1997 by the PLO and Israel. Thousands of Palestinians left their homes in H2 as a result of the continual harassment by illegal settlers, leaving their businesses in the process. Shuhada Street, once the main point of commerce, is where the split in the city is most apparent, separated by a checkpoint. The H2 side of the street has been labelled the “Ghost Town” due to the amount of closed businesses.
The Palestinian Authority, often seen to coordinate with the Israelis, held the shabab back from protesting near the checkpoint. A young boy around 10-12 threw a molotov cocktail in the direction of the checkpoint which spurred a flurry of Israeli occupation soldiers to run through to H1, throwing sound grenades and setting up position. The PA soldiers quickly left before the IOF soldiers appeared. We had been told there would be at least 2 snipers on the roof surrounding the area. This sort of resistance is a weekly occurrence in Hebron after Friday prayers.
The shabab moved back and began burning tyres and rolling them down the street, the smoke blocked the IOF’s vision whilst they threw stones. The frustration of living in such close quarters to soldiers and constant settler attacks means this is one of the only ways to vent your anger under occupation.
The next day, as part of the work I’m doing, I travelled to a small village outside Bethlehem called Al-Walaja. The group I’m working for are building up case studies of people affected by the wall as its 10 years this July since the International Court of Justice deemed the wall to be illegal under international law . Al-Walaja is nearly surrounded by the apartheid wall, with further plans to completely lock it off from every side whilst the settlement literally next to it continues to grow.
I met with Abu-Nidal, a father of 7 who grows fruit and produces honey. His case is particular bad as the wall is soon to take 80% of his land which would financial cripple the whole family. Even worse, both his parents are buried in a section the Israeli’s plan to build the wall upon. He went to court appeal the decision and they agreed to build the wall even closer to his house, stealing more land and subsequently meaning he will no longer be able to visit his parent’s grave. He was an unbelievable person, resilient, smart and funny. Even after all they had done he still only blamed the colonial government as the cause of his suffering.