The West Bank and its Broken Hopes

Gerbehaye_Oslo_GEC01862
© Cédric Gerbehaye / Agence VU'

© Cédric Gerbehaye / Agence VU’

In addition to months of power cuts, Gaza was flooded two weeks ago. Thousands were forced to leave their homes. That these are only some of the problems Palestinians have to face is proven once more by the online documentary ‘Broken Hopes – Oslo’s Legacy’. With this multimedia project, Cédric Gerbehaye and Eve Sabbagh portray life in the West Bank, twenty years after the Oslo I Accord.

On 13 September 1993, one of the most historical handshakes ever took place on the Southern lawn of the White House. After months of secret negotiations, Mahmoud Abbas and Simon Peres signed the so-called Oslo I Accord, a deal secured with a public ceremony between Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Bill Clinton. Offering a first step towards solving the Palestinian question, that was the goal. Belgian photojournalist Cédric Gerbehaye and journalist Eve Sabbagh documented life in the West Bank twenty years later. How is it going in the region where the Israeli occupation is ongoing, a solution is yet to be found, and civilians on both sides of the conflict struggle with sentiments of extreme disappointment?

© Cédric Gerbehaye / Agence VU'

© Cédric Gerbehaye / Agence VU’

It is not the first time Cédric Gerbehaye visited Palestine. He has been awarded several prizes for his earlier work about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This time around, the photographer spent one month in the region. During a road trip from south to north, he collected videos and photos that help to understand life under occupation. These images were mixed into an interactive documentary that contains a map on which viewers can click through several locations themselves. Specific background information, sound clips and interviews with both Israelis and Palestinians take turns,. This twenty minute online experience is a guide through life after the Oslo I Accord, or what is left of it. Because what was planned as a temporary situation seems to have become permanent.

Gerbehaye_Oslo_GEC01862

One of the most visible consequences of the Oslo II Accord is the splitting up of the Westbank in three zones. Zone A is under control of the Palestinian Authority and Zone B under joint Palestinian-Israeli control, whereas Zone C is in the hands of the Israeli government. A first stop on the online road trip is Masafer Yatta, a number of Palestinian hamlets in the C Zone, to the south of Hebron. Due to a lack of electricity, a young student living there does not have the same privileges as her colleagues. And the number of Israeli settlements is increasing at an alarming rate, which is what Gerbehaye and Sabbagh emphasize here.

Past the checkpoint at Hebron, a mother tells how the violence has evolved and how her children grew up with it. Other testimonies are given by Israeli soldiers, deployed to protect the settlers. In the Palestinian village Nahalin, the third stop, there is a man who still has the scars of an molotov cocktail attack. Next, the garbage of Jerusalem is dumped in the notorious Zone E1, which degrades the water. Sheep that drink from it die, and the health of children playing there is in danger. At the last stop, an Israeli settlement called Mehola, Palestinians are banned from building on 95 percent of the land. Schools, water facilities, agriculture and housing are things they can only dream of. Gerbehaye and Sabbagh have an expert explain the various violations Israel is commiting in this connection. In addition, a Palestinian man speaks about how Palestinians in the area can not get hold of a single drop of water, while a nearby Israeli settlement has ample access to water.

 

‘Broken Hopes – Oslo’s Legacy’ is a project of Agence VU’, Action Against Hunger, and Darjeeling.

‘Broken Hopes’, the online documentary
‘Broken Hopes’, the blog

Comments

This post is also available in: Dutch