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PHOTOS: 24 hours of destruction in Gaza and southern Israel

Israel and Palestinian militants exchanged rocket and missile fire on Monday night, following a botched Israeli commando incursion into the Strip a day earlier. By Tuesday evening, the two sides had announced an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, but not before at least seven people, all of them Palestinian, were killed, and many others wounded in both Israel and Gaza.

By Mohammed Zaanoun and Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

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PHOTOS: Israeli bulldozers demolish homes in West Bank villages

Israeli bulldozers demolished nine Palestinian structures in the West Bank villages of Al-Hadidiya and Al-Jiftlik late last week.

By Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org

Israeli bulldozers demolished nine Palestinian structures in two communities in the Jordan Valley last Thursday.

The structures belong to three Palestinian families who live in Area C in the West Bank village of Al-Hadidiya in the northern Jordan Valley and the town of Al-Jiftlik in the central West Bank. Palestinian communities living in Area C are under full Israeli military control. The residents were previously notified by the Israeli authorities that their structures lack the necessary building permits, which are often nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain (between 2010 and 2014 the Civil Administration granted just 1.5 percent of requests).

Omar Besharat, a resident of Al-Hadidya, told +972 that the army arrived at 8:30 a.m. and asked the residents to evacuate their belongings, adding that he had received no prior notification from the authorities. The army demolished Besharat’s home, along with five other structures, including several animal pens.

This was the fifth time since 1982 that Besharat’s structures have been demolished. He had been living in the house since 2012. “Last year I was asked to submit some documents to the Israeli authorities in order to obtain a permit. I did so, but my application was rejected,” Besharat said.

An hour after the demolition of Besharat’s home, the bulldozers headed south to the town of Al-Jiftlik, where trhey demolished three structures belonging to two families. According to the residents, the families were notified of the imminent demolition in July.

The demolitions in the Jordan Valley raises the number of total Israeli demolitions over the past week to four, with the previous ones taking place in Masafer Yatta near Hebron, and Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem, where homeowners demolished their own homes to avoid paying the demolition costs.

Muataz Besharat, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement activities in the Jordan Valley, told +972, “What is being done by the occupation in the Jordan Valley and Area C in general is very clear. The aim is to transfer the Palestinian residents.”

According to the latest OCHA report, a total of 29 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished or seized by Israeli authorities in September, leading to the displacement of 51 people. The report indicates that seven of those structures were donated by the EU and other donors, and that the September demolitions were below the...

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PHOTOS: Life inside Gaza's Return March protest camp

This is what happens at the protest camp when the IDF isn’t shooting — and when the world isn’t looking.

Photos by Mohammed Zaanoun (Activestills.org), text by Mohammed Zaanoun and +972 Magazine Staff

On Fridays, the Gaza tent encampment near the Israeli border fence is a deadly zone. Israel snipers have opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators for two consecutive weeks, killing more than 30 people and wounding over 1,000. But during the middle of the week, the protest camp, part of the Great Return March, is something entirely different — a peaceful, colorful staging ground for a range different activities that draws entire families, located a mere 400 meters from the Israeli border.

Mohammed Zaanoun, an Activestills photographer, visited the protest camp east of Shujaiya, a neighborhood devastated by Israeli bombing during the 2014 war. Several hundred people were there to participate in the activities, from dancing and children’s games to cooking and even pop-up barbershops. At night, the women go home while some of the men remain in the tents.

Um Yousef Lubbad was evicted in 1948 from her home in Al Majdal, where the Israeli city of Ashkelon now stands. She lives in the Gaza Strip and is married with children — 15 family members in total.

“Today we came to the Return Camp to emphasize our right to return to the land the Zionists took from us,” she said. “I wish I could return to Al Majdal.”

“Today we are making Msaffan, which is made from flour, olive oil, and some special spices,” Um Yousef continued. “It is a traditional dish from Al Majdal.”

 

“70 members [of] our family came to the Return Camp to join our people,” Um Youssef said. “We will keep coming here to the camp till we achieve our goals and return to our land.”

The family-friendly activities, food and drink, dances and sports at protest camp have rarely appeared in reports about the Return March, which tend to focus on the violence and the dramatic images of burning tires and Israeli snipers. Reality in the protest camp is far different from what Israeli media claims it is. The protest organizers, and even Hamas, stress that this is an unarmed, popular protest against the occupation and for the Right of Return.

Roughly 70 percent of the population of Gaza are refugees — meaning they or their parents or grandparents fled or were expelled from towns,...

