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'Unprecedented' violence stalks anti-war demos across Israel

The recent demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Haifa against the Gaza war have largely failed to reach the global media. And while the end of the bloodshed still seems far from sight, there is a different, violent confrontation being held inside Israel – one that targets Arab citizens and left-wing activists on the internet, and uses physical violence against anti-war demonstrators.

By Omer Raz

Tel Aviv, July 13

The second weekend of Operation Protective Edge saw the first bout of physical violence at Habima Square – the cultural heart of Tel Aviv. At around 8 p.m. a crowd of several hundred people gathered to protest against Operation Protective Edge, and called for a ceasefire. A second small group, comprised largely of teens and young adults draped in Israeli flags, began harassing the anti-war demonstrators, shouting slogans against their protest and accusing them of treason. The protest got tense as the right-wingers became physically violent.

A few minutes after 9 p.m., air raid sirens began blaring after Hamas shot multiple long-range rockets at Tel Aviv. The leftist protest scattered to find shelter, while the rightists chased them into dark alleys and cafes, where several leftists were beaten. Shortly after, +972’s Haggai Matar wrote the following: “When the sirens sounded into the night, only one thing was obvious to all of us: the fascists in front of us are more dangerous than the rockets on the way.”

Right-wing nationalists attacking left wing activists during a protest in center Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. The protest ended with the nationalists attacking a small group of left-wing activists with little police interference. Three activists injured and one right-wing person arrested. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Right-wing nationalists attacking left-wing activists during a protest in center Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. The protest ended with the nationalists attacking a small group of left-wing activists with little police interference. Three activists were injured and one right-wing person arrested. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The scene was later described by the new, self-ordained nationalist leader – a long forgotten ex-rapper who goes by the name of “The Shadow” (HaTzel). He wrote the following on his Facebook profile shortly after the protest:

Haifa, July 16-17

A city with a mixed population of Jews and Arabs, Haifa is known...

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Why did Israel reject Kerry's ceasefire proposal?

Is Israel willing to prolong the fighting and to intensify the killing and bereavement on both sides just so that its ally in Cairo gets the credit, rather than the Hamas-allied Turkey and Qatar? 

By Elizabeth Tsurkov

There is hardly any difference between the draft agreement presented by Kerry and the Egyptian proposal, apart from the question of who will be its sponsor: Cairo, or Turkey and Qatar?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses reporters at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt, on July 22, 2014, amid a series of discussions with Egyptian leaders focused on creating a cease-fire for fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (State Department photo/ Public Domain)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses reporters at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt, on July 22, 2014, amid a series of discussions with Egyptian leaders focused on creating a cease-fire for fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (State Department photo/ Public Domain)

On Sunday morning, Haaretz’s excellent diplomatic correspondent, Barak Ravid, published a commentary on the new draft proposed by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry:

At the end of his article Ravid added:

A report published in Haaretz reveals the text of the draft, compares it with the draft presented by Kerry last Thursday and discusses the negative aspects that appear in the draft. We do not have access to the full text of Thursday’s draft, but we do have the full text of the Egyptian draft of the ceasefire proposal, which Israel accepted and which was rejected by Hamas.

A close reading of the full version of Kerry’s “Hamas-inspired” draft and that of the Egyptians reveals insignificant differences between the two. The Egyptian draft, which was put together with Israel, while excluding the Hamas from the process, was formulated before the land invasion of Gaza and therefore does not address the question of Israel’s continual destruction of the underground tunnels.

           Click here for +972′s full coverage of the war in Gaza

According to Haaretz, the Thursday draft allowed Israel to continue destroying the tunnels for a period of one week following the beginning of the ceasefire, whereas the “Hamas-inspired” draft does not allow it. Effectively, the current draft states that immediately after the onset of the ceasefire ”both sides will refrain from carrying out military or...

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WATCH: Israeli teen refuses to serve in army, likely to face jail time

Dozens of supporters, including past refusers, hold demonstration outside Haifa draft board office in solidarity with 19-year-old Udi Segal.

By Moriel Rothman-Zecher and Yuval Orr

For the past month, the news in Israel/Palestine has been filled with reports of more and more people killed, the vast majority of them Palestinians. As much of Israeli society is swept up in the fever of the most recent war on Gaza, there are those voices that refuse to accept a present, or future, filled with violence, occupation, fear and hostility. One of those voices belongs to Udi Segal, a 19-year-old Israeli from Kibbutz Tuval, who was sent to jail on Monday for refusing to enlist in the Israeli military.

