Dr. Shira Robinson & Mr. Minem Maroof
Welcome to the Palestine Center’s 2016 Summer Intern Lecture Series, entitled, “Mobility: Israel’s Structural Restrictions & Palestine’s Resistance.” Thank you for joining us today for the second installment of the series: “Restrictions on Mobility: Structural Mechanisms & Physical Barriers” with Dr. Shira Robinson and Mr. Minem Maroof. Thanks also for bearing with us as we renovate our own conference room, but we’re pleased we could use this space temporarily. My name is Abby Massell and I am one of the Palestine Center’s summer interns along with Sarah Dickshinski, Zoe Reinstein, and Mirvat Salameh.
We decided on the theme of mobility as it is at the core of Israeli occupation strategy aimed at the dehumanization and subjugation of Palestinians. When discussing possible themes, we talked about the main tools of the occupation and their commonalities, such as the separation wall, the blockade of Gaza, legal barriers such as visas and the denial of the right to return, and the obstruction of Palestinian voices in international media coverage. We realized that all these factors strategically restrain the physical mobility of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and diaspora as a whole, but also the movement of ideas through censorship and media blackouts. Mobility is integral in defining and claiming spaces of living to affirm a community’s identity, and therefore restrictions on Palestinian mobility are some of the most apparent and dehumanizing aspects of Israel’s military occupation.
That being said, Palestinians overcome this lack of mobility through publication, expression, and creation of their own platforms. They use media as a powerful tool in the spread of ideas beyond the walls of the occupation, which is ultimately a form of resistance in itself.
After today’s panel, please join us for the final installment of the lecture series on
Tuesday, July 26 at 1pm with Laila El-Haddad and Dr. William Youmans entitled “Overcoming Restrictions: Resistance Through Publication & Expression.”
We will end today’s lecture with a question and answer period, and our livestream audience can send questions in via twitter to @palestinecenter. Please take a moment now to silence cell phones and any other electronic devices. Thank you.
Hello everyone & good afternoon. My name is Sarah Dickshinski and I am one of the interns at the Palestine Center this summer. As Abby just mentioned, today’s lecture “Restrictions on Mobility: Structural Mechanisms & Physical Barriers” is the second in a series of three lectures on Mobility in Palestine. Today’s panelists are Dr. Shira Robinson and Mr. Minem Maroof.
Dr. Robinson is an Associate Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University where she specializes in the study of colonialism, citizenship, nationalism, and cultures of militarism in the Middle East after World War I. She has served on the editorial committee of the Middle East Report, co-edited its blog and contributed to other academic blogs such as the Nakba Files. She is also the author of the award winning book Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel’s Liberal Settler State that was published in 2013. Her research has been funded by the Fulbright Institute, the Social Science Research Council, the Mellon Foundation, and the Palestinian American Research Center.
Minem Maroof is a humanitarian activist and co-founder of the Beitona Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides support in the integration experience for Arabic-speaking asylum seekers in the United States. Mr. Maroof is a founding board member of Hamleh Center, which provides training in social media campaigning for human rights across Palestine. His work has also included providing resource development for Palestinian civil society organizations such as Mossawa Center, Ilam, and Kayan and, most recently, leading a team in Lesvos, Greece to offer psychosocial support for Arabic-speaking asylum seekers arriving by boat.
Dr. Robinson and Mr. Maroof will each speak for about 20 minutes after which we’ll have a Question and Answer session.
Would you help me in welcoming Dr. Shira Robinson.
Thank you so much for having me or for inviting me back. I came here about a little more than two years ago when my book was first coming out. I’m so glad as a historian to be invited to this discussion about Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian mobility. It’s a cliche but also true that we often forget the past especially when we’re worked up talking about a present injustice like the injustice of mobility restrictions in the West Bank and Gaza today. For years it has struck me that both reporters and activists seeking to raise awareness about draconian movement restrictions on Palestinians in the Occupied Territories since the 1990s in particular, that these reporters and activists sometimes are unaware of Israel’s past use of many of the same restrictions and techniques of restrictions inside Israel’s 1949 armistice lines on Palestinians who remained in country or managed to return to it after the 1948 war.
