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A Month in Photos: After violence, the joy of Eid becomes a blur

A Palestinian family is burned alive in a settler attack, Jerusalem’s Pride Parade ends in terror, and three Palestinian youths are killed by Israeli soldiers. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, during which thousands celebrated on the shores of the Mediterranean, seems like a lifetime ago.

Photos by: Oren Ziv, Ahmad al-Bazz, Faiz Abu-Rmeleh, Keren Manor, Mustafa Bader, Anne Paq, Yotam Ronen, Tess Scheflan / Activestills.org, Edit: Anka Mirkin.

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'Why did they burn a baby alive? What did he do?'

Hours after the terrorist attack that took the life of Palestinian toddler Ali Saad Dawabshe, relatives and friends are still trying to make sense of what happened in the early hours of Friday morning.

Text and photos by Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

In the hours of the morning, the road leading from Nablus and the nearby settlements to the West Bank village of Duma is empty. Generally, when Palestinians attack Jewish settlers, the army hermetically seals the roads and raids the neighboring villages. Things are different this time around.

Inside Duma, dozens gather around the two homes that were set ablaze in the early hours of Friday morning. In one of them, 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe was burned to death in an attack by Jewish Israelis. His mother, father and four-year-old brother Ahmed were badly wounded.

The family’s home is almost entirely burned, including the bedroom, the kitchen and part of the living room. It is hard to recognize the remains of furniture or even clothing. Relatives are busy trying to salvage whatever they can. Inside the charred bedroom, relatives have places photographs of Ali on the ground as a makeshift memorial.

Yousef, a paramedic from the nearby village Aqraba, described the events of the morning to +972: “At 2 a.m. we received a report about an incident. I arrived with my ambulance and saw the house engulfed in flames. We evacuated the family to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus. The little boy died and the rest were in such bad condition that we needed to transfer them to Israel. A helicopter came and took them.”

A relative of the Dawabshe family who lives next door — and whose house was also targeted in the attack — also described the incident: “I woke up from a noise at 2 a.m. Luckily my children were sleeping in Nablus, otherwise they would have been killed,” he explains while pointing at the burned-down bedroom next to the entrance of the house. He walks around the house restlessly, still staring incredulously at the soot-covered walls hours after the attack itself.

“When I woke up,” he continues, “I saw the entire house in flames. They threw something through the window and everything just lit up.”

“I didn’t see who did it,” he adds, pointing at the Hebrew graffiti reading “Revenge” and “Long live the Messiah” scrawled outside the house. “But I have no doubt who...

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Palestinian baby burned to death in West Bank arson attack

Photos by Ahmad Al-Bazz, Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

A one-and-a-half year old Palestinian baby was burned to death Friday morning in the West Bank village of Duma in an attack on his family’s home allegedly by Israeli settlers.

According to reports, two masked men arrived at two homes in Duma, near Nablus. They spray painted the words “revenge” and “long live the Messiah” in Hebrew, broke the windows of the homes and threw two firebombs inside. The attack killed Ali Saad Dawabsha, and wounded both his parents and four-year-old brother.

According to Ma’an News Agency, the homes were located near the main entrance to the village and the settlers were able to flee the scene quickly before residents identified them.

Dozens of villagers from Duma rushed to help rescue the two families from their burning homes, witnesses said. The family members were evacuated to a hospital in Nablus in the West Bank before being taken to the burn unit at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israeli settlers have carried out at least 120 attacks on Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the start of 2015.

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No, Jesus would not be a settler — he’d practice solidarity

Former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren says Jesus would be considered a settler if he lived in Bethlehem today. Such talk obscures the nature of the settlement enterprise and slanders Jesus.

Text and photos by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org

Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren has been saying a lot of obnoxious things lately. His recent book angered Jewish-American journalists by twisting the truth and burning bridges with the liberal Zionist establishment. And while it’s clear that diplomacy is no longer Oren’s priority, he may have crossed the line from belligerence to blasphemy with his latest remarks.While preaching to the choir of the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus, Oren took the name of Jesus in vain, using it to defend the settler enterprise.

“Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist would today be considered Jewish settlers in Bethlehem,” said Oren, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Mike Huckabee has been saying some stupid stuff too — essentially calling Obama a Nazi — but such dangerous absurdities are nothing new when it comes to his Middle East policy. The last time Huckabee ran for president, he laid a cornerstone in the East Jerusalem settlement of Beit Orot and expressed willful ignorance of geography and international law:

Israelis can live in every part of Israel. It’s just that But Beit Orot is not Israel. East Jerusalem is not Israel. That’s why Israel does not grant the Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank the same civil rights as the Jewish Israelis who live in these same areas.

Are Oren and Huckabee really ignorant of what makes a settler a settler? According to international legal consensus, shared by virtually every other nation except Israel, all settlements are illegal. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC):

This is what makes settlements illegal. It’s not because they’re Jewish. It’s because they’re colonies built on occupied land outside of the state of Israel.

That’s also they key point in the unfolding case of the Palestinian village of Susiya and the Israeli settlement of Susya. While Israel considers the Palestinian village “illegal” because it doesn’t follow the rules of its occupiers, the rest of the world considers the nearby settlement Susya illegal because it was established on land outside of the state of Israel.

Of course, if you are a religious fundamentalist, you don’t care so much about international...

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Family, blood stains challenge Israeli account of Qalandiya killing

Muhammad Abu Latifa was killed during an early morning arrest raid. Israeli security forces say he died after falling from a roof but witness accounts and blood stains seen by +972 appear to contradict that narrative. Abu Latifa was the third Palestinian to be killed in Israeli arrest raids in one week.

Text and photos by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Israeli security forces shot and killed a Palestinian youth during an arrest raid in the Qalandyia Refugee Camp in the early hours of Monday morning. This was the third case in which Israeli forces killed Palestinians in the last week, all three during night raids.

Muhammad Abu Latifa, 18, was sleeping in his bed when a sizable force of Israeli soldiers and police commandos raided his house, in the center of the refugee camp, situated between Jerusalem and Ramallah. When the Israeli forces attempted to arrest him, he ran out to the balcony of his house and jumped to the roof of nearby house.

Read also: Video shows Israeli officer not in danger when he shot Palestinian teen

According to the official Israeli narrative, which was published in Israeli media outlets Monday morning, Abu Latifa resisted arrest and fled onto the roof, at which point the forces shot him in his lower body. According to the Israeli account, he then fell to his death while jumping to another roof. Police said Abu Latifa was wanted in connection with terrorism, an allegation that can at times refer to anything ranging from armed attacks to rock throwing.

A tour of the roof of the building next to his home exposes a compelling, conflicting narrative to that offered by police. Blood splatter on a retainer wall on the roof seems to corroborate that Abu Latifa was shot only after he already escaped from his home — while he was fleeing.

“The army is lying, he did not fall. The blood splash on the corner shows they shot him for no reason. He could not have run away,” asserted Abu Latifa’s cousin, a woman in her 20s who asked not to be identified. The Israeli soldiers ran after him onto the roof and then shot him, she recalled.

Another neighbor who said he saw the incident from his window described what happened after the shooting. “The soldiers carried him back to the roof of his house” he said, pointing to bloody footprints leading back toward the balcony. +972 saw only imprints of a left foot, which the neighbor claimed shows...

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PHOTOS: Palestinians reach the sea to mark end of Ramadan

As the Muslim holy month came to an end, Israel granted thousands of entry permits to West Bank Palestinians. Many took the opportunity to visit the beach and other places they are normally forbidden from reaching.

Photos by Oren Ziv, Yotam Ronen, Faiz Abu Rmeleh / Activestills.org

Thousands of Palestinian from the West Bank crossed the Green Line to celebrate the end of Ramadan on Israel’s beaches this past weekend. Israeli authorities issued thousands of entry permits, allowing Palestinians to visit Israel during the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday. Many traveled as far as Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Acre in the north.

Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to a permit regime that not only severely restricts their ability to enter Israel, but also within the West Bank itself.

