Violence / Detentions — West Bank / Jerusalem
One night’s detentions:
14 Palestinians detained in raids, including former prisoner, writer Ahmad Qatamish
Al-BIREH (Ma‘an) 14 May — Israeli forces detained at least 14 Palestinians during predawn raids across the occupied West Bank on Sunday, including renowned Palestinian writer and political scientist Ahmad Qatamish, who has spent several years in Israeli prisons, most recently a two and a half year stint under administrative detention — Israel’s widely condemned policy of internment without trial or charge. Local sources said that Qatamish, 66, was detained from his home in the city of al-Bireh near Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank, after Israeli soldiers thoroughly searched the house, damaging some of his possessions. He was then take to an unknown location. An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma‘’an that two Palestinians were detained in al-Bireh overnight. Qatamish was released from Israeli prison four years ago after spending two and a half consecutive years in administrative detention. His arrest in April 2011 and subsequent administrative detention sentence sentence sparked outrage, after Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer reported that Israeli authorities had hastily slapped together the administrative detention order by forging his name on someone else’s order. The order also stated that the writer was suspected of being a Hamas member, a claim Addameer called “absurd” as the previous week Israeli police accused Qatamish of membership in leftist faction the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the group with which he has historically been associated. Administrative detention orders, based on undisclosed evidence, are indefinitely renewable for up to six months periods. Qatamish’s order was renewed at least six times over the last period of his detention. He had previously spent several spells in Israeli jails and also spent 17 years in hiding from 1976 to 1992 to avoid re-arrest. In 1992 Qatamish was held by Israel without charge for six years, writing about his experiences of torture and ill treatment in his prison memoir “I Shall not Wear Your Tarboush (fez).” Following an international campaign for his release, he was freed in 1998, and has since been banned from traveling outside Palestinian territory.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces also raided the town of al-Tira, west of Ramallah, and detained one Palestinian, according to an Israeli army spokesperson. She added that two Palestinians were also detained in the village of Nahhalin in the southern Bethlehem district, one Palestinian was detained in al-Farah refugee camp in the northeastern Tubas district, two Palestinians were detained in the city of Qalqiliya in the northwest of the West Bank, and that six Palestinians were detained in Jenin in the northernmost district of the West Bank — on of whom was an alleged “Hamas operative,” according to the army.
Soldiers kill a young Palestinian man in Nabi Saleh
[with video] IMEMC 12 May — Israeli soldiers shot and killed, Friday, a young Palestinian man with a live round in the heart, in Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, after the army attacked nonviolent protesters, and injured several others. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the young man, Saba’ Nidal Obeid, 22, was shot with a live round in the heart fired by an Israeli army sharpshooter, and died from his wounds at Yasser Arafat Hospital, in Salfit. It added that the doctors and surgeons tried to revive the young man, and instantly moved him to surgery, but he died from his wounds … Many Palestinians were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, and dozens suffered the severe effects if teargas inhalation, as a result of the excessive Israeli military use of force against the protesters. It is worth mentioning that Obeid is from Salfit, in central West Bank, and was participating along with dozens of Palestinians in a procession in solidarity with the hunger striking detainees in Israeli prisons. The army used sharpshooters in attacking the protesters, and prevented local journalists from entering the village. Ali Dar Ali, a journalist with Palestine TV, was one of the journalists who was stopped by the soldiers, who told him that he, and all journalists, are not allowed to enter Nabi Saleh, while one of the soldiers told him that he “must remain fifty meters away” from the main road of the village. Ali told the soldier “you just killed someone in the village, and now you are trying to keep us out; we are journalists, and we have the right to be here.”….
Funeral held for Palestinian killed by Israeli soldiers during solidarity march
SALFIT (Ma‘an) 12 May — A funeral was held for 23-year-old Palestinian Saba Ubeid on Friday in the central occupied West Bank city of Salfit, after he was shot and killed by Israeli forces earlier in the day during clashes following a march in the Ramallah-area village of Nabi Saleh held in solidarity with some 1,300 Palestinians currently on a mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons.
The funeral procession set off from Yassir Arafat governmental hospital in Salfit, and headed towards Ubeid’s home where his family gave their final farewells. His body was then taken to the Salfit mosque for funeral prayers. Mourners marched in the city’s streets holding Ubeid’s body on their shoulders, until they reached the cemetery where they buried the slain Palestinian. Following the burial, mourners praised Ubeid’s role in supporting solidarity activities for the hunger strikers, adding that Ubeid himself had also spent two years in Israeli prison. The parents of Ubeid said that their son was a “martyr of the battle for freedom and dignity,” referring to the name “Freedom and Dignity” given to the mass hunger strike that was launched last month to demand basic rights for Palestinian prisoners. Representatives of the Fatah movement expressed their condolences to Ubeid’s family, while the Palestinian National Forces declared three days of mourning and that a mourning tent be erected in the city for others to pay their respects to the slain Palestinian …
Ubeid became the 21st Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces and settlers since the start of 2017, several of whom were also shot dead amid clashes with Israeli forces.
