“When the [Israeli] shelling started, I gathered up my family and headed for what I though was a safe place, like a school, but then that became overcrowded and lacked sanitation, so we ended up in the grounds of the hospital.”
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.
Two heavy metal bands, the Israeli-Arab Khalas (‘enough,’ in Arabic) and the Orphaned Land, a Jewish band, performed simultaneously this week under the roof of Club Hangar 13 in the refurbished port of Tel Aviv. The bands are slated to play together this fall in a series of 18 gigs across Europe.
Hind Ibrahim Abeyat has spent most of her life separated from her father. “Every house in Palestine has something – someone in prison, a martyr,” the 19-year-old told IPS from her family home in Abeyat village, near Bethlehem.
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.
“Three interrogators questioned me for three hours. I was handcuffed. They beat me, slapped me, kicked me, boxed me, accused me of throwing stones; played a video of a demonstration. I denied I was there. So again, they beat me up,” recounts Zein Abu-Mariya, 17, seated on a sofa next to dad.
Fireworks went off over the Tel Aviv skyline this week as thousands of flag-waving Israelis marked the 65th anniversary of their country’s founding. At the same time, a smaller group of Israeli activists explored the other, most often ignored, side to their country’s creation: the forced displaced of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.
“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.
On a sunny summer afternoon, kids start arriving with their parents at a park near Ein Rafa, a Palestinian village in the south of Jerusalem. The Arabic speaking kids stay in one cluster at first, and the Hebrew speaking kids chat among themselves. Soon a ball appears, and before long all the kids intermingle in a fast-paced game of Chinese football.