Jon Elmer

The "green zone" called Jordan

MUWAQQAR, Jordan (IPS) - In the bleak and seemingly endless desert expanse that unfolds east of Jordan’s capital city, Amman, lies a crucial cog in the ambitious regional designs of the US and its allies in the Middle East. Commonly known by its acronym JIPTC, the Jordan International Police Training Centre is ground-zero for the transformation of US-allied security forces not only for the Kingdom of Jordan, but also for Iraq, Lebanon and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 

Prison strengthens Palestinian women

BETHLEHEM, occupied West Bank (IPS) - In her office at the Bethlehem women’s counseling center, Khawla al-Azraq recounts her memories from Israeli prison as vividly as if they were yesterday: the routine physical and psychological abuse, the nightly room searches, the hunger strikes and other collective actions in protest against their conditions, and the intense study sessions with her fellow prisoners. 

Israelis Keep a Fishy Watch

GAZA CITY, Feb 14 (IPS) - In the driving rain, Suhail el-Amoudi stands on the wharf of the Gaza City port looking out over the aged and weathered fishing boats as they bob perilously amid the swells of a Mediterranean winter storm. But for el-Amoudi, a 30-year veteran fisher of Gaza’s waters, it is not the waves or the wind that concerns him. Rather, it is the Israeli naval vessel on the horizon, clearly visible despite the storm. Throughout the last three decades at sea, El-Amoudi has seen many changes — but there is always one constant of life in Gaza: “The Israelis are the key to the experience,” he said. “Their presence is always felt.” 

War Enters the Classrooms

GAZA CITY, Feb 5 (IPS) - The United Nations has indefinitely suspended elementary school classes for tens of thousands of Gaza City’s children following a weekend of unprecedented factional violence, which turned this isolated enclave into a war zone and left at least 27 dead and 250 wounded. John Ging, director of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said, “we try to balance the risk of violence to kids and parents on the one hand, and the need for these kids to get an education on the other. 

U.S. Backing for Fatah Stirs New Conflict

GAZA CITY, Feb 2 (IPS) - Explosions, fierce gunfights and ambulance sirens ripped through the Gaza Strip again Thursday, only two days after a ceasefire ended a bloody week of factional fighting that left more than 30 Palestinians dead. As night fell on Gaza, the death toll was at six, with more than 60 wounded. Fighters loyal to the elected Hamas government — the Interior Ministry’s Executive Force and the Islamist Movement’s militia, the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades — battled the Fatah security forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. 

Canadian Foreign Minister in Israel and Palestine

GAZA CITY, GAZA: Despite the impression cast by corporate news coverage, there is never anything like “calm” here in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The casualty count for 2006 released by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reports that Israeli forces killed 660 Palestinians, while 17 Israeli civilians were killed, 13 of them in the West Bank. The violence is often spectacular, as during the summer and fall siege operations in Gaza that killed more than 450 Palestinians under withering aerial bombardment, artillery barrages and two major ground invasions. But, as an unusually frank headline in the current edition of the Economist rightly stated, “It’s the little things that make an occupation.”