Having recently returned from a week long fact-finding mission in the Occupied Territories, an 11 member delegation has called for an end to Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The delegation spent the latter part of October surveying firsthand, the conditions faced by Palestinians under Israeli rule.
The group compromised several high profile people such as Prof. Barney Pityana, Adv. Adila Hassim, Prof Firoz Cachalia, and Adv Vusi Pikoli amongst others. The experience was particularly moving for Pikoli, who tweeted some of his experiences whilst in the region.
With countless similarities being made between the Israeli occupation and South African Apartheid regime, Pikoli admitted conditions in the region were shocking, and somewhat eye-opening. However, he was skeptical of comparing the two for fear of lessening the severity of both situations.
“There are things that one doesn’t expect to see at all. You see the Palestinians, regardless of whether they are in Israel or the occupied territories, that they have been reduced to sub-human,” he explained.
Detailing some of the conditions, he made notable mention of the major repressions and inequalities being faced by innocent Palestinians. This included the unfair provisioning of water, as well as the infamous segregation tool known dubbed the ‘Apartheid Wall’.
“I’ve never seen so many walls in a country, and almost everything is used as an instrument of repression. Consequently, everything is also used (by the Palestinians) as an instrument of resistance,” he noted.
The visit marks the second time Pikoli has travelled to the occupied territories, following a trip with the late Dullah Omar in 1996. During that time period, particularly in terms of the illegal settlements, things had greatly deteriorated. This was also in the case of proceedings within Israel’s military courts.
“I was shocked when we went to the military courts, where the conviction rate is as high as 99.7%.I couldn’t believe that in a court of law there are no clear processes, the state does not call for witnesses, it does not need evidence, and the lawyers meet with their clients for the first time in court, in full view if the presiding officer and prosecutor,” he explained.
Having witnessed the occupation first hand, the delegation mobilized to issue a press release on the situation. In the release, they called for an end to Israel’s military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, as well as the removal of all illegal settlements on Palestinian territories.
“We can’t have a state that has no defined boundary. Each settlement where Israeli’s move in, they have soldiers to protect the new settlers. So you have ever expanding borders of Israel, which is in clear breach of international law,” he said.
As to a solution to the issue, he was adamant the region was in desperate need for a non-discriminatory leadership, that was tired of the constant war, and that would be strong enough to try and bring about a democratic solution to the issue. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)