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There's no beautifying Israel's treatment of Palestinian children

The central problem at the heart of Israel’s half-century old military court system is clear: these courts will never reflect the interests of the defendants, but rather that of the regime of occupation.

By Sarit Michaeli

Israeli occupation apologists masquerading as protectors of Palestinian children in military detention? Few displays of alternative facts should shock us these days, but somehow an upcoming event by the Israeli right-wing group NGO Monitor’s at the UN Palais De Nations in Geneva comes close. Under the Orwellian title “Protecting Children: The realities of Israeli Military Juvenile Justice in a Terror Environment,” the event planned for Sept 25th features such doyens of child protection as the former IDF Chief West Bank Prosecutor, Lt. Col. (Res) Maurice Hirsch.

A recent recruit to the Israeli hasbara (public relations) industry, Hirsch seems committed to denying Israel’s 50 year-long occupation — instead, he euphemistically refers to “the changing borders of the State of Israel” — as well as trying to legitimize Israel’s military court system, which has faced broad criticism by British experts, UNICEF, as well as B’Tselem, for its systematic and widespread mistreatment of Palestinian minors.

Hirsch oversaw the prosecution’s part in the assembly line that forces virtually all Palestinian minors prosecuted by the army to accept conviction by plea bargains — which usually lead to incarceration. In 2015, the last year for which official data is available, 95 percent of the approximately 540 Palestinian minors indicted in the military courts were convicted. This is done through interrogations that violate minors’ rights, such that they incriminate themselves and others; these incriminations are later presented to the military court, with no other evidence. Military courts deny most minors bail and the few exceptions are routinely appealed by the military prosecution, which is also responsible for the high percent of indictments – 62 percent of the 871 minors arrested in 2015.

In response to criticism, Israel has implemented tried and true tactic: cosmetic changes that enable it to continue imprisoning Palestinian children. These included several changes to the military legislation, such as formalizing the age for prosecuting Palestinians as adults, the establishment of the military court for youth, and changes in detention and remand periods. Legal cosmetics, however, will not meaningfully improve the treatment of Palestinian minors or the protection of their rights.

Israel has also attempted to deflect criticism by initiating a “secret...

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The beat goes on: The story of Palestine's national dance

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict gets more than its share of attention. And yet, listening more attentively to the narrative of the dabke, Palestine’s national dance, gives a new angle to resistance and struggle.

By Dana Mills

In July 2015 Palestinian activists in London took to the streets to hold a Day of Rage to commemorate the bloodiest day of the Protective Edge, Israel’s 2014 war in Gaza one year earlier. In addition to signs and posters, chants and cries, protesters stormed the British Museum and Barclays Bank in London with a dabke flash mob. In 2012, students at Arizona State University commemorating the Deir Yasin massacre in 1948 also danced dabke.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has had more than its share of coverage. Dance history, however, is not always the first place one goes to find political stories. And yet, listening more attentively to the narrative of the dabke, Palestine’s national dance, gives a new angle to resistance and struggle.

The dabke is a participatory dance in which people form a line that can be expanded as new dancers join the moving chorus. The movements of the line are led by a lawith, a dancer who leads and initiates changes in the line formation, and who is followed by a chorus. The dance involves movements up and down in space, and includes rhythmic stomping, clapping, and changes of pace. There are breaks created by individual dancers performing solos and the group response to them.

But dabke is much more than just a dance. It is a form of storytelling through movement, and for many, a way to showcase solidarity and cooperation, cultural resistance, and the strength of the human spirit.

The use of dabke is hardly new. During the British Mandate, Palestinians danced the dabke as a statement of resistance to Jewish immigration to Palestine before 1948 (there is evidence of performance of the dabke in 1923 in the village of Nebi Musa during a protest against the arrival in large numbers of Jews), as well as the growing international support for Zionism. After 1948 dabke dances were choreographed into stories of the villages destroyed in the Nakba. Like many other elements in Palestinian life, dance has always been connected to politics.

After 1967, dabke became even more politicized. Before the 1967 War, it was mainly performed as a traditionally rural dance; after the war, dabke began crossing class divides,...

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Netanyahu's Israel is a cauldron waiting for the next explosion

While Israel proceeds along its merry way, each day building more settlements and demolishing more Palestinian homes, it is far from being the secure and stable dream Netanyahu envisioned.

