Saturday, January 01, 2005

Interim Between Trips I & II

I left Palestine on January 12, 2004. Kate was deported 5 days later, after more than 2 weeks in jail. She is not the first IWPS team member to be deported by Israel, and she probably won’t be the last. Although physically harming international volunteers could entail undesirable diplomatic repercussions, Israel is free to prevent internationals who admit to working with Palestinians from entering Palestine, since Israel controls all movement into, within, and out of Palestine. As a result, IWPS volunteer numbers are dwindling.

In the fall of 2004 I was informed that IWPS needed volunteers in early 2005, so in February I flew to Israel and crossed into the West Bank for 3 more months in Haris. The Wall had grown quite a bit during my absence despite the International Court of Justice’s ruling in July that Israel’s Wall[1] was in breach of international law and a violation of Palestinians’ human rights and right to self-determination. The court demanded that Israel cease construction of, dismantle, and make reparation for all damage caused by the Wall. Israel responded by rejecting the court’s opinion and declaring its intentions to continue Wall construction. The United States continued its unwavering financial support for the Wall by increasing its billions of dollars of foreign military financing of Israel the following year.[2]

Nonviolent resistance continued all over Palestine throughout 2004, and much of it was met with violence from the Israeli army. During the 12 months that I was gone, Palestinians killed about 110 Israelis. During that same period, Israeli Occupation Forces and settlers, killed more than 935 Palestinians.[3] Whenever Palestinian violence against Israelis stopped, the government cited the change as proof of the Wall’s efficacy. When Palestinian attacks resumed, the government cited Israeli casualties as justification for the Wall.

One promising piece of news: continuous nonviolent demonstrations in Budrus village succeeded in getting the Wall’s path near Budrus moved all the way to the Green Line, except for a dozen acres in one area that are still threatened with annexation. Villagers continue to demonstrate nonviolently for these last acres; their actions have included cutting through large chunks of the fence. In response, the army is replacing the wire-fence Wall near the village with a concrete one.

[1] The ICJ deliberately chose to use the term “Wall,” rather than “Separation Barrier.”

[2] Frida Berrigan and William D. Hartung, “U.S. Military Assistance and Arms Transfers to Israel: U.S. Aid, Companies Fuel Israeli Military,World Policy Institute.

[3] Middle East Policy Council (December 31, 2004).

“Numbers do not include Palestinian suicide bombers (or other attackers) nor do they include Palestinians targeted for assassination, though bystanders killed during these assassinations are counted. However, [Israeli] soldiers killed during incursions into Palestinian lands are counted. Data collected from B’tselem, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

No comments: