Photostory: Retracing bus no. 23 on the historic Jerusalem-Hebron Road

I was 13 years old standing next to my father in Bethlehem one sunny and windy day when he took my hand and pointed to the settlement of Gilo and said, “See baba, see there?” My eyes followed his finger as it moved across the landscape and stopped at the settlement of Har Gilo. “And there. See? They are going to build settlements just like those all around us.” Then with his arm still outstretched, we turned in a circle and as I watched his finger pointing at the horizon line around Bethlehem and Beit Jalla, he added, “One day they will encircle us.” 

The Banality of Suffering

Is it looking at my own students at Birzeit University that reminds me of my old English teacher John S.? Every Tuesday and Thursday at 3:10 pm, and ten minutes before the end of class, they are all restless in their chairs, eager to continue their day without me. I do not take it personally. I feel their energy. But I do remember John fondly. I recall his ability to last throughout the lesson and to end it with a virtual cliffhanger. Not all, but some of us would just be sitting there, nailed to our chairs, as the bell rang and other students began chatting, doors opening, noise everywhere. And, in the midst of clatter and laughter, John’s last sentence would linger in the air. His cliffhanger. 

Why is Israel separating me from my wife?

Israel has decreed that my wife and I can no longer live together. I am Palestinian and she is Swiss and we have been married for 28 years. She was recently given two weeks to leave the occupied Palestinian territory. The Israeli Ministry of Interior wrote on her Swiss passport: “LAST PERMIT.” We have been living together in Ramallah for 12 years. We came in 1994, when, after the Oslo Agreement, we were encouraged to move to the West Bank by the prospect of ‘peace’ and development. My wife Anita speaks Arabic, likes the landscape, cooks Arabic meals, and she cares for my grandfather’s village house — an old stone building and the plants around it — more than I do. 

Checkpoint Hassles

Salfit is a very beautiful part of Palestine in spite of all the sadness due to the huge Ariel settlement. Ariel, as well as many other smaller colonies and highways, have now managed to cut all the way across Salfit to the Jordan Valley. The northern West Bank has now been severed from the central West Bank. There are now four smaller, instead of three larger, Bantustans in the West Bank. In total, there are now five Palestinian Bantustans, if you include Gaza. Each is completely surrounded by Israeli checkpoints and with total Israeli control of air and sea space. If this is what is meant as the “Palestinian State” by Bush and Olmert, it is definitely not viable. 

Aftermath of the Beit Hanoun Siege and Massacre

Between the 2nd and 8th of November 2006, the town of Beit Hanoun (population 28,000) was under a siege and blockade by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Beit Hanoun is located in the Northern Gaza Strip, immediately south of the Apartheid Wall around Gaza and Erez Crossing with Israel. The besieged residents of Beit Hanoun suffered widespread collective punishment, such as a cut off of electricity and water. House to house searches were conducted, and males over the age of 16 years were summarily rounded up, imprisoned and interrogated. Many families were forced to huddle into rooms away from windows because Israeli snipers were on the rooftops killing people. 

Streets of Hate

His panic-stricken little face lights up when he receives the information that we’ll escort him home, sending him skipping merrily down the road on an errand to buy potatoes. This is the Palestinian Authority controlled area of Hebron, and as we cross through Tel Rumeida checkpoint to the other side in order to wait for the Palestinian boy’s return, we soon discover the source of his fear. We are confronted by around 100 ultra-orthodox Jews, who are gathered in Hebron to mark ‘Hebron day’, one of whom shouts “You know that Jesus is gay?”. None of us really react to this arbitrary taunt, however it does serve to focus the crowd’s attentions squarely on our small group of human rights workers. 

Necessity is the Mother of Inventive Nonviolent Resistance

Long ago, Thomas Edison invented the electric light at a time when there was a need for light. Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone at a time when there was a need for telecommunications. Now, the Palestinians in Gaza have invented a new weapon of nonviolent resistance at a time when they desperately need such a weapon to defend their homes from the ongoing Israeli airstrikes that destroy Palestinian homes on a nearly-daily basis. The new Palestinian weapon is very simple, all you need is to call on your neighbors, friends and beloved ones to gather around your home or on its balconies or on its rooftop… 

Palestinian mass resistance blocks Israeli air strike

Palestinians have started to employ new tactics to prevent Israeli air attacks on their houses. Hundreds of protesters successfully forced the Israeli air force to halt air strikes on a house belonging to Muhammad Baroud in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday night. Israeli warplanes have already destroyed more than 60 houses belonging to activists from Palestinian factions across the Gaza Strip, using the same method of ordering the residents, through a telephone call at short notice, to evacuate their home prior to bombardment. 

Slaughter in the Town of Al Yamoun

Today we are taking direct testimony from victims and witnesses of two separate killing incidents by Israeli Occupation Forces which have recently occurred here in Al Yamoun during the past 16 days. The first one was on 27 October 2006 and the second one was on 7 November 2006. We are in the home of the Hasan Abu Hasan family. On 27 October 2006, during the period of Eid Al Fitr, the celebratory period at the end of Ramadan, Mohammed, age 38, was up on the roof here at his home. He was with his brother, Ra-ef, age 19 hanging laundry to dry before sunrise at approximately 3:30 am. He and his brothers were preparing to go to the mosque for Al Fajr, which is the first Morning Prayer, and a very important occasion during the Eid. 

A Tale of Two Sisters: Witnessing an Undercover Israeli Operation in Ramallah (2)

Today is November 15th. Today is our supposed “Independence Day”. A joke. Was almost killed today. This will be brief and inarticulate. I am still in shock…I peeked again, to see some Israelis beating the shit out of a Palestinian man and throwing him into their van. The mustarabeen next to us got back into their van. As we were in their way they smashed into our car and sped off. Meanwhile in front of us and to the right, the Israelis started to pull back. Kids started throwing stones. They shot at us again. They started pulling back again.