“Hero’s Mother” e-campaign to kick off on social media

Facebook Hero's Mother

An e-campaign is expected to kick off Tuesday evening on social media networks under the “Hero’s Mother” hashtag to pay homage to Palestinian women on the International Mother’s Day.

Activists announced the finalization of preparations for the campaign, slated to be launched at 8 p.m. (Palestine time) on Facebook and Twitter.

The campaign aims to shed light on the vital role played by Palestinian women and mothers in the national liberation struggle.

The hashtag was inspired by a quote from the mother of a Palestinian anti-occupation youth killed by the Israeli occupation forces.

(Source / 21.03.2017)

Egypt, Jordan Agree on Importance of Resuming Negotiations for a Palestinian State

Ayman al-Safadi, Reuters

Cairo- Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shokry and his Jordanian counterpart Ayman al-Safadi met for three hours in Cairo on Thursday to discuss crises and recent challenges facing the Arab region.

“It’s time to clear up the Arab atmosphere and provide a minimum of consensus on resolutions issued by the Amman summit, to deal with all crises, conflict, war and terrorism tearing the region apart,” said Safadi.

He also pointed to the possibility of reaching Arab unanimity, despite existing differences in a desire “to spare the region further devastation threatening security and stability of Arab states.”

The two FMs held a press conference following talks in Cairo to discuss the latest developments in the region, including the Palestinian peace process and Egyptian-Jordanian relations.

Safadi, who arrived in Cairo early Thursday, hoped the upcoming Arab League summit to be held in March in Amman would enhance joint Arab action in a way that improves capability of addressing crises affecting the Arab world.

Safadi replied to a Syria question with “Jordan is taking part in Astana’s Syria peace talks as an observer and supports any effort that aims at reaching a ceasefire across Syria, especially in the southern region closer to Jordan’s northern border.”

The Astana talks are not an alternative to the Geneva efforts that form the main framework of reaching a political solution to the Syrian conflict, the minister highlighted.

He also said that discussions with Shokry addressed the major challenges facing the Arab world and ways to address them, underlining Cairo’s important role in enhancing the regional stability and security.

Jordanian-Egyptian consultation and coordination not only aim at serving bilateral relations, but also seek to serve the interests of the Arab nation and its peoples to enhance joint Arab action and maintain pan-Arab security, Safadi stressed.

The minister also highlighted the significance of increasing the level of coordination among Arab countries to find solutions to regional crises, especially the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, the Syrian war and the developments in the Libyan arena.

For his part, Shokry expressed hope that the Arab summit will boost joint Arab action and serve Arab national security, voicing Cairo’s readiness to help Amman in organizing the summit.

(Source / 18.03.2017)

Palestinian fighter attack Israeli post in Jenin

JENIN, PALESTINOW.COM — Gunmen, believed to be from the Palestinian resistance, opened fire on Friday night at an Israeli military post located west of Jenin city in the occupied West Bank.
Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that armed men showered the watchtower of the Salem military base west of Jenin with volleys of bullets at around two o’clock after midnight.The sources added that the gunmen were aboard a vehicle and withdrew from the area, where the Israeli army immediately dispatched a large number of troops.

Citizens from the nearby towns of Rummanah and Zabuba also reported hearing gunshots at the time of the attack.

Consequently, dozens of Israeli soldiers and military vehicles stormed Palestinian areas around the Salem base, especially Rummanah and Zabuba towns, and established roadblocks at their entrances.

(Source / 18.03.2017)

Gaza’s women of steel

Women in Gaza are stepping up as family breadwinners, breaking cultural norms as they strive to make ends meet.

Kullab sometimes goes for days without catching anything

Gaza Strip – At 42 percent, Gaza has the world’s highest unemployment rate – and while the rate of women in the workforce is only 15 percent, compared to 71 percent of men, many of them are trying to close the gap.

More and more women are breaking societal norms and working in jobs that have been traditionally reserved for men as they step up to serve as their family’s breadwinners. Al Jazeera spoke with three women about how their non-traditional jobs have changed their lives.

