“Strong together, we love Israel and trust the army” – while a tentative truce takes root, banners adorned with the national colours still dominate cities and highways across the country.
The longstanding Israeli practice of labelling settlement products “Made in Israel” is leading to mounting opposition to the occupation.
Welcome to Bridge Over the Wadi primary school, one of five bi-national schools under the "Hand-in-Hand" initiative of the Centre of Jewish-Arab Education in Israel. The centre strives to bring children from both communities to learn together in Hebrew and Arabic in the hope that they’ll bridge the divide between the two peoples.
Israeli settler Gadi Blumenfeld distributes machetes to 15 Palestinian labourers and instructs them to cut the thorns off of his dates’ fronds. “I might be stabbed in the back,” he says, “but thanks to farming, we keep the area safe from terrorists.”
The full moon sets; another dawn rises over Route 443. For over 40,000 Israeli residents and settlers commuting daily between Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, it isn’t yet rush hour.
Jinba is in the crosshair of ‘Firing Zone 918’ - and ‘Firing Zone 918’ is a microcosm of the Israeli occupation. Together with seven other communities, Jinba is slated for demolition to make way for an Israeli training ground. Forced eviction hangs over a thousand Palestinians.
The faint explosion is a reminder that though the newly refurbished fence protects their town, the two-and-a-half-year-old civil war which is tearing their motherland apart is never far off.
As civil war paralyses Syria’s transit routes and political flux in Egypt may affect security at the Suez Canal, Israel is busy repositioning itself as a transhipment hub and trade gateway to the Middle East.
In the municipal sports hall with an army officer to his side, Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox Arab priest in full regalia, briefs Arab Christian twelfth-graders on the merits of serving in the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). “It’s only natural that the country which protects us deserves that we contribute to its defence,” he tells them.
As Palestinian-Israeli peace talks and nuclear talks on Iran’s disputed nuclear programme continue, a unique international conference, “A Middle East without Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs)”, was held in Jerusalem.
“O green Battir, mother of the air,” Mariam Ma’mmar sings in praise of her village. As the hot season draws to a close, the land – her people’s strength – dries up. Not here in her Battir, where a peaceful form of resistance against the Israeli occupation is taking root.
Israel keeps urging the group of six major powers to agree nothing less than a full dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear capability. Yet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might have to come to terms with settling for an agreement which, though sustainable, falls short of his longstanding demand.
“Does Israel have chemical weapons too?” is the question posed by the U.S. publication Foreign Policy, citing a newly uncovered CIA document from 1983 which alleged that Israel is likely to have developed such weapons.
Unmindful of news of the U.S. delaying its military action on Syria to pursue the Russian plan for international monitors to take control and destroy Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons, Israelis continue to collect their gas mask kits at Home Front Command distribution centres.
The end of the world’s most enduring conflict was always regarded as the essential linchpin of Mideast security. As direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians resume following a three-year hiatus, it seems too late for peace between them - if the declared goal of a peace deal within nine months is achieved - to end the violence unleashed by the ‘Arab springs’.