As the days have gone by we've been fortunate to gain an insight into the hardship that most Palestinians encounter such as checkpoints, settlements and imprisonment.
Other than communicating with many Palestinians in different cities and our team at Birzeit University, this week we had the fantastic opportunity to meet two well known organisations in Palestine, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Organisation and Ma’an Development Centre. Both organisations have been renowned for their contribution to supporting human rights in Palestine.
|Our meeting at Addameer Prisoner Support|
Addameer offers free legal aid to political prisoners. We met their international outreach team, who explained that the aim of the organisation is to build a free and democratic Palestinian society based on justice, equality, rule of law and respect for human rights. They provided us with plenty of examples of incidents that involve inhumane hostility towards Palestinian prisoners such as solitary confinement, cutting of water and electricity, denying family visits, confiscating personal belongings and preventing detainees from pursuing their education. It is obviously psychological and physical torture.
Ma’an Development Centre, the second organisation that we visited, works with other Palestinian NGOs to improve the quality of Palestinian communities. They aim to decrease the rate of poverty in rural and disadvantaged areas and protect and develop the Palestinian environment.
|Listening to a presentation on the Jordan Valley |
In the meeting we were given a brief outline of the Israeli treatment of different areas within the Occupied Territories. Although the Jordan Valley has 94,000 Israeli settlers and 56,000 Palestinians, the living standards of the Israelis are far better. 95% of the Jordan Valley is in Area C, given over for Israeli settlements, military bases and ‘nature reserves’, forcing many Palestinians to be deprived of natural resources, health care and education. There are situations of houses being demolished by bulldozers as the Israeli military claim that these families are based on closed military zones.
Overall our experience of Palestine so far has been breath taking but also an eye opener. We hope to see more and aim to develop our understanding of Palestine inshAllah.