Gaza’s female bus driver

The children first called her “Uncle Salwa”.

“The kids thought only men drive cars,” Salwa Srour told Al Jazeera. “I broke the traditions. I’m the first lady in the Gaza Strip that drives a bus.”

Srour sets out at 6:30 every morning in her 1989 Volkswagen minibus, circling around Gaza City to pick up each child and drive them to the kindergarten class that she opened in 2005 with her sister, Sajda.

Initially, they hired male bus drivers, but Srour decided to take over the job after hearing parents’ complaints about drivers being impatient with the children or showing up late.

Class starts from the moment the children enter the school bus, where they begin learning new words in English

“We would call him, but there would always be excuses. He would always say, ‘I’m on my way,’ but the kids would be waiting and there would still be no bus,” Srour explained.

When the parents started calling her to ask why their kids were not home yet, Srour decided to take matters into her own hands and drive the children to kindergarten herself.

Srour has been driving children to school for five years now. Class starts from the moment they enter the school bus and begin learning new words in English. Stepping on to the bus, the children greet Srour with “Good morning” as they each pull out a shekel from their pocket.

“Zain, go back,” Srour tells a four-year-old in English, indicating the back of the bus.

“Go back! Go back!” the kids repeat in unison as Zain makes his way towards the back seat.

Srour has been passionate about driving since her high-school days, recalling with a laugh how she used to sneak out and drive her grandmother’s car around Gaza at the age of 16.

After graduating from high school, she immediately insisted on getting her driver’s licence, at a time when few women were doing so.

“It’s really weird for people to see a woman driver, but after hearing my story, they started to encourage me,” Srour said.

The fisherwoman of Gaza

“Every day you go out, you’re not sure if you’ll come back,” Madleen Kullab said as she looked out to the sea from Gaza’s port. “It’s a difficult situation. When we approach the fifth mile, we start getting shot at. There are a lot of risks, but I do it because I have to.”

It has been nearly a decade since 22-year-old Kullab took over her father’s role as a fisherman and the family’s breadwinner, after her father was diagnosed with myeletis, an inflammation of the spinal cord, leaving him disabled.

Kullab and her two younger brothers set out early in the morning, between 3am and 5am, or at sunset to cast their nets. She typically catches sardines.

“You’ll catch whatever you’re meant to catch,” Kullab, Gaza’s only female fisher, told Al Jazeera.

It has been nearly a decade since 22-year-old Madleen Kullab took over her father’s role as a fisherman and the family’s breadwinner

The job mostly depends on luck, as Israel has restricted Gaza’s fishers to a six-nautical-mile limit – less than a third of the fishing area allocated under the Oslo agreements. There simply are not enough fish in the restricted area; the catch is often meagre, and Kullab sometimes goes for days without catching anything. For a better-quality haul, they would need to sail out at least 10 miles.

As she walks along the dock, tiny sardines litter the ground as fishermen sort their morning loads in crates. The harbour is full of boats resting under cloudy skies.

Gaza’s worsening economic situation has hit the fishing industry hard, with the number of working fishermen  dropping from 10,000 in 2000 to 4,000 last year. Fishers typically live on loans for the whole year, including Kullab, who does not fish during winter. The sea is especially rough in winter and the waves can get too high for her modest wooden boat. Even when she does fish, her daily catch earns her only 10 shekels ($2.60).

I get shot at every time I go out [into the sea] … Anything is better than fishing, even if it’s just for 10 shekels.

Madleen Kullab, fisherwoman

The business has become too deadly, she says, and she is looking for a way out, attending college in hopes of becoming a secretary.

“I get shot at every time I go out [into the sea] … Anything is better than fishing, even if it’s just for 10 shekels,” Kullab said, recalling the time she witnessed 17-year-old Mohammad Mansour Baker shot and killed while he was fishing with his brothers.

“There were more than 10 boats. We were only three miles out when the Israeli ships started shooting without any reason, targeting us,” she said. “Mohammad was shot at the side of his stomach; the bullet came out from his back and he died on the spot.”

