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On the ground reports

How Rahat became a symbol of Israeli inequality

Allison Deger on
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

Allison Deger on
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.

Selfies with Santa, fake trees, and businesses striving to stay afloat as Bethlehem celebrates Christmas

Allison Deger on
Palestinian family poses for photographs with a life size nativity scene in Bethlehem, December, 42, 2014. (Photo: Allison Deger)

By mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve crowds had thinned from the limestone plaza that is Manger Square, buffering Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity and its winding old city. International tourists lingered, but the bulk of the celebrators were Palestinians—Christian and Muslim alike. A handful of children under ten years old wore costumes and sold candies for 25-cents.

‘Go to Auschwitz!: Extremist settler confronts injured ISM volunteer in Hebron

Ally Cohen on
Shabaab wait for IDF to emerge at the entrance to the illegal Israeli settlement situated along Shuhada Street, June, 2014. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

Ally Cohen was monitoring Israeli checkpoints in Hebron with the International Solidarity Movement when she fell and sprained her ankle. She was in immobilized in pain and stuck just outside a settlement on Hebron’s infamous Shuhada Street. Just when she thought the situation could not get any worse a car pulled up next to her and Anat Cohen stepped out.

Jordanian-Palestinian resolution to the UN Security Council gives US and Israel wiggle room

Allison Deger on
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appeals to all nations to vote in favor of the Palestinians "as an investment in peace," in a statement before the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday, November 29, 2012. (Photo: Richard Drew/AP)

Early this morning Jordan submitted to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) a draft resolution on behalf of the Palestinians to end Israel’s occupation of territory occupied in June 1967 through a negotiations process. The resolution would be the first to call for a third-party security presence to “guarantee and respect the sovereignty of a State of Palestine,” but it puts no deadline on Israel’s withdrawal.

Palestinian UN effort seeks to set ‘terms of reference’ for negotiations and promote shift away from US leadership

Allison Deger on
Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly, September 26, 2014, NYC. (Photo: AFP/ Timothy A. Clary)

PLO official Dr. Mohammed Shtayyeh says the current Palestinian push at the UN Security Council comes “a serious junction in the history of Palestine.” Allison Deger reports that the proposed UN resolution marks a change in Palestinian strategy for the PLO. According to Dr. Shtayyeh the resolution is “not simply as part of a routine diplomatic issue. We are going to the Security Council because this is part of a strategic shift in the way that we are dealing with the struggle with the Israelis.” Although details of the resolution are not yet public, it appears this shift includes taking a harder line on Israeli settlement construction and looking toward Europe for leadership over the peace process instead of the United States.

PA to seek UN Security Council resolution giving Israel two years to end the occupation

Allison Deger on
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Photo: Khaled

The Palestinian Authority has announced it will seek a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution calling for an end of the Israeli occupation within a specific time period. The draft legislation gives Israel two years to remove its forces from lands occupied in June 1967 and reaffirms per-existing agreements for a framework of negotiations, said Ashraf Khatib a spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Negotiations Affairs Department via telephone to Mondoweiss. While the resolution makes no explicit mention of land swamps, it does support previous accords where the PLO granted Israel the possibility of territorial exchanges where up to 60% of settlers could remain in the West Bank.

‘Suicide Drones’ and the Spoils of War: Israeli arms manufacturers look to cash in on the war in Gaza

Dan Cohen on
An advertisement at the “Israel Unmanned Systems 2014” conference. (Image: Dan Cohen)

Three weeks after Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip concluded, Israeli military and political leaders attended a conference next to Ben Gurion Airport to sell the successes of what Israel dubbed Operation Protective Edge, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians including 521 children. The “Israel Unmanned Systems 2014” conference showcased the latest drone technology and previewed the industry’s prospects to a few hundred international buyers, vendors, and military figures. Inside a private conference room, political and industry leaders gave presentations — speaking in military euphemisms that avoided any uncomfortable references to the humanitarian catastrophe resulting from the 51-day bombing campaign. Among the offerings were suicide drones, “loitering munitions” that need to explode; a 16-year-old showing off high-tech robots designed by fellow high schoolers and future drone makers; and “premature” weapons, armaments that have not been fully tested before they are used on a live Palestinian population. Such is Israel the military power.

Israeli police ransack homes of 40 Palestinians during al-Shaludi home demolition

Allison Deger on
Home of Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, the Jerusalem motorist from the October 22, 2014 light rail attack in Jerusalem, demolished by Israeli authorities early Wednesday morning, in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem (Photo: Allison Deger)

Israeli police ransacked seven apartments and urinated inside one while demolishing the Silwan apartment of Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, 21, the Palestinian motorist from East Jerusalem who killed a three-month old Israeli-American Chaya Zissel and one Ecuadoran tourist in a light rail attack in Jerusalem on October 22, 2014. “They urinated on the mattresses in my brother’s apartment, said Enas al-Shaludi, 43, the mother of the deceased driver. “You can see the urine on the mattresses.” In addition to the demolition, which the family expected after receiving a demolition order last Friday, all of the other apartments in the four-story residential building were raided.

