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Home   »  Resources  »  Miscellaneous Resources  »  Understanding the Conflict: A ...  »  PART ONE: The Crisis

What does "military occupation" mean?


Military occupation means complete Israeli control over every facet of Palestinian civil and economic life. Israel has regularly closed its borders to the more than 125,000 Palestinian workers--primarily from Gaza--who rely on hardscrabble jobs inside Israel for their still-insufficient income. Just from October 2000 through September 2001, the UN estimated that Palestinian workers lost between $2.4 and $3.2 billion in income due to closures. In April 2002, unemployment estimates from the World Bank and others were at 50 percent and rising across the Palestinian territories.

During the second intifada, the curfews and closures, or blockades, of Palestinian towns and cities, once an occasional disruption, became constant. The re-occupation of Palestinian cities was matched by a complete division of the West Bank into scores of tiny cantons--villages cut off from each other, small towns cut off from the main roads, cities surrounded like medieval sieges. Armed checkpoints, huge earth berms dug by armored tractors, destruction of roads, all served to prevent Palestinians from moving within the territories, let alone travelling into Israel. Inevitably the economic shortages were severe; truckloads of produce rotted in the sun at checkpoints, milk soured, workers could not get to their jobs. Humanitarian crises spiked, with women giving birth at checkpoints because soldiers would not allow them to pass, victims of settler or soldier violence dying because military officers would not authorize Palestinian ambulances to move. By August 2002 the U.S. Agency for International Development documented sharply escalated numbers of Palestinian children who were either acutely or chronically malnourished.

Israeli military control also means complete dependence on Israel for permits--to travel out of the country, to enter Israel from the West Bank to get to the airport to leave the country, for a doctor to move from her home village to her clinic in town, for a student to go to school. Most of the time, these permits remain out of reach.


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