Jimmy Carter describes how the separation wall, 80% of which Israel is building inside the occupied West Bank in contravention of international law, makes life terrible for the Palestinians who live in its destructive path. From Palestine: Peace not Apartheid:
The area between the segregation barrier and the Israeli border has been designated a closed military region for an indefinite period of time. Israeli directives state that every Palestinian over the age of twelve living in the closed area has to obtain a “permanent resident permit” from the civil administration to enable them to continue to live in their own homes. They are considered to be aliens, without the rights of Israeli citizens. To summarize: whatever territory Israel decides to confiscate will be on its side of the wall, but Israelis will still retain control of the Palestinians who will be on the other side of the barrier, enclosed between it and Israel’s forces in the Jordan River valley. (pp. 192-3)
The wall ravages many places along its devious route that are important to Christians. In addition to enclosing Bethlehem in one of its most notable intrusions, an especially heartbreaking division is on the southern slope of the Mount of Olives, a favorite place for Jesus and his disciples, and very near Bethany, where they often visited Mary, Martha, and their brother, Lazarus. There is a church named for one of the sisters, Santa Marta Monastery, where Israel’s thirty-foot concrete wall cuts through the property. The house of worship is now on the Jerusalem side, and its parishioners are separated from it because they cannot get permits to enter Jerusalem…. Its priest, Father Claudio Ghilardi, says, “For nine hundred years we have lived here under Turkish, British, Jordanian, and Israeli governments, and no one has ever stopped people coming to pray. It is scandalous. This is not about a barrier. It is a border. Why don’t they speak the truth?”
Countering Israeli arguments that the wall is to keep Palestinian suicide bombers from Israel, Father Claudio adds a comment that describes the path of the entire barrier: “The Wall is not separating Palestinians from Jews; rather Palestinians from Palestinians.” Nearby are three convents that will also be cut off from the people they serve. The 2,000 Palestinian Christians have lost their place of worship and their spiritual center. (pp. 194-5)
One of the Palestinian villages separated from much of its agricultural land by the separation wall is Bil’in. The people of Bi’lin, joined by Israeli and international activists, have staged a nearly 2-year creative, non-violent campaign against the theft of their lands by the wall. On Dec. 8, representatives from Amnesty International and the United Nations watched as Israeli soldiers abducted a Palestinian non-violent leader during the demonstration:
IOF target Bilin non-violent activist
by the ISM media team, December 8th
UPDATE 7pm Ahmed has been taken from the police station to Ofer military detention centre. He has been accused of damaging the illegal apartheid wall, resisting arrest and being in a Closed Military Zone.
At today’s peaceful demo against the illegal apartheid wall in Bil’in the IOF [Israeli Occupation Forces] assaulted and abducted Bil’in peace activist Ahmed Abu Hasssan, 34. Ahmed was attacked by 10 soldiers as he pulled at a razor wire fence that forms part of the illegal wall regime in Bil’in. Female activists who came to his aid were beaten and had their hair pulled by the soldiers. Ahmed was dragged away by soldiers holding him by the scruff of the neck and was then blindfolded. Bil’in residents are targeted every week for arrest due to their role in highlighting the apartheid Israeli occupation.
As protesters marched to the gate in the wall soldiers were occupying the house of a Bilin resident and standing on the roof. After singing and chanting at the gate, some demonstrators protested with banners and flags along the route of the wall whilst others pulled on the razor wire. This led to an immediate display of military force and Ahmed’s arrest.
UN observers and the director of Amnesty International Irene Khan were present in the village during the demonstration and did interviews with villagers and non-violent activists about the Occupation land theft in Bil’in and repression of local residents. Ahmed is only the latest in a long line of Bil’in residents to be abducted and held by the IOF.
For photos see: www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/12/08/bilin-08-12/
Israel has met the Palestinian non-violent movement against the wall with great repression. Nine Palestinians have been killed, hundreds shot, beaten, and arrested, and Israeli and international activists have also been shot, beaten, arrested, and deported. The following footage is from a demonstration on Sept. 2, 2006: