Category Archives:
On the ground reports

Palestinian high court cancels municipal elections

Allison Deger on
Palestinian Central Elections Commission Chairman Hanna Nasir, announces the kick-off of candidate nomination in the West Bank and Gaza, August 25, 2016. (Photo: Central Elections Commission)

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
Women and children of Nabi Saleh ambush an armed Israeli soldier attempting to capture a child in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, August 28, 2015. (Photo: Shadi Hatem/APA Images)

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
Tair Kaminer, the longest serving female conscientious objector served 155 days in military prison. (Photo: Mesarvot/Refusers Support Network)

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
Hanin Zoabi

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
Israelis from the left-wing organization Peace Now protest in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem over the "Jewish state" bill, November 29, 2014. (Photo: Peace Now/Facebook)

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
Israeli security forces gather near the scene of what the Israeli military said was an attack by Palestinian in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba near the West Bank city of Hebron 30 June 2016. Israeli army said the Palestinian was shot and killed after he stabbed and killed an Israeli female settler and injured others. (Photo: Wisam Hashlamoun/APA Images)

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
Nisreen, 7, plays under Ramadan decorations at Al-balad in downtown Gaza City, June 27, 2016. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

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
Entrance to Bani Na'im, cordoned of by Israeli forces. Bani Na'im is the hometown of a Palestinian teen who killed a 13-year old Israeli on Thursday. (Photo: Allison Deger)

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
Mohammed Makhamri, father of Palestinian identified by local media as one of the shooters in the attack in Tel Aviv last Wednesday where four Israelis were killed, stands in his son Khaled's bedroom, Yatta. (Photo: Allison Deger)

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
Jerusalem Day paraders march through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. (Photo: Allison Deger)

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.

After 68 years of Nakba, is coexistence still possible?

Mohammed Alhammami on
Palestinian boy climbs through an opening in Israel's separation barrier in Shuafat near Jerusalem. February, 2009. (Photo: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

Mohammed Alhammami recalls stories he heard growing up of Jews, Muslims and Christians living alongside each other in historic Palestine as one people, not divided factions. But he wonders what about now? Can Jews and Palestinians (Christians and Muslims alike) really coexist in the Holy Land, after 68 years of Nakba?

Palestinian jailed for Facebook post casts light on PA attacks on free speech

Allison Deger on
Kifah Quzmar, 27, in his home after he was detained by Palestinian intelligence agents for "insulting a public official" on Facebook. (Photo: Allison Deger)

When the plain-clothed men came for him, Kifah Quzmar, 27, did not need to be told why they were dragging him out of a popular Ramallah cafe on a sunny afternoon last week. “Call my brother,” he told bystanders before being tossed into the back of a tinted SUV parked outside. “The muhaberat are rotten,” Quzmar wrote on Facebook two weeks before he was detained, using the Arabic colloquial term for undercover Palestinian intelligence agents. In the West Bank, such words are a punishable offensive under a 1960 Jordanian law still on the books making illegal “insulting a public official.” The crime carries a maximum of a six-month prison sentence.

Hamas wins major student elections in the West Bank for second year running

Sheren Khalel on
Thousands of students gathered at Birzeit for the student elections, flooding the campus with political garb, most of which showed support for one of three student groups affiliated with Hamas, Fatah and the PFLP.(Photo: Abed Al Qaisi)

Hamas scored another victory on Wednesday at Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank, winning 25 seats in the university’s student elections. The university, considered the most liberal of all campuses in the West Bank, is seen as an indicator for the political climate across the West Bank.

PA under renewed criticism for security coordination with Israel

Emily Mulder on
Palestinian supporters of the Hamas movement burn an Israeli flag during a demonstration against the political arrests and the violence against Hamas members by PA security in the West Bank, in Gaza City on June 11, 2014. (Photo: Mohammed Asad/APA Images)

The detention by Palestinian Authority security forces of three Palestinians who allegedly planned to carry out an attack inside Israel this week brought renewed public criticism of the PA amid a slew of political disputes. The PA finds itself pitted between a need to appease the Israeli authorities through security coordination and the mass upheaval such coordination brings among political rivals and the wider public.

