There was an atmosphere full of hope and enthusiasm yesterday at the first Tulkarem Palestinian goods fair as traders gathered in the refugee camp to buy and sell Palestinian products in a statement of boycott and resistance to the Israeli occupation.
***image2***Goods produced in the camp itself were on sale, including carob energy drinks, children’s clothes and packaged cakes. Local people browsed the stalls while children from the camp entertained onlookers with drumming and dancing.
The speakers addressing the public meeting that launched the market included representatives of the refugee camp, of the city of Tulkarem and the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. The message of the meeting was to remind the population that Boycott is a culture and a way of resisting occupation, the checkpoints and everything that the occupation is trying to impose on the Palestinian people. âWe may not destroy the Israeli economy, but for sure we can strengthen our identity and oppose the occupation which is based on destroying our people and our willingness to fight.â
***image3***Israeli goods dominate the Palestinian market. Over the next ten days, the Tulkarim trade fair will gather over a hundred businesses and farmers, many of them from Tulkarim camp itself, as part of a growing movement to boycott Israeli goods and promote Palestinian produce.
Confiscation and destruction of land and property has made life almost impossible for many Palestinian farmers, and restrictions on movement have devastated trade.
The Tulkarim refugee camp, on the edge of the West Bank town of Tulkarim dates from 1949 in the wake of Nakba (the Catastrophe) when thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee from their homes in what is now territory occupied by Israel.
Initial numbers of refugees in the camp are unclear, but by the 1967 war the UN estimated that the camp was home to some 5020 refugees. By 1989, the population had grown to 10,500 and by 2006 there were 17,800 people living in the camp.
Conditions in the camp are extremely hard. Children are attending four overcrowded schools, one ambulance and one doctor.
The camp has been attacked by Israeli forces numerous times since 2000 and the dilapidated sports hall that will house the Palestinian goods market is plastered with posters of martyrs from the camp who have died during the Israeli occupation.