Photo: Banksy’s dove of peace in Bethlehem


Seventeen internationals participated in the latest ICAHD study tour to Palestine/Israel that was done in conjunction with the UK Palestine Mental Health Network.  The group consisted of several professionals from the fields of mental health and social work and others came with backgrounds in law, academia, social enterprise, business and with the youngest participant a university student. They went to witness the situation on the ground and to grow in understanding of the many elements of Israel’s settler colonial and apartheid policies. Their presence demonstrated their solidarity for this most moral cause at this dark time in history and each participant returned home determined to play their part in aiding the desperately needed change required for peace with justice to finally be achieved in this much contested part of the world.


It is safe to visit

The tour group was safe the entire time and other than some delays at checkpoints, they were able to complete their itinerary with 30 encounters over twelve days. Everywhere they went, they were eagerly welcomed by Palestinians and critical Jewish Israelis who since 7th October have mourned the loss of life and the horror of Israel’s war on Gaza thus the overall mood is sombre.


Daily trauma

Palestinians do not suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This is the wrong diagnosis because the trauma continues day by day and has only intensified over the last eight months. The constant trauma also affects children, so they don’t have a normal childhood. Most Palestinians have friends or family in Gaza and their thoughts are constantly with them.

Many Palestinians are in daily survival mode due to Israel’s intensified apartheid policies imposed on them. They can be arrested simply for circulating messages of sympathy for what is happening in Gaza. Hundreds of Palestinians who live within the state of Israel have lost their jobs or places at universities. Division between people groups has increased and trust lost. Right-wing Jewish settler lawlessness terrorises Palestinians, so they live in constant fear.

Palestinians are astounded by the complicity of western governments, especially the US and the UK, who are not enforcing international law. What gives them hope are the millions of people from civil society who are marching in the streets and involved in university encampments. Their message to internationals is don’t stop; civil society must rise up!


The political nature of the study tour

During the tour, many issues were addressed and a vision for the future was presented. ICAHD’s call is to resist apartheid and build a shared democracy. Information was presented by a variety of speakers, including from the final speaker, Awad Abdelfattah, who spoke to the group from his home in the Galilee. Awad leads the One Democratic State Campaign. Many discussions are currently happening, especially amongst intellectuals who understand that the future is one state, and the creation of an apartheid Palestinian state must be avoided.


Palestinians need our visits so please do all that you can to find a way to get there. Stay in Bethlehem as this tour group did to help boost its economy. Seventy percent of Bethlehem’s income is from tourism and with the town empty, increased international presence will bring hope as you demonstrate that they are not forgotten.


Read reports and view short videos from a few of the locations that the participants visited via these links: