By: Sophie Brownson
A Newcastle pensioner has embarked on a 2,200 mile walk to Palestine in a show of solidarity with those affected by the conflict with Israel.
Mick Bowman set off from Calais on April 16 and will spend the next six months walking 15 miles a day with the aim of reaching Palestine by October.
The 65-year-old from Throckley has dedicated his life to political activism and has been a member of the Newcastle Palestine Solidarity Campaign for many years. Mick retired from his role as political advisor for North of Tyne Mayor, Jamie Driscoll, last December and decided to take on the challenge to raise awareness of the plight of Palestinians.
Mick is walking entirely on his own, accompanied only by his ‘Free Palestine’ banner, and is camping along the way. He will pass through seven countries as he follows “two ancient pilgrimage routes” that will see him travel through France, Italy, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey before reaching the West Bank.
“It is an act of solidarity with the Palestinians in their struggle for justice and self-determination,” Mick said.
“[It is in solidarity] with refugees in their struggle to find safety and security to rebuild their lives having fled from persecution and conflict. It is also about raising awareness.
“I have been a longstanding campaigner for justice for Palestine and the walk is an extension of this activism and will hopefully be a way of bringing the issue to people who are not already committed.
“I’ll also be meeting trade unionists and Palestine activists along the route and they can use my walk to galvanise interest in Palestine in their areas.”
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war and has built more than 130 settlements there, many of which resemble small towns, the UN has reported. The Palestinians want the West Bank to form the main part of their future state, and most countries view Israel’s settlements as illegal and as obstacles to peace.
There have been many instances of violence and attacks involving both sides of the conflict. Over the years there have been attempts between Israeli governments and Palestinian authorities to negotiate an end to the conflict. However, these have been unsuccessful and tensions between Israel and Palestine have increased during 2023.
Mick added: “Israel’s flouting of international law, continued military occupation of Palestine, and systematic discrimination against Palestinians is unacceptable. It has to be challenged and Israel has to be held to account for its behaviour.
“Palestinians deserve our support in their struggle for justice in the face of this oppression.”
Source: Chronicle Live