Many of you may know that by the mid-1950s most of this population, the population of Palestinians who remained in Israel — what became the state of Israel— or managed to return to it after 1948, most of that population which was about at the time about 15% of the total population of Israel, most of them had gained citizenship in Israel as a result of the state’s 1952 Citizenship Law. But that population remained nonetheless subject to a harsh military regime until, technically until December 1966. So, for about two decades. Just six months of the 1967 War and the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel’s military law which was the root of the military government, was itself rooted in Britain’s counterinsurgency regulations that had formulated during the 1936-1939 anti-British, anti-Zionist Arab revolt in Palestine. And after 1948 the state of Israel awkwardly operated those British counterinsurgency regulations alongside the state’s procedural democracy. A democracy in which the Arab citizen population technically had the right to vote. So there were these two different things happening at the same time. There were these military restrictions put in place on the entirety of the Palestinian population alongside the extension to that population of citizenship and voting rights.
Now today the mainstream and alternative media pay much more attention than they did in the past to the racial chauvinism that has become much more explicit in Israeli political culture in recent years, and arguably particularly since the 2014 Gaza war. This is great, the attention, but it’s also deceiving in the sense that it gives the impression of something fundamentally new happening. And in fact, there are plenty of things you can read on this, but the racial incitement, sanctioned government-sanctioned violence against population inside Israel, and systematic discrimination in land, housing, education, municipal budgets, to name a few spheres of public life, have actually all been in place since the 1950s and in large part thanks to the operation of this military regime.
I just want to briefly mention a paradox that I came across during the course of the research for my dissertation and eventually my book that I really struggled with when I was in graduate school, and then I kind of used book to help me work through. And that is that during the entirety of the period between 1948 and 1967, i.e. the period between the establishment of the state of Israel and the Nakba on the one hand and the 1967 occupation on the other, Palestinians inside Israel lived under two sovereigns at the same time. The first sovereign in this sense was the Knesset, or the parliament in Israel. The Knesset created a rule of law that derived more or less from the will of the majority. Now, critically, that majority was a group that was Jewish only as a result of the displacement of Palestinian Arabs from what had been Palestine in 1948. So some of you or most of you may know that in 1947 the Arab population of Palestine was about two-thirds of the total population, and after 1948 the Arab population that remained inside the new Israeli state was about 1/8th of that slightly smaller territory. Nonetheless, as a part of the rule of law established by the Knesset or Israeli parliament, some criticism within certain sanctioned political frameworks was allowed, ok. So there was some parliamentary democratic system that was operating during this time. At the same time, vast majority of Palestinians in Israel were forced to live after 1948 under a regime whose legal basis as I’ve just suggested, derived from emergency regulations from the days of pre-1948 British rule, and a permit system that was expanded after 1948 which severely restricted the mobility, residence, farming, work, speech, and political life of the Palestinian population.
Under military rule, the sovereign was quite simply the person who was the military governor. He was the judge, the, you know, he was the parliament, he was the judge, he was the prisoner, he was all of those things. And it was his job explicitly to suspend the rule of law enjoyed by the Jews as a result of the Knesset. A host of regulations were imposed through this military government on Palestinians inside Israel including censorship, controls on the marketing of goods and services, detention without trial, and home demolitions. But the most widely deployed emergency regulations were those that pertained to land and movement. And here we begin for the first time in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict talk about closed zones. And we all today talk about the closure of Gaza, the closure of the West Bank to the rest of Israel, but the use of closed zones in a kind of systematic way really begins in the immediate aftermath of 1948.
And just as a sort of small personal anecdote, I was thinking this morning on my way in how I can kind of make this story more real and alive. And I was recalling how when I was doing my fieldwork research doing oral interviews, oral histories, with older palestinians who were alive in the 1950s and 60s, and this was during the height of the second intifada so around from the spring of 2001 until the fall of 2002. I would always start off the interview by asking people, “What is your name? Where are you from?” and yada yada, and then I would say, “So let’s have kind of an open ended conversation. What are your memories?” I would ask more specific questions later on, but “what your memories or what your most vivid recollections of military rule?” And without, like to a person, every single one of them said, “What’s happening in the Occupied Territories. Closure, checkpoints,” this and that.
