Our Hearts Are Bleeding

A few kilometers away from the center of East-Jerusalem and its Old City, and while we hear the sounds of Israeli military planes heading towards Gaza, our hearts in Bethlehem are bleeding.

What is happening in Sheikh Jarrah - the eviction of 149 Palestinians from land which they and their families possessed since generations - is in a concentrated form what is happening everywhere in the West Bank: local Palestinians are pushed away through 'legal' and direct physical violence, to be replaced by Israeli settlers. This process of ethnic cleansing amounts to a war crime as it involves the transfer of an occupying power's civilian population into the territory which it occupies.

The Israeli war planes are now bombing civilian quarters in Gaza. Among the dozens of victims are children. This reign of terror adds to the anxiety and suffocation which dominates life in the strip already so much affected by the military siege and the spreading of the coronavirus.

We also do not forget the violation of the sanctity of Jerusalem as a Holy City, the Israeli police entering the Al Aqsa Mosque with heavy weaponry.

This all shows the complete asymmetry in power between the Israeli military and settlers on the one hand and the Palestinian civilian population on the other. The last face an overdose of power and indiscriminate violence made possible by a military occupation in East-Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza that has lasted for already 54 years.

Under the present circumstances young Palestinians do not have a future. They are desperate given the vulnerability of the civilian population, the lack of economic prospects, and the lack of independence.

Along with others, AEI asks for a forceful international intervention to pave the path to a just peace which gives Palestinians rights and basic human security. Calls for calm to both sides are not enough. The occupation should be ended.

PS. Just today AEI received the following story of one of our activists in Hebron, showing the impact of the settlers' presence:
My daughter insisted on celebrating her birthday at her grandfather's house. So we drove to her grandfather's house, from Ramallah to the Hebron governorate. On the way along the Kiryat Arba settlement, my children, my husband and I were attacked by settlers. They threw stones at our cars and broke its windows. I could only scream from the horror of the scene. My children are less than six year old.

Arab Educational Institute

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