By James J. Zogby

For half of the past two decades Benjamin Netanyahu has served as prime minister of Israel. Whatever his ultimate fate (given the ongoing criminal investigations he is currently facing), it is clear that he has had a profound impact on Israel, the Palestinians, and the entire region.

There are those who have doubted that Netanyahu had any core beliefs, other than the desire to retain power. But even with his maneuvering and his penchant for prevarication, there are, in fact, core beliefs that have directed his career.

Shortly after his first election as prime minister, and before his maiden address to the U.S. Congress, a team of Reagan-era neoconservatives (many of whom ended up in senior positions in the George W. Bush Administration) wrote a paper for Netanyahu to guide his remarks before Congress and to U.S. audiences. The paper, echoing many themes from Netanyahu’s own writings, was called “A Clean Break”. Since he was already aligned with these views, he repeated the paper’s themes and policy proposals during his many public appearances in Washington. A Clean Break can be seen as Netanyahu’s road map to relations with the U.S. and the Middle East region.

The central themes of the paper were:

– Ending the Oslo process and rejecting “land for peace” formula; reasserting Israel’s claim to the “Land of Israel”; weakening the ability of the Palestinian Authority to govern; and poisoning the PA’s image in the U.S. to damage its standing.

– Securing Israel’s northern border, by confronting Iran, promoting internal conflict in Lebanon, and destabilizing Syria.

– Strengthening ties with Republicans, including proposing ending U.S. economic aid in favor of military aid and buying into the Reagan-era idea of a “missile defense” system — a concept favored by the GOP.

– Confronting Iraq and overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s rule.

Over the past two decades, Netanyahu and his U.S. allies, whether in or out of office, pursued these same objectives. To a great extent, they have succeeded.

This unholy alliance between U.S. neoconservatives and Netanyahu was no accident. They had long been partners. Back in the late 1970’s, Netanyahu convened many of these same thinkers to Israel for a summit at the Jonathan Institute—an event...

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As Mideast borders open, Israel is more isolated than ever

Over the past decade, Middle Eastern countries have viewed their borders as a physical obstacle. The recent warming of relations between Arab states has led to increase in trade, leaving Israel more regionally isolated than ever before.

By Moran Zaga

Over the last month, border crossings have opened along both the Jordan-Iraq and Iraq-Saudi Arabia borders, while the border crossing between Jordan and Syria is slated to open soon. Even the crossing between Lebanon and Syria is now accessible, even making it to the news recently after Bashar al-Assad paid a visit to the area for Eid al-Adha prayers, after kicking the Islamic State out of the area.

For the past few years, these crossings have been shut down, after the Islamic State had taken control of several major border regions, stoking fears that the group would spread into neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. The border crossing between Iraq and Saudi Arabia has been shut since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, leading to the severing of ties between the two countries. The last months, however, has seen warming relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to create a strong coalition that would counter the spread of Shia influence in the region.

Many in and outside the Arab world criticize the process of drawing borders in the Middle East — mostly dictated by the colonial powers that previously ruled the area — especially the arbitrary creation of new countries that did not exist previously. Even if these claims are legitimate, the map has not changed since the establishment of these new countries, and the test of time teaches us that Arab states have become accustomed to the borders that were forced on them. Their citizens, moreover, have for the most part adopted the national identity of their new countries. Thus, the important question relates to the significance of these borders: how do these states view them? What role do they play?

The events of the Arab Spring led to a chain reaction of fortifying the borders of the Middle East, North Africa, and even Europe, which dealt with waves of refugees fleeing the Syrian Civil War. After years of open borders in the pre-modern and modern Arab world — including during times of conflict and war — the borders of the Middle East have undergone a revolution in the 21st century, when they began functioning as physical obstacles. From Morocco...

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WATCH: Settler attacks left-wing activist, breaks his arm

Guess who was detained and taken in for questioning.

By Yael Marom

An Israeli settler attacked a left-wing activist in a settlement in the south Hebron Hills Saturday, breaking his arm. The activist was transferred to Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva, where his left arm was put in a cast.

On Saturday morning, left-wing activists from Ta’ayush arrived for a solidarity visit with the Palestinians of Umm al-Kheir, after settlers from the nearby settlement of Carmel have been throwing stones at them for the past few weeks. A few of the activists headed toward Carmel to protest the stone throwing, where Israeli soldiers prevented them from approaching, claiming that filming was not allowed since the settlement keeps the Sabbath, and that the area had been deemed a closed military zone, except for residents of Carmel.