Watch this short video of Udi explaining his refusal to serve:

About 75 people – Jews and Palestinians – gathered in Haifa to stand with Udi. Among the crowd were Ruty and Yael Ferera, the mother and sister of Uriel Ferera, an Orthodox Jewish refusenik who has been in and out of military prison since April for refusing; Omar Saad, a young Druze refusenik who was recently released after over six months in prison; and a number of other past refusers and current signatories on the 2014 letter of conscientious objection.

Udi Segal walks in the direction of the Draft Center in Haifa, where he will refuse to enlist.

Udi Segal walks in the direction of the Draft Center in Haifa, where he will refuse to enlist.

Across the street was a small gathering of flag-draped counter-protestors. There had been calls to demonstrate against Udi’s refusal circulating on Facebook, but thanks to clever organizing (the Facebook event for Udi’s protest listed the start time at 11:00, at the Navy Museum, and then, surreptitiously, told actual supporters to meet at 12:00, near the Draft Office, five kilometers away, on the other side of Haifa), only a few showed up. Their chants touched on a number of now-familiar tropes (“Go to Gaza! You’re all traitors! Gaza is a cemetery! Go get f**ked in the a**!”) but also took on an uglier, more personal element, targeting Udi by name, branding the demonstration as his “gay coming out party,” calling him a “son of a whore” as he stood by his mother.


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Why the EU needs to rein in Israel's settlement policy

An Israeli academic makes the case for Europe to contain Israel’s settlement policy with greater determination and more concrete measures.

By Nurit Peled-Elhanan

Times are very tough for both Israeli and Palestinian families. The death toll in Gaza currently stands at more than 1,000, the majority of whom are civilians. The death toll in Israel stands at 43, three of whom are civilians. Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank. A Palestinian youth from Jerusalem was burned alive by Jewish extremists. Dangerous and violent racism against Arab-Israeli citizens encouraged by Israeli ministers and parliament members has led to street riots, bred aggression and severe discrimination against Palestinians, along with a new aggression against peace activists.

Israel is currently suffering from an unprecedented social and economic crisis. The single source for this crisis is Israel’s destructive occupation. The occupation has raised two generations of Palestinians as prisoners, jailed between military checkpoints and walls. The two generations of Israelis who believe that they are the lords of the land are nurtured by the illusion that the oppression of 4.5 million Palestinians gives them security and peace, and that such an oppressive society is capable of raising compassionate children. Therefore, they are shocked when their boys become ruthless killers, as is revealed by current events.

Israel right-wing protesters attack left-wing activists after they protested in central Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israel right-wing protesters attack left-wing activists after they protested in central Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

One of the most dominant and disastrous expressions of the occupation is the settlement project in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which is illegal under international law. The settlements allow Israel to take control of Palestinians’ natural resources ­– in violation of international law – to strengthen its presence in the territories and to make the occupation irreversible. Despite various agreements, international resolutions and Israeli promises, the settlements are expanding.

All the while, Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and so-called Area C (61% of the West Bank, under full Israeli control) are constantly destroyed. While water flows in the settlements without limitation, Palestinian villages live under a cruel water regime, as was recently pointed...

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Gaza war diary II: No one is safe, everyone is a target

Walid Abuzaid offers a look into the everyday reality of living in Gaza during the current violence. As the fighting worsens, he asks why Palestinians should settle when they haven’t got the rights they deserve.

By Walid Abuzaid

Thursday, July 17

It’s 10 p.m. when the power finally returns. The electricity has been down since 11 p.m. last night. The power company said the electricity lines were down during the bombardments and that there’ll only be six hours of electricity every day.

I turn on the water heater so I can finally shower in the morning, since Eimar is asleep at last and I don’t want to make any noise. As I brush my teeth, I’m reminded of the salty water I have to shower in. When I asked the tower guard, Abu-Zeyad, about it when I returned home at the beginning of July, he said the water pipes for the whole neighborhood were damaged a while ago and no one has repaired them. I remember Mohammed, my friend from Beit Lahia, complaining about it since moving here after the war began. The water they use back in their home is really sweet water coming from the wells.

People of Khan Younis gather at a water well to fill some plastic jugs of safe drinking water, Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014. Israeli attacks have killed 566 Palestinians in the current offensive, most of them civilians. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

People of Khan Younis gather at a water well to fill plastic jugs of safe drinking water, Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

We gather around in the living room, the TV is on the news channel; we don’t follow any Ramadan series this year. Although Lamar forces us every once in a while to switch to MBC so she can watch the prank series with the sharks. We still check the news channels during every commercial. Nirmeen, my step-mom, tells us about her friend from university that has a Swedish passport. She and her family left in the morning and they’re now safe in Jordan. Lamar hears this and angrily asks my father, “When are you going to get us passports so we can travel whenever we want?” I’m speechless, so is my father. I wonder how many desperate fathers and mothers don’t have an answer to that...

