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On the ground reports

Engineers in Gaza convert the rubble of war into concrete for rebuilding

Ahmad Kabariti on

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.

‘Settlers are free to take what they want’: Palestinian landowners fear for the worst as land-grab law is passed

Sheren Khalel on

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.

Palestinians try to travel from Gaza to Egypt during rare 3-day border opening

Mersiha Gadzo on

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.

Israel’s settlers clear path to annexation with new land law

Jonathan Cook on

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.

Al-Qiq launches new hunger strike, wife calls detention ‘illegitimate’ attempt to imprison journalist

Sheren Khalel on

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.”

Video: Israel evacuates Amona outpost but the settler movement looks as strong as ever

Mondoweiss Editors on

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.

‘Here we do not die nor live, we live suspended’: Gaza copes with a state of perpetual crisis

Ahmad Kabariti on

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.”

The Israeli police’s extrajudicial execution of Israeli citizen Yaqoub Abu Al-Qia’an

Jonathan Ofir on

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.

Palestinians demand Israeli authorities release the remains of slain loved ones

Sheren Khalel on

A peaceful march broke out into clashes on Sunday, after Palestinians gathered in the occupied southern West Bank city of Bethlehem to demand Israeli authorities release the remains of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces to their families for burial. Samir al-Khadour, the husband of slain Majd al-Khadour, said, “To see all these people here gives me hope that I will get my wife’s body back one day.”

Everyone shares the blame in Gaza electricity crisis

Pam Bailey on

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.

Israeli settlers attack Palestinian videographer of Hebron shooting in attempt to ‘silence documentation and resistance’

Sheren Khalel on

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.

Israeli military takes computers and servers from Palestinian NGO in night raid

Allison Deger on

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.

Kafka in Area C

Yigal Bronner on

“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.

Palestinian high court cancels municipal elections

Allison Deger on

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.

After building a protest movement, West Bank village of Nabi Saleh steps back from weekly Friday protests

Allison Deger on

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.

‘It’s like we’re born with guns in our hands’: Young Israelis face prison as they resist military conscription

Jaclynn Ashly and Yumna Patel on

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.”

Israel’s opposition parties plan to filibuster bill to expel Hanin Zoabi

Allison Deger on

Members of Israel’s opposition coalition will filibuster overnight to stall a vote on a controversial bill to expand the Knesset’s power to oust one of their own. The expulsion bill, formerly called the suspension bill, grants parliamentarians the authority to permanently kick their peers out of office, without loose criteria for disqualification. It is aimed at one member: Hanin Zoabi of the Joint List.

Israeli human rights organizations push back against law designed to ‘silence opposition’

Emily Mulder on

Israel’s human rights NGOs pushed back this week after the Knesset passed a transparency law that critics say was the most recent attempt by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition to persecute the country’s left. Leading Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now vowed to wage legal war against the new law, which requires NGOs that receive more than half of their funding from foreign donors to declare their funding sources prior to addressing Knesset committees, speaking with public officials, as well as on publications and websites.

After attack, Netanyahu gov’t pours money into rightwing settlements

Allison Deger on

Israel’s security cabinet said Sunday it will spend $13 million to expand social and education programs in West Bank settlements “in order to make it easier” for residents “to deal with the effects of the security situation and minimize its impact on the daily routine.” Peace Now said the funding was a backdoor policy to build up settlements under the cover of responding to the recent bout of violence.

In Photos: Palestinians celebrate Ramadan in Gaza

Mohammed Asad on

Muslims across the world have spent June observing the religious month of Ramadan. In Gaza, where reconstruction after three wars in six years has stalled, the celebrations, fasts followed by feasts, and prayer has brought a welcomed sense of normalcy. Palestinian photographer Mohammed Asad brings a glimpse of how Gazans enjoy the month of Ramadan.

Israeli siege brings life to a halt in the southern West Bank

Allison Deger on

Days away from the Eid holiday Shafooq Baloot, 25, does not know how or when she will do her annual clothes shopping. “We can’t go everywhere whenever we would like,” the English teacher tells Allison Deger. The Israeli army shut the main entrance to Baloot’s town with cement blocks and an earth mound after a teen from her village killed a 13-year old Israeli in a nearby settlement last Thursday. Over the weekend Israeli forces barricaded at least 20 more villages in the Hebron area, along with the southern entrance to the city of Hebron itself.

Family of Tel Aviv attacker tries to understand how star pupil turned to violence

Allison Deger on

Khaled Makhamri was an excellent student enrolled in university in Jordan on a prestigious governmental scholarship. Now his family is trying to understand why he carried out one of the deadliest attacks in Tel Aviv in years. More than 60 of the attackers in the last 9 months came from Khaled’s district in the southern West Bank and his hometown of Yatta is a particularly difficult place to live. It has the highest school drop out rate in the occupied Palestinian territory, settler attacks on agricultural land in the outskirts of town are common, and Israeli army ordered home demolitions in the surrounding areas are frequent. “The reason why he did such a thing is the occupation, he is not working with any illegal organization,” his father tells Allison Deger.

Palestinians forced to delay the start of Ramadan as Israel celebrates 49 years of ruling Jerusalem

Allison Deger on

Blue and white banners filled Jerusalem yesterday to mark 49 years of Israeli rule in the city. Crowds of settler youth chanted the slogan “the Jewish nation lives” as they marched under the ramparts of Damascus Gate. Many wore stickers supporting rabbi Meir Kahane, a former Knesset member kicked out of the government after calling for violence against Arabs, while others pasted their clothes with decals backing a greater Israel, a Jewish-nationalist movement that seeks to annex the occupied Palestinian territory. Meanwhile, Palestinians were barred from sections of the city and postponed the start of their own festivities for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to avoid conflicts with the settlers.