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Traveling around the occupied territories of Palestine

After these last weeks traveling around Israel, Palestine and Jordan, knowing first hand the Arab-Israeli conflict talking to people with different viewpoints, I feel that more than one post about it is coming, so I’ll start with this one explaining what is basically a fact: The Israeli occupation on Palestine and how it is lived

According to the Oslo Accords signed in 1994 by both Palestinian and Israelian sides, the Palestinian land in the West Bank is divided into three kinds of territory:

  • Area A: The Palestinian National Authority has both civil and military control. 
  • Area B: The control is divided. While the Palestinian Authority has civil control, the Israeli army has military control. 
  • Area C: Israel has both military and civil total control. 

 
Israeli citizens, who for easy distinction have a blue cover for their ID, can cross without problem to Palestine in Areas B and C but they have strictly forbidden the access to Area A, as its government understands that they cannot protect them there.

On the other hand, Palestinians citizens non-resident in Israel, with green cover on their ID, cannot cross into Israel unless they have express permission from the Israeli government.  

 

    Colonizing Palestinian territory

Since 1967, Israel has been building Jewish settlements, in other words colonies, in Palestinian, Egyptian and Syrian territories. The colonies of Gaza and Egypt eventually were dismantled but still today the Golan region remains disputed with Syria and there are hundreds of settlements in the West Bank.

It is so unpleasant to be walking around Palestinian territories seeing real humbleness around and suddenly find a settlement there. Equipped with big, clean and nice houses, always surrounded with a fence and military forces, around and in the entrance door, all of them totally armed up. Should be said also that the Israeli government understands that all these colonies must be connected to the state of Israel itself, sometimes even creating roads in the Palestinian territories where the Palestinians themselves cannot circulate. At the same time, seems that this same government couldn´t care less that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are not connected.
 

    Controlling the civilians

Whether if you want to cross from the West Bank to Israel, to move between Palestinian regions, to cross from the West Bank to Jordan, to enter an Israeli settlement or to control in general who takes a particular road, there are checkpoints. Basically these are barriers placed by the Israeli military forces in the whole territory of the West Bank to identify people passing, and intervene if they see a threat to Israel. Being so, the military have full power to make you stop, to have you hours waiting and even to send you back, without having to justify more than a mere suspicion.

Signboard in the checkpoint’s entrance in the road that connects Ramallah with Jerusalem.

 

    Building walls of the past

During the second intifada, Israel began to construct in 2002 a wall that separated the state of Israel and the West Bank. This one, that today already extends over 500 kilometers, makes you remember of a certain wall at Berlin that costed too much to bring down. Although it has been denounced by various organizations and in 2004 the International Court of Justice (the primary judicial organ of the United Nations) determined violation of Palestinians human rights and asked to stop the construction and remove the part that was already built up, the government of Israel not only ignored it but today keeps on building it, under the pretext of the need for protection of the Arabs.

On the left, a control tower of the wall. On the center and on the right, two graffiti protests.

 

    From the military occupation to annexation

Finally, the problem is that Palestine is no longer only a military occupied country but several parts are de facto annexed to the state of Israel territory. 

For starters, East Jerusalem, that should be the capital of the State of Palestine, is fully and illegally annexed since 1980 under the called law of Jerusalem.

The fact of Rachel’s Tomb is even crazier. This is a holy place for Christians, Jews and Muslims and is located in the town of Bethlehem, at Palestine. However, Israel has also annexed it extending the fence into the West Bank trespassing enough territory to leave the tomb in his side, making impossible to access it from Bethlehem or anywhere else in the Palestinian territory.

If we add the aforementioned Jewish settlements in all over the territory and that over 80% of the separation fence is being built on Palestinian territory (separating villages, fields of cultivated land or whatever ahead) to leave on the other side of the wall the Israeli settlements that are close to the border, we find there a de facto annexation of Palestinian territory and the military and civilian control (Area B and C) of much of the rest.

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