Life in the West Bank
By GEORGE LONGSTETH, MD
and KAREN LONGSTETH, RN
"Our experience in the West Bank this summer gave us a view seldom seen by Americans of Palestinian life under Israeli military occupation. Disregarding travel warnings from the U.S. State Department, we volunteered at hospitals and clinics, visited aid organizations, and traveled widely from our base in Ramallah. We talked with Palestinians of varying ages and occupations. Most seemed resigned to a bleak future, some feeling hopeless that the 40-year occupation would ever end. We observed widespread anguish and economic and social deprivation from Israeli actions.
Among the most deleterious Israeli policies is restriction of mobility. About 40 percent of the West Bank is off-limits to Palestinians. There are more than 120 settlements built on confiscated land and separate roads for the 250,000 Israeli settlers. More than 600 vehicle checkpoints and obstacles slow travel in the West Bank, an area slightly smaller than Delaware. Therefore, the former 10-minute drive between Jerusalem and Bethlehem took us one hour by a circuitous route. At checkpoints, soldiers pointed guns at us and other travelers while sluggishly checking IDs.......
Israeli policies in the West Bank seem designed to eliminate Palestinians by making life so difficult for them that they leave. A Palestinian Red Crescent official told us that Israel discourages foreign humanitarian workers from coming to the West Bank because "they don't want the world to see what they are doing." Our experiences amply support President Carter's description of Palestine as an "apartheid" state. In pursuit of its self-defense, Israel should not be permitted to act at the expense of the basic human rights, dignity and survival of the Palestinians......"