Demolitions in East Jerusalem
2018 was not an easy year for Palestine. Trump’s administration made its intentions clear and moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, signaling to Binyamin Netanyahu that business is to remain as usual in the business of occupation.
The courageous March of Return in the Gaza, happening weekly along the border since 30 March, was met with live fire from the Israeli army, and has left more than 220 Palestinians dead, and more than 18,000 wounded.
The Knesset legislated the new Nationality Law, sealing the status of Palestinians in Israel as second-rate citizens, and the government initiated the still pending “Loyalty in Culture” bill, aiming to impose political limitations on art and artists enjoying state grants.
Israeli human rights organisations, such as B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence, are demonized and the government calls for them to be de-funded. Israeli journalists feel under threat as space is shrinking for freedom of speech
Around the world, thanks to the ever-growing solidarity movement, the demand to bring Israel to account for its abuse of Palestinian human rights is constantly on the rise.
Examples of Palestinian women who made their mark this year were 16 year old Ahed Tamimi who was jailed for eight months for slapping a soldier who invaded her family home in Nabi Saleh in the West Bank, and Dareen Tatour, a young Palestinian poet from Reineh in the Galilee, who was in house imprisonment for three years and in actual prison for a few months for the crime of writing a poem. In June, millions were shocked by the shooting of paramedic Razan al-Najjar, while she was rushing to aid of the wounded near the Gaza wall.
And on the relentless home demolitions front, in 2018 there were 330 structures demolished that resulted in 484 people displaced (including 222 children). The livelihoods of 6,879 people were affected (45% were children).
After a long and painful struggle, residents from the unrecognized Bedouin village Umm Al Hiran inside Israel were forced to sign documents agreeing to leave the village and relocate in the township of Hura. Fifty percent of Umm Al Hiran has already been demolished to make way for the Jewish town of Hiran to be built on its ruins.
The unrecognized village of Al-Araqib, also in Israel, has now been demolished 136 times since July 2010 and on Christmas Day (25 December 2018) Sheikh Al-Turi will begin a 10-month prison sentence for tresspassing because he and other villages protested over their right to remain on their land.
Somewhat more fortunate, for now, was Khan Al Ahmar in the West Bank. In October Israel postponed the demolition of the village and the displacement of its inhabitants, due to mounting international pressure.
The struggle, and the oppression, continue on various fronts, but two clear patterns emerge. First, resistance and repression take place on both sides of the Green Line – inside Israel, and in the West Bank and Gaza. Second, global solidarity makes a difference. It pressures politicians around the world into action, and mobilizes international resistance in their localities as well as on the ground in Palestine and in Israel.
Each and every one of you, by being a part of ICAHD UK’S community, joining demonstrations and vigils, donating money, attending and organizing talks and meetings, writing to your MP or participating in tours and camps – are taking an active part in creating a crack in the wall of oppression – one of the millions of cracks that will eventually make it fall.
Here in ICAHD UK we’ve had a busy year. Our Director Daphna Baram, appointed in January was joined later in the year by our new administrator, Malcolm Wright, and the executive committee has grown.
The theme of ICAHD UK’s well-attended annual conference in May was From Constructing Homes to Constructing One State. Keynote speakers were Jeff Halper and Nadia Nasser Najjab who paved the way to forward thinking about future scenarios and directions for the struggle for liberation in Palestine/Israel.
Following the conference, we moved towards organising our flagship project of this year, the ICAHD – Torat Tzedek October 2018 Camp: Build, Harvest, Read more »
“Laughing for Palestine”
To support the camp and our day-to-day activity, we founded a line of fundraiser comedy shows entitled Laughing for Palestine. The shows, headlined by Frankie Boyle at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August and by Alexei Sayle, were both sold out. We plan more Laughing for Palestine gigs in 2019.
ICAHD’s Founder, Jeff Halper, toured the UK twice in 2018, in February/March and in May, with an extensive speaking programme that took him to a total of 19 locations.
Extended Study Tours recommended by ICAHD UK took place in the spring and autumn. These issue-based tours grounded in ICAHD analysis took participants to a wide range of locations on both sides of the Green Line and offered opportunities to meet with people and organisations difficult to access if travelling on one’s own. These study tours as well as the ICAHD camps have proved life-changing for all who joined them.
We had the privilege of hosting two successful public talks. Bedouin activist Khalil al Amour spoke in June about the displacement of Palestinians in the Naqab/Negev and in November we heard from Haggai Matar, Israeli journalist, political activist and Executive Director of +972, an independent blog-based web magazine providing news from Israel/Palestine. Haggai’s meeting was kindly co-hosted by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK and the National Education Union. We look forward to hosting more public talks in 2019.
None of this would have been possible without your support, donations, and participation. We wish you a wonderful festive season and a happy new year, a year of fruitful activism, joyful striving for piece, and liberation for all.