Saturday 27 September 2008

Visit to Battir

A brief report for friends in Luton-Battir

Our Camden Abu Dis summer visit this year included a tour round the West Bank, and we were able to visit a number of places with twinning links. One of them was BATTIR! When Dave copied me into an email he wrote to people there and wrote something about "the most beautiful village in Palestine," I just thought how people flatter in order to be nice. But now I have to say, that if there is a list of the most beautiful villages, Battir really deserves to be on it.

I only have photos of parts of it, but you can see from the photos that Battir is on steep hills and has an amazing amount of water! It has an ancient system of stone piping for the water, which rushes down the hillside into a big stone tank which I think is also ancient, and every morning there is a division of the water into the irrigation systems of the different families. So there are so many trees and so much greenness - they are in that sense really lucky.

We walked down next to the old pipes and the water to see the agriculture, and then we learned what I hadn't realised - that Battir is just about on the green line. That was the ceasefire line of 1948 that internationally is treated as the border between Israel and Palestine - though Israel has never signed up to this. Everything is dominated by this. This is one of Jerusalem's villages that has had to reorient itself to the West Bank - I had thought it was a Bethlehem village but apparently the road to Bethlehem from Battir is actually since 1948. The side of Battir we were on looks down and out to the land that was taken by Israel - and there is no physical border at all. The village land stretches over the green line, a train line runs almost on it, the boys' school is the other side of it...

I wondered what it must have been like living there in the short period between 1948, when Israel appeared so close, and 1967, when it took over the lot.

We went to have lunch in a park that has been built high on a hill and has a restaurant. From there, the view is amazing - and again, it is west to the hills that are covered in cypress trees and now are called Israel. But a friend from Battir pointed to the tops of the hills and told me the names of the villages that had been there before 1948. He knew each one. The people had been driven out, lots of them to refugee camps just over the border, and the olive trees that are the life-blood of Palestinian villages - and flow out of Battir and just across the green line - have given way to cypresses...

We were shown one hill where the Hebrew University are doing an archeological dig... The Israeli military are involved in telling the farmers have been told to stop cultivating their land there because of it... And we learned about the difficulties getting work, problems of imprisonment, the threat of the wall being built very close up around the village and the other many pressures of occupation ... Battir is in this sense like other villages in Palestine: green or not, they are at this point in time not lucky at all in fact, because the occupation is a horror to them.

It was a very interesting visit for us. Some of the pictures show some of the group in a meeting in the town hall (baladiya) and you need to know that we were not only told about the village and its history and its present problems (the wall, the archeology, the green line) but we were also told that twinning itself is very important for them, and that the Luton-Battir link is very encouraging to them. I remember one statement that was a serious exaggeration - we were told that "Camden Abu Dis is a perfect example of twinning" - that replaced Dave's statement in my brain as an example of the way people flatter in order to be nice.

But the important thing is this - that the people of Battir really do value any support you can give them. This they told us includes communication and knowing they are not forgotten, material help (you helped I think with a summer school) and actual contact with the outside world. They would really like someone to be able to join the November conference in London - I don't know if that is remotely possible, but they are aware of the conference and would love to send someone over.

And lastly, thanks for giving us the contact. If any of you would like to join any of our visits to Palestine, we can maybe use that as an excuse to go back to that lovely village again! Or if you go in any other way, get in touch with us and we'll arrange a time for you in Abu Dis... It's very different but you might like it too!

Thursday 25 September 2008

Rod’s blog for Tuesday 5/8/08

In a departure from the printed programme, Tuesday 5th August was the day we all went to the Jericho area and then to the nearby Dead Sea.

Jericho is about 25 km from Abu Dis and is near, but not on, the Jordan River, which is the international boundary with the kingdom of Jordan. (Prior to the six day war in 1967, East Jerusalem, Jericho and the rest of the West Bank were all part of Jordan).

We drove off from Abu Dis in our trusty minibus, with our usual driver (Mohammed Abu Romi) at the helm. Much of the journey was on a fast dual-carriageway road, which snaked through some barren brown hills until the flat river plain beyond was reached. Not far outside Jericho there were two adjacent checkpoints, one Israeli and then, unusually, a more welcoming Palestinian one.

We made two stops near Jericho. The first was at a huge sycamore tree on a quiet street corner. According to various notices there, this was where Zacchaeus, the wealthy tax collector, was said to have climbed a sycamore tree in order to be able to see Jesus, who was amongst a crowd.

