This footage is from the morning of July 4, 2018. The village of Khan Al Ahmar was under threat of demolition. A Bedouin community with over 70 families, and an elementary school. Combatants for Peace was first on the scene. We built the “solidarity tent” and together with dozens of NGO’s held a 3-month long 24/hour sit-in. When the bulldozers came, we sat in the bulldozers to protect the homes. Until today, the village of Khan Al Ahmar is still standing.
The article below was published in The Forward, and was a part of a massive, strategic campaign to fight Bibi’s proposed annexation plan. After two months of wide-scale nonviolent protests the plan was first postponed and then rejected.
by Osama Iliwat, CfPeace activist.
If annexation takes place, I will be right in the middle of it. My city, Jericho, will turn into a small island surrounded by annexed lands. For me, annexation will mean that I will be living in a virtual prison, surrounded on all sides by Israeli checkpoints. Annexation will annihilate my dream for peace, of having my own independent state. None of that will be possible after the annexation.
Back at the time of the Oslo Accords, we Palestinians accepted a deal. We lost a lot (78% of historical Palestine), but we were hopeful that we would have peace, and our own state, in our homeland. I remember feeling so hopeful at the time, like there was a bubble in my heart, full of newfound joy and meaning. I thought we would become citizens of Palestine, and finally achieve equality in the eyes of the international community. I thought I would finally be free. Unfortunately, none of that happened.
Home demolitions, and the systematic pushing of Palestinian families off our lands, has been happening in my community for as long as I can remember. Years ago, when I was a child, my uncle built a house on his father’s land in East Jerusalem. He worked hard all of his life to save a little money to build this home. He was so proud that he was finally able to provide his family a safe and beautiful shelter. Then the military came and literally made holes in the home, rendering it completely unlivable for him and his family. But this is far from a one-time occurrence.
A close friend of mine, Nayef, lives with his parents, siblings, wife and children all in one small house. A few years ago, he finally saved enough money to build a small home for his wife and children. Then one day while he was at work (he works as a day-laborer in a nearby settlement), the soldiers came. They threw his wife and young children out of the home. Nayef’s wife called him in a panic, and he drove home as fast as he could. When he arrived and got out of the car, he yelled at the soldiers desperately, asking them to stop the demolition. In response, the soldiers beat him fiercely in front of his children. How were these children supposed to feel or understand this situation when they saw their father beaten by the Israeli military and their home destroyed?
These stories are just two of many. We are facing an impossible situation under occupation. With annexation, the Israeli government may confiscate up to a third of the West Bank lands. Most of the underground water is already captured by Israel and not accessible to the Palestinian communities. In my own town of Jericho, we are surrounded by five fresh-water springs, but only one of them feeds water to the city; most of the rest is redirected to the nearby settlements. My children have running water only twice a week, while the Israeli settlers have lush lawns and community pools.
The annexation will compound all these injustices. Palestinians living in their own homes and on their own land will still not be citizens in the place their families have lived for generations. The best case scenario is that they will be given the status of “resident” like the Palestinians in annexed East Jerusalem. This status does not equal citizenship, and the civil rights granted under this status are minimal. This is apartheid, with different rights depending on your “race”.
I am thankful that within Combatants for Peace we find Israelis and Palestinians who are committed to resist together against the Israeli government’s destructive policies. We need the support of everyone to bring peace and equality to this land! This is what keeps me going… I still believe that another way is possible.