The Silent Destruction of Palesinte

by Rev. Sandra Olewine

So much of the destruction against Palestinians which happens here is ‘silent destruction.’ This term was rightly used by Nigel Roberts of the World Bank quoted in an the article by Amira Hass describing the economic crisis within the Palestinian areas.

Silent destruction, though, is also an apt term for what is happening to the land of Palestinians. News cameras seldom catch the stories of land confiscation, crop destruction, or barrier construction that happens day in and day out across the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Such stories don’t seem to make ‘exciting’ or compelling video segments. Yet, on and on it goes. More olive trees uprooted, more farmland confiscated, more areas declared ‘fit for only settler or Israeli military use.’ The ‘prison’ called Palestine gets smaller and smaller each day. The pressure builds and builds.

And with the new system being put in place by the Israeli government, the prison is about to get even smaller. Palestinians will soon need permits to travel between Palestinian areas. If someone from Bethlehem wants to travel to Ramallah, already a journey that takes a couple of hours on a good day, they will have to apply to the Israeli ‘Civil Authority’ for a permit. The permits will be valid from 6 am to 6 pm only. No travelling at night, no emergency trips, no evening meetings, no weddings or funerals to go to. And in many instances the road will be blocked–one will not be able to take a private car–but will have to walk through barriers on the road, getting into taxi after taxi trying to get to one’s destination. As one of my colleagues at ICB said, “This will end our life completely. No one will tolerate this.” There will be no direct delivery of goods either–whether food, medicine, building material–all of it will have to be moved ‘back-to-back’, meaning a truck has to back up to the road block and unload to the back of a truck on the other side. This is already the case in most Palestinians areas, increasing the cost of items due to the increase cost of delivery.

Electric gates are being constructed across Palestinian roads. Evidently one is already in place on the Wadi Nar (the twisty, narrow West Bank road between the southern West Bank and the northern West Bank.) Barbed-wire fences are being put up around Palestinian cities, along with patrol roads for the Israeli military. While the answer to a query about these fences will be that are in response to suicide attacks inside Israel; they have slowly been constructed throughout the last 20 months. They didn’t just appear overnight.

During the Israeli invasion into Bethlehem in early March, a trench was already being dug across the northern edge of Bethlehem from the road into Bethlehem across to the settler by-pass road. During the 40-day siege of the city in April and May, work went on 24-hours a day. On one of the instances when I snuck back home during the siege, the family I live with asked me exactly where the trench was being dug. I knew instantly why they were worried. Many of the olive trees between Bethlehem and Tantur Ecumenical institute are theirs. “They’re gone. I’m sorry. The trench and road has cut you off from the trees. They’ve cut us much of the land between Tantur and Bethlehem off as possible,” was all I could say.

A thriving stone factory and a little coffee shop which were near the Bethlehem checkpoint were destroyed as well, even though the new road and fence is behind where they stood.

Coming back from Tantur the other day from a meeting I took my camera with me to document the complete destruction of the stone factory and to get pictures of the new barbed-wire barrier. Behind me I heard a soldier bellowing through a loudspeaker on a jeep, but I ignored it as I continued to take my pictures. As I got up to the new road, a backhoe was digging a new trench on the Bethlehem-side of the barbed-wire. As I came around a tree to get a closer view, men around an Israeli Border police jeep began to yell at me to stop taking pictures. A taxi driver I know pulled up alongside me and told me to get in the car. He said, “They’ve been yelling at you back there to stop taking pictures. They’re getting out of their jeep now. Come on!” Having what I came for, I got in the car and went back to the office.

This silent destruction is the creeping hand of occupation. It is what has everyone here held in a death-grip. Without removing its stranglehold from the lives of Palestinians, Palestinians and Israelis here will tragically and brutally continue to die.

Rev. Sandra Olewine is with the United Methodist Liaison in Jerusalem.

November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
Sam Husseini
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey
November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”