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Hundreds mark 13 years of protests against the wall in Bil’in

The village that managed to unite the world behind the spirit of nonviolent Palestinian protest marks more than a decade of not only tear gas, night raids and tragedy, but also co-resistance and victories in the struggle against settlements, the separation barrier and the occupation.

By Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Some 500 demonstrators marked 13 years of struggle against the separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bil’in on Friday. The demonstrators — Palestinians, Israelis, and international solidarity activists — marched toward the wall, where Israeli border police fired tear gas at them. Several activists suffered from tear gas inhalation, and one international activist was arrested.

The demonstrations in Bil’in have taken place every Friday since February 2005, when Israeli bulldozers first arrived to start clearing olive trees to make room for the wall. Following the weekly prayer, demonstrators march from the center of the village to the separation barrier, built on the village’s land. The demonstrators, some of whom were dressed as characters from the movie “Avatar” or as Native Americans, marched toward the wall alongside a tractor carrying a massive “13,” decorated with pictures from the history of the struggle in Bil’in. Upon reaching the separation wall, several activists attempted to climb it, prompting the arrival of the border police who fired tear gas directly at the demonstrators. Among those injured by the tear gas barrage was also a journalist.

 

When the wall was first built, it expropriated some 1,950 dunams of the village’s agricultural land. Following years of struggle and a Supreme Court ruling, the wall was repositioned in 2011, returning some 600 dunams of land back to the village, but over 1,000 remain on the other side of the wall, near the ultra-orthodox settlement of Modi’in Ilit. Bil’in’s residents continue to demand the return of all of their land.

Winning back hundreds of dunams of land made Bil’in into a worldwide symbol of popular resistance to the separation barrier, settlements, and military rule in the occupied territories. But the village also suffered great losses. Israeli soldiers fired a tear gas canister directly at the chest of Bassem Abu Rahma, killing him. His sister, Jawaher, suffocated to death from tear gas inhalation. Thousands of protesters have required medical attention from Israeli crowd control measures over the decade-plus of demonstrations and hundreds have been arrested.

 

The International Court of Justice in the Hague...

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Refugees hold 'slave auction' outside Knesset to protest deportation

Israel plans to begin deporting tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers within weeks. Activists hope the action will raise awareness of what awaits them.

By Oren Ziv

A group of Eritrean asylum seekers and Israeli refugee advocates staged a mock slave auction outside the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, while a conference on government plans to begin mass deportations of asylum seekers took place inside Wednesday morning.

Around 10 asylum seekers stood on make-shift auction blocks made of milk crates, while an auctioneer called out, “get your slaves, slaves for half price,” over a megaphone. A single member of Knesset, Dov Khenin, came outside to support the asylum seekers, and called Israel’s refugee policy inhumane and unacceptable.

Israeli officials have stated that starting in a matter of weeks, tens of thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel will face a stark choice: indefinite imprisonment or agree to be sent to Rwanda or Uganda. Asylum seekers who have left Israel for the two countries in recent years have not received any legal status there, and faced dangerous conditions and choices, including heading toward Europe through Libya, where human trafficking and other types of violence is a constant danger.

Vowing to choose prison over deportation, Awad, one of the Eritrean asylum seekers who took part in the protest action as a would-be slave on the auction block, appealed to Israelis to listen and learn. “Before you deport us let’s sit and talk about our problem. Learn about what the problems are in Eritrea,” said Awad, who asked not to use his last name. “We are refugees, not infiltrators, not work migrants — we are refugees. We will stay here, in prison.”

Human rights and refugee advocacy organizations in Israel and abroad have condemned the Israeli government’s plan and pledged to fight the deportations.

“The asylum seekers that are deported from Israel end up in Libya — end up being sold. This is not just an idea, this is what happens to them actually once they are deported from Israel,” said Sigal Avivi, an Israeli refugee rights activist who helped organize the action outside the Knesset on Wednesday. “Their lives are in danger. We came today to the Knesset to reinforce that message.”

A similar mock slave auction was held outside Tel Aviv’s main shopping mall, Dizengoff Center, a few weeks earlier.

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Nur Tamimi upon her release from prison: 'I have no regrets'

Hours after she is released from military prison, Nur, who was arrested along with her cousin Ahed following the release of a now-viral video, speaks about her arrest, her time in prison, and why she isn’t deterred.

