Al Jazeera World

Palestine Divided

The story of the Palestinian people’s split between Gaza Strip and the West Bank and its impact on families and freedom.

Filmmaker: Ashraf Mashhrawi

In 1947 when the UN General Assembly voted for the partition of the region between Jews and Palestinian Arabs the land was divided on a relatively equal measure.

But after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War only 22 percent of Palestinian land remained. When Israel was founded in 1948 it divided Palestinians between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, creating separate territories with very little freedom of movement between the two.

In the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel occupied both territories, began building settlements and appeared to implement separate policies on each.

“The aim has always been to create different atmospheres and cultures; here and there,” says Dr. Nashat al-Aqtash, a political analyst and academic.

The decades of separation have distanced the Palestinian communities living in the two territories who have developed distinct social and cultural identities.

None of the conflicts or peace talks over the decades, including the Oslo Accords of 1993, has succeeded in changing the map or this divide.

Filmmaker Asraf Mashhrawi examines the political, social and economic history of the split, analysing major events such as the Oslo Accords, the Fatah-Hamas conflict, the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the attacks of recent years – with interviews from Israeli experts like Haaretz journalist Amira Hass and lawyer Sari Bashi.

The film includes the story of Mohammed Hajran who comes from Jericho but lives in the Gaza Strip. His case shows how Palestinians continue to suffer from the territorial divide and Israel’s increasing control on their personal movement.

Mohammed’s family has been split with his brothers in different territories, his wife with the wrong Israeli ID, and his son born in one place but registered in another.

“Gaza and the West Bank are only three hours travel apart”, he says, “but I still have to travel for three days and cross two countries to see my wife and children even though we live in the same homeland. This is strange. You have to get your passport stamped, cross borders and two countries. It’s pure humiliation.”