By Immad Kayyali – Gaza strip is under a complete blockage since more than 8 years, where nothing can move from or into Gaza except through nearly impossible procedures, while some, may find their way through the Egyptian borders. Moreover, Israel doesn’t allow Gaza airport to operate, and, the only port that Gaza has was completely destructed by Israel. The only activity that is taking place in Gaza sea is very limited fishing within an extremely shallow area where Israel has the ultimate power to decide on the extent a Palestinian fisherman can reach looking for his day fishery.
On the other hand, the West bank enjoys a relatively better life than Gaza, due to the status that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank was given as a legitimate government in accordance with “Oslo Accords”, compared to the “hostile” entity as Gaza is called by Israelis, due to the supremacy of Hamas and other resistance groups in the strip, where Hamas in fact has come to power through free elections.
This can by no means indicate that life of Palestinians in the West bank is close to normal. The following is a summary of the impact that the Israeli occupation has on the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank:
o The military occupation: Israel is occupying the West Bank, theoretically and practically. This simply means fully controlling Palestinian lives to the last detail causing unbearable intervention in their trips to their educational facilities, reaching hospitals, work places, visiting relatives, farming, having satellite broadcasting stations, having the freedom to form political parties, etc.
o The Apartheid Wall: The construction of the Apartheid Wall by Israel within and inside the West Bank, which splits lands, families, farms, roads, etc of the West Bank and made it impossible for people to access their own properties, work places, schools and families across the tall grey concrete walls.
o Building Colonies- Settlements: The continuous construction of Jewish colonies and the enlargement of the existing colonies- settlements have swallowed significant Palestinian lands, in addition to the construction of ring roads to serve these settlements and at the same time, avoid passing by Palestinian towns and villages. These ring roads are also denied for use by Palestinians while they are constructed on Palestinian lands together with the settlements. These colonies- settlements restrict the natural landscape of the Palestinian towns and villages that are entirely surrounded by the Jewish colonies.
o Checkpoints: In the West Bank, there are 800 Israeli military checkpoints that cause the daily suffering of Palestinians who seek to reach their work places, hospitals and schools. The check point doesn’t necessarily allow the vehicles to cross to the other side in many cases, therefore elderly, sick and handicapped people need to make it by walking or on wheelchairs for 1 kilometer to reach to the other side to get to some means of transportation. Add to that, In many cases the distance between the two ends of the check point is unpaved or deliberately badly paved to make it more difficult to move. Such physical sufferings are mostly associated with humiliation where Israeli soldiers enjoy their racist acts against Palestinian passengers.
o The hijacking of the economy: The Palestinian economy is completely hijacked by the Israeli governments. Israeli authorities control all importing, exporting, trades, collecting taxes and finance activities that shape the economy of Palestinians.
o Arresting activists: While occupying others\’ lands is an illegal act by the international laws, any activities against Israel by Palestinians including peaceful demonstrations are considered as hostile by the Israeli forces and faced with very harsh reactions. Israeli forces daily arrest Palestinian activists allover Palestine including inside the territories marked “A” which are supposed to be under the autonomy rule of the Palestinian Authority.
o Lands confiscation: Palestinian Lands are being confiscated for multiples of reasons, among those the usual security and military needs where these lands get converted into Jewish colonies- settlements later on.
o Palestinian farmers denied to access their farms in many occasions for different reasons, leaving their fields unattended that cause damages and losses of seasons, fruits and vegetables picking and harvesting.
o Controlling Water Resources: Israeli forces Control Water resources and confiscate springs all over the West Bank, where swimming pools in the Jewish settlements get the priority of fresh water supply over Palestinian town to have their own portable water, least to say for any sport or entertainment use.
o Preventing the construction of new buildings: Israeli occupation authority Denies issuing building permits in East Jerusalem for the Palestinian citizens, including blocking any schools construction or expansion and maintenance of the existing schools.
o Harassment by Israeli settlers to Palestinian citizens: especially in East Jerusalem and Hebron. Settlers go further by uprooting olive trees in the West Bank fields and in other occasions they do poison them to force Palestinians to leave their homes and towns.
o Administrative Detention: Putting Palestinian Citizens under “Administrative Detention” for unlimited and extended periods without being charged or put for trial.