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First-Hand Reports from Israel/Palestine

Imprisoned in Israel

By Kate Raphael Bender
International Women’s Peace Service
Oakland Tribune
January 15, 2005

“My imprisonment has made me more certain that a state that violates international law, has never written a democratic constitution, denies non-Jews the same rights and benefits as Jews makes the world less safe for everyone, especially Jews.”

This Sunday, Israeli bus 19, which was the target of a Palestinian bombing, will be displayed in Berkeley. It is a reminder of lives lost in the terrible attack. Not visible are the millions of Palestinian lives being destroyed daily in the occupied Palestinian territories by Israel’s refusal to allow them basic human rights: to work, to travel freely, to visit family, to live in their homes, even to possess a nationality.

I will not be there. Instead, I will go to an Israeli court after five weeks in Psochar prison. I am imprisoned because I oppose the 425-mile Segregation Wall that Israel is building in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli Interior Ministry claims that my participation in a nonviolent demonstration against the wall makes me a security threat. They will probably deport me, although Israel is the one breaking the law by building the wall in illegally occupied territory, according to the United Nations.

In July 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled the wall illegal. It found that “100,000 dunams of the West Bank’s most fertile agricultural land” have been destroyed, “which involves the disappearance of vast amounts of olive trees, wells, citrus groves and hothouses, upon which tens of thousands of Palestinians rely for their survival.” The court ordered Israel to stop building the wall, dismantle the constructed sections, and restore the land. Israel refuses to comply.

The remains of the bus are meant to convince us that the wall is necessary for Israel’s security. But the lesson is just the opposite. The person who took his own life and 11 others had to pass through checkpoints, roadblocks, ID checks and other “security” apparatus. Cabinet minister Uzi Landau admitted that the wall cannot withstand a determined Palestinian resistance because it is too long to patrol.

The way to eliminate terrorism is to eliminate its causes. I asked some Palestinian boys what they want to be. One said a history teacher, another a lawyer, a third a doctor, a fourth an engineer. All want to be president of Palestine. None wanted to be a suicide bomber.

If these boys can realize their dreams, they will not throw away their lives in futile attacks. But if they are penned into tiny living spaces, if they see friends murdered and homes demolished for lack of a building permit, if their brothers or fathers are among the 6,000 political prisoners held in horrific conditions, some may feel that they have nothing to lose but misery.

My own imprisonment shows me that no walls, barbed wire or guns can destroy people’s need for freedom, or pride in their identity. My imprisonment by a state that calls itself Jewish has not made me less proud to be a Jew. It has made me more certain that a state that violates international law, has never written a democratic constitution, denies non-Jews the same rights and benefits as Jews makes the world less safe for everyone, especially Jews.

By turning the 2.5 million West Bank Palestinians into prisoners, Israel becomes a nation of jailers, and our jailers in Psochar tell me it is not a pleasant job. Only by removing its hands from the throats of Palestinians, enabling them to live and breathe and thrive, can Israel put an end to the terror represented by bus 19.

Read more first-hand reports.

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Videos & Multimedia

Amnesty International Video:
Dina Goor, Yesh Din

3/20/2004 demonstration in Karbatha, Palestine – activists shot

Watch International Court of Justice’s Hearings on Barrier

UK Guardian Interactive Graphic on Wall

View footage from 2/6/2004 demonstration at Georgetown University, USA

View footage from 12/26/2003 demonstration in Mas’ha, West Bank—Israeli activist, Gil Ne’amati, is shot

View footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Ramallah, West Bank

View footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Zbuba, West Bank

MORE footage from 11/9/2003 demonstration in Zbuba, West Bank

News Without Borders 8/24/2003 Presentation on Israel’s Wall

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Israeli government decision aims to strip Palestinians of their properties in East Jerusalem

Imprisoned in Israel

More Articles on the Wall

The Death of Bassem Abu Rahme

Witness for the Defenseless

American priest and nun join Palestinian non-violent resistance in Gaza

Nonviolent Palestinian Resistance

The Palestinian Resistance: Its Legitimate Right and the Moral Duty

More Articles on Resistance

Additional Resources

Booklet – The Wall Must Fall

Documentary – The Israeli Wall in Palestinian Lands


International Court of Justice Ruling

Electronic Intifada on the Wall

Palestine Monitor on the Wall

Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance

Charter of the United Nations


Stop the Wall

Americans for Middle East Understanding

End the Occupation Coalition

Al Awda: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition

International Solidarity Movement

Secular Peace Groups

American Muslims for Palestine

A Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)

Sabeel – Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center

Friends of Sabeel, North America

More Religious Peace Groups

International Humanitarian Groups Condemn the Barrier

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Amnesty International

Human Rights Watch

World Council of Churches


International Humanitarian Law Research Initiative

Oxford Public Interest Lawyers

The National Lawyers Guild

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