The Issues - Life Under Occupation
Life for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza
Some observations by Jewish Israelis:
Israeli journalist Bradley Burston: "In the name of occupation, generation after generation of Palestinians have been treated as property. They can be moved at will, shackled at will, tortured at will, have their families separated at will. They can be denied the right to vote, to own property, to meet or speak to family and friends. They can be hounded or even shot dead by their masters, who claim their position by biblical right..” – link to original: "As Lincoln Abolished Slavery, Israel Must Abolish Occupation", 2/26/13.
Two former heads of the Israeli internal intelligence agency Shin Bet: “We are making the lives of millions unbearable, into prolonged human suffering, [and] it kills me.” – Carmi Gillan, Shin Bet head 1994-96. ... [We’ve become] “a brutal occupation force similar to the Germans in World War II.” – Avraham Shalom, Shin Bet head 1980-86. Interviewed in The Gatekeepers, 2013 Oscar-nominated documentary.
Israeli Ambassador to South Africa 1992-94 Alon Liel: “Similarities between the ‘original apartheid’ as it was practiced in South Africa and the situation in Israel and the West Bank today scream to the heavens...There can be little doubt that the suffering of Palestinians is not less intense than that of blacks during apartheid-era South Africa.” – 2/21/13.
Life for occupied Palestinians:
"As veteran Israeli soldier Eyal Harel wrote in his harrowing account of his service, titled 'What Really Happens in the World’s Most Moral Army', published a couple of days ago [June 19, 2017] in Haaretz: '[W]e caught a Palestinian boy of no more than 12, riding a donkey between Qalqilyah and Kfar Sava. You don’t want to know that after a “chase” of about five minutes, the Border Policeman shooed the donkey away and beat the boy up – why, I will never know. Because I didn’t ask. My stomach tightened; maybe I cleared my throat. But I didn’t do anything. Nor did I tell anyone...'"
Israeli soldiers detain Baraa Kan'an, a 19-year-old Palestinian, then abuse him for 7 hours (B'Tselem, June 12, 2017) "Baraa Kan’an was badly abused for hours: he was beaten, humiliated and told he’d be killed, then ultimately left out on the road late at night. This abuse did not take place in a vacuum. It is part of a broader context. Over the years, B’Tselem has documented many similar incidents of violence and abuse, which could not have taken place had the abusive soldiers not been aware that they would have the full support of senior military and government officials, and would not be held accountable for their actions."
Dispatch from 'the most ****ed up place on Earth,' Hebron's H2 quarter (Charlie Zimmerman, participant in the Center for Jewish Nonviolence delegation in Palestine, June 10, 2017)
A 13-year-old Palestinian child's trial in Israeli military court (Aya Kaniuk and Tamar Goldschmidt, 2 Israeli women who report from checkpoints and military courts, 2010) "Humiliation is a subjective matter, depending on people’s personal symbols. For me, for example, what feels most humiliating is not the fact that they urinated on him, but that they stripped him naked. At first Mohammad’s father was ashamed to tell about the pissing. To even say these words out loud. I think that for him, that was the most humiliating thing they did to his son, more than all the other things... The day I first saw him was one of those Mondays at the ‘Ofer’ military court, in hall number 2. That’s where the children are tried. 20, 22, 23 children a day. Children and youths arrive in groups of two, three, sometimes four, wearing brown prisoners’ garb, their feet chained, one hand shackled to the next boy’s hand ... I noticed him in particular because he had soft, round curls, and because he looked very young, and because he wept ..."
