Lewes MP backs campaigners over Palestine evictions

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Local MP Norman Baker joined Lewes Amnesty supporters in Cliffe Precinct to campaign against forced evictions and lack of access to basic amenities in Palestine.

Bouts of torrential rain on Saturday morning did not deter more than 200 members of the public joining Mr Baker, MEP Keith Taylor and Lewes Amnesty from signing a petition to Foreign Minister William Hague calling on him to urge the Israeli authorities to end forced evictions in Palestine.

Amnesty International campaigners explained to members of the public that the organisation is particularly concerned by the Israeli military plan to transfer the Jahalin Bedouin living in the area east of Jerusalem on the periphery of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement bloc.

It is reported that under the plan, Jahalin communities composed of some 2,300 Bedouin, two-thirds of them children, will be forcibly evicted from their homes and transferred to a site next to a large garbage dump near the Palestinian town of Abu Dis.

The dump receives up to 1,100 tons of garbage per day, most of it from Jerusalem, and creates environmental hazards. The Israeli army continues to demolish homes and other structures in these communities, said Amnesty. In some of these more than 90 per cent of homes and other structures, including schools, have been subject to demolition orders.

Mr Baker, a long-standing member of Amnesty International, also joined Lewes Amnesty members in holding up banners depicting the range of amenities to which Palestinian people are routinely denied access including hospitals, schools and housing.

Sara Birch, Chairperson of Lewes Amnesty International, said: “I am pleased that in the space of a few hours more than 200 people have signed our petition.

“This clearly demonstrates the strength of public feeling in regard to the forced evictions being inflicted upon Palestinians by the Israeli authorities. Members of the public today have also been shocked to learn of the extent to which Palestinian civilians are routinely denied access to basic amenities such as health care and adequate water supplies.”

The Lewes Amnesty Chairperson described how in July the Israeli occupation forces stopped a cancer patient at a checkpoint and prevented him from travelling to Jerusalem to get treatment at Augusta Victoria Hospital, the only hospital in the region providing comprehensive services to cancer patients, including radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgical.

The citizen, Haitham Omar Saleem Abu Bakr, 50, from Jenin, said that he suffers from a serious health condition where he is in dire need of treatment at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem to get blood platelets which are not available in the West Bank.