Gaza’s female blacksmith

Underneath a makeshift tent on a sandy street three kilometres from Gaza’s port, Ayesha Ibrahim, 37, and her 15-year-old daughter take turns pounding hot iron with heavy hammers. Another daughter pumps a bag that throws puffs of oxygen into the small fire, where they heat the rods.

This is how Ibrahim, Gaza’s only female blacksmith, helps provide for her seven children. For the past 20 years, she and her husband have been collecting pieces of metal from the streets and from destroyed houses and shaping them into axes, knives, cooking grates, metal anchors and other items, which they sell at the market.

Ibrahim, 37, and her 15-year-old daughter take turns pounding hot iron with heavy hammers

It takes about three days to make one item; shaping the iron with a heavy hammer requires time and patience. One piece usually sells for about six shekels ($1.60) at the market, and they earn 10 to 20 shekels a day.

Sparks fly as Ibrahim pounds the burning iron. Her hands are swollen and her back is in pain; it is a tough job, especially as she is eight months pregnant.

“The most difficult part is that we don’t have a place of our own to work. Everyone that passes by has to look,” Ibrahim said.

Her husband takes medication for his nerves after being injured one evening when a 150kg piece of iron fell on his hand.

“It was a terrible night. We couldn’t afford to call an ambulance; thankfully, a man from the street offered help and took him in his car,” Ibrahim said. “At the hospital, they told him to stay for the night; they were afraid his injury might get infected, but we had no money to pay for the overnight stay, so he came right back.”

It is a struggle every day to put food on the table. Although more than half of Gaza’s population relies on United Nations food aid, Ibrahim’s family does not qualify because they cannot prove they are refugees, she said.

Ibrahim, whose father was also a blacksmith, spent her childhood selling his items at the market. She got married when she was 15. Today, her family lives off loans, and their landlord allows them to stay in his apartment free of charge. Owning a space of their own remains a distant dream.

“Our conditions are very harsh, very tough – but I have no choice but to continue working for my children,” Ibrahim said. “I don’t want my children to be like me in any way and to work like I did when I was young. I want a better future for them.”

(Source / 08.03.2017)

‘Different languages, same dialect’: Passion for the cause unites the Palestinian diaspora

No matter where the Palestinian youth have been raised, they always identify with their Palestinian heritage, that was evident from the thousands who turned out to attend the first day of the Palestinians Abroad conference yesterday.

Held in the Turkish capital Istanbul, the conference was attended by over 4,000 people from 50 countries.

Mona Hawaa, a Palestinian who holds the Sudanese passport spoke of her cosmopolitan identity. “I am Sudanese, I love Sudan. I have lived around Sudanese people. I know their country, I know their culture, I know their tribes and I speak in their dialect better than they do. But does that make me less Palestinian? No.”

Identity is a unique and personal concept and having a complicated identity, or setting up a home somewhere else is not a betrayal of your roots, she explained.

Everyone had something unique to offer; from music, to poetry, videos, to art and personal stories.

Live: Palestinians abroad unite for a future state

Strength in unity

Daniel Al Hadawa, who arrived from Chile, said: “They promised us if we recognised Israel, settlements will end, the oppression will end, our right to movement would be realised and our struggle would be over.”

“The opposite happened and we have been betrayed.”

“Many forget that Christians are Palestinians too. We are a community of both Christians and Muslims. As a Christian, I identify with the Muslim community,” he added stressing the unity that the conference highlighted and stressed.

Writer Dr Salman Abu Sitta called for there to be an organised manner for Palestinians in the diaspora to unite, identify and connect.

A member of Lammeh, a production group produced a video interviewing Palestinians in the diaspora, added that no matter what, Palestinians “learn different languages as we scatter, but we always return to our Palestinian dialect”.

Variety of passions

Just as they came from different parts of the world, they came with different passions and talents that they brought together for their love for Palestine. Film producer Younis Abou Saleh spoke of how he uses film to invoke sympathy for the Palestinian cause and to raise awareness for what is happening to “his people”. He was also open about how difficult it is to convince others of his projects when he suggests a project on Palestine.

