Bill Dienst

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. 

Photostory: How to Harvest Olives In Palestine

Omar is about 10 years old, and the eldest son of Khaled, the regional coordinator for the Salfit Mobile Health Clinic, which is local outreach primary care health project sponsored by Palestine Medical Relief Society. PMRS is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) funded by the European Union (EU) to deliver services to rural and other under-served populations in Palestine. In this photostory, Omar presents the story of the olive harvest in his village, Qraawa Beny-Zed, between Ramallah and Salfit in Palestine, and the involvement of his family and the community in the village’s harvest and processing of olives. 

Immersion Crash Course In Medical Arabic

I am now working with a different medical crew, this time in the Salfit district. This Mobile Health Unit is also sponsored by Medical Relief Society. We started at our base in the town of Salfit and had to drive around the huge settlement of Ariel, the second largest settlement, (after Ma’ale Addumin) in the West Bank. We passed through the major Israeli military checkpoint of Zatara, which controls and stifles the flow of traffic between Ramallah and Nablus. I am getting used to all this oppression which now has a strange sort of normalcy. Going out through this checkpoint was uneventful; coming back in to Salfit will be another story. 

Fenced in From All Around: The Story of Hani Amr and His Family

Today the Mobile Clinic is working in Al Mas-ha, which is west of the Ariel settlement, and just north of the main Israeli highway from Ariel, before it dives down the hill toward Tel Aviv. West Bank Palestinians are only allowed to this point west, but no further. Again we set up in the village municipality, which happens to be located right next to the kindergarten. Today, we will a different strategy to utilize my skills and stay out of the way of Dr. Hasam, who must move along at lightening speed, in order to survive the day. I am sent with a nurse to the local kindergarten to screen about 50 children for dental disease, anemia, malnutrition, cardiac murmurs, and neuro-developmental delay. 

An incursion happening right now in Tulkarem

Dr. Imad was right! There is an Israeli military incursion happening right here right now, just as he said it would: in the refugee camp adjacent to the town of Tulkarem. And now they are in the main part of town right in front of us! On the way to Qalqilya this morning, we drive right past three Israeli APVs in our mobile health van. Through our van’s front window, we see two soldiers crouched behind their APV with their semiautomatic rifles cocked; now they are running around the vehicle counterclockwise, and right into an apartment building. 

On the Road with the Palestine Medical Relief Society

Our mobile health van, sponsored by Palestinian Medical Relief Society, climbs steep switchbacks through narrow alleyways to the top of the hill. We arrive at the town meeting hall in the village of Far’ata (population 700) and start unpacking our boxes of pharmaceuticals and other equipment. It is here that we set up our makeshift clinic and start seeing patients. Graffiti supporting Hamas fills the walls of the village, and green flags with Islamic inscriptions fly from the roof of the mosque. The meeting hall itself sports a poster supporting Fateh, the party of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and the late Yasser Arafat. 

Photostory: Climbing the Hill to Jerusalem and Bethlehem

Central Tel Aviv along the beach seems like such a relaxed and cosmopolitan place. From here one can ignore the cataclysmic events taking place to the north in Lebanon, to the south in Gaza, to the east in the West Bank and even further to the east in Iraq. I feel tempted to just go swimming here in the Mediterranean Sea, let my feet nourish the sand, and just relax on this beach to work on my tan. It would be easy to remain oblivious here in Tel Aviv to all the turmoil surrounding us here, but I must move on. I board the bus to Jerusalem, which is filled to capacity, and plop myself on the floor in the back, surrounded by young IOF soldiers. 

Photostory: Each Friday in Bil'in

I travel from Ramallah in a group taxi with several activists affiliated with the International Solidarity Movement to the agricultural village of Bil’in. We are here with Israeli activists as well. All of the major Israeli peace and justice groups are with us today, along with prominent members of their leadership. Peace Now (Gush Shalom), Rabbis for Human Rights, Israeli Anarchists against the Wall, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Ta’ayush and There is a Law (Yesh-Din). This latter group was formed to document violence that settlers commit against Palestinians so that they can be prosecuted. 

An anxious arrival in Tel Aviv

My main reason for being here in Israel-Palestine again for the fourth time is to do free lance photojournalism and further document widespread human rights abuses that Israel commits every day against Palestinian Arab people in the West Bank and Gaza; the Israeli government is trying to slowly suffocate them and steal their land, making life so miserable that they will leave. I can’t tell the Israeli security officer about my real reasons for coming here, for if I do, I will be detained. My passport will be stamped “Entry Denied,” and I will be placed on the very next flight back to Amsterdam. 

WaSPR Delegation Diary 10: Two Traumatized Peoples: Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial

Friday, March 11, 2005, Jerusalem — Peter and I head out and descend the stairs into Damascus Gate. We climb our way through the Labyrinthine Old City and wind up at Jaffa Gate at the Green Line, the border between Jordanian and Israeli controlled Jerusalem prior to 1967. We hail a taxi and head for Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in West Jerusalem. We pass the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and then Hebrew University. To understand the sentiments of “Never Again!” and gain insights on the modern Jewish state’s obsession with security, it is essential to visit this place.