The UN agency for Palestinian refugees has launched an ambitious recovery plan for Gaza following the 50-day devastating war between Hamas and Israel which has left the coastal territory decimated.
Hazem Maher, 16, from Hebron in the southern West Bank, works a backbreaking 12-hour day in the fruit and vegetable market in the city of El Bireh, next to Ramallah. He earns just over 15 dollars a day as a porter.
Israel's crippling blockade of the coastal territory of Gaza is pushing desperate young Palestinians to ever more extreme measures in the search for livelihoods, despite an agreement granting Gazans greater access to their agricultural land.
Since Israel secretly deported over 1,000 Sudanese refugees several months ago, sending them back to Sudan and threatening to deport hundreds more Sub-Saharan African refugees, Israeli authorities have suspended this practise in the face of international outrage and condemnation by the United Nations.
The Islamist resistance group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is being accused by its Palestinian Authority (PA) rivals in the West Bank of Talibanising Gaza and turning the coastal territory into a new Muslim Brotherhood neighbourhood.
A quiet diplomatic war is being waged by several European governments against the Israeli authorities, specifically the Israeli Civil Administration which controls the Israeli occupied West Bank.
“At least we are not treated like dogs and made to feel so uncomfortable,” Amjad Samara, 30, a labourer from Nablus in the northern West Bank told IPS as he and a group of Palestinians waited at the checkpoint near Qalqilia to cross into Israel for their day job.
The rumbling drone of a fleet of U.S. helicopters carrying security and administrative personnel could be heard long before the eight choppers came into view over the Ramallah horizon on their way to the Palestinian Authority (PA) presidential compound in the West Bank de facto capital Ramallah.
In an extraordinary move, a civilian has been sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for posting a picture on Facebook of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dressed in a Real Madrid soccer outfit and kicking a ball. The sentencing is among several instances of a targeting of media in Palestinian areas.
Molotov cocktails, clouds of teargas, live gunfire, ambulance sirens wailing as they ferried the wounded, and round after round of rubber-coated metal bullets exploding in the street…these were familiar scenes in Palestinian protest.
Gaza is becoming increasingly radicalised as Hamas continues its crackdown on civil liberties, press freedom and the rights of women. In the last few weeks a number of journalists have been arrested and accused of being involved in “suspicious activities”, several detainees shot dead by police during arrest attempts, and female students asked to abide by a strict Islamic dress code.
Unknown to the Israeli government or the Israeli electorate, hundreds of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza took part in the recent Israeli elections by default thanks to an act of civil disobedience by Israeli peace activists.
“Before she was murdered, she wasn’t alive. We’ll tell her story backwards from her murder to her birth”…so begins a powerful new song by critically acclaimed Palestinian hip-hop band DAM to draw attention to the continuing murder of Palestinian women by male relatives declaring that “family honour” has been damaged by alleged sexual indiscretions.
A new Palestinian group called the National Union Battalions (NUB), comprising Palestinians from across the political spectrum, has called for a third Palestinian uprising or Intifada. Simultaneously, Israeli intelligence is warning that conditions on the ground in the West Bank are ripe for another Palestinian revolt.
Egypt is facing its worst political crisis since the January 2011 revolution ousted former dictator Hosni Mubarak, with analysts warning of a possible civil war. Furthermore, unlike during the revolution, opposition to the current regime is bitterly divided between Islamists and more secular Egyptians.