The Arab people are the descendants of the 160,000 Palestinians who remained on their land after the creation of the Jewish state in 1948. Today, they represent almost 20% of the population of Israel, about 1.9 million people.
“We have been witnessing attacks by squads of Jewish extremists, mostly settlers, and groups of Arabs. The latest attack happened in the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood, located not far from the Damascus Gate (East Jerusalem) and the most recent conflict. We have seen raids by armed settlers in neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, such as Shuafat and Beit Hanina, inhabited by Arabs, devastating commercial activities and various structures.”
It has been hard for local NGOs to keep implementing projects and activities with so many clashes and accidents.
“We are being put to the test. Last week, we had to close AVSI’s office in East Jerusalem,” confirms Clementelli. “At this stage, like many other NGOs in the region, we have suspended all movements between Jerusalem and the West Bank that would have forced us to pass through checkpoints and put us at risk. We are creating a work plan to accompany, through our local partners, our beneficiaries in the West Bank and ensure the continuity of the projects.”
AVSI has been implementing projects in the West Bank and Jerusalem since 1993. AVSI focuses on inclusive education, with a particular attention to disability, which is an emergency topic in Palestine.
“Between Gaza and the West Bank, there is approximately over 93,000 people with disabilities, but to have a disability is still considered a stigma in the local culture,” explains Valentina. “In schools, through the distance support program, we encourage an educational model that takes into account the needs of students with disabilities and offers professional training courses tailored to them.”
AVSI is also working on inclusive socio-economic development.
“Our project supports the creation of small businesses, and the inclusion of people with disabilities in the job market,” says Valentina. “We hope that the violence will end soon so we can gradually return to normalcy and can resume our cooperation projects.”