“What I do instead is I tell the story and after they ask where I get my inspiration from, I tell them it’s inspired by Palestine. People still don’t understand the urgency of the struggle and the extent to which the Palestinian people are suffering.”

Comedian Nicholas Khoury said: “They always ask me how I can laugh when my people are under occupation, I don’t understand this. Think back, have you seen your grandparents who went through the Nakba refuse to laugh, or smile after what happened to them? If anything, they laugh even more because we need laughter. Laughter helps us realise our situation and helps us move forward.”

“We’re living in times in which the comedian is listened to and the politician is laughed at.”

Rama Ibrahim engaged the crowd playing Mawtiny (My nation) on the qanun. The audience raised their flag and their voices to accompany her music.

The attendees watched yesterday with mixed emotions. There was pride for their homeland, joy that Palestinians throughout the world and through the many generations still hold their identity and love for their country. Many were visibly moved listening to the stories of those in the diaspora and remembering the suffering of Palestinians inside The occupied territories, but most importantly, there was hope.

But the message remained throughout: “We will return.”

Interview with Ismail Yasa: The Palestinian diaspora is the resistance

(Source / 26.02.2017)

“Palestine brings us together” campaign gets half a billion posts


The electronic campaign which was launched by Palestinians Abroad Conference on Friday under the hashtag “Palestine brings us together” received a large scale interaction estimated at over half a billion posts.

The number of tweets at both hashtags: “Palestine brings us together” and “Palestinians abroad” exceeded 50,000 tweets.

The posts’ themes varied from calling for activating the role of Palestinians overseas and defending the Palestinian Question as well as the civil and political rights of the Palestinian people to sharing of Photos and videos representing the suffering of the Palestinian people in diaspora.

The participants also stressed the importance to hold conferences that shed light on the suffering of Palestinians in diaspora and affirmed their adhering to the right of return.

(Source / 26.02.2017)

Palestinian women lead resistance in Budrus

Fighting back against Israel’s incursions has become second nature for residents of the West Bank village.

‘The first thing all of us do when we wake up in the morning is check the community Facebook page’

Ramallah, occupied West Bank – When Israeli military jeeps approached the village of Budrus last month, every resident was notified within minutes.

Through the speakers of the village’s mosque, a warning was issued: Israeli forces had entered the area and were preparing to demolish a house.

Men, women and children rushed towards the site of the impending demolition. The village’s women were the first on the scene.

“There was no organising meeting or discussion beforehand. We knew right when we arrived exactly what we had to do to stop them,” resident Najia Awad told Al Jazeera.

Najia Awad says that residents immediately rush to resist whenever there are reports of Israeli forces on village lands

Najia and several other women pushed past Israel’s forces and inside the house slated for demolition, until Israeli soldiers and border police began to block other women doing the same. “We descended from the house and began screaming at the soldiers and trying to distract them,” she recalled.

At the same time, other women surrounded the Israelis and pulled women from their grip, allowing more women to rush inside the house. The women formed a line at the entrance and along the roof of the house, standing firm and silently. The Israeli soldiers, all strapped with M16s, quickly retreated.

This was not the first time that the women of Budrus have claimed victory against Israeli incursions on their lands. They led the village’s resistance movement against Israel’s separation barrier in 2003, and say that they have successfully defended 95 percent of their land from Israeli confiscations.

Today, more than a decade since their non-violent protests first gained headlines, resistance in the village has become second nature.

When I hear about the Israeli forces on our land, I don’t run to collect my children and husband to prepare for the resistance. I know once I arrive at the site, I will see them there.

Najia Awad, Budrus resident

“The first thing all of us do when we wake up in the morning is check the community Facebook page,” Najia said.

The page includes posts about all activities in the village, including sightings of Israeli forces. Details of such incidents are then broadcasted to all residents via the local mosque.