Israeli forces shoot, kill Jordanian man in Jerusalem’s Old City over knife attack
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 May — Israeli forces shot and killed a 57-year-old Jordanian man of Palestinian origin in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday after he stabbed and injured a police officer. Witnesses said an Israeli security guard at the scene also shot the attacker in the head, while backup police who arrived later slammed a table over the incapacitated man. In the wake of the incident, Israeli police assaulted local Palestinians in the area, witnesses told Ma‘an. A shop owner was detained for failing to help prevent the attack, according to Israeli police. The Israeli police officer was reported to have sustained medium wounds and was transferred to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem for treatment, according to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri, who identified the hurt policeman as a 37-year-old resident of northern Israel. Israel police identified the slain man as a 57-year-old Jordanian citizen who had arrived in the country a week ago on a tourist visa, after initially reporting him to be a Palestinian. Jerusalem-based news site the al-Quds Network said that the Jordanian national, Muhammad Abdullah Salim al-Kisaji, was of Palestinian origin and from the occupied West Bank city of Jericho…
According to al-Samri, the Israeli police officer clashed with the assailant and managed to push him back before two Haredi Jewish passersby tried to help the police officer. “However, the attacker continued to attack the injured officer with the knife in his hand, until the officer pulled out his handgun and neutralized the attacker,” al-Samri wrote. Israeli daily Haaretz reported that a second man at the scene received a light wound to his arm. An eyewitness and local shop owner corroborated to Ma‘an that he saw an assailant wearing a black coat stab the Israeli policeman multiple times in the neck and face. Surveillance camera footage [below] later released by Israeli police showed the first moments of the attack, in which a man dressed in black can be seen throwing himself at a policeman while swinging a knife, tackling him to the ground …
“The injured officer then fired heavily at the stabber and after he fell to the ground, a security guard escorting a group of settlers fired a bullet at the attacker’s head,” the Palestinian witnesses, who asked to remain anonymous, said. Backup police officers then arrived and one of them “hit the attacker with a plastic table while he was lying motionless on the ground,” according to the same witness. He added that while Israeli medics arrived within minutes and treated the injured police officer, the “attacker was left on the ground for 45 minutes without any medics coming near to him,” until the slain man was finally wrapped in a plastic bag and evacuated from the site. Palestinian shop owners in the Old City told Ma‘an that immediately after incident, Israeli forces stormed their shops, forcibly removed their customers, and forced them to shut down … According to al-Samri, the owner of the kiosk, a Palestinian Jerusalemite, was detained for allegedly failing to help thwart the attack … According to Haaretz, Israeli police were investigating whether the attack may have been driven by a personal grievance or a mental issue, and that police also raided the hotel where al-Kisaji had been staying and detained one of the trip organizers….
Jerusalem’s alleged attacker reported 58-year-old Jordanian citizen
JERUSALEM (WAFA) 13 May – A man who allegedly stabbed on Saturday an Israeli policeman outside Chain Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem and was shot dead at the scene was later identified as a 57-year-old Jordanian citizen. Israeli police said the man, whose name was not revealed, arrived in the country a week ago on a tourist visa and that investigation was still ongoing. The Israeli police officer reportedly stabbed received moderate injuries. He was known for attacking Muslim worshippers, particularly women at Al-Aqsa Mosque. The alleged stabbing took place outside one of the gates to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Palestinians said in Jerusalem that police chased women inside the mosque following the stabbing and that they arrested a Palestinian mosque guard after the filmed the police chasing and attacking women. The film, put on the internet, showed police chasing and trying to grab attacking Palestinian women inside the Muslim holy place.
Israel, Jordan trade barbs over death of Jordanian who stabbed Jerusalem cop
Haaretz 14 May by Jack Khoury, Barak Ravid & Nir Hasson — The death of a Jordanian tourist, who was shot dead after stabbing an Israeli cop in Jerusalem, has provoked a war of words between Israel and Jordan on Saturday. Mohammed Skaji [Kisaji?], 57, was shot dead by the officer after attacking him with a knife. Making no mention of the stabbing, Jordanian Minister for Media Affairs Mohammed Momani issued a statement calling Skaji’s death a “crime” and saying that as Israel is the occupying force in Jerusalem, it is responsible for it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau called the Jordanian minister’s statement “outrageous,” saying it amounted to an expression of support for a terrorist attack. “The security footage clearly shows a Jordanian tourist stabbing an Israeli police officer with a knife,” the bureau’s statement said. “It’s time for Jordan to stop this double game. Just like Israel condemns terrorist attacks in Jordan, Jordan must condemn terrorist attacks in Israel. Terror is terror.” According to Israel Police, Skaji stabbed a police officer in his late 30s Saturday afternoon in Jerusalem’s Old City near the Lions’ Gate. The officer, who was moderately wounded, managed to hold off Skaji and shoot him. A second man at the scene was lightly wounded in his arm. The police stated that Skaji had arrived as part of a tour group. Police are investigating whether the attack may have been driven by a personal grievance or a mental issue. Police also detained the owner of a stand near the scene. The stand owner, a resident of Jerusalem’s Old City, allegedly saw the attack and tried to prevent another bystander from coming to the policeman’s aid. Police also raided the hotel where Skaji had been staying and detained one of the trip organizers, Palestinian sources said.
Army injures a Palestinian, abducts another, in Jenin
IMEMC 14 May — Israeli soldiers invaded, on Sunday morning, the Jenin refugee camp, in the northern West Bank governorate of Jenin, shot and injured one Palestinian, and caused many so suffer the effects of teargas inhalation, before abducting a young man. The soldiers broke into and ransacked many homes in the refugee camp, and harassed several Palestinians, leading to clashes. One Palestinian, Yazan Mohammad Ja‘aysa, 20, was shot with a live round fired by the soldiers, while many Palestinians suffered the severe effects of teargas inhalation. Medical sources said Ja‘aysa was shot with a live round in his leg and is currently in a moderate-but-stable condition. He was moved to the Jenin governmental hospital for treatment. Furthermore, the soldiers assaulted Yassin al-‘Ammouri and his family, while searching and ransacking the property, and abducted him.
Israeli officer rams Palestinian child with car, flees scene
IMEMC 13 May — A Palestinian child was injured, on Saturday evening, after a police officer rammed him with his car, in occupied Jerusalem, and fled the scene. Eyewitnesses said the child was struck near Bab al-Amoud (Damascus Gate) before the Palestinians called for an ambulance. The child was moved to a hospital in occupied Jerusalem; the extent of his wounds remained unknown, while the officer who struck him fled the scene.
Israeli army injures 66 Palestinians near Nablus, open fire at ambulances
IMEMC 13 May — Israeli soldiers assaulted, Friday, dozens of Palestinian protesters in Beita town, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and Beit Forik town, east of the city, wounding 66 Palestinians, including one who was shot with a live round in the face, and causing damage to three ambulances.
Ahmad Jibreel, the head of the Emergency Unit of the Red Crescent Society in Nablus, said the soldiers shot one Palestinian with an illegal expanding bullet in the face, in Beit Forik, and seven others with rubber-coated steel bullets, while dozens suffered the effects of teargas inhalation. He added that the soldiers also shot sixteen Palestinians with rubber-coated steel bullets, and caused dozens to suffer the severe effects of teargas inhalation, in Beita. Also among the wounded was the deputy-governor of Nablus governorate, Anan al-Ateera, who was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet in his mouth.
