What exactly impartiality means?.. Just to recap – nor Palestinians or Israelis are blameless

After 2 months spent in Hebron / Al Khalil, while observing the every day life, speaking with both – Israelis and Palestinians, reading the news (from different sources..) and learning more and more about the „SITUATION„, one will have head full of thoughts and ideas, wildly swirling, and interwoven with each other, forming a strange mosaic which parts often don’t fit together It’s important do not lose common sense and objectivity, and always stand somewhere in the middle, truthfully trying to understand parts of the conflict.

israelpalestine-flagsAs EA’s – volunteers from EAPPI programme, we agreed do the impartiality principle, which means, as states EAPPI Code of Conduct, that: „We do not take sides in this conflict and we do not discriminate against anyone but we are not neutral in terms of principles of human rights and international humanitarian law. We stand faithfully with the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized. We want to serve all parties in this conflict in a fair and unbiased manner in word and action.”

That is how we are suppose to be – neutral, open, full of understanding. Are we?..

When walking on famous Shuhada Street in Hebron – partially closed for Palestinians, centre of the former old city (now called „Ghost City„, because of the abandoned houses and empty surroundings..), emotions are bustling inside me… Trying to realize, what really happened to this place, what provoced current situation, how people were dealing with that for ages, what’s the final effect. There’s no single answer, as well as there is not a one truth on history of Al Khalil.

City existed already thousands of years ago, and a lot of different peoples, cultures and religions were melting here together – Arabs, Christians and Jews marked their presence… There are proves on existance buildings and structures belonging to all those groups, with no doubt that the place was (and still is…) of great significance for them. With respect to the old city, it was built mainly in Mamluk and Ottoman times, during the muslim rule. However, small christian and jewish communities were also present and people lived together in rather harmless way.

I didn’t meant to start a historic discurse, but when talking about this conflict, sooner or later, these threads will suggest themselves… Both sides are seeking for justification in the past events, equally convinced that the right is on their side.

With the beginning of XX century, constantly bigger and more frequent waves of jewish immigrants from Europe were wh_arab_israeli_conflictcoming to the British Mandate on Palestine, provoking growing tension and clashes with the arab people. The land was only one, while it was more and more visible, that there are two compiting parties… No one could feel safely any more, and former neighbours would becoming enemies at any time.

That’s when the Hebron Massacre took place, on 1929, in which 67 Jews were killed and about 100 were injured by the Arabs, alerted by the gossips from Jerusalem, claiming the Al Aqsa mosque takeover by their jewish enemies… Nobody can (or tends to..) justify this tragedy and even at that time many muslim families were against it, hiding Jews in their houses and helping them to escape from the city. Those events and victims will be never forgotten, and this part of palestinian history should be unanimously condemned, as other such a events in the cruel history of mankind.

Actually, we don’t have to search for too long… Israelistook revenge” in 1994, when a settler from Kiryat Arba (Hebron) killed 29 and wounded more than 120 Palestinians, while they were praying in Ibrahimi Mosque – holy place for both, Jews and Muslims. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth…

israel-palestineAfter the attack, the mosque was devided and Shuhada Street was closed for Palestinians, which got eviction orders and were pressed to leave their houses, shops and businesses, partly because of the military orders, partly due to unbearable situation…

Now the street hosts 3 israeli settlements, a jeshiva – jewish religious school, few check-points, a military base, many watch towers, countless cameras and omnipresents israeli flags… Also information boards and suggestive paintings can be found all around, explaining the story of the 1929 massacre, as well as few other attacks, mounted by Palestinians on israeli settlers living in the city.

In it biggest part, the street is frequented only by the israeli soldiers, police, settlers, and both, international and israeli tourists and activists. In general, there are divided in two parts – pro-israeli and pro-palestinians… Nobody can really escape this distinction. On one side – Israelis, on other side – international activists and  tourists interested in conflict, aware of the current situation. How to talk about the impartiality principle, then?.. Relations between those two hostile groups are tense – distrustful glances, unpleasant, hateful words, sometimes swears, insults, and even fisticuffs... Of course, it’s understandable. Occupation.

israel-palestine-flag-handshake1Each of above mentioned groups looks at the reality from it’s own perspective, using different lences, we could say. Is there anyone holding the key to the only truth?..

Palestinians claim to be the only real owners of the territory, exactly as do the israeli settlers… Those first have been there for ages, the latter –  have lived alongside their arab neighbours, and also, apparently received the land from God, as Tora says. Then, the soldiers and the police are there to protect israeli citizens, even if those are settlers on palestinian territories, illegal under the international law. So, representatives of international community, such as NGO’s, politicians, volunteers and visitors, are coming to blame the occupation. Finally, worldwide jewish Diaspora faithfully supporst their brothers in „Homeland, by sponsoring settlements from overseas (particularly from US, UK and Canada) and visiting their estates. Obviously, this kind of description is too simplified and maybe unjust for many, but, in the end, so close to the reality…

Let’s take a deep breath now, let’s do step back, let’s try to catch the point of this paradox from a side.

1) Palestinians are on their land, they lived there for centuries (even if without proper „palestinian identity”, which emerged only in XX c.);

2) Israelis lived on this territory in the past, after they were evicted by Palestinians and now came back, founded the settlements, and are trying to take over the whole city;

3) Israelis and Palestinians in Hebron (as in the whole occupied territory) don’t have the same rights and living conditions, situation in which obviously jewish settlers are the dominating part, as a citizens of State of Israel;

4) israeli police and soldiers are in incredibly difficult position, put somewhere in the middle of this paranoia, with their minds already prepared for a war with the arab / palestinian / muslim enemy, with a whole burden of Holocaust, with memories of suffering of their nation, with large military preparation, awaiting the lurking everywhere danger…;

5) international activists and visitors are a large, varied group, mainly seeking for peace, using differents methods, fighting for the attention of the rest of the world, trying to do some good work, whatever it means, for the both sides;

Israel vs PalestineFirst of all is important not to forget – mainly, what should be blamed, is the situation, and not the people. Of course they are good and bad, on every side of the conflict. There are Israelis who are taking adventage on the Arabs, which is so easy under the cruel occupation rules. There are Palestinians, who would never accept the very existance of the israeli State. There are soldiers who overuse their power, making life of many innocent people a nightmare. There are internationals, who lose their common sense and objectivity, becoming unfair and partial, which will never helps the peace process.

But, happily, after some time spent in Israel / Palestine I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. There are Israelis, image1354786614-11502-PlaceID-0_s660x390who believe that the peace is possible (thanks to both sides..) and many of them, who are fighting for it. There are Palestinians, who longingly remember good old times when Jews lived with Muslims in harmony, and wish to make it possible again. There are soldiers, who even if this extremely confusing conditions keep their human face and intercede for the oppressed, in defense of their rights. There are internationals, who tend to built the bridges, and not to burn them down.

International community can not tolerate the development of israeli settlements in West Bank / Palestine, that’s sure. The efforts should be done to guarantee to the Palestinians both – political and economical sovereignty. No more human rights violations can be accepted. The dignity of palestinian people and a respect for their property should be an issue of a major concern.

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In the same time, an impartial, deeply tolerant for both parts approach should be peeled. Isrealis must be safe on their territory and fully accepted by Palestinians. No longer Jaffa or Acco can be claimed… Any attempts of terrorist attacks aiming in Israel and its citizens should be derooted.

There’s a lot of people of good will on both sides. They believe that all current oppressions are unnecessary and prejudicial, causing a troubles to everybody and building a paralysing tension. Hopefully, those people can become influent enough, to change the current situation and truely encourage the peace process.

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Me, I do believe in peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and, in spite of (or maybe thanks to..) all I’ve experienced during my stay in Hebron, living „under occupation”, I’ve never lost the faith in any of those people, considering both of them exceptional (each in their own way..) and keeping for them my full respect.

