I decided to divide them into 5 stories each day spread over a couple of weeks because I hope Americans will spend the time to read each and really feel what life is like under military occupation. OCHA has done an excellent job of compiling all of these stories. Please share them.
Abbas owns land located inside the perimeter fence of an Israeli settlement, with two plots of olive trees.
An understanding with the Israeli authorities that allowed him to continue accessing his land was suspended between 2000 and 2006, during which time most of the trees were reportedly vandalized or uprooted.
Since 2011, farmers from Al Janiya have been allocated 3-4 days during the olive harvest season, and 1-2 days during the ploughing season, to access their land, following prior coordination with Israeli officials.
The authorities prevent some farmers from using tractors to plough their land, citing potential damage to the settlement’s sewage network.
In 2016, Abbas reported that the 50 olive trees that remained in this area had yield an average of ten gallons of olive oil per season, generating an income of approximately US$1,000, down from 30 gallons generating US$3,000 prior to 2000.
REMAS AL GHOFARY
Remas was three years old when the 2014 escalation broke.
Back then, she lived with her family in an apartment building, but it was destroyed in the hostilities.
Her mother, Afnan, told UNDP: ❝It has been almost three years now since we lost our home, our memories and my children’s first moments. Every day I wake up thinking it is a dream, but it is not. It is no longer my home.❞
Remas’ parents have no steady income. It has been difficult for the family to cover their basic living costs, especially now that they also have to pay for the house they are renting.
❝Our rent was covered by UNDP support for two years,❞ said Afnan. ❝Now we need NIS700 [US$190] every month to cover our rent. This has been going on since June 2016 when the funding stopped,❞ she added.
❝I am aware of the political situation and delays in funding, but it is becoming much more difficult to meet the needs of my children and my family. We did not get a grant to reconstruct our home, even though my husband’s family did. So, we are here with no cash assistance or hope to rebuild our home.
❝I do not envy anyone, but I am jealous of families like my husband’s who have the opportunity to go back to their homes.
❝I know one thing: unless my home is rebuilt, I am just counting the days with no purpose. I really miss my home!❞
Restrictions on the import of goods, including basic construction materials, imposed by Israel as part of its blockade, have complicated, delayed and, in some cases prevented reconstruction and repair of destroyed or severely damaged homes.
In other cases, where goods are available, families lack the financial resources to purchase them due to the poor economic situation in Gaza caused largely by the years-long blockade.
❝My name is Rimaz Kasabreh, I am 33 years old, and I’m from the northern West Bank. In 1996, I married my husband who is a resident of Jerusalem and moved to Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem.
❝We have three children. My husband and I were aware that family unification application was not going to be easy, which is why we didn’t submit an application for a few years. When we did, it took years for the Israeli authorities to process our application.
❝At the time I was working at a private school in the centre of the city although I didn’t have a Jerusalem ID card or a permit.
❝I needed to cross the Ar Ram checkpoint, located in Beit Hanina, to get to work and over the years, this became more difficult with my West Bank ID card: it happened many times that the soldiers at the checkpoint turned me back.
❝The school issued me a card to show I was employed by them but it didn’t help much. To avoid the checkpoint I used dirt roads and climbed over hills. I rarely made it to school in time. In winter I would arrive completely wet and cold, in the summer hot and sweaty.
❝In 2003, with the new (Nationality and Entry into Israel) law it became more difficult. It’s illegal for taxi and bus drivers from Jerusalem to take passengers from the West Bank. Taxi and minibus drivers would ask every passenger about their ID card. It became more and more difficult for me to go to work or anywhere in Jerusalem.
❝I couldn’t go shopping, I couldn’t visit my friends, I couldn’t take the children to school, or to a doctor or to summer camps where other children their age went. This affected my children. They were too young to understand why their friends’ mothers did things with them while I couldn’t…
❝Very often I took risks. One day, when I was nine months pregnant, the police stopped the mini bus I was on and when they found out my status they took the driver’s name and license number and warned him next time he was caught with someone from the West Bank they would confiscate his vehicle. I was released after they checked my records and found out I was married to a person from Jerusalem. They made me sign a piece of paper pledging I will not move or work within the State of Israel, which of course according to their definition includes East Jerusalem.
