Good evening. My name is Beth; I’m from Durham. I’m Jewish and I care deeply about this issue. Tom Stern and I are here on behalf of Jews for a Just Peace North Carolina, which was founded in 2002, and is largely a triangle organization with over 20 of its members living in Durham.
Jews for a Just Peace North Carolina is committed to a just and peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.
G4S is responsible for a host of human rights violations in occupied Palestine and involving Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails.
In order to put this in context, I have to say a few words about Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. You all know that in 1947 the United Nations partitioned what was historic Palestine, giving the Jewish people 56% of it. In 1949 there was a war, and Palestinians were left with only 22% of the land: in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem; the green line was established and became the commonly recognized border between Israelis and Palestinians. In 1967 as part of another war, Israel occupied the Palestinian lands in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Since 1967 Israel has been building settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem and otherwise converting Palestinian land for Israeli use. This 47-year-old occupation is illegal under international law and has been condemned by the United Nations, and world leaders, including former President Jimmy Carter and President Obama.
This occupation has created an oppressive living environment for Palestinians, in many cases giving them minimal control over their lives. Over 10,000 Palestinian men, women, and children are held in Israeli prisons; few have had a legitimate trial. A Palestinian can be held for 8 days before his or her arrest is brought in front of a military judge versus 1 day before an Israeli citizen is seen before a civilian court. Physical abuse and torture are widespread. G4S is in the middle of this, because they provide security in the prisons.
Israel has set up over 350 checkpoints (including permanent ones and mobile ones set up each month) through which 23,000 Palestinians must pass each day throughout the West Bank – which is Palestinian land – which has made it virtually impossible for many Palestinians to routinely get to work, visit families, for students to get to school or universities, and for people to get access to health care. G4S is in the middle of that, because they provide security support and equipment at many of these check points.
G4S also provides security to Israeli businesses located in illegal West Bank settlements and to Israeli police stations in occupied Palestine.
G4S is profiting from the conflict. This is not the company Durham should be keeping. Thank you.