After buying sycamore tree postcards etc. from some persistent vendors, we went on and made another stop at a car park on a barren mountainside. From this car park we looked up and saw the ‘Mount of Temptation’ where Jesus is said to have been tempted by the devil. Way up in the distance there were monastery buildings clinging desperately to a near-vertical cliff face. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to climb the steep zig-zag path up to this monastery.

We had a refreshment stop in the lively centre of Jericho and there was time for a short look round. At this stage it is worth noting that Jericho is reputed to be both the oldest town in the world and the lowest. Apparently it is 250 metres below sea level. Perhaps, therefore, it is vulnerable to flooding? Maybe it was an unspoken fear of this that triggered a herd instinct that drove most of us to a rare town centre shop that sold a variety of alcoholic drinks. After making purchases of varying volume and potency, we carried our booty back to the minibus prior to travelling to a beach on the nearby Dead Sea.

Swimming in the Dead Sea is dead easy –you just lie back and float. You don’t need to propel yourself and you don’t even need to remove your sun hat. However, don’t splash around otherwise you’ll get the very salty water in your eyes, which can cause much irritation. The cure for this is rapid use of one of the handy freshwater showers that are located near the water’s edge. The other hazard is the sea-floor mud, which is particularly slippery and slimy. Some deranged souls decide to smear this mud over their whole body in the vain hope that this will somehow act as a wonder cosmetic. Following these aquatic exertions, there was a temporary return to Western values. In other words, in the two hours or so before the journey back to Abu Dis, we sat on the beach and consumed much of the alcoholic drink that we had purchased earlier in Jericho. It was a pleasant way to conclude a varied and interesting day out.

[Written by Rod Smith on 14/9/08]

Monday 15 September 2008

Friday, 8th August 2008

(Jane 2)

Alec and I left Abu Dis in the morning. Along with most members of the group (not Rod and Jane), we caught the bus to Jerusalem and went to the Post Office to send home any ‘incriminating evidence’ that might give us problems with the Israeli authorities at the airport on the way home. Kathleen and Sarah were busy shopping, but at midday the rest of us met up at the terrace bar of the Jerusalem Hotel just north of the Damascus Gate for a farewell drink. Alec and I were booked into the hotel for the night as we were going back to London the next day. (It is a lovely, small, Palestinian-owned hotel, comfortable and beautifully furnished with antiques - highly recommended). We then went our separate ways. Alec and I wandered round the Old City; the others shopped, visited the Mount of Olives, etc. They then returned to Abu Dis, some to take part in painting the Apartheid Wall with Ahmad, and then all were invited to have dinner at Abed’s house. Sadly, Alec and I couldn’t join them as we had arranged to meet a friend in Jerusalem in the evening, but we had a great time at the Jerusalem Hotel listening to live Arab music (oud and drum) as we ate our dinner on the vine-covered terrace. We were struck by how different the atmosphere felt on this side of the Wall which reinforced the abomination of this structure.

Saturday, the 2nd of August.

Below is an account of our trip on Saturday, the 2nd of August. (Jane)

We all set off in the mini-bus at 7:oo a.m. for Nablus.
It took us three attempts to get through checkpoints to enter the city. (At the first two, we were not allowed entry, 'mamnouh' ) - this represented 70 extra k. and a couple more hours driving.

We eventually arrived at the offices of the PGFTU .
The topics talked about were :-
Suffering and bad treatment of the city. Nablus is one of the main places of Palistinian resistance. A lot of people have died at checkpoints as a result of bad treatment from Israelis
Yasar Arafat said he wanted it to be the economic capital, but since 2002, Israeli soldiers visit and attack nightly to stop any economic development.
A month ago Israel decreed that all NGO's should close permanently.

The city is divided into six parts. Those in the north can't go south and vice versa. Unfortunatly, residents have become accostomed to the situation and it's part of their life.

There are 13 different Unions and 22% of the workers belong to unions. The PGFTU has 2600 members. There are 965000 members of the Labour party, of which 14% are women.

The number of unemployed is greater than those employed, and unemployment here, is the highest in the West Bank.

The United Nations provide some useful channels of information and try to help create some funds for social security, as over time, people have less and less money.
The average wage is 1,400shekels a month (about £233 pm). People sometimes have two jobs, if they can find them, as there are no pensions.
There is equal pay for women in the public sector, (not in the private sector).