Furthermore, the soldiers fired live round at a Red Crescent ambulance in Beita, including a round that struck and punctured one of its wheels, while transporting a wounded Palestinian to a hospital, and fired live rounds at two other ambulances, smashing their side and rear windows. The army also attacked many protesters holding Friday prayers near a military roadblock, installed by the soldiers at the main entrance of Beita town.
In addition, the army attacked the weekly nonviolent procession in Kufur Qaddoum village, east of Qalqilia, in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, causing dozens to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation.
Army attacks nonviolent protesters in Hebron, abduct a man from his wedding
IMEMC 13 May — Israeli soldiers attacked, on Friday afternoon, dozens of nonviolent Palestinian protesters in Beit Ummar town, north of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, while marching in solidarity with the hunger striking Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons. On Friday evening, the soldiers attacked a wedding celebration in Hebron, and abducted a young man.
Media sources in Hebron said the soldiers fired many gas bombs at the protesters, marching in solidarity with the detainees in Beit Ummar town, causing many Palestinians to suffer the effects of teargas inhalation. The sources added that the soldiers used excessive force against the protesters, and assaulted many of them. The army also invaded Kharsa area, south of Dour [Dura?] town, southwest of Hebron, installed roadblocks and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.
In Hebron city, the soldiers attacked a wedding celebration in Um ad-Daya area, in the southern part of Hebron. And abducted a young man, identified as Osama Fahmi Abu Turki, 28.
Israeli settlers attack Palestinian police vehicle in Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 May — A group of Israeli settlers attacked a vehicle belonging to the head of the Ramallah city police patrol with stones Friday evening in the occupied West Bank. Major Saleh Barahmeh was driving in the Uyoun al-Haramiyeh area between the West Bank districts of Ramallah and Nablus, accompanied by the lieutenant of the Palestinian police, Barahmeh told Ma‘an Saturday. The settlers “showered” the vehicle with rocks after hiding between trees near the road, he said. Barahmeh quickly drove away from the area until he reached Ramallah. Barahmeh said that his car was damaged during the incident.
Palestinian villagers temporarily detain armed Israeli settlers
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 12 May — Palestinians from the Qusra village, south of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank, returned two Israeli settlers to the custody of Israeli forces on Friday, after the settlers had attempted to assault Palestinian farmers from the village. Members of a “guarding committee,” which provides around the clock protection for villagers from violent Israeli settlers in the area, held the two armed Israeli settlers in the southern area of the village, after managing to stop and subdue them as they were attempting to attack Palestinian farmers in the area. An official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, Ghassan Daghlas, told Ma‘an that the two armed Israeli settlers were from the nearby illegal Yesh Kodesh settlement outpost. After members of the guarding committee contacted Israeli forces to report the settlers, Israeli forces raided the village and escorted the settlers out of the area … Residents of Qusra live in an area designated as Area B, an area of the West Bank where security affairs lie under Israeli military control, while civilian affairs are under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The Israeli military, stationed just kilometers away from the village, has for decades facilitated the wishes of the settler movement, whose illegal and often violent presence in the village has removed any sense of security felt by its Palestinian residents. Qusra is one of nearly 90 Palestinian villages in the West Bank that has implemented such “guarding committees” and nightly patrols as a form of autonomous, unarmed protection against settler attacks that Israeli authorities are complicit with and the PA has no jurisdiction to prevent.
WATCH: Israeli soldiers caught on tape looking on as settlers throw stones at Palestinians
Haaretz 13 May by Yotam Berger — Israeli soldiers have been caught on tape standing by while settlers were throwing stones at Palestinians in the West Bank. In the videos, shot on Friday near the village of Burin in the West Bank, the soldiers are seen standing meters away from the settlers, who are throwing the stones unimpeded. According to local Palestinians, the settlers arrived at the area from the direction of the illegal outpost Givat Ronen, accompanied by soldiers. The videos, taken by an employee of the human-rights group Yesh Din, clearly show the faces of both the settlers and the soldiers. “This is a very serious incident in which IDF soldiers allowed the criminals to throw stones unhindered,” Yesh Din said in a statement. “The soldiers have the responsibility to prevent violence, and they have the authority to arrest the lawbreakers and hand them over to the police. As they failed to do so, the IDF must investigate their conduct.” The IDF denied that the soldiers stood idly by. The army said that the settlers arrived in the area to put out a fire, and that both Israelis and Palestinians were throwing stones …
A similar incident took place earlier this week. Footage captured by the Rabbis for Human Rights group showed masked settlers throwing stones toward Burin on Wednesday. An Israeli soldier who arrived on the scene spoke to the settlers and ordered them to go away without making arrests. In one video the soldier appears to be having a friendly chat with a settler, and even pats him on his back.According to Rabbis for Human Rights, the incident began when Palestinians arrived in the area to put out a fire that broke out near an olive grove. During the incident, a Palestinian youth was arrested for throwing stones during the altercation, according to the Palestinians, but no Israelis were arrested.
Palestinian woman detained in Hebron for knife possession, Israeli police say
BETHEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 May — A Palestinian woman in her twenties was detained at a checkpoint at the entrance to the Ibrahimi mosque in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron Sunday evening, an Israeli police spokesperson said, claiming police seized a knife from the woman. Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri wrote in a statement that the suspect was from Hebron, and that “initial investigations suggest that the woman was seemingly planning a stabbing attack.”
Restriction of movement
Gideon Levy: How a meeting with a Shin Bet agent destroyed this Palestinian’s life
Haaretz 13 May by Gideon Levy & Alex Levac — The Israeli agent asked Taher Yaakub to become a collaborator, an offer he refused. ‘That’s how the tragedy began,’ he now says — For the Palestinians, it’s a routine story, one of many like it. Israelis, however, hardly ever hear about this disgusting method. Taher Yaakub is a Prisoner of Zion. For almost a year, Israel has prevented him from returning to his home in Jordan. Reason: He declined the extortionist proposal of the Shin Bet security service that he collaborate with the organization – in return for being given an exit permit. In the wake of his fateful meeting with agent “Hemi,” Yaakub’s life has been turned upside down: Instead of being a production technician and a family man, he is working as a day laborer, cut off from his wife and three small children. His single offense: declining the offer made by “Hemi,” which is something you do at your own risk in the occupied territories...
