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PALESTINE | Living under occupation (1/2)

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July 6, 2017

For 50 years, the people of Palestine have lived under Israeli occupation. In the Gaza Strip, the violence, humiliation and human rights violations they have to endure on a daily basis are compounded by a blockade which for the last 10 years has been slowly asphyxiating the territory and its population.

Milestones like these mark the suffering of an entire people. Women, men and children deprived of their freedoms, with no prospects for the future. Silent victims whose sufferings Doctors of the World – Médecins du Monde (MdM) witnesses as it cares for them.

The following photographs were taken in Palestine in May 2017. We are showing them to you in an attempt to restore to these people the dignity they deserve, and to make sure we don’t forget them.

Photos | Olivier Papegnies / Collectif Huma

Texts | Lisa Veran and Léo Goupil-Barbier

Our special thanks go to the MdM teams working in Palestine.

WALL OF SEPARATION

Since construction started in 2002, the wall separating the West Bank from Israel has come to symbolize all the humiliations and security oppression which the Palestinian people are forced to endure on a daily basis. This wall deprives them of one of the most fundamental liberties: the right to circulate freely. It’s also designed to isolate them, and to remind them of Israel’s supremacy over their territory. In Bethlehem, the wall provides today a canvas for artistic expression, by people such as the British street artist Banksy. But while it attracts large numbers of tourists, this wall is above all a wall of shame, dividing rather than uniting. A wall which may well project the true intentions of Israel as a prelude to the future annexation of Palestine.7

Bethlehem. The wall separating the Palestinians from Jerusalem.

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Bethlehem. Every day, these mechanics see hundreds of tourists visiting this artistic “attraction”.

THE WEST BANK – HELPING THE VICTIMS OF SETTLER VIOLENCE

According to Ghassan Daghlass, the man in charge of the settlements issue in the Nablus region for the Palestinian Authority, the systematic encroachment of Israeli settlers is one of the biggest problems facing the Palestinians. In MdM’s intervention areas alone, an average of one critical incident occurs every week – meaning someone is killed, receives death threats or is seriously wounded. It isn’t just the violence. These settlements are always located in strategic positions which deprive the Palestinians of their resources. The lands which enables them to live and have been in their possession for thousands of years, are regularly confiscated or destroyed by settlers acting with total impunity.

Like in Urif, for example. The latest attack on this village of 400 inhabitants overlooked by the settlement of Yitzhar took place on 29 April 2017. On that day, forty masked settlers, escorted by Israeli soldiers, attacked Mounir, a father of 8 children. Mounir was beaten and left on the ground, his leg smashed in. Now that he’s disabled, he can no longer feed his family, but he can rely on the solidarity of his village, which remains active and regularly testifies to these outrages on social and associative networks.

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At present, 750,000 people live in the 182 “official” settlements in the West Bank.

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Settlers set fire to this girl’s school because they found the chants of the schoolchildren annoying.

GAZA – “ GATEWAY TO PARADISE, OR CEMETERY OF DREAMS”

Nearly 2 million people live imprisoned in the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated areas in the world. In addition to the demographic pressure, Gaza also has to endure Israeli occupation and – for the last 10 years – a blockade which deprives its inhabitants of basic material requirements, access to healthcare and elementary freedoms. Imports of telecommunications and construction equipment are also severely restricted.

Caught in the middle of the political tensions between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, the people of Gaza find themselves trapped in a Kafkaesque situation, and are reduced to the most basic acts of pragmatism just to survive. Foodstuffs are expensive, and so is fuel. With just four hours of electricity a day, living a normal life is impossible. The necessary resources do exist in Gaza: only they can’t be exploited because of a blockade that’s illegal in the eyes of international law. Is the state of Israel above the law? There’s no justice in Gaza anyway.

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For Salim, a refugee since 1948, “everything is difficult in Gaza, for we live under occupation and today everything’s worse”.

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Over half of the population of Gaza is aged under 18.

 





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