Gaza under blockade
Video and Photos: Israeli bullets and tear gas target popular resistance in Gaza
GAZA, Occupied Palestine (ISM – Charlie Andreasson) 25 Feb — At al-Shifa hospital Mohammed Helles, age 14, is lying in a coma with an uncertain outcome after he was shot with what appeared to be a tear-gas canister in the head and parts of it penetrated his brain. He had an operation, but fragments are still left. Kamal hospital reported thirteen injuries, from both gunshot wounds in the legs and tear-gas canisters. Friday’s demonstration on the hillside east of Jabaliya gathered about 400 people, mostly young men in their late teens. Protests against land seizure, mixed with dissent at the consequences of the occupation such as a broken economy, soaring unemployment and loss of hope for the future, were met by tear gas and live ammunition, with ambulances shuttling back and forth.
3 injured in Gaza clashes on massacre anniversary
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) Tues 25 Feb — Three Palestinian men were injured and others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation during clashes with Israeli forces east of Gaza City on Tuesday, an official said. Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said that three people in Nahal Oz were injured, one of whom was a journalist. The three were taken to the hospital with moderate injuries, al-Qidra said. Clashes broke out after dozens of people from the Intifada Youth Coalition rallied to demonstrate on the anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre.
PHOTOS: Inside Gaza’s ‘death zone’
Alternative Information Center Sun 23 Feb Photos by Ryan Rodrick Beiler – “I demand to judge the Israeli soldier who shot my son dead,” says Amna Mansour. Amna’s son Ibrahim, age 35, was collecting gravel near Gaza’s eastern border with Israel when he was shot in the head and killed by the Israeli military on Thursday, February 13. He leaves behind a wife and seven children, ages 2 to 8. One of Mansour’s two companions was injured in the shooting. Both survivors say that no warning was given before they were fired upon. Mansour’s killing follows a pattern by the Israeli military in which lethal gunfire is used to disperse anyone perceived as a threat in an ill-defined “no-go zone” extending some 300 meters or more inside Gaza’s northern and eastern borders. According to B’Tselem, “The large number of cases indicates, apparently, that the IDF has classified substantial areas near the fence as ‘death zones,’ i.e., soldiers are under standing orders to fire at any person who enters the area, regardless of the circumstances.”
Checkpoints between worlds in Gaza
Asia Times Tue 25 Feb by Ramzy Baroud — The case of a seven-year-old Palestinian boy who, fresh from surgery, collapsed through exhaustion at a checkpoint due to a processing delay has highlighted the hardships facing sick Gazans returning from treatment in Israel. Omar’s family had managed to obtain the necessary permits that allowed him to cross the Erez checkpoint to Jerusalem, through the West Bank, in order to undergo an eye operation. However, on the way back, the boy and his father were stopped for hours at the Qalanidya checkpoint in East Jerusalem. Omar’s story was reported in painful detail on February 16 by Israeli human-rights activist Tamar Fleishman, who works with Machsomwatch (Checkpoint Watch). Fleishman has spent countless hours at the Qalanidya checkpoint reporting on the Israeli military’s treatment of Palestinians. Her report sheds a light on a side of the Israeli occupation that often goes unnoticed. Omar’s “body was still full of anesthetics (as he) collapsed on the metal bench at the shed in front of the DCL [District Coordination Liaison] offices at Qalandiya checkpoint,” Fleishman wrote in the Palestine Chronicle. “It was very cold as the day turned into evening. Omar’s father took his leather coat off and wrapped it over his son. Omar didn’t open his eyes. Neither the healthy eye nor the one that was swollen from the surgery. He kept sleeping. He seemed to be in a state between sleep and loss of consciousness.” A heartrending photo of Omar, taken by Fleishman, shows Omar lying awkwardly on a metal bench covered by a black leather coat. The boy was likely unaware of much of the reality that surrounded him. He might have heard his father pleading his case to the soldiers or sensed the cold air penetrating his skin. Perhaps he felt nothing at all.
Video: Constant drones over Gaza ‘is psychological warfare’
Electronic Intifada 24 Feb by Nora Barrows-Friedman — In an important new interview, Canadian activist and journalist Eva Bartlett analyzes the last several years in Gaza under Israel’s continuing blockade, a siege which is bolstered by the Egyptian military regime. Bartlett and interviewer Justin Podur compare notes on entering Gaza and analyze the impact of Egypt’s military coup on the humanitarian situation, including the ability of Palestinians to travel through the Rafah crossing and the destruction of supply tunnels. “It’s virtually a complete lock-down by Egypt and by Israel, and even the tunnels now are inaccessible,” Bartlett remarks … Some of Bartlett’s photos are included in this video, showing attacks on fishing boats and agriculture, as well as daily life in Gaza, as part of a presentation she is currently giving on tour in the US and Canada. For more information on Bartlett’s tour, you can visit her website.
Israel continues military violence against Palestinian fishermen in Gaza waters
GAZA, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Charlie Andreasson) 19 Feb — Three Palestinian fishermen were arrested and had their boats and gear confiscated by occupation forces on Tuesday, 11th February, in two separate incidents, despite the fact that they were well within the Israel-permitted zone and could not be classified as security threat to the State of Israel, its civilians or its military … While they pulled on their nets about half a nautical mile from the shore, Israeli patrol boats approached. When they started shooting, other Palestinian fishing boats nearby fled. “It was like a horror movie,” Mohamed said. “I closed my eyes. When I opened them again, they were right in front of the hasaka with aimed guns and masked faces. They shot into the water right next to us and ordered us to strip completely naked and swim, one at a time, towards them. It was humiliating to stand there completely naked in front of them, stripped of all humanity, with my son at my side. But I dared not disobey.”Despite his fear, Mohamed asked that his son be spared. The soldiers shouted at him to shut up. They shot near his son, even though he held his hands outstretched while waiting for his turn to step into the cold water … As with previous detentions of Palestinian fishermen, the interrogators focused on collecting information about government buildings and their staff in Gaza, on possible contacts with insurgents and on personal networks. Unlike previous detentions, they also asked where any fish farms were located on land. Later they were transported to Erez, where a new hearing began with Mohamed Sleeby, his skin was checked for traces of explosives and attempts were made to recruit him to the Israeli intelligence service. “He [the lone interrogator] knew everything about me,” Muhamed said. “He knew I did not pay taxes on electricity. He offered to pay them, promised I would get my hasaka and nets back, and even said I would get a little money. He said I should not be afraid, that I am in good hands and that no one but me, him and God would know anything about this, that I ought to think about my family and not miss the chance. But I cannot do that to my brothers and neighbors…”
Egyptian authorities free 13 Palestinians from Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) Tues 25 Feb — Egyptian authorities freed 13 Palestinians late Monday after six months in jail, a Gaza official said. The men returned to their homes in the Gaza Strip after crossing the Rafah terminal, officials told Ma‘an, without specifying why the men were detained. Two of the detainees had special needs and were arrested by Egyptian authorities outside of the Palestinian embassy in Cairo three months ago.
