Just another Gaza Friday

I’ve always loved Fridays in Gaza. In the mornings, save for the lone garbage collector futilely sweeping the abandoned streets and Municipality park, littered with plastic cups, watermelon seeds, and strangled straws from the night before, the hustle and bustle of the city comes to a standstill. It is a serene if lethargic time, an escape from the sea of chaos, uncertainty and violence that grips our lives each waking day and night. For a few hours, things seem ordinary in a place where ordinary is an illusion. 

"Don't worry - it's just another Palestinian child's death"

On 18 March 2006, Leigh Brady visited a grieving family in Al Yamun, a town in the northern West Bank. Their 7-year old daughter had been murdered the night previously by Israeli Border Police, who had entered the town to arrest “wanted” Palestinian militants in a raid led by Israeli Defence Forces. Her name was Akaber Adbelrahman Zaid and she was on her way to a doctor’s clinic to have stitches removed from her chin. Instead she received a barrage of bullets to the head, when an undercover Border Police unit opened fire on the car in which she was travelling with her uncle. 

'Annan's Story: Freedom stolen at thirteen

One day before Valentine’s Day, ‘Annan’s father went to his 13-year-old son’s school in Beitunia, Ramallah, and only found his oldest boy’s jacket and backpack on the school grounds. Along with four other boys ranging from the ages of 11 to 14, ‘Annan had been arrested by Israeli soldiers who gave him a beating that was evidenced in the bruises seen by his parents when they were finally able to see him only briefly during ‘Annan’s 15-minute court hearing two days later. He told them that the soldiers beat him with their fists and feet, as well as the butts of their guns. 

WasPR Delegation Diary 6: Stuck at Eretz Crossing, Having Coffee with Kareem

Have I been blacklisted? What will happen when we are separated from the rest of the group? After fumbling through my bags on the terminal floor to find the gifts going into Gaza, I am flabbergasted, and a bit panicky. I am sent back to the desk to pick up a piece of paper so I can disembark on the Israeli side of the checkpoint. I feel nervous. I leave the desk and then return, thinking that the soldiers have not given me back my passport. They say they can’t find it, and after a cold sweat, I discover it in my shirt pocket, right where it belongs! Part of the art of living in this part of the world is being appropriately paranoid, without being excessively so. We all miss the mark at times. That goes for Israelis, Palestinians, and also human rights activists. 

Suffocation in isolated Bethlehem

Today is my mother’s birthday. She called my cellphone as my dear friend Areej and I were walking in the late afternoon shadow of the brand-new Apartheid Wall and “terminal” seperating Bethlehem from the rest of the goddamn world. To prove that i was there, i held the phone up to the wall and slapped it as hard as i could. The “terminal,” as it is being called, is a cattle-catch maze of turnstyles and x-ray machines, all enclosed in an enormous building of wire and steel and sniper weapons with crosshairs tuned like a fiddle. This is on the “Jerusalem” side of the wall, which one is able to access only after papers are shuffled, cars are inspected, and people are humiliated and intimidated, or perhaps beaten and arrested and tortured. 

To Palestinians, Sharon was a man of war, not peace

The streets of Ramallah had a festive atmosphere last weekend as people bustled about the main commercial drag buying goods for this week’s four-day holiday Eid al-Adha. Campaign banners fluttered in the main square, and music blasted from political parties’ offices as official campaigning had just begun for the much-anticipated legislative elections to be held at the end of the month. However, conversation hushed in one corner shop in Ramallah’s old city when there was a televised update from Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, where Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been lying in a medically induced coma that will most likely be the end of his political career, should he survive. 

WaSPR Delegation Diary 5: Living In Isolation and Under Siege in Hebron and Bethlehem

As stipulated by the 1997 Hebron Protocol, Hebron is divided into the H1 and H2 areas. The H2 segment is where the Jewish settlers live amongst the Palestinian population, and it is currently the segment of the city under curfew. Agoraphobia, the fear of leaving one’s home, is common amongst the Palestinian residents of H2. There they are surrounded by six settlements within the center of the city. The Palestinians in H2 become isolated within enclaves and are faced with daily harassment and violence. They become isolated from city services as well, and this is where Medecins Sans Frontieres and the International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent come in. 

The Writing on the Wall: Claire Anastas

The Writing on the Wall is a series of interviews with Palestinians who live close to the Wall. Van Teeffelen asked three questions: How is your daily life influenced by the Wall and the checkpoints? What does freedom mean to you? What are your sources of energy? Claire Anastas is a Palestinian civilian living opposite Rachelas Tomb in Bethlehem. “In 2002, there was a lot of shooting. We lived in a cross fire. My children were paralyzed of fear and could not even use their hands. During some of the shootings the bullets entered our house. We did not know where to hide. Each night my children were waiting when the shooting would start. 

WaPSR Delegation Diary 4: Hebron - Kiryat Arba settlement and the struggle for the heart of an ancient city

After our visit with Elyakim Ha’itzni, we visit the gravesite of Dr. Baruch Goldstein. Dr. Goldstein was a physician born and raised in Brooklyn who became a Kiryat Arba settler. In 1994, he opened fire on Muslims worshiping at the mosque of Ibrahim, killing 29 worshippers and injuring more than 100, before he was bludgeoned to death by the crowd. In Kiryat Arba he is treated as a hero. Downtown Hebron looks like a ghost town. Yesterday, two Israeli soldiers were shot, so now the entire center of the city is under curfew and Palestinians cannot leave their homes. 

WaPSR Delegation Diary 3: Our Dinner with Mordechai Vanunu

East Jerusalem, March 7, 2005 — Tonight, the Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility met with Mr. Mordechai Vanunu at St. George’s Hostel in East Jerusalem. Mr. Vanunu is famous around the world for exposing Israel’s secret nuclear weapon’s program at the Dimona nuclear facility in the Negev Desert in Southern Israel. Vanunu was convicted to 18 years in prison and spent 11 of these years in total isolation. He describes psychological torture intended to break his will and says Israeli authorities tried to brand him as a criminal.