Suddenly, Carmel’s rapid response team, made up of who are meant to be the first line of defense against terrorist attacks until security forces can arrive, came rushing to the scene. One of them attacked Ta’ayush activist Guy Butavia, hitting him in his chest with his weapon and pushing him to the ground. Butuvia was treated by an IDF medic on the scene before being taken to a hospital.

“I went to Carmel after more than two weeks of endless stone throwing on a nightly basis at Umm al-Kheir,” Butavia says. “Right after we entered the settlement the soldiers arrived and tried to block us. They did not present us with a closed military zone order, so we continued walking. Suddenly the armed settlers from Carmel appeared. They treated us as if we were ‘terrorists.’ One of them, a big, strong man, ran over to me with his weapon and knocked me over.”

Two Ta’ayush activists were detained for “behavior that may lead to disturbing the peace,” and were later released from the Kiryat Arba police station near Hebron.

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew.

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Why young Jews don't trust what their institutions say about Israel

Growing up, I found that the Conservative movement embraced nuanced approaches to Torah, yet that critical approach never extended to discussions of Israel. Questioning Zionism was verboten. 

By Eliana Fishman

It was the summer before eighth grade at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, a Jewish summer camp affiliated with the Conservative Movement. I was 12 years old. Each camper was handed a copy of Mitchell Bard’s Myths and Facts, long considered a foundational hasbara textbook, and we were told that the author would be coming to speak to us.

Most campers ignored the book and didn’t pay much attention to Bard’s presentation. One particularly precocious camper, who actually read through the book, took the time to highlight misleading arguments and logical inconsistencies, and challenged the author during his lecture. Bard made light of the critiques and brushed them aside, insisting that every accusation against Israel was rooted in anti-Semitism, and that there was no way human rights violations had anything to do with Palestinian discontent.

No Palestinians — and not even a liberal Zionist — were ever invited to speak. By inviting Bard to talk without challenge or counterpoint, Camp Ramah in the Berkshires effectively taught us that the occupation was an anti-Semitic myth.

I grew up at the intersection of the Modern Orthodox and Conservative Jewish communities of New York City. Five days a week, I attended an Orthodox day school, where we learned that the Torah came from God, and that any inconsistency in the text can be explained by ruach hakodesh, prophetic foresight. On Shabbat, at my family’s Conservative-affiliated minyan, or prayer community, Jewish academics shared divrei torah, literally words of Torah, suggesting that the Book of Esther was a Judaization of the fertility myths of Ishtar and Marduk. They sketched out models for understanding inconsistencies in the Torah as proof of a multiplicity of biblical authors, and different eras of the text’s construction. Learning non-traditional interpretations as a child strengthened my relationship to Torah, and ensured that critical approaches to text do not threaten my religious practice.

While the Conservative movement embraced nuanced Talmud Torah, that approach never extended to discussions of Israel. The blind support for Israel found in Conservative movement spaces, on the other hand, is reminiscent of a far more Orthodoxy approach to Torah study and Jewish thought.

No one within the Conservative movement ever discussed the rabbinic texts that oppose the Jewish people’s return to...

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When the walls of your home come crumbling down

In East Jerusalem, entire families have their homes demolished and are thrown into the street. Just a few miles away, Israelis live without having to worry about losing everything they have.

By Sahar Vardi

Two children in uniform came down from the second floor to say hello to us before our ride left. With broken Arabic I asked the older one, who was all smiles, what his name is and his age. He is four, his younger brother is three.

I tried to ask the younger one for his name, but he only stared at me. His mother tried to convince him to answer me, but all he could say was “I just want my home.” And that’s it. That’s all the three year old had to say. He wants his home.

Hours before, at 4:30 a.m., I woke up in my West Jerusalem home. At some point I found myself staring at the kitchen while trying to fight my desire to go back to bed and make up hours of lost sleep.

Suddenly I noticed how many objects make up my kitchen. Not only furniture, but hanging cups, magnets on the refrigerator, memories, smells, millions of colors and shapes that create the feeling I wait for every time I come home from a long ride. Home. For a moment I tried to imagine how everything would look when destroyed. I tried to imagine the long arm of a bulldozer smashing through counter and colorful cups.