It’s just sad, that such a wonderful people haven’t yet managed to cooperate, which would be profitable for both sides. There’s a lot of things and thoughts that could be fruitfully exchanged between those two, so rich cultures. Maybe except the genes, since those are pretty the same…

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Reklamy

Preparing for Christmas… in Holy Land of Palestine ;)

Only 3 days left to Christmas!… And even if the weather doesn’t make us feel incoming celebration (in Palestine late autumn and beginning of winter, bring to mind rather our european spring..), there are few signs of the Feast and the commonly known symbols can be seen around 😀

Olive grove on Tel Rumeida (Hebron), December

Olive grove on Tel Rumeida (Hebron), December 2014

View from Tel Rumeida

View from Tel Rumeida

View from Tel Rumeida

View from Tel Rumeida

We’ve started with the presentation in Palestinian Children Art Centre (PCAC), concerning the catholic Christmas in our origin countries. On Thursday (02.12) we visited PCAC to describe european celebrations and encourage palestinian children to decorate with us paper christmas trees. As we were 3 members of Hebron Team from Norway, Poland and Sweden, we introduced our little friends to our culture – customs and beliefs related to the Christmas Time. We let them understand symbols of these Feast – Baby Jesus, nativity scene, Betlehem Star, shepherds, the Magi, angels, christmas tree, Santa Claus, presents…

Telling a story to the palestinian children in PCAC by Samia (coordinator in PCAC and teacher in Cordoba School in Tel Rumeida, Hebron)

Telling a story to the palestinian children in PCAC by Samia (coordinator in PCAC and teacher in Cordoba School in Tel Rumeida, Hebron)

Samia and children from PCAC

Samia and children from PCAC

Children from PCAC

Children from PCAC

Preparing the presentation about Christmas

Preparing to the presentation about Christmas

...What to start with?.. European beliefs and traditions concerning Christmas time :D

…What to start with?.. European beliefs and traditions concerning Christmas Time 😀

Explaining the idea of catholic Christmas to little muslims ;)

Explaining the idea of catholic Christmas to our little muslims 😉

Of course the biggest fun was to decorate paper christmas trees, as children were divided in 4 competing and very creative workgroups 😉

Cutting out Christmas Tree ;)

Cutting out the Christmas Tree 😉

Working on the christmas tree... 4 trees and 4 wonderful, amicable and creative workgroups :)

Working on the christmas tree… 4 trees and 4 wonderful, amicable and creative workgroups 🙂

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Palestinians scouts :D

Palestinians scouts 😀

DSC00213 DSC00214 DSC00227 DSC00234Effects of this part of the workshop were splendid!

..selecting the winning Christmas Tree ^^

..selecting the winning Christmas Tree ^^

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The group photos at the end of workshops :)

The group photos at the end of workshops 🙂

DSC00221Workshops with our little friends from PCAC exceeded our expectations – children were so enthusiastic, active, creative and smiling!! In the same extremely polite and welcoming for us, ready to listen about our european culture… Once again they proved how open-minded and tolerant is the palestinian young generation.

We’ve liked a lot our experience in PCAC, and so, decided to repeate it in some way in our apartment. This time, idea was to bake some christmas gingerbread with our Hebron Team and two swedish friends Cecilia and Ellen, who are active in women organisation, also based in Al Khalil. We’ve met on Sunday 14.12 and worked hard… At the beginning on „classic” christmas forms, while after on rather original gingerbread design – the check point 😉

Rolling gingerbread dough

Rolling gingerbread dough…

Preparing strategy for new check-point building

Preparing strategy for new check-point building 😛

Gingerbread workshop ^^

Gingerbread workshop ^^

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Our "classic" gingerbread ;)

Our „classic” gingerbread 😉

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...Preparing main actors of the check-point ;)

…Some main actors from the check-point 😉

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…And more of them 😉

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Caramelised sugar instead of glue

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Desigining of doors and windows made with an tasty icing…

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Ta-dammm!! :D The base is ready, now is  time for details and decoration...

Ta-dammm!! 😀 The base is ready, now is time for details and decoration…

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Hebron Team - all 5 of us :D

Hebron Team – all 5 of us 😀

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...Ready to pass through?.. ;)

…Ready to pass through?.. 😉

Israeli soldiers already on guard.. :P

Israeli soldiers already on guard.. 😛

CPT with palestinian elders in traditional kofiya :D

CPT with palestinian elders in traditional kofiya 😀

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Final effect!! :D :D :D

Final effect!! 😀 😀 😀

In Hebron almost doesn’t exist (at least, oficially..) christian community, so it’s almost impossible see any festive accent… Whereas in Jerusalem, in the Christian and Armenian Quarter, preparations for Christmas are clearly visible 🙂

Streets of the Old City in Jerusalem... Christian Quarter

Streets of the Old City in Jerusalem… Christian Quarter

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Christmas Tree in Jerusalem, Old City

Christmas Tree in Jerusalem, Old City

As all the EAPPI volunteers are going to spend Christmas in Betlehemglobal epicenter of Christmas celebrations – hopefully hundreds of beautiful festive pictures will be taken, showing one more face of this multicultural, magic Palestine! 🙂

Working on Bedouin issue in E1 area – study trip with JLAC & Wi’am

On Wednesday, 26.11.2014 a field trip was organized by the palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with JLAC and Wi’am – Palestinian Conflict Resolution & Transformation Center. Participants were formed by about 50 politicians, activists, journalists and volunteers, which were given the opportunity of visiting two Bedouin communities, listening to interesting speeches and taking part in lively discussions.

Map of E1 Plan

Map of E1 Plan

Basic documents

Basic documents

First lecture was given already in the bus...

First lecture was given already in the bus…

First step was in Kasarat village of Jahalin Bedouin

First step was in Kasarat village of Jahalin Bedouin

One of the above mentioned tribes was Jahalin living in a little hamlet Kasarat, located in the zone E1 – supposed to be shortly displaced, as well as about 3 thousands more Bedouins from the area.

Kasarat village in the pouring rain...

Kasarat village – part of the barracks was funded by EU

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Yellow water cart is a real treasure…

The small stream sometimes turns into a torrent, which carries the risk of flooding

The small stream sometimes turns into a torrent, which carries the risk of flooding

20141126_112627 20141126_112612 20141126_112606The village is ubicated in small wadi, along the a road that used to be a minor israeli military route, but with the passage of time has been extended, and plans are to expand it further, which poses a threat to Jahalin people. Another danger represent heavy rains, which cause that water in the river carries much more water and constitutes the risk of flood. Israeli administration simply doesn’t care about it, as well as it doesn’t provide water or electricity to the community. What’s more it also impede to everyone else (like UN or UE aid) to supply it, and often goes as far as to confiscate or damage the already existing infrastructures. As all over the area C in West Bank, also here „stop work orders” and „demolition orders” are something common, and a lot of Bedouin’s structures have been destroyed. People do need a shelter, whether is a roof, tent, barrack or hut. The animals do, as well. But who cares?? No permits, no buildings… And permits are impossible to get. Who cares?…Sometimes they have to struggle for school – it was the case in many Bedouin villages… What does it mean to struggle for school? It’s about acquire the permit, first. No permit?? So it will be built without it. Demolished shortly after. Rebuilt. Demolished again…Illegal structures – any!!! – are unacceptable. Of course. When Isreal really wants to „clear the land” from any people, first it removes the buildings (whole village) and then establishes a closed military zone there – impossible to rebuilt the structures then, because entrance to the military zone is deadly dangerous for the Palestinians. If they are lucky, they might be arrested, usually they will spend some time in jail, but it’s also possible, that a bullet reaches them, before they even will set the foot on the place that was formerly their home. Oficially, Bedouins can’t go to the military zones, because it may undermine their safety, then it’s a way to protect them! So, why israeli settlers don’t need these security measures?.. Are they all born already bulletproof, actually?..

Other „legal” reasons for land seizure by Israel are Master Plans, strategic plans, plans of development of settlements or other infrastructures (like roads…), natural reserves establishing, etc. Where there’s no legal reason, there a legal reason will be created. Area C is where the full civil and military control is ruled by Israel. Okay, but what if somebody feels that the decision of demolition was really unjust, unfair?.. Where to seek for help, then?? At High Court… of Israel, naturally.

