Living under occupation

Page last updated 5 December 2021


Accounts of how people are forced to live under occupation abound. They make you want to cry and laugh, to weep and gnash your teeth. It’s often the tiny humiliations that tell more about what occupation does to both occupier and occupied than the global overview. So here we have selected a few stories, mainly personal testimony of one kind or another; plus a few overview reports of the occupation, soon approaching its 54th year…

In two sections below. A: Analyses and B: Life under occupation


A: Analyses

1. Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories – review
Avi Shlaim, Guardian, 18 Jul 2014

“Ahron Bregman’s account of nearly five decades of Israeli occupation is hard-hitting and rich in telling details”


2. Prisoners in our own homes: A look at life in occupied Hebron
Zleikha Muhtaseb, +972, 25 Feb 2015

“[I]magine that the front door of your home has been locked by a foreign army that forbids you from walking on the main street where your house is located. Imagine that in order to leave your house you are forced to break through another part of your house so as to create an alternative exit. Imagine that your balcony is closed off by a fence that you built in order to protect yourself from rocks thrown at your house by your neighbors. Imagine that at any given moment, soldiers can burst into your home and act as they want…”

Hebron, of course is where it all started for the soldiers of Breaking the Silence. See their eloquent testimony of what they have witnessed – and carried out – on their website.


3. Organised Hypocrisy on a Monumental Scale
Robert Wade, LRB, 24 Oct 2014

Of a recent visit, his first to the area, Wade writes: “I was struck by the development impasse in the West Bank, and by the granular details of Palestinian life under the Israeli control system: I mean daily life, at the basic level, as distinct from the high-profile feuds and negotiations with which we’re all familiar.” His title really says it all…


4. Families Under the Rubble – Israeli Attacks on Inhabited Homes
Amnesty International Report, 5 Nov 2014

This report “details eight cases where residential family homes in Gaza were attacked by Israeli forces without warning during Operation Protective Edge in July and August 2014, causing the deaths of at least 104 civilians including 62 children”.


5. Annual Report: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories 2013
Amnesty International 2014


6. Amnesty International Report 2014/15
AI’s most recent report


7. Systematic discrimination and fragmentation as key barriers to Palestinian health and healthcare

Medical Aid for Palestinians, November 2021


8. Israel’s 2016 Counter-Terrorism Law and 1945 Emergency Regulations

Adalah: The legal centre for Arab minority rights in Israel. November 2021

B: Life under occupation

From September 2010 to March 2011 we ran a series of postings under the heading “Life under occupation”, a snapshot and window onto the human realities of the occupation. We have added more starting in 2021.

Life under occupation – 20: How settler violence is fuelling West Bank tension

As attacks on Palestinians worsen, the Observer speaks to farmers, settlers, Israeli human rights activists, and the mother of a three-year-old boy left injured in a raid.

November 28, 2021


Life under occupation – 19: settlers on the rampage

An act of routine terrorism. In Beit Ommar, three buses of settlers from Bat Ayn and Kiryat Arba Settlements stopped on Route 60 near the entrance of the village. The settlers entered some residences and smashed everything in sight… Israeli soldiers also occupied the house of Saleh Abu Ayyesh and used it as a vantage point to shoot tear gas and sound bombs at villagers who tried to defend their homes from the settler attack…

March 16th, 2011

“I was a bit (very) anxious about passport control, not least because my trip to the West Bank has attracted a little coverage in midwifery and local press. I had visions of the guy behind the desk pulling out an article in which I mention my plans to observe midwifery practice in the West Bank and asking me to explain myself…” WithWoman blogs about her current trip to the West Bank

March 2nd, 2011

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) spells out the human cost of evictions and house demolitions in East Jerusalem…

January 19th, 2011

A UN press release chronicles the onslaughts on Palestinians since 1st January. These events, said Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, “demonstrate a general and unacceptable Israeli disposition to use excessive force against Palestinians, who are already suffering from prolonged occupation”.

January 15th, 2011

Life under occupation – 15

Human Rights Watch and other organisations have demanded a criminal investigation into the death of a 20-year-old Palestinian patient who was denied a permit by Israeli Authorities to leave Gaza. The Israeli authorities insisted that an unconscious patient appear for questioning by the Israel Security Agency; the patient died in Gaza while waiting for a response…

January 7th, 2011

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) has released a new report on the situation in Gaza. It provides a searing account of the ongoing situation in Gaza and a damning indictment of the international community for allowing it to continue.