“We don’t hold formal meetings or design a plan before an action any more,” Najia said. “When I hear about the Israeli forces on our land, I don’t run to collect my children and husband to prepare for the resistance. I know once I arrive at the site, I will see them there.”

Resident Nasser Morrar told Al Jazeera that unlike resistance movements in a few surrounding villages – heavily dependent on weekly marches, international support and media presence – the resistance in Budrus has evolved into spontaneous community action and self-defence.

“When the Israelis are not here constructing the barrier wall or detaining residents, then we don’t react or plan marches. But when they come, we force them to leave,” he said.

Muna Morrar, Nasser’s wife and a mother of four, said that the community’s resistance was a “natural response”, noting that their daughters and sons were literally born into the resistance.

Muna’s daughter, now 15, was just 18 months old when she was first brought to the frontlines of resistance, strapped to her mother’s hip as Muna raced to confront Israeli soldiers with the rest of her village.

“Every resident in Budrus is involved in the resistance,” Muna told Al Jazeera. “I have to be with my community to help defend our lands. And if I were to leave my daughter at home when the Israelis come, there would be no one left in the village to watch her.”

‘I have to be with my community to help defend our lands,’ says Muna Morrar

Muna even participated in the resistance while pregnant with her son, now 12. During one incident, Israeli forces fired a significant amount of tear gas, and Muna was forced to give birth during her eighth month of pregnancy after undergoing surgery. Doctors said the premature birth was due to the effects of the tear gas.

The community has successfully prevented many residents from being detained by Israeli forces. Muna recalled one such incident several years ago, when Israeli soldiers raided her home and attempted to detain her cousin.

“They handcuffed him and began dragging him out to the Israeli military jeep,” she said. “I began to feel so angry, and without even thinking, I opened the back door of the jeep and started dragging him out.”

Although the soldiers beat her and attempted to pull her away from the jeep, she said, Muna refused to let go of her cousin. Her screams travelled throughout the village, until everyone had poured out of their homes and arrived at the scene.

READ MORE: How Palestinian women defy Israel’s occupation

“The soldiers were so overwhelmed by all these villagers confronting them that they took my cousin from the jeep, unlocked his handcuffs, and handed him back to us,” Muna said.

The women of Budrus note that resistance is more difficult at night, when Israeli forces typically stage raids as residents are sleeping, making it more difficult for news to spread.

“No mother in the world would accept soldiers coming to their home in the night to detain their sleeping son,” said Najia, whose 22-year-old son was recently detained during an overnight raid. “But, we still try to prevent the detentions, even if it’s just to delay the soldiers in time for our children to escape.”

Amira Awad, a soft-spoken mother of seven, experienced every mother’s nightmare when one of her children, 21-year-old Lafee, was fatally shot by Israeli forces during a non-violent protest in 2015.

Amira Awad’s son, Lafee, was killed by Israeli forces during a non-violent protest in 2015

“Our resistance has always been non-violent,” Amira told Al Jazeera from her home in Budrus, where posters and framed portraits of Lafee decorate the walls and shelves. “But even though we are unarmed, they still kill us. They still made my son a martyr.”

According to Amira, Lafee had stayed behind after a protest against the separation barrier, when clashes broke out with Israeli forces. He was ambushed by a group of soldiers who attempted to detain him, but he resisted and wriggled out of their grasp.

As he began running towards his home, an Israeli sniper positioned nearby shot him with a live bullet in his back. He was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

OPINION: When Palestinian women take up arms

“They killed an innocent person,” Amira said, slowly shaking her head. “When something like this happens, you want revenge. But revenge for us is continuing our resistance, stopping this occupation, and forcing these soldiers back where they came from.”

The death of her son has strengthened Amira’s commitment to the resistance. “I used to be really afraid of these soldiers, but after they killed Lafee; I have no more fear,” she said. “Every time they come on our land, I face them with the rest of my community, and I remind them of how they killed my son.”

The women in Budrus encourage others throughout the occupied Palestinian territories to lead similar resistance efforts in their own communities.

