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The 25 most-read posts of 2014

The readers decide — +972 Magazine’s most popular posts of 2014: The largest Palestinian protest in years, a journey to Jordan’s squalid refugee camps, Israel’s very own tunnels of dread in Jerusalem, a sixth grader draws the war in Gaza, why Palestinians support Hamas during wartime and more of the year’s most-read stories and features.

25. Will there be peace if Palestinians lay down their arms?

Members of the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade fire into the air during Ziad Abu Ein's funeral procession, December 11, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Members of the Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade fire into the air during Ziad Abu Ein’s funeral procession, December 11, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Does the world truly expect millions of people in Gaza and the West Bank to happily and quietly live under occupation? Aziz Abu-Sarah says that while laying down arms is a positive step towards peace, it is not enough to end this conflict, and that Palestinians, like everyone else in the world, have a right to fight for their freedom.

24. Protective Edge: Israel’s watershed moment that wasn’t

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. (Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. (Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Liberals abroad seem to think that this summer’s assault on Gaza was a turning point — a wake-up call telling Israel that it couldn’t keep going on like this, from war to war to war with no chance for peace. Larry Derfner spoke to a number of powerful figures in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s inner circle, past and present, to hear their vision of where Israel is headed following the latest Gaza war.

23. Dozens hold solidarity protest outside draft board for Israeli refusenik

Conscientious objector Udi Segal at the entrance of an IDF induction base. (Photo courtesy of ‘Refuseniks Against the Occupation’)

Conscientious objector Udi Segal at the entrance of an IDF induction base. (Photo courtesy of ‘Refuseniks Against the Occupation’)

By now 19-year-old Udi Segal has long been released from military prison. But at the height of the war on Gaza, dozens of Segal’s supporters held a solidarity demonstration as he declared his refusal to serve in the Israeli army. The few flag-draped counter-demonstrators, however, brought a much uglier tone to the event by branding the demonstration as his “gay coming out party” and calling him a “son of a whore” as he stood by his mother. Read the full report here.

22. ‘The largest West Bank protest in decades’

Palestinian youth throw stones during clashes following a protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza, at the Qalandyia checkpoint near Ramallah, July 24, 2014. (photo: Activestills)

Palestinian youth throw stones during clashes following a protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza, at the Qalandyia checkpoint near Ramallah, July 24, 2014. (photo: Activestills)

As the Israeli army pounded the Gaza Strip by air and land, thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem marched to voice their opposition. Two Palestinians were killed and more than 100 were wounded in what was the biggest popular protest since the years of the Second Intifada. Read about it here.

21. Sentenced to life at birth: What do Palestinian refugees want?

A Palestinian couple, Jerash refugee camp, Jordan. (photo: Paula Schmitt)

A Palestinian couple, Jerash refugee camp, Jordan. (photo: Paula Schmitt)

For more than 66 years, Palestinian refugees have been languishing in squalid conditions in camps across the Middle East. But do all of them agree that a return to Palestine is necessarily the best solution? Journalist Paula Schmitt went to Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan and found that while different refugees may have different desires, hopelessness remains everyone’s worst enemy. Read her article here.

20. Israel’s very own tunnels of dread in Jerusalem

A soldier stands next to a Hamas-built tunnel outside Gaza. (photo: IDF Spokesperson/ CC BY-NC 2.0)

A soldier stands next to a Hamas-built tunnel outside Gaza. (photo: IDF Spokesperson/ CC BY-NC 2.0)

While everyone was preoccupied with the Hamas tunnels in Gaza this summer, Israel continued to dig under Palestinian houses in Jerusalem. Orly Noy spoke with archeologist Yonatan Mizrahi about the state’s questionable excuses, the anger of the residents and the possibility of a large-scale religious conflagration. Read the interview here.

19. WATCH: Police spray putrid ‘skunk’ water on Palestinian homes, schools

Police use the 'skunk' water canon to disperse protesters in Kafr Kanna, a day after Israeli police fatally shot an Arab man in the village. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Police use the ‘skunk’ water canon to disperse protesters in Kafr Kanna, a day after Israeli police fatally shot an Arab man in the village. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

The infamous skunk, known for targeting Palestinian protesters in the West Bank, made its way into Jerusalem in the latest round of outright collective punishment against the holy city’s Palestinian residents. As protests in East Jerusalem grew in strength and size, the skunk was caught on video spraying its foul-smelling liquid on private homes and schools, preventing thousands of children from attending classes the following day. Read Haggai Matar’s report here.

18. ‘I was used as a human shield in Gaza’

Ahmad Abu Raida. (Photo courtesy of DCI-Palestine)

Ahmad Abu Raida. (Photo courtesy of DCI-Palestine)

An affidavit obtained first by +972 and later reported in the NY Times reveals how Israeli soldiers blindfolded, beat and stripped 16-year-old Ahmad Abu Raida naked, before forcing him search for underground tunnels during this summer’s invasion of the eastern Gaza town of Khuza’a. Read Samer Badawi’s interview with Abu Raida here.

17. Israelis in the U.S. urge the Jewish community to take a closer look at Gaza

Organizer Simone Zimmerman speaks to some 250 If Not Now, When activists at a Tisha B’Av action in New York City, where participants read the names of Israelis and Palestinians who died in this summer’s Gaza war. (Photo by Gili Getz)

Organizer Simone Zimmerman speaks to some 250 If Not Now, When activists at a Tisha B’Av action in New York City, where participants read the names of Israelis and Palestinians who died in this summer’s Gaza war. (Photo by Gili Getz)

As bombs were dropping on Gaza and rockets were hitting Israeli cities, a group of Israelis in the U.S. re-examined what it means to be pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. Calling themselves “Israelis for a Sustainable Future,” the group released a public statement calling for security for the residents of southern Israel, while condemning the Israel’s third military assault on Gaza in six years. Read the letter here.

16. The occupation will last forever, Netanyahu clarifies

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo by Activestills.org)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo by Activestills.org)

“I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.” And with that, just days before Israel invaded the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu made crystal clear that he has no intention of ever relinquishing control of the West Bank. Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man couldn’t believe it either.

15. How an army of defense became an army of vengeance

Israeli soldiers blindfold and arrest a young Palestinian man in Hebron. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers blindfold and arrest a young Palestinian man in Hebron. (photo: Activestills.org)

The kidnapping of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel and the army’s subsequent reprisal operations in the West Bank led one former IDF officer to come clean about his own unit’s harrowing “revenge operation” against Palestinian policemen during the Second Intifada. Read his chilling confession here.

14. How to talk occupation at a Rosh Hashanah dinner and make it out alive

Illustrative photo of Rosh Hashana family dinner. (Photo by Rache Barenblat/Flickr/CC)

Illustrative photo of Rosh Hashana family dinner. (Photo by Rache Barenblat/Flickr/CC)

What on earth were you thinking? Everyone in the family noticed that anti-war status you posted this summer, and the hasbara video they sent that you didn’t “like.” No worries, Noam Sheizaf was there to give you some tips so that you don’t mess it all up during your Passover seder.

13. A sixth grader from Sderot draws the war

Comics by Ohad, age 11, from Sderot
An Israeli community organization that uses art to address social and political issues held a comics workshop for kids of Sderot who spent most of the summer vacation in bomb shelters. Eleven-year-old Ohad blew us away with his drawing. Turns out readers felt the same way.

12. How does SodaStream treat its Palestinian workers when the media isn’t looking?

Palestinian laborers arrive at the first of eight metal carousels they must pass through in the Sha’ar Ephraim checkpoint separating the West Bank and Israel, December 22, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian laborers arrive at the first of eight metal carousels they must pass through in the Sha’ar Ephraim checkpoint separating the West Bank and Israel, December 22, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian workers at the West Bank factory complained to management that they were provided meager and unsuitable food at the end of a day of fasting during Ramadan. Those who complained were fired summarily. Read the full story here.

11. The night it became dangerous to demonstrate in Tel Aviv

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

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

Something was different this war. Anti-war protests have always been a charged affair in Israel, but this summer was different. Whether in Tel Aviv, Haifa or Jerusalem, gangs of nationalist youth, (often riled up by “The Shadow,” a has-been Israeli rapper) assaulted Israeli leftists during demonstrators against the war in Gaza. Read Haggai Matar’s full account of the violence here.

10. Palestinian human rights leader: ‘Cast Lead was a joke compared to this’

Homes in Beit Lahiya lie in ruins after the Israeli bombing of the Rozanah family home, Gaza Strip, August 2, 2014. The homes of five families were destroyed, leaving 60 people homeless. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Homes in Beit Lahiya lie in ruins after the Israeli bombing of the Rozanah family home, Gaza Strip, August 2, 2014. The homes of five families were destroyed, leaving 60 people homeless. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

As the Israeli army began its invasion of the Gaza Strip, Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard spoke to Raji Sourani, founder and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza. Sourani described the destruction in Shujaiyeh, the use of human shields and the fate of Gaza’s civilian population. Listen to the interview here.

9. Scarlett Johansson’s naive SodaStream defense

Scarlett Johansson, Netanyah and Abbas (Photo: The Israel Project)

Scarlett Johansson, Netanyah and Abbas (Photo: The Israel Project)

ScarJo raised the ire of pro-Palestinian activists worldwide this year when she openly endorsed SodaStream, an Israeli company with a large factory in the West Bank. At the time, Mairav Zonszein wrote that Johansson clearly has no idea what is going on in the West Bank, which means she probably shouldn’t have actively used her celebrity status to endorse a settlement company.

8. How can you possibly oppose this war?

An Israeli tank is seen before entering the Gaza Strip near Israel's border with the Gaza strip on July 24, 2014. (photo: Activestills)

An Israeli tank is seen before entering the Gaza Strip near Israel’s border with the Gaza strip on July 24, 2014. (photo: Activestills)

There are obvious answers to that question, says Dahlia Scheindlin. From the use of disproportionate force to the disastrous consequences, Israelis had every reason to oppose the war in Gaza. “I see what national trauma has done to the Jewish people more than 60 years following their darkest moments. The manifestations of Palestinian suffering in future generations will be terrible.”

7. The public was manipulated into believing kidnapped teens were alive

Family and friends of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel, three Israeli teenagers who were abducted over two weeks ago, take part in their funeral in the city of Modiin, Israel, Tuesday, July 1, 2014.  Tens of thousands of mourners arrived ro Modiin in central Israel for a funeral service for three teenagers found dead in the West Bank after a two week searches, raids and arrests in the West Bank, as Israel accused Hamas of abducting and killing the young men. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Family and friends of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel, three Israeli teenagers who were abducted over two weeks ago, take part in their funeral in the city of Modiin, Israel, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Details under gag order suggested very early on that Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel were murdered immediately after their abduction. The government-led campaign calling for their release helped give legitimacy to “Operation Brother’s Keeper,” which left at least 10 West Bank Palestinians dead. Read the article here.

6. How Netanyahu provoked this war with Gaza

File photo of Prime Minister Netanyahu holding a security briefing with IDF generals, July 18, 2014. (Photo by Haim Zach/GPO)

File photo of Prime Minister Netanyahu holding a security briefing with IDF generals, July 18, 2014. (Photo by Haim Zach/GPO)

It could have gone differently. But Netanyahu’s antagonism toward all Palestinians – toward Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority no less than Hamas – started and steadily fueled the chain reaction that led to a disastrous war in Gaza. Read Larry Derfner’s article here.

5. Photographed punching an Arab woman? Sue the photographer

The incident in Jerusalem, as photographed by Dorit Jordan-Dotan. (Screenshot from the fundraising campaign.)

A photograph of the three young Jewish woman who attacked an Arab womanin Jerusalem. Photo: Dorit Jordan-Dotan. (Screenshot from the fundraising campaign.)

A freelance photographer who documented three young Jewish women attacking an Arab woman in Jerusalem is being sued for defamation after Israel’s most popular television news channel published her photos. With no way of funding her legal defense, she turned to the public for support. Read the article here.

4. Anti-Semitism has no place in Palestine advocacy

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

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

Amid heart-wrenching death tolls and news accounts of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza emerged reports of violence and hate speech against Jews across the world, from Europe to Australia. Yasmeen Serhan was there to remind activists that anyone who claims to speak for Palestine while condoning acts of bigotry against Jews should not be speaking at all.

3. WATCH: Israeli Jews attack Palestinian on public bus

Jewish Israelis attempt to attack a Palestinian on a bus near Tel Aviv. (Facebook screenshot)

Jewish Israelis attempt to attack a Palestinian on a bus near Tel Aviv. (Facebook screenshot)

It didn’t take long after the bodies of the three kidnapped teenagers were found before racism against Palestinian citizens of Israel reared its ugly head. In a video that went viral on Facebook, a group of Israeli Jewish men attempt to physically attack a Palestinian on a bus in central Israel. Although some of the other passengers protected him, the incident was a sign of things to come. Click here to watch the video.

