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Jerusalem: ICAHD Rebuilds!

ICAHD BUILDING CAMP 2007: Day 1 (15.07.2007)

I am an Israeli citizen and have never been to the West Bank before, but this morning I woke up in the West Bank, along with 25 strangers, with the goal of accomplishing something that I consider moral while my government considers illegal. Personally, I believe that people should abide by their morals, and this is what makes this trip worthwhile for me.

After breakfast, a team from ISM came to explain what we are to do if a situation arises where we come face-to-face with an IDF demolition team.

We later toured Anata and visited the leader of the local Bedouin tribe – Abu Mussa. He explained the hardships of being exiled from place to place and how the lack of health benefits in Anata led to the amputation of both of his legs. He told us about how his family was not allowed to visit him in the hospital after his operation and he also told us about his dreams: how he wants one day to return to his homeland and his tribe will be once again united. He and his family would then have a definite place they call home. Hearing his story and seeing his condition saddened me, but his will to survive inspired me. As an Israeli, it is especially difficult to see just how terrible conditions are just a few miles from home. It’s a disappointing site to see, that really makes me question a government that I already have little faith in.

We made our way to the building site after the tours. The house’s foundation was already in place because ICAHD had started this particular house last year, but the building process was interrupted by the IDF. The now not-so-strangers and I constructed a human chain to transfer bricks from one level of the house to the other. The work was difficult, but it’s not something I will remember because the chemistry between the team and the group of Palestinians helping with building the house was exceptional. Despite the language barrier, we managed to cooperate and I believe we accomplished a considerable amount. I was later surprised because at the time it did not occur to me that the people around me were from Switzerland, Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Palestine. To me, they were simply people – one and the same. That is what I will remember at the end of all this. We were a group of people from all over the world, but still – just people helping people.

Written by Summer Camp Participant: P.R.

To view the photo of the day, please click on the below link:


ICAHD BUILDING CAMP 2007: Day 2 (16.07.2007)

Day two of the summer camp, the first full day of work on the building site. Another great breakfast followed by the short walk to the building site. Today the ICAHD volunteers engaged with a variety of work – mixing cement mortar, helping to lay blocks for the walls, arranging the hollow blocks for the roof structure and tying the reinforcing bars for the concrete roof beams.

Above all, the work day was characterized by the forming of human chains. Chains to remove rubbish, to move concrete blocks, to carry buckets of cement mortar and to move steel reinforcing bars. There is quite a lot involved in forming such a chain. Everything becomes meaningful, from the way people position themselves in relation to each other to the way they pass the buckets or blocks to each other. The chain can often be the first time people meet and talk to each other. Discussions about where people come from and how and why they came to be here. This human chain is a reminder of the long line of events and causes that brought all these people to this particular building site. And it is also a way to express and demonstrate concern for the wider cause.

The camp was joined by volunteers from ISM who helped on the building site for the day. At mid-morning a press conference was arranged with powerful statements given by ICAHD members, and volunteers and also by the family whose house we are building.

In the afternoon the site was visited by a group led by the Consul General of Belgium Mr Leo Peeters. He was taken on a tour of the area and shown the wall around Anata. He expressed solidarity with the work of ICAHD and commended the building work on site.

In the evening, excellent discussions were led by Machsom Watch and the Coalition of Women for peace. The speaker from Machsom Watch talked about the system of checkpoints and the presence of women at checkpoints – ‘opening a window into an ugly back yard’. They showed the way that the Civil Administration acts as the bureaucratic arm of the occupation. Machsom Watch is concerned about what is happening to the country and the society and attempt to set up a challenge to the dominant military discourse of Israeli society.

Written by Summer Camp Participant: T.M.

To view the photo of the day, please click on the below link: