West Bank

Just another Ramadan Friday in Ramallah

While the BBC and CNN have been treating the failing health and rumored death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat as the world’s top story for the past two days, it is business as usual here in Ramallah. Though journalists swarmed the PA headquarters where Arafat has been holed up for the past three years (known in Palestine as the Maqata’a) last night and presumably this morning, news of Arafat’s impending death did not stop the Friday markets from bustling this morning — another Friday during Ramadan. Today I casually asked a Palestinian man I had been talking to in a shop what he thinks will happen in Ramallah once Arafat dies. “Nothing,” he said. 


The thing that always surprises me about the West Bank is how it never seems to change significantly. Understandably, there is a lack of progress. But I still find it disheartening in a sense to return to my parents homeland and find that, besides a building or two or a new shop, everything is the same as it was four, eight, or even twelve years ago. My last trip to the West Bank was in 2000, just a week before the Intifada broke out. West Bank remains in essence as it was then, however, there are more road closures and greater difficulty entering. Even leaving is a daunting prospect considering the number of checkpoints (no less than five on the route I took to Allenby Bridge) and a 4.30am departure time. My experience in West Bank was extremely memorable, despite an appalling beginning. I spent one week in my father’s village of Arrabeh (about 12km from Jenin), and visited family in other nearby areas, including Jenin. 

Letter from Tuwani

Tuwani is a Palestinian village of 150 people in the southern Hebron hills of the West Bank. There are a dozen or so other villages in the area, even smaller than Tuwani. These villages have been on this land for over five hundred years, and have largly maintained their ancient way of life. They build their homes out of stones, with domed stone roofs, or they live in caves. In the 1980s, Israel began building settlments (or colonies) in these hills. They have systematically expanded them, confiscating more and more of these villages’ farm and grazing land. Some of the smaller villages have been destroyed entirely by the Israeli military or rampaging settlers. This simple and loving village of Tuwani has demolition orders on every house and building, including the recently built school and a partially built clinic. Joe Carr reports. 

The side I see: Thoughts during the olive harvest

I’ve come to this world as an outsider, as one actually born to the occupiers — to struggle, to learn and to carry the truth home. It has been over six months now since I set foot on this much disputed land for the second time in my life. This land that I, my allies, and those I have come to support, call Palestine. Flo Razowsky considers two gulfs — one between the two sides, another between life on the ground and the muddy picture of that life that reaches television sets in the US

Building the Beit Arabia peace center

We spent three weeks in Jerusalem and the West Bank in August, working on a project to rebuild a Palestinian house demolished by Israeli bulldozers. What we were actually building — under the sponsorship of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) led by Jeff Halper — was a memorial and museum dedicated to the entire house-demolition/house-rebuilding phenomenon in Palestine-Israel. Although this building was not intended as a family home, it was constructed on the site of a home that the Israelis have demolished four times in the last five years, most recently in April 2003. Kathy and Bill Christison report from the occupied West Bank. 

Checkpoints on the Road Map

At Beit Farik, 25 men stood waiting in the sun to return to their villages from Nablus for over 5 hours. The line grew from 25 to 50 men, but the soldiers ignored them, only allowing one or two men to pass every twenty minutes until late in the day. Eight of the men were singled out. Their IDs were taken from them and they were detained at the checkpoint for hours until the soldiers decided to return their IDs and let them leave. Brooke Hatherton writes from the northern part of the West Bank. 

Going nowhere: the real Road Map for Palestinians

Then we hit the next checkpoint. Israeli soldiers with armored jeeps blocked the road and were forcing all vehicles to stop. We were 5th in line. All of the vehicles in front of us — one medical supply van, a truck filled with bales of hay, a passenger car, and another service taxi — were forced to turn back. When the soldiers motioned us forward, he peered into the car, saw 7 men and 1 woman and told everyone to get out. He took our passports and the other guys’ ID’s - color coded, orange or green. This helps the soldiers decide who to single out for the most humiliating treatment.�� 

A Letter from Birzeit University

Usually we are not informed a priori of what the Israeli government plans to do with us. However, today informing us is apparently part of their terror campaign. I am now at the University but we will probably be leaving early as all Palestinian governmental agencies have evacuated their office and internationals in the Ramallah area have been told to leave the area immediately.