Beautiful Resistance


Israel's apartheid wall, Aida, Bethlehem (David Kattenburg)

Youth Media, Art & Teargas in Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem

GPM # 58

Lots of reports in the news these days about Israeli military assaults on Palestinian refugee camps.

In little Gaza – Israel reduces refugee camps to rubble with 2000-lb American bombs, or plows them into the mud with armoured Caterpillar D9 bulldozers.

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinian refugee camps are routinely assaulted by heavily armed soldiers or police in search of “terrorists” to arrest or — more likely — gun down, no questions asked.

Teargas and sound bombs fill the air, fired by roof-mounted guns, drones or remotely operated sentry sites.

Apartheid wall and watchtower watch over Bethlehem and Aida (David Kattenburg)

For those who’ve never visited a Palestinian refugee camp, these are not dense tent or tin shacks encampments. They’re more like barrios; densely packed, tightly knit, fully functioning communities. On a very recent trip, I visited one of Palestine’s largest refugee camps – Aida – in the southern West Bank town of Bethlehem.

Founded in 1950 to house 1200 victims of Israeli ethnic cleansing, Aida is now home to about 6000. It’s a safe, welcoming place to walk, talk and film, a vibrant community packed with art and political graffiti.

But violent assault is always imminent, especially at night.

Heavily armed Israeli Border Police enter in armoured vehicles, through sliding steel doors along Israel’s apartheid wall, snaking along Aida’s northern edge.

The GPM spoke about all this with Rohini Haar, one of the authors of a report entitled No Safe Space: Health Consequences of Tear Gas Exposure Among Palestine Refugees, published in January 2018 by the Human Rights Center of the School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley.

Wall art, Aida, Bethlehem (David Kattenburg)

Aida Refugee Camp is a bustling and vibrant community. It’s also something of an outdoor art gallery. Resistance artwork, portraits of iconic poets and fighters, and political graffiti adorn its walls and facades.

Leila Khaled on Aida wall (David Kattenburg)

One of Aida’s best known hubs for resistance art and culture — the Alrowwad Culture & Arts Society and Vocational Training Center. Abdelfattah Abusrour is the Center’s founder and director.

Abdelfattah Abusrour (David Kattenburg)