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Throughout April 2011 I travelled around the West Bank, Palestine. I volunteered with a group called ISM or International Solidarity Movement, the group is a Palestinian lead, completely non-violent group of international activists showing solidarity with the Palestinian people. I also spent a little bit of time with Jordan Vally Solidarity who do similar work in the Jordan Vally area of the West Bank.
A Palestinian boy walks past the separation wall between Palestine and Jerusalem.
After arriving in Jerusalem the first thing I saw of occupied Palestine was the Separation Wall. The wall goes all the way round Palestine and quite literally separates Israel from Palestine, this forces all people travelling to or from Palestine to go through checkpoints. It also separates communities and and has stopped people being able to get to work, see friends and family or travel freely. The world rejoiced when the Berlin wall was knocked down, so why does the world stand by as this wall stands?
The Separation Wall cuts through the West Bank hillside.
Outskirts of Ramallah.
Poster in Ramallah.
I entered Ramallah and was surprised by how much more comfortable I felt than in Jerusalem, the people are nice, welcoming and willing to help you out in any way possible, I felt safe.
There are weekly demonstrations all over the West Bank against the occupation and specifically the wall. Communities have had their source of food, work and general economy stolen from them by Israel to build settlements within the West Bank. Palestinians can see over the wall to land that was once theirs and now holds the settlements, these walls are violently guarded by the Israeli Occupation Forces. Every week children are fired at with live and rubber bullets as well as huge amounts of tear gas and concussion grenades. Which seems extreme as the Palestinians are only armed with stones. This violence against civilians is illegal and immoral.
Palestinian and international protestors march towards the separation wall in the village of Bil'in.
A Palestinian boy runs towards the separation fence.
Young Palestinian shows no fear.
A Palestinian runs from tear gas at a demo in the village of Ni'lin, in the left you can see the Israeli settlements protected by the wall.
A man confronts Israeli soldiers inside a break in the separation wall.
International and Palestinian protestors run from tear gas and concussion grenades after being beaten out of a hole in the separation wall.
A man runs from tear gas after being attacked by the Israeli Defence Force.
I spent a large part of my time in the city of Hebron. Hebron is the last city in Palestine where the Jewish settlers have not been moved out of the city, they are living there illegally and are very violent and aggressive. They are also "protected" by a large group of Israeli soldiers who on a daily basis harass and intimidate the Palestinians.
The Abraham Mosque now flies the Israeli flag.
A Palestinian market, abandoned due to harassment and bullying.
Setteler graffiti on a Palestinian shop front.
The Hebron market.
The market in Hebron clearly demonstrates the aggression in the area. The settlers now live in the buildings above the market, over the years they have thrown all manor of objects and filth at the Palestinians going about their daily lives below. So much so that a fence had to be built above the market to defend them. Objects include rocks, dead animals, all rubbish, piss, shit and even acid.
The empty streets of the Old City, Hebron.
All day everyday soldiers march through the Old City harassing the Palestinian civilians who live there. During my time there, this constant harassment made the biggest impact on me, because it finally clicked that these troubles effect the normal people who live there more than anybody. Watching children playing whilst guns are pointing at them is a real shock. It is not a war between two armies or militants, it is a repression of a race of people and Hebron is a very clear symbol of this.
Israeli soldiers enter the old city of Hebron.
A Palestinian man walks past Israeli Soldiers on patrol.
Israeli soldiers walk past one of the last remaining market stalls in the old city of Hebron.
Israeli soldier aims his gun at Palestinian civilians in the old city of Hebron. (First prize at the Bar Tur awards Lifestyle Category, award and exhibition, Foto8 magazine summer show exhibition)
Israeli soldier, Hebron.
During passover Hebron becomes very tense, bus loads of Jewish people come to the city to celebrate the festival. As a show of force a Palestinian controlled street was invaded and emptied by the army. Palestinians where forced out of their shops and people coming home from work were not allowed into their homes on the street for three hours. This was to allow jewish people into the Palestinian side.
Soldiers keep the Palestinians from their street
A Palestinian man complains as he cannot get to his home just across the street.
Settler attacks in Hebron increased over the passover period. The Palestinians are often far too scared about the repercussions to retaliate.
A settler is confronted by a group of Palestinians after driving his car at a small girl who was on her way to school.
A woman holds the Portrait of a relative who is in an Israeli prison indefinitely.
My next important visit was to the village of Awarta which is near Nablus. Awarta is very close to a settlement which recently had a full Israeli family murdered. Obviously the Israeli Army blamed the local Palestinian community, however this seems unlikely as the settlement is protected by a large group of Israeli soldiers as well as guard towers and 6ft electric fences. When I arrived, there had been an attack on a Palestinian household by the Israeli army the night before, all the men where arrested but released a few days later without charge. A boy showed me round his destroyed house. I failed to pick up his name.
Standing in his destroyed house.
The living room.
The Israeli soldiers entered the home with concussion grenades in the middle of night, here they smashed the glass to break into the house.
A child stands amongst her broken toys.
A broken vase / broken electrics.
I noticed that wherever you are in Palestine, especially in the West Bank, there is no escaping the troubles. Everywhere you go Palestinian life is hard and the oppression is systematic and strong. I spent a few days in the Jordan Valley doing some manual labour and I saw a very different, yet just as important part of the occupation.
One hamlet of tents I visited had received demolition orders from the Israeli government, after leaving the country I heard back that the Israeli army has now demolished the make shift houses making the small families homeless in the desert.
The homes to be demolished in the Jordan Valley.
Residents of the homes.
Of his own accord a very young boy builds a defence over the single electric cable to his families home in anticipation to the imminent attack.
A family inside their soon to be demolished dwelling in the Jordan Vally.
A swing in the Jordan Vally.
Why these people receive the fate they do I will never understand. They are not only the most welcoming people I have ever met but also the most harmless. They are affecting no one by living there and the Israeli army quite literally just wants them out of the way. This can be said for the whole of Palestine, my pictures show a fraction of the what is happening there on a daily basis, I hope you spend the time to research more into the occupation of Palestine.
http://palsolidarity.org/ - The International Solidarity Movement.
http://www.jordanvalleysolidarity.org/ - Jordan Valley Solidarity
http://brightonstudentsinpalestine.wordpress.com/ - A group I met out there doing good work in the Jordan Valley
http://www.inminds.com/boycott-israel.html - A website to help you boycott Israeli goods.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/Default.aspx - A very good local news agency.
Thank you for looking, all pictures are currently un-published but I still own the copyright.
If you want to use my pictures for pro palestinian sources or media please don't hesitate to contact me;