People work 45 hours a day, and 5 or 6 days a week.
There are very limited opportuniities for women to work.
Before 2004 there were some pension agreements but this has dried up due to the World Bank.

The most important campaign is trying to address rising prices. There are some agreements between Iaraeli and Palestinian unions and also with unions from abroad.
Although there's a right to strike, and they do so, Palistinians are reluctant to strike because they feel they loose more than they gain.

25% of the income of the Palistinian Authority comes from the West Bank.

Ramble through the old town
We visited two soap factories and then visited a pancake cafe of local type - cream cheese and sugar--delicious !!

After another difficult checkpoint we visited a village, Beit Fourik and had an excellent lunch. The women only members of our group visited the home of the President of the Womens Association.
We discussed duties for women, which were, farming, olive harvest and also domestic; looking after her ten children. All of these jobs were shared with her husband.
The Womens Association in the village ran five classes for women funded by Oxfam.They were taught once a week for each subject which were:- Arabic, maths, English, IT, needlework.
We looked at their 'taboun' oven, which was housed in an outside shed. This is a type of permanent oven which is kept hot 24 hours a day by covering it with earth. It is used for cooking a very special and delicious form of bread.

Bellatah Refugee Camp

This is the biggest refugee camp on the West Bank. It's for victims of the war since 1948.
During the war, the villagers ran away from the war zone leaving everything. Between 1948 and 1952 the refugees were all over the place, (in churches, mosques, farm buildings, anywhere)

In the beginning the camp had, from the UN, 1 sq km of land to establish tents for 5000 people. Between 1952 and 1959 they added a bathroom for women.

In the 1960's the UN decided to make the buildings in brick so they expanded, and in the 1970's they added sewage, electricity etc. Buildings grew up.
In 2008 the camp now houses more than 25,000 people. still in 1 sq km.

There are 6000 children. There is a two tier system at primary level, half in the morning and half in the afternoon. The secondary school is so overcrowded it's leading to health problems.

Every night the Israeli army enter the camp after midnight and they always arrest someone.They don't knock at the door, they blast the door open and do the house over.

Children are the worst sufferers. They see their parents killed infront of their eyes. They develop many psychological problems such as depression or aggressive behaviour and many others. They need councelling and social workers.

Life is not simple. Many people are detained in prison. (all for political, not criminal reasons) It's so common it's part of life.

At the camp they are trying to campaign on the 'Right to Return'. They have two main rogrammes :-
1 The rights of refugees
2 Fun programmes for children --

to play / library / art and craft activities / music / sports / IT games / dancing / theatre

They have a summer camp with 100 kids a day.
Their funding comes from charities e.g. 'Hoping Project' in London and many others.

This camp is in section 'A' and officially run by the UN.

After a very sobering walk around the refugee camp our group left and went to a hotel for the night.

Wednesday 3 September 2008

some of the summer pictures....

It’s 11.30pm on the 27th July, two days into the CADFA trip.


It really has been an intense experience so far. I thought yesterday was a bit of an emotional whirlwind but today has blown that out of the water.

First thing in the morning we drove to a few spots next to the wall, good vantage CADFA Blog

It’s 11.30pm on the 27th July, two days into the CADFA trip.

It really has been an intense experience so far. I thought yesterday was a bit of an emotional whirlwind but today has blown that out of the water.

First thing in the morning we drove to a few spots next to the wall, good vantage points to observe exactly what the this striking landmark is doing in Abu Dis (Abu Dis is where the wall is at its highest- concrete slabs that are over 8 metres in height). When you stand and follow its path with your eyes it is immediately apparent that, despite any fears Israel has about security, this wall is about so much more than a security measure. Shockingly, this land grab doesn’t even attempt to pose as anything less abhorrent. The wall snakes its way along the landscape, veering in and out, cutting away land right up to peoples doorsteps and in some places cutting people off from the town completely.

From the top of a hill we could see well over the wall to the stolen agricultural land behind. Abid pointed out the start of an Israeli settlement- consisting of a few buildings and a ‘security’ tower, all surprisingly close to the wall itself. It is surreal to think that these little groupings become huge, shiny, gated towns. I wonder how the people in the houses we saw today will deal with seeing the luxury living loom above their heads everyday, built on land their families tended for centuries, and how it feels to deal with the reality that in their world nothing is certain- that not even their children are safe. Abid explained that there is a real worry for these households that a stone thrown, real or imagined, could end in disaster for a young life. I’ve already heard about youths being subject to physical and mental violence, even killed, for nothing more than the boiling over of utterly understandable frustration at an utterly unjust situation.

