As the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague hears Oral Arguments in the case against the Wall, the Israelis have decided they will not participate in the Hearing, aware that there is nothing legitimate–or legal–about the Wall. Instead, parallel Israeli efforts to undermine the case against the Wall were well underway from the start, including arguments that the political nature of the Wall should prevent the court from hearing the case. In the end, the media is an Israeli dominated arena where much of its political agenda plays itself out.
The public relations/media game amidst the crowds of journalists coming to see the Wall, and its impacts on Palestinians, along with the editorial and public pressures of mainstream media to cover Israeli measures favorably (the so-called “balanced” approach), has paved the way for the latest high-profile coverage of the practically insignificant move of dismantling portions of the Wall and road blocks, along with the periodic opening of gates. Along the same lines, and as of the past few days, buses are being offered to take children in isolated villages to their schools and return them to their homes on the Occupation military’s expense. The Occupation is seeking to beautify the ghettoization of countless communities.
***image2***The Israeli Occupation Forces began dismantling portions of the Wall in Baqa Al Sharqiya in the Tulkarem District in the past few days. In this particular area, the Wall that surrounds the three villages of Baqa Al Sharqiya, Nazlet Issa and Nazlet Abu Nar, was built east of these villages, some 2 kms inside the Green Line, separating them from the rest of the West Bank. Two gates were openedâsporadically–for people to pass through; for months people suffered from the repeated closure of the two gates and the severe Israeli measuresâhumiliation and physical abuse–against them at the gates. With the recent opening of the two gates of the Wall, and now partial dismantling, implying that communities are “reunited” with the rest of the West Bank, there have been brief moments of relief.
But the satisfaction of seeing a part of the Wall torn down to the east is overwhelmed by the reality that, just off the Green Line, another Wall has been completed, since to date Baqa Al Sharqiya has been a “double-walled area”. Another 8-meters high Wall has been built west of these villages, separating them from other Arab villages that are located inside the Green Line, to which they are linked in various ways,
***image3***Youssef Bawaqneh, from the Baqa Al Sharqiya Municipality accounts: “Today the Occupation Forces started removing the checkpoints on the gates, people can go in and out through the gates freely. They also started dismantling the Wall that separates us from the West Bank. We are happy that we are linked to the West Bank again, but at the same time people who are trying to enter from the western gate are no longer allowed as the soldiers forced them back. We feel disappointed, they wonât let us be happy, our whole economic structure will be destroyed as most of our clients are from Jat and Baqa Al Gharbieh (two Arabic villages inside the Green Line). We have invested hundreds of thousands of shekels (Israeli currency) in our businesses and shops and now we will loose them once and for all. Take me as an example, the first time they demolished my store and I rebuilt it , now they are going to destroy my business by separating me from my clients, it is not just about money, our children are married and living in Baqa Al Gharbieh and Jat, their children are married and living here, some of the families moved between these villages. The Green Line was never a real separation between Palestinians; this wall which is legitimate according to Israelis because it is built on the Green Line is separating us Palestinians for the first time”.
Jbara in Tulkarem district is another village that is isolated behind the Wall, which was built east of the village separating it from the rest of the West Bank. Some 80 children from the village are suffering from the Occupation soldiers as the children must cross the gates to get to school. The gates are repeatedly closed, children wait for hours on their way to and from their schools which are in the villages east of the wall. This is addition to the fact that the Occupation authorities require that all inhabitants in the village carry permits that allow them to stay in their houses as the village is located in the area between the wall and the Green Line, which is the area that was declared a “Seam Zone” by the Occupation authorities last October.
Two weeks ago, the Israelis were claiming that they are going to dismantle the wall east of Jbara and reconnect it to the rest of the West Bank, however, nothing was done towards implementing their claims. Last week the Occupation Forces offered to rent a bus for the school children that would take them to their schools and then bring them back home!
Foâuad Jbara from the Village Council says: “This is completely unacceptable, it is to be used for media purposes, it is not meant to help the people in Jbara. If they want to help us, they should let us pass with our buses and cars freely to and from the rest of the West Bank. They want to show the world that they are nice, and make us feel that we are indebted to them. First, they said that they will remove the Wall so Jbara will be connected to the West Bank, but if they want to do that, why are they offering to bring us buses? And then, we do not want them to move the wall back to the Green Line as this too will destroy the village; more than two thirds of the people in the village work in Qalanswa, Taiba, and Tira (Arab villages inside the Green Line) and we market our products there. If they put a Wall between us and these villages, all people in the village will loose their sources of income. We do not want a wall that separates us from the West Bank, neither do we want a Wall that separates us from other Palestinians inside the Green Line”.
It is not by coincidence that the Occupation, just this week, is removing a block or two in Abu Dis, and making a number of announcements related to the Wall being dismantled. It is not either by chance that the destruction of parts of the Wall in the northern West Bank are being portrayed as a step in âthe right directionâ when in fact it is bringing ever closer the demise of numerous communities that are caged in by the Apartheid Wall. The question also remains as to why the media is seeking to present the Occupation in a good light.
The international media focus on “Stretch of fence to be torn down today,” and “As hearing looms, Israel to dismantle part of barrier” is a part of the frenzy where shipping children from one ghetto to the next, opening gates of open-air prisons, and enclosing larger portions of communities is viewed as media-friendly.
In the end, this Israeli media strategy seeks to keep the status quo in check by linking the Wall to the old-new story of “security and terrorism” which exists to reverse the definition of Occupied and Occupier and to legitimize oppression, ignoring the fact that Palestine is Occupied, and negating the Palestinian legitimate right to resist. As part of this Israeli strategy, amidst the daily destruction of Palestine by over 100 Israeli bulldozers, is the their announcement that they are just realizing now that the Wall is affecting Palestinian lives and are going to do their best to reduce the negative impacts on the Palestinians.