On the way for the first meeting in Kasarat village

On the way for the first meeting in Kasarat village

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Discussion with Jahalin Bedouins

Discussion with Jahalin Bedouins

20141126_105041The field trip continues, next stop will be in Nu’ayma near Jericho, a village formed years ago by Bedouins evicted from Negev desert. They live nearly at the border of A and C areas, unfortunately classified as the latter. Even if for a stranger all the houses lying at the foot of the rocky mountains of steep slopes are forming a single large village, in fact they belong to three different families, and the boundaries between them are strictly respected. Bedouin’s tribal structure as well as complicated relationships between families and tribes is the legacy of a long history and rich traditions of these nomadic peoples. As long as the tribes and families don’t violate spatial and moral boundaries, they can coexist peacefully.

But now the vision of the future becomes problematic. Israel prepared for Nu’ayma a big plan called E1. It assumes foundation of a new city – Nu’ayama Talet, where about 1200 Bedouins will live together, regardless which tribe they belong to. These people will be forcibly displaced from their current place of residence – villages in the area concerned by the Plan E1. It might create many social and economic problems, caused by specific features of nomadic people when compelled to settle down on a relative small territory (1000 square metres per family) and sharing this space with other tribes. They wouldn’t be able to continue their herding lifestyle, nor keep on producing red meat and typical dairy products, which they so far supplied for the West Bank. It may result in frustration, anger, hopelessness, and, of course, in unemployment. Then, paradoxically, the only possible source of employment will be neighboring israeli settlements… But they won’t enjoy the same wages or rights as the Israeli citizens. Many times they are subjected of abuses, an incorrect treatment or even unjust accusations.

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Second stop – Nu’ayma village near Jericho, where the new city is planned to be built..

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Thanks to the spring, agriculture is well developed here. But the water supplies won’t be enough for about 1 200 people more!!

20141126_120917 20141126_121017 20141126_130216Inhabitants of Nu’ayama are anxious about their future. How will they get along with the new neighbors? Won’t be their living space very limited? What about the banana and dates plantations? Is there enough water for everyone?..

Meeting Bedouins in Nu'ayma

Meeting Bedouins in Nu’ayma

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Tribal elders (in traditional „kofiya” headwear) with politicians and members of the administration of the Palestinian Authority

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On the left, head of the tribe with granddaughter, men in suits – PA politicians and administrative staff. The smoking man in the middle – Governor of Jericho

20141126_121037 20141126_122038 20141126_122051 20141126_125231Governor of Jericho gave speech in a big tent especially prepared for this occasion. He’s very concerned by the E1 Plan and the fate of inhabitants Nu’ayama. He realizes that their problems may affect the city of Jericho and make more complicated the situation in the region, which is already uneasy. That’s why, using the presence of politicians, journalists, and palestinian and international activists, he was encouraging to more resolute actions to halt Israel from the implementation of its projects.

„We ask you to be clear about your position concerning israeli violations of international law”

„International community should take actions and condemn Israel

„By the resolution of Jewish State Israel is proving its racism”

„Declaration of Jewish State is against Christians as well as Muslims and all the rest”

„We all have the same blood…”

„We don’t like to fight, we don’t like blood, we don’t like killing! But we do have our rights!”

„Israel is pushing us to the corner and if Palestinians will be in the corner, nobody knows what is going to happen… We’re not cowards, we are brave!..

„Palestine is 20 000 km2 and we agreed to build our state on 6 000 km2! Which is not just, which is not fair, but we want peace!!!”

There were also other speeches…

As this one, witnessing harassment of settlers:

Below link to the video reassuming all the most importants ideas of the whole meeting, with the special appeal to international community made by the head of the tribe:

…And finally all perticipants had typical palestinian lunch, with a lot of different appetizers (hummus, few sorts of salad, pita bread…) and delicious roasted meat with french fries as a main course 😉 

20141126_131114 20141126_131328 20141126_132445The study trip was finished with many cups of aromatic arabic coffee and a lot of hopeful wishes about the future… Inch’allah some of them will come true. INCH’ALLAH

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When the settlements need to grow, Bedouins have to be kicked out of the area… Voila israeli E1 Plan

In the mountainous, semidesertic area of West Bank in Palestine almost nothing can be seen, but huge, rocky hills of sandy color, like rounded humps of sleeping camels… Between them cavernous valleys – wadis – sculpt the landscape, filling with water during heavy winter rains, when powerful streams roll down, grabbing everything behind. The rest of the year is dry, hot and sunny, so wadis turn empty and the water become very rare and precious resource, which can be found only in few wells – real tresours of this region. Water means life. Bedouins, original inhabitants of this area, know well how to bear with the rough climate and hard living conditions. They are born to move in vast spaces, searching for the best pastures for their herds, inhaling fresh air and enjoying the the primary and authentic freedom.

These people, with the little they have and with all daily difficulties they face, are one of the most happy, positive and smiling in the world. Leading simple life, they spend time on caring about their animals, raising children, preparing meals, doing some handworks… They are not in a hurry, so they rest calm and peaceful regardless of the circumstances.

But now they do have reason to worry, as the dark clouds gathered over their heads. Israel prepared a plan for their land, a Master Plan called E1 Plan.

The plan covers an area of 12 square kilometres, within the municipal boundary of the israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, a large Israeli settlement located east of the pre-1967 green line. It is located adjacent to and northeast of East Jerusalem and to the west of Ma’ale Adumim. Since 1995 (Oslo II Interim Agreement) E1 falls within Area C of the West Bank, which means that it’s under full Israeli military and civilian control, and is administered by Ma’ale Adumim.

E1 Area connecting Jerusalem and Maale Adumim

E1 Area connecting Jerusalem and Maale Adumim

The reasons of special israeli interests in this territory are many, but the most important is to connect East Jerusalem (annected by Israel) with the settlement Maale Adumim (illegal under international law, as are all the settlements…) and to create an integral whole, so the settlement could develop freely and its jewish inhabitants would be safe and comfortable. Construction in E-1 will further reduce the already narrow corridor that connects the northern and southern West Bank and will impede the establishment of a Palestinian state with territorial contiguity. Israel is planning to build an alternative road that would connect between the two parts of the West Bank for use by Palestinians, but this is no more than a traffic solution. Territorial vs transportation contiguity are two completely different things…

Google Earth Map – View from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea

Google Earth Map – View from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea

According to B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories:

„The implementation of construction plans in E1 will create an urban bloc between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem, exacerbate the isolation of East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and disrupt the territorial contiguity between the northern and southern parts of the West Bank. The establishment of settlements in occupied territory is a breach of international humanitarian law, which prohibits the transfer of people from the occupying state into the occupied area. It also prohibits any permanent changes in the occupied territory, with the exception of changes mandated by military needs or in order to benefit the local population. In addition, the establishment of Israeli settlements leads to numerous violations of Palestinians’ human rights. In addition, the Civil Administration is planning to expel the Bedouin communities currently residing in this area. If the expulsion goes through, it will be a further breach of international humanitarian law, which prohibits the forcible transfer of „protected persons”, such as these communities, other than for their own safety or for an urgent military need. Even then, it is permissible only on a temporary basis. These exceptions are not applicable in this case.”

It’s interesting to compare position of B’Tselem with the document prepared by another israeli institution – Jerusalem Center for Public Affaires:

„Understanding Israeli Interests in the E1 Area: Contiguity, Security, and Jerusalem” by Nadav Shragai

„The Essential Points:
  1. The site for the E1 building plan extends over an area of about 12,000 dunams, most of it state land (sic! state land is considered as no man’s land, which is obviously not true…), northward and westward of the Jerusalem-Maale Adumim road. Through this plan, Israel wants to link Maale Adumim – a city established east of Jerusalem about thirty years ago, in which about 40,000 people now live – with the ridge of Mount Scopus within Jerusalem’s municipal jurisdiction. So far, owing to the opposition of the Palestinians and the international community, the plan has not been implemented.
  1. Three residential neighborhoods, as well as an area for commerce, industry, and hotels, are envisaged for E1. So far only two residential neighborhoods totaling 3,500 housing units have been planned. An additional residential neighborhood, the northern one, and the commercial-industrial zone, which is supposed to link E1 to Jerusalem, are frozen for planning and legal reasons unconnected to the political controversy over the program. A police station and a network of roads and infrastructure have, however, already been built in E1.
  1. All Israeli governments since Yitzhak Rabin’s second tenure as prime minister in the 1990s have supported the program, appreciating the need to create an Israeli urban continuity from Jerusalem to Maale Adumim, leading out to the Dead Sea and the Jordanian border (sic!). That need is incorporated in the Israeli security and urban planning concept, which views Jerusalem and its nearby Jewish communities as a single metropolitan space – “metropolitan Jerusalem”.

(…)

  1. The opposition to building in E1 and to the bypass road is unacceptable to Israel for the following reasons:

a. In the area between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem, along the Jerusalem-Jericho road and in the E1 area, a considerable amount of illegal Palestinian building is in progress (sic! illegal Palestinian building means Bedouins villages, that have been there since ’50…). This illegal activity has already significantly narrowed the corridor along which the central arterial road between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim runs – from two kilometers to one kilometer. The illegal building already threatens to sever and, in the future, preclude Israeli continuity between the two cities.

b. Under the Oslo Agreements, zoning and planning in these areas (Area C) is under the jurisdiction of Israel. Thus, Palestinian construction without any building permit along a main Israeli artery of this sort is a violation of the signed bilateral agreement and is thus illegal (sic! the building permits are almost never coincided to Palestinians, so they have no option, but to built without it…).

c. Israeli avoidance of creating settlement continuity between the Jerusalem area and the Maale Adumim area will inevitably give rise to another, competing, Palestinian continuity running north to south (sic! of course!… isn’t West Bank their own land?…).

d. Even today Israel has great difficulty counteracting such continuity because of the international community’s stance, which opposes any measures against the extensive illegal building in the area (sic! even more should be done to stop E1 Plan…).

e. One practical manifestation of the Israeli weakness is the lack of resolve of the State Attorney’s Office and the Civil Administration in the face of this illegal building. This, among other things, is clearly evident in reports of the Civil Administration Central Supervisory Unit.

(…)

  1. The linking of Jerusalem to Maale Adumim is an overriding Israeli interest for several reasons:

a. Israel cannot allow Maale Adumim to become like Mount Scopus in the 1948-1967 period, when the mount was an isolated Israeli enclave under UN custody with only a road connecting to it.

b. Israel cannot allow a situation to emerge of security and urban discontinuity between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, or the reversion of Jerusalem to a border-town status (as was the case before the Six-Day War) that would preclude the city’s eastward development (sic! so Israel openly admits that its goal is to stop development of the palestinian part of the city…as it already completely annexed West Jerusalem).

c. Israel cannot tolerate a threat to the Jerusalem-Jericho road, on which the Palestinian construction is encroaching. This artery is of supreme strategic importance to Israel. In time of war it would enable moving large quantities of troops to the Jordan Valley and northward, as Israel mobilized its forces to contend with a possible “eastern front.”

d. The area of Maale Adumim, including E1, is part of the strategic depth that Israel requires in the context of defensible borders – again, in the face of an eastern front, and to make it possible to defend its capital, Jerusalem (sic! according to the UN resolutions, Jerusalem has a status of a neutral city, and so, can’t be the capital if Israel…).

e. The area of settlement around Jerusalem, including Maale Adumim, constitutes part of the metropolitan area of Jerusalem. This area incorporates both settlement and security as two vital, complementary components of the Israeli national interest.”

The projects for E1 were conceived in ’90 and then developed by all the israeli governments, particularly strongly after the Second Intifada, in sort of revange on Palestianians and under the cover of security reasons…

In mid-2004, construction commenced on infrastructure in E1. The work was carried out by the Ministry of Construction and was illegal: in the absence of a Specific Town Plan, no permits could be or were issued to allow for this work. The work included the clearing of roads for major highways leading to the planned residential areas and site preparation for the planned police station.

During the 2007 Annapolis Conference, then-prime minister Ehud Olmert and then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni demanded that Ma’aleh Adumim remain a part of Israel.

During the Netanyahu government, the Prime Minister attempted to expedite the E1 Master Plan. A first statutory step to implementation of the plan, which includes general land designations but is not specific enough to allow the issuance of building permits, was undertaken, along with the establishment of a Greater Jerusalem umbrella municipality which was to include Ma’ale Adumim. Netanyahu’s also declared that „the State of Israel will continue to build in Jerusalem and in all the places on the state’s strategic map” is a continuation of the political tradition that views control over E1 as a cardinal Israeli interest.

Since 2008, the headquarters of the Samaria and Judea district of the Israeli Police Department are situated in the E1.

In December 2012, in response to the United Nations approving the Palestinian bid for „non-member observer state” status, Israel announced the next day that it was resuming planning and zoning work in E1 area. EU ministers expressed their „dismay” and five European countries summoned Israeli ambassadors to protest.

There has been wide-scale opposition to the plan – opposition mobilized originally by lawyers and activists, including those associated with Peace Now (an israeli NGO), who closely follow developments in Jerusalem.

The United States has historically opposed the plan, with Israel stopping its construction under pressure of the Bush Administration. In 2009, Israel conducted an additional understanding with the United States government not to build in the E1 zone. Israeli efforts to remove the Bedouins who live on the E1 lands have been interpreted as preparing the ground for settlement construction. The European Union submitted a formal protest to the Israeli Foreign Ministry over evacuating Bedouin and tearing down Palestinians’ houses in the E1 area in December 2011. Israel denied that such evacuations were a preparation for settlement construction.In 2012, Israel announced its intention to build 3,000 new housing units in the zone. A prominent Israel official explained the decision by stating that the agreement with the American government was „no longer relevant„, claiming that the Palestinian Authority had „fundamentally violated” their prior agreements.

Israel’s 2012 plan to move ahead with construction of 3,000 housing units in the E1 zone was faced with widespread international opposition. In particular, the European Union put strong diplomatic pressure on Israel to reverse its decision, and Britain and France threatened to take the unprecedented action of withdrawing their ambassadors in reaction.

The Palestinian Authority threatened to sue Israel in the International Criminal Court for international law and human rights violations over the E1 plan.

The Bedouins from E1 lived originally, prior to the 1948, in the Tel Arad region of the Negev desert… After the foundation of the State of Israel, in the early 1950s, they were evicted from their traditional lands by the israeli army. They re-grouped east of Jerusalem but were forced to end their pastoral life-style after the Israeli conquest of the West Bank in 1967 – the restrictions on movement were imposed, first settlements were built and the palestinian population came under israeli military authority.

One of the tribes living in the area – Jahalin – suffered forced displacement in 1997, when the community was sourrounded by israeli troops and evacuated in order to built Ma’ale Adumim settlement„All the people were taken to the military buses and all their buildings demolished” – as recalls member of the tribe. „They threw us near the dump close to Abu Dis without any roof. It was recently proved that the area is dangerous for people’s health and even life, as provokes illness and cancer.”

 Now the tribe will be displaced for the third time…

In February 2012, Israeli authorities abandoned plans to resettle the Jahalin Bedouin to the Abu Dis garbage dump, but confirmed their intention to concentrate them in one location, which would be contrary to their traditional nomadic lifestyle, based on animals grazing. On 16 September 2014 it was announced that they would be moved to a new area in the Jordan Valley north of Jericho.

Below an interesting article on the subject from „Haaretz” can be found:
„Israeli government plans to forcibly relocate 12,500 Bedouin. Plans to expel communities from land east of Jerusalem and move them to new town in Jordan Valley were drafted without consulting tribes.”

By Amira Hass (16.10.2014)

Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank is advancing a plan to expel thousands of Bedouin from lands east of Jerusalem and forcibly relocate them to a new town in the Jordan Valley.

Between late August and last week, the administration published nine plans that together comprise the master plan for the proposed new town north of Jericho. The plans were drafted without consulting the Bedouin slated to live there, in violation of the Supreme Court’s recommendation.

In explanatory notes to the plans, to which the public now has 60 days to submit objections (please, act now!! fill the objection form…), the administration said its proposal suits the “dynamic changes” Bedouin society is undergoing as it moves from an agricultural society to “a modern society that earns its living by commerce, services, technical trades and more.”

The town is slated for about 12,500 Bedouin from the Jahalin, Kaabneh and Rashaida tribes. It is the third and largest of the towns the administration has designated for Bedouin in the West Bank.

The first is already inhabited by some 300 Jahalin Bedouin, though a portion of this plan has been frozen due to its dangerous proximity to the Abu Dis dump. The second, to be located in the northern Jordan Valley, is still in the planning stage.

Concentrating the Bedouin into a few permanent towns represents the culmination of a 40-year process of limiting their pasturage, restricting their migrations and refusing to let them build permanent homes in places where they have lived for decades. This process accelerated after the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.

Since then, the Civil Administration has issued thousands of demolition orders against Bedouin tents and shacks, to which the Bedouin frequently responded by petitioning the High Court of Justice.

Shlomo Lecker, a lawyer who represented the Bedouin in nearly 100 such cases, told Haaretz that while the court never addressed his claim that the Bedouin were being discriminated against in comparison to Jewish settlers, it did accept his argument that they can’t be evicted when they have no other place to live. That is what prompted the Civil Administration to start planning new towns for them.

The latest plan was commissioned from a Palestinian firm called Asia, which is based in Ramallah. Members of the Rashaida tribe already live on the land earmarked for the new town, to be called Talet Nueima, and four years ago, they consented in principle to its establishment. Rashaida representatives told Haaretz they were reassured by the fact that the planners were Palestinian.

But two years ago, after the plan to relocate some of the Bedouin to the town near the Abu Dis dump was frozen, the Civil Administration altered the original plan for Talet Nueima, deciding to expand the town significantly and use it to house Bedouin from other areas and tribes as well.

Thus the plan grew from a town of some 370 dunams earmarked solely for the Rashaida tribe to one of 1,460 dunams earmarked for three different tribes. The town will be divided into 1,129 half-dunam plots, each of which is supposed to contain two houses plus one agricultural building (sic! just imagine all this people of open spaces, crowded in one cramped city…).

The Palestinian Authority objects to the plan, saying it undermines the PA’s own plan to build a city nearby. While the land is located in Area C, the part of the West Bank under full Israeli control, it is adjacent to Area A, which is under PA control.

During hearings on the petitions filed by Lecker, the High Court repeatedly advised the state to hold a dialogue with the Bedouin before completing the plan.

“We know a little of the history of relocation attempts; we’re aware that there is vehement opposition”, High Court Justice Uzi Vogelman said in April. “The question is whether such processes — which are structural, something at the level of the tribe — shouldn’t be implemented via a higher level of dialogue… The question is whether there is any dialogue forum beyond the announcements or the legal forum. My assessment is that without dialogue, it will be hard to implement these things.”

Jamil Hamadin, a member of the Jahalin tribe, told Haaretz the Civil Administration never consulted with his clan or any other Jahalin clans about the plan. He added that not only does putting different tribes into the same town run counter to Bedouin customs, but so does putting different clans from the same tribe into the same town.

“We’ve replaced wool tents with tin shacks and prefab homes, but that doesn’t mean we’ve changed our customs and laws, which obligate us to live and herd at a great distance from each other, or our need to live in open spaces,” he said.

At a meeting with government attorneys and Civil Administration officials on Thursday, Lecker asked whether, in light of Bedouin opposition to the plan, “the intention is to put the Bedouin on trucks”, as was done to the Jahalin in 1997, when they were evicted from lands that later became part of the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

“We won’t put them on trucks,” said Yuval Turgeman, the administration’s director of Bedouin affairs. “But we’ll take immediate action to demolish their residences and agricultural buildings, because there is an alternative here.”

A spokesman for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said dozens of meetings were held with Bedouin leaders.

As part of the effort to draft master plans “for the benefit of the area’s Bedouin population”, whose purpose is to allow the Bedouin to live in places with suitable infrastructure (sic! but if all the Bedouins search for is freedom, their own life-style and related to it culture…), the spokesman said, several plans to prepare such places have been advanced, partly through such meetings.

Once the plans are completed and building plots have been allocated, he added, all illegal Bedouin construction “will be dealt with in accordance with the law.”

For years the implementation of E1 Plan was frozen, but the last few months showed that the idea is not forgotten, and many important steps were undertaken, in order to push things forward. Threat of another forced displacement hung over the Bedouins inevitably... Only the support from outside can help this vulnerable society, to preserve their traditions and nomadic life-style. That’s way palestinian Jerusalem Legal Aid & Human Rights Center (JLAC) is deeply concerned by this issue and elborated a summary document titled „Forced transfer of Bedouins for the implementation of the E1 Settlement Plan”. Excerpt of this text can be found below:

„Indeed, the situation today has become more pressing than ever for all national, public, civil and official forces to unite efforts in preventing the ethnic cleansing of Bedouins and the ultimate loss of their indigenous way of life through the implementation of the forced relocation plan. Among the most notable devastating ramification of this plan include;

  1. The allocation of a small area (approximately ½ dunum) for each family shall be insufficient for meeting the traditional ancient living needs and livestock requirements of the Bedouins, making a herder life-style impossible.  
  2. The allocation of small areas for each family and bringing more than one tribe from different locations together in a single area shall breach one of the most prominent features of the Bedouin’s life and culture; the insurance of privacy, particularly for women in these communities.
  3. The creation of inappropriate living conditions for Bedouin families that are incompatible with their culture shall compel them to abandon their herder lifestyle in order to seek other livelihoods inconsistent with their culture (i.e. cheap labor in the Israeli settlements without enjoying any rights) or face unemployment.
  4. Uprooting Bedouins from their environmental and economic context may come to accumulate a sense of resentment and humiliation among individuals; creating undesirable tensions between members of the displaced communities with the city of Jericho, in particular.
  5. Above all this, the already fragile Palestinian economy will ultimately be deprived or nearly 13% of red meat and dairy production source, collectively threatening food security and the Palestinian economy.”

In the final part of the foregoing document, an emphatic appeal to the international community is made:

„The E1 Plan has become revealed. However, its gravity lies in its undermining of any opportunity for Palestinians to live under their independent state, with full geographic continuity, and sovereignty over its lands. For the E1 plan – along with the large settlement blocs in the north, middle and south of the West Bank- would make the West Bank a group of closed and geographically disconnected ghettos totally isolated from the city of occupied Jerusalem. In so doing, the notion of establishing a Palestinian State alongside the State of Israel shall be rendered impossible. Rather what will exist is a weak and fragile Palestinian entity, dependent on international aid for securing its minimum living requirements.  Bearing in mind the absence of any actual international pressure on Israel towards halting progress in the plan and continued threat of the Bedouin communities and their existence; all international efforts for the realization of peace, development and ending occupation shall be otherwise fruitless.

The principle of forced displacement as per international law is not only limited to the imposition of physical force, but also involves threat of such force through consequent persecution or violation of human rights. Nevertheless, Israel is still moving forward with its plan, while the world stands still. This silence has allowed for  the existence of a group of indigenous Palestinians, namely, Bedouin communities, to be threatened.  Indeed, the United Nations, has considered Palestinian Bedouins as a threatened indigenous population since 2010.  

Taking into account the intense pressure, which the Bedouin continue to resist, and the serious threats faced by the nation as a whole, we as Palestinian are left only with the option of taking up a decisive existential battle led and driven by joint public, civil and official efforts in challenging the Israeli policy of eradicating the Bedouins’ existence in Palestine in favor of constructing additional housing units for  illegal settlers.