Israeli army operation in downtown Ramallah causes sweeping fire

Allison Deger on
Palestinian assess damage to a West Bank shop burned beyond repair in a fire started by the Israeli military, al-Bireh. (Photo: Allison Deger)

A fire started by Israeli forces during a botched operation to dentate explosives in a West Bank commercial zone quickly spread and burned a Palestinian government office, at least nine stores and an open-air market, in the early morning hours Thursday.

Video: Israel demolishes every home in West Bank Bedouin village

Sheren Khalel and Abed Al Qaisi on

Israeli forces have demolished every home in the Bedouin village of Khirbet Taha in the northern West Bank district of Nablus during three separate demolitions since the start of the year. The village’s only school was also destroyed, leaving children to study in a dilapidated 100-year-old mosque — the only structure left standing in the village.

‘We don’t want to find ourselves in a position like apartheid South Africa’: A report from Israel’s first national conference against BDS

Antony Loewenstein on
Entrance to the Ynet-sponsored #stopBDS conference. (Photo: Antony Loewenstein)

One of Israel’s biggest newspapers, Yedioth Ahronoth, staged the country’s first national conference against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement in Jerusalem. Antony Loewenstien reports, “It was a surreal day, filled with determination to defeat BDS, but participants were seemingly incapable of truly understanding why the movement was surging globally. Fear, paranoia, anger and determination was ubiquitous amongst the panelists and audience. BDS could never have imagined a more high-profile advertisement for its agenda.”

Palestinians in Gaza are drinking contaminated water

Abeer Abu Shawish on
Rayqa al-Malalha lives—along with her poor family—in the marginalized al-Araiba neighborhood of Rafah City in the Gaza Strip. The water supplied to al-Araiba’s 8,000 residents by the municipality is unsuitable for consumption. (Photo: Iyad al-Baba/Oxfam)

Palestinians in Gaza are regularly consuming contaminated water, even when the liquid they drink has already been treated at a purifying plant. In Gaza 45% of the water processed in desalination plants is contaminated, according to the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA).

Palestinians grapple with knife attacks as violence enters fifth month

Allison Deger on
Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces during a protest against the separation wall and Jewish settlement near the Ofer prison in the west of the city of Ramallah on the West Bank on March 11, 2016. (Photo: Anadolu Agency/ Getty Images)

The killing of Israeli civilians and the young age of the Palestinian attackers, along with their almost inevitable deaths at the hands of police, are raising tough questions for Palestinians. A recent event in Ramallah featuring Mariam Barghouti, Diana Buttu and Husam Zomlot was billed as a discussion of whether an “Intifada” has began, but the conversation soon turned to personal feelings about knife attacks on Israelis.

Suicides on the rise in Gaza

We Are Not Numbers on
Screenshot: Abu Setta contemplating suicide. Watania Media Agency - Gaza

What happens when a person is forced to struggle for years without enough money to support his family, and there is no way out?

PA continues crackdown on West Bank teachers strike as anger with anti-democratic Palestinian leadership spreads

Allison Deger on
Palestinian teachers protest in Ramallah in anti-government demonstration over salary increases, February 23, 2016. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Thousands of Palestinian teachers demonstrated yesterday afternoon in cities across the West Bank, marking the start of a third week of strikes. What began as a protest over a bureaucratic 2.5% pay increase in early February has quickly become a wider anti-democratic crackdown against Palestinian society’s beloved and underpaid public servants, teachers.

In Photos: Israeli forces close down village of 25,000 following deadly attack by three youths

Abed Al Qaisi on
Israeli forces closed all seven entrances to the village. Each entrance has seen clashes and protests, as residents continue to demand their village be opened.  (Photo: Abed al Qaisi)

Israeli forces closed down Qabatiya village in the northern occupied West Bank overnight Wednesday, following an attack carried out by three teens from the village who shot and killed a 19-year-old Israeli police officer, and seriously injured another. All three teens were shot dead at the scene, but Israeli forces retaliated by closing down the attackers’ hometown. Around 25,000 people in the large northern village are on lockdown.