An Outcry from Strangled Bethlehem
An Outcry from Strangled Bethlehem
1) A Palestinian Plan of Work against the apartheid wall 2) An Outcry from Strangled Bethlehem
1) A Palestinian Plan of Work against the apartheid wall Within the framework of a comprehensive Palestinian campaign to resist the apartheid wall under construction by Israel in the West Bank, and due to be reviewed by the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
Going in parallel to ongoing diplomatic and legal efforts to refute Israeli claims on the legality of constructing such a racist wall; The Palestinian Leadership has decided to name the 23rd of February 2004, a national day to resist the construction of the wall and to organize a large-scale Palestinian and international campaigns to uncover this expansionist racist plan. Stemmed by the aforementioned facts, all activities will be directed towards:
Firstly : On the Palestinian level inside the Palestinian homeland:- Preparing a series of popular activities reaching its peak by launching massive demonstrations on Feb.23, as follows:
1. The Muslim Friday Prayer of Feb.20, will primarily focus on the perilous dangers of the wall on the life of the Palestinian society and preachers will ask the prayers to resist it and for participation in the activities of the Wakf(Ministry of Religious Affairs). Churches throughout Palestine will be asked to designate the Sunday sermon on the same subject.
2. The Palestinian Ministry of Education will assign the first lesson on Sunday Feb.22 and Monday Feb.23 at all schools to talk about the apartheid wall and the International Court in the Hague. A brief guidebook will be published by the Ministry of Education on the dangers of the apartheid wall and aims of lodging this case before the Hague court.
3. Organizing massive strikes at the sites of the wall at the following points: A. Anin, Jenin. B. Nazlet Issa, Tulkarem. C. Kalkilya D. Bodros and Qebbya, Ramallah. E. Rachel Tomb, Bethlehem, F. Hebron's old city. G. Down town Nablus. H. Down town Gaza. I. Rafah J. Jericho. 4. On July 23rd :
A. sirens and church bells will be burst at noon time as traffic will be witnessing a standstill at all Palestinian cities' centers for non-stop five minutes. B. Suspending work at all Palestinian institutions , ministries, and schools for one hour starting 12 noon time. All Palestinian employees, laborers and students will be invited to take part in demonstrations to protest the construction of the apartheid wall.
C. A popular march will be organized at all centers of the Palestinian provinces under the slogan ( Let us resist the apartheid wall until its collapse). These will be staged along with those due to be held at the sites of contact points with the apartheid wall.
D. The Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will deliver a statement to the Palestinian people and all friendly peoples in the world to resist the apartheid wall until its collapse. Arafat's statement will be broadcast by Radio and TV and loudspeakers at the time of demonstrations.
5. The Palestinian public and private sector radio and TV stations, the local press, and all media representatives in the Palestinian territories are requested to prepare programs about the apartheid wall for its construction in blatant violation to the provisions of the international law. The Palestinian Ministry of Information is also required to give prominence to this big event. 6. Palestinian Arabs living inside the Green Line are invited to organize adequate activities through the participation of Israeli peace forces at such events. 7. Setting up sub-committees throughout Palestinian provinces which should include the governors, the representatives of the nationalist and Islamic factions, clergymen Christians and Muslims, labor unions, municipal councils, representatives of the Palestinian ministries of Education and Local Government, as well as representatives of the Palestinian Radio and Tv station to organize such activities in the provinces in accordance with the directions described above.
Secondly: On the Israeli level: Inviting the Israeli peace now groups to take part in marches at contact points with the apartheid wall and to delegate representatives to give speeches at popular marches due to be staged at main Palestinian cities.
Thirdly: On the level of the Palestinians in the diasporas : Inviting all Palestinian political factions, the offices of the PLO and Palestinian embassies abroad, to organize massive popular demonstrations to mark the event at Palestinian refugee camps and to work toward inviting Arab popular forces to attend such activities.
