Israel prevents Palestinians to participate in the World Social Forum

PNN/Bethlehem

Militants and Palestinian activists, invited to the Thematic World Social Forum*, to be held 19-23 of January in Porto Alegre, Brazil, were prevented from traveling to that country due to the intensification of the Israeli blockade in Hebron.

The complaint was made in a statement signed by the WSF organization, released on Friday on the meeting site.

According to WSF Thematic note, the goal of Israel’s actions – especially in Hebron – is that Palestinians residents leave the city to allow the violent advancement of illegal Israeli settlements.

“While the Israeli government and Israeli institutions invite parliamentarians, artists and abroad visibility figures for visits and conferences in their universities, to convey an image of normality in the relations in the region, injured youth by the Israeli [Occupation] Army are left to bleed in the streets without access to medical care” the Forum organizers criticized.

Below is the translated press release:

NOTE OF CONDEMNATION – Palestinians prevented from traveling to Brazil.

It is with indignation and great concern that the organizations promoting  the Thematic World Social Forum -WSF 15 years- in Porto Alegre, are obliged to inform that Palestinians who were invited to the meeting were prevented from traveling to Brazil, barred by the violent closing of the city of Hebron, in the West Bank and are facing the worsening repression throughout the occupied Palestinian territories by Israeli forces.

Since October 2015, we received news about the blockade, military siege, control, forced registration, humiliation, violence followed by murders, of mainly youth and adolescents in the historic Palestinian city of Hebron and the transformation of important areas for the local population, as Tel Rumeida and Shuhada Street in closed military zones, without the same restrictions occurring to the Israeli settlers who can move freely. 

Palestinians denounce the imposition of “collective punishment” by Israel to the people of Hebron, in order to take them into exhaustion so that local residents leave the city where illegal Israeli settlements proceed with extreme violence. 

In target areas in the current process of isolation,  scrap, bricks and cement locks were built, tanks and gunmen who threaten and attack residents and radicalize a siege of terror that has its origins in the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre of 1994. 

In February that year, a settler from Brooklyn entered the mosque during Ramadan and opened fire, killing 29 and wounding dozens until he was contained and killed by the population. In response, in the days that followed, Israeli forces attacked and killed dozens of Palestinian civilians protesting against the massacre in the mosque.

Collective punishment, a crime typified by international conventions, are often employed by the State of Israel. While the Israeli government and Israeli institutions invite parliamentarians, artists and abroad visibility figures for visits and conferences in their universities, to convey an image of normality in the relations in the region, injured youth by the Israeli Army are left to bleed in the streets without access to medical care.

International observers are prevented from entering to witness the massacre, Palestinian radio stations are closed not to send distress calls, and activists are unable to provide assistance.

Members of the International World Social Forum Council and the Front of Defense of the Palestinian People (Frente em Defesa do Povo Palestino) in Brazil participated last year in a Humanitarian Mission to Palestine, but two Brazilians with Arabic surname could not enter, and all the others had their access denied to the Gaza Strip, which was massacred in the previous year to total destruction of their infrastructure.

However, they witnessed the intolerable conditions of life in the occupied West Bank, the advance of illegal settlements, the ostensible control of the city of Hebron, the tireless resistance of the Palestinian people.

We denounce and demand all efforts of the international community, particularly the Brazilian authorities, in order to position themselves regarding the immediate end of the occupation of Palestine, the withdrawal of overt forces of the city of Hebron, for the immediate relief for victims of repression and for the reconstruction of a free Palestine.

We reaffirm our firm adherence to the BDS campaign of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions of Israel until the occupation has an end, and we express our firm solidarity with the Palestinian people, the members of the International Council of the WSF isolated in Hebron, the researcher and coordinator of Alternative Center in the West Bank, Ahmad Jaradat, the director of the Teacher Creativity Center in Palestine, Refat Sabbat, and to all representatives of Palestinian civil society organizations that has repeatedly been prevented from traveling to report to the world the reality of the occupation.

Until Palestine is free!

*The World Social Forum (WSF) is the largest gathering of civil society to find solutions to the problems of our time. Started in 2001 in Brazil, the WSF brings together in each of its edition tens of thousands of participants to more than a thousand activities (workshops, conferences, artistic performances …) on various themes (social, solidarity economy, environment, human rights, democratization … ). A charter of principles describes what is and is not the WSF process, the values and goals of its participants, as well as important operation rules.