So here’s an illustration of what at the time, or what today would be called a — what activists today call a flying checkpoint versus a fixed checkpoint like Qalandia, which we hear about all the time, or Surda or other places in the West Bank. This was a flying checkpoint and the way that a flying checkpoint would work is that if you were on the road, if you were walking on a road or on a donkey on a road or in a bus on a road, a policeman usually military police but not necessarily, would hail the bus over or stop you and in the case of a bus they would get on the bus and they would basically, first they might say, “Any arabs get off or show us your ID.” Or, they might simply look at you and if you had dark skin they might say, “You must be an Arab, get off.” And the reason I mention the dark skin piece is there were actually cases of Yemeni Jews being mistakenly identified as Arabs and their IDs were checked. So that’s something that could return to and which I will return to, which is the racial nature of the enforcement of these regimes.
So the way that it worked was— I’m gonna see if I can get the slide here — so this is a kind of confusing map from my book, but there were — this is a map of mandate Palestine, and the gray areas are the areas where there is supposed to be an Arab, there was the proposed Arab state, proposed by the UN Special Committee on Palestine in fall of 1947 and the white area is the areas supposed to be the Jewish state. The map to your left is a map of what became of that territory of mandate Palestine. Israel conquered about 78% of the total territory and Jordan annexed the West Bank, Egypt decided to administer Gaza until Gaza could be a part of independent Palestine. In any event, there were three military zones that were set up in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s independence and its conquest by the spring of 1949 of parts of what should have been the Arab state of Palestine, particularly in the Galilee which I sort of outlined in pink very inauspiciously there, or very crudely, and in this striped zone along the border is what is known today as the Seam Line with the West Bank. So the Galilee in the red was the north military government, the striped territory was called the Triangle, the thoulath in Arabic, moutheleth in Hebrew, and the Naqab or the Negev region was, it’s hard to see on this map, but it was down here. In the Naqab, in the south, they literally just forced all of the remaining families and parts of existing tribes that had been living throughout the desert to live in a zone which they literally called “the reserves” i.e. the reservations invoking the Native American experience in the United States. So there were these three military zones: north, center, and south and in each of those it was illegal to enter or leave without a permit. But on top of that, the zones themselves were not marked on a map, the maps that existed were not made public and to this day, as far as I know, we do not know the maps, the actual parameters. Even if you wanted to be the most law-abiding citizen you could be, it was impossible except by virtue of experience of being arrested or hearing of your friends and family who were arrested — “Oh you can’t go two yards past the edge of the village of X because you might be in violation of such and such military zone.” But on top of that, within those three zones, there were multiple subzones that were closed off from each other. So you might find that with any given village, if it was a large village, it might be cut up into three different military zones whose parameters were not marked. There were two facets to this, once again you could be arrested for an infraction you didn’t know you were committing, but more importantly or just as importantly, you could be arrested for going to visit your sister, or going to school, or going to the doctor, or trying to sell your produce, or going about your daily life in any number of myriad ways that all of us take for granted. It would be as if, I teach at GW, and it would require me a permit to come give this talk, or much worse; it would require a permit to go to the doctor. Anyway there were these unmarked maps indicating where you could and couldn’t go.
Now I mentioned the permit. The permit was a source of rampant abuse and corruption on the part of the military authorities. The only way you could get a permit from the military government normally was you had to go to a military government base which was located in various villages throughout the country and you had to stand in long lines, sometimes for hours, sometimes for half a day or more, and hope that the governor would have mercy on you essentially or that his assistance would have mercy on you and you would convince him that you really needed to go to the doctor or see your sister or sell your produce, or do whatever it is you needed to do to help your family or to help yourself eat and get by. There were dogs, we know this from newspaper reports at the time, there were dogs set on people at in these lines, there was abuse hurled at people verbally and physically, you often were humiliated in all kinds of ways in these lines waiting to get your permit, and most of the time if you were associated with the one political party that really allowed for dissent against this system, the Communist party, you were immediately blacklisted from getting a permit. If you had been shown to express any kind of opposition to this very system that had you waiting in line, you definitely couldn’t get a permit.
