15th February, 2016 | International Solidarity Movement | occupied Palestine
Today, Palestinians are facing an enormous amount of pressure in their lives due to the growing violence of Israeli forces. They face restrictions of movement, daily harassment, intimidation and attacks at hands of Israeli occupying forces and extremist settlers. ISM is a Palestinian-led movement; our actions are initiated on the invitation of Palestinians, following their lead and wishes. We, as internationals, are needed to monitor human rights violations and show our support for the popular struggle.
Since the beginning of October, Israeli occupation forces increased their abuse of power by carrying out a series of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians, in a manner that is completely unjustified and, in most cases, constituting crimes of war. Israeli politicians have fueled the motivation to kill Palestinians by making open statements encouraging Israeli citizens to become executioners. In addition, Israeli forces are applying measures of collective punishment towards the families of Palestinians who are killed in this unlawful manner. Over 170 Palestinians have been killed since October, many of them children. On February 14th alone Israeli forces shot dead 5 Palestinians, including 3 children, and critically wounded a 14-year-old girl in al-Khalil.
With more volunteers, ISM could more effectively fulfill our commitments to the Palestinian communities we work with, such as walking with schoolchildren and monitoring checkpoints. A larger team also opens up the possibilities of working in more locations and regions where international presence can be useful.
Our presence in Palestine is crucial, because we witness and document what we see and can show the world what is happening on the ground. We do our best to prevent Palestinians from being harassed, and more importantly, we show them we are there in solidarity with them.
In Al-Khalil (Hebron), we need volunteers to walk children to school and monitor checkpoints where students and teachers cross on their way to and from school. Palestinian parents of kindergarten children living in H2 (the area completely controlled by the Israeli military with constant presence of soldiers and settlers) fear to send their children to school without internationals to accompany them. Children in the neighborhoods in H2 routinely face harassment and intimidation from Israeli forces and settlers, and Israeli forces deploy tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets regularly against schoolchildren at some of the checkpoints ISM monitors.
In occupied East Jerusalem, many Palestinian families face the constant threat of having their homes demolished by Israeli forces. As a way of showing support and sharing their story, we go to these families to document their situation and report it in the media. In the old city of Jerusalem, some Palestinian families also face eviction, like in the case of grandma Nora; all part of a plan to replace Palestinians in the old city by Israeli settlers. Part of our job is to make sure that these cases don’t stay unknown to the world by reporting them on our website and sharing it on social media.
In Ramallah and its surroundings, we monitor the Friday popular marches. Palestinian popular committees all over the West Bank organize regular demonstrations where ISM is called to participate. We work alongside popular resistance to the occupation, providing international presence and documentation at protests and actions facing attack by Israeli military forces. Sometimes, Palestinians ask us to accompany them to the military court. We attend hearings of their family members or friends in an attempt to show them that they are not alone.
In Tulkarm and its surroundings, thousands of Palestinians cross the checkpoints everyday to go to work in Israel. The conditions of the crossing are tiring and humiliating for the workers, who arrive several hours before the opening of the gates and have to stand in line in order to be on time for work. Since October, the university of Tulkarm has also been witnessing many violent attacks on campus from the Israeli forces, in which several students were injured with teargas and live ammunition. The ISM team monitors and reports on these Human Rights violations.
A large part of ISM’s work has always involved documenting the violence and impacts of the occupation and the Palestinian struggle against it, working to produce and share media to an international audience to build awareness and global opposition to Israel’s unjust, illegal occupation.
ISM volunteers work amplifying Palestinian voices of resistance while in Palestine and especially after returning to our home countries around the world.
When you come to Palestine, try to bring a camera and your laptop if you have one, as both are extremely useful for media work. To plan your trip to the West Bank, please read our traveling information. We ask our volunteers to commit for a minimum of two weeks after completing our two day training, but keep in mind that we always prefer to have volunteers stay for longer periods of time.
Please note that we cannot sponsor people or otherwise facilitate anyone’s entry into Gaza; the information contained here and in our travel and training pages applies to our work in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.
When you decide to come to Palestine to join ISM, or if you have any further questions not covered in our page on joining us in Palestine, please contact [email protected] or call the phone number for the training coordinator once you have entered Palestine at 059 530 7448