We call upon all signatory states to the Geneva Conventions to respect their legal obligations and provide protection for the Palestinian people against the grave breaches to the Geneva Conventions and the laws of war, to stop providing political and military protection for the apostate Israeli occupation which refuses to obey international laws, and to treat Israel as a rogue and outlaw state.”

Walking around the city – Hebron stories…

While having a walk through Hebron, it’s difficult to remain indifferent to the stories connected with it’s inhabitants and places.

Israeli flag on Shuhada Street, Hebron

Israeli flag on Shuhada Street, Hebron

Today I’m starting my stroll just after our „school run”, on Shuhada Street. The street is closed for the palestinian vehicules in one section, when in another, any mouvement of Palestinians is forbidden. Means of control are formed by few check-points, watchtowers, cameras installed almost everywhere and frequent police and military patrols. Most of the houses are empty, since their locators were forced to leave them in 1994. Paradoxically it was due to a massacre, in which a Jewish settler from Kiryat Arba killed 29 Muslims in the Ibrahimi Mosque. Subsequently, the Yitzhak Rabin-led Government closed the Palestinian shops and prohibited Palestinian vehicular traffic in the nearby Shuhada Street, to protect the settlers (sic!). The army closed down 304 shops and warehouses along Shuhada Street, as well as Palestinian municipal and governmental offices. The central bus station was turned into an army base. The Ibrahimi Mosque was divided into separate sections for Jewish and Muslim worshippers. Only in few houses still live their inhabitants, sometimes forced to use the rooftops of neighboring buildings, to get to their homes. They live under constant surveillance, monitored both by soldiers and police, as well as Israeli settlers.

Shuhada Street - closed shops and empty houses... Hard to believe, that it's the former city centre of Hebron

Shuhada Street – closed shops and empty houses… Hard to believe, that it’s the former city centre of Hebron

Historically, the street was teeming with life, and the ground floors of the building housed shops, cafes, restaurants and service establishments. All those were closed in the blink of an eye, not even giving their owners a chance to move goods and equipment. Street extincted, the buzz was replaced by the sullen silence and the doors of the shops were slammed shut. Ghost city.

Olive trees and the "Abraham Spring" on Tel Rumeida hill

Olive trees and the „Abraham Spring” on Tel Rumeida hill

Above the Shuhada Streer, there’s a hill towering over the city – Tel Rumeida. It is believed that this is the oldest inhabited

part of Hebron. As a result of conducted there excavations, were found the fragments of city walls of approx. 2-3 millennium BC. This area is one of the most attractive in Hebron, considering the splendid panorama of the Old City, the beautiful view of the Ibrahimi Mosque and impressive olive trees dating back to ancient times. But it’s also one of the most controversial places in Hebron.

View of Tel Rumeida

View of Tel Rumeida

The apple of discord in Tel Rumeida is the aforementioned area of archaeological research carried out on private lands belonging to Palestinians, as well as the alleged burial place of some jewish patriarchs (which in fact is a muslim tomb!) , located at the very top of the hill, next to the old mosque. Access to the mosque is closed to non-Jews, and Jewish legacy of presence discussed was the basis for the project „Biblical Park”, which is to be created on the hill Tel Rumeida. Implementation of this plan will lead to the further confiscation of Palestinian land, significant restrictions on the mobility of inhabitants of the hill and to the difficulties in their daily lives, under the guise of concern for „security reasons” …

Palestianian man picking up olives near the Abraham Spring, Tel Rumeida

Palestianian man picking up olives near the Abraham Spring, Tel Rumeida

Tel Rumeida is a dangerous place for walking, according to the locals. Settlers living by Shuhada Street are coming to visit the tomb of (…), to take a bath in so-called „Abraham Spring”, where patriarch was supposed to take a bath some thousands of years ago, or just to have a walk around and to manifest their presence. How do they manifest? Sometimes, through insults, threats, violations of private property (eg, removal of fences, breaking the branches of olive trees, stealing grapes, etc.), less often by violence, pushing, throwing stones, to the use of firearms. What Palestinians can do about it? .. In the best case nothing, more likely (and very common) they can get detained or arrested, when the police / soldiers finally come. Wherever the settlers appear, right and justice is on their side. Jewish words seem to weigh ten times more than their palestinians equivalents. And if the soldier would be eager to believe, that the truth is on palestinian side, he would never admit it. Why should he put in risk his reputation, position, or his own security?! But even when assuming that this soldier is a kamikaze and agrees with the Palestinian, the legal system will not allow to fell a hair of the head of Israelite, while it severely punish the other. Why so? Because in Palestine, or in the Palestinian Authonomy, or rather in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, there are two legal systems: civil (for jewish settlers) and military (for the Arab population). As a result of this situation, Palestinians and Israelis ARE NOT THE EQUAL BEFORE THE LAW. It’s hard to refrain of associations with apartheid in South Africa.

EAPPI team and observing them settler next to a map showing the plan of Biblical Park on Tel Rumeida.

EAPPI team and observing them settler next to a map showing the plan of Biblical Park on Tel Rumeida.

That’s why you have to be careful not to be attacked by the settlers on the hill Tel Rumeida … First, you can be beaten, and then might be arrested and sent to prison.

Now the excavations on the hill top continue, since there’s still a lot to do to unable creation of the Biblical Garden, where

the proud representatives of the Chosen People, will make they strolls. They will walk in the shadow of the millennial olive trees, whose owners won’t be allowed to even set foot on this land. There won’t be any more olive oil from Tel Rumeida… Through the Biblical Garden will be happily running jewish children, smiling and neatly dressed. The question is, where then  will play little Palestinians? .. In Syria, Iraq or Egypt will answer the Israelis there are so many Arab countries! Indeed?.. But why would they leave their hill, houses, olives..?

"Sauron's Eye" and jewish menorah, as a symbol of israeli rule

„Sauron’s Eye” and jewish menorah, as a symbol of israeli rule

The walk continue, I’m leaving behind me Tel Rumeida hill and climbing up another one – higher and offering a wonderful view of almost the entire city. Israeli soldiers also appreciate it, and they built there an impressive watchtower and military base. It allows them to control a huge area, like a Sauron’s Eye.

Little path going along the cliff leads me to the ruins of the house. The building doesn’t look old, but evidence of damage can be clearly seen. Suddenly a group of boys appears between jagged walls and comes towards me. Aged between 10 and 16, in their eyes curiosity is mixed with uncertainty. What kind of intruder might they encounter?.. In my mind, I’m searching for some arabic words that can help me explain my presence there, some way of communication. „International observer”, soldiers„, „settlers„, „peace”, end of occupation” They seem understand it, are becoming more friendly.

One of thousands of houses demolished by israeli governance

One of thousands of houses demolished by israeli governance

The demolished house used by them for a shelter, is an effect of actions of Israel, just as a trace of a rubber bullet on the

leg of one of the boys. After this short „conversation”, I’m asking them for showing me the best way to the Old City. They make me company till the Check-Point 29. It’s better for them not to come any closer… Too many bad memories, a lot of clashes right there, the soldiers might even recognize them.

The Old City is an another whole story, so instead of approaching the Ibrahimi Mosque, which is as the axis of the city, I decide to continue the walk in direction to Kiryat Arba, the oldest, and one of the biggest settlements in Palestine. According to different sources, 6 – 8 thousands of Israelis live there. Founded in 1968, shortly after the Six Day War,

Settlement Kiryat Arba

Settlement Kiryat Arba

the settlement grew over the years and now is a large, independent resort, with its own shops, service providing units and infrastructure. Fenced on all sides, partly by a wall, partly by a wired fence with barbed wire, it’s not available for non-Israelis. Guarded by watchtowers, police, military and private security companies, it’s as like an impregnable stronghold. People who live there are convinced they are on the right side of the conflict, since they’re all Jews, back in the Promised Land, given them by God, thousands of years before.