An hour later I was already at the boys’ home, where a total of 15 people lived, in Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighborhood. We sat on sofas around a dining table in an empty home — bereft of furniture, windows, and doors. They cleared out everything, anything that could be salvaged.

When the police began to gather around the bulldozer in the nearby junction, a few young people from the neighborhood helped the homeowners to uproot the gate at the entrance to their home, as well as the parking gate, and lay it down in the nearby alley. This is hat a naked home looks like — and yet, it is still a home.

Fortunately, when the police arrived Samir, the three year old, was no longer home. A group of armed riot police officers went up to the second floor, where two other brothers, some of their friends and we were staying, and ordered everyone...

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Israel's top court sanctions support for Africa's dictators

By approving the decision to deport African asylum seekers to Rwanda and Uganda, Israel has granted legitimacy to two of the most brutal dictators on the continent.

By Eitay Mack (translated by Ofer Neiman)

The Israeli Supreme Court approved the decision to deport African asylum seekers from Israel. These agreements had previously been made between Israel and states whose identity seemingly remains confidential. But in fact, their identity is known to all: Rwanda and Uganda. The Court’s ruling has given a stamp of approval to two authoritarian regimes and their legal systems, by stipulating that they are capable of upholding the rights of those deported from Israel.

The ruling was based primarily on classified opinions submitted by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other authorities, which had been shown to the judges in the presence of one party alone, and in the absence of the appellants. In the ruling, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor refrained from directly addressing the claim that the Rwanda and Uganda are not democracies which uphold human rights. Justice Elyakim Rubinstein noted that the fate of the deportees must be closely monitored, even going so far as to say that his comment was in no way meant as an affront to these regimes.

The judges expressed their dissatisfaction with the fact that some of the deportation arrangements were oral agreements that have not been grounded in written documents. And yet, they ruled that this was no grounds for the annulment of the understandings. Justice Rubinstein was right in warning that oral understandings may be rendered null and void in the case of a regime change, but he did not dare go a step further and state the whole truth: that the Court’s ruling has turned Israel into an investor in the future of Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame, the dictators of Uganda and Rwanda, since their fall will render the oral understandings null and void.

Refugees in exchange for weapons

This is a shady investment. Museveni has ruled Uganda since 1986, and Kagame has changed the constitution in order to rule at least until 2034. Both have acted firmly to maintain their presidencies for life through rigged elections, constant surveillance, persecuting members of the opposition, torture, disappearances and murder of opponents, press restrictions, and the perpetration of crimes in neighboring countries. The Kagame regime in Rwanda has for several years supported the murderous militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo — who use rape as a weapon of...

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War crimes and open wounds: The physician who took on Israeli segregation

On the occasion of her 80th birthday, Ruchama Marton, the founder of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, talks about the atrocities she witnessed as a soldier, the enduring power of feminism, and why only outside help has a chance of ending Israel’s military rule over the Palestinians.

By Alon Mizrahi

Ruchama Marton belongs to what you might call Generation 1.5 of Israel’s anti-occupation activists. She was slightly too young to belong to the small and avant-garde group that established the revolutionary socialist organization Matzpen in the 1960s, but old enough to have taken classes with firebrand Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz in Jerusalem. There, while at medical school, she revolutionized the admissions process for female students, leading to the abolishing of admissions quotas. And when she discovered there as ban on women wearing trousers at the medical faculty, she revolted against that as well.

Marton founded Physicians for Human Rights-Israel during the First Intifada, bringing the term “human rights” into the Israeli political discourse. Born in Israel, where she has lived her whole life, she has been an active psychiatrist for more than 40 years. Her relationship with this place is complicated and painful, almost impossible.

Marton minces no words when it comes to the leftist and peace organizations, which she sees as a kind of “humane society,” seeing little point in activism that does not directly confront the violation of human rights, the core of which are political rights.

She has been outraged by injustice and segregation her whole life. Between fighting chauvinism and patriarchy, and the lifelong struggle against the occupation, she refuses to be silent.

I met Marton for a talk in her Tel Aviv home in honor of her 80th birthday. I assumed she wouldn’t make it easy for me. I was right.

