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A Month in Photos: Popular struggle, come hell or high water

Editors’ picks of the top photos from Palestine, Israel and beyond for the month of February. This month, Palestinians establish a new protest tent, ultra-Orthodox Jews protest military recruitment, Israeli factory workers protest job cuts, a 14-year-old Palestinian girl is released from prison after 44 days, Negev Bedouin mourn their lost ones, Bil’in marks 10 years of popular struggle, LGBTQ activists speak up against homophobia, and a second wave of snow blankets the holy city.

Photos: Oren Ziv, Ahmad al-Bazz, Keren Manor, Yotam Ronen, Basel Yazouri, Keren Manor, Shiraz Grinbaum, Faiz al-Bazz, Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Activestills.org

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PHOTOS: Activists re-establish Tel Aviv social protest tent

Photos by Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Four years after the 2011 social protest movement brought hundreds of thousands of Israelis into the streets, the tents are back on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard.

Approximately 200 people re-established the tent protest Sunday evening, in a demonstration against the high cost of living and housing in Israel.

Shay Cohen, who organized the protest, told +972 Magazine:

“I have a baby at home, but we need to go to the streets — otherwise nothing will change. I call on everyone who is sitting at home to join us. I am 40 years old and have no apartment.

“Two weeks ago, I was speaking with a few friends about what I wanted to do for my birthday. We agreed that we cannot celebrate without a bit of rage and sadness. Four years after the movement that we all took part in, the price of housing went up, and it seems that the political establishment is simply apathetic toward the things that matter to Israeli citizens.

“Politicians are speaking about Iran and the Islamic State while we cannot make a decent living and have no solutions for housing.”

Related:
Where is the social protest movement in the Israeli elections?
A failed revolution: Why Israel’s next social protest will be a violent one

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PHOTOS: Israel cuts off Palestinian power twice in one week

Photos and text by Ahmad Al-Bazz

At the height of a harsh winter season, the Israel Electric Company cut power to two major Palestinian cities in the West Bank twice over this past week. Nearly 650,000 people were left without power for an entire hour in the middle of the day in Jenin, Nablus and 18 villages in the area.

The decision comes as a response the Palestinian Authority’s unpaid debt to the company, which totals some 1.9 billion shekels ($483 million). However, the Palestinian electricity company in the north of the West Bank claims that the numbers Israel provided are inflated, and that the decision to cut the power supply is strictly political, coming on the heels of the Israeli government’s decision to withhold the PA’s tax revenues. It is worth noting that according to the Oslo Accords and the Paris Protocols, the Palestinian Authority is required to buy its electricity from Israel.

The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights urgently contacted the CEO of Israel Electric Company and the head of the Civil Administration, demanding them to refrain from disconnecting West Bank cities from electricity. According to Adalah, cutting power leads to the violation of various constitutional rights, especially the right to life and health, and emphasized that these violations are only exacerbated by the fact that power was cut during a cold spell and an especially harsh winter.

In her letter to the Israel Electric Company and the Civil Administration, Attorney Sawsan Zaher from Adalah wrote that the Palestinian Authority’s debt to the electric company does not justify taking steps such as cutting off power from hundreds of thousands of people — especially in light of the fact that Israel Electric Company is the main source of power to the West Bank. Zahar further emphasized that, “since the West Bank is under full Israeli control and occupation, it has the obligation to maintain a decent life for the civilian population and take into account its well-being. Violating this obligation is a violation of Israel’s responsibility as an occupying power under both Israeli and international humanitarian law.

Adalah further noted fact that the CEO of the Israel Electric Company did not call to disconnect debtors in Israel due to difficult weather conditions, stating that “the reasonable conclusion is that disconnecting Palestinians from power was intended as collective punishment, which joins a list of steps taken against...

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WATCH: From Ofer prison to the Knesset?

Attorney Gaby Lasky spends her days fighting the occupation in Israel’s military courts. Now she is fighting to make it into the next Knesset with the left-wing Meretz party. An elections special.

