Category Archives: On the ground reports
Palestinian activists on Sunday filmed Israeli forces dragging 8-year-old Sufian Abu Hitah through the al-Harika neighborhood of Hebron in the occupied West Bank for more than hour. The video, received and edited by Israeli rights group B’Tselem, shows the boy crying and barefoot, being pulled by his arm by Israeli forces as they tried to get the boy to identify other children who soldiers suspected of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba earlier that day.
Mahmoud al-Araj, the father of slain Basil al-Araj, left his home on Sunday expecting to take part in a peaceful demonstration outside a courthouse in Ramallah where a judge officially dropped an investigation into his son. He ended up in the hospital after getting caught in the middle of a chaotic crackdown by Palestinian Authority (PA) forces wielding heavy batons, and shooting pepper spray and tear gas at Palestinians protesting the death of Basil, the imprisonment of his five friends and the court’s decision to pursue charges against them for allegedly storing illegal weapons.
On March 8, women in Gaza marked International Women’s Day along with their counterparts in the countries across the globe. But in Gaza, International Women’s Day is less of a celebration and more of a harsh and painful reminder of three wars in the last decade, and years of siege. Laila Qarmout, 57, a member of the General Union of Palestinian Women said: “Women are indoctrinated from the age of five to see ourselves as less than our brothers or less than our husbands. Despite this, we have struggled a lot against the world’s only long-running occupation. Women know too well the iniquity of repression.”
On his second long-term hunger strike in the past year, Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qiq’s health is deteriorating faster than anyone expected, leaving his family to plea for support before it is too late. “If Mohammed were to quit his hunger strike now, the first one that almost killed him would be for nothing, so he feels he must continue his strike—not just for himself, but for all the other Palestinian prisoners on strike against their administrative detention as well — they must stay strong together,” Fayha Salash, Mohammed’s wife, tells Mondoweiss.
Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, faces the possibility of eight years in prison for “incitement” and support to a terror organization – for a Youtube poetry video and two Facebook posts.
An all-female team of engineers in Gaza have invented an affordable new way to produce concrete, made from the leftover rubble of homes destroyed during the last war in Gaza. The women aspire to create a needed alternative to the expensive and time-consuming process of importing construction materials into Gaza by relying mostly on recycled materials.
Fathy Shebana’s family has lived in Sinjil, a rural village between Ramallah and Nablus for as long as any of them can remember. Today, much of their land is gone, annexed by Israel for illegal settlements. Since Israel passed a new law retroactively legalizing at least a dozen settlement outposts built on private Palestinian land, Fathy and his community fear even more for the future of their land and livelihoods.
Hundreds of Palestinians gathered at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt over the weekend, waiting for their turn to be let through the checkpoint. The three-day opening allowed medical patients, students, and travelers with foreign passports to cross. With huge numbers of Palestinians desperate to leave Gaza, travelers typically pay an exorbitant amount of money to local brokers who coordinate their passage with Egyptian authorities. It’s been reported previously that Egyptian authorities ask for bribes of up to $10,000. Mondoweiss spoke with some hopeful travelers about their experience trying to get across the border from Gaza to Egypt while they waited in line.
In practice there has never been a serious limit on theft of Palestinian land. But now, after passing the “Regularization Bill,” Israeli government support for the plunder will be explicit in law. It will be impossible to blame the outposts on “rogue” settlers, or claim that Israel is trying to safeguard Palestinian property rights.
Mohammed al-Qiq, a Palestinian journalist who spent 94-days on hunger strike last year to challenge his administrative detention—Israel’s policy of imprisoning Palestinians without charge or trial—announced Monday a second hunger strike, this time against his re-arrest. Al-Qiq’s wife, Fayha Shalash, told Mondoweiss that the proceedings, which were held in Ofer Military Court, were illegitimate, “This whole thing is just a way to put Mohammed back in jail, they have no proof of anything against him, they just want to keep him away from everything.”
Israeli police evacuated more than 200 Israeli settlers Wednesday from the West Bank outpost of Amona, dragging families with young children out of the illegal community that was built more than a decade ago. It may seem that justice prevailed in favor of the original Palestinian landowners, but for many it is not a victory. Amona residents will ultimately be relocated in adjacent plots of land, which also belong to Palestinians.
Five years ago the United Nations made a shocking declaration about the future of the Gaza strip: it will no longer be “a liveable place” by the year 2020. How do the people of Gaza respond to these warnings? “The international community always states there is a crisis in Gaza and then raises alarming statements. We were afraid in the past, but today people have become more cold-hearted,” said Adnan Abu Shamala, 87, a scrap vendor in a Gaza city bazaar. “I was in Amman four years ago where people were laughing loudly in every coffee shop. I met people there and I told them that I have not even smiled since six years due to the bitter life in my homeland.”
Israeli police and authorities have rushed to produce a ‘terrorist’ narrative of an official killing; but autopsy indicates the Israeli teacher Yacoub Abu Al-Qia’an was executed at Umm al-Hiran village last week and left bleeding for twenty minutes when there were medical vehicles at hand. “They murdered him not once, but several times,” his brother Ahmed says.
The two generators of Gaza’s sole power plant stopped operating Jan. 6 due to a severe fuel shortage. For most residents, that means most areas are receiving power for a mere three hours in between 12-hour blackouts. Who and what is to blame is a subject of many dark jokes and frustration—sometimes breaking into protests and arrests. Most residents in Gaza, however, place a large share of the blame on feuding political leaders.
Emad Abu Shamsiyah first started receiving death threats in March, after a video he filmed for Israeli rights group B’Tselem, which captured Israeli soldier Elor Azaria shooting dead Abed al-Fattah al-Sharif, 21, was released to the public. Now, the manslaughter ruling against Azaria has translated into anger among Israeli settlers and Shamsiyah cannot walk the streets of his neighborhood without fearing for his life. “It was already bad before, but after the court ruling, all these threats started to come in through my Facebook, telling me I will die and that people want to murder me,” Shamsiyah tells Mondoweiss.
Hiba Anis Mustafa Shurafa guides students in her Gaza classroom, instructing them on the art of how to hold a pen and keep a steady hand when writing out letters. She understands the task is challenging because, like her students, Shurafa has Down syndrome.
Israeli forces busted through the doors of a Ramallah aid organization founded by a leading Palestinian politician in the early morning hours Wednesday, and took away computers, servers and security camera footage, and leaving behind a mess of shattered glass and tossed papers throughout the downtown office.
“When Sa’id ‘Awad spotted the first pomegranate saplings popping up on his fields, he should have seen it coming. A part of him perhaps already understood that the long process threatening his land was nearing its logical conclusion; that the handful of tender trees would yield the poisoned fruit of dispossession.” Yigal Bronner reports on the the Kafkaesque tribulations of a Palestinian farmer in Area C of the West Bank.
Upcoming municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza were cancelled yesterday by a Palestinian high court in Ramallah, after ruling in favor of a lawyers guild’s petition to strike down the race because East Jerusalem Palestinians were not eligible to cast ballots, or compete for seats in the government. Although the decision was said to have been made over a procedural technicality, some speculated political motives from members of the West Bank-based Fatah were at play.
Over the summer, one of the founding villages of the Palestinian non-violent movement, Nabi Saleh, decided to stop holding the weekly Friday demonstrations that brought the small West Bank town international attention. The move comes following scores of arrests and a general fatigue among protesters. “The tear gas is inside the village, the clashes are inside of the homes, and it’s a small village which makes it difficult for the people to continue,” said Bassem Tamimi, a leader in Nabi Saleh who helped organize weekly marches over the past six years. He estimates that more than 350 people from his 600 person town have been injured in clashes with the army since 2010, and 50 were left physically disabled.
Omri Baranes is a 18-year-old conscientious objector who served 67 days in military prison for resisting Israel’s obligatory military draft in protest of the nearly half-century occupation of Palestine. “Even before I knew anything about the occupation of Palestine, I couldn’t understand why our culture was centered on violence,” Baranes tells Mondoweiss. “It’s like we are born with guns in our hands. Our society is so militant and most Israelis never learn anything else.”