Palestine : surviving occupation

Médecins du Monde – Doctors of the World provides aid in the north of the West Bank where not a week goes by without yet another critical incident. At least one person is the recipient of death threats, wounded or killed. Within 72 hours of such incidents our teams visit victims and their families, returning as often as is considered necessary to assist and support them through the psychological and emotional scars left by this violence.


In the most serious of cases, it is not only the victims themselves who are affected but entire families and sometimes even whole communities. Existing in a state of acute stress appears to be the norm for people living in the West Bank. In adults this malaise manifests itself in physical aches and pains, while in children it is difficulties with concentrating at school or sleeping disorders. In an environment like theirs, it is not easy to find an emotional balance, and even more so when an attack can happen at any time.

The facts

As the Israeli government seeks to legalise settlements built with impunity, attacks against Palestinians living in the West Bank are more and more common. An increase in violence that appears to reflect a political will to exploit terror and humiliation to empty a territory of its inhabitants.

We met with three victims of this violence. Their only crime? Living on the West Bank.

Duma Village

July 2015. The Dawabsheh family’s home was gutted in an arson attack. Three people lost their lives. 6-year old Ahmad, the sole survivor of the tragedy, can’t stop crying. He looks for his parents and his brother. “By deliberately attacking this house, they didn’t kill just three people, they killed four. How is Ahmad ever going to be able to rebuild his life?” his uncle Nasser Dawabsheh says worriedly.


Nasser has chosen to leave the house that’s right in the middle of the village exactly as it was after the fire. Everything inside was scorched by the flames—from the curtains to 18-month old Ali’s stroller and rocking horse. “This house must remind the international community of the crime committed here. It symbolises the never-ending nightmare inflicted on thousands of Palestinians,” concludes Nasser. The perpetrators of the crime still haven’t been brought to justice.

The charred remains of Ahmad’s home, now a symbol of the attacks perpetrated against the Palestinians © Cyril Zannettacci
Les restes calcinés de la maison d'Ahmad, devenue symbole des attaques subies par les Palestiniens © Cyril Zannettacci

This house must remind the international community of the crime committed here.

Qusra Village

12 September 2016. Eid al-Fitr festival was a joyful day, with children playing. That is, until the Israeli army decided to break up the celebration. 37-year old Walid stepped in to try and mediate. But, spurning his attempts at conciliation, the army shot him with a fragmentation weapon intended to cause maximum harm.

His leg shattered, Walid hasn’t been able to work since. Having received no financial aid or compensation from the government, if it wasn’t for the solidarity of his village and the help of various associations Walid would be unable to provide for his family.


Walid tells us he’s extremely concerned for his and his family’s future. Does he face a lifetime of disability? He has lodged a complaint against the soldier but says, ”There’s no justice for us. The settlers and the army act with total impunity. If there was any kind of justice, the soldier would already have been convicted.”

Walid was shot in the leg. Unable to work, he can no longer provide for his family © Cyril Zannettacci
Walid a pris une balle dans la jambe. Aujourd'hui, Il ne peut plus travailler pour subvenir aux besoins de sa famille © Cyril Zannettacci

There’s no justice for us.

AL Lubban Village

12 December 2016. 13-year old Dawadi was on his way home from school when settlers set upon him and the other school children he was with. Threatened with a weapon, Dawadi was kidnapped and taken to a neighbouring settlement, Shilo. He was arrested and imprisoned. The settlers wanted to force him into giving names. “Who threw stones at us?” Dawadi had absolutely no idea. “I couldn’t stop thinking about my family. I was scared, but not that much because my conscience was clear.” They interrogated him more and more but, after three days, seeing the child posed no threat, a judge decided to let him go.

With no news of him during his incarceration, his family were beside themselves with worry. Dawadi suffers from epilepsy and he didn’t have his medication with him.

He’s now gone back to his school, which is below Shilo settlement.

Threatened with a weapon, Dawadi was kidnapped.

After being forcibly interrogated by settlers, Dawadi lives in fear of another attack © Cyril Zannettacci
Interrogé de force par les colons, Dawadi vit avec la peur d'être à nouveau pris à partie © Cyril Zannettacci
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