2. ‘No more deaths’: Thousands of Israelis protest the Gaza war

Israelis protesting the Gaza war in Tel Aviv light candles to commemorate the victims. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israelis protesting the Gaza war in Tel Aviv light candles to commemorate the victims. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Over 5,000 demonstrators came out in central Tel Aviv on a sweltering night in July to protest against Operation Protective Edge. But not everything went off without a hitch: police cancelled the demo two hours before it was set to start, claiming that it was too dangerous given that rockets were falling over central Israel, and at least five anti-war protesters were attacked by right-wingers after the demonstration. Read the full article here. 

1. Why do Palestinians continue to support Hamas despite such devastating losses?

Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus demonstrate their support for Hamas resistance in Gaza Strip three days after a deal signed by Israel and Hamas ended a 50-day Israeli attack, August 29, 2014. (Photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus demonstrate their support for Hamas resistance in Gaza Strip three days after a deal signed by Israel and Hamas ended a 50-day Israeli attack, August 29, 2014. (Photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Contrary to what the Israeli media may have us think, many Palestinians do not like Hamas. So why then was support for them so universal during Operation Protective Edge? Let’s put things in perspective: the Gaza war was always about the siege – part of the Palestinians’ own war of independence. As long as Israelis refuse to understand that, the status quo will remain in tact. Click here to read Noam Sheizaf’s article.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Bar

      There is much with which to disagree in many of these articles, and the comments sections include some of the criticisms. However, I feel it’s important to point out that articles #6, 7, 15, 18 and 20 are outright fiction.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        Bar – you do not sound a particular intelligent person – you spend a huge amount of what presumably is your valuable time reading a news and analysis site where 25% of the articles are pure fiction. Perhaps you find your activity worthwhile because the other 75% are absolutely spot on in their analysis.

        Article 18 merely asserts that “An affidavit obtained exclusively by +972 reveals what appears to be the first documented case of a ‘human shield’ used by the Israeli military during its invasion of the eastern Gaza town of Khuza’a.” Are you saying (a) there was no affidavit, (b) it was not obtained exclusively by +972 (c) it did not allege the use of a human shield (d) it was not the first allegation or (e) the alleged incident did not occur in Khuza’a?

        Article 20 claims that “While everyone is preoccupied with the Hamas tunnels in Gaza, Israel continues to dig under Palestinian houses in Jerusalem. The excuses are questionable, residents are angry and fearful, and a religious conflagration appears imminent.” Are you saying that (a) everyone was not preoccupied with Hamas tunnels, (b)Israeli archaeologists are not tunneling in Jerusalem (c) the residents are not fearful or (d) this will not contribute to a religious conflagration?

        Article 15 relates how “one day in 2002 … my soldiers and I were sent to seek revenge for the deaths of six soldiers. I served in the Israeli army as a combat soldier and an officer in an elite unit during the Second Intifada. In February 2002 I was with my unit near Nablus when we were informed that Palestinian militants had killed six military engineers at an army checkpoint at the Ein Arik junction and had managed to escape.” Are you saying (a) six Israeli soldiers were not killed at Arik Junction, (b) Israel did not launch immediate reprisals that included the killing of 15 Palestinian policemen, or (c) that these reprisals did not constitute a revenge attack?

        Article 7 argues that “Details under gag order could have suggested early on that the abducted teens were murdered. The government-led campaign calling for their release helped the legitimacy of Israel’s military operation in the West Bank. Local and even international media played along.” Are you saying (a) there was no gag order, (b) there were no early suggestions the teenagers had been killed (c) Israel did not exploit the incident to attempt to destroy Hamas in the West Bank or (d) the media were not very supportive of the Israeli operation?

        Article 6 is more difficult to prove correct or incorrect because it deals with Netanyahu’s motivation and role in waging war in Gaza. Are you saying Netanyahu was not alarmed by the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation and determined to destroy it, (b) that frustrations were not strengthened when Israel earlier blocked peace negotiations, (c) that the official Hamas leadership were responsible for the killings of three teenagers or (d) Israel did not attack Gaza?

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          I stopped reading after your first sentence.

          Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            That’s a fair reflection on your integrity and honesty: you make an outrageous and completely unsubstantiated claim, and when challenged on the matter you refuse to respond.

            Reply to Comment