Jonathan Cook: the View from Nazareth - www.jonathan-cook.net

Scenes from the West Bank

I am not a war correspondent, even less a war photographer. There are no pictures here of the immediate traumas of occupation: no gunbattles, no settler attacks, no bulldozers wrecking homes. These pictures have been taken in quieter moments, in the lulls between military assaults when an observer can ponder the grinding nature of occupation and the entrenchment of what the Israeli activist Jeff Halper has called Israel’s “matrix of control” over Palestinian life…

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Most of these photographs were taken in Area C, the 62 per cent of the West Bank that never tasted the freedoms Oslo promised. Area C was placed entirely under Israeli control, and Israel has used its position to build up the settlements and destroy any vestige of physical or financial independence for the rapidly shrinking number of Palestinians still living there. Ghettoised by the wall and checkpoints, the population has been forced to rely on the good will of military commanders to complete even the simplest everyday tasks, such as getting to their farmland as well as to work, hospital or school.

According to this military logic, there are twin benefits. First, an impoverished Palestinian population living behind a wall has to concentrate on survival, not on the struggle for liberation and statehood. And second, the Palestinians of Area C, suffering the most acute problems of occupation, are forced to migrate to Areas A and B, where the PA has some control. Today, there are believed to be only about 100,000 Palestinians remaining in Area C. In this form of slow-motion ethnic cleansing, Israel gets to annex most of the West Bank’s land – at least de facto – but acquires almost no Palestinians with it.
 
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