Refugee camps and the military

Here the refugee camps are not what you may think a refugee camp looks like. At one time, they were tents but as the years went on, shelters were built and now the camp appears like a town. There are schools, clinics, funded by aid agencies, and some shops.

Why are they called refugee camps then? The people living there are refugees driven from their homes in 1948 following the Nakba (Day of the Catastrophe). Some people to this day still have keys to their homes in the hope of returning to their land. These keys are passed on to the next generation as a way of keeping their narrative alive even though the homes may not exist anymore.The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is in charge of supervising the camps since they are refugee camps.

The Israeli military conducts many night raids and arrests in the camps. According to one former Israeli soldier who spoke to us, they will use the camps for military training. If they want to teach a new group of soldiers how to secure a home or town, they will pick a Palestinian home or town and it is usually a refugee camp. They learn how to arrest people by breaking downs doors in the middle of the night and arrest a young person saying that they threw stones at a military vehicle.

Young people do throw stones. It is the only weapon they have and they want to protect their homes and families. But when the military comes in the middle of the night to make arrests rather than at the time the stones were thrown is suspicious. These raids are clear provocation.

There are many children in Israeli jails. Some for as long as three or four years which is the sentence for the third offense of stone throwing. When the children are released, they find their friends have moved on and they are behind in school. Many then suffer further from isolation and depression.

The military sometimes shots at stone throwers and children are killed. As in Fawwar Camp in August when a 12-year-old was shot in the back. He was returning from buying bread and was near the entrance to his home when the military came through. Recently, a 21-year-old student at Qalandiya Refugee Camp was shot, the fourth person at Qalandiya RC this year. He was unarmed and standing on the roof of his  home.  It is the military who come into the camps with all their weapons and vehicles and break into people’s homes.

When an Israeli is killed, we learn all about them. For example, if an Israeli young person is killed, we learn their name and hear about their family, that he was good in violin, had a sense of humour, etc. When a Palestinian is killed, he/she is just a number. They remain nameless and faceless in the world press.


Khalil Mohammad Al Anati, 12 years old, killed Aug. 2014. Pictured at funeral.


Yousef al-Shawamrah, 14, shot by Israeli forces, July, 2014


14-year old Orwa Hammad who is also a U.S. citizen, was killed Oct. 24, 2014

Twin brother grieving. Bahaa Samir Badir, 13-years old, Oct.16, 2014

Here are pictures of just four of the children killed this year. I know it is graphic but these children too had dreams and families and special talents.

None of the soldiers involved has been held to account.

Posted on December 18, 2014, in December. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I want to thank you again for what you are doing. Your reports help keep my focus on what really matters. I think I already mentioned that we have been studying the minor prophets. It is obvious that militant Jewish factions use these ancient prophetic words as there basis for their many acts of injustice; and yet doing injustice to your fellow man is one of the main accusations of the prophets message to Judah/Israel. Take care! Regards, Dwayne


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Accompaniment in Palestine and Israel

In the West Bank

Life under occupation

A Mosaic For Peace

this blog will describe my journey as an Ecumenical Accompanier with the World Council of Church's Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel from September to December 2011, from February to April 2013, and my volunteer work with the Hebron International Resources Network in 2014 and 2015

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