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Middle east

West Bank residents wary ahead of Obama visit

©

Video by Gallagher Fenwick

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-03-21

As US President Barack Obama arrives for his first presidential tour of Israel and the West Bank, many Palestinians remain doubtful of his ability to improve their lives. FRANCE 24’s Gallagher Fenwick reports from the ground.

As US President Barack Obama arrives for his first visit as president to Israel and the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, Palestinians in the area remain deeply sceptical that any diplomatic efforts will change their everyday lives for the better.

“Lots of people have come before Obama”, Mohammed Barghouti, a resident of Aboud Village in the West Bank, told FRANCE 24 correspondent Gallagher Fenwick. “Whether he comes or not, it won’t change anything. More young people and kids will get killed in Palestine.”

Rockets fired from Gaza

Two rockets fired from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip struck southern Israel early on Thursday, police sources said, on the second day of a visit to the region by US President Barack Obama.

"One exploded in the back yard of a house in Sderot, causing damage, and the second landed in a field," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

It was only the second such rocket attack since the end of a deadly eight-day confrontation between Israel and Hamas militants in November that ended with an Egypt-brokered truce. On February 26, militants fired a single rocket that landed near the southern coastal town of Ashkelon.

Barghouti recently attended the funeral of a friend who died in clashes with Israeli forces while protesting against the fate of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

Young Palestinians in Aboud Village regularly confront Israeli soldiers posted near their neighbourhood.

“No one here believes that this cycle of violence will end soon,” one youth told Fenwick.

Obama works ‘in interest of Zionists’

Construction of new Israeli settlements in the West Bank is also fuelling resentment.

Mohanad Al Arij, a resident of Al Walaja Village, says that several new Israeli houses have just been built across from his home.

“The first problem is the wall of separation they’re building to protect the settlers,” Al Arij said. “It cuts us off from our lands. And then the settlement is so big that it threatens our town.”

Some Palestinians in the West Bank are not only wary of, but hostile toward the US president and his political intentions.

When Obama heads to Ramallah, in the central West Bank, on Thursday one group of protesters is already planning on giving him a particularly chilly reception.

“Every decision that Obama makes is in the interest of the Zionists in Israel,” Jabr Ziadeh, a graphic designer, told Fenwick. “So when he arrives in our town, and he heads to the presidential palace or the prime minister’s office, we will show him that we don't want him here. He's not welcome in our country.”
 

Date created : 2013-03-20

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