From: ALL the news that doesn't fIT <NY-Transfer_News@blythe.org>
Subject: Israel Sets Up Apartheid Zones
Date: Thu, 30 May 2002 16:29:58 -0400
At every checkpoint and roadblock you can feel the rage and frustration. The Israeli military lockdown controls every aspect of life in occupied Palestine.
To travel a 10-mile stretch of road between East Jerusalem and Ramallah involves long waits, numerous ID checks, changing cabs and vans up to three times, taking back roads and no roads, then walking for a mile past Israeli army tanks and heavily fortified gun emplacements.
This is daily life for tens of thousands of Palestinians.
In Gaza on the only road running from north to south, the line of
stalled traffic stretches over a mile. For more than seven hours the
hot sun has beat down on thousands of angry drivers and their
passengers. While young children run up and down the gridlock of cars,
trucks, buses and vans, many older people try to find some shade. The
waiting is all the more painful because no one knows when he or she
will be allowed to pass--or, if they pass, whether they will be able
to return. For hundreds of feet on both sides of the road we see
gashed, barren fields. Homes and groves of orange and olive trees have
been bulldozed for
An 8-foot wall of cement barricades stretches into the distance, dividing the highway into an Israeli settler road on one side and a Palestinian road on the other.
On the Israeli side of the wall, the cars and trucks of settlers with yellow Israeli license plates zip past. Israeli tanks move back and forth into position.
On the Palestinian side of the wall, all traffic is choked off at the checkpoint for most of each day.
After hours of waiting, the road may open for a couple of hours. There is no schedule, no way of knowing when or why or how many cars will be allowed through. Fruit sits rotting in the hot sun. Truckloads of cattle and chickens can die before they reach market. Medicines and other fragile materials are spoiled.
Because we had U.S. passports, the Palestinian truckers we talked to suggested we try approaching the cement bunker to ask how long the blockade would last. Although we weren't hopeful of receiving any information, we agreed. Our hands high in the air, holding up our passports, we slowly approached the gun barrels poking out of slits in the round cement bunker at the checkpoint. Behind them was a line of tanks.
The Israeli soldiers yelled to us that as Americans we could come to
the front of the line and then travel on the Israeli side of the
walled road. We declined. They didn't know or care how long the
Palestinians would have to wait. They were
Because of the closure the ANSWER delegation was able to visit only half of the 30-mile sandy strip of land along the Mediterranean known as Gaza. The people who live there are unable to leave. Palestinians from the West Bank cannot enter Gaza.
The day after our wait at the checkpoint, Gaza was further divided into two parts. It is no longer possible for Palestinians living in Jabalya Camp or Gaza City to travel a few miles south to Rafa or Khan Younis. Only Israeli settlers and a few Palestinians with special permits can move around. Only restricted amounts of food are let in to prevent the population from stockpiling food for use during an Israeli offensive.
Social cohesion and mobilization of the entire population are used as a form of mass resistance. Based on the experience in the West Bank, where medical staff and ambulances were prevented from reaching injured people, medical care in Gaza is being reorganized and widely dispersed. Hundreds of emergency medical kits have been distributed throughout many neighborhoods.
The roadblocks and checkpoints are part of the U.S.- supported Israeli effort to totally strangle the Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, of the past year and a half. Now even the limited autonomy of the Palestinian Authority in the cities of the West Bank and Gaza has ended. During our visit we saw that the policy of checkpoints had evolved into a total lockdown of the population into small ghettos, surrounded by barbed wire and cement walls.
Israeli tanks and troops move at will into and out of Zone A areas, that were to be administered by the PA. Apache attack helicopters swoop in to carry out missile strikes and assassinations.
The 2.1 million Palestinians who live on the West Bank have been walled off into eight ghettos, where Palestinians are totally surrounded and locked down.
The average Palestinian is no longer permitted to move anywhere outside his or her area of residence. Even traveling 10 miles for work or school is prohibited; so is an emergency visit to check on an aged parent.
Under the newest restrictions trucks throughout the West Bank will not be permitted to enter the eight zones. The entire contents of each truck will have to be unloaded, inspected and transported to another local truck authorized to operate within the zone. This time-consuming and expensive process will add to the cost of basic food and daily necessities. This systematic strangulation of the local economy is already in place in Gaza.
No Palestinians will be permitted into Israel at all. Already tens of thousands of Palestinians who used to line up for day labor in Israel have been unemployed for over a year.
The restrictions will totally cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. East Jerusalem, the largest concentration of Palestinians, is the political, economic, cultural and religious center of Palestinian life. The Palestinian residents of East Jeru salem hold Israeli residency papers but are not Israeli citizens. They will no longer be permitted into the West Bank.
The many hundreds of Palestinians who work for international aid agencies based in East Jerusalem, along with teachers, technicians, doctors and med i cal staff who work in the major hospitals and schools in East Jerusalem and live in Ramallah or Bethlehem, will be unable to get to work.
The delegation was unable to reach Nablus. The city was totally locked down following an Israeli assassination of three resistance organizers. One bystander was also killed in the attack by Apache helicopter gunships.
On May 25 Israeli forces again swept into Bethlehem, Tulkarm and Qalqilya searching houses, making arrests and tightening still further the restrictive curfews.
The Israeli offensive has not ended. The international corporate media pulled back after reporting that Sharon had released President Arafat from the siege at his compound. However, the Israeli forces in most cases pulled back only several hundred feet to the perimeter of encircled, locked- down cities.
International solidarity is more important than ever in the face of the continuing and overwhelming Israeli violence. Everywhere we traveled in the West Bank and in Gaza Palestinians had heard and seen coverage of the demonstration of over 100,000 people in solidarity with Palestine in Washington, D.C. Even though they are surrounded on every side, the resistance continues because they know they are not isolated.