November 12, 2010
Israel boots activists out over standing up for Palestinians
International NGOs working with Palestinians are providing vital help to the people, but Israeli occupation authorities are withdrawing permits for aid workers, claiming they are provoking trouble.
Activists from around the world are keen to photograph and protest Palestinian suffering.
From the start of 2010, Israeli occupation authorities started withdrawing work permits from international NGO's. Oxfam, Save the Children and Médecins Sans Frontières have all been affected.
“Anyone who voices a pro Palestinian view, anybody who supports justice for Palestinians and Palestinian refugees is an enemy of Israel and sit pro quo a terrorist. I simply don’t buy it and I don’t think there is evidence of it,” says Martha Myers, Director for Occupied Palestinian Territories at care international.
Some volunteers say they have no choice but to do their work illegally. Emily, a British volunteer in the Palestinian Autonomy, is of Palestinian origin. However, she cannot live there because she cannot get a visa. For a while she managed to evade the occupation authorities by leaving and returning every three months and lying to them that she lived in Jerusalem. But they eventually cottoned on – and have given her one month to leave Ramallah.
“The more visas you have on your passport the harder it gets and I think for me initially it was being overwhelmed and understanding you know which borders to use – how to talk to the soldiers – what to say and what not to say,” Emily says.
NGO Monitor is an Israeli organization that tracks non-governmental organizations working in the area. Their website accuses several charities working in the West Bank and Gaza of having links with terrorist organizations. It claims the medical coordinator of the Palestinian children’s welfare fund owns a hate-filled website, dedicated to the glorification of Jihad and the denunciation of Israel.
Adie Mordech has been in Gaza for six months and plans to stay six more. He is a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement, but occupation authorities won't let him cross into the West Bank.
“There has been no evidence whatsoever and no cases of people in NGO’S committing any kind of violence whatsoever,” Mordech declares.
However Ronen Shoval -- founder of Zionist Im Tirtzu movement -- disagrees: “We see Palestinians throwing stones and grenades on IDF soldiers and who’s helping them -- you see a blonde girl from Switzerland.”
Mordech says, “These are human rights groups that are credible throughout the world and yet they are being stopped from entering. UN rapporteur Richard Falk was stopped from entering -- this stretches up to the United Nations”.
For many NGO’s, the challenge is how to draw attention to the work they do without getting kicked out of Israeli-occupied territories.
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