West Bank

My new birthday

I am a third generation of the Palestinian Nakba, the forced expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland by Zionist forces. I now feel that I am a very lucky person. I never felt lucky before my new birthday: the day I visited my destroyed original village of Deir Rafat, where my grandfather and his family lived before they were forced out in 1948. Areej Ja’fari writes from Deheisheh refugee camp. 

Israeli forces terrorize Deheisheh refugee camp

It started out as a normal Saturday morning. We were hanging out in Ibdaa Cultural Center in Deheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem. We were all sitting in the cafe at Ibdaa, which is on the fourth floor and has windows around three sides of the building. We were drinking coffee, chatting, watching television and all of a sudden there was a loud sound like a grenade or a bomb. Marcy Newman writes from Deheisheh. 

Hatred is too heavy a burden to carry

The West Bank is fragmented by checkpoints, settler-only roads, closed military zones and Israeli-declared “nature reserves.” The road barriers come in many forms — barbed wire, metal fences, cement blocks, dirt mounds, trenches and permanent border crossings or terminals like Qalandia around every Palestinian city. The one at Qalandia actually says “Welcome to Israel,” as though it was an international border. Cathy Sultan writes from the occupied West Bank. 

Photostory: Total occupation, a journey around Hebron

With 400 hard-line religious settlers packed tightly amidst more than 160,000 Palestinians in the center of Hebron’s Old City, violence is not a probability, it is a given. Add to that the nearly 2,000 Israeli troops assigned to “protect” the settlers and you can begin to understand how peace is a little more than a word in this part of the West Bank. Eddie Vassallo’s pictures tell a story of occupied Hebron. 

"When I'm big will I go to jail like Daddy?"

“Momma, when I’m big will I go to jail like Daddy?” That was little Adam’s question for his mother when I came to visit their house, just before leaving the village of al-Tuwani for a brief trip home to the United States. Adam is three years old. His mother tells me that he wants his father to come home from jail and bring him ice cream. “Adam is upset,” she says. 

Returning to Nablus: Collateral damage

Fedaa recounted that three days ago her husband woke her at 1:15 am and told her, “ ‘There’s Jewish in our area and I am afraid about Lara alone in her room. Go to her room.’ I said, ‘Nomair, I want to sleep.’ He come back angry and said, ‘Fedaa, wake up.’ Suddenly they shoot at us. I get out and go quickly to Lara’s room. They shoot us again in Lara’s room. Nomair started shouting at them, ‘Go! What do you want? Why do you shoot us? There is a baby here.’” Alice Rothchild writes from Nablus. 

Normality in the West Bank

It is the constant reminder that every aspect of people’s lives here is affected by the occupation. My Palestinian friends who have lived their whole lives in this context tell me that one of the worst things of existing under such conditions is that after a while it becomes normal. One comes to expect everything. One has to endure everything. One has to remain hopeful that life will become easier one day. Maria York’s words and photographs tell about daily life in the occupied West Bank. 

Far from Palestine's sea

As a lawyer for the Palestinian peace negotiating team, I met presidents, prime ministers, Nobel laureates, secretaries of state and other important figures. But none of these individuals hit me with the same emotional wallop as a young woman named Majda. Diana Buttu writes from occupied Ramallah. 

Nahr al-Bared and the right of return

I left Lebanon more than a week ago and am only now starting to find words. I have never before been in a place that has seen so much war. Occupation, yes. Injustice, yes. Death and destruction and uncertainty, perhaps. But something felt different about Lebanon. I have not wrapped my mind around it enough to feel confident that what I write will accurately represent my own thoughts, let alone the actual situation. But I do want to tell you about Nahr al-Bared. Hannah Mermelstein writes. 

"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.