I’ve always been that sort of person who was never fully satisfied with giving to charity and then sitting back with a sense of accomplishment. I feel this never helps people, mostly because I never know what’s happening with that money, whether it’s being used to feed those in need or swallowed into the tornado of corruption in the developing countries political pockets.
Palestine has been the one of the most campaigned about causes, people of all religions and races fighting for the independence and freedom of the once individually governed country. It now befallen into remote and restricted areas within the so-called Israel, separated by walls and ridiculous laws and extreme racial segregation. Me being the curious mind I am, against the intentions of my mother, decided to embark on a trip to experience the realities of Palestine, occupation at first hand.
I had some expectations of what my experience would show me; checkpoints, war, poverty, however I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t greeted by a nation in turmoil scraping pennies to eat but comfortable middle class families. The streets are filled with laughter and the roads bustling with cars old and new. The children laughing and playing in school yards and life working as normal. I thought to myself where is this poverty I see on the media? The thought struck me, Palestine is being represented as an unsafe place which in turn prevents you from going there which leads to the travel industry and local businesses suffering and therefore driving them out of their homes and lands for the Israeli settlers to take over.
Images showing a crowed market entrance to Masjid Al Aqsa and the compound itself
Don’t get me wrong Palestine is a very beautiful country, full of history, architecture, culture and amazing hospitality. However there is an underlying sad truth. Here,over 90% of Palestinians living in the city of Bethlehem are denied access to move freely through Israel and Jerusalem (one of the holiest sites). The Palestinians also receive a fifth of daily water allowance to that of an Israeli person and even then their water tanks are shot at by settlers causing them to leak. One of the most surprising things I learnt was that the separation wall which was built in between Israel and Palestine actually extends beyond the actual borders of the two states. This tactic is used very commonly by Israeli government, by blocking access for farmers to their land by building a settler road. The Palestinian can’t use the road as it is for Israelis only, therefore has no access to the land and the government take this land as they claim it is being unused and wasted which they then use to build settlements.
A Protest outside Al Aqsa mosque for wrongful imprisonment of a Palestinian
Graffiti on the Wall of Separation in Bethlehem
Despite the continuous attempts by Israel, the Palestinians remain strong. They are proud people. Proud of their heritage, of their land, of who they are and where they come from. They are the most strong minded yet generous people I’ve ever met. Their hospitality is second to none. A particular instant I recall, I spent one week living with a Palestinian family and never once did they mention anything about water despite having very limited access. I then went to stay in a hostel which I paid for and the second I checked in I was told “please limit water use as there is a water shortage throughout Israel”. This just shows me the difference in cultures and the gentle and kind hearted nature of my Palestinian family. The settlers will throw rubbish, irons and even acid to drive out Palestinian. They shoot bullets and attack those children andsend them to prison and when they fight back they are call terrorists.
I ask the question to these amazingly courageous people, what can we do to help? They reply we are not a nation starving or on poverty but a nation with no human rights, visit us and support our cause, spend money on our shops and help our economy, spread our story and the reality of Palestine. Tell the world Palestine is a safe and beautiful country and they want the world to know this as they think the world has forgotten.
Have you forgotten about Palestine?