Day 2 – Boots on the ground
We started early this morning. Packed our bags and brought them to be stored downstairs at the hotel. In the lobby at 8:15 to walk to the UN OCHA (United Nations office for the coordination of humantarian affairs) headquarters. Here we learned more about the makeup of the occupation. There are 2.7 million Palestinians. In the West Bank there are also 550,000 Israelis in settlements and outposts all of which the UN and international communities view as illegal and in violation of Article 49 of the Geneva Convention. 42.7% of the West Bank is controlled by settlers and is off limits for Palestinian development.
The Wall or Barrier also accounts for land confiscation. The green line, the international recognized border of the West Bank, is less than half the length of the separation Wall. 85% of the Wall goes well into the West Bank and cuts areas off from one another. The argument that the Wall is for security, is false since then it would follow the green line. Now it is used to take more land.
Other challenges – 59 checkpoints, 25 partial checkpoints, 116 road blocks all make life difficult for Palestinians in their own land. Altogether, Israel now controls 60% of the West Bank. The Palestinians only 38% and that is not continuous but broken up. Further, there are closed military zones and those living in that zone have their homes under demolition orders.
In the afternoon, we had a speaker from Breaking the Silence Then we received the team money (5600 Israeli shekels) and our money for personal use (2300 Israeli shekels). Then off to our placements.
I am now in Yatta. The upper part of a house which will be our home for the next 3 months is large enough. Right now, there are eight of us since the team that had this placement is still here and will orientate us and introduce us to our contacts. We will be here for 3 days and then go back to Jerusalem for a few days before officially taking this placement over.
Hope to post pictures tomorrow but very late now. Need some sleep.