Video by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

For Palestinians in the West Bank, Ofer Military Court has come to be known as a symbol of the banality and injustice that lies at the heart of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. For Attorney Gaby Lasky, however, Ofer is where much of her day-to-day work takes place. Lasky — a human rights attorney who previously served as the General Director of Peace Now, a current Tel Aviv council member and number seven on the left-wing Meretz party’s list for the upcoming elections — has spent much of the last decade defending Palestinian who lead the popular struggle against the occupation and the separation barrier in the West Bank, as well as the Israeli Jews who join them.

Activestills joined Lasky in Ofer for a hearing for popular struggle leader Abdullah Abu Rahmah, where she spoke about the “justice” of Israel’s military court system, why it is still important to fight in a court where 99.7 percent of suspects end up with convictions and the possibility of a Knesset without Meretz.

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Bil'in: Photographing a decade of popular struggle

Activestills photographers have been documenting the popular struggle protests against the Israeli Wall in the West Bank village of Bil’in from their inception in 2005. The following is a selection with personal stories marking 10 years of their work in the village.

The village of Bil’in will mark a decade of nonviolent protests and popular struggle on Friday, February 27, 2015.

By Keren Manor

The first time I came to Bil’in was in 2005, with the Anarchists Against The Wall group. It was also my first time in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and one of the events that completely changed my life. My strongest memory from that initial experience was the shocking realization that everything I thought and believed about the political situation in Palestine and Israel was distorted.

At the time I was studying photography and I came to the protests with my black and white film camera. I got to know more photographers, Oren, Yotam and Eduardo Suteras, who like me, kept going to the demonstrations week after week. We all shared a desire to show what was happening and try to influence public opinion in Israel and internationally. This was the point that connected us and from which the Activestills collective was founded. For me, marking 10 years of the struggle in Bil’in also marks 10 years of working together as a collective.

This picture was not taken during a demonstration but during one of my visits to the village on an off-protest day. At the time, we participated in every Friday protest, but it was important for me to also visit the village when there were fewer cameras around. I got to know the people who used to be figures in the papers, usually portrayed in a scary way. People who opened their homes and their hearts for me, whose pain I felt and in time I became their partner.

By Oren Ziv

This photo was taken at my first protest in Bi’lin. Hundreds of Palestinians and around 10 Israeli activists from Anarchists Against the Wall were marching from the center of the village to the planned route of the wall. At the time, the bulldozers had only just started their work.

I was really nervous about not knowing the area and not knowing what to expect; we were walking fast trying to keep up with the activists who led the march. As we arrived, the Israeli soldiers were...

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Oslo 'Ring of Peace' organizers slammed for Palestine solidarity

Muslim youth inspire more than 1,000 Norwegians to stand in solidarity at an Oslo synagogue. But not everybody’s feeling the love.

Text and photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org

A group of Muslim youth successfully organized a globally publicized event in solidarity with Norway’s Jewish community on Saturday. In the wake of anti-Jewish violence the previous week in Denmark and earlier attacks in France, they flooded the street in front of the Oslo Synagogue with more than 1,000 supporters to form a symbolic “Ring of Peace.”

The response in Norway and around the globe was almost universally positive. Almost, because — gasp —these Muslim youth also support Palestine and criticize Israel. Norway’s version of AIPAC, ADL, and CUFI all rolled into one is called MIFF (Med Israel for Fred, “With Israel for Peace”). And yes, they were miffed that Hajrah Arshad, the 17-year-old dynamo who organized the event with several friends had an image on her Facebook page calling for a free Palestine that did not include 1967 borders. Because as we all know, the 1967 borders are sacred to all card-carrying Zionists. And the Israeli Tourism Ministry’s own maps, which are about as honest of a representation of Israel’s version of the two-state solution as you’ll ever see (hint: no West Bank border, only Areas A and B).

By contrast with MIFF, prominent Jewish leaders including Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish Community of Oslo, were “extremely positive” about the support demonstrated by Arshad and her friends.