Yaakub was born in Beit Rima, in the central West Bank. He is 34, married and the father of three: Bilsan, six, Wassan, five, and Mahmoud, three. In the 1970s, his father moved to Jordan, and the family has lived there since, paying summer visits to relatives in Beit Rima. In 2010, Yaakub married his fellow villager and cousin, Kafa, now 24, and the couple settled in Russeifa, near Zarqa in Jordan. Yaakub has a Jordanian ID card and also an ID card from the occupied territories (because he was born here). The couple visited the Beit Rima family twice, without any problems. They came for another visit last summer, on July 16, 2016. At the Allenby Bridge, Israeli security personnel took their passports and told them to wait in a separate room. Then the money they were carrying was confiscated – 1,040 Jordanian dinars (about $1465) and $2,000. The money, he says, was earmarked for registration fees regarding land his grandfather had left the family in Beit Rima. Three hours after the family was detained, Yaakub was interrogated about the source of the money and its purpose. Not even the children were permitted to go to the bathroom. Toward evening, his wife and children were allowed to continue on their way, but had no money to pay for the trip to Beit Rima. “Figure it out,” they were told … Yaakub was accused of bringing in the money for a terrorist organization. After all, his uncles are Hamas activists. He tried to explain that he has nothing to do with terrorism and that he doesn’t like his uncles and is barely in touch with them. But to no avail…. [It looks now that (probably because of inquiries from Levy and others on his behalf) Yaakub will be able to go home to Jordan. But nothing is guaranteed…]
‘Freedom and Dignity’ hunger strike
‘Struggling with death’: Palestinian prisoners enter 27th day of mass hunger strike
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 13 May — As more than 1,300 Palestinian prisoners entered their 27th day of a mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons, Palestinian leaders have escalated efforts to put pressure on Israeli authorities as hunger strikers are “struggling with death.” Israel’s Minister of Public Security has meanwhile refused suggestions by the Israel Prison Service (IPS) to begin negotiations with the prisoners. According to the national committee formed to support the hunger strikers, 11 Palestinian prisoners joined the strike on Friday in Israel’s Gilboa prison.
Meanwhile, prisoners’ rights group Addameer confirmed that a visit has been scheduled with a lawyer from the group to meet with imprisoned Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Ahmad Saadat, who has been held in solitary confinement in Israel’s Askhelon prison.The visit has been scheduled for Sunday, May 14 at 3 p.m. Israeli authorities previously had rejected several requests by Addameer and Saadat’s family to visit him. Saadat joined the mass hunger strike more than a week ago after the action was first called for by the Fatah movement on April 17.
The committee also pointed out that potential negotiations between IPS officials and the hunger strikers have been halted. Head of the Palestinian Committee of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Qaraqe released a statement on Saturday saying that Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan had refused IPS’ suggestion to begin negotiations with the hunger strikers. Erdan reportedly said that negotiations could be launched with the prisoners only after they have ended their strikes, according to Qaraqe….
26 days in, IPS forces continue assaults on hunger-striking prisoners
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 12 May — As an estimated 1,300 Palestinian prisoners entered their 26th day of hunger strike on Friday, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) has continued to implement violent, punitive measures against hunger striking prisoners, despite earlier reports that possible negotiations would be made between IPS and strike leaders on Friday.
In Israel’s Ashkelon prison, 26 hunger-striking prisoners held in section 3 of the prison, decided to boycott medical checks in protest of ongoing punitive raids carried out by IPS forces. The boycott came hours after IPS forces raided section 3 and took the prisoners out into the prison yard, and left the hunger-strikers standing under the hot sun, handcuffed from 8 a.m to 4 p.m, according to the Handala Center for Prisoners and Former Prisoners.
Separately, several prisoners being held in solitary confinement in Ramla prison passed out and lost consciousness after IPS forces carried out aggressive search raids, which according to the center, “increased exhaustion and fatigue of the hunger strikers.”
Meanwhile, the media committee of the hunger strike released a statement saying that prisoners inside Israel’s Nafha prison have continued to be subjected to punitive procedures by IPS forces “in an attempt to break their hunger strike.” During a visit from a Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) lawyer, hunger striker Samer Abu Diak said that IPS forces “barely leave the prisoners cells,” where they continuously conduct searches and raids throughout most of the day and night. Diak’s testimony stated that IPS forces have assaulted a number of prisoners by beating them with batons and spraying them with pepper spray if hunger strikers — who have reportedly begun vomiting blood and fainting from fatigue — do not stand up during searches….
Palestinian hungers strikers: ‘They had no choice’
RAMALLAH (Al Jazeera) 14 May by Nigel Wilson — Family of Majd Ziadeh, one of 1,500 hunger-striking prisoners, say they support the fight for dignity and humanity — On a sweltering spring afternoon, relatives and supporters of the Palestinian hunger-striking prisoners gathered at a marquee in downtown Ramallah. The tent, one of dozens erected in solidarity with the prisoners across towns and villages in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, stretched across one end of Clock Square, its blue tarpaulin walls crammed with the prisoners’ images. Perched on a plastic chair, Mahmoud Ziadeh, 61, held a photograph of his son Majd, one of the 1,500 Palestinian prisoners who declared a hunger strike on April 17. Since then, Mahmoud has come here each day for eight or nine hours, displaying the photograph and talking with other affected families. “The tent has become an address for solidarity with the prisoners on strike,” he said. “Men, women, labourers, unions, ministers, municipalities and the youth – all the parts of the Palestinian community come here. Any activities, demonstrations or marches, all of them start from the tent.” On this afternoon, with no major activities planned, the tent was filled with conversation. Families swapped stories about their imprisoned relatives and shared anxieties over their conditions. “I already knew some of the families here,” said Naema Ziadeh, Majd’s aunt. “We listen to each other’s stories, and we share our feelings about having our family members in prison. We are all experiencing the same feelings. Day after day, the mood is getting worse. Psychologically it is really painful. But on the other hand, I feel proud about what he’s doing.” Majd was arrested in 2002 at the age of 18….
