IntroductionPalestine rarely makes the news in Indian media. When it does, it is usually because "clashes" or “hostilities” have flared up yet again. Knee-jerk sentiments are often quick to ascribe Palestinians with “terrorism”. The reality is that the Palestinians are an exceptionally warm and welcoming people.

Perceptions about Palestine are too often shaped by lack of information or by propaganda. It is easy to dehumanise those we are ignorant about.

This 10-part series on Palestine consists of photographs from East Jerusalem and the West Bank taken by the author during a visit in early 2018. They convey varied aspects of Palestine’s natural beauty, her ancient and unique history, Palestinian art, education and culture, and the grim realities of their lives under Israeli military occupation.

In part five, we look at the architecture of oppression in Palestine — the fences, walls , and segregation.

[Below: A map of West Bank, Gaza and Israel (L); the West Bank (R). Courtesy: palestinett.org]

Palestine-map

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Israel has constructed an imposing “segregation wall” separating the West Bank from Israel whose stated purpose is security. However, 85 percent of the route of the wall encroaches well into the West Bank. Its unstated purpose is land and resource theft from the Palestinians, who have no power to force Israel to change course.

An invasive network of permanent and “moving” checkpoints and road blocks inside the West Bank — manned by heavily armed, belligerent Israeli soldiers — makes even the shortest travel an always unpredictable, often dangerous, chore.

These are part of the vast, sophisticated and expensive architecture Israel has erected in the West Bank to control, micro-manage and frustrate Palestinian lives. Here's a look at this architecture of oppression:

A section of the segregation wall in Bethlehem. The wall has become a canvas for graffiti art on the Palestinian side.

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A long section of the segregation wall running past Al-Quds university in the town of Abu Dis. Israeli soldiers manning the wall repeatedly raid the university campus, damaging infrastructure and tear gassing staff and students.

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The segregation barrier in yet another part of the West Bank. The height of the wall is 8m (26 feet), much taller than the wall that segregated East Germany from the West.

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Observation and sniper towers line the wall every few hundred meters.

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This barrier with the heavy metal door runs through the Palestinian village Al-Walaja that lies within sight of Jerusalem. There is a single family whose house is on the other side of barrier. They’ve been deliberately cut off from the village. This is the Hajajleh family’s tragic, and unreal, story.

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Barb wire fences such as these are constructed in the incomplete sections of the wall.

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This is one of a large networks of Jewish-only highways constructed inside the West Bank. They connect the illegal Jewish-only enclaves in the West Bank to Israel. Imagine “white-only” roads in the United States.

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An Israeli checkpoint inside Hebron city on a lonely day. Palestinians needing to pass through are ID checked by Israeli soldiers, often screamed at and intimidated, sometimes stripped, arbitrarily delayed or blocked from passing for no reason. Jewish and international visitors sail through.

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An Israeli road block within the West Bank. These road blocks sometimes appear with no warning and no explanation. We once took two hours winding through the mountains because the “direct route” from Ramallah to Bethlehem was arbitrarily blocked.

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Yet another of the maze of barriers to Palestinian movement inside Hebron city.

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Previous post: Education, university and campus life

Next post: Lives under Occupation. See more from the series here.

Chirag Dhara is a theoretical physicist turned climate change scientist. He is keenly interested in the Palestinian situation, and visited the occupied West Bank for three months in early 2018 in solidarity with the Palestinians. He can be contacted through his Palestine travel blog or Instagram page.

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