Throughout the month of Ramadan, Israeli authorities allowed Palestinian women as well as men over 40 to cross Qalandiya checkpoint in order to reach Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Young men who weren’t allowed to cross often used ladders to climb over the separation barrier

Related:
PHOTOS: Palestinians cross into Jerusalem for Ramadan
Palestinians cease being ‘threats’ — for a month
Ramadan is over, the Muslims are coming

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In BDS debate, both Jewish feelings and Palestinian lives matter

As the BDS movement grows, U.S. churches find themselves caught between a history of anti-Semitism, and a desire to stand alongside Palestinians.

Text by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org

In recent weeks, three U.S. churches considered resolutions to divest from occupation-complicit corporations. The United Church of Christ passed its measure with a landslide vote. The Episcopal Church’s resolution was rejected by its House of Bishops. And the Mennonite Church USA—my church—tabled its resolution for two more years.

These were only the most recent examples of churches considering some form of boycott, divestment and sactions (BDS) to apply economic pressure on Israel. Last year, the Presbyterian Church USA passed a divestment resolution, and the United Methodist Church and various Quaker bodies have taken similar actions.

Criticism following this round of debate was no surprise, and it’s easy to dismiss fundamentalist gems like this one by Earl Cox in The Jerusalem Post:

Cox doesn’t mention that the “depart from me” quote is taken from the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 7—which begins with Jesus’ apt advice: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

It usually takes a right-wing fundamentalist with a literalist interpretation of the Bible to explain why all the stuff Jesus said about “blessed are the peacemakers” and “love your enemies” and “as you have done to the least of these you have done to me” have nothing to do with, say, Palestinian children in Gaza.

In response, I could be a left-wing fundamentalist and say that only true Jesus-following Christians support BDS. But I won’t. I know there are many reasons why people who actually care about things like peacemaking and human rights can’t get with BDS—some moral, some relational, some pragmatic (as in, people will stop donating to my church or organization if I support BDS).

What I can’t stand are accusations by self-described progressives or liberals against BDS that are simply untrue. These accusations come in the form of a question: What are these churches doing about [fill in the blank with thing ostensibly worse than Israel]?

While previous posts by myself and Dahlia Scheindlin drill down on this shopworn smear, a recent blog post by Mark Gammon on the religion site Patheos takes the “singling out” accusation to new levels, attempting to out-liberal the liberals by asking:

Gammon accuses BDS activists of a “breathtaking lack of historical consciousness” concerning...

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Asylum seekers say Israeli authorities use food to pressure them

A new report by a refugee organization says the food Israeli prison authorities provide to African asylum seekers being detained in Holot does not meet their nutritional needs. During the Ramadan fast, the many restrictions on food in the ‘open’ facility make life even tougher on Muslim asylum seekers from Darfur. Some detainees say the hardships are intentional, part of a wider policy aimed at pressuring them to leave Israel.

By Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Just before eight at night, as dinner is being served inside the prison, hundreds of asylum seekers being held in Israel’s Holot “open” detention facility leave through the front gates into the open desert. Some of them head toward the hills in order to prepare meat over an open fire, others make their way to makeshift restaurants along the fence in order to break the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. A large number of the detainees pass on the meals served inside.

According to a new report published by the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants on Wednesday, the food served to detainees in Holot does not meet their basic nutritional needs. “When the Holot facility fails to provide adequate nutrition options, and the detainees are not given enough money to buy food outside of Holot, a very real food insecurity problem is created,” public health researcher Megan Cohen wrote in the report.

Read also: A year since protests, detained asylum seekers hint at new strategy

The three meals a day Israeli prison authorities provide to detainees in Holot are largely composed of empty carbohydrates like white rice and bread. The only source of protein on most days is a hard-boiled egg and a small packet of cheese. “The food provided by Holot is not enough to meet basic nutritional requirements,” the report says. “Even in emergency contexts where there are limited resources available, international organizations consistently strive to uphold a minimum standard of basic nutrition for the population they are serving. This includes 2,100 calories per person.”

The fact that the Israel Prison Service refused to provide nutritional information makes it difficult to form nutrient calculations, Cohen noted, “but the information gathered from testimonies leads me to believe that basic nutrient requirements for an adult male are not being met.”

“The Ramadan fast in Holot is a lot easier,” Jack, an asylum seeker from Sudan and a...