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Still no ceasefire agreement as Israel rejects Kerry proposal

Amid intensive efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli cabinet rejected the latest U.S. proposal, yet agreed to a 12-hour suspension of fighting.

Mourners carry the body of killed Palestinian Mohammed al-Araj during his funeral at the Qalandiya Palestinian refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 25, 2014, after he was shot and killed the night before during clashes with the Israeli army amid a massive protest in the West Bank against the Israeli attack on the Gaza strip. (photo: Activestills)

Mourners carry the body of killed Palestinian Mohammed al-Araj during his funeral at the Qalandiya Palestinian refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 25, 2014, after he was shot and killed the night before during clashes with the Israeli army amid a massive protest in the West Bank against the Israeli attack on the Gaza strip. (photo: Activestills)

In a press conference in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that further efforts were needed to get all parties to agree on the terms of a ceasefire agreement after Israel rejected the proposal. He added that he was confident an agreement would be reached, though more effort was needed to work through issues of terminology in the proposal.

Kerry did, however, get Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to agree to a 12-hour pause in its military operation in Gaza. Haaretz reported that Kerry was ”working towards a brief, seven-day humanitarian ceasefire to try to create a more durable, sustainable ceasefire.”

According to Reuters, France will host an international meeting on Saturday in order to rapidly work toward a ceasefire agreement. Representatives from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Italy, the EU, Turkey and Qatar are said to be attending the talks in Paris.

After 18 days of fighting, the bombardment of the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces continued throughout Friday. The Palestinian death toll approached 850 Friday evening, with the majority of casualties being civilians.

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COMIC: Google Glass for the Gaza gaze

By Eli Valley

Eli.Valley.Gaza.Google.GlassEli Valley is a writer and artist whose work has been published in New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, Gawker, Saveur, Haaretz and elsewhere. He is currently finishing his first novel. Eli’s website is www.EVComics.com and he tweets at @elivalley.

More from Eli Valley:
What if Mahmoud was named Jonah?
A Passover lesson: ‘And then we were free’
Why even god can’t reach a two-state solution




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Israeli, Hamas war crimes becoming increasingly hard to distinguish

Both sides are guilty of violating international law but the source of an attack on a Gaza UN school could be a game changer.

By Lolita Brayman

An attack on a United Nations-run facility in northern Gaza sheltering displaced Palestinians left at least 15 civilians killed and many more wounded on Thursday morning, reports indicate. Israel and Hamas are pointing fingers and negating responsibility for the deadly incident, the circumstances of which remain unclear but are significant in light of the UN Human Rights Council’s recent launch of a commission of inquiry into alleged Israeli war crimes.

The Israeli army is investigating the source of the hit, while UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack and admitted in an official statement that the circumstances remain unclear. Israel denied intentionally targeting the school belonging to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which is located in the densely populated northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, but did say that it fired mortars in the area after the army was shot at from a source nearby.

Both the Israeli army and UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness confirmed that Hamas rockets were being fired near the UNRWA school, and that sometimes Hamas rockets fall short of their intended Israeli targets. It is also confirmed that the exact location of the UNRWA shelter was known to the Israeli army and that several rockets fell in Beit Hanoun that same day. The army spokesperson also tweeted that the Red Cross was told to evacuate civilians from the UNRWA shelter between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., as they were planning on targeting nearby Hamas rocket launchers. Gunness confirmed via his Twitter account that the precise coordinates of the school were formally given to the army.

Chris Gunness tweet_UNRWA

IDF tweet_UNRWA

The source of the attack seems to be one of the following possible scenarios: 1) A Hamas rocket was launched from Beit Hanoun aimed at Israel and fell short of its target, landing on the UNRWA school; 2) the Israeli army targeted the Hamas rocket launchers in Beit Hanoun and accidentally hit the shelter; or 3) Israeli forces responding to Hamas militant fire shelled the school accidentally by targeting the source of the fire.

In a rather ambiguous tweet,...

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'The largest West Bank protest in decades'

Thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem march in solidarity with Gaza, in the largest such protest in years. At least two were killed. 

Thousands of Palestinians marches from Ramallah to Qalandiya Checkpoint and in East Jerusalem where they clashed with Israeli forces in protest of Israel's attacks on Gaza. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Thousands of Palestinians marched from Ramallah to the Qalandia checkpoint in East Jerusalem, where they clashed with Israeli forces. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

At least two protesters were killed and more than 100 wounded in clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem late Thursday night, as thousands of Palestinians marched from Ramallah to the Qalandia checkpoint, which separates Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The protest, against Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, was the largest the West Bank has seen in years – according to some Palestinian demonstrators, the largest in decades. As of Thursday night, 805 Palestinians  had been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its offensive on July 8. 

