Since reading fellow blogger Craig Nielsen was leaving Australia on Sunday January 6th to visit the middle east, (see: A Pentecostal Goes to Palestine) I’ve been watching daily for any new posts concerning what he witnessed.
Today he’s posted the first message (more to come in the following weeks) concerning what he found on his trip.
For just over two weeks this January, I got up at six every morning, spending every day traveling up and down the length and breadth of the West Bank and Israel, seeing for myself, as best I could in such a short time, what conditions are really like for the Palestinians living under the illegal military occupation of the State of Israel.
I visited Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, spoke to those who represent our country to Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. I was briefed by representatives of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, spoke to Israeli trade union officials in Tel Aviv and Palestinian trade union representatives in Ramallah. I met with dozens of ordinary Palestinians in the West Bank in areas A, B and C, and Israelis in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Jaffa. I had long conversations with ex-Israeli soldiers who have now become peace activists and advocates for Palestinian human rights.
I saw conditions that Palestinians must endure in Jerusalem, Hebron, Ramallah, the Jordan Valley, Bethlehem and at least a dozen villages scattered throughout the West Bank. I saw for myself the plight of Bedouin herders in the Jordan Valley and spoke to Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem’s Mea Shaerim. I visited Yad Vashem (Holocaust museum) in Jerusalem. I visited all the Holy sites I could manage and spoke with religious Jews, Muslims and Christians.
I touched the separation barrier, saw huge Israeli settlements like Pisgat Ze’ev in Jerusalem, spent hours stuck at Israeli checkpoints and was appalled by the sight of Israeli settlers in the Old City of Jerusalem walking around with fully automatic weapons in the Christian quarter.
And if there was one thing that stood out and hit me right between the eyes, it was the fact that ISRAEL IS AN APARTHEID STATE.