Contributed by Toine Van Teeffelen on 18.06.2014:
Toine van Teeffelen
It is for the staff an extremely busy time, but for the wrong reasons. At AEI’s summer school we are improvising from day to day. Due to the search for the kidnapped Israeli boys the whole of the West Bank is put under pressure, or rather under closure. Our program with kids and youth was built on journeys. But it is quite difficult to leave Bethlehem at all. Yesterday a bus with kids, among them our son Tamer, with destination Jericho, had to return. Hebron is out of bounds. Now we want focus journeys on some villages around Bethlehem.
As a former head of the Mossad said yesterday in the Israeli paper, the Jerusalem Post: “The Israeli government is telling the Palestinian population: ‘What you have done is outside the rules, so now we are going to make your life more difficult’.” In other words, collective punishment. Which “rules” Israel is applying, is another matter. Over 200 persons have been arrested – “abducted” as people say here with only little irony. One man was killed near Ramallah in unclear circumstances. There are over 5000 Palestinian political prisoners, among them 200 children. Rules?
We had a program for making animation cartoons. Four women trainers from Gaza got just in time a military permit to visit the West Bank, after nerve-breaking waiting. It is very difficult for persons from Gaza to come into the West Bank at all. The permit is of course not useful anymore. No week long program for forty kids, just cancelled at the last moment. All present all summer programs and projects which involve traveling in the West Bank are “improvising.”
The Israeli government is using the situation to start a campaign against Hamas. Yet it is not clear who abducted the boys. The same former Hamas head (Rami Igra) says that Netanyahu’s fingerpointing at Hamas is “more political than based on fact.”
In real fact, it looks that the Israeli campaign is not only directed against the new Palestinian unity government backed by Fatah and Hamas, but is also designed to promote a further separation of West Bank and Gaza. It was part of the never fulfilled promises of Oslo that there was to be a connecting road between the West Bank and Gaza. Because of this separation we were happy to have four trainers from Gaza coming. After all, Palestinians from the West Bank know Gaza just from TV.
We heard that Hamas leaders might be expelled to Gaza. Everybody locked up in their own “homeland”. Palestine, a series of open air prisons with guards opening and closing the gates at will.