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Hoping for Peace and Justice

German IPPNW Delegation to Palestine and Israel April 29th - May 10th, 2014

This is the fifth time that IPPNW Germany and Pax Christi has sent a delegation to Palestine and Israel. During their journey through Jerusalem and the West Bank, the 31 participants were able to learn of the hopes and struggles of the Palestinian people. Living with Palestinian host families, they were able to experience daily life under the Israeli policy of occupation and colonization, behind separation walls, fences and check-points. During their 10 day trip, the participants met with numerous Palestinian and Israeli peace and human right groups.

What they learned was disheartening: the confusing labyrinth of laws and regulations of the Israeli military administration, the continuous growth of the settlements and the extensive separation wall are making life hard for the Palestinian people. Today, more than 700,000 settlers are living  illegally on occupied Palestinian land, protected by the Israeli army. An extensive network of 'settlement roads' that Palestinians are barred from using, the wall, the checkpoints and a Kafkaesque system of permits have led to a fragmentation of the Palestinian territory. Farmers are kept from their fields, children from school and patients from the nearest hospital. Even small trips have become incalculably difficult journeys. While it was possible to reach Ramallah from Bethlehem in about half an hour before the wall was built, the same trip now takes about two hours because Palestinians have to circumvent Jerusalem on a winding, dangerous road. Palestinians working in Jerusalem have to be at the checkpoint at 5 a.m. every morning so that they can be at their place of work on the other side of the wall at 7 a.m.

According to the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD), 90,000 houses have been built for Jewish settlers in the occupied part of Jerusalem between 1967 and 2003,  while Palestinians  mostly are denied  permission to build. The growing Palestinian population is therefore forced to build 'illegally'. Demolitions of houses by the Israeli army occur on a daily basis in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem. Based on numbers published by the Israeli Ministry of the Interior, UN Agencies, the municipal administration of Jerusalem and independent NGO's, ICAHD estimates that about 29,000 Palestinian houses have been demolished since 1967. In the year 2013 alone, the Israeli government razed 634 buildings, robbing 1,033 Palestinians of their homes. To make matters even worse,  desperate people left only with the rubble of their  house  face high fines for their 'illegal construction'.

There is a dramatic disparity in  access to water: according to the German hydrologist Clemens Messerschmid, a Palestinian in the West Bank can use an average of 77 litres of water per day, while an Israeli citizen has access to 278 litres per day. To put this into perspective,  WHO recommends that a person should have access to at least 100 litres per day. Since 1967, the distribution of water in the West Bank has been in the hands of the Israeli military administration. Even in the so-called A-Zones, which are autonomously governed by the Palestinian Authority, the amount of water available to every household is subject to the whim of the current government and the local occupation administration.

Despite these increasingly negative developments in the West Bank, the Israeli and Palestinian hosts surprised the participants with their courage, their steadfastness and their determination to offer non-violent resistance to the occupation. They have not given up hope for a peaceful solution of this conflict and are asking the international community for help and support.

hotos on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/ippnw/sets/72157644808830725/

More information about ICAHD: www.icahd.org/


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