So it was an extremely oppressive system, and today as I said when you ask people what do you remember about this, and also at the time when people said what is the thing you most hate about military rule, it was the permit system. And one more interesting or important thing about the permit system just a pro po about discussions today about the use of the word apartheid and its applicability, for a long time for about the first nine or ten years of Israeli statehood, the government denied claims that the military government regulations were enforced racially. They said, “No any Jew who lives in this area or travels in this area is also subject to the same military restrictions so if they get caught without a permit in one of these areas, they too will be tried on violation of permit restrictions.” But we know that was largely untrue, that maybe in one or two cases of radical, leftist political dissent, Jews were brought to military court, and tried and fined for violating these movement restrictions, but in the vast majority of cases, it was strictly and exclusively applied to Palestinian Arabs. The government denied this for years and years and Palestinian attorneys and newspapers were talking about how important this was that this was a racially enforced system just like apartheid and these comparisons were being made at the time, not just in the twenty-first century, but back in the 1950s and ‘60s. And finally there were some court cases and a state comptroller’s report that said no, this is being racially enforced and there’s no doubt about it.
So how do we explain or understand the fact that there was this kind of liberal citizenship procedural, democratic system in place where Palestinians could vote for prime minister and vote for members of parliament and at the same time they were subjected to this system that completely violated the very idea of the rule of law. How do we explain this? And the most useful or effective way to explain it is to understand the relationship between land and people and the problems related to land and people that the Israeli government faced both before and after the partition resolution. So when the UN, the United Nations, announced its recommendation to partition Palestine into two states, a Jewish state and an Arab state in November of 1947, it was expected that Arab citizens of Palestine would comprise nearly 50% or one half of the population in the would-be Jewish state and in some cases, particularly in the Galilee and in other parts of the country, the Arab population was expected to comprise roughly 80-90% of the population. Now, Resolution 181 which was the resolution passed for partition by the UN required each state to draft a constitution at some point soon in the future that would enshrine legal and political equality and the protection of property. So in a sense, Resolution 181 anticipated that there would be a mixed population, they said that’s fine, we’re going to have an Arab state and a Jewish state and since they’ll be mixed, particularly in the Jewish state because the Arabs comprised so many more people than Jews in Palestine you’re gonna need to have things like a citizenship law that’s going to ensure the equality of all people. Now we know that in 1948 the Jewish community or the Yishuv in Palestine bypassed the liability of minority rule by expelling and coercing the flight of a huge part of the indigenous Arab population. But, as I have already told you a sizable Arab population remained after 1948, roughly 15%, and the refugees on the other side of the border particularly in Lebanon and Jordan were trying to come home.
So Israel at the same time after it conquered this territory, after it managed to carry out this demographic reversal that left Jews in the majority position in this state, it still had a problem that it still needed to join the United Nations and the United Nations required that every state have a citizenship law. Israel didn’t have one but it also got its first application to the United Nations rejected in part because it didn’t have a clear constitution or citizenship law. So the Israeli government was in a bind, it didn’t want to grant citizenship and suffrage on mass because if it did that, Arab citizens might actually legislate through the power of their vote the permission to allow refugees to come home. And so what it did was instead and I’m gonna shorten this very much, what it did instead was to institutionalize the kind of military authority that was established in every Palestinian village and town immediately after the war, just like armies when they occupy they kind of set up shop, administrative shop. The government institutionalized the military authorities in each and every town, it consolidated them into these three big military zones and it gave enormous authority to military governors to both freeze access to land and to try to prevent Palestinians from returning over the border.