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PHOTOS: Palestinians climb over the wall into Jerusalem for Ramadan

As Palestinians cross over into Jerusalem from the West Bank, an IDF officer shoots dead a 19-year-old Palestinian by the separation wall.

Text by Edo Konrad, photos by Yotam Ronen, Mustafa Bader / Activestills.org

Dozens of young Palestinians climbed the separation wall in order to reach Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday of last week, the third Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The men took taxis in the early hours of Friday morning to the separation wall at the Palestinian village of A-Ram, just outside of Jerusalem, where they used a ladder to cross over to the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina. After some of the men made it over, Israeli police officers arrived on the other side of the wall.

Meanwhile, over 10,000 Palestinians formally crossed through both the Qalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah and Checkpoint 300 in Bethlehem on their way to Jerusalem. While the army generally allows women to cross regardless of age, on Friday they restricted the crossing to women over 30 as well as men over 50, causing much confusion. During Ramadan, Israel generally eases restrictions on Palestinian access to Jerusalem.

As Palestinians crossed over into Jerusalem, an Israeli army officer shot and killed a 19-year-old Palestinian on the other side of the separation wall. According to the army, several Palestinians were throwing stones at an IDF vehicle heading toward Qalandiya checkpoint, smashing the windshield. The brigade commander exited the vehicle and opened fire at the Palestinians, killing Mohammed Sami al-Ksabeh, a resident of Qalandiya refugee camp.

Hundreds of people attended his funeral several hours after his death, where masked men fired shots in the air as the crowd called for revenge against Israel. According to Ma’an News Agency, Ksabeh had left his home early Friday morning to reach Al-Aqsa Mosque. Eyewitnesses say he was attempting to climb the separation wall when he was shot.

Ksabah is the second Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces in the last week, after forces shot dead a Palestinian man last Friday when he opened fire at soldiers at the Beqaot checkpoint in the Jordan Valley.

Related:
PHOTOS: Palestinians cross into Jerusalem for Ramadan
Palestinians cease being ‘threats’ — for a month

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A Month in Photos: Global Pride, Ramadan and refugees

LGBTQ people and allies celebrate pride while others protest ‘pinkwashing’; tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank head into Jerusalem for prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, some climbing over walls to do so; African asylum seekers bring the theater to their detention center; migrants and refugees commemorate their dead in Europe; Israelis protest racism and the privatization of natural resources.

Photo by: Oren Ziv, Anne Paq, Ahmad Al-Bazz, Yotam Ronen, Faiz Abu Rmeleh
Photo editing: Anka Mirkin, Keren Manor


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Call for action: Street campaign remembers Gaza's 'obliterated families'

There were 142 so-called ‘obliterated families’ in Gaza last summer — families that lost three or more members in Israeli attacks during the military offensive. Marking one year since the war, the Activestills photography collective wants your help to launch an international street exhibition to bring their faces and names to public spaces in cities around the world.

One year on, the Activestills photography collective is launching an international street campaign to the Israeli offensive in Gaza last summer. Activestills is calling on activists — with a downloadable street exhibition kit — to bring the faces and names of Gaza families killed last summer to the streets around the world.

The exhibition, #ObliteratedFamilies, features family photos of those killed and portraits of survivors. Activestills photographer Anne Paq visited more than 50 families in Gaza when putting together the project, which aims to shed light on these families and calls upon people of conscience to demand justice for the victims.

Read also: One year since Gaza: Why there’s no such thing as a ‘precision strike’

More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed in Gaza last summer by Israeli attacks, most of them civilians; more than 500 children were killed. According to the United Nations, 142 families lost three members or more. Some families were wiped out entirely. Some families lost loved ones from three generations — grandparents, parents, and grandchildren.

Activestills has been staging street exhibitions for the past 10 years as part of its attempts to raise public awareness of issues ignored or distorted by the mainstream media. By using city walls as a platform to exhibit our work, we try to reach wider audiences in independent, unfiltered, and direct ways. We believe that the streets should be reclaimed for political discussion.

Read also: Street exhibition confronts Israelis on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day

The Activestills collective calls upon activists to spread these photos in their communities. A digital street exhibition kit is available online, accompanied by full instructions and ready-to-print photographs.

