Where have all the trucks gone?

The roads to Gaza were long, dusty and, apart from Israeli military vehicles, almost completely empty on 24 October as tanks doing military exercises were far more prevalent than trucks carrying goods towards the border. The crossings are the only way Gaza can receive goods and Israel has been blockading them since June, recently tightening the blockade further with cuts to fuel and pending cuts to electricity. The once busy checkpoint crossings now lie empty. EI contributor Jesse Rosenfeld writes from outside the Gaza Strip. 

The king's pardon

Throughout history there has been a misconception concerning the true nature and influence of power. Many of us recognize correctly that power comes from strength, but where we fail to capture it is in the recognition of its ultimate use. To most of us, power — especially within the context of occupation — is determined by one’s ability to inflict violence unilaterally and with impunity. However, this is wrong. Power, in its ultimate and perhaps most abusive form, is the ability to pardon. Anyone can kill but only the king can pardon — the acceptance of which by the pardoned is the recognition of the king and his power. 

Rifkah and my mother

Today was the first time in the past seven years that I entered Jerusalem legally. I have a green West Bank Palestinian ID, which means that since the 2000 intifada started and the wall was built, I’m forbidden from entering any part of Israel as well as Jerusalem, which is only 20 minutes away from my home town of Ramallah. However, this hasn’t stopped me from going there. I would climb sandy hills opposite to Qalandia checkpoint (the main checkpoint at the entrance of Jerusalem), hide behind buildings from the sight of the Israeli soldiers, and sneak into Jerusalem. 

Another assassination in Ramallah's city center

It was a good day today, well, that is until about 5:40pm when Israeli undercover and military forces assassinated a Palestinian outside the window where I was standing. The target was Omar Abu Daher, a 22-year-old who it seems happens to be a member of a security force loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He was only one of several that were murdered in cold blood today; two more were killed in Gaza, one in Tulkarem, two others in Jenin. These are the ones reported so far, but the night is still young. 

"The end of the world is something to do with my father"

Areen Bahour is a seventh-grade student at Friends School in al-Bireh, Ramallah. The following is an essay she wrote as a class assignment: “Thinking about the end of the world is hard. I’m still 12 years old and I didn’t face the world yet so I can’t imagine the end of the world that I didn’t face yet! Well, now for me as a girl that her life is between school, home and activities I can’t think of anything except for my family. I love every member of my family, but the end of the world is something to do with my father.” 

The "Normal" Violence of Everyday Life in Palestine

I arrived from the east on a busy road and we stopped at an intersection, one block from the city-center. There was a large amount of traffic at this intersection and horns were blaring. I gradually became aware of an increasing level of intensity and anxiety. I was on the right side of the bus, looking out of the window and I noticed several women running frantically into a store. It dawned on me that something was wrong. I looked out the windows on the other side and saw two Israeli armored jeeps immediately beside my bus. Just as I registered this, guns began going off, firing short quieter bullets in quick succession and then huge, enormous bangs. 

The IDF and my daughter's hamburger

I wanted to write this two nights ago but was exhausted from playing umpteen hands of the card game UNO with my six-year-old daughter, Nadine. Why this card frenzy, especially given that I hate playing cards? Well, we were in the center of Ramallah Thursday afternoon, at 3:40 pm when the almighty Israeli military decided, again, that it was time to wreak havoc on our city. I should not really complain since what happened in Ramallah yesterday happens across the West Bank and Gaza regularly. Nevertheless, I will make an issue about it and urge every Palestinian, in every city, to make an issue about every Israeli infraction on our lives. 

Living the New Year's Raid on Ramallah

I never thought I would be so happy to come back home. I am still disoriented and traumatized, and though I had taken pain killers, and coffee after coffee, I just can’t bring myself to sleep. Early this morning while walking in Ramallah, I took a road that brought awful memories into my head. Last year, I witnessed one of the Israeli forces’ raids in Ramallah. Though it was from a distance, it was a chilling experience to be totally surrounded by bullets and blood. I have just come back from Ramallah where together with my sister I was locked inside a building at Al Manara, Ramallah’s city center, for four hours. 

An unclassifiable identity

I have just found out that I studied in Jordan. I swear I did not know that. Well, that is not the only recent discovery I’ve made about myself. I have been learning many new things about myself as a Palestinian individual, all by coincidence. For instance, a few minutes ago I learnt that I took my BA degree from Jordan. No, I am not losing my mind. Or maybe I am. It is funny how when we Palestinians are striving to prove and maintain our Palestinian identity others still perceive us as aliens. It is as if the concept of “Palestine” only exists in our heads. 

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.