2021 was yet another year, during which Palestinians had to endure more of Israel’s vicious apartheid and colonial practices to erase our existence on our land. As one of the deadliest years, more than 300 Palestinians were lost to Israeli violence during 2021.
Only in the first half of 2021, over 5,426 Palestinians were arrested while over 900 homes were demolished by the Israeli occupation authorities. Israel, through the fortification of its visible and invisible walls of oppression and the expansion of its settlement enterprise, wants to give the impression that we must accept living in an indefinite dehumanization and subjugation.
Yet, our popular resistance also intensified during 2021. Protests and confrontation with the Israeli occupation, as well as our unshakable sumud [steadfastness] have continued to challenge Israeli attempts to take over our lands and homes and to control our minds and to stifle any aspiration of a world of justice freedom and equality.
In 2021, a young Palestinian generation across Historic Palestine [the West Bank, including Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and present-day Israel] through their resistance and sacrifices showed that we will never accept or normalize the appalling reality of apartheid and occupation Israel imposes on us.
The Stop the Wall Campaign and its activities, as in previous years, contributed to reflection and action that aim at creating a reality, where justice, dignity and human rights prevail during 2021.
As we look into 2022, we are moving onwards with more determination and continue mobilizing until the world takes the necessary action to stop Israeli apartheid and hold those responsible for and complicit with Israel’s crimes accountable.
Together, we can build a radically different world, where Palestinians’ right to self-determination is fulfilled and Israel’s apartheid technologies, methodologies and ideologies are not anymore exported and used against people across the world.
Below we showcase highlights from 2021 nationally and internationally.
On the ground
The Right to Exist Campaign
Khirbet Humsa Al-Fawqa
Khirbet Humsa Al-Fawqa in the Northern Jordan Valley was subject to a fierce ethnic cleansing campaign and was demolished several times during 2021. Yet, each time its residents showed unprecedented steadfastness in the face of Israeli bulldozers and military jeeps.
The more resistance the community showed, the more violence Israeli forces committed. The most malicious of these violent practices was the demolition of the residents’ tents, confiscation of water tanks, food and furniture that started a siege of the community that lasted days. Israeli military deprived the villagers of the basic human needs, until people there had to move to a different area in the Jordan Valley.
Stop the Wall activists visited the inhabitants in Humsa more than once to express support to them and appreciation of their sumud. We also documented Israeli crimes committed against Palestinians in Humsa to raise awareness and call for accountability internationally.
The Unity Uprising
During the Unity Uprising, which broke out in May 2021 and spread across Historic Palestine, Stop the Wall youth activists joined the daily protests that took place at checkpoints, in the streets and the mountains of Palestine.
During the uprising, we protested not only Israeli efforts to expel hundreds of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah and other parts of Jerusalem, but also decades of a ruthless regime of oppression and dehumanization.
We were also part of the mobilization for the nation-wide strike that took place on May 18 to express our outrage at Israeli savage assault on Gaza and escalated violence against protesters in other parts of Historic Palestine.
From the ground to the virtual world, our activists kept the world updated about the resistance of our people through regular updates published on social media and on the website. It is through social media that hundreds of thousands of people across the world were mobilized to take to the streets chanting “Free Palestine” and calling on their governments to hold Israel accountable.
Beita and Beit Dajan
In Beita, the residents started demonstrating weeks before the Unity Uprising erupted and protests still continue to take place against an illegal settler outpost established on Mount Sabih.
We joined the weekly protests on Fridays as part of the efforts to support and amplify the struggle of the residents of Beita on the ground.
We also participated in the weekly protests that erupted in Beit Dajan to protest the Israeli takeover of mountainous areas there.
Israel’s hilltop strategy
We released an analytical report focusing on Beita, Beit Dajan and Khirbet Humsa, putting the three locations into context – Israel’s hilltop strategy. We denounce that they are not ‘isolated incidents’ but instead geostretegic locations. Taking over these areas would further the overall policy of isolation and annexation of the Jordan Valley. We also sounded the alarm about the urgency of supporting Palestinian struggle against this scheme. Please read more here.
Agricultural Cooperatives: An alternative present
In 2021, Stop the Wall supported the creation of three agricultural cooperatives. The three cooperatives are run by 26 women from the villages of Aseera Al-Qibliya (Nablus district), Kufr Thilth (Qalqilya district) and Sinjel (Ramallah district), which are all located in the so-called Area ‘C’ and resist Israeli land takeover and settler violence.
These cooperatives, in addition to another cooperative we created in Burin, Nablus district, in previous years serve as a model for a radical approach outside the domain of the neoliberal economic system Israel has been imposing on us. These cooperatives also stand outside and challenge the patriarchal realm in which women are marginalized and objectified.
Moreover, these cooperatives are a tiny, but important element of small-scale economic development among these rural women. They are another way to strengthen Palestinian attachment to and sumoud on the land amid Israel’s systemic efforts to detach Palestinians from their land through various forms of violence.
Increasing Palestinian presence in the Jordan Valley
We believe that supporting the steadfastness of threatened Palestinians who are continuing to resist in the Jordan Valley is crucial but not enough. Over the course of decades of Israeli oppression, many families were forced from their lands, especially those who were stripped off any source of income. In 2021, we supported a family of five people to return to their land in the Jordan Valley by providing them with livestock, residential tents, animal shacks and crops to cultivate their land.
We also helped in cleaning the area and one of the natural water springs there to serve the families’ daily needs. This also defies Israeli apartheid practices in the area, where Palestinians are denied access to their own water resources.
The Right to Education
In the Jordan Valley, Israel weaponizes the denial of education to over 38 Bedouin communities as another tool of ethnic cleansing.
Since we launched the Right to Education Campaign in June 2020, we have been relentlessly working to defend Palestinians’ human right to education through advocacy and lobbying tools internationally and actions on the ground.
In 2021, we have done the following:
- We renovated a kindergarten in the village of Al-Jiftlik, which serves 20 children.
- We built a kindergarten for a Bedouin community in the Jordan Valley. The kindergarten is now well-equipped to meet the needs of 12 students from the community. Before the construction of the kindergarten in that community, students could not access pre-elementary education as there was no nearby kindergartens.
- We built two classrooms in the school of Al-Maleh. The school serves 40 students from Al-Maleh, Ein Al-Helweh and Al-Farisiyah. We built two more classrooms as the four classrooms that constitute the school cannot suffice the 40 students who attend it. However, Israeli bulldozers raided the school on October 25 and confiscated the two classrooms and an awning. In response, we released the #SaveOurSchools action alert calling on people across the world to urge their governments to pressure the Israeli occupation to return the confiscated materials back to the school. In the action alert we also called for the protection of five other schools from Israeli imminent demolition.
- We started the construction of a school in Khirbet Ibziq.
‘You are not Alone’ Campaign
The annual ‘You Are not Alone Campaign’ that has been taking place for 17 years supported Palestinian farmers in Area ‘C’ on two levels: Tree planting and olive harvest.
At the start of 2021, our youth helped farmers reach to their lands that are threatened by Israeli confiscation and cultivated them. In the villages of Sinjel (Ramallah district), Burqa (Nablus district), Izbit Shufa (Tulkarm district) and Bethlehem we planted 564 olive trees. Every planted tree stands for the steadfastness of Palestinian farmers in the face of a vicious Israeli campaign to eliminate Palestinian existence on their land.
Months later, in October, we supported farmers to harvest their olive trees. We particularly supported farmers in the villages of Deir Al-Ghusoun (Tulkarm district), Kaffah (Tulkarm district), Al-Ras (Salfit), Eskaka (Salfit), Sinjel (Ramallah), Al-Shwaika (Tulkarm), Burin (Nablus), Deir Istya (Salfit district) and Baqa Al-Sharqiyya (Tulkarm).