West Bank protesters cross separation wall in effort to get into Jerusalem

Allison Deger on
Palestinian activists use a metal ramp to cross the separation wall near the Israeli Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem, November 14, 2014. The activists were protesting against Israeli authorities allowing settlers to enter the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and Israel imposing restrictions on Muslims wishing to perform Friday prayers at Al Aqsa Mosque. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

On Friday Palestinian protesters crossed Israel’s separation wall by Qalandia checkpoint, the artery from the West Bank to Jerusalem, demonstrating for access to the city that has been ensconced in unrest over the past three weeks. Using makeshift ladders tens of protesters walked over the barrier, but Israeli police prevented them from entering Jerusalem.

‘We are in a violent fight with extreme Islam’ — Feiglin leads rightists to pray at al-Aqsa Mosque

Allison Deger on
Moshe Feiglin speaking before supporters outside of the checkpoint to the Haram al-Sharif, Temple Mount, October 30, 2014. (Photo: Allison Deger)

It is nearly unheard of for Israeli police to block Jewish worshipers from reaching the Western Wall. But yesterday afternoon border authorities cinched back a hard plastic retracting wall of a Jerusalem checkpoint to reach the holy structures and for the first time in 14 years they also closed all access to al-Aqsa Mosque compound, preventing prayer in a campaign to stifle unrest smothering Jerusalem.

Israeli army kills 14-year old Palestinian with U.S. citizenship

Allison Deger on
14-year old slain Palestinian youth, Orwa Hammad who is also a U.S. citizen, was killed by the Israeli army, October 24, 2014. (Photo: Shadi Hattem)

A Palestinian teen with U.S. citizenship was killed today by the Israeli army at a demonstration in the West Bank town of Silwad, near Ramallah. Fourteen-year old Orwah Hammad was shot in the neck with a live bullet, according to Ramallah hospital staff.

Thousands attend funeral for Palestinian-American child killed by Israeli army

Allison Deger on
A Palestinian man drapes a flag over the grave of Orwah Hammad as children pay respects in the West Bank town of Silwad. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Thousands gathered in the West Bank town of Silwad outside of Ramallah to bury Orwah Hammad, a 14-year old Palestinian-American from Louisiana who was killed by the Israeli army on Friday. Hammad was died after sustaining a gunshot wound to the neck and head during a demonstration against the killing of another Palestinian earlier in the week.

Family of Mohammed Abu Khdeir continues to wait for justice as Israeli court again postpones trial for his killers

Allison Deger on
Yosef Haim Ben-David leaving district court in Jerusalem where he is on trial for the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, October 20, 2014. (Photo: Dan Cohen)

Four months after the grisly slaying of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, his killers faced Jerusalem district court judges today to enter their pleas. Instead of responding to the charges, Yosef Haim Ben-David, the 29-year old settler from the Adam settlement and ringleader of the abduction, and two 16-year-old Israeli accomplices were all granted continuances. “I do not hope for anything from the Israeli court because it is a racist court,” said the deceased’s father Hussein Abu Khdeir, continuing, “It judges for the Israelis, not the Arabs.”

Identities of minors who admitted to killing Mohammed Abu Khdeir to be revealed Monday

Allison Deger on
A mourner holds the national flag as mourners gather for the funeral of Palestinian youth Mohammed Abu Khder, 16, (background image) in Shuafat, in Israeli annexed East Jerusalem, on July 4, 2014. Abu Khder, a Palestinian teenager was  kidnapped and killed, triggering violent clashes in East Jerusalem, in an apparent act of revenge for the murder by militants of three Israeli youths. (Photo: Thomas Coex /AFP/Getty Images)

On Monday three Israelis who have admitted to the killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the 16-year old Palestinian who was burned to death over the summer after being abducted from behind his East Jerusalem home in a revenge killing for the unrelated kidnapping and slaying of three Israeli youths a month prior, will give their pleas in district court.

Why is the United Nations doing business with G4S, notorious prison supplier?

Kali Rubaii for Friends of Sabeel—North America on
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In early September, I accompanied an Iraqi friend to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in Amman, Jordan to help register him officially as a refugee. There was a G4S logo on the gate attendant’s shirt. And G4S all over the compound. Why is the British company that serves Israeli prisons a UN contractor?

‘Get me out of the rubble, please, I’m alive’

Ishraq Othman on
Talal's 11-year son standing on the wreckage of Gehad's house

Amid leveled-down houses, on his half-cracked wooden chair, with every sip of his wretched cigarette, a sigh burst. And the flashback of that sore scene with her voice echoing overwhelmed his words which clobbered all languages. His wrinkled face, mingled with melancholy, can deeply be delved into. Prefacing his heartbreaking story with her last words ever, […]

Palestinian-American teen denied access to Israel’s airport

Allison Deger on
Dina Shehadah, 17, at her family home in al-Bireh near Ramallah. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Photo of Dina Shehadeh at her family home in al-Bireh near Ramallah by Allison Deger Dina Shehadeh, 17, was about to begin her senior year of high school in Ohio where she was born and raised. But two weeks ago, after spending the summer with her extended family in the West Bank, she was separated […]