By Oren Ziv

“It’s normal, it happens every day in Palestine, that soldiers enter our village and our homes. But this time, the Israeli media made a big deal about the story and it got a lot of shares on social media,” Nur Tamimi said in an interview with +972 Magazine, hours after she was released from prison last Friday. Tamimi, 21, from Nabi Saleh, was arrested nearly two weeks ago following the publication of a video showing her and her cousin, Ahed, attempting to push soldiers off of the porch of the Tamimi family’s home. Ahed, 16, and her mother, Nariman, have been denied bail and remain in prison as they await trial.

On Thursday around midnight, after the Israeli military court of appeals rejected the prosecution’s appeal against her release, Nur was taken from the Sharon Prison to the Jabara checkpoint, and then to her home, where her family was waiting for her.

I spoke with Nur on Friday morning at her home, where her relatives, supporters, and Palestinian media had gathered. Among the visitors who came to support Nur was Mohammed Tamimi, 15, whom Israeli soldiers shot in the head with a rubber-coated bullet an hour or so before the now-famous video of Ahed and Nur was filmed. The weather was stormy, and so there wasn’t a protest in the village like most Fridays. Nevertheless, Israeli soldiers were deployed at the entrance to Nabi Saleh — presumably to remind the residents what would happen if someone dared step outside despite the rain.

“It was not an easy arrest because it was my first, but in jail I met many women who for many years have been fighting for their day-to-day survival there,” she said. “The most difficult experience was being in the prisoner transport vehicle. They would take us from the Sharon Prison at two in the morning and bring us back at 11 at night. We spent most of the time before and after the hearings in those vehicles, where it’s very cold and there’s no access to food, water, or restrooms.” Ahed was held in a cell separate from the other jailed Tamimi women because she is minor. Nur...

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WATCH: Israeli troops train assault rifles on medics and journalists

After arresting and wounding a Palestinian protester, Israeli Border Police attack medics who try to reach the detained man, as well as the photographers covering the arrest.

By Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Israeli Border Police officers trained their assault rifles on medics and journalists during a protest at the DCO checkpoint on the outskirts of Ramallah last Friday, December 22. Since Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, the checkpoint has been the site of near-daily protests and clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians.

The video shows the area around the main square, where Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian demonstrator. During the arrest, Israeli troops beat and wound the Palestinian man. A large group of photographers covering the protest moved in to document the incident, while several medics attempted to reach the man who had been arrested. Even though there were no protesters around during the time of the arrest, Israeli forces released stun grenades and used their weapons to hit the journalists and the medics.

One of the medics says he was hit in the chest and then shot with a rubber-coated bullet from close range (the shooting does not appear in the video). Several minutes after the video, Israeli forces took the man they had arrested into their jeep and drove away.

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The protest began after the Friday noontime prayer, when around 100 Palestinian youth attempted to block the road leading to the checkpoint by burning tires. The army fired tear gas and started moving towards the protesters. At some point, a small group of Israeli Border Police managed to get close to the protesters from the side, firing tear-gas and rubber-coated bullets at them.

For three consecutive weeks, Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank have protested Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcement that the U.S. embassy will move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Israeli forces killed have killed at least eight Palestinians, including double-amputee Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, 29, and wounded hundreds more since the protests began.

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Israeli army court orders Ahed Tamimi imprisoned for five more days

The Palestinian teenager from Nabi Saleh was arrested after being filmed confronting Israeli soldiers outside her home. Israeli forces have since arrested her mother and an another relative; her father Bassem received a summons while in court.

By Oren Ziv and Yael Marom

The Israeli army’s Ofer Military Court extended by five days the detention of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teen who was arrested for confronting Israeli soldiers outside her home in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Video of the confrontation made headlines around the world. Police had asked the court to extend Ahed’s detention by 10 days.

Attorney Gaby Lasky, who is representing Ahed Tamimi, argued that even if the police intend to continue their investigation against her client, it is unnecessary to keep Ahed in prison.

“The police claim this is a unique incident carried out shamelessly and spitefully. But obviously neither shamelessness nor spite justify imprisonment,” Lasky said. “Israeli hilltop youth (settlers) have engaged in similar behavior and the police and the army chose not to arrest them or to consider their behavior such that requires keeping a minor under arrest.”

Lasky also criticized the manner in which Tamimi was arrested, as well as the request by the police to carry out the hearing behind closed doors. “Given that the incident in question occurred during the day, it would have been possible to carry out the arrest during the time of the incident or a few hours later. Instead, the army and the police chose to carry out an illegal, offensive, nighttime raid.”

