Settlers and soldiers descended on Ramallah following Palestinian attacks that claimed four Israeli lives in recent days, and mobs in Jerusalem chant “Death to Arabs,” as some Palestinians speculate that a third intifada has begun in response to incursions on the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Category Archives: On the ground reports
Thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank city of Ramallah gathered outdoors Thursday evening to watch a simulcast of President Mahmoud Abbas address the United Nations General Assembly, and celebrate the raising of the Palestinian flag at UN headquarters. Despite the excitement at the event, many of the onlookers were skeptical of the achievement and voiced criticisms of Abbas’s announcement that the Palestinian Authority is no longer bound by the Oslo Accords.
Hadil al-Hashlamoun was shot to death at a Hebron checkpoint by Israeli soldiers on September 22. Al-Hashlamoun’s family, a witness who has since fled to his native Brazil, and the human rights group Amnesty International all insist Hadil posed no threat to the firing soldiers. Yet the Israeli military has said Hadil was carrying a weapon, a claim that is disputed by the sole eyewitness present for the full encounter. Al-Hashlamoun’s parents now assert that the Israeli military planted a weapon near her body more than 30 minutes after she was struck with live-fire.
On a recent September evening, two groups of culturally curious people, separated by countries and borders, virtually gathered together for art and social justice. At Said Al-Mishal Establishment for Culture and Science, Gaza’s Theatre for Everybody performed a short version of Tolstoy’s classic “War and Peace.” Simultaneously, on the other side of the world at London’s Az Theatre, a group of British and international supporters gathered to watch a previously recorded version of the same performance. The play was centered on two themes: condemning war and denouncing dictatorship.
Thousands poured into the West Bank hamlet of Duma for a third funeral over the past five weeks, this time mourning Riham Dawabshe who died Sunday on her 27th birthday from injuries sustained during a settler arson attack on her home on July 31st. Riham’s youngest son, 18-month year old Ali Dawabshe was killed in the blasts that destroyed two apartments. Her husband Sa’ad Dawabshe, 32, died last month on the couple’s anniversary, also from wounds inflicted during the firebombing. Although the arsonists left a graffiti tag in Hebrew indicating the killings were a nationalist crime, to date Israel has not charged anyone with the murders.
Bedlam stretched across the working-class Israeli town of Ashkelon yesterday after Israel reneged on what would have been a first medical visit by a Palestinian health official to Mohammed Allan, 31, a Palestinian hunger striking detainee hospitalized in the coastal Israeli city. For a second time in five days police dispersed Palestinian protesters in Ashkelon using force, and spraying heaps of putrid smelling liquid from a water cannon. This time, cloaking demonstrators, members of Knesset and Israeli bystanders alike.
Hundreds of mourners from the northern West Bank poured into the hamlet of Duma to lay to rest a second Palestinian killed today after succumbing to wounds from a settler arson attack last week. Sa’ad Dawabshe, father of baby Ali Dawabshe who burned to death in the attack, died in the early morning hours in a hospital in southern Israel where he was being treated. His remains were transferred to his parents’ home outside of Nablus.
Riham Dawabshe, the mother of 18 month-old Ali Dawabshe who burned to death in a settler arson attack Friday in the West Bank hamlet of Duma, tried to save her baby while fleeing from her home, engulfed in flames. Gasoline bombs had crashed into the building shortly after 1:30am and quickly it filled with opaque smoke. Dawabshe, herself on fire, grabbed a blanket she thought cradled her son. She rushed outside. But the blanket was empty, a fact the mother only realized when in her front yard. Yet at that time the fire had grown, making reentry impossible.
For Palestinian-Bedouins living in the south Hebron hills under the threat of demolition and expulsion, victories are rare. Yet residents from the tin and tarp village of Susiya are uncharacteristically optimistic that they will receive a reprieve from the impending demolition of their village that is scheduled to take place before August 3rd.
Due to years of activist support for the threatened village of Susiya in the occupied Hebron Hills, the New York Times, the State Department, and the European Union have told Israel to leave the Palestinians alone. Will demolition plans move forward?
Francesca Borri reports from Ramallah where business has replaced politics, and you can live without feeling the military occupation that lurks on all sides.
Before sunrise 17-year old Mohammed Hani al-Kasbah went to morning prayers at a mosque one block from his house in Qalandia refugee camp in Jerusalem, which is separated from the rest of the city by Israel’s security barrier. By afternoon his remains were carried into the same building for a funeral after he was shot and killed by Israeli forces. Two older brothers were also killed by Israeli forces 14 years ago.
