ABEYAT, Occupied West Bank
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.
Tent cities are being set up by Palestinians all over the West Bank to protest against Israeli settlements, building on a protest during the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama last month.
“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 his visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, U.S. President Barack Obama laid out his vision for a revival of the long-stalled peace talks. Yet, it was clear from his statements that a settlement freeze is no longer an immediate requirement. And, he carefully avoided mentioning the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two-state solution, to the Israeli Prime Minister’s delight.
U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Israel on Wednesday, his first destination abroad of his second term, to pay a visit to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whose own second consecutive term will have started only 48 hours beforehand. No wonder that the true purpose of the U.S. President’s visit is defined as reaching out to the Israeli people.
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.
Local food for local people. That’s the idea behind Sharaka (‘partnership’, in Arabic), an entirely volunteer-run, Palestinian organisation that aims to bring locally grown products directly to Palestinian dinner tables.
A few stoic lines from Palestinian political prisoner Samer Issawi, 33, transmitted to his sister Shireen have given new strength to Palestinian resolve to fight Israeli occupation and its prison policies. As has the hunger strike of four others in Israeli prisons along with Issawi.
The release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in late 2011 set off scenes of jubilation throughout the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem, as families joyously welcomed their loved ones homes after months and years apart. But for many of these same families, an Israeli military order – that allows Israel to re-arrest released Palestinian prisoners based on secret evidence – has now shattered those happy reunions.
Tawfiq Mandil, 45, stands amongst hundreds of Palestinian farmers, activists, and international supporters in the Gaza Strip's eastern Zeitoun district, about half a kilometre from the border with Israel. They are renewing a call for the boycott of Israeli goods.
As expected, Benjamin Netanyahu has been ensured another term in office. Against all expectations, he could have been defeated. Now, he faces uncertainty over the kind of governing coalition he will lead and thus the kind of policies he will carry out. And he faces a lingering question: can any prospective coalition last?