Nothing gets better, it only gets worse…

October 2, 2007 at 2:35 pm | Posted in bilal | Leave a comment
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2005- I visited Palestine and was depressed by what I saw.

2006- Over a year later I was fortunate enough to travel to Palestine again, and I was unfortunately even more depressed! 

I lived in a refugee camp for a few days. When you hear refugee camp you probably think tents, dust and something temporary. But not in Palestine.   

Al-Fara’a Camp was established in 1949. After the Nakba, 750 000 Palestinians were expelled from the homes following the creation of Israel. For seven years, the camp consisted of only tents. The camp was meant to be temporary- people kept their bags packed and keys to their homes in their pockets. They were ready to return home at short notice.  Life in Occupied Palestine was difficult then, as it is now. Life in a refugee camp was even more difficult, and it has not gotten much better in the past 58 years. Where the tents stood, basic four walled homes replaced them.

Over the years, after nearly six decades and four generations, these became three stories high. One story for each generation born in exile, born as refugees inside Palestine itself.  The borders of the refugee camps are clearly defined and have not changed for the past 58 years. Camps are not allowed to expand outwards- they only go up. But so has the population. This has resulted in closely packed homes and extremely narrow streets.

There is no place for kids to play, run and have fun- but if you look up, just across the valley, the sun reflects of swimming pools. Kids in settlements have swimming pools and soccer fields. Kids in camps have narrow streets and tiny rooftops. The Apartheid Wall snakes through the West Bank, separating Palestinians from their land. Separating kids from schools and friends, farmers from their fields, the sick from medical assistance and thousands from the sources of their livelihoods.  

Even more Palestinian land has been confiscated by the Wall- for ‘security’ reasons. Look up, across the valley, on the other side of the Wall, on Palestinian land that has been stolen and you see fields being irrigated by water that has also been stolen from Palestinians!  The farmer can see this. He now has a tiny piece of land on which he tries to grow just enough so that he can put food on the table. He works hard on this land, struggling with barely enough water to irrigate his crops. While across the valley, crops are flourishing in the Israeli settlement irrigated by water redirected from seized Palestinian wells. Crops grown on stolen land, irrigated with stolen water, yet still easily make it onto the shelves of supermarkets in Sandton, Europe and even Benoni.  

And that same farmer, whose land and water was stolen, who now struggles to earn a living on a tiny piece of land, faces the soldiers, who live in the settlements, at the many checkpoints on a daily basis. The soldiers who live on a settlement built on stolen land, a settlement with nice palm tree lined tar roads, settlements with shopping malls, universities, swimming pools and soccer fields. The farmer gets delayed at these checkpoints for hours on end, and often his produce goes bad sitting in the sun. He rarely makes it to the nearby market to sell the little he was able to grow. Yet the produce grown on land stolen from him and irrigated with water stolen from him, makes it onto shelves all over the world.  

It is about time we began working with solidarity groups and civil society organisations around the world to respond to the call by Palestinian civil society for a global campaign of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), based on building a non-violent movement of opposition to Israeli apartheid and occupation. 

We can no longer shut our eyes to the urgent crisis facing the Palestinian people and the obligations of the international community to end it. We need to be part of those working towards creating a new reality – based on justice, human rights and international law – to end the occupation and realise the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.  

The just struggle of the Palestinian people WILL DEFINITELY see its proper end, sooner or later, with or without our efforts and sacrifice. We will see the destruction of the Apartheid Wall, the dismantling of all the Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas, the return of Palestinian refugees and the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem.

We, people of conscience, need to seriously commit ourselves to playing our role towards, God willing, this inevitable end.

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