As a psychiatrist with years of experience, I want to start with what I think is the big question. Why are we so obsessively attached to dehumanizing Arabs? Why does it seem as if the greatest desire of this place is to deny the Palestinians any kind of recognition and legitimacy? After all there is no practical purpose for that at this point, we’ve already won.

“What do you mean it doesn’t serve a practical purpose? That’s nonsense. It serves all of the Zionist interests. Each and every one.”

Explain.

“First of all, we are colonialists. Zionism is colonialist. And the first thing a good colonialist does is dispossess. Dispossess of what? Of...

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Stuck between Trump and Netanyahu, Abbas is running out of options

U.S.-led negotiations are the only game in town for the Palestinian Authority — Abbas doesn’t have many choices available. But according to those close to him, he is unsure about how to proceed given that the goal posts have been moved yet again.

By Dalia Hatuqa

It would have been a startling assertion had it not been heard before. Two weeks ago, Benjamin Netanyahu declared that he would not be evacuating any settlements in the West Bank. “We are here to stay, forever,” the Israeli prime minister said at the settlement of Barkan. “We will deepen our roots, build, strengthen and settle.”

There are approximately 500,000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem today, and their evacuation is a principal tenet of any likely solution to the conflict. The last time peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel broke down in 2014 it was mostly over settlements. At the time, Secretary of State John Kerry was deeply invested in the process, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had relayed several demands to facilitate his engagement with the Israelis.

But Abbas didn’t get anything he asked for, including the basic understandings about negotiations that Palestinians considered a minimum. His call for a settlement freeze was turned down for a “major slowdown.” When he asked for basing the talks on the 1967 borders, Kerry said he could only support that position in writing. And yet despite how little he was offered, Abbas told the broader Palestinian leadership that he would support resuming negotiations nonetheless.

Various Palestinian political parties disagreed with Abbas’ decision, seeing it as capitulation. And despite Abbas relinquishing, Kerry’s efforts failed as soon as Netanyahu announced approval of thousands more settlement units in the West Bank.

Netanyahu’s support for settlements is longstanding. His most recent comments came on the heels of Israel’s marking 50 years of settling in the West Bank, just days after President Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner met with him and Abbas separately.

The meeting between Kushner and Abbas yielded the usual results: an assurance that Trump wanted to secure a “lasting peace” between the two parties, vague references to the importance of direct negotiations, and an assertion that peace would take some time to reach. Abbas had heard it all before, and his frustrations at the lack of clarity began to boil over in the following days.

His exasperation...

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Four arrested in Jerusalem march against eviction of Palestinian family

Twos hundred Israelis march against the eviction of the Shamanseh family from their home in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Passersby throw eggs, while settlers attack them with pepper spray.

By Yael Marom

Over 200 Israelis marched from central Jerusalem to the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah Friday to protest the eviction of a Palestinian family from their homes. The demonstrators marched on West Jerusalem’s thoroughfare until they crossed over into the Palestinian neighborhood, where they were met by dozens of local Palestinian protesters.

The march comes less than a week after Israeli security forces evicted the Shamanseh family from their home, the first such eviction in eight years, allowing Israeli settlers to take over the property.

Large police forces arrived at the Shamanseh family home early Tuesday morning, along with a large truck to carry their belongings, following days of police visits to help prepare for the eviction. Three settlers swiftly entered the home and took over the property. The family — made up of eight people, including young children and two elderly parents — have lived in Sheikh Jarrah since 1964.

On Friday, police arrested two residents of Sheikh Jarrah who marched in the direction of the Israelis, one for waving a Palestinian flag, and the other — a minor — following settler complaints to the police. The minor was only detained for a short period of time, although his mother collapsed and had to be taken to the hospital upon his detention. Meanwhile, during the Israeli march toward Sheikh Jarrah, a passerby threw eggs at the demonstrators. Among the marchers were Joint List head Ayman Odeh and Yousef Jabareen, also of the Joint List.

After the marchers arrived in the neighborhood, one of the Israeli protesters climbed the Shamanseh family home and removed the Israeli flag hung by settlers who had commandeered the house. In response, the settlers attacked some of the protesters, throwing stones and pepper spraying them. Two Israeli marchers were arrested.

Over the past decade Sheikh Jarrah has become one of the focal points of the attempt to Judaize East Jerusalem by messianic right-wing organizations. The family’s eviction is the first step in a larger plan to Judaize the neighborhood and turn it into a settlement. Two other families in Sheikh Jarrah are also currently facing eviction and are likely to be kicked out of their homes in the coming months.

