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Demolitions leave dozens of Palestinians without homes or water

Recent wave of home demolitions has left dozens of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley without a roof over their heads just days before a rainy weekend.

Photos and text by Keren Manor and Oren Ziv /

Israeli authorities accompanied by bulldozers demolished dozens of structures in several Palestinian villages in the Jordan Valley on Thursday.

The demolitions, which affected the al-Farisiya and Betardel communities, respectively, came a day after Israeli authorities demolished seven homes and six structures in two other villages in the area, leaving 71 Palestinians homeless.

According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, this is the largest wave of demolitions in the Jordan Valley in recent memory. Over the past few weeks, Israel has stepped up its demolitions in Area C of the West Bank, under full Israeli military and civil control.

Wednesday’s demolitions began in the village Jiflik, where authorities destroyed five homes and a water pipe connected to 50 houses, leaving 300 Palestinians disconnected from the water grid.

Authorities then moved to the village of Fasayil, where they demolished a home provided by the European Union following a previous demolition last year, as well as an animal pen and a bathroom.

In the tiny Karzaliya community, located next a spring approximately three miles from Route 90, Israeli authorities demolished two homes, a structure for animals, and a restroom. On their way out, the Israeli army built a ditch and piled up rocks in order to block the dirt path that connects the community to the main road. The Karzaliya community was demolished three times last year.

The army also demolished two tents in the village of Al-Miksar.

The Israeli authorities argue that the demolitions take place only when Palestinians build illegally — that is, without building permits — or in live-fire areas. This, despite the fact that some of these communities own the land, and the vast majority of them have been living in the area since before the occupation of the West Bank in 1967.

As a rule, Israel does not allow Palestinians to build in Area C — which makes up more than 60 percent of the West Bank. In the past, the army has admitted that creating live-fire training zones in the West Bank is intended, among other things, for the purpose of expelling Palestinian communities.

In recent months it seems that the state is pressuring Palestinian residents of Area C...

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WATCH: Three days under military closure in Qabatiya

West Bank town put under closure following last week’s deadly attack on Israeli Border Police officers in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Photos and text by: Ahmad Al-Bazz /

After three days of strict military closure, the Israeli army lifted its blockade Saturday evening on the town of Qabatiya in the northern West Bank.

The blockade was put in place last week after three Palestinians from the town carried out a shooting attack at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, killing one Israeli Border Police officer and wounding three others. The three Palestinians were immediately shot and killed by Israeli security forces. Many have called the closure on Qabatiya a form of “collective punishment.”

As a result of the closure, each of the town’s entrances was completely sealed off with dirt mounds, preventing passage in or out of the village, home to 20,000 Palestinians. The schools closed their doors and residents were stuck at home, while commercial traffic in the town came to a complete standstill, drastically affecting Qabatiya’s vegetable market — the largest in the West Bank.

Clashes erupted across Qabatiya and last for several days, leaving dozens of Palestinian wounded by live fire and rubber bullets. Three Israeli soldiers were wounded last Thursday night by stone-throwing while carrying out raids in the village.

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WATCH: Israelis and Palestinians join hands to say no to occupation

For the third time in the past two months, Israeli and Palestinian activists march on West Bank checkpoint to call for an end to the ongoing violence.

Photos and text by Oren Ziv /

Over 200 Israelis and Palestinians marched on the Israeli army’s “tunnels checkpoint” south of Jerusalem Friday to demonstrate against the occupation and the ongoing violence in the country.

The protesters began marching from the Husan junction on Route 60 — the southern West Bank’s main north-south artery that connects Jerusalem, Beit Jala, the Gush Etzion settlements, and Hebron — while chanting slogans against the occupation and in support of two states. Some of the marchers held photos of Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, who has been on hunger strike for 73 days.

As the demonstration began, and despite the police blocking traffic for a short while to allow the marchers to pass through Route 60, a number of Border Police officers, some of them masked, arrested two of the march’s Israeli organizers. The police then pushed back against a number of protesters who tried to explain that violent arrest was unnecessary. Meanwhile, Israeli drivers stopped their cars and cursed the protesters.

The two Israeli organizers were released at the end of the demonstration.

This is the third joint demonstration at the tunnel’s checkpoint in the last few months, organized by “Standing Together,” which includes anti-occupation groups such as “Combatants for Peace” and others.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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The Month in Photos: Israel/Palestine, January 2016

Photo editing: Anka Mirkin


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Asylum seekers stage walkout over inedible food at detention center

Asylum seekers have long complained about the half-cooked food in Israel’s Holot detention center.

African asylum seekers held in Israel’s Holot detention center staged a walkout from the cafeteria on Saturday night to protest the half-cooked food served at the facility.

The asylum seekers walked out just as dinner was being served, instead deciding to congregate outside the cafeteria. Only one detainee remained inside. Detainees at Holot have long complained about the food, which they claim is inedible. The daily menu in Holot includes hummus, tuna, four slices of bread and an uncooked egg.

T.G.A., one of the asylum seekers in Holot describes the motive for the walkout: “Generally our dinner includes bread, hummus, an egg, and rice. Once a week we get tuna instead of rice. Most of the time the egg and the rice are not cooked. There is no one in the cafeteria we can complain to. This time when we saw that the eggs weren’t cooked, we decided to complain to the guards, who told us that it wasn’t their problem. This is the response we generally receive, so we decided to stage a walkout over the quality of the food. Only one person remained and ate his dinner.”

According to a report published last summer by the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, 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. According to the report, the three meals served daily include empty carbohydrates, such as white rice. Most days the only source of protein is a single hard-boiled egg and a small box of cheese.

Israel Prison Service responded to the accusations as follows: “There is and never was a problem with the amount or quality of the food in Holot. Specific problems, which arise in other places, are taken care of immediately, while ensuring that no one is left without food.”

Asylum seekers living in Israel are in constant threat of being jailed for long periods of time at the Holot detention center, located near the Egyptian border, and which the Israeli government presents as “open” center where detainees can come and go as they please, as long as...

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The Year in Photos: Palestine and Israel in 2015

Activestills selects the most powerful, important and moving images of 2015 — in chronological order.

Photos by: Oren Ziv, Ahmad al-Bazz, Yotam Ronen, Faiz Abu-Rmeleh, Keren Manor, Hosam Salem, Ezz Zanoun, Anne Paq, Shiraz Grinbaum

Editing: Anka Mirkin, Merieke Lauken /





















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Christian Zionists prefer to ignore Bethlehem's Palestinians

Why does America’s largest Christian Zionist organization continue to ignore the plight of its co-religionists in Jesus’ birthplace?

Text and photos by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/

Happy birthday, Jesus! Once again, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), America’s largest Zionist organization of any kind, has used “Made in Israel” Christmas ornaments the centerpiece of its holiday fundraising campaign while bashing the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.

In a December email campaign in the weeks preceding Christmas, CUFI’s leaders declared:

There are a few telling aspects things about this campaign. Firstly, in denouncing the efforts of Israel’s enemies to “cause innocents harm” there is no mention of the series of knife, gun, and vehicular attacks that have targeted Israeli civilians and security personnel since September. CUFI only mentions BDS. Do they really believe that a nonviolent grassroots movement is a greater threat to Israeli security than direct personal violence against Israelis?

Secondly, while BDS was long dismissed as a marginal movement that had no real economic impact, CUFI now warns that this “aggressive campaign … continues aggressively to harm Israel’s economy.”

Here CUFI may be on to something. This year, several targets of the BDS movement pledged to cease operations in the West Bank, including Veolia, G4S, and SodaStream. In June, the UN World Investment Report cited a 50 percent drop in foreign investment in Israel due to the reaction to “Operation Protective Edge and the boycotts Israel is facing.” More recently, the American Anthropological Association voted to preliminarily support the academic boycott of Israel.

In an email blast earlier this year, CUFI warned of a “string of victories” by the BDS movement on U.S. campuses, but declared: “We have provided our CUFI on Campus student leaders with training on how to defeat BDS. They are fighting back. And they are winning!”

The only two victories cited by CUFI: The UC Davis Student Court’s decision to overturn its Student Senate’s BDS resolution and an anti-BDS resolution passed at Liberty University, the fundamentalist school in Lynchburg, Virginia, founded by Jerry Fallwell.

Such paltry successes have seen few additions even now that CUFI’s executive director, David Brog, was named to head the “Campus Maccabees”—the group formed during the multi-billion-dollar Vegas fundraiser hosted by Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban to combat BDS. Even with those deep pockets propelling their propaganda, CUFI claims that their campus activists are “outnumbered...

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PHOTOS: Palestinian Santa Clauses clash with Border Police in Bethlehem

Protesters held up posters with messages such as ‘For Christmas I want every Palestinian child back home.’

By Anne Paq and Mustafa Bader /

A week before Christmas, Palestinians dressed up as Santa Claus marched toward the separation wall in Bethlehem last Friday, where they clashed with Israeli Border Police.

The protesters chanted slogans and held up posters with messages such as “For Christmas I want every Palestinian child back home,” in reference to the children who have been arrested by Israeli soldiers over the past two months.

The nonviolent Santa Claus march was dispersed with tear gas, after which young men from Bethlehem began throwing stones at the police officers, who fired more tear gas, along with rubber-coated bullets and live fire. At least three Palestinians were wounded.

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WATCH: Palestinian activist responds to attacks on Breaking the Silence

“The Israeli occupation used to target Palestinian human rights defenders — now they’ve moved inside Israel,” Hebron-based activist with Youth Against Settlements, Issa Amro, tells +972 Magazine and Activestills.

Read more on the campaign against Breaking the Silence and human rights organizations in Israel.

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Month in Photos: Unabating violence, fighting for a better future

Over 100 Palestinians and nearly two dozen Israelis have been killed in recent months during demonstrations, stabbings and vehicular attacks across the West Bank, Israel and Gaza. Thousands of Israelis demonstrated against the privatization of natural gas resources, others protested violence against women, commemorated the genocide of Native Americans, and a rare Palestinian-Israeli demonstration in the West Bank demanded an end of the occupation.

Photos by: Ahmad al-Bazz, Anne Paq, Akram Drawshi, Faiz Abu-Rmeleh, Ezz Zanoun, Hosam Salem, Oren Ziv, Keren Manor, Tess Schaflan /

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Palestinian journalists say Israeli forces are targeting them

Palestinian photojournalists, and some Israelis too, say they are being deliberately attacked by soldiers, police and even regular people on the street. The rubber-coated bullets, pepper spray and being denied access on grounds of ethnicity are nothing new, yet veteran Palestinian photographers say something is different this time.

By Oren Ziv /

Following the assault of two Israeli television journalists by civilians in a West Bank settlement last week, a member of Knesset announced that he will propose a law to increase the punishment for anybody who attacks a journalist. Nearly every Israeli media outlet covered the incident, and the national journalists’ association issued a harshly worded condemnation.

For Palestinian photojournalists working in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, however, being the on the receiving end of police and military violence is nothing new. It is commonplace, and it is most often completely ignored by Israeli journalists and politicians alike.

Conversations I’ve had with a large number of Palestinian journalists over the past few weeks, however, point to a new trend: Israeli authorities’ treatment of news photographers has taken a turn for the worse since the latest wave of violence began, and attacks against journalists and photojournalists have increased. Even more worrying, more than 10 Palestinian journalists and photographers told me they feel Israeli authorities are specifically targeting them.

As a photojournalist myself, I have rushed to the scenes of a decent number of violent incidents in Jerusalem over the past month and a half. In all of the cases when attempted attacks against Israelis led to the death of a young Palestinian, usually the attacker, I personally witnessed police officers preventing journalists from doing their jobs. Sometimes it was as simple as denying access to the scene; other times it resulted in physical violence against them.

Deliberate violence against Palestinian photographers was on full display last Friday when a Border Police officer was filmed shooting pepper spray directly at a group of photographers and paramedics — all of whom were wearing clearly marked vests identifying them as such. The incident (pictured below), which took place near the northern entrance of the West Bank city of Ramallah, happened after a Border Police jeep chased down and ran over a young Palestinian, whom the Border Police officers claimed threw a Molotov cocktail at them.

Trying to control the narrative?

I asked a group...

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A Month in Photos: This is what 'living by the sword' looks like

Violence engulfed Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza this month. Clashes around Al-Aqsa Mosque turned into stabbing attacks against Israelis, and Israeli security forces killed over 70 Palestinians.

Photos by: Ahmad Al-Bazz, Anne Paq, Ezz Zanoun, Faiz Abu-Rmeleh, Hosam Salem, Keren Manor, Muhannad Saleem, Omar Sameer, Oren Ziv, Yotam Ronen
Photo editing: Anka Mirkin




























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New anti-boycott law to ban foreign BDS supporters from entering Israel

A new Israeli law would ban BDS activists from entering Israel and ‘regions under its control.’

Text and photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/

Earlier this week, while most international coverage was focused on the escalating violence in the region, Israeli lawmakers were addressing another threat — as they see it — to Israeli security: nonviolent grassroots activism. A new law proposed by MK Yinon Magal of right-wing Jewish Home party would ban entry to foreigners who promote the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement that aims to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinian rights.

“Anyone who calls for a boycott of Israel is engaging in terrorism and must not be allowed to travel the country freely,” said Magal according to Haaretz. The same report notes that the bill has the support of the governing coalition as well as 25 other MKs from various parties.

It is striking that at a time when Israelis fear stabbing or shooting attacks that Israeli lawmakers would describe a nonviolent tactic with such terminology. But after a weekend that BDS organizers claim saw 70 protests in 20 countries under the theme #SolidarityWaveBDS, documents accompanying Magal’s bill warn that “calls for boycotting Israel have intensified. It seems that this is a new front of war against Israel.”

The measure defines “boycott” by the wording of previous anti-BDS legislation as any “deliberate avoidance of economic, social or academic ties or ties to a person or other body just because of his connection to the State of Israel, its institutions or regions under its control, in order to harm it economically, social or academically.”

The phrase “regions under its control” makes clear that the bill would equally target those who only boycott Israeli settlements as well as those who advocate for a blanket boycott of all Israeli institutions.

It is worth noting that while many international activists target only West Bank settlements out of a desire to affirm Israel’s right to exist, the language of the bill implicitly affirms the notion advanced by advocates of full BDS — that the State of Israel is inextricably enmeshed in the occupation and settlement enterprise.

“BDS is a nonviolent tactic, and like any tactic, should be used in the way in which it works most effectively,” says Israeli activist Sahar Vardi. With much of the international community still not completely aware...

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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