UK delegates joined what is the longest-standing political study tour offered of I/P
“This study tour, composed largely of close encounters with Israelis and Palestinians, penetrates the surface of Israel/Palestine, revealing realities ignored by the mainstream media. Participating in it has been one of the most valuable experiences of my 71 years,” so said John Garrett, participant of our recent extended study tour.
Although the tour looked at a range of topics from refugees, education under occupation, trauma, rehabilitation and more, the major focus was about the matrix of control that Israel has implemented over the indigenous population and its judaization of all of historic Palestine – issues that are key to ICAHD’s political analysis and core work to end the Occupation and help establish a just and sustainable solution for all people groups.
The tour took place in November at a time of high tension due to Israeli provocation and Palestinian retaliation. The majority of the time, the group was based at the Bethlehem Inn hotel located directly opposite the eight-metre high Wall which was a constant reminder of Israel’s apartheid policies. From it we could view what has become the almost daily demonstrations against the Occupation and we were just a short walk away from the checkpoint so at 6am one morning we walked down to observe the Palestinians queuing to leave for work that day. Staying in Bethlehem also afforded us the opportunity to meet the young photographer, Elias Halabi, who took the photo that we’ve used for our ICAHD UK Christmas cards.
Israel had closed many roads in East Jerusalem to isolate the Palestinian communities therefore during our alternative tour with ICAHD’s Jeff Halper, more than once we found we had to change our bus route. After having the panoramic view of Jerusalem at the Promenade and seeing the new settlement of Nof Zion, not only did the sidewalk end but so did the road into Jabal Makabur.
A few other visits also had to be cancelled at the last minute due to closures however because of our many years of experience in leading study tours and the contacts that we have established throughout the area, alternative arrangements were immediately provided.
It was important to visit communities on both sides of the Green Line that are threatened with demolition. Within Israel we travelled to the Negev Desert to learn about the campaign to save Umm Al-Hiran, while near Tel Aviv we stopped at Dahmash within Lod to see the three homes that were demolished in August. This was an opportunity for us to stand in solidarity with this community following the visit during the summer when ICAHD took the international participants from our annual rebuilding camp to learn about Israel’s racist policies concerning its own citizens. We also visited the Bedouin community of Al-Makhul in the Jordan Valley within the West Bank that through international aid had been rebuilt but which again faces demolition . Participants witnessed how unrecognized villages in Israel and within Area C of the West Bank still lack even the most basic infrastructure and services because Israel wants those residents to find that life is so difficult that they leave therefore clearing the area for Jewish-only communities.
A heart-warming visit was made to the Hajaj Fhadad family in Anata to see the home that had been rebuilt for them
during ICAHD’s 2015 rebuilding camp – the 189th Palestinian home constructed as a non-violent act of political resistance to the Occupation.
“This tour is meticulously planned, highly informative and of the highest quality. It will change your life.” Gill Ambrose, Nov 2015
Three study tours are planned for 2016 which will again visit both sides of the divide.
March: specialist eleven-day tour for mental health care professionals.
July: eight-day study tour.
November: eleven-day study tour.
Please register your interest now – email firstname.lastname@example.org.