Gaza mufti passes away after long struggle with illness
World Bulletin Tue 25 Feb — Sheikh Abdel-Karim al-Kahlout, Gaza’s mufti, has died at the age of 78, the Gaza Health Ministry announced Tuesday. Al-Kahlout passed away Monday night after a long struggle with illness, the ministry said. A funeral is due to be held later Tuesday in Gaza City, with Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and representatives of various Islamic and national groups expected to attend. The Religious Endowments (awqaf) Ministry has urged Gazans to take part in the funeral, describing the departed mufti as “a highly-esteemed cleric and scholar.” Al-Kahlout, appointed mufti of Gaza by late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, enjoyed the support of rival Palestinian factions, maintaining neutrality amid ongoing political divisions. As mufti, he was responsible for issuing legal opinions (fatwas) based on the interpretation of Islamic law.
Relatives arrested over suspected ‘honour’ killing in Gaza
Gaza City, Palestinian Territories (AFP) Mon 24 Feb — Gaza police have arrested family members over the deaths of two Palestinian teenage girls, one of them the victim of a suspected “honour” killing, Hamas authorities said Monday. Authorities caught relatives of one of the girls as they were trying to bury her in a cemetery near Jabaliya, north of Gaza City, on Thursday, police spokesman Ayyub Abu Shaar told AFP. The girl’s father had “beat her days before her death”, Abu Shaar said. The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) said a post-mortem showed signs of “torture” all over the girl’s body as well as signs of untreated gangrene from years of physical abuse. The rights watchdog said the girl was 17. Police also discovered the body of another girl in the southern Gaza district of Khan Yunis in what could be an “honour” crime, Abu Shaar said. “Her brother killed her, and the case is still being investigated. The murder weapon has been found,” he said, without elaborating. PCHR said the girl was 18 and had fatal knife wounds to the neck. The group called for a “thorough investigation” into the suspected murders and to “bring the perpetrators to justice” … So-called honour killings, in which a family member murders a relative who is perceived to have soiled the family’s reputation, occur periodically in the Palestinian territories.
Two Gaza rockets hit Ashkelon, northern Negev
PNN Mon 24 Feb — At least two rockets fired Sunday night from Gaza Strip and landed in Ashkelon Regional Council. WALLA Israeli website reported that two rockets were fired from the Strip and exploded in Ashkelon Regional Council. No injuries or damages were reported.
Israeli police attack Aqsa protesters ahead of annexation debate
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) Tue 25 Feb — Israeli troops and police raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex early Tuesday and forcefully dispersed Palestinian worshipers and protesters ahead of a Knesset debate on a plan to annex the mosque. Witnesses told Ma‘an that Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades at Muslim worshipers while protesters hurled stones. Several worshipers were hurt as a result of the pepper spray and others were hit directly by rubber-coated bullets, witnesses said. They added that Israeli intelligence agents stormed the Al-Aqsa complex through the Moroccan Gate and the Chain Gate and blockaded the prayer hall, closing its gates with chains. Meanwhile, Jerusalemite students who study inside the complex were denied entry to Al-Aqsa, and three youths trying to access the complex though the Chain Gate were arrested, witnesses said. Director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Azzam al-Khatib said that Israeli forces also closed the Moroccan Gate and denied Jewish extremists entry to the complex. He added that Israeli forces later pulled out and were deployed at the main gates.
Around 50 Palestinians had spent the night inside the complex in protest of an Israeli Knesset debate, scheduled for Tuesday, over a plan to place the holy site under full Israeli jurisdiction … Rosenfeld said there was “high tension” ahead of the Knesset debate, and that stones thrown by the Palestinians injured two policemen while three protesters were arrested. Palestinian medics told AFP 15 protesters were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets. Right-wing Israeli MK Moshe Feiglin initiated the Al-Aqsa annexation debate, which was originally scheduled for last Tuesday. On Wednesday, Feiglin visited the mosque escorted by Israeli police and a cameraman.
Egyptian FM concerned about Aqsa solidarity debate
CAIRO (Ma‘an) Wed 26 Feb — Egypt expressed concern Tuesday about Israeli lawmakers’ debate about extending sovereignty on the al-Aqsa Mosque. Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy warned in a statement that if Israel allowed Jewish extremists to “lead the political scene” at the site, it would result in an eruption of violence in the region. The statement urged the Israeli government to fulfill its duty in stopping extremist MKs. Fahmy added that East Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state, and the Old City and the al-Aqsa are integral parts of it.
Arab League to hold session on Aqsa mosque
CAIRO (Ma‘an) Wed 26 Feb — Palestine has submitted a request to the Arab League to hold an emergency session Wednesday to discuss recent Israeli attacks on the al-Aqsa mosque, an official said. Palestinian ambassador to Egypt Barakat al-Farra said that the recent visits of rightists protected by the Israeli army and police to al-Aqsa will lead to more tension and turn the conflict into a religious one. “If Israel continues this policy,” he said, “it proves that it does not want peace but continues to violate international laws and resolutions.” Al-Farra concluded that the international community must fulfill its duty to protect holy sites.
Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Apartheid / Discrimination
WATCH: Separation wall engulfs village of Al-Walaja
Israeli Social TV Mon 24 Feb — Between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Israel is building the separation wall on land confiscated from residents and village of Al Walaja. The village’s farmers are not willing to give up on the little land they have left but the state is planning to build a national park on the site. Social TV joins a group of activists who went to work the land in solidarity with Al Walaja’s residents.[interviews with farmers]
Israel issues eviction orders to 40 Bedouin families near Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) Mon 24 Feb — Israeli forces and civil administration officers issued demolition and eviction orders to 40 Palestinian families in East Jerusalem late Sunday. Popular committee spokesman Hani Halabiya told Ma‘an that civil administration officers delivered the orders to families in the Jabal al-Baba neighborhood of al-Ezariya. The families, who mainly live in steel structures and tents, must leave their homes by March 3. Around 300 Palestinian Bedouins from Jahalin live in 22 homes made of steel, wood and tin boards, as well as tents, Halabiya said. Israel is trying to displace the community of Jabal al-Baba to expand the nearby settlement of Maale Adumim.
Last week, Israeli forces bulldozed five steel structures belonging to the Bedouin al-Jahalin community in al-Eizariya, leaving 55 people homeless.
Israel demolishing Bedouin homes on land settlers covet by Jerusalem
Haaretz Tue 25 Feb by Amira Hass — The Israeli authorities in the West Bank have delivered 18 stop-work orders for buildings belonging to Bedouin near Jerusalem – 12 days after right-wing protesters demanded that Israel build in the area. Because of American pressure, Israel has been forced to delay expansion plans in the area, known as E1, for years. E1 connects Jerusalem with the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim. The stop-work orders affects 35 Bedouin families who live on a hill north of the Palestinian town of Al-Azariya – roughly 240 people, including 150 children. As is customary when such orders are issued, members of the tribe – in this case the Salamat tribe – were summoned to a meeting of the Civil Administration’s inspection subcommittee, to take place on Sunday. But since the land is not privately owned by the Bedouin, or land with a master plan intended for the Palestinians, the Bedouin will not be able to receive construction permits. Area residents recently replaced the tin huts they had been living in for decades with prefab structures with plastic and polystyrene walls, which provide better insulation against the heat or cold. The prefab structures, donated by European organizations, were funded by the European Union. Like the Salamat tribe, four Bedouin communities nearby, Ksarat-tribe communities, also replaced their tin huts with prefab structures donated by a European organization. Their tin huts had been damaged in December’s storm. The four communities received stop-work and demolition orders for the structures on the grounds of illegal construction.
Wind, water, bread: A West Bank village’s fight for survival
972blog Mon 24 Feb by Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz — The feeling one gets after visiting Umm Al Khir is one of shock: do you insist on stealing even this little bit? — At the beginning of January, in the company of Yesh Din’s field researcher Muhaned Anati and field operations coordinator Yudit Avidor, I visited the village of Umm Al Khir. The reason for the visit was an attempt to understand what it is about this place that draws so much violence. We have been following the incidents in Umm Al Khir since 2010; we have 13 cases. Twelve deal with settler violence and one with violence at the hands of the security forces. Umm Al Khir was built in the 1960s, prior to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, by Bedouins expelled in 1948 from the Tel Arad area. Since the occupation of 1967 onwards, the Israeli government has willfully neglected Umm Al Khir …
Umm Al Khir recently made headlines after someone – a tracker found footprints leading to the settlement of Carmel – poured water on the local taboun (a traditional baking oven) and put it out of order. We’ve written about it here. The taboun of Umm Al Khir made it to the the High Court of Justice after the Civil Administration wanted to demolish it. I expected, then, to see an impressive, imposing structure. Intellectually, I knew it was made of mud and straw, yet I had some expectations. This is how it looks: In the background of the taboun you can see the settlement of Carmel. Suleiman, one of the leaders of the village, told me of a Bedouin saying: “the wind, water and bread – without these, a man cannot live.” The taboun serves the needs of Umm Al Khir’s residents: without it, there would be no bread … The meaning of dousing it is that a group of people, who already have little, are left without bread for two or more days.
East Jerusalem land leveled for tourist facilities
IMEMC Tue 25 Feb by Chris Carlson — Israeli occupation bulldozers, on Tuesday, leveled a grab-threatened land in the al-Tur Mountain area in occupied east Jerusalem. Al Ray reports that Israeli authorities had handed the Abu Al-Hawa family a demolition notice to evacuate the 11-dunam land no later than Feb. 13th, a member of the family said to a local news website. “Three months ago, the Israeli occupation carried out leveling and excavations for antiquities. During that time, a so-called Russian group came in to tell that they are the owners of the land and want to build a church on it,” he explained. Though the family showed the documents proving the land has been their property for 80 years, the group fenced it and fixed a door at the entrance, he added.
Settlers uproot olive trees and attack 65-year-old shepherd
IMEMC Tue 25 Feb by Chris Carlson — Israeli settlers destroyed 150 olive trees in Al-Khader, a Palestinian village south of Bethlehem, and assaulted an old Palestinian shepherd near Nablus, Monday, at noon — Ahmed Salah, the coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Al-Khader, said that the settlers uprooted and destroyed more than 150 olive trees in a parcel of land owned by Yassin Dadu, the Alternative Information Center (AIC) reports.
In the northern West Bank, settlers from Itamar attacked 65-year-old shepherd Radi Hanani as he was rearing his flock to the east of Beit Furik, a Palestinian village southeast of Nablus.
Israel seen using kid gloves in ‘price tag’ crackdown
Despite dozens of arrests, there have been few convictions; pro-settler vandalism continues almost weekly, with Arab towns, peace activists and even IDF targeted — Reuters 25 Feb — Last March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched a crackdown on crimes that elsewhere might be shrugged off as ugly but sufferable mischief – racist graffiti, slashed tires, hacked orchards and small-scale arson. Such vandalism takes on a whole different meaning when it is perpetrated by ultranationalist Jews against Palestinian property, risking renewed violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, disrupting US-mediated peace talks and further sapping Israel’s image abroad.
20 families ordered to leave homes for day in Jordan Valley
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) Tue 25 Feb — Israeli forces on Tuesday evening handed notices for 20 families in Ibzeeq valley in the north of the Jordan Valley to leave their homes for the day. Valley representative Imad al-Hroub said Israeli forces raided the area and handed them notices to evacuate the premises from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. for military purposes.
Livni: Drive for West Bank construction hurts Israel’s chances of keeping settlement blocks
Jerusalem Post Sun 23 Feb by Tovah Lazaroff, Gil Hoffman — “It’s my responsibility to ensure that the settlement blocs are part of Israel,” Livni writes on Facebook — Justice Minister Tzipi Livni slammed the latest right-wing initiative against a freeze in isolated settlements, warning that it could sabotage efforts to place Jewish West Bank population blocs within Israel’s final borders in any final-status agreement with the Palestinians. “Any attempt to determine that the fate of isolated settlements is the fate of the settlement blocs is harmful, first and foremost to those blocs, where most of the settlers live,” she wrote on her Facebook page on Sunday.
UN rights envoy points to apartheid in Palestinian areas
According to UN special rapporteur, Israel violates Palestinians’ rights in West Bank, Gaza through occupation, confiscation of land, ‘ethnic cleansing’ of East Jerusalem — Reuters Mon 24 Feb — Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip appear to amount to apartheid due to its systematic oppression of the Palestinian people and de facto expropriation of their land, a United Nations investigator said in a report. Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said that Palestinian rights are being violated by Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestinian territory and “ethnic cleansing” of East Jerusalem.
New law dividing Christian, Muslim Arabs legalizes inequality
972mag Mon 25 Feb by Mairav Zonszein — Israel ratified a new law on Monday that legally distinguishes between Muslim and Christian citizens of the state, Haaretz reported. The bill, which easily passed by a 31-6 vote in its third and final reading, recognizes the Christian Arab population as a separate (though not national) minority for the first time. The law, which expands the Advisory Committee for Equal Opportunity in the Employment Commission by adding to it a separate Christian representative, was marketed as a way to better integrate Christians into the Israeli workforce. However, in practice, it is being carried out at the blatant expense of Muslim citizens. There are approximately 160,000 Christians living in Israel. According to the bill’s sponsor, Likud MK Yariv Levin, Christians are “our natural allies, a counterbalance against the Muslims who want to destroy the state from within.” Levin, an outspoken opponent of the establishment of a Palestinian state (like other fellow MKs in Likud and the Jewish Home party) also emphasized that he refuses to call Christian citizens “Arabs.” “I’m being careful about not calling them Arabs because they aren’t Arabs,” he told the Israeli Ma’ariv daily a few weeks ago, despite the fact that the large majority of them are, in fact, Arabs, and many identify as part of the Palestinian nation.Through the Knesset’s passing of the law, along with Levin’s candid comments, the Israeli government has made two things abundantly clear (if they weren’t already): 1. “Arab” is a bad word, and the Muslim Arab population specifically – the largest minority in the country – is made up of evil citizens intent on destroying the state, and are therefore not eligible to have equal rights.
20 years on, Hebron massacre haunts survivors
HEBRON, Palestinian Territories (AFP) 25 Feb — Twenty years on, the massacre of 29 Muslims by a Jewish extremist as they prayed in a West Bank mosque still haunts Mohammed Abu Al-Halawa, a survivor who was left a paraplegic. On February 25, 1994, Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein used an assault rifle to gun down worshippers in the Ibrahimi Mosque — revered by Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs — in the heart of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, before he was beaten to death by those who escaped his hail of bullets. Abu Al-Halawa, 53, resides a mere 400 meters (yards) from Goldstein’s grave in the Kiryat Abra settlement where he had lived, adjoining Hebron’s old city. “I remember the massacre at every moment and a.m. physically still affected by it — it paralyzed me for life, and I’m still in a lot of pain and need regular medical treatment,” he said from his wheelchair.
“It pains me whenever I see settlers dancing next to the grave of the criminal who left me disabled,” he added, bitter that his attacker was still honored by some extremists. And with a physical disability, the draconian security measures and checkpoints imposed by the occupying Israeli army on Hebron following the massacre are all the more arduous for Abu Al-Halawa. Hebron’s main street was partially closed to Palestinians after the massacre, and six years later, at the outset of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, the army declared it a “closed military zone,” restricting Palestinian access to residents of the immediate area — and then on foot only.
Israeli settlers prevent shop renovation in Hebron
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM) Sun 23 Feb — On Sunday the 23th of February at around 9:30 a.m. more than ten settlers forced a Palestinian shop owner to stop renovating his shop. The settlers did this by sitting at tables and chairs they had brought from the nearby Gutnick Center in Hebron, an Israeli visitors center close to the Ibrahimi mosque, eating breakfast right in front of the shop while harassing the men at work. The shop owner had gotten permission to do the renovation by the Israeli Civil Administration but this was not satisfactory to the settlers, who forced the Palestinians to stop working. When the Palestinians tried to continue their work the settlers became aggressive towards them, making them stop … The Israeli police, border police and soldiers were all present but did not interfere with the settlers’ harassment of the Palestinian workers.
+972 Magazine and ‘The Hottest Place in Hell’ (המקום הכי חם גיהנום) offer special coverage marking 20 years since the massacre, looking at the various narratives of what happened, and its legacy of segregation and urban occupation.
In Hebron, terror begets a reign of terror
972mag Tue 25 Feb by Michael Omer-Man — Who do you turn to for redress when your city is occupied by a military force that gives violent settlers almost complete impunity? The roots of segregation in Hebron and Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of 29 Palestinian worshipers — …Hebron is not like other places in the West Bank. There is no other place where Israeli settlers have taken over the entire urban infrastructure of a Palestinian city. Hebron is a unique occupation in and of itself, an inescapable daily reality of segregation, violence, military control and civilian terror — a microcosm of everything that feels wrong and terrifying in the world. Imagine, if you can, in an urban area of tens of thousands of Palestinians, placing 700 Israeli settlers and an almost one-to-one ratio of soldiers to guard them. We are not talking about the harassment of lone shepherds on beaten hillsides as the occupation’s violence manifests itself a few miles away. The irony of today’s Hebron is that it is a city, harkening back to the days before Israel’s establishment, that was a place where Jews and Palestinians largely coexisted. That fragile reality was shattered by the 1929 Hebron Massacre, in which a Palestinian mob killed 67 Jews. Those Jews who survived fled en masse. Fifty years later, Jews returned to the holy city, home to the tombs of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Abrahamic religions. Another fragile coexistence returned, albeit one under the shadow of the colonial military conquest that followed the Six Day War and subsequent Jewish settlement in the West Bank. That return to less-than peaceful coexistence, too, was shattered by a massacre — this time of Palestinians…. In the two decades since, Hebron’s Jewish settlers have become notorious for violently harassing their Palestinian neighbors, all under the watchful eye and acquiescence of the IDF. Some Palestinian residents in the seam zone on and around Shuhada Street have literally built cages around their homes to protect themselves from the violent settlers. The souk in Hebron’s Old City is covered by metal netting to catch the bricks, urine and other objects Jewish settlers regularly throw onto Palestinian merchants and passersby. “There is not one family or home [on Shuhada] that hasn’t been attacked,” says Abed el-Rahman, a Palestinian university student who has lived his whole life on Shuhada Street.
PHOTOS: 20 years since Cave of the Patriarchs massacre
Activestills 25 Feb Photos by: Anne Paq, Ryan Rodrick Beiler, Yotam Ronen, and Oren Ziv — In 1994, the Israeli military responded to a massacre by a Jewish settler by restricting the movement of Hebron’s Palestinian residents. Two decades later, the restrictions are more severe and some of Israel’s most extreme settlements continue to grow in the heart of the West Bank’s largest city — Twenty years ago, on February 25, 1994, American-born doctor and Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein walked into Hebron’s al-Ibrahimi Mosque and opened fire with his military issued rifle, killing 29 Palestinian worshippers and injuring 125. Goldstein himself was eventually overcome and beaten to death. In protests that followed the massacre, another 25 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces. Five Israelis died in the violence. Rather than removing volatile settlements embedded in the heart one of the largest Palestinian cities, the Israeli military’s response was a policy of separation between settlers and Palestinians on Hebron’s streets. The result is a network of heavily guarded enclaves whose presence punishes Palestinian neighbors with a matrix of checkpoints and restricted areas. Hebron’s Shuhada Street has seen the most notorious of these restrictions. Once a busy commercial center, many shop doors have now been welded shut by military order, giving the area the appearance of a ghost town.
PHOTOS: IDF brigade commander vs Hebron’s kindergarten
972blog Tue 25 Feb Text and photos by Dana Direktor / ‘The Hottest Place in Hell’ — In the middle of Hebron, volunteers and activists built a kindergarten. Even a kindergarten, an attempt to bring a small piece of normalcy to the area, has turned into a target for the army, police and settlers — The State of Israel offers compulsory education from the age of three. But for the residents of the H2 area of Hebron, under Israeli control, there are no educational institutions. Period. Thus, a Palestinian child has two options: pass a few checkpoints on the way to school, or stay at home. The farce which surrounded the long-overdue establishment of a kindergarten in H2 can teach us about the situation in Hebron in a time of relative calm. Hebron could serve as a museum for the occupation. It is the only city in the occupied territories in which Jews began settling from 1968, with the consent of every Israeli government. The place is so messed up that settlers live in an IDF base in the heart of the city (which is made up of approximately 750 Jews and 175,000 Palestinians). Several tens of thousands of Palestinians live in H2, which is under direct Israeli control. It has become a ghost town, a city of enclosure, an island of insanity. The residents must find creative solutions, such as climbing on roofs, in order to get home – even the elderly among them. Even the children – the same ones who are supposed to be in kindergarten.
A city of devastation: Hebron 20 years after the massacre
972blog 25 Feb By Einat Fishbain / ‘The Hottest Place in Hell’ — Streets for Jews only, shuttered stores, spitting, throwing stones and daily harassment by soldiers and settlers alike. Since terrorist Baruch Goldstein committed a massacre at the Cave of the Patriarchs 20 years ago today, the situation of Palestinians in Hebron has only deteriorated — Nobody, not even Abraham himself could convince the Palestinians of Hebron that Baruch Goldstein — many of them insist on calling him “the doctor” and sometimes even “professor” — acted alone. Moaz Jaabari, who was an 11-year-old boy when his father was shot to death as he stood next to him in the Isaac Hall, describes how he saw “another Baruch Goldstein” bring the doctor another weapon as he shot in every which direction, and that two soldiers shot at the worshippers as they were fleeing the mosque. “They took three bullets out of the sheikh’s stomach, each of a different type,” the tour guide swears, pointing at the sheikh who is climbing the stairs to the prayer space. Already in the first days after the shooting, the surviving worshipers testified about “another source of shooting.” “All of the Arabs know,” Abed el-Karim Jaabari, Moaz’s uncle. “He had another three people, two in uniform and one not. Three people walking around freely.” Two soldiers who were guarding the eastern gate of the Cave of the Patriarchs testified about it to the Shamgar Commission that investigated the massacre: Goldstein entered the Cave carrying an M-16 in his hand, and another man arrived immediately afterward, carrying an IMI Galil assault rifle … It is not the mystery that sets apart the Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre. Rather, it is the fact that it is an event that hasn’t ended — it continues to exist, for 20 years, with or without those same three ghost accomplices. It continues in the mind of every person who passes through the area at any given moment — even for the children who were born years after the massacre. It exists between the shuttered shops on Shuhada Street, in the alleyways of the bleeding market, in the empty city square. The sound of the more than 100 bullets from Goldstein’s Galil continue to reverberate, because life never returned to the center of Hebron. Since Purim 1994, the city is a bleak monument to its own past.
Violence / Raids / Clashes / Illegal arrests (West Bank)
Two Palestinians injured by army fire near Bethlehem
IMEMC/Agencies Tue 25 Feb by Saed Bannoura — Palestinian medical sources reported Monday that two young Palestinian men were shot and injured by Israeli army fire in Teqoua‘ [or Tuqu‘] town, southeast of the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Mohammad al-Badan, head of the Teqoua‘ village council, told Radio Bethlehem 2000 that dozens of soldiers invaded the town, during noon hours on Monday, and opened fire at local youth who hurled stones at them. He added that a young man was shot by a live round in his leg, and was moved to Beit Jala governmental hospital, and that another young man was shot by a rubber-coated metal bullet.
In related news, Israeli military sources said that the army kidnapped, on Monday, two young Palestinian men after they allegedly threw a homemade grenade at an area in Elon Moreh illegal Israeli settlement, near Nablus in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.
Night raid and arrests in Kafr Qaddum
KAFR QADDUM, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Nablus Team) 24 Feb — On Thursday the 20th of February, the violent arrests of seven villagers occurred early in the morning in the village of Kafr Qaddum. Four of those arrested, including the coordinator of the weekly demonstration, were released after six hours. The three others are still under detention. One of them suffered a head injury during his arrest. Between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m., hundreds of Israeli soldiers surrounded then entered the village of Kafr Qaddum. The soldiers went to several houses and violently arrested seven villagers, including the coordinator of the weekly march. They handcuffed and blindfolded the villagers and physically and verbally abused them. One of those arrested, Faris Nidal, was injured in the head in the process. The coordinator of the march has been pressured to put an end to the weekly demonstration taking place each friday in the village for more than four years. The goal of the demonstration is to pressure the army to open the road linking Kafr Qaddum and the whole Qalqiliya district to Nablus. The Supreme Court of Israel officially agreed to this demand in 2010, with no visible effect on the ground.
