Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights University of Ottawa (SPHR) is a student run, non-profit organization that advocates on a strong social justice platform to uphold the rights of the Palestinian people in the face of human rights violations and all forms of racism, discrimination, misinformation and misrepresentation.

June 28, 2007

Israel reintroduces draconian measures against Palestinians

Article can be found on

The Israeli occupation army has reintroduced some of thedraconian measures against Palestinian civilians that prevailed during the height ofthe intifada.These include, inter alia, cutting off Palestinian towns from each other withroadblocks and huge concrete slabs ,denying Palestinian patients access to hospitalsand students to their colleges.In some instances Israeli soldiers manning these "machsoms" (Hebrew for roadblocks)even prevent people from returning to their homes, which may be located a shortdistance from the roadblock, forcing them to circumvent several kilometers to returnhome.The re-institution of the draconian collective punishment is not confined to aspecific area or region but covers the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip, from Jeninto Rafah.This week (the third week of July) the Israeli army "reactivated" the so-called"Container Roadblock" outside the town of Abu Dis, effectively paralyzing travelmovement between the Hebron-Bethlehem region and the rest of the West Bank.This roadblock is –well-known among Palestinian travelers and drivers for itsnotoriety and harshness as Palestinian motorists are deliberately kept waiting for along period in the sizzling heat.Interestingly, this happens in an area where Israel tells the world that thePalestinian Authority (PA) is in control when in fact the Israeli army controlsevery aspect of Palestinian life.Go home Occasionally, depending on the mood of the officers in charge at a given roadblock,the Israeli army allows extremely ill patients, especially those carried inambulances, to proceed to hospital.However, this correspondent witnessed on Sunday (17 July) an Israeli female soldierturn back a Palestinian couple from Abu Dis, 7 kilometers east of Jerusalem, whowanted to take their 10-day-old baby to the Karitas pediatrics hospital inBethlehem.The woman begged the soldier to allow her to proceed, citing the serious conditionof her jaundiced baby, but to no avail."What do you mean we can't pass, I have a sick baby with me, his life is in dangerand I must take him to hospital," said the woman, producing a doctor's referral.However, the soldier didn't relent. She told the grieving woman that "You must dowhat I say, get out of the taxi or else I will use force against you."And when this correspondent tried to explain to the soldier that this was ahumanitarian case and that she should allow the couple to take their baby tohospital, the soldier said "I am the one who gives orders here."" I am a soldier, and I have the authority to decide who goes from here and whodoesn't," said the young soldier.Eventually, the female soldier, backed by a male soldier who was training hisGalilee submachine gun at the passengers inside the taxi ejected the couple, Ibrahimand Sumayya Uweisat, telling them in harsh words to return home.But the couple, anxious about the deteriorating health of their first-born, justcouldn't go home, with his body becoming increasingly yellowish.In fact, after thinking for a while what to do, the couple ventured down the hill onthe eastern side of "Wadi al Nar" (meaning literally the valley of fire) towardother yellow caps awaiting passengers on the other side of the roadblock, a fewhundred meters away.The soldiers, watching passively if not gleefully, the couple navigating their waythrough the difficult terrain, didn't try to stop them, suggesting that the realgoal of the soldiers manning the roadblocks really had nothing to do with "security"as the Israeli foreign ministry officials would tell the foreign media but wasactually to punish and torment ordinary Palestinians.Eventually, Ibrahim and Sumayya Uweisat, thanks to their determination to challengethe Israeli repression, reached the hospital in Bethlehem where their baby receivedthe necessary treatment.This correspondent thought of filming the entire episode but decided against doingso, given the unpredictability of Israeli soldiers' behavior.The Israeli army refused to say why such draconian and largely unjustified measureswere being reintroduced in the West Bank, despite the relative calm in the area.The Israeli army spokesman didn’t return calls, despite several attempts, enquiringabout the latest harsh measure.Earlier, this week, Palestinian officials accused the Israeli government of "doingevery thing to undermine the authority and stature of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.One official, Ghassan Khatib, accused Israeli prime Minister Ariel Sharon of"deliberately weakening Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas's nom de geurre) by demonstratingto the Palestinians that he (Abbas) can't get Israel to alleviate Palestiniansuffering."This prognosis seems to be correct to a large extent.On 16 July, the Beit Sahur-based Palestinian Center for Public Opinion Studies(PCPO) released the results of an opinion survey conducted in the West Bank and GazaStrip in mid July.They showed that over half the Palestinians in the two regions thought Abbas wasfailing its job.According to the study, up to 49 % of respondents said they didn't think the PA wasqualified to improve their quality of lifeIn March, up to 65% of Palestinians gave Abbas the benefit of the doubt. Now, inthis latest suvey, only 34% said they still had confidence in his ability to makethings better.

No comments: