In Palestine solidarity circles there is a tendency to focus on the horrors inflicted on the people of Gaza. The blockade and the repeated bombing of the strip understandably focuses minds and solidarity efforts.
Gazans find themselves under constant pressure and frequent attack from the Israeli state and from the Egyptian armed forces.
In comparison the refugees on the West Bank seem less pressured. But in reality their struggles are no less desperate.
Recently I visited the refugee camp in Tulkarm in the Palestinian West Bank.
The camps across the West Bank are places of poverty and hardship. Unemployment is running at over 50 percent and the majority of families live on less than £1.50 a day. This makes them some of the poorest people on the planet.
They suffer daily harassment from Israel’s military, known as the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), and settlers. Many young men continue to be picked up and arrested under Administrative Detention—detention without trial.
But there is evidence of a more sinister turn in the IDF’s response to Palestinian young people. In the last year the IDF has shot and killed an increasing number of young men from the camps.
I spent one afternoon in the Jallazon camp, just north of Ramallah. In the last year five children have been killed and a further 100 seriously injured.
The Jallazon camp is across a busy road from the illegal and growing Israeli settlement of Beit Eil. The United Nations school that the children of the camp attend is on the “wrong” side of the road. The settlers and the IDF regularly harass the pupils.
I met three young people who had all been shot.
Mamoud, aged 15, was protesting against the expansion of the camp. He threw a stone and was shot through the neck.
This was a head shot. It aimed to kill. Luckily for Mamoud it only took a chunk of his throat.
Malik, aged 16, was walking home when he came across an IDF patrol. The sergeant shot him in the leg. He used a dumdum bullet which exploded on impact. All the bones below the right knee were shattered and had to be removed.
Ata, aged 12, was mucking about with his friends at school. They threw his bag over the school wall. He climbed over to get it and found himself face to face with an IDF patrol.
They refused to give his bag back. They told him to come to their checkpoint the following day and get it then.
When he went the following day they shot him in the stomach. The bullet smashed his spinal column on the way out.
These attacks are not unique to Jallazon. There are reports of similar things happening at camps across the West Bank.
Tensions are growing across the West Bank. The strategy pursued by Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, offers little for the refugees in the camps.
Twice in the past—from 1987 and 2000—such tension has led to mass uprisings or “Intifadas”.
Now there is open talk of a coming Third Intifada.
In these circumstances raising political and economic support for Palestine exposes the role of both Israel and imperialism in the oppression of Palestinians.
This summer’s Big Ride for Palestine, when 1,000 cyclists will ride from Edinburgh to London over nine days, is a case in point.