“We want other communities to face these soldiers, because they can be stopped,” Najia said. “Whatever these Israelis do to you, when you stand up to them, [it] will not destroy you. You can beat them. And each time you win, your resistance will become stronger.”

(Source / 25.02.2017)

Fatah Picks Deputy Leader to Mahmoud Abbas

Participants in the Fatah congress in Ramallah clap and cheer before a speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Reuters

Participants in the Fatah congress in Ramallah clap and cheer before a speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas

Ramallah-Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement has chosen Mahmoud al-Aloul as deputy party leader.

Aloul is a member of the central committee of Fatah, which approved the decision amid criticism by supporters of Prisoner Marwan Barghouti, who was anticipating his appointment, especially after he got a boost at the Fatah congress vote two months ago.

Aloul, 67, said his appointment will last for one year only. He comes from Nablus and is one of the prominent Fatah leaders who worked with Yasser Arafat and Abu Jihad, assassinated by Israel in Tunisia in 1988.

Abbas appointed Aloul due to continuous pressure to choose a deputy leader for the movement – Abbas has been carrying out several steps to ensure a smooth transition of power.

Following the appointing, Barghouti’s wife Fadwa, wrote on Facebook: “The central committee appears to insist on excluding Marwan.”

She went on to accuse the committee of bowing to the threats of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Marwan has always been here,” she asserted, “standing against the Israeli occupation.”

Fadwa stated that Fatah is fully aware of Marwan’s position and for that it hangs his posters during university, local and national elections. According to her, Israel is also aware of his stance and that is why he got arrested.

“Marwan gained legitimacy from his devotion,” she added, demanding a review of the central committee’s decision.

Barghouthi’s supporters assume that choosing him for the post of deputy leader would have upped the pressure on Israel to release him.

His name was proposed during the central committee discussions but some members expressed reservations for several reasons.

(Source / 17.02.2017)

Palestinians in East Jerusalem battle for their homes

Dozens of Palestinian families live with the constant threat of eviction by Israeli settler groups in the occupied city.

Nora Sub Laban and her family have spent years in court fighting to remain in their Old City home

Occupied East Jerusalem – Ahmad Sub Laban gently peeled back the blinds covering a window in his home, revealing the golden Dome of the Rock in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

“If you look outside this window, you will understand exactly why the Israelis are targeting us with eviction,” he told Al Jazeera.

The Sub Labans are among at least 180 Palestinian families threatened with eviction by Israeli settler groups throughout occupied East Jerusalem, including 21 families in the Old City.

The Sub Labans are considered “protected tenants”, a status originating from an Ottoman-era law that guards against arbitrary evictions and establishes rent controls. After Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, the status was abolished, but for those who had already obtained it, the Israeli government issued the Third Generation Law, which strips Palestinians of the right after three generations of protected tenancy.

‘I have lived in this apartment for my entire life, but we are seeing Palestinians being evicted from their homes all around us,’ says Abu Naser Kastaro

The conditions for maintaining protected tenancy are also extremely stringent; even renovating a small piece of an apartment could lead to revocation, said Daniel Seidemann, director of the nonprofit group Jerusalem Terrestrial. Hundreds of Palestinians in the city are protected tenants, according to a field researcher from the Jerusalem-based nonprofit organisation Ir Amim.

Some Palestinians with protected tenancy in the Old City say that Israeli settler groups have hastily moved to evict them after the death of the last member of their family’s third generation. Others say that their rights have been systematically eroded in the Israeli court system in an effort to increase the Jewish presence in occupied East Jerusalem.

Surrounded by Israeli settlers, the Sub Labans are the last Palestinians left in their apartment building in the neighbourhood of al-Khaldiya. The cobblestone steps outside their building lead to a large Star of David and a string of Israeli flags.

READ MORE: Sheikh Jarrah – When my enemy is my neighbour

The family received their latest eviction order in 2010, after being accused by Israeli settlers of not living in the apartment, which would nullify their protected tenancy agreement. The family vehemently denied the accusation.