Riding a donkey - no PALESTINIAN'S cars allowed on the street near the Kiryat Arba

Riding a donkey – no PALESTINIAN’S cars allowed on the street near the Kiryat Arba

They don’t realize that they’re illegaly occupying Palestine, forcing it’s citizens to emdure severe persecutions. In general, settlers seem not to see all the suffering around them, can’t see the human face of the Arab people and treat them as an inferior subspecie. Kiryat Arba is not the only settlement in Hebron – actually, they are seven, scattered in different parts of the city. In long-term perspective, the master plan envisages the permanent link them together and gradual annexation of key localizations. These settlements are like octopus tentacles that slowly entwine the heart of Al Khalil and strive to get rid of its Palestinian inhabitants.

Symbolic crossroads: going left - a path to palestinian's neighbourhood, going right - an alley to the settlement Kiryat Arba

Symbolic crossroads: going left – a path to palestinian’s neighbourhood (the vulnerable houses on the previous picture), going right – an alley to the settlement Kiryat Arba

Here and There

Already two weeks after coming to Palestine and only now the things are becoming clearer.. There’s no one correct vision of the situation, as well, as there’s no single version of the truth in matter of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Exist many different points of view and many realities, so the general picture has nothing to do with coherence. When trying to put the things together, they don’t seem to make sense. In this complex environment, only intuition, common sense and distinction between good and evil allow the orientation in the situation. In case of any doubts, respect for human rights should be the best guideline.

Old City, Jerusalem

Old City, Jerusalem

Market in the Old City, Jerusalem

Market in the Old City, Jerusalem

Ancient ruins in the Old City, Jerusalem

Ancient ruins in the Old City, Jerusalem

Damascus Gate, Old City, Jerusalem

Damascus Gate, Old City, Jerusalem

Church of thr Holy Sepulchre

Church of thr Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

Church of thr Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

Church of thr Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

Wailing Wall, Jerusalem

Wailing Wall, Jerusalem

Cafe near the wall of the Old City, West Jerusalem

Cafe near the wall of the Old City, West Jerusalem

DSC09877Cafe near the wall of the Old City, West Jerusalem

Cafe near the wall of the Old City, West Jerusalem

Mamilla Mal, West Jerusalem

Mamilla Mal, West Jerusalem

West Jerusalem

City Centre, West Jerusalem

Cofe on Mehane Jehuda Street, West Jerusalem

Cafe on Mehane Jehuda Street, West Jerusalem

Sea of Galilee, Israel

Sea of Galilee, Israel

Mount Arbel, Galilee, Israel

Mount Arbel, Galilee, Israel

Mount Arbel Caves, Galilee, Israel

Mount Arbel Caves, Galilee, Israel

Jesus Trail, Galilee, Israel

Jesus Trail, Galilee, Israel

Beduin Tent,

Beduin Tent,

The Citadel, Safad, Israel

The Citadel, Safad, Israel

The Old City, Safad, Israel

The Old City, Safad, Israel

The Old City, Safad, Israel

The Old City, Safad, Israel

That what for Christians is the Holy Land, for Jews is the Promised Land, for tourists all around the world is a part of Middle East sightseeing trips, for the interantional community is a hot spot of long-lasting conflict, but finally, it’s also a Homeland for Palestinians. It becomes even more complicated, when we consider that all the already mentioned groups, or stakeholders, could be devided:

in those, who are conscient of the actual situation in the area, and those, who seem to ignore it,

in those, who are openminded and liberal, and those, who are conservative and radical,

in those, who are still focusing in the past, and those, who deal with the presence, looking forward for the upcoming events,

in those, who are sticking to the jewish version of history, and those, who are eager to listen to the palestinian one,

in those, who have seen the life under occupation, and those, who haven’t.

It’s incredible, how different can be opinions on that subject, and how many pictures and emotions can evoke this one word:

PALESTINE.

Ramallah, view from the bus station

Ramallah, view from the bus station

city centre, Ramallah

Ramallah, city centre

Ramallah, view from the same bus station ;)

Ramallah, view from the same bus station 😉

The market, Old City, Hebron

The market, Old City, Hebron

Hebron's city centre

Hebron’s city center

Hebron's city center

Hebron’s city center

Market at Bab al Zawiyya, Hebron.

Market at Bab al Zawiyya, Hebron.

Market at Bab al Zawiyya, Hebron.

Market at Bab al Zawiyya, Hebron.

Hebron's Old City.

Hebron’s Old City.

Street market, Hebron

Street market, Hebron

Old City, Hebron

Old City, Hebron

The market, Hebron

The market, Hebron

Hebron's city centre

Sreet market, Hebron

Hebron's city centre

Hebron’s city center

It’s almost painful to see here all those thoughtless pilgrims on their way to churches and holy sites, tourists taking photos of the ancient remains, to watch the development of the flourishing State of Israel, while the human tragedy unfolds just few steps aside. One can’t stay indifferent to the injustices and difficulties faced by Palestinians in their daily live. Pervasive restrictions, omnipresent surveillance, humiliation, presumption of guilt, arrests (even of children!), excessive use of violence, sometimes leading to death… All that should be summed up with the constant development of settlements and surrounding them infrastructures, which leads to the enclosure of Palestinians in crowed enclaves, kind of ghettos.. Palestinians are deprived of their land, their rights and their dignity. And all this is taking place on eyes of the international community, which is unable to talk with one voice, putting an end to the occupation.

Israeli soldiers waiting for their usual military action at Damascus Gate, East Jerusalem.

Israeli soldiers waiting for their usual military action at Damascus Gate, East Jerusalem.

Israeli soldiers and police at their position by the entrance to the palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem annexed by Israel in 1967.

Israeli soldiers and police at their position by the entrance to the palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in 1967.

Competing for presence, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem

Israel and Palestine competing for presence, Mount of Olives, Jerusalem

Always ready for new closure, Lions Gate (near Al Aqsa Mosque), Old City, Jerusalem

Israeli police is always ready for new closure, Lions Gate (near Al Aqsa Mosque), Old City, Jerusalem

Restrictions of movement, Old City, Jerusalem

Restrictions of movement, Old City, Jerusalem

Damascus Gate - clashes hot spot, Old City, Jerusalem

Damascus Gate – clashes hot spot, Old City, Jerusalem

Lifta - "ghost village", Jerusalem

Lifta – „ghost village” which palestinian inhabitants were expelled by Israel after war in 1967, Jerusalem

Separat

Separation barrier in Betlehem – one of the symbols of the occupation, segregation and apartheid

Separation barrier with famous graffitti, Betlehem

Separation barrier with famous graffittis, Betlehem

Military base in Betlehem, an area close to the Wall and Aida refugee camp - an usual zone for the clashes

Military base in Betlehem, an area close to the Wall and Aida refugee camp – an usual zone for the clashes

A poster found on one of the main streets in Betlehem

A poster found on one of the main streets in Betlehem

Soldiers by the road between Hebron and Betlehem

Soldiers by the road between Hebron and Betlehem

Check-point between Jerusalem and Betlehem. Car is being checked, because it has a palestinian driver...

Check-point between Jerusalem and Betlehem. Car is being checked, because it has a palestinian driver…

Israeli military post at the entrance to Beit Ummar village - the hot spot and famous zone of clashes in the last few weeks.

Israeli military post at the entrance to Beit Ummar village – the hot spot and famous zone of clashes in the last few weeks.

Police office by Ibrahmi Mosque, Hebron

Police station near the Ibrahmi Mosque, Old City, Hebron

Crossroad... to the left, way to Ibrahimi Mosque, access closed for Palestinians. One of many movement restrictions in Hebron

Crossroad… to the left, way to Ibrahimi Mosque, access closed for Palestinians. One of many movement restrictions in Hebron

Check-point at the Ibrahimi Mosque, Hebron

Check-point at the Ibrahimi Mosque, Hebron

Military post at the Ibrahimi Mosque, Hebron

Military post at the Ibrahimi Mosque, Hebron

Israeli soldiers checking palestinians IDs near Ibrahimi Mosque, Hebron

Israeli soldiers checking palestinians IDs near Ibrahimi Mosque, Hebron

Permanent closure of one of streets in Hebron

Permanent closure of one of streets in Hebron’s Old City

Demolished houses of the Old City in Hebron (in order to create an easy access to the Abraham's Synagogue for settlers from KIryat Arba...)

