Jerusalem - 19.01.03

Jerusalem - 19.01.03

On the morning of 19th January 2003 I woke up to new and bright day. There was a sense of urgency in that we had a set program ahead of us planned by the Holy Land Trust.  yes! - I'm in Palestine and will be here for the next two weeks.

I arrived at Tel Aviv via Frankfurt yesterday amidst the tight security that seemed to be prevalent. We had a smooth and safe flight and I spent the time chatting to a  Black American sports woman sitting next to me for the five hours or so before touch down.

On landing I was arrested as soon as I stepped on the tarmac and separated from the rest of the passengers that boarded the airport bus. What followed was a thorough questioning and searching of my belongings in the back of the police van. My shoes were also removed and there were a number of security officers coming in and out of the van.

The security proceed in also searching the plane before reporting to the officers who were questioning me in the van. I must say that it was all an uncomfortable experience that lasted for hours. Even after I was driven to the airport terminal and my passport was stamped, I had been subjected once again to the same questioning and security checks.
Two other colleagues who joined me at the terminal had to go through the same, once I informed the security that I will be in there company for the duration of my visit.

Well, after such a grueling task was all fired up for the program that started in Jerusalem the following morning. We toured the eastern Jerusalem area accompanied by Jeff Halper from the Israeli Committee against House Demolition. Mr. Halper told us how the Israelis took control of the area and explained about the system of roads which only the settlers and army can use - that divided up all the Palestinian villages in the area. He went on to say that the Palestinians of East Jerusalem only have access to 7% of the land, the settlement had taken up 35%, the Israelis had designated another 35% as green land and the rest as Military zones. Palestinians are denied building permits or permission to extend their existing area. However, since they have large families, through necessity they are forced to build only awaiting to be demolished! In fact most of the Israeli settlements and all of the by-pass roads were built during the 'Peace Talks' both in Madrid and Oslo. They are strategically built around Jerusalem so that the Palestinians are encircled.

Mr. Halper's organisation believes that the Israeli Government had set up and implemented what he called a Matrix of control in the Jerusalem area. It was demonstrated when he showed us the stark contrast between east (Palestinian) Jerusalem and west (Israeli) Jerusalem.

Need I say more? More power to Jeff Halper and his comrades at the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition for the solidarity work that they are doing.

During our stay in Palestine we are due to visit Ramellah, Hebron, Gaza and Bethlehem and will be meeting people of equal importance like the Christian Peace Co, who are not only talking the talk but living up to the activism in respect of the Palestinian cause.

For all of those that want to have first hand information on what's going down in Palestine,
please view the website: palestinemonitor.com
Thoughts
Yussef Ahmed
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