Now I’m not gonna go into the details because we’re clearly running out of time, but what I want to just say is that the military government left in place enormous structural disparities and inequalities in the country in terms of education, in terms of housing; you couldn’t do anything without permission from the governor. You couldn’t move to a new house, you couldn’t go to university, you couldn’t go to school , you couldn’t go to the doctor, you couldn’t do anything, you couldn’t open a store, drill a hole for a well, anything, anything, anything, drive a car. So military government put in place, or left in place, enormous structural disparities as well as enormous fears on the part of the Jewish population of the Arab population because there was a constant need on the part of the government to justify this complete segregation of Arabs from Jews, and the justification was usually on the bases of “they will carry out revenge against the Jews for what happened in 1948 if we allow them to live their lives normally.”
So I mentioned that military rule ended technically in December of 1966, January of 1967, just six months shorter than 1967 War. And to understand how to think about the relationship between the 1950s and today it’s helpful to think about why military rule ended in 1966, formerly December of ‘66, but it sort of went on through the spring of ‘67. And the reason it ended, there were a few different reasons. And it did not result, the end of military rule, from a profound change in policy or principle about the Arab population. There was still a desire to make sure people didn’t return to their lands, there was still a desire to make sure refugees did not return to their homes, but there was a convergence of practical problems that had come on to the scene. Number one, Palestinian civil society activists had become more and more powerful in getting their message across both to the international community and also, and especially, to liberal Jewish citizens who were embarrassed, what seemed to those citizens to be exceedingly retrograde policies, visible policies of discrimination. So liberal Jews were kind of coming around to the critique. Number two, this is really important: since 1959 there had been a recession in Israel in the 1950s and that was lifted for the most part by 1959 so you had the demand of employers for low wage, low pay Arab construction and service sector workers. One of the things the military government did was regulate labor, the ability of Palestinians to get jobs outside of their villages which were completely strangled economically. So the employers were pressuring the government to allow more Arabs to come and work for them. Arabs at that point still were barely a part of the National Trade Union Federation so they could be paid less. And finally and also critically, a younger generation of Jewish political and military officials in Israel became convinced that the majority of unsettled land that is land unsettled by Jews was now out of Arab hands because of the military rules that had restricted Arab access to that land and they became convinced that the state had other more invisible means of controlling the Arab Palestinian population in order to continue to colonize parts of the country that were still largely Arab, like the Galilee and the Naqab, or the Negev desert.
So the argument on the part of this younger generation of military officials and security people was: we can remove the visible stain of discrimination without removing Jewish privilege. This thinking helps to explain why the Israeli government undertook a massive new drive for land confiscation in the heart of the Arab majority Galilee in the aftermath of the end of military rule in the late 1960s and late 1970s. And why the Israeli government has kept the emergency regulations as well as key discriminatory laws and institutional practices firmly in place.
So how do we get from all of this, which was a very quick summary to post ‘67? Here’s how you get to it: in the aftermath of 1967, just as this was ending, the permit restrictions were lifted , there was a huge construction boom, construction explosion, lots and lots of construction works were going on. In the aftermath of 1967 the Israeli government was in very good place economically, and there was a huge labor demand from Palestinians in the West Bank who were even less protected by labor laws than Palestinians inside. Which means they can be paid less, they didn’t have to be paid social security, health insurance, occupational hazard insurance, things like this.
And in the aftermath of military rule inside the ‘49 lines, the government basically did a 180 in their official approach and they said “oh those retrograde military government officials inside Israel, they were terrible they was so much bribery and so much construction, they looked so stupid preventing old women and men from going to the doctor, and children were dying because their mothers were giving birth on checkpoints”–sound familiar? People couldn’t get their medicine, this was just so stupid, we didn’t need this, we could have controlled them in a much more quiet less obnoxious way.