“It is unacceptable that the military authorities decided to video-tape the arrest of a minor and send the clip to media outlets as punishment,” Lasky said of the state’s request to hold the hearing behind closed doors. “Now the police are suddenly worried about protecting the rights of a minor […] It seems that this is all to prevent anyone from seeing what happens inside the courtroom.”

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Israeli Border Police officers arrested Ahed in a night-time raid on the Tamimi family home in the early  hours of Tuesday. Her mother, Nariman, was arrested while accompanying Ahed to an Israeli police station.

Tuesday...

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WATCH: Israeli troops stop Palestinian would-be suicide bomber

Israeli soldiers shoot and kill a Palestinian man wearing an explosive belt during clashes at a checkpoint near Ramallah. Three more Palestinians are killed during protests across the occupied territories.

By Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Israeli Border Police officers shot and wounded a Palestinian wearing an explosive belt during clashes at the DCO checkpoint near Ramallah on Friday. The man, who was standing alongside the journalists while filming the demonstration on his phone, ran over to the officers and stabbed one of them with a small knife, wounding him lightly, upon which the officers opened fire and seriously wounded the man.

As he hit the ground, the man revealed a suicide vest strapped to his body underneath a large coat, causing the officers to retreat. As opposed to a statement put out by Israeli police, the attacker never wore a press vest to try and blend in with the journalists.

After collapsing, Palestinian medics evacuated the unconscious man to the ambulance. The soldiers prevented the ambulance from driving to the hospital, and removed him from the vehicle. After several minutes of arguing, the medics carried the man on a stretcher to a nearby private vehicle, which drove him toward Ramallah.

The officer who was stabbed was evacuated to Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the Palestinian attacker is in critical condition.

The attack comes as daily clashes have raged across the occupied territories, following President Trump declared the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel. Two Palestinian protesters were killed by Israeli soldiers during clashes in the Gaza buffer zone on Friday, a week after Israel killed two other Palestinians during last Friday’s demonstration the border between Israel and the Strip. Another Palestinian was shot and killed during protests in the Palestinian village of Anata in northern Jerusalem.

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Since the start of the protests, hundreds of Palestinians across the West Bank have been detained, and hundreds of others have been wounded by live fire, rubber bullets, and tear gas. Meanwhile, the Israeli army conducted dozens of night raids, arresting top Hamas members, and has established over 100 flying checkpoints across the West Bank.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Air Force and Palestinian militants exchanged...

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PHOTOS: How the two Jerusalems marked Trump's embassy speech

While Israeli West Jerusalem celebrates, Palestinian East Jerusalem protests — with lights.

Photos by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org
Text by +972 Magazine Staff

In the minutes leading up to U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech Wednesday recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announcing his intention to move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv, authorities in East and West Jerusalem used light in starkly different ways to mark the occasion.

The Jerusalem Municipality projected American and Israeli flags onto the walls of the Old City, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Inside those walls, at Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Jordanian Waqf, which oversees the holy Muslim site, shut off all the lights that normally illuminate one of Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmarks — the golden dome atop the mosque.

Ironically, both displays took place in occupied East Jerusalem.

 

The Palestinian Authority and Hamas both called for several days of rage to protest the decision. In the hour or so after Trump’s speech, many Palestinians in the Old City also turned off their lights in protest, as can be seen in this tweet by Quds News Network.

In Bethlehem, meanwhile, municipal authorities reportedly shut off the lights on the massive Christmas tree erected in Manger Square each year.

 

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Palestinians in Jabal al-Baba protest Israeli expulsion order

The small village is located in E1, an area in which the U.S. and Europe have long demanded Israel not build new settlements, because doing so would cut the West Bank in two.

Around 100 demonstrators  joined the Palestinian community of Jabal al-Baba on Thursday, November 23, in the E1 area of the West Bank adjacent to the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, to protest a new Israeli-military order that would displace the entire community. On November 16, members of the community received the military order to leave their homes and take with them all of their belongings—the first step in the eventual demolition of their homes. Thursday was the day they were supposed to leave, according to the order.

The West Bank area known as E1, where Jabal al-Baba is located, is the site of an Israeli plan to build several thousand settlement housing units. For over a decade the United States and European Union have demanded that Israel halt the project, which would connect annexed East Jerusalem with the settlement of Maaleh Adumim, thereby making a geographically contiguous Palestinian state all-but impossible.

The demonstrators were joined by members of the Palestinian Authority, the popular committees, and Bishop Atallah Hanna of the Greek Orthodox Church. They marched from the village to a nearby hill, surrounded on one side by Jerusalem and the settlement of Maale Adumim on the other, where they placed a Palestinian flag.

