Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bet Jala - between Gilo and Har Gilo

Another farmer who asked for our help lives in Bet Jala, but his olive and almond trees are in the valley between Gilo and Har Gilo - now on the other side of a checkpoint fence. He lives in the small shelter there to keep his access to the orchard and to ensure that no more of his land is taken over by the settlements all around. They cut off his access to water and electricity, nor allow him to add on to his shelter. It took two hours of waiting, and cricket play, but we were able to get through the checkpoint to harvest olives for the day.

While we waited outside Beitar Illit

We waited around outside Beitar Illit for a while to see if they would change their mind. See how the Norwegians in our group passed the time!

Beitar Illit Settlement and the confiscation of olive trees

A farmer thought that he might have an easier time harvesting his olive trees that have been fenced inside the illegal settlement of Beitar Illit, southwest of Bethlehem, if he had the help of internationals to help. He had all of the permissions signed, but we were not let inside the settlement to do so. Another farmer who is no longer given access to his orchard now attempts to work as a day laborer inside the settlement just to make ends meet. Because of our presence there that day, all of the day workers were not allowed in. Here what he has to say.

Abu Dis

This neighborhood in East Jerusalem has been divided by the wall that separates families and businesses from one another. More illegal settlements continue to be built in East Jerusalem despite this violation against Oslo and the "Road Map."

Hebron - a view inside the occupation

Hebron is the ancient city in Southern Judea where Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac are buried. It is also a place of contention, with extremist Israeli settlers attempting to take over the old city. We met a man whose home was being squatted by settlers, despite the Israeli Supreme Court decision to evict them. 2000 soldiers work here to protect 400 settlers that the government is considering removing because of their violence against Palestinian children on their way to school and civilians who live there.

Tel Megiddo

Tel Megiddo is one of the most ancient cities in the world, having first been inhabited nearly 9,000 years ago and being rebuilt 28 times after successive sieges and processes of rebuilding. Because of its strategic position on the trade routes between Assyria and Egypt, controlling this city meant controlling trade throughout the entire region.

Picking Olives in the West Bank

Keep Hope Alive is the Joint Action Initiative of the YMCA and YWCA in Palestine. They invite internationals to come plant trees and harvest trees each year. The Bay Area, CA Keep Hope Alive group sends two groups each year: a planting team in February and a harvest team in October. Harvesting on land most under threat from confiscation by settlers and the wall is an important part of this work of solidarity.