The West Bank march quickly spread to East Jerusalem, where police were said to be clashing with protesters in the Old City, Silwan, and other neighborhoods. Protests were also reported in Nablus and Bethlehem.

 

According to Haaretz reporter Amira Hass, Palestinian ambulances, blaring their horns, were streaming in the opposite direction of the march, evacuating protesters wounded by Israeli fire at the checkpoint.

The West Bank protest came during Laylat al-Qadr, the 27th night of Ramadan and  the holiest night of the year for Muslims. According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel Police Micky Rosenfeld said that hundreds of officers would be stationed around the Old City during Friday prayers, and that no Arabs under 50 would be permitted to enter Damascus Gate.

 

 

Earlier Thursday, Hamas political bureau head Khaled Meshaal said Hamas was prepared to sign a ceasefire agreement with Israel, as long as Israel’s siege of Gaza is lifted. In comments made from Qatar,...

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How does SodaStream treat its Palestinian workers when the media isn't looking?

According to Palestinian workers at the West Bank factory, they were provided with meager and unsuitable food at the end of a day of fasting; those who complained were fired immediately. SodaStream: ‘The termination process was done legally’

By Niv Hachlili / Ha-Makom

Wednesday, July 2, was especially tense. The funerals for the three murdered Israeli teenagers, Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach had taken place the day before. Gangs of rioters were already roaming the streets of Jerusalem, and Ramadan was entering its third day. It was 8 p.m. and the night shift workers at the SodaStream factory in Mishor Adumim (the industrial zone of the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim) headed to the dining room for their first meal after 16 hours of fasting.

Ahmed Nasar Al-Adin, a worker in the metal quality assurance department at the factory recounts that “on the first and second day of Ramadan the food was entirely fine,” but that on that night, when the approximately 40 shift workers arrived tired and hungry, they discovered that instead of the five trays of food that were supposed to be in the cafeteria, there were only “two trays, one with a little bit of schnitzel and the other with chicken that was both appalling and insufficient for all the workers.”

They decided to contact the supervisor of the cafeteria, who was absent that night, contrary to the previous days. “We spoke to him and he said that this is what there is. Whoever wants to, will eat; whoever doesn’t, won’t eat. This is what there is.” The workers also turned to the shift supervisor in the factory, who gave them the same answer.

SodaStream is a successful company that is working toward obtaining a significant portion of the global drink market and is trying to brand itself as an ethical and “green” company. At the beginning of the year SodaStream became embroiled in a public scandal when it hired the actress Scarlett Johansson to advertise its brand worldwide, a move that led to criticism against the actress since the company’s factory is located across the Green Line in the West Bank. In response to this criticism, the company repeatedly emphasized that its factory provides jobs for hundreds of Palestinian workers and serves as a locus of coexistence between the two peoples.

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Anti-Semitism has no place in Palestine advocacy

Anyone who claims to speak for Palestine while condoning acts of bigotry against our Semitic brothers and sisters should not be speaking on our behalf at all, let alone for those suffering in Gaza. 

By Yasmeen Serhan

Amidst heart-wrenching death tolls and news accounts of the recent escalation in Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza, reports of violence in a Parisian protest against the Israeli military operation began to shower my newsfeed. Articles detailed how hundreds of participants in a pro-Palestinian demonstration allegedly took to the streets of Sarcelles – home to one of France’s largest Jewish communities – and wreaked havoc on the surrounding community.

Accounts described how protestors allegedly threw Molotov cocktails near a synagogue and set fire to local businesses and vehicles. Such actions came at the heels of Paris’ recent citywide ban on all pro-Palestine activity, including demonstrations. The protests, according to these accounts, were supposedly in the name of Palestinian “advocacy.”

A protest condemning the Israeli assault on the Gaza strip, held outside the Israeli consulate in downtown Chicago, IL on July 16, 2014.

A protest condemning the Israeli assault on the Gaza strip, held outside the Israeli consulate in downtown Chicago, IL on July 16, 2014. (photo: Activestills)

Though it is still unclear as to exactly what transpired in Paris and who was responsible for the acts, what remains clear is that what occurred in there did not mirror the actions of pro-Palestinian activists elsewhere. In countries like Australia, Chile, Spain, and countless others, thousands of people stood up in solidarity with the people of Gaza and against the Israeli military’s escalating operation, which has thus far claimed the lives of more than 655 Palestinians – mostly civilians – and 31 Israelis, 29 of them soldiers. In London, 15,000 demonstrators took to the streets to demand Israel end its attacks on Gaza. In Chicago, 10,000 protestors marched for 10 blocks in protest of the Israeli assault. Yet, unlike Paris, such large protests did not succumb to violence.

