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Sherril Hogan: The Wall Hurts Israel Too

The Wall Hurts Israel Too

By Sherril Hogan

I receive daily emails from Israel/Palestine about what is happening to Palestinians under the occupation by the Israeli military. Every incident of aggression is justified by Israel in the name of security, but what I read cannot be about security and might well be destroying the very Israel that everyone wants to protect. I refer to the Israel founded on the ideals of sanctuary, justice and democracy.

The so-called "security wall" being built through Palestinian villages - not on the 1967 border which is recognized as the boundary between Israel and the West Bank - is swallowing the land Palestinians need both to live on and to construct a viable state. Pasture lands, olive and almond groves, greenhouses and scarce water sources are on the other side of the wall from their owners. One example among many, the village of Az Zawiya, is losing 90% of its agricultural land, 6,000 acres, upon which the economy of the village is based. This village has already lost land forcefully confiscated for the building of Jewish settlements, for Highway No. 5 that is a commuter highway for the settlers only, and for Israeli military facilities. All this within the West Bank - the future Palestinian state.

That is one part of the story. The other part is how the Israeli army is responding to the protesting farm families and their Israeli and international supporters. Peaceful demonstrators, including women and children, try to stop the bulldozers that are clearing the path for the coming wall. These Palestinians are not suicide bombers or even militants, yet their nonviolent resistance is met with tear gas and rubber bullets. On June 9th fifteen were injured and required medical attention. But the families kept on demonstrating because they are about to lose everything. On June 10th, the fifth day of protest, the army fired an unidentified nerve gas that caused 100 people to lose consciousness for up to 24 hours and to suffer severe muscle stiffness (rigidity) and high fevers. Some needed blood transfusions.

This use of chemical warfare follows on the demolition of 400 civilian homes in Gaza in May and early June - another violation of international law. Over 12,000 Palestinian homes have been bulldozed or blown up since the occupation began, but how does this make Israel more secure? It is Israel's duty as the occupying power to take care of the civil life of Palestinians, not to destroy it.

What happens to a democratic country when it violates the human rights of a whole people? Americans need to examine our consciences about this, as we trample on Iraqi civil life. So must we question the policies of another country we support and care about - Israel. To shoot at civilians, to destroy homes, to build settlements on stolen land, to tear up water and sewer lines, delay ambulances, trash municipal records, to make travel even to work or school a humiliation, to enter homes at 2 or 4 a.m. in order to terrorize families is to create fear, resentment and desperation. It also corrupts Israel. We do that country no favors by supporting its illegal and immoral policies.

Israel cannot survive as a sanctuary for one people at the expense of another people. Let us require Israel to end the occupation with all its brutality, withdraw to the 1967 borders and regain its moral footing in the international community. A just Israel will be a far more secure Israel.

Sherrill Hogen is a peace activist who was in the West Bank and Israel in 2002. She lives in Conway.

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