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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احتفال means CELEBRATION – few reflexions on the palestinian identity

Flag of Palestine

Flag of Palestine

Discussion on the „palestinian identity” is controversial and opinions on this topic are as many, as many are the partakers… According to some, there have never existed and never wasn’t formed Palestinian people. By other Palestinians lived on this land for thousands of years Yet others say that the Palestinian people gradually emerged in the first half of the twentieth century, then took more shaped form and enabled the birth of the palestinian national identity. A lot of people (obviously also Israelis…) reject existance of the Palestinian people, considering them only as an integral part of Arab population and refusing them rights to any claims about national identity. Even the arab inhabitants of the historical land of Palestine aren’t unanimous whether they can be called Palestinians, or not.

Leaving this discussion behind, the fact is that on 15 November of 1988, in Algiers, The Palestinian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed by Yasser Arafat, which officialy gave basis for the palestinian national identity.The statement was written by famous palestinian poet – Mahmoud Darwish. It might be interesting to quote some passages of this document:

„Palestine, the land of the three monotheistic faiths, is where the Palestinian Arab people was born, on which it grew, developed and excelled. The Palestinian people was never separated from or diminished in its integral bonds with Palestine. Thus the Palestinian Arab people ensured for itself an everlasting union between itself, its land and its history.

Resolute throughout that history, the Palestinian Arab people forged its national identity, rising even to imagined levels in its defense, as invasion, the design of others, and the appeal special to Palestine’s ancient and luminous place on that eminence where powers and civilisations are joined … All this intervened thereby to deprive the people of its political independence. Yet the undying connection between Palestine and its people secured for the land its character, and for the people its national genius.

Nourished by an unfolding series of civilisations and cultures, inspired by a heritage rich in variety and kind, the Palestinian Arab people added to its stature by consolidating a union between itself and its patrimonial Land. The call went out from Temple, Church and Mosque that to praise the Creator, to celebrate compassion and peace was indeed the message of Palestine. And in generation after generation, the Palestinian Arab people gave of itself unsparingly in the valiant battle for liberation and homeland. For what has been the unbroken chain of our people’s rebellions but the heroic embodiment of our will for national independence? And so the people was sustained in the struggle to stay and lo prevail.”

The part which is the most important fragment of the Declaration can be find below:

„Whereas the Palestinian people reaffirms most definitively its inalienable rights in the land of its patrimony: Now by virtue of natural, historical and legal rights, and the sacrifices of successive generations who gave of themselves in defense of the freedom and independence of their homeland; In pursuance of Resolutions adopted by Arab Summit Conferences and relying on the authority bestowed by international legitimacy as embodied in the Resolutions of the United Nations Organisation since 1947; And in exercise by the Palestinian Arab people of its rights to self-determination, political independence and sovereignty over its territory, The Palestine National Council, in the name of God, and in the name of the Palestinian Arab people, hereby proclaims the establishment of the State of Palestine on our Palestinian territory with its capital Jerusalem (Al-Quds Ash-Sharif).

The State of Palestine is the state of Palestinians wherever they may be. The state is for them to enjoy in it their collective national and cultural identity, theirs to pursue in it a complete equality of rights.”

Unquestionable ties with the Arab world community indicated in the following passage:

Coat of arms of State of Palestine, almost identic to its egyptian equivalent..

Coat of arms of State of Palestine, almost identic to its egyptian equivalent..

„The State of Palestine is an Arab state, an integral and indivisible part of the Arab nation, at one with that nation in heritage and civilisation, with it also in its aspiration for liberation, progress, democracy and unity”.

During all kind of palestinian calebrations, whether it’s some official national event or an opening of a new kindergarten, „Fida’i” – the Palestinian national anthem can be heard. It was addopted by PLO in 1996. „Fida’i” means „My Redemption”. It was written by Said Al Mozayen (aka Fata Al Thawra – „boy of the revolution”).