A few Palestinian homes still remain dislocated from their friends and family in Abu Dis only metres away, cut off by the wall and with new hostile neighbours. Looking at that imposing tower, the army patrol road that runs along the side of the wall, and thinking about size of the settlements I’ve seen, its gut wrenching to realise that despite how strong these people may be and how they might resist; their property, livelihood and way of life is surviving on time borrowed from those that have been systematically seeking to destroy these things.

Heading towards Bethlehem we hit the first checkpoint of our trip. There was a long queue of cars coming from the opposite direction towards Abu Dis. These were workers, held up on their way to make a living. It seems that as internationals we’re not going to get anywhere near the same treatment as an all-Palestinian vehicle. A soldier came on board and asked to see our passports but didn’t seem particularly suspicious. Out of the window I saw vehicles being pulled over, nervous looking Palestinians questioned, and a car searched. Sarah made an interesting comment at the meeting this evening. Despite the less than prolonged experience with the soldier, she
said that she had felt pretty scared. And I can empathise with that. Seeing someone so young, so stony faced, with a gun and the remit to use it, and knowing that they are part of a power that often wields itself so brutally and disproportionately, was deeply uncomfortable. I’d be surprised if that feeling is a more than a millionth of what Palestinians have to live with everyday. Whether crossing checkpoints just to get from one Arab area to another Arab area or passing an Israeli patrol car in the street- there must always be the awareness that violence is just a slight misunderstanding, not entirely convincing explanation, away. It has made me think about the psychological effect of the occupation and about mental violence. I can’t imagine living in a place where the threat of physical violence is the norm. And the emotional state that must create- whether fear, humiliation, or whatever is surely a form of violence in itself. However, as had already been demonstrated to me and was further proven in bucketfuls throughout the day, the Palestinians are not, despite their situation, stereotypical victims. They are dynamic, resilient, positive, creative, and kind, despite their situation.

When we got to Bethlehem we looked down hill to Abu Dis I realised how close the two towns are to each other. They should only be about ten minutes drive apart but the journey had taken us over half an hour without being subject to the queues going into Abu Dis or questioning and searches. Travelling to a local town to earn a living in another has become a humiliating ordeal for Palestinians. After a brief walk around Bethlehem and the Church of Nativity (said to be the birthplace of Jesus) we were back on the road.

Our next stop was Aida refugee camp on the outskirts of Bethlehem. The drive took in a settlement built in 1996. ‘Settlement’ feels like a misleading word. It makes them sound kind of like benign villages, when in reality they are like small cities or at least large towns. These ‘settlements’ are built on land belonging to Palestinians, are illegal according to international law, and they are at the cost of huge amounts of agricultural land and property. There are well over 200 in the West Bank and there are half a million settlers taking advantage of the subsidised housing. They are often surrounded by electric fencing and are heavily guarded. The settler only roads are new and smooth, and they cut up the West Bank making movement even more difficult for Palestinians, forced to navigate around them on their own neglected roads.

When we arrived at Aida camp, we had a meeting with an amazing 21 year-old woman called Khaloud from the Lajee social centre, which is based in the camp. She spoke about the refugee camp’s history, the work of the centre, and the Palestinian struggle with an eloquence and strength that was incredibly moving. The camp was a result of the 1948 war between Arab states and Israel when the Israeli state was established. Palestinians were told that they would just have to leave their homes for a few days whilst the Arab army fought Israel. After Israel won the conflict they took over the land and the people now residing in Aida camp, like so many camps in Palestine and the wider Arab world, have never been able to return. Because of the information that they where given, many families only took their keys with them when they left. The key has become a symbol of struggle, hope, and shared history in the camp, and is also the Lajee centre’s emblem. Outside of the centre a huge homemade sculpture of a key sits defiantly on top of a large archway straddling the road. Opposite it, barely 20 metres up the road, stands a huge steel gate that leads directly to an Israeli military camp sitting right outside. This used to be the main entrance to the camp but now it is fully under Israeli control and is simply a convenient way to invade the camp at will- just unlock the door and roll in the vehicles. Incursions are a fact of life here (generally they are happening at night right now) as is being subjected to violence. This happens whether there has been resistance (often just stone throwing) or not and arrests are often made. Currently 100 children from the camp are in Israeli jails.