Palestinians in these villages are subjected to various forms of violence and intimidation to make it hard for them to access their lands, which are assigned a place in Israeli settlement expansion plans. Israeli tactics include armed soldiers’ and settlers’ assaults, unleashing wild boars to destroy Palestinians’ crops, brutal attacks on farmers, and contamination of agricultural land with waste water from illegal settlements, among other violent practices.
Know your country
Another space of anti-colonial pedagogy have been the ‘Know Your Country’ tours across the West Bank. We hosted three major tours in the villages of Battir, Deir Istya and Wadi Qana.
The youth participants met with the residents there, listened to their stories about Israeli practices to uproot them from their lands and their daily resistance and sumoud to maintain a Palestinian presence on the land against all odds.
After hearing different inspiring stories, the participants were left with more determination to take action to support these affected communities.
For instance, following the visit to Wadi Qana in the Salfit district, we released a video documenting Israeli plans to force Palestinians from their land through the construction of a waste water pipeline that will run through agricultural land. The video was released in the occasion of the COP26 to show how Israeli illegal settlement expansion and environmental destruction are inherently intertwined.
Watch the video here.
Right to Exist Thematic Page
We have launched the thematic webpage Right to Exist that focuses on our efforts to defend four rights of the Palestinian people: The Right to a Home, to Land, to Water and to Education. It summarizes and systematizes our action and analysis.
Visit the Right to Exist webpage here.
Supporting our youth
Stemming from a forward-looking approach that informs our actions, we continued to support our youth, whom we believe are the transformative force for a radical future reality.
Throughout 2021, we supported the formation of an active youth group in the Jordan Valley and the South Hebron Hills. We mainly trained the group on digital campaigning and the effective use of different media outlets to speak on behalf of their communities and adopt their causes.
The group has documented Israeli water apartheid practices through writing and producing videos to launch a campaign in February 10, 2022. Through the campaign, the activists seek to shed light on the plight of their communities in the South Hebron Hills and the Jordan Valley. One of the focuses of the campaign are the restrictions on access to water resources as Israel controls them. The youth group will also lobby national and international decision makers to intervene and challenge Israeli water apartheid practices.
BDS winter school
Investment in our youth to take the lead in the grassroots struggle also included our support to the BDS winter school that took place in December 2021. This is the first of a series of other winter and summer BDS schools in Palestine, which will continue to take place annually.
The BDS school is a radical pedagogical space.
The participants learn about the history of boycott in the Palestinian struggle against the British Mandate and Israel and other struggles, mainly the South African experience of boycotts against apartheid. The participants also learn about the tactics, strategies and achievements of the global BDS movement, led by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) to hold Israeli apartheid accountable and resist normalization with apartheid Israel in the Arab world.
The participating youth group also discussed a strategy for different BDS campaigns they will be spearheading in Palestine.
Our Actions Internationally
#SaveHumsa Action Alert
Following the destruction of the entire community of Khirbet Humsa five times during the month of February, 2021, Stop the Wall jointly with Al-Haq launched a call for action urging the UN Human Rights Council to stop the ethnic cleansing of Humsa. As part of the call, 5000 people across the world signed a petition we released to pressure the UN HRC to act.
Shahd Qaddoura of Al-Haq also delivered the calls to the UN HRC meeting on March 18 in an oral intervention.
We have also released a detailed study on the corporate complicity of companies enabling and profiting from the destruction of Humsa.
Read more here.
The #SaveJerusalem Campaign is a grassroots led and internationally spread initiative to defend the right of thousands of Palestinians in Jerusalem to stay in their homes. Launched in July, 2021, the campaign was a direct response to Israeli intensified ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan and Jerusalem at large.
The campaign, which was endorsed by rights groups in Europe and the USA kicked off with a webinar attended by 80+ people from across the world. Home defenders from Jerusalem shared their testimonies and called on the international community to end complicity with apartheid Israel.
During the webinar, the participants also took action and contacted their representatives to stop Israeli ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem.
Watch the webinar here.