The community consists of 60 families, or more than 280 people, 151 of whom are children. Residents of the community, members of the Jahalin Bedouin tribe, released a statement declaring that they do not intend to comply with the military order. They called on the public to support their struggle.

Since the beginning of November, similar evacuation orders have been issued against the villages of Ein al-Hilweh and Umm Jama in the Jordan Valley.

The latest orders are part of a larger trend of evictions and demolition orders issued to Palestinians living in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank where the Israeli military controls not only security but also civil matters. Palestinians are prohibited from building on around 70 percent of the land in Area C, most of which is designated for Israeli settlements and military use, and it is virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits in the remainder of the territory.

So far in 2017, the...

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Hundreds of Palestinians on the brink of expulsion: ‘We just want to live'

Three hundred Palestinians have been ordered to leave their homes and take with them all their belongings within the next eight days. Where are they supposed to go? The military order provides no answers. In the meantime, they wait for the rain that refuses to come.

By Keren Manor / Activestills.org

They are about to be expelled from their homes but every person I met on our visit to the community of Ein al-Hilweh in the Jordan Valley asked us if there was news of rain. The farmers and shepherds in Ein al-Hilweh and in the neighboring village of Umm Jamal are worried. It is the middle of November, and without water, their herds of cattle, sheep, chicken and other animals are beginning to die of hunger. There is no water to drink. The dry earth does not provide food for pasture. The small community, which is not connected to running water, depends on rain to grow the crops that provide the little food off of which they and their livestock survive.

Because Israel has designated most of the land in the Jordan Valley as as military firing zones, nature preserves, or security areas for settlements, the villagers are forbidden from going almost anywhere; they risk the confiscation of their tractors and livestock by the army if they do. They are forbidden to approach the springs closest to their homes because of the presence of soldiers and the settlers.

The absurdity of the situation reached its peak, the villagers recount, with the construction of a water pipe by Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, that runs next to the village and provides water to the settlements in the area. The pipe leaks, but if the villagers dare to approach it with their flocks, they risk their livelihood being confiscated by the army. In the reality of the occupation, better to waste water than quench the thirst of the wrong population.

The Palestinians are left with two options: to suffer dehydration or pay NIS 120 (nearly $35) for four cubic meters of water from the nearby villages of Bardala or Ein al-Beida—almost five times what the residents of the settlements pay, and 15 times what Israeli farmers pay for a cubic meter of water for agricultural use.

“It is difficult to make a living from livestock. The situation here is difficult,” said one of the members of the Daragma family, with whom...

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Israel cuts off water to Palestinian village for a week

Ein al-Beida is one of only a few Palestinian villages in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank that are even connected to the water grid.

Photos and text by Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Some 50 Palestinians from the northern West Bank village of Ein al-Beida staged a protest last week against an Israeli decision to cut off the water supply to their village for over a week. The protest, which ended with no violence or arrests, was held by mostly local farmers.

Mustafa Foqaha, head of the village council, said the amount of water the Israeli water company, Mekorot, allocates to the village has been decreasing over the years, reaching as little as 245 cubic meters per hour prior the full cut-off last week. By the time water was restored on Monday, the supply was even less, a village spokesperson said.

He described it as “not enough” amount for a village of 1,600 inhabitants that is mostly dependent on agriculture. Ein al-Beida is one of only a few villages in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank that are even connected to the water grid. Other Palestinian villages are forced to truck in water at considerable expense, or drill their own wells or connect unauthorized connections to existing water infrastructure.

Foqaha suggested that the cutoff this past week was a result of Israeli authorities deciding to punish the residents of the area after discovering unauthorized water connections in the nearby village of Bardala. An Israeli military spokesperson told +972 Magazine that the cutoff was indeed part of an operation to remove pirated connections in the area.

Similar Israeli actions took place in the village last April, which were also explained at the time as enforcement actions against pirated water connections.

“Although, no [unauthorized] connections were found in our village, the Israelis want to punish the whole area,” one farmer from Ein al-Beida said. “What they call ‘stealing’ is not a real stealing. It’s an attempt from those who lost their water resources to get more amounts due to the limitations by the Israeli occupation.”

Local farmers said some of their crops could be damaged if no solution would come soon.

Ein al-Beida is the site of one of the main water drilling sites used to supply Israeli settlements in the area by the Israeli water company, Mekorot. In 1982, the Israeli military transferred ownership of the Palestinian water...

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