Demolished houses of the Old City in Hebron (in order to create an easy access to the Abraham’s Synagogue for settlers from Kiryat Arba…).

EAPPI team approaching CP 56 by empty beginning of Shuhada Street... Entrance to the Hebron's "ghost city"

EAPPI team approaching CP 56 by empty beginning of Shuhada Street… Entrance to the Hebron’s „ghost city” – an area which inhabitants were expelled by Israelis

Check-point 56 and it's usual actors: israeli soldiers, Palestinians, TIPH and us ;)

Activists from TIPH (Temprary International Presence in Hebron) by the check-point 56 on Shuhada Street, Hebron

Settlers on Shuhada street - area completely closed for Palestinians, forming part of so-called Hebron's "ghost city"... Houses are empty as a result of masive evictions.

Settlers on Shuhada street – area completely closed for Palestinians, forming part of so-called Hebron’s „ghost city”… Houses are empty as a result of masive evictions.

Closed street in Hebron's Old City - former "chicken market".

Closed street in Hebron’s Old City – former „chicken market”.

Nets protecticting streets of Hebron's old city from the garbage thrown by Israelis from windows of their settlement

Nets protecticting streets of Hebron’s old city from the garbage thrown by Israelis from windows of their settlement

One of the streets of the Hebron's old city seized by israeli settlers - empty houses and closed shops... Area that used to be a lively market

One of the streets of the Hebron’s old city seized by israeli settlers – empty houses and closed shops… Area that used to be a lively market

Beit Hadessah - jewish settlement in the middle of the Old City of Hebron

Beit Hadessah – jewish settlement in the middle of the Old City of Hebron

Rajabi Settlement, Hebron

„Rajabi Building” settlement, Hebron

Settler with the gun going to an illegaly built synagoge - on a private palestinian land, between two settlements...

Settler with the gun going to an illegaly built synagoge – on a private palestinian land, between two settlements…

Riding a donkey - no PALESTINIAN'S cars allowed on the street near the Kiryat Arba

Riding a donkey – no PALESTINIAN’S cars allowed on the street near the Kiryat Arba

Symbolic crossroads: going left - a path to palestinian's neighbourhood, going right - an alley to the settlement Kiryat Arba

Symbolic crossroads: going left – a path to palestinian’s neighbourhood, going right – an alley to the settlement Kiryat Arba

Uneasy neighbours - palestinian house just below the settlement Kiryat Arba

Uneasy neighbours – palestinian house just below the settlement Kiryat Arba

Palestinian house just below the settlement Kiryat Arba - garbage thrown by Israelis often end up on the roof or in the courtyard

Palestinian house just below the settlement Kiryat Arba – garbage thrown by Israelis often end up on the roof or in the courtyard

Hebron - green road sign indicating the direction to Jerusalem and Beer Sheva ... Unfortunately, these roads are closed to Palestinians, available exclusively for the Settlers

Hebron – green road sign indicating the direction to Jerusalem and Beer Sheeva … Unfortunately, these roads are closed to Palestinians, available exclusively for the Settlers

An abandoned vineyard in a palestianian area between two settlements - Kiryat Arba and Harsina - people are so afraid of harassments by settlers, that they don't dare to enter their own land...

An abandoned vineyard in a palestianian area between two settlements – Kiryat Arba and Harsina – people are so afraid of harassments by settlers, that they don’t dare to enter their own land…

An abandoned house in the same area.

An abandoned house in the same area.

A gate closing the road for the palestinian cars...

A gate closing the road for the palestinian cars…

Palestinian house near to the Harsina settlement (Hebron). Its inhabitants try to cultivate their land, but often they are atacked by settlers, while working... The crops many times were damaged or stolen.

Palestinian house near to the Harsina settlement (Hebron). Its inhabitants try to cultivate their land, but often they are atacked by settlers, while working… The crops many times are damaged or stolen.

Palestinian house near Kiryat Arba (Hebron) settlement... Harassments by Isralis are common - mainly stone and garbage throwing, sometimes also waste water or molotov coctails

Palestinian house near Kiryat Arba (Hebron) settlement… Harassments by Isralis are common – mainly stone and garbage throwing, sometimes also waste water or molotov coctails

Two different worlds, two unequal roads... Going left - Palestinian's, going right - Israelis

Two different worlds, two unequal roads… Going left – Palestinian’s, going right – Israelis. Palestinian cars can’t enter the area, so for them only pedestrian / donkey traffic is permitted.

Military post on the hill Tel Rumeida, Hebron

Military post on the hill Tel Rumeida, Hebron

An old watchtower on Tel Rumeida hill, Hebron

An old watchtower on Tel Rumeida hill, Hebron

Apart of the people living in the occupied area, almost nobody really knows, what’s going on there: nor the ordinary israeli citizens, nor the Palestinians living in Isreal (so-called „palestinian Arabs”), nor the Jews from the disapora all around the world, nor the tourists visiting Holy Land, nor the international community, leading organisations and politicians included.

Waiting for Hebron's "settlers tour" in Bab-al-Baladiyya. Soldiers are accompaning settlers during their walk throught the Old City.

Waiting for Hebron’s „settlers tour” in Bab-al-Baladiyya. Soldiers are accompaning settlers during their walk throught the Old City.

Israeli soldiers during the "settlers tour" in the Hebron's Old City.

Israeli soldiers during the „settlers tour” in the Hebron’s Old City.

Palestinians children in Hebron's old city, observing "settlers tour".

Palestinians children in Hebron’s old city, observing „settlers tour”.

Israeli soldiers running to fight Palestinians at clashes at Check-point 209, Hebron's Old City.

Israeli soldiers running to fight Palestinians at clashes at Check-point 29, Hebron’s Old City.

Israeli military truck and the area of Check-point 209 in Hebron. Smoke of tear gas visible in the background.

Israeli military truck and the area of Check-point 29 in Hebron. Smoke of tear gas visible in the background.

Israeli soldiers during the clashes with Palestinians at Check-point 209.

Israeli soldiers during the clashes with Palestinians at Check-point 29.

Soldiers at CP 209 in Hebron - one of the main hot spots...

Soldiers at CP 209 in Hebron – one of the main hot spots…

Israeli military post on Shuhada Street, Hebron

Israeli military post on Shuhada Street, Hebron. Settlers youth often play there with the soldiers.

Israeli soldiers by CP 209 (Hebron) just after clashes with palestinian youth (all about stone throwing...). Tear gas and rubber bullets are the most common countermeasures, agains stones...

Israeli soldiers by CP 29 (Hebron) just after clashes with palestinian youth (all about stone throwing…). Tear gas and rubber bullets are the most common countermeasures, agains stones…

Palestinian soldiers in Hebrons H1 area, governated by Palestinian Authonomy (viwe from our apartment)

Palestinian soldiers in Hebrons H1 area, governated by Palestinian Authonomy (view from our apartment)

Palestinian preparing for demostration related to the israeli closure of Al Aqsa mosque, Bab al Zawiyya, Hebron

Palestinian preparing for demostration related to the israeli closure of Al Aqsa mosque, Bab al Zawiyya, Hebron

While living our daily life in Palestine, for the next ten weeks, we’ll try to understand better the nature of one of the most complicated and complex, contemporary conflict… While the tension is growing – clashes, arrests and deaths have multiplicated and become the daily routine, we’ll still be trying to prepare ground for peace. And we’re not alone – the palestinian, israeli and international organisations keep fighting for non-violent and enduring solutions. When joining our efforts, we can manage a significant improvement of the situation, leading to the end of the occupation, INCH’ALLAH.

Palestianian children in Hebron's old city.

Palestianian children in Hebron’s old city.

Banksy's "Dove of Peace", Betlehem

Banksy’s „Dove of Peace”, Betlehem

Gethsemane Garden - millennial olive trees and a call for peace

Gethsemane Garden – millennial olive trees and a call for peace, Jerusalem