Illustrations to accompany the presentation are available form the left hand menu bar. The document contents are available form menu bar above.
Galilee is inside the 1948 borders of occupied Palestine ("Israel"), and it was interesting for the delegation to visit the Arab towns in the area to see the contrast between life in the West Bank and Gaza and in the territory occupied since 1948. The members of the delegation found the Muslim community living as second - class citizens in the Zionist state. By comparison with Israeli Jews, the Arabs receive very little state aid for community projects such as hospitals, schools and clinics. for projects deemed to be in any way "Islamic", there is no assistance whatsoever. It was a strange feeling for the "new Muslim" delegation, most of whom are ex - Christians, to visit many of the places taught to them since childhood as being "Christian places" only to find them profoundly Muslim in character. It was distressing, though to see Megiddo (The "Armageddon" of the Book of Revelation in the Bible) and find that the once Arab Muslim village was now an Israeli Kibbutz and that the Mosque was now being used as a carpenters workshop and store. Another shock was to see the Qur'anic inscriptions above the Mosque doorway pockmarked with bullet holes. So much for the guarantee in Israel's Declaration of Independence to "....safeguard the holy places of all religions..."!
Although nominally full citizens. "Israeli Arabs" face constant harassment from the authorities with road blocks and searches commonplace. Their identity cards brand them as 'Arabs', not just as Israeli citizens. comparison with the racial classification system of apartheid in South Africa is not only inevitable, it is totally accurate.
The Gaza Strip is the most densely populated area of land in the world and again, the inequality between Jews and non - Jews was starkly evident to the delegation. There are 2000 people crammed into every sq.km in Gaza compared with 198 per sq.km inside Israel "proper". Out of the total area 360 sq.km, 16 are Jewish settlements - only 2220 Jews live there. The other 344 have 648,000 non-Jews squeezed into conditions which are, as confirmed by David Mellor MP, an affront to uncivilised values.
In Gaza, as in the West Bank, any charity (weather it is a hospital, clinic, school, university, old people's home or whatever) which is in any way Islamic, is absolutely forbidden to either collect or distribute charitable donations. On the other hand, Christian and secular aid organisations are given every opportunity to operate and develop.
It s very difficult for non - Jews from Gaza tot ravel as permits are rarely given, and since there are only a few roads leading in and out of the area it is easy for the authorities to seal the place off completely. One group of people are exempt from such restrictions however - the Israeli settlers. As in the West Bank, the settlers in Gaza are military reservists and all are armed at every moment. They are, therefore, an effective permanent military presence for the Zionist state to use against the non - Jewish indiginious population who are forbidden from carrying firearms (shades of South Africa again!). The Gaza settlers mostly come from russia and Poland as did their current leaders - Shamir, Peres, Rabin and Begin are all Polish Jews. It is interesting to note that these, the severetst critics of "Palestinian terrorism" were themselves members of Zionist terror groups in the 1940's. Begin and Shamir were officially wanted by the British Government for their active role in the torture and murder of two British army sergeants and the blowing - up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in which 91 Palestinian Government officials were killed.
Having witnessed such deprivation, brutality and hypocrisy, the delegation held a Press Conference in Jerusalem on Friday, 18th March 1998. The full text of the prepared statement readout is reproduced below and this sums up the feelings of the group.
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Mercy - giving
Statement of the delegation of Muslims from Britain in Jerusalem on Friday 30th Rajab 1408/13th March 1988
Spokesman: Ibrahim Hewitt
Members of the delegation: Yusuf Islam, suleyman Etim, Musa Patterson, Isa Darby, Muhammad Ata' ullah, Abdullah Powell, Abdurrahim Green, Sahib Mustaqim Bleher.
"And remember when We made a covenant with the children of Israel (saying), worship none but Allah; and be good to parents and to kindered and to orphans and the needy, and speak kindly to mankind; and establish worship and give charity. Then after that ye slid back, save a few of you, being averse." (Qur'an 2:83)
After seeing the shocking atrocities being committed by Israeli soldiers against Palestinian Muslims, as reported by the Western media, we decided as Muslims from Britain - out of love and concern for our Muslim brothers and sisters in the Holy Land - to set out from London Central Mosque to offer whatever help and assistance we cam to those who are suffering, and lend our voice to the call for a permanent solution.
We believe that this land belongs to the Prophets, and as Muslims, we believe in all of God's Prophets and this is reflected in the names of some members of our delegation: Ibrahim/Abraham, Yusuf/Joseph, Suleyman/Solomon, Isa/Jesus and Muhammad - peace and blessings be upon all o f them. It is the last of God's Prophets, Muhammad, who is reported to have said: "The believers are in their mutual kindness like one body; if any of its limbs is hurt, the whole body reacts with fever and sleeplessness."
