De-developing Palestine, one "visit permit" at a time

I am an American citizen of Palestinian descent and have been employed by the Arab American University-Jenin (AAUJ) in the occupied West Bank as an assistant professor of American literature for the past two and a half years. This month, while attempting to re-enter the West Bank through the land border with Jordan to start the academic year, I was denied re-entry by the Israeli authorities and questioned at length about my Palestinian heritage. The stated reason for the denial was that I had broken the law. 

"Where are you from?"

For Palestinian expatriate nationals like me who have managed to find their way back to Palestine in order to contribute in some fashion, what’s on the horizon is far from clear. Our foothold is tenuous; we are here on sufferance by the Israelis who control the borders and the areas between towns and villages and let us in carefully or not at all. Rima Merriman writes from Jenin. 

With the Palestine Medical Relief Society in Jenin

I am here in the local Jenin district office of Palestine Medical Relief Society (PMRS) with Dr. Jameel Hamad, the district manager. The City of Jenin has a total population of about 50,000, of which 13,000 live in the Jenin refugee camp. The entire district of Jenin has 300,000 inhabitants. In terms of health care, the main provider of health services until recently has been the Ministry of Health under direction of the Palestinian Authority. It runs the main hospital in Jenin, as well as many primary health care centers in the city. Unfortunately, because of the Israeli/American/EU sanctions, which were the West’s reaction to a democratically elected Hamas majority in the Legislative Counsel, the PA’s health systems are falling apart. Many health care workers have been on strike, because they are not being paid. 

Struggling to be self-reliant in Jenin

Why are so many children born with mental and physical disabilities in Jenin? It is this question the staff of the Local Committee for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled (LCORD) set out to answer after more than a decade of working with such children and their families. LCORD carried out some research, to try to discover what was causing so many cases in their region. They interviewed 215 mothers of CP sufferers, and found something they had not been looking for: that almost 70 per cent of them (150 of the mothers) were all using the same, cheap contraceptives. 

And the occupation goes on...

Home demolitions are a regular tactic of the Israeli occupying army. On a recent trip to the northern West Bank city of Jenin, I met with a family in the Jenin Refugee Camp. Their home was destroyed for the second time in just over two years this time because one of their 11 children was “wanted” by the Army. In April of 2002 their home was also destroyed during the invasion of Jenin Camp where over 50 people were killed and hundreds of homes destroyed. Their home was rebuilt over the past year and recently completed with nearly 30 million (US) in aid being donated by the United Arab Emirates to help rebuild the camp. 

Prisoner Stories: Sleiman Sari al Sa'di's sons

Less than a month after being released from prison, Omar al Sa’di was arrested at the Huwara checkpoint . The reserve sentence associated with his previous sentence means that he is guaranteed four years in prison no matter what. Two informers who are currently themselves in Israeli prisons have accused him of being the leader of a group opposing Israel, they themselves confessing to being part of that group. He is also accused of trying to fire in the air near an Israeli settlement and of trying to attack Israeli collaborators. His parents have a document in Hebrew specifying these accusations, but because they can’t read the language, they know only roughly where the names are in the document of those accusing him. 

It's Not About Yassin

On my way back to the office at the Arab American University of Jenin in the West Bank, I ran into Amal, the cleaning lady. She is normally in a bubbly mood but today was despondent, which was ironic as her name means ‘hope’ in Arabic. I greeted her and then just listened as she tearfully recounted a litany of people killed or maimed by Israeli soldiers in the last few days - most recently the early morning assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. She seemed especially sad this morning, but not because she was a Hamas activist or Yassin supporter, but a mother with 7 daughters. 

Sharon's pattern of provocation

Night has fallen, and I am staring at mounds of rubble. This used to be a neighbourhood in the Jenin Refugee Camp. For the Jenin survivors, their tragedy is known worldwide. Numerous foreigners like me come to gape at what Abdul calls “Our Ground Zero”. The U.N., NGOs and a few Arab states have pledged assistance to rebuild — a process that is slowly happening. What I find depressing is that almost daily throughout the occupied territories, Palestinian are being killed and their houses demolished in virtual obscurity. Scott Weinstein writes from Jenin. 

Ramadan begins in Jenin

“The Holy Month of Ramadan, marked by fasting and reflection, has begun and energy levels seem low. But in any case, people have little to do. The Palestinian economy is dead and what money remains in Jenin is slipping away fast — most of it into Israel itself to pay for electricity, gas, water and telephones, to list just a few of the bills which have to be settled. None of the money comes back. It is hard for a large family to live on just US $10 per day and be energetic.” Nick Pretzlik reports from Jenin. 

Up against the Apartheid Wall

Life here on the ground in occupied Palestine is rarely reported in the United States. The brutal impact of Israel’s military occupation is hidden behind the rhetoric of pundits and politicians, many of whom have never met a Palestinian. They have never, as I have, held a sick Palestinian child in their arms as her parents beg soldiers to let them pass a checkpoint. They have never babysat Palestinian children while their mother goes out to find out what happened to her husband during an armed invasion of their refugee camp. Daniel Jacob Quinn writes from occupied Jenin.