The majority of the residents in Sheikh Jarrah are descendants...

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PA court orders activist Issa Amro to jail, int'l backlash grows

Human rights groups and foreign diplomats were kept out of the closed-door Palestinian court hearing. Members of U.S Congress demand that Abbas release Amro, an EU-declared human rights defender, who was arrested for criticizing the PA on social media.

By Yael Marom

The Palestinian District Court in Hebron on Thursday ordered that well-known human rights activist Issa Amro remain in jail for an additional four days. Amro, co-founder of Hebron-based anti-occupation group Youth Against Settlements, was arrested on Monday by the Palestinian Preventative Security Service, allegedly for criticizing the Palestinian government. He is being accused of sedition and incitement against the PA.

Hours later, nine United States members of Congress sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urging him to “immediately drop the charges and release the internationally renowned human rights defender Mr. Amro from his unjust detention.”

Amro began a hunger strike on Tuesday, and has said that he is refusing medical care.

Prior to the hearing in Hebron court on Thursday, the Palestinian general prosecutor held a meeting with Amro’s attorney, and representatives of Palestinian human rights organizations Al Haq and Addameer. During the meeting, Amro said that since his arrest he has been held in a shower instead of a normal prison cell, and that guards have threatened to beat and even kill him.

In the court hearing, the Palestinian prosecution asked the court to extend Amro’s remand, and added a new accusation of “cyber crimes.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently signed an “Electronic Crimes” decree, effectively curtailing what little free speech existed for Palestinians under Palestinian law, and which was believed to target online dissent against the PA, particularly on social media. The new law was roundly criticized by rights groups in Palestine and around the world. Israel also regularly arrests Palestinians for posts on social media.

Thursday’s hearing was held behind closed doors. Amro’s family members, representatives of Palestinian human rights groups, and foreign diplomats who came to support the EU-declared human rights defender, were not allowed into the courtroom.

It appears that the Preventative Security Service and its cyber division need more time to review the host of interviews Amro has given over the years and his various publications on social media. His mobile phone and personal computer have been confiscated and it would appear a thorough search is being conducted.

Thursday afternoon, after Amro was returned to custody,...

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Suicide and a lost generation: Gaza youth are dying before they can live

Young Palestinians are mourning the loss of two young artists from Gaza, a writer and an illustrator, both of whom represent Gaza’s lost generation, trapped by the hopelessness of Israel’s siege.

By Qamar Taha

Tragic news spread among youth in Gaza last week: Mohanned Younis, a young writer, just 22 years old, took his own life. Younis, who had graduated from a pharmacology program, wrote short stories. Some of his stories won prizes, and one was most recently nominated for the A.M. Qattan Foundation literary prize. He had tried on numerous occasions to leave the Gaza Strip in order to advance his writing career, to fulfill his dreams. In much of his writing, he touched on the depressing reality in Gaza, which he described as unbearable and not survivable — a feeling which is apparently shared by many other youth in Gaza.

According to the Facebook page of “We Are Not Numbers,” which encourages youth in Gaza to tell their stories, Younis is just the latest suicide among youth in Gaza. When the unemployment rate for people under 30 stands at 60 percent; when the possibility of leaving Gaza to study elsewhere, to develop oneself, and certainly just to travel, has been reduced to almost zero; when the lack of electricity makes the most basic daily tasks unthinkably difficult; when there is a military attack, destruction and killing every few years; and when the prospects of hope and opportunity appear further and slimmer than ever — tragic outcomes are almost unavoidable.

News of Younis’s death was joined by another piece of tragic news this week: illustrator Moath al-Haj, 30, was found dead in his Gaza home. Al-Haj, who was orphaned at a young age, was well known among young, educated Palestinians for his sharp and expressive illustrations, in which he used clean lines to demonstrate the difficulties of his life and the situation in Gaza, primarily among the youth. His death led to impassioned discussions on social networks and many people attributed his death to the heartbreak of his life circumstances.

Forty-two percent of the population in Gaza is under the age of 15. That is an entire generation whose dreams and aspirations, talents and capabilities are trapped between the fences and checkpoints of Israel’s illogical and unjust policies and siege. I never met Mohanned or Moath but I think it’s only right to spread the messages of...

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