THE Palestinians of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are surrounded by barriers, as a desperate Israel tries to turn Occupied Palestine into a series of ghettos, or bantustans.
The roadblocks, walls and other barriers go hand in hand with the attacks on Palestinian men, women and children by the Israeli occupation forces and armed Zionist settlers.
But the Palestinian people are fiercely resisting Israel’s policies, which have been likened to the policies of the Nazis against Jews in Europe in the 1930s and the racist whites-only Apartheid state that was toppled by the black masses of South Africa.
Last Saturday morning, Israeli soldiers shot and wounded two Palestinian workers near a military roadblock east of Yatta, a town near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
Ghalib Hani Edeis, 23, and Suleiman Ibrahim Edeis, 26, were wounded.
Ghalib was taken to an operating room in Hebron, where bullet fragments were removed from his skull.
The pair were on their way to a construction site in Jerusalem, the capital of Occupied Palestine, where they worked to feed their families.
Israel did not grant them work permits and as they tried to avoid the military roadblock, the army opened fire at them.
On Sunday, in the Gaza Strip, five Palestinians were injured when Israeli tanks opened fire at a target north of Beit Lahiya.
The shelling targeted Palestinian workers who were passing by the evacuated Israeli settlement of Gush Katif.
The Israeli military said their forces had identified a man ‘approaching the security fence in a suspicious manner’ in the northern Gaza Strip.
This attack took place days after four Israeli tanks and a bulldozer entered deep into the Gaza Strip, into the Al-Maghazi refugee camp area, demolishing two homes.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported five separate, recent incursions, where Israel ‘conducted land levelling operations’.
With the support of the United States and the European Union, Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip in June 2007, blocking vital supplies at its barriers.
Israeli fences and barriers surround Gaza, which has been described as ‘a prison’ housing 1.5 million inhabitants.
Egypt, which shares a border with the southern Gaza Strip, has been condemned for working with Israel and the United States to block underground tunnels dug by Palestinians to bring goods in from Egypt.
These tunnels are the only supply lines for the besieged Palestinians of Gaza.
The Palestinians who were fired on by Israel’s occupation forces on Sunday were apparently getting stones to rebuild their homes.
Many thousands of homes as well as hospitals and other vital infrastructure were destroyed in the blitz of Gaza by Israeli warplanes and tanks in December 2008 and January 2009.
More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in three weeks.
Israel has been accused of war crimes for its actions.
Gazans cannot import building materials because of the ongoing blockade.
The latest United Nations report says that the situation has further deteriorated this year due to the total closure of the fuel crossing at Nahal Oz, which turned Kerem Shalom into the single functional crossing for goods, except for a conveyor belt at Karni Crossing.
United States Congressman Brian Baird has recently visited Gaza and said residents have been left unable to rebuild after the war because of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade.
Baird said the White House was not doing enough to pressure Israel to allow reconstruction material to enter Gaza, and has called for a Berlin Airlift-style operation in which the United States would unilaterally bring in aid via naval ships in coordination with the United Nations.
Baird believes the policy of blockading Gaza will radicalise a whole new generation against the United States and Israel.
He argued that a move to bring in aid would be in America’s national interest. It ‘would be saying that we do not accept leaving people who are innocent civilians in the kind of conditions that these people have been left in’.
Even Palestinian fishing boats off Gaza’s coast come under regular attack.
Israeli gunships opened fire at the boats last Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian people of the West Bank are waging a daily struggle against the construction of Israel’s Apartheid Wall of Separation, which is cutting off Palestinian communities and annexing more Palestinian land to Israel.
The wall is much bigger than the Berlin Wall.
Last Friday, Palestinian and international activists assembled in Bilin to mark the fifth year of struggle against the Wall.
Thousands of Palestinians, accompanied by foreign civil and human rights activists, made it to the West Bank village that has been the scene of weekly protests.
Israeli troops responded by firing volleys of tear gas, creating clouds of white smoke.
Medics treated a number of protesters as they lay on the ground, coughing and choking.
Live rounds and stun grenades have been used against the anti-wall protesters before.
Some have been seriously wounded or even killed by Israeli troops.
Bilin has become a symbol of opposition to the wall.
The Palestinians in Bilin protest that 60 per cent of their land has been cut off and ruined as the result of Israel’s construction work.
Israel has been pushing ahead with the continued construction of the wall, despite a 2007 International Court of Justice ruling that the barrier violates international law.
Demonstrations against the wall and settlement expansion also took place in the villages of al-Ma’sara, south of Bethlehem, Ni’lin and Nabi Saleh, where 10 protesters were hit by rubber-coated bullets, including a Swedish national who was struck in the mouth.
Israeli occupation forces are in action every day against the Palestinians in the West Bank.
In one incident last weekend they closed a military checkpoint near the city of Tulkarem and subjected Palestinians to a thorough search without allowing them to pass through.
Hundreds of Palestinians, including students, were stranded due to the closure of the checkpoint.
Days earlier, Palestinian trade unions had staged a demonstration at the Sha’ar Efraym crossing point near Tulkarem, protesting at humiliating searches by a private security company at the checkpoint.
The angry workers appeared at the barbed wire fence that surrounds the crossing and handed over a letter to Israeli officials demanding an end to the hours of waiting and strict searches workers are subject to.
Farouq Omar, a local Palestinian trade union leader, said each night more than 15,000 workers from throughout the West Bank districts line up at the crossing starting after midnight.
He explained that inspections take so long, workers can’t get to work on time.
Many workers have been fired because they arrive late, he said.
Palestinian workers and families are threatened by the sinister activities of Israeli troops, who invade their towns and villages and ‘kidnap’ West Bank children, and by the attacks of Zionist settlers in the West Bank.
All settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law.
In defiance of Israeli restrictions, Palestinians mended internal roads last week in the town of Jiftlik that is located entirely in the Israeli-controlled Area C, which composes 60 per cent of the West Bank.
Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley town, joined by Palestinian officials, defied Israeli restrictions on development in Area C by repairing roughly one kilometre of roads inside the town.
Jiftlik, the largest town in the Jordan Valley, is home to 5,000 people.
Israel consistently uses planning law, the building permit application process and house demolitions to threaten Palestinians and remove them from their land.
At the same time, illegal settlements continue to expand.
• The children of the Gaza Strip held a candlelit protest last Friday on the streets of a Gaza City plunged into darkness as a result of the continued siege of Gaza.