Officer promoted after ordering assault on international activists
IMEMC Mon 24 Feb by Chris Carlson — The Israeli army has promoted an Israeli officer who ordered the shooting of Palestinians and international activists during a Separation Wall protest in the West Bank — (Al Ray) Hebrew newspaper Maariv said in its Monday issue that the officer has been upgraded to Brigadier General after he ordered the firing on protesters Feb. 26, 2003, near the Separation Wall in the northern occupied West Bank. According to the newspaper, Israeli soldiers carried out the order after getting the permission from the officer, injuring both a Jewish and an American protester. Following the incident, the officer, along with two soldiers, appeared before a military court, which held him responsible for the firing, the Israeli publication said. However, the military prosecutor did not convict him, so as not to hinder his future promotion.
Radio: Israeli military post comes under fire near Ramallah
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Tue 25 Feb — Gunmen opened fire at an Israeli military post near Ramallah late Monday, Israeli radio said. Reshet Bet said that Palestinian gunmen fired shots at the military post, with no injuries reported. Israeli forces searched the area and found empty bullet casings.
Israeli forces detain 2 human rights activists in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) Tue 25 Feb — Israeli forces raided the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank early Tuesday and detained two Palestinian human rights activists, locals said. Locals told Ma‘an that Israeli troops ransacked the home of lawyer Faris Abu al-Hasan in the Rujeib neighborhood and escorted him to his office in the city center, where they confiscated dozens of files concerning Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody. The soldiers then arrested Abu al-Hasan and took him to an unknown location, locals said. Separately, Israeli forces detained Ahmad al-Bitawi in southern Nablus after ransacking his home. Al-Bitawi is a 33-year-old journalist and researcher. Both men work for Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights.
Nonviolent activist kidnapped in Hebron
IMEMC by Saed Bannoura — Tuesday at dawn 25 Feb – Local sources have reported that several Israeli military jeeps invaded Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and kidnapped a nonviolent activist against Israel’s illegal Settlements and the Annexation Wall. Mohammad Awad, head of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, said that dozens of soldiers invaded the home of Yousef Abdul-Hamid Abu Mariyya, 40, in Khallit al-Ein neighborhood, and kidnapped him after violently searching his property. Awad added that the soldiers invaded the home of Abu Mariyya, using a machine that can silently open doors without waking the family up, and attacked Abu Mariyya in his bed before kidnapping him.
Report: 15 Palestinians from Ramallah area in Israeli custody
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Mon 24 Feb — The Israeli security agency Shin Bet said Monday that it arrested a group of 15 Palestinians in recent months in the Beit ‘Ur al-Tahta village near Ramallah, Israeli media reported. They are suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at vehicles driving on Route 443 near the village, which caused a number of injuries. The suspects were discovered during an investigation into an alleged Hamas cell that was accused of planning to plant a bomb on the same road, Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported. Three of the suspects were said to have admitted to their involvement in the cell, including Musab Ibrahim Badran, 27, who allegedly led the group, Maariv reported.
Soldiers kidnap 12 Palestinians in West Bank
IMEMC — Monday at dawn 24 Feb by Saed Bannoura — Israeli soldiers invaded various Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, kidnapping ten Palestinians. The army also kidnapped two from their work places in historic Palestine, the Ma‘an News Agency has reported. Local sources in Bethlehem have reported that dozens of soldiers invaded the ‘Aida refugee camp, broke into and searched several homes, and kidnapped Riyadh Safwan Abu Srour, 17 years of age. Soldiers also invaded the Rashayda village, east of Bethlehem, and kidnapped resident Hashem Ali Rashayda, 48, after stopping his car and inspecting his ID. Resident Mahmoud Mohammad Sheebany, from the ‘Arraba town, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, was also kidnapped from his work in historic Palestine. In Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, soldiers kidnapped Sufian Marwan Hdeib, 16, Yahia Wael Qneiby, 18, and Ahmad Waddah Shihada, 22. Soldiers also kidnapped four Palestinians in the northern West Bank district of Nablus. Local sources said that the army invaded the ‘Askar refugee camp, and a neighborhood in Nablus, and kidnapped Ismael Abu Fayed, 28, Mohammad Abdul-Mahdy Abu Hayya, 25, Hasan Abdul-Latif Sweilem, 20, and a university student identified as Issa Yousef Ahmad, 20. Several Israeli military jeeps also invaded Madama village, south of Nablus, kidnapping one Palestinian identified as Yasar Nassar, 23.
Four Palestinians kidnapped in Bethlehem, Hebron
IMEMC/Agencies 25 Feb– Israeli soldiers kidnapped, on Tuesday at dawn two Palestinians in the West Bank district of Bethlehem, and two Palestinians in the Hebron district of the southern part of the occupied West Bank. At least seven Palestinians were kidnapped in the West Bank. Local sources in Beit Fajjar town, south of Bethlehem, told Radio Bethlehem 2000 that several Israeli military jeeps invaded the town, and kidnapped a former political prisoner identified as Walid Issa Taqatqa, taking him to an unknown destination. Soldiers also handed resident Hazem Nimir Taqatqa a military warrant, ordering him to head to the Etzion military base, near Bethlehem, for interrogation.
On Monday evening, soldiers invaded Saff Street, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, kidnapping Bilal Khader, 19 years of age, after the army broke into his home and violently searched it.
Earlier on Tuesday, soldiers invaded the Sheikh neighborhood, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, and kidnapped two Palestinians. Local sources said that the soldiers broke into and violently searched several homes, and kidnapped Baha’ Hasan Ma’bad, 26, and Sary Mohammad Ma’bad, 25, taking them to an unknown destination. Soldiers also invaded the home of resident Qassem Ed’eis and served his son, Niad, with two warrants for interrogation by the army and the “security” forces.
