West Bank

Rachel's Grove vulnerable in Bethlehem

The deep blue fleecy sky tells a story of idyllic holiday destinations. We are with Abed Rabo from Deheisheh refugee camp, Bethlehem, on our way to his land. With support from the Olive Tree Campaign from the Joint Advocacy Initiative, Abed Rabo has planted olive trees to send a clear message to Israel that the land it wants to confiscate for “Greater” Jerusalem is his land. Adri Nieuwhof and Amer Madi write from occupied Bethlehem. 

Mr. Bush's trip to Ramallah

So US President George W. Bush came to Ramallah, and of course the city was turned upside down. The Palestinian Authority (PA) wanted to show that they were up to the task of handling the security. I managed to get a press pass and I was cynical but curious to see how the big show would go down. All the photographers and journalists were told to come at 6am at a certain location so that they could be taken all together to the Muqata’a, the PA’s headquarters. Anne Paq reports from Ramallah. 

Bush's "vision" is Palestine's nightmare

Much more important issues than the siege on Gaza were on Bush’s agenda. The need to realize and work on a “vision” for the future was in the forefront of Bush’s mind. “The parties” should now sit down and “negotiate a vision” — the parties being Israel, the fourth strongest military might in the world and a forty-year-long occupier, and the Palestinians, a stateless people who have been dispossessed by Israel for sixty years and under brutal military occupation by their colonizers for over four decades. Sam Bahour comments from al-Bireh/Ramallah. 

A Palestinian love story

A few months ago, a European professional in Ramallah threw a farewell party after completing part of the project for which he was recruited. The European himself, a Belgian, spent many years previously in the Palestinian territories and was very well liked locally, not least because he married a Palestinian woman, but that’s another story. A friend and old colleague of mine came up to me at the party and asked me discretely about A., a good-looking and outgoing woman who works with us. 

Refusing to accept apartheid in Beit Jala

Last night the rains finally arrived in Beit Jala, a small town in the West Bank, one kilometer west of Bethlehem and about eight kilometers south of Jerusalem. Its alluring hills are covered with olive trees, vineyards and apricots. In 1967 Israel confiscated 22 percent of Beit Jala’s land. Now, the construction of Israel’s separation wall is in full swing and will cut off another 45 per cent of Beit Jala’s land. We went to visit the area to feel the impact of the wall and listen to the stories of the farmers who didn’t sell their land and choose to resist the its confiscation. Adri Nieuwhof and Amer Madi report from Beit Jala. 

Prisoner release clouded by thousands still in custody

Thousands gathered at the presidential compound in Ramallah on 3 December 2007 to welcome 429 Palestinian prisoners just released from Israeli jails as part of what Israel has called a “goodwill” gesture. Nonetheless, behind the cheering and flag waving, the feeling was bittersweet as the families of the released were overjoyed to have their loved ones returned, while there remained an atmosphere of cynicism towards Israel’s “gesture.” Jesse Rosenfeld writes from Ramallah. 

Uprooted and displaced

Standing on a hill at the edge of Idhna with the displaced farmers Muhammad Talab and Muhammad Ibrahim Natah, the only visible remnants of their destroyed village is a patch of white dust just on the other side of Israel’s wall. Despite being part of the occupied West Bank, the Israeli military destroyed the 267-person farming village of tents and tin houses west of Hebron on 29 October and allegedly ordered villagers to relocate to Idhna. EI contributor Jesse Rosenfeld reports from the occupied West Bank. 

Abed the martyr

Abed Shinawi has died. In the words of the Palestinians, among others, he was martyred. Martyr in Palestine refers to anyone who has died as a result of the Israeli occupation, as with the 38-year-old handicapped, wheelchair-bound man killed in an IOF invasion Nablus’ al-Ain refugee camp a month and a half ago. Or it refers into the elderly man shot five times in the chest after he opened his door to IOF assurances of his safety during the same 16 October Israeli invasion that eventually claimed Abed’s life. A friend of Abed’s writes about the young man and resistance fighter who was recently killed in Nablus. 

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. 

Water and Resistance

The view from the Palestinian village of Nahhalin, in the west Bethlehem area, is sobering. This small village — along with the villages of Husan, Battir, Wadi Fuqin, and Al Walaja — are becoming more and more isolated from Bethlehem. As Israeli colonization in the Etzion bloc grows and as the Wall continues to cut deeply into the West Bank and strangle these communities, these Palestinian villagers have little access to the rest of the Israeli occupied West Bank. Even now, Israel is burrowing out a tunnel under the major settler bypass road running through the Etzion bloc. Timothy Seidel writes for EI