- Category: International
- Created on Thursday, 26 June 2008 15:34
- Written by A World to Win News Service
Palestinians banned from their own beaches
16 June 2008. A World to Win News Service. A busload of Palestinian children aged 6-12 came from Hebron in the West Bank to see the sea. Cut off from going west to the beaches of the Mediterranean by Israel’s "separation wall", instead they went east. They had never seen an open body of water. The school outing, coordinated with the Israeli-recognized Palestinian Authority Education Ministry, included teachers and parents as well as the children.
The Dead Sea beaches are lovely, and the children were really looking forward to them. But Israeli soldiers cut off the bus and would not let it pass. The bus left and then came back again later that day, in hopes that the soldiers had just been in a bad mood.
The bus driver, Mohammed Ahmed Nuaga'a, described it like this to the Independent (14 June): "I tried to explain to them that these are young pupils who came from very far to fulfil a big dream – to see the sea," he said.
"But the soldiers were aggressive, and started shouting at us that Palestinian passage is forbidden, whether children or adults. The pupils begged the soldiers to let them go for even 10 minutes just to see the sea and return, but nothing happened."
It turned out to be official Israeli policy to erect checkpoints on roads just before they reach the Dead Sea beaches on weekends and Jewish holidays.
Why? Because shopkeepers in beachfront communities – illegal Jewish settlers on the northern part of the sea which is, even according to Israel, supposed to be Palestinian territory – complained to the army that having Palestinians sitting on the beaches hurt their business, selling things to Israeli tourists, who are not used to sharing public spaces with Palestinians.
Many of the Israelis, no doubt, came from what was once the jewel of Palestine, Jerusalem, on the infamous Israeli-only roads leading out of the city and through the West Bank. These walled roads cut off Palestinian communities from one another, allow the rapid movement of Israeli troops and make commuting easier for Jewish settlers, thereby encouraging even more illegal Jewish settlements deeper and deeper into the little territory left Palestinians. Construction for these settlements has accelerated since the "road map" negotiations began.
An indication of the character of these settlements came 8 June when an Israeli group released a video made by a young woman in a Palestinian village near Hebron. It showed club-wielding masked youth marching out of a Jewish settlement below and beating her 70 year-old father- and mother-in law while they were tending the family’s goats on the hillside (video at news.bbc.co. uk Middle East).