In this occasion, we also released a detailed report about the plight of Palestinians in Jerusalem, the role of settler organizations in forcibly displacing Palestinians from their homes and grassroots actions that took place in previous months. Read the report here.
As part of the campaign, we continued to raise awareness about the daily struggle of Palestinians in Jerusalem through regular updates on our social media, including timely reports on the court cases of Palestinians in Jerusalem. We launched action alerts whenever it was necessary. For instance, we released an action alert and demanded diplomats uphold their commitments in front of international law by attending a court hearing regarding the case of the Sheikh Jarrah families that took place on August 2, 2021.
In the occasion of the UN General Assembly meeting (UNGA 76), we released a film that highlights the prolonged Israeli ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem. The film supported the overall campaign that demands the UN General Assembly investigate apartheid and re-activate its mechanisms against apartheid. We called on the #UNGA76 to investigate Israeli apartheid using the hashtag #UNInvestigateApartheid.
Watch the film here.
COP26 – fighting Climate Walls
“The struggle for climate justice and our anti-colonial struggle are intertwined” – that is the message we conveyed to people across the world during Glasgow’s UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), held in November, 2021.
Although the entire Palestinian civil society delegation could not attend the conference due to the UK government’s COVID-19 discriminatory entry regulations, we joined other movements from across the world by participating in the following two actions:
- On November 9, jointly with the Gastivists Network and the BDS Movement we held a hybrid workshop titled ‘How Apartheid Israel and Climate Change Are Intertwined.’ We shed light on the EastMed-pipeline, the EuroAsia Inter-connector and the ongoing crimes of the Jewish National Fund. We denounced false solutions to climate change that continue to perpetuate Israel’s three-tiered system of oppression: Settler colonialism, apartheid and military occupation. We also stressed the urgency of supporting our anti-colonial struggle as a true solution to the climate crisis by endorsing the BDS call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions to stop Israeli apartheid, occupation and settler colonialism.
- We participated in the #WhoIsMissing @COP26 projections event in Glasgow organized by grassroots climate activists on November 5. This event was a way to obstruct attempts of racist British government policies to silence and invisiblize us and many others from the Global South who could not travel to Glasgow due to the UK Government’s corona racism towards people in the Global South, including Palestinians.
During the months preceding the conference in November, we joined the regular meetings of the COP26 Coalition and organized events as part of efforts to emphasize our bottom-up collective power for climate justice. In April, 2021, we organized an event titled ‘Decolonizing the Climate Crisis’ as part of the From the Ground Up #2: Take Action Now global grassroots gathering. Joined by Dipti Bhatnager of FOE-Mozambique and Jamal Juma’ of Stop the Wall, we highlighted how the Jewish National Fund operates through colonialist strategies of greenwashing, land grab and suppression.
Outreach to Africa
Stop the Wall has worked together with the BNC to strengthen, rebuild and expand our relations with movements in Africa.
We have built connections with movements in over a dozen African countries. We have worked together with activists across the continents to deepen the decades old understanding that there is no Pan-Africanism without Palestine and that the struggles against colonialism and neocolonialism in Africa are deeply connected with the Palestinian struggle.
Far from ‘supporting Africa’, Israel profits from Africa’s conflicts wars and repression in the continent by arming conflicts and antidemocratic governments.
World without Walls 2021
Together with partners from across the globe, we have started on t November 9, 2021 – Global Day of InterAction for a World without Walls – a series of Urgent Letters, with which we navigate where our struggles intersect and hope to bring people together to deepen the cracks in the walls that oppress us until we dismantle them.
The first Urgent Letter
The first Urgent Letter was issued on November 9, as governments met at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow – Scotland. Our letter has denounced ‘False Solutions’, the ‘climate walls’, the greenwashing attempts that promote human rights violations as ‘sustainable solutions’. We have asked activists to join us in a simple act to reclaim our memories, actions and visions based on peoples’ power that can truly make our world a better place by planting a memorial tree to one of those people that have been killed and have sacrificed their lives to heal the planet and the people.
For more see here.