We heard of the resilience of the refugees, forced together whilst mourning the loss of their land and being separated from loved ones, and suffering awful material conditions. United, they have built a strong and robust community. With the help of the UN, tiny tents with no facilities became small concrete homes often with families of ten or more cramped together inside, and with few facilities. Gradually, for those that have been lucky enough to find work that is secure, these homes have been expanded to make life more bearable. Unfortunately, this has meant that now there is not much room to develop and walking around there is a shocking feeling of claustrophobia like nothing I’ve been exposed to before. Obviously, a part of this is the knowledge that the brutality of the army waits at their doorstep all the time. The separation wall that runs along the side of the camp adds to this accumulative effect. The wall annexed a modest green space with a playground- the only place where young people could enjoy something other than cramped dirty streets, overcrowded houses and concrete. Like in Abu Dis the wall here is at it’s highest. It has security posts built into the top of it where armed soldiers reside. We stood on a rooftop high enough that we could see over the wall. The edge of a settlement was clearly visible, no more than a hundred or so metres away on land annexed by the wall. Right behind the wall was a small amount of agricultural land with water supplies now under Israeli control. All over the West Bank Israel is selling back annexed water to the Palestinians. It often cuts water supplies to whole areas so that it can cater for the water consumption of settlers and their fountains. One Palestinian property remains on the other side of the wall, struggling on. This has meant that the children in the family now have to travel for several hours to get to the school in the refugee camp. Previously the walk took one or two minutes.

We were told of how a boy had been shot and died on the roof that we were standing on and how another had been shot on the balcony of a building opposite whilst playing. Walking around the refugee camp we learnt about the violence that took place during the second Intifada in 2000. There are still bullet holes in the UN girls’ school, now sitting virtually in the shadow of the wall. It appears that disproportionate response was policy, and civilian life was utterly expendable, in repressing any uprising. I was horrified but to be honest, by this point, I am starting to not be particularly surprised. How absolutely ridiculous that the UN, supposedly the main force for human rights and international law, an organisation that passed a resolution calling for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their land, sits in a refugee camp full of those very refugees a whole 60 years after displacement, and has no power to do anything when a school that they are clearly running (there are UN signs everywhere) gets shot up. We were told of how the Israeli army took control of houses, seemingly at random, by blowing doors inwards with explosives and where possible knocking holes into next-door properties. One woman was standing in her home near the front door when the Israeli army blew it inwards. They didn’t make any effort to find out who was inside or to warn anybody of what was about to happen. As she lay on the floor dying the soldiers wouldn’t allow the family to run for help or ring for an ambulance. She died in front of her family.

Walking around it is incredibly hard to fully process this caged existence where people live at the mercy of such a powerful and hostile force. As well as being shocking and sickening it comes with a healthy dose of surreal. I felt like I’d been punched in the face…and then the stomach. I was acutely aware that I was a visitor, someone that knows he will walk away, and that almost definitely will never have to suffer what Palestinian refugees suffer everyday. And now, sitting here, I feel two things- very angry at the fact that people can be forced to live in this way, and deeply moved that the Palestinians I have met have not crumbled and do not wallow in self pity. Instead they survive and struggle on. Nandita passed comment today that Palestine is a place of profound contrasts and Aida camp offers a glimpse of that contrast so vividly. Despite all the repression the Lajee centre is providing young people with creative outlets in an environment that is causing them severe psychological problems. Without the centre and strong roles models such Khaloud, children would be on the streets, vulnerable and frustrated: a recipe for disaster.

The centre is involved in art therapy, English classes, Dabke (the traditional Palestinian dance), and photography projects. Several photography projects expressing life under occupation and shared Palestinian refugee history have been made into books and the revenue from sales used to help fund the centre. We also watched short films made by young people in the camp that explained their experiences of occupation and hopes for the future. The ambition of the children despite their situation reflects a wealth of strength that goes beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed. There are politicised and sometimes humorous statements and paintings all over the wall. It felt like it was not only a way to make that monotonous grey monstrosity more bearable but also a reminder to those that cage them that their spirit and creativity cannot be restricted in the way that the rest of their lives are.

