Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This is Palestine

This was not the trip I was expecting. Experience Palestine during National Youth Week, the email said.

So, after less than two hours sleep, after losing several journalists at airport immigration, after being taken to the wrong hotel where I am now staying in an apartment with a married Italian and Canadian couple and after killing a dog on the two-hour coach journey to Ramallah, how come I have ended up standing in front of reels of barbed wire watching international activists spray-paint a huge concrete wall which separates this desolate part of Palestine from the Israeli settlement beyond it?

Our Palestinian guide on this magical mystery tour, who has just been shouting at us to spray ‘Free Palestine’ in as many different languages as are present in our entourage, is now slightly more alarmist as he bellows: “Ten minutes, ten minutes. You must be quick. We can’t be here for more than ten minutes, the Israeli army is watching us. They will be here in ten minutes.”

This is the start of my five days in Palestine, which coincided with – some say sparked – the November 2012 conflict between Israel and Gaza.

A story of tears and tear gas across a nation where there are no youths in National Youth Week.

Palestiniana will be released on Kindle soon.

Save Whalley Village Action Group protest

A lot of people in Whalley don't want new houses in the village. 
The reasons are obvious: roads are already clogged while the school has had to place some pupils in a higher year group to cater for increased class sizes from the Calderstones estate.
For the proposed 116-home development in a floodplain field next to the A59 fly-over on Mitton Road, residents held a protest. I took the photographs.
Star of the show was Mitton Road's Karen Czapowski (above).
Whalley royalty was also in attendance - Sheena Byrom OBE attended. Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans also came along.

The story made the front page of Clitheroe Advertiser and Times.