The second Urgent Letter
On December 18 2021 – International Migrants Day – as movements and organizations struggling for a World Without Walls we issued our second Urgent Letter to denounce hollow statements of concern and demand radical re-thinking and action. 86 networks, movements and organizations from across the globe have joined the call.
We demand people’s rights to stay with dignity and justice in their home countries, to move, whenever they are forced to, protected and respected, to host countries and to return to where they had to flee from.
For more see here.
Podcasts against Corona Racism
In our series of World without Walls of three podcasts we focused on the various forms of injustice playing out in the way states and corporations address the COVID-19 pandemic. The podcasts also draw on how the pandemic has deepened the impact of Israeli apartheid in many ways: From Israel’s denial of access to vaccines and the exploitation of Palestinian labour to keep an economy afloat while Jewish-Israeli citizens are in lockdown to the fact that for Palestinians the pandemic is a crisis on top of a decades old pre-existing conditions of occupation and dispossession.
COVID-19 Colonialism: From Palestine to Brazil
In the first episode, Pedro Villardi, ABIA, Brazil joined hosts Manal Shqair (Stop the Wall) and Chandni Desai (Liberation Pedagogy Podcast). He discussed the policies of denial of access to vaccines and cures. Villardi underlined the injustices that are exposed in times of this global health crisis, Particularly speaking about Brazil.
#MedicalApartheid from South Africa to Palestine
In the second episode, Mark Heywood helps us make the connections and share insights on the underlying injustices that are exposed in times of this global health crisis and ways to fight for the right to health, particularly speaking about South Africa. Co-hosted by Shatha Odeh from the Palestinian Union of Health Work Committees and Chandni Desai from the Liberation Pedagogy Podcast, the discussion also revolves around the effect of Israel’s prolonged and current apartheid practices on Palestinians during the health crisis.
From Palestine to South Korea: Surveillance and Exclusion
In the third episode Susana Barria from the People’s Health Movement and Manal Shqair from Stop the Wall co-hosted Jungwoo Kim from South Korea. Kim is currently a member of the People’s Health Movement in South Korea and the People’s Health Institute. Together highlight false narratives regarding South Korea and Israel as model countries in dealing with the pandemic that should be praised either through the testing programs in the case of South Korea or vaccination in the case of Israel. To expose the falsity of the two countries’ mainstream narratives, we discuss with Jungwoo the pitfalls of South Korea’s entrenched surveillance on marginalized groups and the role of the private sector in combating the pandemic. Through that, we also draw on connections with the situation in Palestine.
Listen to the podcasts here.
We launched the special page on ‘Digital Walls’. In 2020, we have started reflections around the concept of ‘digital walls’ and built a dialogue between Palestinian and Palestine solidarity activism and organizations, activists, academics and movements engaged in the struggle for digital rights.
The intersection between our struggles has become evident: If the digital economy is best understood as surveillance capitalism and data colonialism based on militarization, it is only consequential that Israeli apartheid and its war economy play a small but significant role within this framework.
Stopping this symbiosis is something that should be a call for all of us, not only Palestine solidarity activists.
Please visit the Thematic Page “Digital Walls” that contains our attempt to organize the ideas, visions and analysis we have accumulated.
World without Walls – Europe
In February 2021 together with the network World without Walls – Europe we have launched a petition to EMSA, the European Maritime Safety Agency, to ask the institution not to lease any killer drones from Elbit Systems or other military companies and not to use such drones to enforce the EU’s deadly anti-migration policies. By May 15 over 7000 citizens from across Europe have signed the petition and it was handed over to the European agencies.
See more here.
On March 18, we have held the first World without Walls Europe Assembly, bringing together organizations struggling for migrant rights, Palestinian rights and against militarization from across Europe. As part of the European Social Forum on Migration, we held our assembly to discuss our interconnections and actions. European anti-migration policies, that in many cases resemble Israeli paradigms and are often implemented with Israeli technology, are targeting migrants, finance Israeli apartheid and military occupation against Palestinians and militarize European societies.
Read more here.