❝In October 2003, I was caught again in a taxi. It was the third time the driver was caught driving a West Banker so the police confiscated his taxi for three months and took away his driving license. The taxi driver blamed me and demanded compensation.
❝He used to wait for me outside the school gate and shout at me that if I didn’t pay him the money I would be in trouble. In the end, my husband paid him money. After this incident I quit my job. Most taxi drivers in Jerusalem recognized me and refused to take me. I was confined to the house and hardly ever left except to go to the neighbours’ house. It was very hard for me. I was not used to staying at home. My family could not visit me because they’re from the West Bank. They only come at Christmas and Easter, when Christians are given special permits to celebrate the feasts in Jerusalem.
❝About three-and-a-half years ago the Ministry of Interior finally accepted my application for family unification. They gave me a paper valid for one year, with which I could apply for a permit to stay in Jerusalem.
❝Although this didn’t mean I was a resident yet, at least it meant I could take a taxi and go places.
❝I’ve renewed this paper four times now. Each time my husband and I have to provide evidence that we’re living together in Jerusalem. We have to show that we pay water and electricity bills, the municipal tax and that our children go to schools in Jerusalem. It takes weeks, even months, just to get through to the Ministry of Interior for an appointment. They don’t pick up the phone. When delays in the permit renewal occur I
live in Jerusalem illegally all over again. I often took the risk and ask my husband to drive me around. I wouldn’t ask for rides from friends and relatives, as I know the consequences if they’re caught with me in their car…
❝The third permit expired in December 2008. Although I requested an appointment in time and submitted all the evidence they requested, it took them months to get back to me. During this time I was confined to the house once again. They told me they were checking my security record and that of my family, including my parents, my brothers and sisters and their families, as well as my husband’s family.
❝The same happened in May 2009, when I applied to renew my permit, which I didn’t get until August. My husband and I employed a lawyer to speed up the family unification process.
❝After we paid him a large amount of money he told us the Ministry of Interior is not approving applications any more. I have no idea how long this situation will go on for.
❝My husband and I have been married for over 13 years now and I’m still unable to live a normal life with him and the children. When we enter Jerusalem from the West Bank my husband is allowed to cross by car, while I have to cross on foot. I can’t benefit from Israeli health care, so I go to Ramallah whenever I need health services. Luckily I have never been in an emergency while I was living in Jerusalem ‘illegally’.
❝I still cannot apply for a job. Nobody will employ me knowing that I am in Jerusalem on short-term permits which I have to renew every year.
❝Everybody knows that renewal is not guaranteed. It could happen again that I will spend months without a permit before the authorities process my request. I feel I am losing the best years of my life sitting at home. Many of my friends are in the same situation.❞
❝The Separation Wall has had a negative effect on our lives, impacting all the residents here. Prior to the Wall, we were one community, but the Wall has cut our community in two.
❝After the construction of the Wall, I don’t like to go to Abu Dis anymore (e.g. the eastern side). It takes more than one hour, and if the checkpoint is closed, ❝I need two or maybe three hours. I need to use two cars: one from our house to the checkpoint, then walk through the checkpoint, and finally take another car from the checkpoint to Abu Dis on the other side.
❝Once we were going to a wedding in Abu Dis, one of our relatives was getting married. But the Israelis closed the checkpoint. We were all ready for the wedding, but they prevented us from going to Abu Dis.
❝We stayed for one hour at the checkpoint, talked to them, to convince them to allow us through. In the end, we all became stressed and returned home. We did not attend the wedding.
❝Our location is very difficult. No one can visit us. Really, it’s very difficult for us. My hope is to wake up one morning to find that there is no Separation Wall.❞
SAMI AS SURKHI
AS SAWAHIRA ASH SHARQIYA | JERUSALEM
Sami’s neighbourhood of East Jerusalem was cut in two by Israel’s construction of the Barrier in the early 2000s.
His home remained on the eastern side while his daughter’s is located on the western side.
Recorded in 2014, this video was part of OCHA’s interactive map project, which marked the tenth anniversary to the West Bank Barrier by illustrating its impact on Palestinian communities in and around East Jerusalem.
❝Today,❞ he told us, ❝we find ourselves surrounded by a wall, which can best be described as a continuously bleeding wound.❞