Late last year, the Israeli Supreme Court concluded the decades-long property disputewith a controversial ruling: Nora and Mustafa Sub Laban, Ahmad’s parents, would be permitted to stay in their apartment for 10 years, but Ahmad, his wife, two small children and two siblings would be evicted.

“It’s like I am being held on death row,” Nora told Al Jazeera. “They have sentenced a piece of me to death, and now my husband and I have 10 years to wait in isolation for the day the settlers come to evict us.”

The street outside the Sub Laban family’s apartment in the al-Khaldiya neighbourhood of the Old City is decorated with Israeli flags and symbols

Ahmad said that his grandmother signed a rental agreement with the Jordanian government in 1953, making Nora the second generation of the protected tenancy. However, the Israeli court stripped the right from Ahmad and his siblings, who have continued to contest the decision, saying that they should be shielded from eviction as the family’s third generation.

“They revoked our rights in the Israeli courts,” Ahmad said. “This is an Israeli policy: use every possible means to remove Palestinian residents and replace them with Israeli settlers.”

The apartment building where the Sub Labans live had once been a trust for 19th-century Jews migrating from the Galicia region of Eastern Europe. Many of these properties were repurposed by the Jordanian government to house Palestinian refugees displaced from their villages after the 1948 war.

In 1967, the properties were transferred to Israel’s General Custodian. Several years later, Israel passed the Legal and Administrative Matters Law, allowing Israelis to claim property in East Jerusalem believed to have been owned by Jews before 1948.

The settlers who subsequently moved into the area arrived with a mentality to “take as much as they can from Palestinians”, Ahmad said.

Last year, Israeli settlers drilled several large holes into the wall of Ahmad’s children’s bedroom. The austere restrictions on home renovations for residents with protected tenancy has prevented the family from fixing the damage.

“They try to make life as difficult as possible for us,” Ahmad said.

I never once thought I would not be living in the Old City. I thought I had rights and that I was protected. My roots are connected there. My entire life was shaped in the Old City.

Mazen Qerish, Palestinian resident

Worlds away from the bustle of the Old City, Mazen Qerish lives in a new home in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya. He was evicted from the Old City last year after living there for nearly six decades.

Qerish’s apartment, which his grandfather first rented in 1936, had always been Palestinian-owned. But in 1987, the Palestinian landlord sold the property to a company affiliated with the settler organisation Ateret Cohanim, which works to increase the population of Israeli settlers in the city by facilitating property deals and establishing Jewish communities there, in violation of international law. Qerish says that the settler group then initiated a decades-long legal offensive to evict his family.

Ateret Cohanim’s executive director, Daniel Luria, denied the allegations, telling Al Jazeera that his organisation “doesn’t have anything to do with so-called ‘evictions’ in the Old City”. Qerish was removed from the building because “he no longer had any rights there”, Luria added.

Following the death of Qerish’s father, a seven-year court battle ensued as Israeli settlers attempted to challenge his mother’s protected status.

A window in the Sub Laban family’s home frames the iconic Dome of the Rock in Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

The judge ruled that she continued to have protected tenancy, but after her death in 2009, the family was thrown back into court. Qerish argued that he should be considered the third generation based on an old contract that referred to his mother as the second generation of the protected tenancy. In 2016, however, the Qerish family lost the case and was forced to leave the building.

“I never once thought I would not be living in the Old City,” Qerish told Al Jazeera. “I thought I had rights and that I was protected. My roots are connected there. My entire life was shaped in the Old City.”

The family has been under severe financial strain since the eviction, with their rent skyrocketing from $265 a year to $530 a month. In addition, the Israeli courts have fined them more than $71,000 for living in their home “illegally” since 2010.

But for Qerish, the most difficult part of the eviction has been the emotional impact. “I was in the middle of the world,” he said. “I had the markets, my friends and my neighbourhood. If I wanted to pray at Al-Aqsa, I could just walk outside my house and be there.”

Today, he often returns to his old neighbourhood of al-Saadiyeh and sets up a chair outside his former home. “Even though it’s a hard life living beside these settlers, I never wanted to leave my home,” he said. “The Old City is part of my soul.”

