According to the Oslo agreement from 1992 all cities in Palestine are divided into 3 areas. Firstly, area A – just Palestinians, controlled by Palestinian police, secondly, B – for both Palestinians and Israeli controlled by Israeli authorities and lastly, zone C – just for Israeli. With this “solution” citizens have been living for many years looking for peace. Seeing the map below it is clear, who has the power and what is Israel trying to do.
How Palestine looks like?
Settlements are big problem in Palestine. New houses of Israeli citizens day after day squeeze properties of locals. They are usually set on the top of the hills, to have more control, solders observe from the towers, if no enemy is trying to jump over the fence. Settlements are well-organized, area surrounds wall and incessantly protects army. Moreover, there is always good road to go quickly to Israel, there are hospitals, shops, schools, in the biggest even universities. Israel is spreading, on the other hand making Palestine smaller.
For example in Hebron city, area B looks like a spider’s net. Palestinians in their old houses live in the ground floor, because law doesn’t allow them to build upper. Israeli settlers, however can build up to second floor. In act of aversion settlers started to through trash from their houses down, towards the Palestinians. In consequence, they decided to put net hanged above the street, in between the houses to protect them from the falling waste. Comments?
I have visited twice State of Palestine and was always leaving with heavy heart. During my second trip I realized how quickly settlements cover Palestine. I was participating the project promoting local NGOs. Together with a group of representatives of different European countries I was visiting non – governmental organizations in few different cities in Palestine. I have to admit I learnt a lot about this country from people working with real issues.
Walking in the refugee camps made me think again how lucky I am. Here streets are 1,5 m. wide, people live in inhuman conditions, without proper education or health service.
Habitats of the camp were deported from villages and towns on the territory of Israel. They had to leave their houses and lands to live in the slums for decades. Of course some could collect enough money to leave the camp and rent normal flat with worthy conditions, but they don’t want! According to the Israeli low, if they leave the camp, they lose the status of refugee, which means they give property they left, to Israel. And Palestinians still strongly believe that the day will come, when they will come back to their houses and fields. They don’t give up!
Associations try to organize many activities to decrease frustration and provide mental support, along with activities for numerous children. In the biggest camp in Nablus – Balata – lives between 30 and 40 thousand of people on 2,5 kilometers square! There is no hospital, Israeli army still controls the area from the hills above. In fact, many protests or intifada started from here. Daily citizens can see Israeli police coming to arrest someone, these incidents are usually followed by next clashes. Situation doesn’t change. People were saying me, that Palestinian government doesn’t have any proper strategy to get to improve current political or social situation and secondly, is very corrupted.
Under the occupation
Palestinians feel deprived of dignity but they still fight how they can. They don’t have any army, they fight without weapon. Such a small state has 25 registered associations and probably much more unofficial. Big power, huge potential and motivation to help each other in the hard time under the occupation. People gather to help each other, because help is not coming from government. They organize meetings to spend time together as well as to forget for a while about the political situation, they set non-formal organizations.
We met one small association in the Aida camp in Betlehem, where mothers of handicapped children decided to support each other, when there is no support from any authority. They make handcrafts to collect money for medicines, they learn how to make rehabilitation for different disabilities, all by themselves. They read and teach other mothers but first of all gather, talk so that no one feels alone with the problem.
Palestine is narrow and full of mountains. There is basically one main road going through this land, which is of course in the area C. Purpose? Even if there would be a rebellion and south would like to help north, they will fail. Army will quickly block the access by closing the only way. What is more, water source is also always in the area C, so Palestinians’ life totally depends of Israel.
Several associations can host volunteers from all over the world willing to help and get involved. Variety of activities, long or short term, all welcome. Very popular activity where foreigners are participating is olives harvesting. Palestinians, which had to leave their lands in Israel, still own hundreds of olives orchards. Paradoxically they are not allowed to go to Israel territory and pick the olives. Foreigners are very helpful in this ridiculous situation, can bring crop to Palestine, to its owner.
Afterwards I went to Israel to hear all about conflict from the other point of view… Israeli suffer from not feeling safe. Palestinians organized attacks with knife or else frustrated Muslim drives a car into the crowd of Jews. In consequence Israel has to increase security level, amount of soldiers and police on the streets and checkpoints between the states. Palestinians are fed up with controls and fact, that they cannot go to Israel to work or visit their family. Here circle closes.
I will never forget this feeling when I was walking through Arabic part in Jerusalem with two Israeli. Security recommended them not to go there due to many attacks with knife against Israeli, which happened in recent months. They kept looking at people if someone looks strange or is not hiding a knife. Police everywhere. Stressful sightseeing.
It is impossible to rely on international media, which describe this political situation because even local media and not compatible. Israeli and Palestinian newspaper write totally different facts about same incident. This is example of a very complex issue. Even though both sides dream about living in peace no solution is coming any time soon.