Peace Now chief enforces Jordan Valley apartheid?

From the Alternative Information Center, Oct 16.

The general secretary of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, did his reserve military duty at a checkpoint in the Jordan Valley, deep in the occupied Palestinian territories, acting just like any other good Israeli soldier.

In an article published today in the Israeli news-portal NRG, two Machsom Watch activists report seeing Oppenheimer doing his military reserve duty at a checkpoint inside the occupied territories, in an area that is slowly being ethnically cleansed of its indigenous population, mainly through the use of checkpoints, which forbid almost any type of transportation or access between the main Palestinian cities of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley (see also Amira Hass article, “Clearing The Jordan Valley Of Palestinians.”

Oppenheimer, together with the other soldiers at the checkpoint, also refused a Palestinian family with seven children who were traveling to see their relatives in a nearby village to go through the checkpoint. The fact that this was the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fiter that ends the month of Ramadan, didn’t seem to soften the Peace Now soldier.

The Machsom Watch activist attempted to speak with the soldiers to let the family go through, arguing that an exception should be made because of the holiday and the young age of the children. The soldiers kept refusing the taxi in which the family was driving in, to go through, claiming it doesn’t have the right permits and stating that they are following orders given to them from above.

Oppenheimer didn’t deny the story and told the journalist that “When I am being called to do my reserve duty in the territories, I am doing my best to make my task successful also if it is against my point of view and to act in a humanitarian way.”

Israeli peace activists who are fighting these last years against the Occupation can’t be very surprised from this story. Peace Now and their male oriented leadership have always attacked the refuseniks movement and kept on proudly committing war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories in the name of national unity and obedience to the law. One can just hope that they will stop being seen by the world as a part of the peace movement in Israel.

— Yossi Bartal

See our last posts on Israel/Palestine and the Jordan Valley. See also our February 2006 special report, “Bitter Fruits Of Jordan Valley Apartheid.”