Hiking in Palestine
Israel's defense ministry chose to distribute hiking books to over 20,000 members of bereaved families as a memorial gift ahead of Memorial and Independence day celebrations.
The book, chosen by committee members of the Public Council for Soldier Commemoration, includes at least 50 sites in the West Bank and directs hikers to trek thru private Palestinian land, armed. Haaretz:
Included in the book is a trail leading to the “Meir Spring,” near Migron, as well as dozens of others leading to springs on Palestinian land. Descriptions of such trails include recommendations like “It is suggested to bring a weapon, as the trail is located near an Arab village,” or “near a Bedouin encampment.”
Some of the families have organized against the effort:
The “Bereaved Families Supporting Peace, Reconciliation and Tolerance,” sent a letter on Tuesday, expressing frustration to the Defense Minister. Aharon Barnea, who lost his son at Beaufort in 1999, was involved in writing the letter. “It is horrible that the Defense Ministry sent this book to bereaved families. I see in this book that just like that, areas names’ were changed to names of those killed in terror attacks, as if we are the lords of the land,” said Barnea.
“Really, it’s shocking. We’re changing history, by naming every hill and bush after someone who was killed. How is the Defense Ministry supporting this?” asked Barnea.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned the book. AFP
The guidebook "considers the occupied West Bank part of Israel and incites... violence against Palestinians," Erakat said in a statement issued Thursday by the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
Erakat described the book as "an outrageous case of incitement to violence against Palestinians that reflects Israel’s official policy and mindset.
"It should be of grave concern to the international community," he was quoted as saying.
"By issuing a book on trails in Israel that includes at least 50 sites in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Israeli Defence Ministry exposes the true agenda of this government; nothing but abject disregard to international law, and the international consensus on the two-state solution."
Erakat said the book also gives Palestinian villages and areas Israeli names.