Imagine: Israeli soldiers arrest your 14 year old son after entering your home at 2 am. He is left in the cold, blindfolded and bound, for the rest of the night, and then taken to interrogation without lawyer or parents present. The next day, soldiers return and arrest your 11 year old son. (February 2011)
“Ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized... The pattern of ill-treatment includes the arrests of children at their homes between midnight and 5:00 am by heavily armed soldiers; the practice of blindfolding children and tying their hands with plastic ties; physical and verbal abuse during transfer to an interrogation site, including the use of painful restraints; lack of access to water, food, toilet facilities and medical care; interrogation using physical violence and threats; coerced confessions; and lack of access to lawyers or family members during interrogation... These practices are in violation of international law that protects all children against ill-treatment when in contact with law enforcement, military and judicial institutions." UNICEF, Children in Israeli Military Detention, pp. 13-14 (February 2013)
“The Foreign Office revealed last night that it would be challenging the Israelis over their treatment of Palestinian children after a report by a delegation of senior British lawyers revealed unconscionable practices, such as hooding and the use of leg irons… Palestinian children as young as twelve are jailed and can be kept for three months without legal representation. ‘The other shocking thing is they are incarcerated in breach of many conventions. The practical effect is parents can’t get there because they can’t get permits,’ said Marianna Hildyard QC.” (June 2012)
"More than 30 former Israeli soldiers have disclosed their experiences of the treatment of Palestinian children during military operations and arrests, pointing to a pattern of abuse. A booklet of testimonies, published by Breaking the Silence, an organisation of former Israeli soldiers dedicated to publicising the day-to-day actions of the army in the occupied territories, contains descriptions of beatings, intimidation, humiliation, verbal abuse, night-time arrests and injury. Most of the children had been suspected of stone-throwing." "The report teems with instances of teenagers, some 14 and 15, held till they foul themselves. They soil themselves because of beatings or because they are manacled and not allowed to go to a bathroom overnight. Other forms of humiliation include slapping children in the face, making them take off their pants to be searched, and stepping on their testicles." (August 2012)
Israeli soldiers gather your family in one room after banging on your door at 2 am. They handcuff and blindfold everyone aged 16 to 29, remove them, and destroy the inside of your house. One soldier later describes it: they “smashed the floors, turned over sofas, threw plants and pictures, turned over beds, smashed the closets, the tiles”. Did they find any weapons? No. Had there been terrorist attacks in the area? No. The detainees are released 12 hours later. (2009)
"Show me a plot of Palestinian land you wish taken over, and the [Israeli military command] Civil Administration will come up with the appropriately tailored legal mechanism – of course, it must all be legal! – to achieve that end: military training zones, nature reserves, archeological sites and, above all, declaring thousands of acres “State Land” – what “State” exactly? All these are successfully used in order to forcibly displace Palestinians and justify denying them access to running water or the power grid." Hagai El-Ad, B'tselem, testimony to UN Security Council (October 14, 2016)
Israeli soldiers arrive at your home in mid-January with bulldozers, and demolish it. (p.4/12) You are a widow with nine children living in deeply impoverished Umm al-Kheir, next to the large and constantly expanding settlement of Carmel. You built your home without a permit, which is almost never granted to Palestinians in “Area C” of the occupied West Bank. David Shulman, a professor at Hebrew University, describes seeing you two weeks later on a freezing rainy day: “she was standing barefoot, still shocked and traumatized, in a neighbor’s tent.” (June 2012)
A February 2013 report on Palestinians in the Occupied Territories by a panel of UN human rights investigators finds “testimonies confirmed that building permits are rarely if ever granted; in the last 20 years, 94 percent of permit application were denied. Building without a permit is an offense under military orders, and the execution of a demolition order is accompanied by a large fine… Many families and entire communities are at risk of displacement.” (pp. 15-16, paras. 70-71)
Israeli soldiers arrive at your home at 7:45 a.m. with bulldozers, and demolish it and the large barn in which you had kept one hundred dairy cows. Your farm supported four families. The cows are now standing outside in the heat. When the Christian Peacemakers Team you have called to bear witness asks for explanation, they are told, “Because we are the army.” (May 2012)
You take your sheep to graze, carrying a copy of the Israeli court documents which verify your title to the land. You are accompanied by Jewish Israeli volunteers. Armed soldiers, border police and settlers confront you, and, despite knowing the law is on your side, announce you have five minutes to leave before they arrest you. (April 2012)
Settlers destroy your village spring by pouring sand and cement into it, protected by Israeli soldiers, as you watch [photo in article]. When the soldiers notice they’re being filmed, they force you to leave, declaring the area is now a Closed Military Zone. (March 2010)
You are a fisherman in Gaza. Members of “an elite Navy unit” order you to jump into the sea, and destroy your boat. They order you to strip, then order you to count to 100 repeatedly, watching until you and your companions drown. (told by Miko Peled, October 2012)
"The settlers uprooted several olive trees and tried to torch a house. Last week, six of the village’s cars were torched. A couple of Palestinians were wounded by live ammunition, apparently fired by the settlers. As can be seen in the photos [in the article], soldiers who were present at the site didn’t try to stop the settlers, even those who threatened the Palestinians with their guns." (February 2013)