Palestine Report

Sharon's minimum solution

The disengagement plan is intended to forestall international intervention and Israeli public dissension. As incomplete as Palestinians perceive the roadmap plan to be, this broadly accepted document talks about ending the occupation, establishing a viable Palestinian state, and incorporating an international framework outside the sole purview of the United States. “Sharon will fight with a few more settlers, everyone will say that is wonderful, and the roadmap will be discarded,” predicts Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. In the meantime, the strategic settlement project will grow. 

From layman to expert, economic prospects look bleak

Hasan Namle, 51, remembers better days. When he used to work in Israel, he could make as much as NIS6,000 (approx. $1,400) a month in the construction field, he says. Those days are long gone. He was barred from working in Israel in 1996, long before the Aqsa Intifada broke out. His crime was being suspected of having links to Hamas. He says he has none now and had none then. Nevertheless he was never allowed back and had to think of alternatives. Now he runs a small poultry shop in the camp. “I make 36 agarot per kilo. On a good day I will make NIS36 ($8),” he said, sprawled on a mattress where he and two sons sleep when it is warm on the porch outside their three-room dwelling. 

West Bank wasteland

At the beginning of April 2002, the Israeli army reoccupied a number of cities in the West Bank as part of a wide-scale military operation dubbed “Defensive Shield”. The goal of the operation, as stated by the Israeli government, was to “eliminate the infrastructure of Palestinian terrorism and to prevent suicide bombers from executing their operations in the heart of Israeli cities inside the Green Line.” At the time, no attention was given to an artillery force that snuck up the hills to a quarry - the largest in the West Bank, which is located in the cradle of a huge hill west of Nablus. “We were shocked when we saw that the quarry was being taken over,” says the director of the quarry, Ihab Abu Shusheh. 

Star power deflects attention from ongoing debate

Last week in Ramallah, two major cinematic events took place; one was reported by the English-language press, while the other wasn’t. On April 6, the Ramallah Cultural Palace was packed with people for the second world screening of Hany Abu-Asad’s award-winning film Paradise Now. The following night, the same venue was filled with an invitation-only audience, consisting of youth bussed in from refugee camps and Palestinian ministers, to see the new Arabic-dubbed version of the 1982 Academy Award-winning film Gandhi

The fugitives of Nablus

On April 1, Amin Abu Warda, 37, sat with his colleagues, tallying votes for the new board of directors at the Balata Refugee Camp Youth Center. Just before midnight, with the group exhausted from the long hours, 15 armed men broke into the room. “It was terrifying,” says Abu Warda. A video of the break-in shows one of the intruders busting up the blackboard scribbled with the number of tallied votes. Another kicked a ballot box, already emptied. A third man confronted an employee who was trying to hide a few remaining and unharmed ballots. At gunpoint, the man was forced to surrender the papers, another ripping them into pieces before firing a bullet at the ceiling and ordering everyone out of the room. 

Gaza disengagement means West Bank settlement expansion

This week Palestine Report Online interviews Orient House Mapping and survey director Khalil Tufakji on the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank: “The expansion of Maaleh Adumim is part of this plan, which is to create facts on the ground, to annex the settlement blocs to Israel and finally to alter the demographic reality to Israel’s advantage in terms of Jerusalem and basically impose a twofold reality on the Palestinians: the first is the geographical aspect and the second, the demographic aspect.” 

Victims of violence

S. spent all of her childhood years and some of her adolescence with nine siblings: four brothers and five sisters. All of them lived in fear of their father, whose violence excluded none of them. Her father, rendered unemployed by Israeli closures on the Gaza Strip, only communicated with his children through physical and verbal abuse. S.’s story is one that is becoming increasingly common in Palestinian society. Statistics show that instances of domestic abuse have trebled in the years of the Intifada, and most experts agree that this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Nablus rocked by clashes

In a hospital room in Nablus’ Specialty Hospital, two gunshot victims share a room. The young men are both awake and alert, and their room is filled with relatives and colleagues. They look fine, though one only speaks with some difficulty and the other has to lie on his side because of his injuries. The scene is not an unusual one in a Palestinian hospital after four years of the Intifada, but the circumstances of their shooting have rocked Nablus. The two are policemen and were wounded when clashes broke out between the police and members of an armed group, the Fateh-affiliated Al Awda Brigades, on March 4. Their colleagues are not only there to wish them well but to protect them from possible further attacks. A policeman is stationed at the entrance to the hospital. 

USAID proposes Palestinian company 'caretaker' for Gush Katif lands

One of the major questions facing Palestinians as the time nears for Israel to evacuate 17 Gaza Strip settlements and four more in the northern West Bank is the manner in which they will be transferred to Palestinians. Israel has so far refused to transfer the properties directly to the Palestinian Authority, and has not finalized which assets - houses, infrastructure and greenhouses - will remain. Palestinians have requested that Israel demolish all assets that do not fit into their planning needs, but Ministry of Planning officials admit that the Palestinian Authority itself is lagging terribly behind in developing scenarios for the withdrawal. 

The Sharm El-Sheikh Summit: An interview with Saleh Abdel Jawad

“Abbas is serious, he is committed to what he says, and I think the ball is now mainly in the Israeli court. Abbas is still obliged to do certain things on the Palestinian side: he has to apply the ceasefire fully and control the situation. The Israelis have to get to, at least, the pre-September 28, 2000 situation. Then we can maybe move on the roadmap.” This week Palestine Report Online interviews Saleh Abdel Jawad, professor of political science at Birzeit University, on the Sharm Al Sheikh summit.