PA police: Israeli army harboring 4 murder suspects
HEBRON (Ma‘an) Tue 25 Feb — Four Palestinians suspected of involvement in killing a man in Yatta south of Hebron have fled to an Israeli military camp that has refused to hand them to the Palestinian Authority, police said. The four suspects are accused of killing Ali Ismail Ibrahim al-Adrah, 44, from Yatta earlier on Monday. “The Israeli army, which is protecting the suspects, claimed that the four are Israeli soldiers who entered the camp in civilian outfits and are under (its) protection,” a police statement said. The statement explained that al-Ardah was struck with an iron rod and was taken to a hospital where he pronounced dead on arrival. After initial investigations four people who had argued with the man were sought but they fled to an Israeli military camp in Masafer Yatta, it said. “It was not enough for the Israeli army to commit organized crime against our people … Now they work on harboring fugitives,” the statement concluded. An Israeli military spokesman responded that eight people were detained and taken for questioning after an incident in a nearby town but did not elaborate.
Detainees / Repatriation of remains
Palestinian prisoner dies weeks after assault by Israeli guards
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) Tue 25 Feb — A Palestinian prisoner who was assaulted by guards in an Israeli jail earlier in February has succumbed to his injuries, the man’s brother said Tuesday. Jihad Abd al-Rahman al-Taweel, a 47-year-old man from Jerusalem, died at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba late Monday, Sharif al-Taweel told Ma‘an. Jihad al-Taweel was hospitalized over two weeks ago after Israeli guards raided his ward and assaulted prisoners with pepper spray, a relative of the man said Friday [IMEMC: they also beat al-Taweel with batons]. Al-Taweel passed out during the assault, the relative said. A week after al-Taweel was hospitalized, the Israeli prison service had asked his family to sign discharge papers, but the family refused to sign until they could ensure his situation had stabilized enough for him to be discharged. The relative said that al-Taweel, who was a father of five, was serving a three-month sentence in Beersheba prison after Israeli police caught him driving a vehicle without a driver’s license.
Israeli returns remains of 2 Palestinians from Tulkarem
TULKAREM (Ma‘an) Mon 24 Feb — Israeli forces late Sunday returned the remains of two Palestinian men to their families via the al-Tayba checkpoint west of Tulkarem, a Palestinian official said. Tamir Arafeh, director of Tulkarem’s military liaison, told Ma’an that the Israeli military liaison department delivered the remains of Sarhan Burhan Sarhan and Muayyad Mahmoud Saleh al-Din, both from Tulkarem. Israel has in recent months returned the remains of several Palestinians that had been held in Israel for years.
Palestinian scouts rally across Middle East for right of return
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Mon 24 Feb — Palestinian scout groups from across the Middle East rallied over the weekend in a unified event to demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees. The event, “Scouts Lead the Way, The Camp is Our Address, Return is Our Choice,” was organized by by the Palestinian Scouts’ Association and saw activities organized in Balata refugee camp, Shu‘fat camp in Jerusalem, ‘Ein al-Hilweh in Lebanon and Yarmouk camp in Syria. It was the first time Palestinian scout groups have organized across borders to march in unity for national Palestinian issues of concern and the events were connected via a video link. After playing the national anthem and holding a moment of silence for Palestinian victims of the conflict, head of the Palestinian Scout Association in Palestine, Muhammad Jamil Sawalmeh, opened the events by emphasizing how the scout movement had preserved Palestinian culture across a generational and geographic divide….
UNRWA chief speaks of ‘shocking’ scenes in besieged Syria camp
AFP Tues 25 Feb — The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees spoke Tuesday of the “shocking” conditions he had seen inside a Syrian camp which has been under siege and bombardment for months. UNRWA chief Filippo Grandi called for sustained access for aid deliveries to some 18,000 Palestinians who have been trapped under fire in the Yarmuk camp, in south Damascus, with dwindling food supplies. “It’s like the appearance of ghosts,” he said of the sight of hundreds of Palestinians flooding towards an aid distribution point at the camp, when he was in the Syrian capital on Monday. “These are people that have not been out of there,” he told reporters in Beirut. They “have been trapped in there not only without food, medicines, clean water — all the basics — but also probably completely subjected to fear because there was fierce fighting.” He said the part of the camp he had been able to enter was “like a ghost town”. “The devastation is unbelievable. There is not one single building that I have seen that is not an empty shell by now.” But he said the condition of the camp’s remaining residents “is more shocking even”. “They can hardly speak,” he said.
Podcast: People of Yarmouk ‘have suffered enough,’ says UN
Tue 25 Feb by Nora Barrow-Friedman — This week on The Electronic Intifada podcast: * An update on the humanitarian situation inside the besieged Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, Syria, as distribution of food and medical aid resumes; we’ll hear from Christopher Gunness, spokesperson for the UN agency for Palestine refugees. Read transcript and listen to individual segment. * Students at San Diego State University present their case for divestment to the student government, we’ll speak with student activist Nadir Bouhmouch about the push for divestment from companies which profit from Israel’s occupation, and the backlash they’re receiving from the administration. Read transcript and listen to individual segment. * Poet-activist Remi Kanazi’s new piece, “This Divestment Bill Hurts My Feelings.” Read transcript and watch individual segment.
Activism / BDS
Harvard students collect testimonies of apartheid from Palestine to USt
Electronic Intifada Wed 26 Feb by Nora Barrow-Friedman — The following statement is by the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee: “On Monday, the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) launched a testimony campaign, similar to last year’s mock eviction notices, to kick off international Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). The notices, posted on Harvard undergraduate student dorm-room doors, ask the questions, “How have you experienced apartheid?” or “What does apartheid mean to you?” A variety of Harvard community members, from graduate and undergraduate students to service workers, have answered these questions from their own experiences, positionalities/identities and claims on subjective apartheid … It was called apartheid in South Africa, segregation in the United States, and has become hafrada in Israel, a Hebrew word defining the official Israeli state policy of “separateness” imposed on Palestinians. From segregated roads, buses, and territories, to checkpoints, a massive separation barrier and the largest open-air prison in the world in Gaza, it has become quite difficult not to declare Israel an apartheid state. In following the example of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which sought to hear the real lived stories of those who suffered under South African apartheid, PSC has compiled a list of testimonies to a blog where they can be accessed by all to bear witness, jointly heal, and take part in the process of standing against apartheids that perpetuate in our societies.