A timeline of Palestinian mass hunger strikes in Israel
Al Jazeera 12 May by Zena Tahhan — Palestinian prisoners have engaged in mass hunger strikes since 1968, after Israel occupied the Palestinian territories — …Palestinians have launched and engaged in mass hunger strikes as far back as 1968 after Israel occupied the remaining Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Some strikes have been regarded as successful, while others were seen to have failed to reach their goals. Several Palestinian administrative detainees have also gone on individual hunger strikes and have managed to pressure Israel into releasing them, although some have been rearrested. Though in some cases Israeli prison authorities agreed to negotiate with prisoners on improving conditions, they more often than not respond by placing the prisoners in solitary confinement, transferring them between prisons and blocking family visits. From the 1980s onwards, prison authorities resorted to force-feeding prisoners on hunger strike using a nasal tube, which resulted in the death of several Palestinians. The United Nations Committee Against Torture has called on Israel to ensure that prisoners on hunger strike are not subjected to force-feeding or other medical treatment against their will, as it could amount to torture. UN experts have also said the practice “under no circumstance will … comply with human rights standards”. Hunger strikes have taken place elsewhere throughout history as a method of nonviolent resistance. By drawing international attention to the plight of prisoners, they aim to put pressure on their jailers and spur a change in policy. The tactic was used by British and American suffragettes in the early 20th century, Irish republicans, and most notably, Mahatma Gandhi, among many others. Under international human rights norms, hunger striking is seen as a form of freedom of expression and a civil and political right. Al Jazeera compiled a timeline of notable mass hunger strikes in Palestinian history and looked at what has been achieved:….
Palestinian hunger strike highlights medical neglect
Al Jazeera 13 May by William Parry — Prison doctors should be answerable to Israel’s health ministry, not the prison service, experts contend — “I don’t differentiate between medicine and politics. They’re connected,” said Ruchama Marton, founder of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I). “More than connected: They’re inseparable.” At the time of this 2013 interview, she was speaking about the “endemic medical negligence” that Palestinian political prisoners face in Israeli jails. That fact has not changed, and is one of the key reasons why more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners launched one of the largest collective hunger strikes in recent years on April 17. The doctors who work within the Israel Prison Service (IPS) are at the heart of the problem. Most have minimal medical qualifications, Marton noted – but more importantly, they are employed by and answerable to the IPS rather than the Ministry of Health. Critics argue that this creates professional and ethical conflicts of interest. Sahar Francis, director of the Addameer prisoners’ rights group, noted: “In this hierarchy, the doctors are under the head of the prison authority, so their reliability is not for medical ethics but for the prison system.” The Israel Medical Association and human rights organisations including PHR-I have been campaigning for the state to transfer responsibility for prisoners’ health to the health or justice ministries, but experts say it seems unlikely that Israel – which has not formally responded to the request – will comply. “The prison authorities, having their doctors under control; it’s a power position. They don’t want to lose it,” Marton said. Palestinian prisoners may have existing medical conditions at the time of arrest or they may develop conditions and diseases during their imprisonment, often owing to poor conditions, according to Addameer. Rights groups also cite significant obstacles to prisoners receiving the medical care they require in jail. While each prison has a medical clinic, delays are endemic and the general outcome is a prescription for basic painkillers, observers say. Access to a specialist is particularly difficult and rife with delays, leading to potentially serious complications…
South African politicians, journalists to go on 24-hour solidarity hunger strike
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) 12 May — Several ministers of the South African government have declared they they will open a 24-hour hunger strike between the 14th and 15th of May in solidarity with some 1,300 Palestinian prisoners currently on the 26th day of a mass hunger strike. Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) movement Mustafa Barghouthi said in a statement Friday that South Africa’s minister of health, minister of communications, minister of industry and economic development, and minister of science will participate in the hunger strike along with six deputies of ministers, high officials, and leaders of the African National Congress (ANC), as well as journalists and leaders of national social organizations. Meanwhile, a statement by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement in South Africa confirmed that the 24-hour hunger strike is an act of support for “the fair demands of Palestinian prisoners and a means to exert pressure on the Israeli government to force it to respond to the hunger strikers’ demands.”
‘Marwan’ film exploring imprisoned Palestinian leader’s life to be screened in Italy
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 May — The film “Marwan” produced by Ma‘an Media Network is set to be shown at the Palestinian embassy’s headquarters in Rome, Italy on Saturday. The film, released earlier this year, explores the life of the imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi, who is currently leading a mass hunger strike among Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. He has spent more than three weeks in solitary confinement since the start of the strike on April 17. The film will be shown at 9 p.m. in cooperation with the General Union of Palestinian communities in Europe and the Palestinian embassy in Italy. A solidarity march with Palestinian prisoners is also expected to take place before the film’s showing.
Israeli navy ships attack Palestinian fishing boats in northern Gaza
IMEMC 12 May — Israeli navy ships attacked, Friday, Palestinian fishing boats in Gaza territorial waters, in the northern part of the besieged Gaza Strip.The ships chased the boats and opened live fire on them, forcing the fishermen back to shore, without being able to fish and provide for their families. Besides some property damage, the attack did not lead to any casualties of abductions.
Israeli army carries out a limited invasion into central Gaza
IMEMC 14 May — Israeli soldiers carried out, on Sunday morning, a limited invasion into Palestinian lands, close to the border fence in central Gaza, and uprooted them. Media sources in Gaza said the invasion was carried out by several army vehicles, including four armored bulldozers that were stationed in Kissufim military base, across the border fence. They added that the army advanced approximately 50 meters into the lands, and uprooted sections close to the fence, while military drones flew overhead.