This was according to Moshe Dayan who was kind of the head honcho in the occupation regime after ‘67, and his policy was “everything that we did before, it was all stupid, we are part of the enlightened post-colonial world now, we know what’s going on in sub-saharan Africa and South Africa, and all these other places where colonialism is still going on or used to be going on. We’re in a new era friends, and that new era is about open borders and open bridges, so let the Palestinians come to work in Israel. In fact our policy is going to be a policy of non-interference. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza (and he literally said some version of what I’m about to say) they’ll be able to be born, go to school, get married, have jobs, raise their children, get old, and they will never have to see an Israeli soldier. They’re just going to come to work, and be happy with all the refrigerators and the televisions they’re going to get from all the cash they’re gonna make from their jobs–even though we’re not paying them as much as the Jews, and it’s all going to work out fine. And so that was kind of a fantasy, that Palestinians would never have any political response or feelings about being under occupation.
And so that idea was a flop basically. And I’m skipping a lot here, but you have this intifada, this civil resistance uprising, that starts in late 1987 and as 1987 wears into 88, 89, 90, the relative openness of movement between Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel ‘48, and also between Palestinians in the West Bank and Palestinians in Gaza begins to being clamped down upon.
So I’m going to stop there, I think I might have gone over and I apologize for that, I’m going to let my colleague continue the story with post-Intifada number 1 and Oslo.
Hello everyone, and again for the Palestine Center, thank you for having me. I will start then by talking about what happened. The first intifada has also been seen as kind of a shock by the Israeli public sphere. As you said, this system was expected to work, apparently oppression could not be tolerated, that is what happened. I will move forward to the talks that happened after the first intifada and then to the Oslo Accord. My plan is to have a focus on mobility and on restrictions, so I’m not denying other factors of what was happening at the time. But I’m focusing specifically on mobility and limitations. I’m planning to get us chronologically to how from Oslo onward we got to this reality right now.
Basically, I’m starting a point in history, where it was seen as a positive point, where a peace process would be happening. The declared intentions of the Oslo Accords was to have the Palestinians have an autonomy and areas of occupied and ‘67 and Israel would have its recognition as a Jewish state in the region. That was the declared intentions, but in fact if we follow what happened really in the ground. The settlements in the West Bank that are illegal, and clearly if you want some kind of Palestinian sovereignty in this area you would need to get out of the settlements. Actually these settlements were expanded.
In that sense, what happened is that actually it was a precondition to have what’s called natural expansion of existing settlements, continuing as the negotiations were happening and as the Oslo Accords was signed in 1993. So just to give you a picture of what does that mean, the natural expansion. From 1993 until 1995 and 1993 and 1995 there has been major agreements signed, there has been 4,000 housing units built in these settlements. So even in this era, and I’m a person who grew up in the Oslo period, as a child that was seeing this as an opportunity for a new and more peaceful time, but clearly even in these times 1993 and 1995 there has been still expansion.
Now bear in mind, natural expansion of these settlements, would sound like natural expansion like anywhere in the world. But clearly natural expansion of settlements was attracting settlers from other areas to these settlements. Meaning it made no sense, you are actually trying to grab more land.
Coming with the settlements have arrived what’s called the bypass roads, bashim akvim. These bypass roads were acceptable to talk about in the Israeli public sphere, because it made more sense, it granted the settlers more security in the West Bank, saying we want them connected to each other and connected to Israel proper- which is pre-1967 era. In that sense, in reality what happened, these bypass roads have created separate areas inside the West Bank. It managed to create cantons if you want, inside the West Bank, and with bypass roads came also the system of checkpoints and roadblocks and whatnot in order to put that system in place.
If we are talking about these blocks, we are talking about the checkpoints and how they changed from time to time. The fixed ones are now around 96 checkpoints, again they developed with the bypass roads, I was trying to see how what happened during the Oslo Period has gotten us to the reality that happened right now. These settlements have created bypass roads, these bypass roads have the checkpoints and the physical obstacles, and now I’m just telling the last account of them. April 2015, we’re having 96 fixed checkpoints, out of these are 57 are inside the West Bank. So instead of thinking that these checkpoints would be on the borders with Israel, 57 of them are inside between those areas created by the bypass roads.
Then you have, the obstacles, and the flying checkpoints that the UN Office of Coordination and Humanitarian Affairs have counted 361 flying checkpoints in 2015, this is also something to bear in mind. This is the reality of Palestinians in the West Bank are living in.