Luxembourg pension fund dumps 9 Israeli firms over settlements
Electronic Intifada Tur 25 Feb by Ali Abunimah — Luxembourg’s state pension fund FDC has excluded nine major Israeli banks and firms and one US company because of their involvement in Israeli settlements and human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories. The move follows similar steps taken by other major financial institutions including the Dutch pensions giant PGGM and Norway’s state pension fund. FDC is required to abide by a socially responsible investment strategy and has published a list of 61 “excluded” firms that do not comply with its standards. These include all five of Israel’s major banks – Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank – on the grounds of “association to supporting construction of illegal settlements in occupied territories.” Other firms involved in settlement construction on the exclusion list are AFI (Africa Israel Investments), Jerusalem Economy, Ltd., and Real Estate Management & Development. The arms manufacturer Elbit Systems is excluded for its role in “providing security systems for illegal separation barrier on occupied territories.”
Fatah awaits Hamas’ response to reconciliation proposal
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) Mon 24 Feb — Fatah is still waiting on an answer from Hamas regarding a recent proposal for national reconciliation, a Fatah spokesman said in a statement Monday. Ahmad Assaf said that Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has requested more time to respond to the proposal. “We still await a response from Hamas leadership,” Assaf said. Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad discussed the latest reconciliation proposal with Haniyeh in a recent telephone call, he added. Additionally, Assaf dismissed recent comments by Gaza Deputy Prime Minister Ziad al-Zaza saying that Hamas was waiting to hear from Fatah about reconciliation details such as security forces, arms, and employees.
German Chancellor Merkel visits Israel with almost her entire Cabinet, discusses peace process
JERUSALEM (AP) Mon 24 Feb by Ian Deitch — Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that she is visiting Israel with most of her new cabinet in order to show Germany’s friendship with the Jewish state and that her country is working to secure the future of Israel … Germany’s foreign minister heaped tough criticism on Israeli settlement policy in the West Bank ahead of the visit, calling the construction “disruptive” to peace efforts and saying it would be raised during two days of meetings with Israeli leaders. Frank-Walter Steinmeier made the blunt remarks in Madrid before flying to Israel.
Official: No threats from Israel to disconnect electricity
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) Tue 25 Feb — A member of the Palestinian committee for organizing electricity on Tuesday denied that the regional Israeli electricity company had threatened to disconnect electricity for the West Bank. Mujahid Salameh told Ma‘an that Israel informed the Palestinian Authority through Quartet envoy Tony Blair that it would not disconnect electricity. He said an agreement that organizes the relationship between PA and the electricity company was proposed, and it will ensure that the Palestinian territories will be treated as a state and receive a reduced tariff. New arrangements might take place within two months, he added. On Friday, the Jerusalem District Electricity Company’s director said it has proposed to raise the price of electricity across the West Bank after the PA failed to pay millions of shekels in debt. Hisham al-Omari told Ma‘an that the company gave the PA two options, either to pay the 400 million shekels ($110 million) of debt, or raise electricity tariffs to become equivalent to Israel.
Report: Airstrike in Lebanon killed four Hezbollah fighters, targeted missiles
Ynet Wed 26 Feb — Report comes after Israeli official tells Time Magazine that Israel was behind Monday strike near Lebanon-Syria border — The air strike believed to have been carried out by Israel on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon killed four members of the militant organization and took out “a missile shipment from Syria”, the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star reported early Wednesday. According to the report, the assault targeted took two trucks, one containing missiles and the other missile launchers, which were being transported to Hezbollah missile warehouses in Lebanon.
Analysis / Opinion / Arts
Words / Samah Sabawi
21 Feb — I stand / Dispossessed / No congress behind me / No statesmen surround me / No lobby to breathe hellfire / No media eager to appease / No three-ring circus / Of intellectual jesters / Academic clowns / And policy experts / Who truly do not see /
the big elephant in the tent … All I have are my words / To tell my story / My voice / To demand justice / But you tell me / My language is too strong….
A bitter-sweet glimpse into what Jerusalem might have been
Electronic Intifada Tue 25 Feb by Sarah Irving — It is no overstatement to say that the appearance of The Storyteller of Jerusalem (Olive Branch Press) — Wasif Jawhariyyeh’s memoirs in English — is a very significant event. This is not because Jawhariyyeh was a major figure in Palestinian history or that he had great political influence. Quite the reverse. It is Jawhariyyeh’s lack of status that makes his memoirs so unusual, revealing new facets of Palestinian life before the Nakba — the ethnic cleansing that led to Israel’s establishment — and challenging many preconceptions and stereotypes … This is a rare glimpse into “middle-class” life in Jerusalem at the end of the Ottoman period, where the important things are food, family and getting an education, not palatial homes and political goings-on. Talented musician Wasif, however, was found at a young age to be a talented musician, playing instruments such as the oud and the rababah or rebeck. This ability gives his autobiography an extra perspective, because he often worked as a personal musician to members of the Jerusalem elite, including men of the Husseini and Nashashibi families …
Vibrant nightlife Far from being an austere, religious place at the heart of political events, Jawhariyyeh’s Jerusalem is a city with a vibrant nightlife, performances by famous musicians from Cairo and Beirut, songs satirizing contemporary events and personalities and partygoers dabbling in recreational drugs
Why does Israel feel threatened by humanitarian workers? / Anne Irfan
Electronic Intifada Mon 24 Feb — The Israeli detention of and denial of entry to Western activists, academics and humanitarian workers sympathetic to Palestinians has received particular attention in recent years, following the targeting of high-profile figures including Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky. During the first week in February, I was on the receiving end of Israeli detention practices myself when I attempted to enter the occupied West Bank from neighboring Jordan via the Allenby Bridge border crossing … Opacity Most fundamentally, the Israeli detention of “undesirable” travelers provides a terrifying insight into the daily lives of millions of Palestinians, who go without the protections of a Western passport. For all the fear and horror of my experience, I ultimately knew that the worst thing the Israeli authorities could do was detain and eventually deport me. Palestinians have no such guarantee. Moreover, during my detention and multiple interrogations I came face-to-face with the impunity and unaccountability of the system, maintained by way of total opacity. On a superficial but symbolic note, all the Israeli occupation personnel wore badges with information in Hebrew only — a language which the majority of detainees and travelers through this crossing will not be able to read. We were given no information or explanations as to what was happening … My detention was also indicative of Israel’s increased targeting of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). I have previously volunteered in Bethlehem in a program organized by a British NGO; more recently I worked for the London-based charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP). My interrogators questioned me about this work at length, fixating particularly on pushing me to provide the names and contact details of Palestinians I knew in the West Bank