December 22nd, 2010

A report from the Palestinian General Delegation on recent assaults and attacks on Palestinians under occupation. The latest incidents include a seven-year old being brutally beaten; a Jordan Valley village bulldozed; destruction of agricultural facilities, of a mosque, of family housing, of a road. And much more…

November 30th, 2010

On 18 October 2010, a boy from Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem, was grabbed by three men in civilian clothes, tied up and taken to al-Mascobiyya interrogation centre for questioning. He was 10-years old. The accusation – throwing stones – wasn’t even true…

November 23rd, 2010

Christopher Hayes sends a postcard from Palestine: “I went to Israel and the West Bank with a group of American journalists on a trip sponsored by the New America Foundation. We were led through the streets of Hebron by Mikhael Manekin, a former Israel Defense Forces soldier who patrolled the city during the second intifada. He now runs an organization called Breaking the Silence, which collects testimony about IDF human rights abuses from Israeli soldiers. I had heard of Hebron, of course, but it was lodged vaguely in my mind as one of those foreign places where awful things happen. To see it in person is to understand viscerally that the status quo in the West Bank cannot hold. To see it is to understand just what occupation requires…”

October 15th, 2010

A précis of Israeli violations during September 2010 prepared by the Department of International Affairs (DAIR) of the PLO.
Not much happened – 12 Palestinians (incl 2 children) killed; 450 Palestinians arrested and hundreds of prisoners beaten up; tens of thousands refused access to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound during Ramadan; settlers on the rampage; increased pressure on Palestinians in the Jordan valley; Palestinian journalists attacked and beaten…
As we said, not much happened…

October 8th, 2010

Amira Hass writes: “Behind a modest desk with a view of Beit Jala sits a nameless Shin Bet security service officer who is very pleased with himself. He has just saved the Jewish people in Israel from yet another grave security risk by preventing a 47-year-old woman, for five weeks now, from going abroad for urgent medical tests…”

October 6th, 2010

Currently about 7,000 Palestinians are political prisoners in Israeli goals.They are often subject to cruel and degrading treatment which includes being held in cramped and confined spaces, served poor quality food, deprived of family visits and arbitrarily beaten, tear gassed or placed in solitary confinement…

September 15th, 2010

Ahmed is a medical student. He cannot continue his training at an East Jerusalem hospital because his permit was confiscated. He recounts how the Israeli secret service asked him to work for them if he wanted his permit back.

September 4th, 2010

Due to the bleak economic situation in Gaza, many children collect gravel near the border with Israel which they then sell to builders for US $0.80 a bucket. This is tiring and dangerous work. Israeli soldiers frequently fire above the heads of the children to scare them away from the border. Sometimes, the soldiers shoot and kill the donkeys used by the children to transport the gravel. And sometimes, the soldiers shoot the children…

September 1st, 2010


“Three times a week, Noor H. from the West Bank goes for dialysis at an East Jerusalem hospital. Chronically ill and barely able to walk, she has to cross an Israeli checkpoint on foot. Most of the time she is meticulously searched. No one from her family can accompany her…”

August 27th, 2010

The daily grind of occupation – as eight Palestinian 16-year-olds held for 27 days in gaol. The stone-throwing charges against them were eventually dropped. “When detainees are suspected of minor offenses (such as stone throwing or demonstrating ), and especially when they are minors, the length of time they are held in custody often exceeds the maximum possible prison term…” And that is if they are guilty!

August 8th, 2010

This posting is taken from the new ‘Life under Siege’ series posted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza. This one deals with the water – the impossibility of dealing with the wastewater created by the 1.5 million people in this tiny strip of land and ensuring that the people have access to safe, clean drinking water – under siege conditions with the main aquifer long since polluted by sewage…

August 5th, 2010

“Oxfam called upon the Israeli government to compensate Palestinian villagers after the Israeli army demolished 79 structures in the village of Al Farisiya in the West Bank on Monday, forcing families into further impoverishment after years of harassment.” Many have lived there for decades, but last year the Israeli military posted a sign last year declaring the area a ‘military zone’…

July 29th, 2010

We are inundated with human-interest stories about the life of individuals and communities under the Israeli occupation. What they generally have in common is the pointless humiliation and destruction that has become part of daily life for so many Palestinians, and the inability of the Israeli soldiers and military administration to see them as fully human. Sometimes they are lighter and more optimistic.

We will carry a regular stories of ‘Life under Occupation’. This, the first of the series, is by David Shulman and provides an evocative account of life in the South Hebron Hills.


Contents of this section


a) Maps of the occupation
b) Occupation and the Fourth Geneva Convention

Israel’s human rights violations – an introduction
Settlement building and land issues
Restrictions on movement
House demolitions, forced displacement, denial of residency rights
The Wall
The Green Line
The economics of the occupation

c) Gaza under occupation
d) Living under occupation

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