50 Years Later – How the Occupation Evolved and the Answer to its Growth
I WAS BORN IN 1971, four years after the 1967 war that led to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. I grew up living under the brutality of the Israeli military and its violence. Until 1993 we, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, lived under what I refer to as “direct military occupation.” The military was fully present and controlling of every aspect of our lives. The military headquarters, known ironically as the “Civil Administration,” were located in the heart of every major city in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Physically, the Israeli army roamed the streets of our villages, refugee camps, and cities day and night. Military bases and lookout locations were everywhere. Getting stopped for random checks, beatings, insults, being detained, was as normal of an experience as going to the nearby grocery store.
Intellectually, the Israeli military controlled all books and publications, monitoring every single publication that came from aboard, opening every letter and envelope; school curriculum was reviewed and censored by the Israeli military, and the only Palestinian newspapers that existed were censored by Israeli intelligence. A cousin of mine who worked for one of the local newspapers used to bring us articles he wrote where over 50 percent of the piece would have been marked as unprintable. If we wanted to listen to or see any news in Arabic, the only choice was Israeli government news on Israeli government radio and television.
Politically, any statement, slogan, sign, or even gesture that spoke of Palestinian nationalism, resistance, human rights, etc. was reason enough for a prison sentence (administrative detention, still used today, gives permission to the Israeli military to detain a Palestinian for up to six months, renewed, without trial or visitation from a lawyer). Economically, all tax money went to the Israeli military to sustain and maintain the Occupation—it was taxation without representation in its most brutal form. Legally, our status, even if our family existed in this land for hundreds of years, was labeled “resident” which gave legal rights to the Israeli military to revoke such status any time it chose to and to deny thousands the right to live here or return to their homes. As a student in the U.S., I had to renew my “residency right” every year or I lost it.
Freedom of assembly, freedom to elect your own leaders, freedom of expression, and every basic freedom that is cherished as nonnegotiable in the civil world was denied for Palestinians living under this direct military occupation.
This form of occupation remained intact until 1993 when to the surprise of many, the announcement of a peace process between the government of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization was declared. The Oslo Peace Process promised both nations peace and security in a framework known as the two-state solution. The great majority on both sides celebrated Oslo and what it promised but very quickly the reality of a different outcome began to seep in.
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Source Citation: Tikkun 2017 Volume 32, Number 2:19-22