READ MORE: Palestinians decry Israel’s settlement bill

Across the street from the Sub Labans’ building, four other Palestinian families with protected status have also received eviction orders.

One resident, Sami Sidawi, told Al Jazeera that Israeli settlers claimed that his apartment was uninhabited – even though Sidawi has continued to reside there to care for his physically disabled sister. Sidawi and his sister are the last generation of protected tenants, he said.

And Abu Naser Kastaro, who lives in a small unit on the ground floor of the complex, said that his eviction order claims he lost the apartment in a 1982 court ruling – even though he had never been to court. He believes his case was confused with that of a previously evicted Palestinian family.

The remaining families live in fear that at any moment they could be evicted from their homes.

“I have lived in this apartment for my entire life, but we are seeing Palestinians being evicted from their homes all around us,” Kastaro told Al Jazeera. “Every time I see police on our street, I worry that they are coming to throw us out of the house.”

(Source / 14.02.2017)

Abu Rashid: Palestinians of Europe changed western stands on Palestine


Amin Abu Rashid, general coordinator of the Palestinians in Europe Conference, said on Saturday that the Palestinian diaspora is the main supporter of the Palestinian revolution, but its role was negatively affected after the Oslo Agreement.

In an exclusive interview with the PIC, Abu Rashid affirmed that the Palestinian diaspora played a key role in launching the Palestinian revolution at first, and then ensuring its continuity for decades. However, after the Oslo Agreement, this role was limited to backing Palestinians inside the Palestinian territories.

Abu Rashid pointed out that the decline in the role of the Palestinian diaspora has to do with the nature of the regimes and countries where Palestinians are scattered, especially the Arab ones, and their position on the Palestinian issue. He added that the positions of the Palestinian factions on some issues also affected their relations with these countries, and thus, the Palestinian presence there was affected.

He added that moving the Palestinian power to the Palestinian territories and forming the Palestinian Authority (PA) significantly weakened the role and the political program of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) abroad after it lost its true representation of the Palestinian existence in the diaspora.

On the Palestinians in Europe Conference, he said that Europe was known for its anti-Palestinian position, yet it was and still is an open arena where Palestinians can move freely. This, in addition to the absence of factionalism in the Palestinian presence there, led to the emergence of institutions and frameworks that represent and meet the aspirations of the Palestinian communities. Through time, he noted, they were able to bring about changes in the attitudes of the western society toward the Palestinian issue.

Abu Rashid emphasized that one of the achievements of the Palestinian communities in Europe is attaining recognition of the Palestinian rights, especially the right of return, and creating space for the Palestinian voice in the western media.

Regarding the Palestinian territories, they helped mobilize support for Palestinians there through organizing conferences, launching campaigns against the siege imposed on the Palestinian people, exposing the Israeli practices against them including the apartheid wall, shedding light on the forgotten suffering of the 1948 Palestinians, and achieving national unity, he underlined.

He pointed out that the Palestinian communities in Europe pay attention to the new generations by offering them opportunities to work, and they endeavor to improve women’s action committees there.

Abu Rashid stated that there is a noticeable regression in the role of the PLO and the PA since they are constrained by a set of agreements and negotiations, and that slowly, the PLO turned from representing the whole Palestinian diaspora to representing one spectrum of it.

On the role of the Palestinian embassies in this issue, he said that these embassies only represent the PA and Fatah Movement in other countries, and as a result, there is a huge gap between them and the Palestinian people abroad.

Abu Rashid stressed that the true representation of the Palestinian people is the right way to activate and employ their energies coupled with the efforts of the Palestinian movements and national and Islamic forces away from factional affiliations.

To achieve this, he added, organizing a popular conference attended by Palestinians in the diaspora, where the problems they face along with their goals and aspirations will be discussed, would help, especially amid the narrow-mindedness of the Palestinian political factions who might be pushed to rearrange their priorities.

(Source / 12.02.2017)