Hamas cracks down on Gaza journalists
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 12 May by Ahmad Abu Amer — On April 26, the Ministry of Interior in Gaza launched a crackdown against what it described as “propagandists.” During this unprecedented move, 17 Palestinian journalists and activists were arrested for several hours before being released after pledging not to publish news about internal Palestinian affairs before verifying it with official sources. The crackdown came in the wake of escalating disputes between President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, and only a day after the Gaza Interior Ministry threatened to take decisive action against social media propagandists, saying, “Some activists deliberately spread rumors on social media in order to stir up confusion among Palestinian citizens.” On April 25, Hamas-affiliated al-Majd website, which mainly focuses on security issues, reported that the Hamas security services unveiled a dangerous plan thought up by security and intelligence agencies — without specifying which — to flood Gaza with rumors in order to create a state of confusion and chaos and disturb security in the Strip. In the days leading up to the crackdown, rumors had been spreading in Gaza, mainly about murders and thefts spread by fake accounts, which proved to be invalid hours after they were published. Spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Gaza Eyad al-Bozom told Al-Monitor that the crackdown came in light of the events that took place in Gaza following the assassination of Hamas leader Mazen Faqha on March 24, such as the arrest of dozens of individuals accused of feeding Israeli security intelligence. Meanwhile, pressure is increasing in Gaza and the siege is being tightened, while Palestinian parties are attempting to exploit the harsh living conditions in Gaza with the purpose of affecting the citizens’ psyche by spreading rumors and false news, Bozom added….
What’s keeping Gaza’s Palestinian refugees from returning to camps?
RAMALLAH (Al-Monitor) 12 May by Ahmad Melhem — The situation of Palestinians displaced from their refugee camps in Syria remains complex. Some progress toward returning them to their homes in the camps has been noted, even as other efforts have stalled. These are refugees driven from their homes in camps by the Syrian civil war. Many are second-time refugees, having ended up in Syria in the first place because they were displaced from the West Bank after the 1967 war with Israel. During an April 16 meeting, the PLO factions in Syria welcomed news that Sabina camp residents might be able to return in the near future, pending further negotiations with militants in the area. The factions also praised the government’s measures to allow movement in and out of the Khan al-Shih camp, and for the government’s ongoing negotiations with gunmen to get them to leave the Yarmouk camp. The Yarmouk talks have been particularly complicated by many factors. According to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Sabina refugee camp, just south of Damascus, was home to more than 21,000 registered Palestinians who were displaced from the West Bank following the 1967 war. The camp, however, was completely emptied of its residents following clashes that erupted in late 2012 between insurgents and the Syrian army. The latter regained control of the camp in November 2013. Khaled Abdul-Majid, secretary of the Palestinian Revolution Factions Alliance in Syria, told Al-Monitor no one has returned yet because militants remaining in southern Damascus and nearby areas could infiltrate the camp again. Abdul-Majid said negotiations are underway to remedy the situation….
From the frying pan to the fire for Syrian chef-turned-Gaza celebrity
The National 14 May by Omar Almuqdad — Every chef dreams of opening his own restaurant. Warif Kasem has done it not once, but three times. Some chefs dream of fame. Warif has achieved that too, with his own cooking show on television. And he has done it all in a war zone. A Syrian refugee who fled the fighting in his native Aleppo, 36-year-old Warif is now a celebrity chef in another war-torn city — Gaza. His restaurant, Soriana (meaning Our Syria) quickly became a favourite among a clientele long starved of exotic treats … In May 2013, Warif reached the Gaza Strip via the secret smugglers’ tunnels that linked Egypt with Gaza at the time, (they have since been destroyed) and immediately knew he had made the right decision. “It was an overwhelming and very heart-warming welcome from everyone I met there. Never felt like a stranger at all,” he says. For the first time since leaving Aleppo, Warif felt secure. He even became a celebrity when a Palestinian director suggested making a cookery series. And he also found love. He met Maha Abu Alkas, a Palestinian journalist working for France 24, when she interviewed him for a story on Syrian refugees. It was love at first sight and they were married in the spring of 2014, less than a year after Warif’s arrival in Gaza. But fate had not finished with him yet. Less than two months after the wedding, fighting broke out between Israel and Hamas, the ruling body in Gaza. More than 2,200 people were killed and Gaza City was reduced to rubble. “It was like a recurring nightmare to me. The horror of war in my country happening all over again right in front of my eyes,” says Warif. Worse, his new wife was in the thick of it, reporting on the conflict ….
Gazans hope high-rise reconstruction can boost economy
GAZA CITY (Al-Monitor) 12 May by Khaled Abu Amer — Almost three years have passed since the start of the 51-day Israeli war on the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. During this war, Israeli aircraft fully destroyed more than 11,000 housing units and partially destroyed around 160,000 others. Mufid al-Hasayneh, the minister of public works and housing in the consensus government, posted April 5 a short documentary on his official Facebook page highlighting the ministry’s reconstruction efforts that have resulted in the completion of around 75% of reconstruction works. On April 20, the ministry signed a series of contracts within the scope of the financial aid pledged by Italy at the Gaza Reconstruction Conference in Cairo on Oct. 12, 2014, and which include a grant of 16.45 million euros (around $18 million) for the reconstruction program of Gaza’s al-Nada district….
Analysis: A new underground reality is taking shape along the Gaza-Israel border / Amos Harel
Haaretz 14 May — Increased pressure from Abbas could push Hamas to try to pull off a cross-border raid | Israel’s massive anti-tunnel barrier is causing Hamas to up its posts on the other side − which isn’t necessarily bad — In recent weeks, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been gradually ramping up the pressure on the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. One punitive measure has followed another: ceasing to pay the tax on imported fuel, slashing salaries by one-third for 45,000 civil servants in Gaza who are still paid by the PA, ceasing to pay for Gaza’s electricity from Israel. Israeli defense officials are still having trouble explaining the change in Abbas’ approach, given that for the past decade, ever since Hamas seized power in the Strip, he hasn’t confronted the organization directly. “The chick still hasn’t sprouted feathers,” then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said of Abbas in 2003. But now that the chick has turned 82, something has evidently changed. One possible explanation is that Abbas believes Hamas will ultimately face an internal uprising – a hope shared by some Israelis. The idea is that Gazans will take to the streets, just like the Egyptians who flooded Cairo’s Tahrir Square six years ago, and bring down Gaza’s Islamist government. So far, however, there are no signs of this happening...