“I have been very impressed,” said Jewish Community board member Michael Gritzman. “I hope this will spread to other countries.”

Binyamin Ben Katzman of Jerusalem expressed a more charitable attitude toward the teen organizer’s Palestine solidarity in a Facebook comment: “As an Israeli and a Jew, I want to say thank you to Hajrah Arshad. Maybe we will disagree about Israel, but what you are doing brings pride and unity to Muslims and Jews.”

“The organizers did not want this event to be a platform for a debate on Israel and Palestine,” said Kathrine Jensen, chair of the Palestine Committee of Norway, “a decision we supported fully since we make a clear distinction between Israel and Jews. This event was about protecting our Jewish minority. We find it unacceptable that Jews feel unsafe in Norway. They are Norwegian citizens and should not be held responsible for Israeli politics.”

More serious...

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PHOTOS: Snow on Jerusalem's holy and unholy monuments

Snow blankets Jerusalem and the hilly West Bank late Thursday and Friday, shutting down roads and highways, covering holy sites and the separation wall alike. In Gaza, heavy rain causes flooding in the war-torn Strip.

 

Related:
The storm that only affects Jews
PHOTOS: Denied services, Palestinian residents form emergency response team



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PHOTOS: Palestinian village demands end to restrictions on movement

By: Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Palestinians from the West Bank village of Azzun protested last Saturday, against the closing of the eastern gate to the village, due to requests by the nearby settlement of Karnei Shomron. The gate, which has been closed since 1990, previously served as a crossing into the city of Nablus.

Accompanied by leaders of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, the protesters tried to reach the gate but were stopped by Israeli soldiers who dispersed the demonstration with rubble-coated bullets and tear gas. One was wounded.

 

 

 

 

 

Related:
Visualizing Occupation: Freedom of movement
Palestinian non-violent activists: Army violence won’t stop our resistance

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PHOTOS: War-ravaged Gaza faces winter storm

By: Anne Paq & Basel Yazouri / Activestills.org

Six months have passed since the last Israeli offensive left the Gaza Strip in a dire humanitarian crisis. The difficult storms of the past few months have affected those who were left homeless by Israeli air strikes,  specifically the thousands of internally displaced Palestinians who have been staying in shelters and are increasingly frustrated by lack of rebuilding.

The sea remains one of the few open spaces where Palestinians can go to relax and overcome the trauma of last summer.

 

This is the second major storm to hit the Strip in the last few months. In November, severe flooding hit the Al-Nafeq neighborhood, one of the lowest areas of Gaza City, exacerbating by the damage Gaza’s civilian infrastructure sustained during the war.

 

Entire streets were flooded with as much as 1.5 meters of water. A number of people, primarily the elderly and children, were rescued from the hardest-hit areas by emergency responders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related:
PHOTOS: In Gaza, rebuilding is still over the horizon
Floods hit Gaza as war-hit infrastructure struggles
In Photos: Life between the Gazan waves

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PHOTOS: 14-year-old Palestinian girl released from prison after 44 days

Photos: Ahmad al-Bazz
Text: Yael Marom

After 44 days in an Israeli prison, 14-year-old Malak al-Khatib has returned to her family. Family members waited for al-Khatib Friday morning at the Jabara checkpoint in Tulkarem.

Al-Khatib, a 9th grader from the village Beitin near Ramallah, was arrested on December 31, 2014 near her school. Soldiers who were passing by claimed they saw her throwing stones, and that they found a knife in her backpack. She was taken to Ofer Military Prison, where she was interrogated and brought before a judge, who decided to extend her detention. Since then, she has been held at Hasharon Prison.

Al-Khatib, who became sick while in prison, was taken time and time again to court hearings at Ofer, including ones that never actually took place. On January 22, Malak’s attorney accepted a plea bargain offered by the military prosecutor, and the court sentenced her to 60 days in prison (including the 22 days she had already spent there), as well as a fine of NIS 6,000. The family claims that Malak was coerced into admitting she threw stones, and that they were unable to visit her throughout her detention.