Having been victims of media bias in the past, we were prepared to believe that the pictures of the behaviour of Israeli soldiers we saw on British television were isolated incidents. however, what we have witnessed here almost renders us speechless: All sorts of inhumane measures have been taken by the army to crush and destroy the spirit of the indigenous population, to stop them from protesting against human rights violations by the Jewish government and settlers.
In the centres of the opposition and uprising, the army deliberately provokes gatherings of people by random shootings and then storms the village to punish the people for coming out of their houses. We have ourselves witnessed such provocation when we were shot at without reason in a West bank camp.
People living in the occupied territories are deprived of essential services. We have seen schools, hospitals and orphanages closed with many being seized and turned into army accommodation and even prisons.
Many villages are laid siege to and roads are blocked and even completely dug up by army bulldozers. The army metes out intimidating exemplary punishment inside the camps: Soldiers enter houses - often at night - taking youths and beating them up with truncheons and rifles while the rest of their family helplessly looks on.
Not only tear gas bombs are thrown inside houses: recently a nerve gas has also been used which results in convulsions, hallucinations and symptoms of suffocation for weeks. Doctors have no knowledge of the chemical components of the 'red gas' and, therefore, no means of treating its effect. We have also seen houses vandalised and destroyed by soldiers indiscriminately.
those arrested are severely beaten on the way to prison and then subjected to various kinds of intimidating tortures e.. forced to drink urine, kept in cells with little or no light, such severe overcrowding of prisoners that they cannot move, confinement for weeks at a time, etc. Nevertheless, this has only made them stronger in their faith and determination to fight their torturers. In many villages one out of five male adults have been to prison, and there are prisons for children as well. Few are formally charged or given a fair trial.
Live ammunition is used by the armed forces, including soft nose and dumdum bullets: most of the shot sounds treated in hospitals show the great damage caused by the fragmentation of such ammunition inside the body.
The details of the events leading to the injuries caused to the people whom we saw in hospitals were horrifying: e.g. the young man who was shot and injured during a demonstration, and as he lay on the ground, he was mercilessly run over by an army jeep, fracturing his neck and paralysing him from the neck down; another man is now paralysed from the waist down after having been deliberately thrown by soldiers from the second floor of his own house, - People with minor are often afraid to go to hospital and reveal their identity out of the realistic fear of facing imprisonment, even before the completion of treatment, for their participation in the uprising: hence many cases remain unknown.
the soldiers effecting such treatment appear to be arrogant boys drunk with power over a people whom they consider to be subhuman. They are undisciplined, and we were shocked to see a group of soldiers smoking hashish whilst lounging under one of the arcades in the wall around the al - Aqsa Mosque, the Muslim sanctuary.
What we have seen within the past week, can only be described as racist, state-controlled terrorism and military anarchy. There is no less than an apartheid system existing to differentiate between Israeli Jews, Arabs of the originally occupied territories, now called Israel, and Arabs of occupied territories during the 1967 war. Movement and trade between the areas are restricted, and many people from outside Jerusalem are prevented or deterred from praying in al - Aqsa Mosque.
As the atrocities committed against our fellow Muslims in the Israeli concentration camps are an insult against humanity, so it is even more painful to see that the free western world turns a blind eye and even more gives open support, pumping billions of dollars into the Jewish apartheid regime on the pretext that it is a democracy. We are also ashamed that the governments of Muslim states have turned their backs on the Muslims of Palestine. As British Muslims we feel doubly sorry because of the role Britain played in abandoning Palestine, and we support the Palestinian Muslims in their claim to this land of Islam. By their behavior in vandalising and destroying Mosques and Churches, the Jews have demonstrated that they cannot be entrusted with the sanctity and security of this Holy Land.
The Jews seem neither to respect god nor His creation. Their own holy books contain the curse of God brought upon them by their Prophets on account of their disobedience to Him and mischief in the Earth. We have seen the disrespect displayed by those who consider themselves to be "God's chosen people".
However, living under oppression for generations, the Palestinian people have regained new strength in Islam. As Muslims they prefer death and martyrdom to a life of subjugation and intimidation, and they are determined to fight for justice, be it only with stones. Forty years of the occupation of Palestine have brought no peace nor stability, and there will be - we believe - no peace without justice. There will be no justice until all of the land is given back to its rightful owners who have been driven out of it. If squatters enter your how, it is not justice that after years they offer you one room in your house out of courtesy, provided you formally assign the rest of the house to them. Any potential plan which does not restore and protest individual rights of life and property will offer no solution.
Islam is the religion of peace secured by divine justice. Whatever the other countries of the world feel obliged to cover up for the Israeli atrocities or not, we believe Islam offers the only solution to the unrest in the Holy Land. Only Islam respects all divinely revealed religions. For this reason, it has always proved to be the most tolerant religion with regard to the peace and sanctity of the Holy Land and security for the unrestricted and unharrassed worship of God, the Almighty, by all who believe in him.