A new reality is taking shape along the Gaza-Israel border. Quietly, Israel has begun building a new barrier against cross-border tunnels. The barrier combines an underground wall, an above-ground fence and a complex system of sensors and monitoring devices. The work began in a few short stretches near northern Gaza and is supposed to kick into high gear in the coming months. Hamas is watching closely. Inside Gaza, about 300 meters (328 yards) from the border, the organization has significantly increased its number of lookout posts. Almost always, when cranes and drills appear on the Israeli side, lookout posts spring up on the Palestinian side. This isn’t necessarily bad from Israel’s standpoint. Hamas’ “border patrol” takes pains to prevent infiltrators from crossing into Israel. It arrests most of them and in one recent case even opened fire on a Palestinian who tried to enter Israel. Senior Israeli officers say Hamas is also striving to prevent rocket fire. The Hamas outposts also help the army retaliate immediately if a rocket or gun is nevertheless fired at Israel. That is, the outposts become targets that Israel attacks on the grounds that Hamas is responsible for everything that happens in the territory it controls. Evidently, Hamas also understands the rules of the game. Otherwise it’s hard to explain why almost nobody has been hurt in these Israeli punitive strikes….
Katz presents idea to build island off Gaza coast to US security officials
Jerusalem Online 13 May by Omri Ariel — As part of the US administration’s desire to show determination in promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace, senior-level National Security Council officials met earlier this week with Israel’s Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz to discuss a unique proposal. Katz’s idea is to create an artificial island off the coast of Gaza, which would contain a port, a power plant and an airport. The island would be connected to the Gaza Strip by a narrow road which would allow security supervision and enable Israel to lift its blockade of the Strip. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman have both rejected the idea, several US officials have viewed it as creative and innovative. Katz explained that his vision is part of the concept of “economic peace” and is not a substitute for peace negotiations.
Red carpet for Gaza film festival minus the stars
AFP 13 May — Gaza doesn’t have much space for cultural events — there is no proper cinema in the entire enclave — but this weekend the city’s port has been transformed into a venue for outdoor screenings. The Red Carpet Festival showcases films focusing on human rights issues and aims to provide Palestinians, many of them unemployed, with a rare opportunity to explore their dreams, or at least practise a little escapism. True to its name, the festival’s organisers have laid out a 100-metre (yard) long red carpet. But there are no celebrities; it’s for the thousands of ordinary Gazans turning out to watch the films. “The children and poor people are walking on the carpet,” organiser Saad al-Saworki told AFP proudly at Friday’s opening night. “They are far more important than the carpet.” The festival, which is in its third year, coincides with the Cannes Film Festival and aims to show that there is an alternative to the catwalks and glamour of its French counterpart, Saworki said. The maiden event was organised by Palestinian director Khalil al-Muzain in 2015 in the rubble of homes destroyed by the Israeli army in the most recent of the three wars that have devastated Gaza since 2008. This year for the first time, all of the festival’s entries are being screened simultaneously in Ramallah in the West Bank and in the Israeli city of Haifa. Around 40 films by Palestinian and foreign directors are being screened over five days. The opening film was Palestinian director Raed Andoni’s “Ghost Hunting”, winner of best documentary at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year. It focuses on Israeli prison interrogation techniques and its screening came with hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails on hunger strike for nearly a month in protest over their conditions. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the letter in which the British government committed itself to the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. Festival spokesman Saad Abu Ramadan said that the red carpet was 100 metres long to commemorate the anniversary and that parts of the text had been inscribed on it….
Palestinians cast votes for local elections in West Bank amid boycott calls
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 13 May — Amid calls by various political factions and Palestinian leaders to boycott local elections in the occupied West Bank, Palestinians began making their way to designated polling stations on Saturday after voting opened at 7 a.m. to last until 7 p.m. across the territory. However, only certain political parties were represented in the election, as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) all boycotted the elections that were called for by the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA). The Central Elections Committee (CEC) said that the election has cost some $6 million, adding that 145 local governmental bodies would be carrying out elections, which has included 536 lists representing 4,411 candidates competing for 1,561 seats …CEC chairman Hanna Nasser said elections would be held in the near future for the 65 local councils in the West Bank, where residents either did not submit a list for their councils or their lists did not meet the CEC criteria, according to official Palestinian news agency Wafa … Nasser announced Saturday evening that 39,3572 out of 787,386 eligible voters cast their votes, representing a 49.98 percent voter turnout. Voter turnout was lower in big cities compared to villages and rural areas … The preliminary election results will be announced Sunday evening during a press conference at the CEC’s media center in al-Bireh….
Mental health in Palestine among world’s worst
The New Arab 12 May by Charlie Hoyle — Political and social conditions endured by Palestinians under Israeli military occupation have left a scar on the psychological wellbeing of civilians, with Palestine suffering the highest rate of mental health disorders in the Middle East. Despite significant improvements over the past two decades in life expectancy, child mortality rates and health status, there has been a marked increase in mental health disorders in the MENA region. Conflict, violence and political instability lead to high levels of psychological distress, with a clearly established link between trauma and deteriorating mental health. Nearly every country in the region has a higher rate of mental disorders compared with the global average, according to a new study entitled The Burden of Mental Disorders in the Eastern Mediterranean Region 1990-2013. In Palestine, chronic exposure to trauma and violence over a 50-year period has led to a crisis in mental health. Palestine leads the MENA region in depression and anxiety disorders, with some estimates suggesting that more than forty percent of Palestinians suffer clinical depression, making it the highest rate in the world. The prevalence of young people, genetic homogeneity and the environmental stressors of conflict over multiple generations are all contributing factors. According to the study, 54 percent of Palestinian boys and 46.5 percent of Palestinian girls aged 6-12 years old are estimated to have emotional and behavioural disorders … While exposure to direct violence is a major driver of mental health conditions, restrictions on movement, home demolitions, checkpoints, and abuse by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank all contribute to pervasive experiences of humiliation, which exacerbate psychological stress. Around 78 percent of Palestinians report having experienced military raids on their homes, 62 percent have been verbally abused, and 43 percent physically abused between 1987 and 2011, the MAP report says….
Palestinians set to mark 69th anniversary of Nakba Day worldwide
PressTV 13 May — Palestinians across the world are set to mark the 69th anniversary of the #Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), when hundreds of their fellow Palestinians were forcibly evicted from their homeland by Israelis. The Nakba Day is officially marked every year on May 15, one day after the Israeli regime came into existence in 1948. Some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their lands in 1948 and were scattered across refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Palestine’s neighboring countries. Now, over five million Palestinian refugees are estimated to be still displaced. Israel passed controversial legislation, known as the Nakba Law, in 2011, which authorized the regime’s finance minister to cut the budget of institutions that mark the Nakba Day. Earlier this week, Israel’s right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party proposed amendments to the law that call for imposing severe sanctions on universities, colleges and academic institutions that allow the Nakba Day commemoration….