Al-Khatib’s story has raised controversy across the world over the last few weeks, leading activists to start several campaigns for her release. These campaigns eventually lead the military prosecutor to release a detailed statement [Hebrew] explaining why it is reasonable to jail a 14-year-old girl.

According to Ma’an News Agency, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club estimates that 200 Palestinian minors are held in Israeli prisons. Only four are girls, with Malak being the youngest.

Related:
IDF suspends plan to minimize nighttime arrests of children
Detained: Testimonies from Palestinian children imprisoned by Israel
WATCH: Where kids are arrested for not having a mailbox

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Palestinian workers struggle as Israel seizes PA tax funds

Palestinian public-sector workers receive only partial salaries as Israel punishes the Abbas administration for its ICC bid by withholding tax funds it collects on the PA’s behalf.

Text and photos by: Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org

Palestinian public-sector workers finally received part of their monthly salaries from banks in West Bank cities and towns on Monday. The Palestinian Authority announced on Sunday that it would pay only 60 percent of January salaries, except workers who take salaries less than NIS 2,000 per month. In mid-January, workers had also received 60 percent of December salaries. When the remaining portion of the salaries will be paid is still unknown, as is the situation for the coming months.

The PA is now facing a financial crisis following the Israeli authorities’ January 3 decision to freeze the transfer of tax funds it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. The punitive action came in response to Mahmoud Abbas’ move to join the International Criminal Court to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel. PA salaries are estimated to total around $200 million per month, $120 million of which comes from the taxes collected by Israel.

Standing outside an ATM machine, the headmaster of the Zaita village school, said: “60 percent of my salary is not enough for my family. And we must not forget the bank loans deduction.” Another woman screamed: “207 shekels is all I received!”

Many Palestinian families have significant bank loans. Banks often deduct their monthly payments automatically. Because of that, many of workers were surprised when were able to withdraw only NIS 500 or NIS 700 of their paychecks from the ATM machines. At the same time, payments for prisoners and the families of those killed or injured by Israeli forces — usually paid by the PA — were not available.

On February 8, Palestinian teachers participated in a protest in front of the Ministry of Education in the West Bank city of Nablus calling for an immediate reaction against, in their words, “Israeli piracy” of tax money. Palestinians criticized the PA lack of emergency reserves, resulting in a collapse in the first month. The head of the teachers union in Nablus, Isam Dababseh, denounced the Israeli measure. He added: “The PA way of dealing with the crisis is not logical. Low-income workers should have their entire salaries, while the deduction must only be on people making more than NIS 10,000.”

Related:
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PHOTOS: Hundreds mourn Palestinian teen shot by Israeli army

Photos and text: Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Hundreds of Palestinians participated today in the funeral of 19-year-old Ahmed Najjar, who was shot to death by the Israeli army on Saturday outside village of Burin, near Nablus. The army claimed that Najjar was about to throw a molotov cocktail at passing vehicles near the village. Medical sources said Najjar was hit by a live bullet in the throat and died at the scene, while another Palestinian was lightly wounded. According to the army, the incident is currently under investigation.

The army also arrested two Palestinian youths from the village following the incident, Abdulrahman Najjar, 17, and Mohammed Asouss.

 

 

 

 

 

Related:
PHOTOS: Thousands take part in Palestinian minister’s funeral in Ramallah
Palestinian non-violent activists: Army violence won’t stop our resistance

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A Month in Photos: Police violence, elections and the holy selfie

Editors’ picks of the top photos from Palestine, Israel and beyond for the month of January. This month, terror attacks in France and Tel Aviv, Bedouin citizens of Israel protest against police violence, Israel’s election campaign gets into full swing, Hezbollah attacks the Israeli army on the Lebanese border and snow falls on the West Bank.

Photos: Oren Ziv, Keren Manor, Yotam Ronen, Ahmad al-Bazz, Faiz Abu-Rmeleh, Tess Schaflan / Activestills.org

Edit: Anka Mirkin, Shiraz Grinbaum / Activestills.org

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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