Thursday, May 22, 2008
The scale of the Israeli government's crimes in the West Bank is all too clear on a tour organised by a local NGO
By Seth Freedman
".......So, today, I went on the exact same ICAHD tour for the third time - this time with an open mind and a clear conscience as to my previous encounters with them - and spent the entirety of the trip trying to look at the evidence through objective eyes. Of course, I can already envision the howls of derision that will appear on the thread, denouncing me as anything but objective, but there's little I can do about it. The raw truth of the occupation speaks for itself, and I see myself as little more than a conduit when it comes to shedding light on the facts on the ground.
After a lengthy briefing by ICAHD founder Jeff Halper at the organisation's West Jerusalem headquarters, in which he destroyed the credibility of the "separation barrier brings security" theory, we set off in a bus to tour the occupied zones of East Jerusalem and the adjoining West Bank neighbourhoods.......
We continued to Maaleh Adumim, an opulent and thriving city of 40,000 settlers deep in the occupied territories, witnessing for ourselves the flagrant breaches of international law taking place there. "The Geneva convention states that an occupying power may not make use of the area's natural resources," said Halper, "yet look around you." Everywhere was evidence of the theft being carried out by the authorities: lush, well-tended grass verges along the roadsides; huge municipal swimming pools in the heart of the town; and an ironic "doves of peace" fountain which spewed out streams of water into the baking desert air.
Israelis use 85% of the water in the West Bank, not to mention all of the other resources that are plundered on their behalf by the government. On top of this, there is the all-too-clear intention of the authorities to make the occupation a permanent one. "It began with Sharon in the 1970s", said Halper. "And now, after 30 years of unlimited budgets and continual expansion in the West Bank, the government has, by its own hand, destroyed the feasibility of a two-state solution." He maintained that it was impossible to create a viable Palestinian state whilst the settlement monoliths such as Maaleh Adumim prevented a contiguous band of territory being available to the Palestinians.
A professor of anthropology, Halper said that the way to understand the government's intentions was to approach the issue "from the ground up. We have to start with the facts on the ground, and every settlement expansion, every punitive measure taken to drive the Palestinians out, only points to one thing: that the authorities want to speed up the process of domination. We [the opponents of the policies] can't move slowly, since Israel's actions are proactive. Despite being framed as reactive measures against terror, the truth is they are not. Otherwise why, for example, hasn't the "security" wall been completed, if the true aim of their endeavours here is simply to protect themselves?"......."