Category Archives:
On the ground reports

In Ramallah, thousands celebrate Palestine at the UN amid doubt it will result in meaningful change

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Palestinians watch Mahmoud Abbas address the United Nations General Assembly and the raising of the Palestinian flag at United Nations headquarters via simulcast in Ramallah, September 20, 2015. (Photo: Allison Deger)

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.

Parents of slain Palestinian teen say Israeli forces planted knife

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Hadil al-Hashlamoun at a Hebron checkpoint, moment before an Israeli soldier shot and killed her. (Photo: Youth Against Settlements)

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.

Tolstoy’s War and Peace . . . and Palestine

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A scene from War and Peace (Photo: Mohammed Sarsour)

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.

Palestinians in Duma are angry that no one has been charged for murders, after 38 days

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Palestinian mourners sit around the graves of Riham Dawabsheh, 27, front, her husband Saed Dawabsheh , center, and her 18-month-old son Ali, following her funeral procession in the West Bank village of Duma, near Nablus, Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. The mother of a Palestinian toddler killed in a West Bank firebomb attack was buried in her village Monday hours after succumbing to wounds sustained in the attack, which also killed the child's father and is believed to have been carried out by Jewish extremists. (Photo:Nasser Nasser/AP)

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.

Skunk water for Palestinian protesters, not right-wing Jews, in roads near Mohammad Allan’s hunger strike

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Israeli police pepper spray Palestinians during a protest in support of Mohammed Allan, a Palestinian hunger striking prisoner. (Photo: Haim Schwarczenberg)

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.

‘They are the terrorists’–-Palestinians mourn a second death from settler arson attack

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Duma villagers bury the body of Sa’ad Dawabshe. (Photo: Dan Cohen)

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.

Mother of Palestinian baby burned to death tried to save her child

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Nasser Dawabshe (R) addresses 2,000 Israelis at an anti-terror rally in Tel Aviv, 1 August 2015. (Photo Allison Deger)

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.

Hundreds of Israelis join protest to save Bedouin village on brink of demolition

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The Palestinian village of Susiya in the south Hebron hills, slated for demolition. (Photo: Allison Deger)

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.

Report from Ramallah: How Palestine is today

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Il Muro (the wall). (Photo: Andrea & Magda/Il Fatto Quotidiano)

Francesca Borri reports from Ramallah where business has replaced politics, and you can live without feeling the military occupation that lurks on all sides.

Palestinian teen killed on way to pray in Jerusalem

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Martyr's poster for Mohammed Hani al-Kasbah, 17, killed by the Israeli military Friday morning near Qalandia checkpoint, Qalandia refugee camp. (Photo: Allison Deger)

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.

Palestinian farm struggles to survive in West Bank town caught between Israeli sewage and the separation wall

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Fayez (R) and Mona Tneeb in their Tulkarm farm. (Photo: Allison Deger)

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.

Marking Memorial Day in Tel Aviv with Kahanists and Combatants for Peace

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As attendees filed into the Combatants for Peace event, Kahanists lit a candle display outside the venue that commemorate what they claim are Zionists fighters killed since 1860. (Photo: Dan Cohen)

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.

A tale of two Susiyas, or how a Palestinian village was destroyed under the banner of Israeli archeology

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Entrance to Susiya in the south Hebron hills, the West Bank. (Photo: Allison Deger)

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.

Joint List leads march to Jerusalem demanding recognition and equal rights for Bedouin

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Ayman Odeh (2L) and Fadi Masamra (R) outside of Beersheva during the Bedouin March for Recognition from the Negev to Jerusalem, Thursday, March 26, 2015. (Photo: Allison Deger)

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.

Palestinians mark the 39th anniversary of Land Day

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Palestinian children hold up spent tear gas canisters after a Land Day demonstration in the West Bank village of Huwara, south of Nablus, March 30, 2015. (Photo: Allison Deger)

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.

Joint List to lead mass march on Jerusalem, as Netanyahu forms a gov’t

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Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint Arab List, at campaign headquarters in Nazareth, Israel. (Photo: Allison Deger)

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.

‘We aim to shape the democratic and moral alternative in this country’ — an interview with Ayman Odeh

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Ayman Odeh (R) at a campaign event in Yirka, a Druze village in the Galilee in northern Israel, Friday March 13, 2015. (Photo: Allison Deger)

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 vote to end security coordination with Israel, a cornerstone of Oslo and the occupation

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Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas holds a

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 voters not impressed by Netanyahu’s speech to Congress

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An Israeli worker hangs posters of Israeli Prime Minister and leader of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu under the slogan 'It's us or them', in Jerusalem, Israel, 08 February 2015.

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.

Bil’in marks ten years of resisting the occupation

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Tear gas canisters collected at the end of Bil'in's tenth anniversary protest, February 27, 2015. (Photo: Allison Deger)

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.

How Rahat became a symbol of Israeli inequality

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Bedouins clash with Israeli police in the southern Israeli city of Rahat on January 19, 2015 (Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP)

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.

Despite punitive Israeli tax freeze, Palestinians to pursue war crimes charges with Arab League financial help

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Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas attends the 25th Arab League summit, held for the first time in Kuwait City, on March 25, 2014. (Photo: Yasser al-Zayyat/AFP/Daily News Egypt)

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.