Palestinian officials hope to launch e-currency in 5 years
NICOSIA (Reuters) 12 May by Marc Jones — Palestinian officials are planning for the territory to have its own digital-only currency within five years, a move designed to safeguard against potential Israeli interference, the head of the Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) told Reuters. Palestinians have no currency of their own and use the euro, U.S. dollar, Israeli shekel and Jordanian dinar in their daily lives. But with limited control over money supply and ultimately, inflation, authorities are mulling a bitcoin-style solution, Azzam Shawwa said. “That is something we would like to see,” Shawwa said. “It will be called the Palestinian pound.”….
Trump to back Palestinian ‘self-determination’ on Mideast trip: aide
WASHINGTON (Reuters) 12 May by Matt Spetalnick — President Donald Trump will express support for Palestinian “self-determination” during a Middle East trip this month, a senior aide said on Friday, suggesting Trump is open to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict despite not having publicly embraced the idea so far. The comment by U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster came just nine days after a White House visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in which Trump vowed to seek a historic peace deal but stopped short of explicitly recommitting to the eventual goal of Palestinian statehood, a longtime bedrock of U.S. policy … Trump’s travels, which begin late next week and will also include stops in Israel and Rome, are intended to “broadcast a message of unity” by visiting holy sites of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, McMaster told reporters. Trump’s meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, currently due to be held separately, will be closely watched for whether he begins to articulate a cohesive strategy to revive long-stalled negotiations. Most experts are skeptical of Trump’s chances of brokering a peace accord that eluded his predecessors. Trump plans, in talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to “reaffirm America’s unshakeable bond to the Jewish state” and in a meeting with Abbas to “express his desire for dignity and self-determination for the Palestinians,” said McMaster, a decorated Army general with extensive Middle East experience.
Netanyahu’s vision of one-state-one-people solution
Al-Monitor 11 May by Akiva Eldar — Ahead of his upcoming visit to Israel, US President Donald Trump should update the two options he presented at his joint Feb. 15 White House news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. These were either two states for two people — one Jewish and one Palestinian, on the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River (Israel’s territory together with the West Bank) — or one state for the two people on all this land. As Education Minister Naftali Bennett said in an Al-Monitor interview with Ben Caspit on May 8, Trump must now be told the truth. So this is the truth: The option being promoted by Netanyahu and Bennett is one state for one people. One state for the Jewish people, between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. As far as they are concerned, the Palestinians are not “a people” and never were “a people.” Therefore, they do not deserve a state. They should thank Israel for not expelling them from their homes and for even being willing to make “economic” peace with them … The truth is that senior government ministers are promoting a legislative initiative designed to turn all the Jewish population between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River into one solid mass. No more Green Line (which delineated Israel from the West Bank until 1967), and no (virtual) red line of apartheid. According to this joint initiative by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (HaBayit HaYehudi) and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud), all Israeli legislation would apply to the West Bank, too. Needless to say, they don’t mean that it would apply to the Palestinian majority living there, but to settlers….
Parents of US teen killed by Hamas to sue Palestinian charity group
CHICAGO (USA Today) 12 May by John Bacon — More than two decades after their son was killed by Hamas in Israel, an American couple will file suit Friday in their relentless effort to crush groups that fund terror. But the chairman and founder of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the target of the litigation, denies the group has anything to do with terrorism and calls the claim “Islamophobia.” David Boim was a 17-year-old yeshiva student when he was fatally shot at a West Bank bus stop in May 1996. Four years later, the family sued a group of U.S.-based Palestinian charities linked to Hamas, claiming they could be held responsible for Boim’s death under federal anti-terror laws. In 2004, Stanley and Joyce Boim won a $156 million judgment that ultimately was upheld by a federal appeals court in 2008.he organizations had argued that they didn’t support the military wing of Hamas, that they simply funded aid groups operating in the West Bank. But the court ruling affirmed the principle that those who fund terror groups are responsible under U.S. law for the actions of those groups — even if the donors contend they only intended to support humanitarian activities….
The roots of resilience in Palestinian culture
The New Arab 12 May — In-depth: Methods of non-hierarchical self-organisation have long empowered Palestinian communities in the face of five decades of Israeli occupation, writes Alice Gray — June 5 this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinians have endured decades of military occupation, colonisation and institutionalised oppression in what is the longest-running conflict in recent history – yet the creativity, courage and resilience of the community in the face of this onslaught has inspired generations of activists around the world. The roots of this resilience lie deep within both language and culture, according to Dr Munir Fasheh, a professor of mathematics and education, and a leading visionary on rooted community organising in the Palestinian West Bank … Mujawarrah and community resilience “Mujaawarrah is an Arabic word that has no direct translation in English,” says Fasheh. “An approximation of its meaning could be ‘neighbouring’, but that is only an approximation and does not really capture the meaning.” He went on to clarify: “At age seven, I became a refugee along with all the other members of my family. Eight of us lived in one room in Ramallah. Conditions were extremely hard, yet I remember it as a time filled with love and nurturing, both between members of my family and with our neighbours. That is the essence of Mujaawarrah: a group who have decided to be together and support each other without hierarchy or competition, using the resources that are available to them.” … “Muthenna is a very beautiful concept that could broadly be translated to mean ‘without your existence my existence is meaningless’. It refers to the relationship between two people, where each retains their singularity yet operates in relation to the other, where the relationship becomes integral to each and each is changed by it. Contrary to Descartes’ formulation ‘I think therefore I am’, Muthenna tells us ‘you are, therefore I am’….
“The Neighbourhood Committees formed by Palestinians during the First Intifada are a great example of Mujaawarrah in action,” continues Munir, “and the Israelis’ reaction to them is telling. They hated them. They were afraid of them because people were organising their own education, getting involved in communal farming, solving their own problems as a community – and they could not be controlled….