Today was a day with the ladies from MachsomWatch. For most of us one of the strongest parts of our trip in the region.
MachsomWatch is a group of ladies (grandmothers most of them), who have started their activities around checkpoints ('machsom' is hebrew for 'checkpoint'), but are now working also more and more on the realities of people living in and around checkpoints, the wall and all the other forms of borders created, legally and illegally, by the Israeli government and the settlers. MachsomWatch is thereby in close contact with a number of villages which it tries to help directly in solving some of the problems which are caused by the occupation and the separation wall and fences, through legal and other means.
Under the impressive guidance of Dalia Golomb (daughter of Eliyahu Golomb), we have spent the whole day travelling in a minibus in and around the area from Qalqilya up to Nablus (Hawara), seeing with our own eyes how on the ground the situation is for the Palestinians living there, how their land is cut into pieces by settlers allover and the fences and wall which is helping the settlers getting where they need to get, while Palestinians' lives become harder and harder. Dalia's presentation was so clear. It helped all of us to get a clear view of the situation on the ground, at least concerning this particular region of the Westbank.
The checkpoints are lately a bit less of a problem (a lot of them have over the last year been closed), but the settlers and the closures of land caused by the settlements, are making lives of Palestinians more and more difficult. It is clearly the aim of the settlements to try to boycott the possibility of creating a Palestinian state on a unified Westbank.
What we remember from this day, is that within all this misery, also here, some very couragious people continue - against all odds - to be in dialogue with one another (jewish Israelis with Palestinians) and try to change the situation on the ground. This is very difficult and most of the time impossible, but that makes these actions even more impressive. The support of MachsomWatch to the villagers we have met, is giving them hope for a better future in these lands, and sometimes concrete help to solve some of their problems, such as those related to the distribution of water or electricity.