Now that we have laid the system, how is it used? How does that affect Palestinian mobility? There is this system of collective punishment that Israel forces, by collective punishment we know that an action of individuals would cause the punishment of whole communities. Usually if it’s an act of a person, then the house of the person’s family would be demolished. Part of the family would be arrested. But also bear in mind when we’re talking about restrictions, areas inside the West Bank and sometimes the whole West Bank would be closed. Again, collective punishment is illegal by international humanitarian law. This is an ongoing process, when we have any kind of incident that would be described as violence by Palestinians towards Israelis this collective punishment is immediately expected within the Israeli sphere and then you would have these kind of closures.
As Dr. Julie in the previous lecture was talking about how unexpected a Palestinian life is, it’s like that. You cannot plan tomorrow because something happens today, tomorrow’s plans are over. So, in that sense, the system of collective punishment influences the whole community and it’s continuous. Along with that, if we are talking about the West Bank (and we’ll move to Gaza later) we have the Separation Wall. So, I just tried to make it more visible and I can’t find, actually it’s not moving. Oh! Yeah, I have a mouse. So, let’s try now. So, I wanted you just to have a visual of what I’m talking about. I’m moving to the Separation Wall. After talking about what happened in terms of the system within the West Bank let’s talk about how the Separation Wall that started, its building started in 2002 and under the claim of security, again, the Separation Wall is not complete and in that sense the claim that it provides security does not make any sense if the limitation is not being held by this wall and in 2004, actually, this Separation Wall was being condemned by international community and being decided by the international community that it’s illegal and should be dismantled. The Separation Wall does not follow the internationally recognized armistice line in 2000, euh, 1949 which is also called the Green Line. It actually, 85 percent of it goes inside Palestinian territories. So, if you can see the, across Green Line, you have it here and then you have the Wall and then you see all the areas that are confiscated as a result of building this Separation Wall.
The Separation Wall also resulted in isolating, lot of communities that actually live between the Separation Wall and the Green Line and they would need that these communities would need permits in order to live in their own homes. And they would only be able to leave through gates that the Israeli authorities have set for their communities. And, of course, if we go to the Jerusalem part of it you would see that it is surgically working on East Jerusalem from the West Bank. East Jerusalem is also internationally recognized as occupied territories and is supposed to be part of Palestinian state if the Two State Solution is still viable. I don’t see it possible but also the Wall has made sure, actually, that it is surgically removed from the West Bank and what happened with the 250,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem is that most of them who are living in East Jerusalem are separated from their natural communities in the West Bank and people who are in certain neighborhoods that Israel decided it is not Jerusalem (for us it is Jerusalem) is now behind the Wall in the West Bank and they cannot access East Jerusalem itself. What happened that since is that they would also need permits in order to access. Some people have the residency papers would but they would still need in order to get to a checkpoint in order to get to the other side.
One example, is my cousin is an accountant, she was living in Jerusalem and she happened to live in a neighborhood that was separated from Jerusalem, 15 minute drive to her office turned into two hours drive and because she needed to a checkpoint and then although she has the papers. So still we’re talking about the separation it’s specifically working on limiting the spaces of Palestinians and making mobility a privilege that the system can control and that sense can use that as a punishment and from that, I would just last thing about the Separation Wall is that when it’s, if it’s finished when it’s finished, then ten percent of that land (the West Bank) would be confiscated. Ten percent of that already, if we’re talking about the area it’s really 22, only 22 percent of the whole of Palestine for Palestinians. And then, thinking about if this wall is completed ten percent of that 22 percent would be —- that’s another thing to think about.