We headed to a relatively rural village called Battir where we met with the local Municipality. Battir offers another example of Palestinian resolve. The village is harnessing an ancient irrigation system built in the Roman era in order to tackle severe water shortages inflicted by the Israeli government. Water is collected in a hillside pool overnight where it is shared out equally between villagers each day. We had lunch in a beautiful hillside setting with our new friends from Battir. Looking out over the stunning scenery I was informed that we were sitting right by the 1948 green line- the border with Israel. Four of the five Israeli hilltops in our lunchtime panorama were once thriving Palestinian villages. In the fighting of 1948 they were completely destroyed. Surveying the peaceful scene it was almost impossible to imagine that this could ever of been a place violence and dispossession. It seems that in Palestine you never have to look far below the surface of even the most beautiful things to uncover stories of human heartache. That contrast between the wonderful and the abhorrent rears it’s head again I guess. After lunch (and discussing the finer points of Liverpool FC with a local politician) we headed to another refugee camp called Dheisheh. The camp houses 12,000 people in less than half a kilometre squared. 7,000 of these are children. Conditions are incredibly cramped, there is a lack of proper sanitation, and it is clear that there is absolutely no privacy whatsoever. Unemployment in the camp is currently around 66%.

We met with another young person, this time a young man called Jihad who works at the Ibdaal centre, which seeks to make life more bearable for mothers and children in the camp. Jihad had a barely hidden frustration that broke through to the surface every now and gain as he talked. As a young man with the drive to create positive change, the lack of control and injustice that pervades life under occupation must be utterly enraging for him. He described much of his life and those around as being like a dog on an Israeli leash.

He explained to us that without the centre children would have nothing. The 7,000 children do not have one public playground between them. Healthcare and education is also a dire situation. There is only one doctor per hundreds of Palestinians and two schools for all the children. When you hear things like that it does beg the question as to where the large sums of international money goes in Palestine. It seems that it is not going to the most disenfranchised: the refugees. Jihad feels that money is constantly wasted on things like 4x4 cars, and that corruption is rife.

Like at Aida camp, there are incursions into the camp almost every night. People are often beaten at random, houses are broken into and people are arrested. Jihad told us of how he was blindfolded and had his hands tied behind his back before being taken away by the Israeli army for several days, where he was interrogated, without ever being informed of why he was being held. His brother was shot by Israelis in the camp and taken off to jail without proper treatment, again with no explanation.

A discussion took place with regards to the broader political context of the Palestine/Israel situation. Jihad and Abid both feel that it is ridiculous to suggest that Palestinians must make first concessions. Israel is the occupying force and is making life unbearable for Palestinians, so they ask, how can the international community and the mainstream media begin to expect this? Abid stated that the real key to peace is ending the occupation, not focusing on radical Palestinian factions. The powers that these organisations wield are a result of the frustrations and desperations of ordinary people. Jihad feels that discourse on the ‘two-state solution’ has been used as a red herring. He argues that despite all the peace agreements settlements have constantly grown in the West Bank and that the talk of two-states by Israel is contradicted by their policy of dividing people and annexing land. Then conversation moved onto what people can do given such a difficult situation. People spoke about South Africa and the pressure put on the regime by the international boycott that gained real momentum and widespread support. Michael recognised this but argued that this situation may well be different. America and other Western powers have a lot to gain from being complicit with Israel, for maintaining power in a hostile region and also for economic reasons. All very interesting, and definitely food for thought. What comes across from speaking to Palestinians so far is that while people are acting as positively and as resourcefully as possible in their communities, they look to the bigger picture, and the political structures surrounding the occupation, with little hope for the near future. There is definitely a sense of despair and complete disenfranchisement lingering among the dynamism and resilience that Palestinians produce everyday in order to remember and survive. The Palestinians I’ve met carry the burden of al these things and do it with such strength that I feel like I’ve met survivors not victims.

After the camp we returned to Abu Dis for our Arabic lesson and some dinner. Now, all full up and very tired, I need some rest.

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Land issues

Part of the induction talk at Dar Assadaqa - discussing what has happened to Palestinian land. A visit to Battir underlined the point. Much of their land (in the distance here) was taken by Israel in 1948 - some of it they still cultivate. The rest was occupied in 1968... Here you can see the Palestinian olive trees on the bit in "1967" and the forest planted over destroyed villages in "1948"