Fayez Tneeb marveled at his organically grown banana tree even though it is failing and rooted in a waste water stream. He and his wife Mona are proprietors of Hakoritana Farm in Tulkarm, located in the northern West Bank only 100 meters from Israel. For the Tneebs, harvesting pesticide-free agriculture that they take to a local market is a constant struggle. The couple’s plot of land is caught between an Israeli factory that manufactures fertilizers and agrochemicals, and Israel’s separation barrier.
On Tuesday night, a busload of Palestinians from the West Bank and hundreds of Israeli Jews filed into the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds to attend a Combatants for Peace event billed as an “Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony: Honoring the Victims, Fighting for Peace.” Kahanist protesters had opposed Palestinian participation in the event and baited attendees as they entered. Dan Cohen reports on the proceedings and finds the Kahanists may be a bit more honest then their liberal Israeli counterparts.
Hiam al-Nawaja dreams to live in what she calls a “normal house.” The 23-year old mother of three small children and sheepherder manages in a cinder block frame insulated with a tarp a typical modest home in Susiya, a pastoral Palestinian village set in the rolling south Hebron Hills in the West Bank. Yet a few short decades ago Susiya’s residents had sturdy stone structures built over ancient caves on a hilltop one kilometer from where their town stands today. The former location, “old Susiya,” is close enough that al-Nawaja can see bulldozed remains from her kitchen window. It was destroyed in 1986 when Israel dismantled the town’s mosque to uncover an ancient Jewish synagogue dating back to the sixth century.
There are still a few weeks before head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh begins his first term in Israel’s parliament, yet he has already led a protest across the country. This past weekend Odeh led the “March for Recognition” with hundreds of Bedouins who live in unrecognized villages. The 130 kilometer trek from the southern Negev desert to Jerusalem officially ended on President Reuven Rivlin’s doorstep Sunday afternoon.
Today, March 30th Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, marched for Land Day, Yom al-Arda in Arabic, which commemorates protest in the Galilee in 1976 where six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the final hours of forming a ruling coalition to lead the country, the Joint List is organizing a mass march. Unrecognized villagers will camp and walk their way to Israel’s seat of government, all while their party’s leadership is tightening ties with presumed opposition heads in the Zionist Camp.
Months ago questions were raised if, at all, there would be any Arab representatives in the next Knesset. Then the groups unified under a single banner headed by Ayman Odeh, 41, a first time Knesset candidate from Haifa who started his career in public office at the age of 23 on Haifa’s city council. Now the long road is coming to and end and the Joint Arab List is the third largest party in the country with the potential, for the first time, to influence the outcome of elections.
Palestinian leaders decided Thursday night they will “end all forms of security coordination with Israel,” a much-criticized practice of shared policing across the West Bank and a staple of Israeli-Palestinian relations over the last two decades. Still the announcement included one loophole where Israel could salvage the security arrangement, signaling the Palestinian leaders could be seeking to leverage Israel’s security concerns as a tactic for the release Palestinian VAT-taxes frozen during the winter after the Palestinians acceded to the Rome Statute, joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) where they can charge Israel with war crimes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on Tuesday elicited strong opinions from U.S. elected officials with rave reviews from Republicans and condemnation from several Democrats. But back home Israelis were nonplussed over the talk—if they watched at all.
Plumes of teargas wafted up the terraced hillside of the West Bank village of Bil’in on Friday when over 1,000 demonstrators marked ten years of weekly protests against Israel’s separation wall and occupation, outside of Ramallah. Israelis drove in from Tel Aviv, and international activists and Palestinians from nearby towns flocked to march from the center of Bil’in, to the hamlet’s agricultural grounds. As with every Friday, clashes ensued once protesters reached the outskirts of town where olive orchards and patch vegetable farms buffer Israel’s concrete barrier and one of the most populated settlements, Modi’in Illit.
Khalid Ja’ar once worked for Birthright, showing American Jews the “Bedouin experience” in the Negev. But after his son was killed by Israeli police and the town of Rahat has become a focus of Palestinian resistance, and Ja’ar’s world has changed.
Within days of Palestinians announcing they would join the International Criminal Court (ICC), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his country would stop transferring customs revenue to the Palestinian Authority. The punitive move was expected to lead to a crisis for the Palestinian leadership as government services would collapse across the West Bank. But the Palestinian Authority had an unexpected back up plan. The Arab League has agreed to provide emergency funds to cover the VAT-taxes frozen by Israel. This Arab League safety net will help the Palestinians avoid the expected temporary bankruptcy and allow them to move forward with pressing for war crimes at the ICC. In fact, financial support from the Arab League was a key component, along with joining the ICC, of long-term strategy to pressure Israel into negotiations.
A day after begin rebuffed by the UN Security Council on a bid to end the occupation, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has surprised the world by signing the Rome Statute, to be able to bring charges against Israel to the International Criminal Court. The US and Netanyahu seethe.