The collective asks participating activists to upload photos of the street exhibits to Twitter and Facebook, with their location and the hashtag #ObliteratedFamilies, or to send photos by email. Thanks for joining this global campaign to demand justice for these families, to call for end to the blockade on Gaza, and the dismantling of the military occupation and colonization of Palestine.

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Major U.S. church backs divestment from Israeli occupation

In a landslide vote, the United Church of Christ passes a divestment and boycott resolution targeting ‘companies profiting from, or complicit in, human rights violations arising from the occupation.’

Text by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org

The United Church of Christ voted by an overwhelming margin Tuesday to divest from companies complicit in the Israeli occupation. The resolution, which passed by a 508 to 124 vote, also calls for a boycott of settlement products, congressional accountability regarding U.S. foreign military aid to Israel, and ongoing commitment to interfaith dialogue.

According to a UCC news report, the resolution, which had initially been limited to five companies for their involvement in occupation activities (Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, G4S and Veolia), was expanded to include, “any direct or substantive indirect holdings in companies profiting from, or complicit in, human rights violations arising from the occupation.”

“In approving this resolution, the UCC has demonstrated its commitment to justice and equality,” said Rev. Mitri Raheb in a press release from the UCC Palestine Israel Network (UCC PIN). Raheb, pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, had addressed the assembly prior to the vote. “For Palestinians living under occupation or facing systematic discrimination as citizens of Israel, enduring the destruction of their homes and businesses, the theft of their land for settlements, and living under blockade and siege in Gaza, this action sends a strong signal that they are not alone, and that there are churches who still dare to speak truth to power and stand with the oppressed.”

A separate resolution declaring that Israeli policy meets the international legal definition of apartheid won a 312-295 majority but failed to meet the two-thirds majority needed to pass the general assembly.

The UCC joins the Presbyterian Church USA, United Methodist Church, several Quaker bodies, and Mennonite Central Committee among U.S. churches and organizations that are using various forms of economic leverage to protest Israeli policy and to ensure that their investments are not profiting from harm done to Palestinians.

Reaction from major Jewish organizations was swift and predictable, echoing similar denunciations of the PCUSA vote one year ago. According to a statement by Rabbi Noam Marans of the American Jewish Committee, the measure is...

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'The great gas robbery': A chronicle of civil resistance

A photo chronicle of the past few years of protest against the Israeli government’s handling of newly discovered offshore natural gas reserves. Social activists, and economists, believe that Israeli citizens — and the state — are getting an unfair deal from the private companies who own the drilling rights.

Photos by Activestills.org
Text by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man

For the past few years a dedicated group of Israeli social activists have been protesting what they, some economists and even a number of members of Knesset have termed “the great gas robbery.”

The protests came on the tail end of a wider social protest movement, the lasting and central message of which focused on anger toward the concentration of wealth among a small number of tycoons with close ties to the government and politicians.

Read also: Gas exports: Is the government with us, or against us?

Nobody ever really thought that one of the largest gas discoveries in recent history would benefit Israel. Since the country’s inception, Israelis have been mocking themselves for establishing a Jewish state on the one piece of the Middle East with no oil.

Then Leviathan happened. When the discovery of the Tamar and Leviathan offshore natural gas fields was made, countries throughout the neighborhood — Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Palestine — all started jockeying for a piece of the pie. Israelis did to.

When Israel granted the licenses to drill for gas, because nobody believed that there was any gas, the contracts were very favorable for the drilling companies — less so for the country. Ever since the discoveries were made, Israelis have been demanding that the flow of gas benefit, first and foremost, Israelis.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, wanted to overrule the anti-trust commission. The only problem? He doesn’t have the authority to do so. The only government official endowed with the authority to over-ruled the anti-trust commissioner is Economy Minister Moshe Kahlon, who along with two other ministers, has recused himself from the entire affair due to personal ties with one of the small group of tycoons who control the Israeli side of the gas resources.

Netanyahu is being blackmailed by the energy companies who are threatening to indefinitely delay the flow of gas with litigation if the current arrangement is changed in a way that harms their interests. So the prime minister did what any good...

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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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Illustrations: Eran Mendel