From that I would go to, okay, this, yeah, I’ll go to Gaza. A lot of you already know about what’s happening in Gaza just the highlights and then maybe questions and the answers we will get to things that will be specifically, in, of your interests. In Gaza, as a Shira said, there has been limitations starting 1988 from access of Palestinians from the West Bank to Gaza and vice versa. So the limitations started there. In 1994 Israel has built a wall around Gaza. Does it show here? Okay, I didn’t even notice. By the way this is the number of checkpoints in case you wanted to take a look at that. So, in, we’re talking about a wall that also has a buffer zone inside Gaza and the buffer zone actually confiscates ten percent of the area land of Gaza. Why is that important? Because many of the cases of the owners of these lands trying to go cultivate their own land was answered by live ammunition by actually electronic gun machines that are controlled, on, in centers inside Israel and there has been a piece on that that was very interesting showing how that was a abraded and it feels like the drone system here because it’s like video games. Basically they will target the someone they want to shoot, they would shoot them and a lot of fatalities have resulted from this action. So, the people lost their lives just for going to the lands they were trying to, their own lands they were trying to cultivate around the, the wall. This is a piece of information that I think is worth mentioning. It’s not mentioned enough.
And the blockade on, first of all the wall has started in 1994 this meant also more restrictions on the movement on, of the population in Gaza from this time onward. But starting from 2005 there has been a blockade enforced in, on Gaza. That has been communicated by Israel as “we have withdrawn from Gaza, Gaza now is not under occupation and we have taken all the settlers.” Actually it is documented that Ariel Sharon, the minister who planned this move, have said that the settlements in Gaza have no economic value and that’s why we need to, to get them out. Or he said that “it’s not sustainable because it’s costing us more than it’s bringing any benefits. And that’s how it started and then the blockade started and in that sense Israel is promoting that “we have pulled out of Gaza, Gaza is not under occupation,” but according to international law if you control the borders of this area, you control the movement of the people inside this area, you are occupying these people. So, wow, okay.
And this has been defined as… A lot of things can be said about Gaza I don’t want to feel bad that I didn’t focus about Gaza but I wanted specifically to talk about limitations of movement and when we’re talking about Gaza we’re talking about the ultimate of limitations of movement. It is happening up until now over ten years now and today in Haaretz actually I just read saying that they are actually increasing the blockade and they are revoking a third of the permits that were allowed and we’re talking about very small number of permits for very specific people and people with needs; with health needs and with business people, businessmen who and women who would just bring products to Gaza, not get products out of Gaza and still a third of them will lose their permits as of this morning that’s the news that came from Haaretz. So meaning this, the silence around Gaza needs to be stopped and I think, I believe, that if you follow a new campaign I just saw yesterday you can contribute more it’s called Gaza in Context.
Just follow that up. And last thing that I want to talk about is just to connect with, with what Dr. Julie was talking about which is the perception of Occupation and how it influences our perception of space. People who are under Occupation, it’s not only that physically are not allowed to go in and out from their area, but they also have lost something in their perception of space and that is important to talk about because our mental health or our mental conditions is a big part of how we perceive our future and how perceive change into a better future. If Palestinians cannot perceive their space properly, then, like me, then something that needs to be done first about that and just bringing the connection between the physical limitation mobility and what it, what has it, what kind of influence it has on people who actually were born and grow up under this kind of restrictions.
And last thing, and I don’t think I will have enough time for that, but I will just mention it, that there are initiatives that try to change that, now that we have new technologies, we have social media, we do struggle to bring a cohesive space to us as Palestinians that’s why we always as civil society have projects that include people from the foreign aid area, from the 67 area and Gaza and one of that, these projects that try to challenge specifically the restrictions on the freedom of movement is called Motaharakin Leh b’il Ajah Philistine. And which is “We’re moving for a free Palestine.” And Motaharakin Leh b’il Ajah Philistine has been working with youth from the three areas as I mentioned three circumstantial areas and they have been loving, or advocating, loving is not — advocating the improvement of movement inside the occupied areas and they started to talk about, for example, companies that benefit from these limitations. For example, HP being providing services to the checkpoints in the West Bank and in Gaza. So, these are, I think, it’s going to be a link to the next lecture so these efforts exist and they are, how do you say, for me an indicator of hope and actually of change in the future. I wanted to show you a video, but then I’ll leave it for you it’s called Motaharakin For Philistine it’s amazing. Thank you very much.