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By Salena Tramel
October 14th, 2011
Hebron (Al-Khalil in Arabic) is home to more than 165,000 Palestinians—making it the largest city in the Palestinian West Bank. The city is famous for leather shoes, avant-garde blown-glass vases and qidreh, a fragrant dish cooked in clay pots. It is also notorious for settler violence in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. And now Hebron is becoming increasingly known for an agricultural project that sets the standards for access to food in that city and across the occupied Palestinian territories.
By Salena Tramel
September 13th, 2011
The elderly woman sat cross-legged atop a worn tribal carpet in the dirt, her eyes downcast and swollen from tears. Above us, a plastic tarp hanging precariously on sticks flapped loudly in the wind as she began to speak. “You need to know what happened here today,” she said in Arabic. “Today we lost everything.”
Earlier, we had set out by truck to visit some of the projects Grassroots International supports through our partner the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). Their work includes supporting Palestinian farmers through the provision of seedlings.
Soon after shameful attacks killed six in southern Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that militants would pay “a very heavy price.” And then his warplanes proceeded to pound civilian areas with missiles. So far nine Palestinians—including two children—have been killed, and dozens injured. Retaliatory strikes have not always been limited to sought-after militants but have also affected the more vulnerable and punishable civilian population.
Ahmed Sourani, from the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees, a Grassroots International partner near Gaza City, said that they were getting shelled from both sides, even though it is not yet clear who was responsible for the attacks in Israel. “We are very scared about this escalation,” he admitted.
In Bir Nabala, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, Israel’s separation Wall provides a concrete backdrop to what was once a view of the old city. On a stormy afternoon, Bir Nabala’s head of counsel Haj Tawfik Nabeli guided me through the ghostly streets isolated from the rest of the city by massive sections of the eight-meter high Wall that is, in Nabeli’s words, “affecting every single aspect of life.”
July 20, 2011
Eight years ago this month, the International Court of Justice ruled in an advisory opinion that “the construction of the wall, and its associated régime, are contrary to international law.” While neither the state of Israel nor the corporations like Elbit Systems Ltd., which profit from the wall, have heeded the advice of this ruling, Palestinian communities’ resistance continues to grow in both scale and creativity.
As they often did on any given day, the al-Jarah family gathered for some tea, a time-honored Gazan tradition and valued opportunity for relaxation and catching up. They enjoyed the tranquility of being together in the protection and comfort of their courtyard. As they were sipping their tea, a deafening explosion ripped through the air, spraying rubble through the courtyard and demolishing their home. All that remained were piles of debris and the remains of six bodies. The al-Jarah family died after being hit by a missile from an unmanned drone.
Over the last couple of days official Washington has been abuzz with what President Obama said, and didn't say, about the 1967 borders between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. The president didn't say anything that hasn't been official U.S. policy under both Republican and Democratic administrations since at least President Carter's time. And, for good measure, nothing different than what the international community has been saying since even before then!