Fida’i

My country, my country
My country, my land, land of my ancestors
Fida’i, Fida’i
Fida’i, my people, people of eternity

With my determination, my fire and the volcano of my vendetta
With the longing in my blood for my land and my home
I have climbed the mountains and fought the wars
I have conquered the impossible, and crossed the frontiers

Palestinian flag on the door of one of the houses in Hebron Old City, near Beit Hadassah settlement

Palestinian flag on the door of one of the houses in Hebron Old City, near Beit Hadassah settlement

With the resolve of the winds and the fire of the weapons
And the determination of my nation in the land of struggle
Palestine is my home, Palestine is my fire,
Palestine is my vendetta and the land of withstanding

By the oath under the shade of the flag
By my land and nation, and the fire of pain
I will live as a Fida’i, I will remain a redeemer,
I will die as a Fida’i – until my country returns

Fida’i…

Since we’ve came to Palestine, many different public events were organised and at every step we could observe palestinian symbols: the flag, the emblem and the anthem. People seem to be really proud of them, even if in comparison with the countries around the world, Palestine is rather young one.

Here few examples of our experiences with the palestinian national identity, in Hebron’s every day life:

The moment of hanging flags above the new kindergarten - in the background Beit Hadassah settlement...

The moment of hanging flags above the new kindergarten – in the background Beit Hadassah settlement…

The opening of a new palestinian kindergarten on Tel Rumeida hill – strategic point of the israeli project of connecting the settlements on Shuhada Street with the so-called „Biblical Park” which is designed to be created on the hill. Many people have participated in the inauguration of this new entity: officials, local activists, international guests, reporters, as well as teachers, parents and children, as the main actors 😉 Palestianian flags were omnipresent, proudly waving in the wind… While listening to the national anthem, everyone was standing up. The whole ceremony was maintained in the lofty and somewhat pompous tone.

The backyard of the kindergarten decorated with palestinian flags

The courtyard of the kindergarten decorated with palestinian flags

The building of kindergarten covered with suggestive paintings..

The building of kindergarten covered with suggestive paintings..

Children proudly holding palestianian flags

Children proudly holding palestianian flags

There were so many cameras and journalists that it created the impression that there were more, than the participants of the ceremony … Small courtyard at the kindergarten was completely crowded 😉

20141104_112724Palestinians love every kind of meetings, debates, workshops and other events, where people have the possibility to gather, to talk, to exchange some experiences and ideas, to eat delicious sweets and pastries, and of course, to drink hectolitres of tea and coffee… People seem to enjoy a lot speeches, both – the rhetorical art and the ability of an attentive listening 🙂

Below some photos of the meeting at place of our local contact from UN OCHA in Hebron:
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During the 3 weeks which we’ve spent in Hebron, we’ve got a lot of invitations for a variety of activities and celebrations.

Projects, workshops, exhibitions, discussions, movie screenings, festivals, etc… One ends with impression, that Al Khalil hosts those events on daily basis.

Here are photos from the inauguration of new edition of the envrironmental project „Smart Leaders” lounched by the Palestinian Chlidren Art Centre in Hebron. The objective of this initiative is to encourage youth Palestinians to the responsible and conscious behaviour towards the environment. During the ceremony we had possibility to listen to the traditional palestinian songs performed by one of the Smart Leaders.. 🙂

DSC09908DSC09906

In the Hebron’s Old City many ideas of social work are being developing… One of them is children’s library „Hope for Homes” in the heart of Al Khalil. Project is conducted by municipalities in cooperation with Hebron Rehabilitation Committee and Temporary International Presence in Hebron.

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View from the roof of the library... Military post in the background

View from the roof of the library… Military post in the background

another view from the roof  - labyrinth of the Al Khalil Old City..

Another view from the roof – labyrinth of the Al Khalil Old City..

Another interesting thing that one can find in the Old City, are all sorts of traditional palestinian handicraft, such as pottery, ornaments and jewelery, leather accessories, textiles, knitted and embroidered dresses, sand art, and others.

??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????20141111_140139 20141111_140156 ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? DSC09835On the occasion of the 26th anniversary of proclamation of the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, city of Hebron hosted a colorful fair of traditional crafts, performed by local women. The exhibition room was decorated with palestinian flags and portraits of Yasser Arafat. For 3 days one could admire the artistry of the palestinian folk art.

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Finally, as a Hebron Team of EAPPI, we also contribute to mark some palestinian accents at our place, adopting the mentioned before national identity 😀

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??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????Conclusion which can be made is that the palestinian national identity, even if still young, develops quickly and gains more and more space… It can be seen, heard and felt, as an omnipresent palestinian soul 🙂

It’s difficult to deny its existence, as it reaches every place, spreading around by the dynamics of the active palestinian society!

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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