Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

First-Hand Reports on Israel's Apartheid Wall

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

First-Hand Reports on Israel's Apartheid Wall

Article excerpt

Fayez Audeh, coordinator for the Farmers Union in Tulkarm and for the Stop the Wall campaign, and Abdel Raheem Saleh Abdel Latif Khatib, of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions, spoke Oct. 8 at the Brecht Center in New York City on "Israel's Apartheid Wall: First-Hand Reports on its Effect on the People of Palestine."

Audeh, a farmer who, because of the wall, no longer can work his own land, said the purpose of what Palestinians call a "racist wall" and Israelis a "tool of protection" is not security for Israel, but rather what Zionists have been after from the beginning: taking land from Palestinians. The first phase of the wall, already completed, is 145 kilometers long, he told the audience. It separates Palestinians in villages behind the wall from their land and water sources on the "Israeli" side. This is the richest agricultural land in the West Bank, he explained: 90 percent of the food produced in the area was grown on land now on the wrong side of the wall. When completed, more than 400,000 Palestinians will be outside the wall as well. Audeh wondered why these Palestinians won't be considered a security threat to Israel, or whether Israel is protecting them from their fellow countrymen confined within the wall.

The wall surrounds Qalqilya, with only one checkpoint that Israeli soldiers open--or not, according to their mood. Already 6,000 people have left in order to find work, which Audeh described as the beginning of internal transfer. The wall encloses all of Zeita village--except for one home. The owner could have moved to within the village so that his children, aged 13 and younger, could continue their education, or remained in his home, with his children unable to reach school. Instead, he chose to stay on his land and send his children to another family in the village. Now, in order to see his children, he must travel eight hours by horseback. Who gave Israel the democratic right to separate families? Audeh asked.

Khatib questioned whether New Yorkers would accept applying to British authorities for permission to visit Newark. With 280 internal checkpoints between Palestinian areas, however, that is the reality for Palestinians. As a result of the closure and checkpoints, unemployment among Palestinians has risen from 11 percent in 2000 to 78 percent for the first quarter of 2003. …

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