Journalists and media activists tour the occupied West Bank

PNN/ Bethlehem/

A group of journalists and media activists from Palestine and Europe Tuesday finished a 10 day educational tour around the West Bank.

The purpose of the tour, led by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee as part of the Beyond Walls-project, was to develop a way in which journalists and media activists can help local Palestinian communities spread information about their daily struggles under the Israeli occupation. These are stories that usually fail to reach the mainstream media.

Protests in Kufr Qaddum
The group visited the villages of Kufr Qaddum, Nabi Saleh and Bil’in. In Kufr Qaddum, the Mayor explained how the villagers face daily problems with being cut off from their lands. Ever since the IOF closed the main road that leads to the village, the inhabitants have had no choice but to drive a half hour detour when entering or leaving the village.

The group walked along the road in which the protests against the occupation takes place each Friday in the village. There was still a distinct smell in the air of chemical skunk water, that the Israeli forces use against the villagers,and the remains of burned tires. Later in the afternoon, the group visited a young man, who was slowly healing after being shot in his leg during one of the protests.

Forced to leave spring in Nabi Saleh
In Nabi Saleh, the group was invited into the home of Bilal Tamimi to hear the stories of how the villagers face problems with being cut off from their lands and violated on a regular basis by the IOF. Two men from Nabi Saleh lost their lives during the battles, and even children are not spared from being arrested and harassed by the Israeli soldiers.

The group had lunch by the al-Qos spring near Nabi Saleh until an armed settler arrived and asked them to leave the place, stating it is a closed military zone. As the PSCC-led group refused to fall into line, the settler called the IOF who forced the journalists to leave the springs.

In Bil’in, a village which has become world-famous after the release of the 5 Broken Cameras documentary, the group talked to the Mayor and to the leader of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee’s (PSCC) local unit. Both explained how the settlements had grown over the years and annexed the lands of Bil’in.

Village under threat in South Hebron
The program of the third day included a visit in the city of Hebron and in the village of Susyain the south Hebron hills. In Hebron, the media activists and journalists visited a house,which was originally occupied by the IOF, but won back by the Palestinian owner who used in court his original deed from the Ottoman period that he had managed to keep. A rare case, as most houses have never been returned to their proper owners.

In the afternoon, the journalists and media activists visited the village of Susya to discuss with the inhabitants how to shed light on the fight against the forced displacement, which has been decided in a ruling by the Israeli high court.

The last day of the tour was in greater Bethlehem. The group observed from different viewpoints in the outskirts of the city how the landscape and infrastructure make daily life difficult for the Palestinians.

Munther Amira of PSCC explained how the infrastructure is part of the Israeli plan to slowly corner the Palestinians so that in the end, they will leave their homes themselves by necessity.

Workshop and solutions
On the basis of the tour, the journalists and media activists spent the last four days discussing ideas of how to get across the most important messages of the local communities to the media.

Palestinian and international journalists were mixed in round-table groups that came out with different ideas of how to share and spread information this inside and outside of Palestine.

The tour ended Tuesday afternoon with a final conference.