The reason is simple: Such acts of violence simply have no place in Palestinian advocacy.

Pro-Palestinian advocates must continue to ardently oppose the siege in Gaza, as well as the brutal military occupation of the Palestinian people. However, we, as supporters of the Palestinian people, too must actively push back against any form...

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Following wave of protests, Israel arrests scores of Arab activists, minors

Hundreds of Arab citizens of Israel have been detained in recent weeks, including dozens of minors. Abusive interrogations and preemptive arrests suggest that many of the tactics of occupation have crossed the Green Line.

By Hagar Sheizaf (Translated by Ofer Neiman)

The murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir and the military onslaught in Gaza have brought about a wave of protest among Arab citizens of Israel. Reports on that wave should be supplemented by unprecedented data: more than 410 Arab citizens of Israel have been arrested on various grounds related to their participation in demonstrations since July 5, according to data provided by human rights NGO Adalah.

Protests in Arara following the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir in East Jerusalem earlier in the week. At least two people were arrested. July 5, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Protests in Arara following the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir in East Jerusalem. At least two people were arrested. July 5, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Moreover, police statistics reveal that a significant portion of the detainees in the past week are minors.  Fifty-four minors are reported to have been arrested in the past two weeks in Israel’s northern district alone, comprising one-third of all detainees in that district.

Policemen outside the door

“I have been active for 14 years and I have never seen such a wave of arrests of minors,” says Ward Yassin, 34, from Jdeideh el-Makr. “The feeling is that the police have no red lines.” Yassin himself was arrested on Monday, July 7, the day after a demo that took place in his town, attended by around 200 people who were protesting the murder of Abu Khdeir, as well as the assault on Gaza.

The arrest of political activists like Yassin represents the second prominent group in the recent wave of arrests, of protest organizers and well-known activists in Arab towns. Dozens of demonstrations have taken place, receiving little media coverage, if any. Some of them escalated into confrontations with the police, which including stone-throwing.

“The day after the protest my wife called me, saying there were 30 policemen outside the house as well as a few inside, and they’re turning the place upside-down and searching,” Yassin recounts. A few minutes later, the police arrived in Acre, where he was at the time, and took him in...

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For Palestinians in Jerusalem, to strike or not to strike?

A call for a general strike on both sides of the Green Line, in solidarity with Gaza, prompts a range of responses and dilemmas among Palestinian workers in Jerusalem.

By Corey Sherman

Heeding calls from Palestinian leaders on both sides of the Green Line, Palestinians across Israel and the West Bank observed both a general strike and day of mourning Monday, in solidarity with residents of the Gaza Strip.

The strike, which is to last three days in the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem, ground business to a halt and brought to the streets a diverse group of protesters in Ramallah. In Nazareth, a protest drew some 20,000 participants from around the country. In East and West Jerusalem, however, many Palestinian businesses remained open, with many workers arriving for work.

Throughout the city, Palestinians who chose not participate in the strike expressed a range of emotions on the efficacy and feasibility of such protests. Abdullah, a cab driver from Silwan, explained his decision to work Monday as resulting from steadfastness in the face of political turmoil, “Even during the Second Intifada, Palestinian cabbies still worked,” he proudly proclaimed.

Palestinian-owned stores in Jerusalem's Old City are shuttered in honor of a three-day strike across Jerusalem and the West Bank. (photo: Bilha Calderon)

Palestinian-owned stores in Jerusalem’s Old City are shuttered in honor of a three-day strike across Jerusalem and the West Bank. (photo: Bilha Calderon)

Amir, a receptionist for an ear doctor in Bab Al-Zahra in East Jerusalem criticized this approach, attributing them to a lack of nationalism. “In Jerusalem everyone stays open,” Amir, who lives Ramallah, told me. “Go to Ramallah, go to Bethlehem—everyone is closed there.”

Others working near the Old City explained that grocery stores, bakeries, pharmacies and doctors’ offices have to stay open to allow people to run last minute errands during Ramadan, or to provide those fasting with medical attention. If he didn’t work in the medical profession, Amir told me, he’d have stayed in Ramallah and gone to the protests that took place there.

As we were talking, a friend of his who works at a shoe store on Salah ad-Din Street popped in to say good morning.

“Where are you off to?” Amir asked his friend, winking at me. “To open up,” his friend replied. “You see?”

Abdullah dismissed such accusations...

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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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