Fourth: On the level of the International Solidarity Movement: A. Establishing an exhibition to uncover the dangerous repercussions created by the construction of the apartheid wall on the daily life of the Palestinian people and its inalienable national rights. The exhibition is suggested to include a vivid description of the Israeli crimes perpetrated against the Palestinian people. B. Organizing a massive sit-in popular strike opposite the premises of the International Court of Justice in the Hague on the day of inaugurating its deliberation . The strike is suggested to include volunteers from all European countries. C. Sending delegations from the victims of the apartheid wall ( representatives from seriously affected Palestinian villages and families from the construction of the Israeli separation wall) as well as victims of the Israeli terror especially among families of Palestinian children martyrs and disabled) to participate at these sit-in strikes in response to a similar Israeli action to send what it terms victims of terror. The Palestinian National Committee for resisting the apartheid wall. 2) An Outcry from Strangled Bethlehem By: Ghassan Andoni
Totally confused about its own borders, and wildly aggressive towards the property of Palestinians, Israel has decided to build a huge and ugly barrier that not only encircles the Bethlehem area and totally separates it from its twin city, Jerusalem, but divides it into little isolated enclaves as well.
In the past 37 years, occupiers have destroyed the joyful spirit of Bethlehem, and along with it, the life of its 170,000 inhabitants. The 22 illegal settlements encircling Bethlehem have permanently destroyed its indigenous landscape and much of its cultural heritage.
Most of the land reserves of Bethlehem were illegally confiscated to build these settlements. The 70,000 dunams of land that Bethlehem could lose to the Apartheid wall, with its 8 meter high concrete walls, barbed wire, army patrol roads, trenches, and soldiers' towers, will destroy what remains of village life and turn all of Bethlehem into a huge detention camp.
If this is allowed to continue, Nahalin, the beautiful garden of Bethlehem, together with 6 more villages, will be surrounded by the barrier on all four sides. The 15,000 residents of the seven villages will need security permits to pass through the wall gates both ways, in order to reach schools, and even sleep overnight inside their own homes.
With about 10 kilometers of the planned 50 kilometers of the length of the Bethlehem separation wall completed, all of us feel that the ghetto is already established and are fearful for our future and that of our children.
The most painful occupation is a one that is structured around barriers. Military check posts, roadblocks, and separation walls and fences are blocking our ability to live and diminishing our chances for a free and independent future, the only possible way for coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis.
Our city, which used to flourish during tourism season, with the waves of faithful pilgrims, and local and international visitors, is sealed away. Our hotels are empty, restaurants and souvenir shops are closed, and handicraft workshops are out of business.
To continue with the construction of the wall, Israel has already demolished dozens of homes and enclosed a few neighborhoods inside barbed wire. As the barrier is planned to run very close to the residential homes in all of the Bethlehem area (cities, villages, and refugee camps), if it is completed, no resident will have a farm, very few would still have a little garden. Depriving our farmers from their land, turning them into a labor force, and then blocking them from work opportunities means a slow and torturous death sentence issued against a whole nation.
While we understand the security needs of the civilians on both sides of the conflict, we cannot understand why instead of building barriers within its territories, Israel insists on turning Palestinian territories into a big zoo, placing us inside cages.
The Holy Land cannot be divided into a vibrant joyful society to the west, and a crowded miserable prison to the east. Palestinian lives are by no means cheaper than those of Israelis. A barrier that creates such a situation cannot bring security, but rather breeds more desperate people who can see no difference between life and death. Barriers might immediately save a few lives, but will establish the basis for more lives to be lost and more blood to be shed.
The barriers we face are not only inside our land, but extend to the international level. Repeated American vetoes in the United Nations are blocking the way for a peaceful and just solution to our problem and firmly stand between us and our ability to regain our legitimate rights via peaceful legitimate means.
Using security as a pretext for land grabs and collective punishment is a painful process that we have felt on our skins for the past 37 years of occupation. Yet, the apartheid wall is an unprecedented assault that threatens our mere ability to survive. We strongly feel that the ones who approve it or even stay silent about it are as guilty as the ones who impose it.
After so much effort has been invested, and so many lives wasted, we urge you not to allow the Israeli government to destroy the remaining basis for our future coexistence, to return the crisis to an existential one.
We cry out to you to not stay silent as we are being placed inside a locked cage, and to stand against and never recognize the racial apartheid system that is being established in the Holy Land. We need to affirm that humanity defeated Apartheid and will not allow it to raise its head again.
We urge you not to add an extra barrier that would deny us the right to seek justice within the International Court of Justice. Israel should not be allowed to continue to be a country above international law.
To stand for peace and justice we call you to help the International Court of Justice to bring us a step closer to establishing just peace in the holy land. Let us not allow walls to separate us.
People of Bethlehem
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