Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I was looking for some more reports about yesterday's news online, and I found these videos on YouTube.

Here is al Jazeera's report on the little boy shot in Na'alin yesterday

Another video of the house in Beit Haninah being blown up. I couldn't find anything on al Jazeera about it.

Here is an al Jazeera report on the court ruling ordering the wall in the village of Jeyyous to be moved, giving the village back some, but far from all, of their agricultural land.

This is an episode of an al Jazeera series called "Street Food." It talks about food in Jerusalem, for both Israelis and Palestinians. It was interesting, but I have to admit that the part I liked best was the video of the markets in the Old City.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A 9 year old boy was killed in an anti wall protest

The village of Na'alin has been in the news lately, at least the news here. They have been protesting the construction of the wall which will cut much of the agricultural land from the village. These protests seem to always have a group of foreign or Israeli activists who are committed to nonviolence, but their protests are often forcefully dispersed. That is where the young man was shot in the foot with a rubber bullet while he was bound and blindfolded. The officer who was holding him has been suspended for 10 days pending an investigation into whether he actually ordered the shooting. And today a 9 year old boy was shot and killed. It is so sad.

video of Beit Haninah house destroyed

I read on IMEMC this morning that the Israelis were planning to destroy a large building in Beit Hanina that was built without a permit. There is an interesting post here by an American activist who was staying in the building when the Israelis arrived on Monday morning. From his description, this building was within walking distance of my father-in-law's house. This afternoon I came across these two videos on LiveLeak. I am not sure if they are the same building.

The first is the raw footage of the explosion that brought the house down. LiveLeak reported that,
The city said that the four-story construction was "one of the most severe" building violations ever carried out in Jerusalem, and was in blatant violation of court-orders.
However in the second video former Palestinian Legislative Council member Hatem Abdul Qadr said that the house was destroyed because the owners had only "added a few meters" to the legal building.

Five families lost their homes.

Monday, July 28, 2008

2 minute rant

No time for blogging for me. We are having a big party today for my daughter to celebrate her tawjihi success. About 50 or 60 women and girls are invited for food and dancing and general partying. So as you can imagine, it has been a busy week. Naturally, there is plenty to do to get ready. Last night, in the evening when it started to get cool, my older daughter and I were preparing to do some baking for the party, when 2 of my sister-in-laws came for a visit. They thought it would be nice to have a chance to talk when there wasn't a noisy party going on, and to see my husband too, since he won't be here for the party. Unfortunatly he wasn't here then either, which they would have known if they had called. So we sat, drank tea, ate fruit, had coffee. Meanwhile, my dough rose over the sides of it's bowl. I finished cooking it at 1:30 AM. There was so much I meant to do last night. Why would someone come to visit the night before the party they are invited to? Seriously, didn't they expect us to be busy? And why won't people here CALL before they come. We have a phone. They have a phone.

Times up. My tea is ready and I have to get to work. Wish me luck.

Friday, July 25, 2008


This video was on Joy_in_Palestine's blog this morning. It is about the Palestinian village of at-Tuwani in the south Hebron hills, where the Christian Peacemakers Teams maintain a presence to try and protect the villagers.

And this video is also about the same area, and the children who have a daily struggle just to get to school.

Monday, July 21, 2008

When I think my life is hard...

The last 2 weeks we have had no water from the pipes in the house on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Now that I got the pump for the cistern fixed, it is not such a hardship. I am using the water from the cistern only for laundry now, to conserve water from the main for drinking and other uses. That means I fill the washing machine by bringing in a hose from outside through the bathroom window, but alhamdulillah I have a top loading machine that allows me to do that. I don't know what I would do if I had one of those European style front loading models. I am grateful that we live in a single family house with a cistern. There are a lot of apartment buildings around us, and I wonder how they manage when their water runs out. I guess they have pumps though, to pull water out of the main lines, since so much of the time the water pressure is so weak it doesn't even reach our house's roof.

As frustrating as these water shortages are, it pales in comparison to what people in Gaza are going through. Read Contemplating From Gaza's account of a weekend with no water, no electricity, no gas for the stove and no gasoline for the car. And then to top it off, she gets comments from trolls who feel the need to imply that it is her fault that there are rockets fired from Gaza and call her filthy names. Personally, I have my comments moderated, and I won't let anything abusive be published here, but perhaps letting the morons have their say proves a point.

I don't want to see any innocent civilians suffer, not Palestinians nor Israelis.

video of shooting

Al Jazeera and the BBC both now have the video of the shooting I wrote about last night.

An Israeli human rights group has just released graphic video footage obtained during clashes between Israeli troops and demonstrators protesting against the separation barrier on the West Bank. The video has sparked outrage, as it shows what appears to be an Israeli soldier shooting a Palestinian at close range. Al Jazeera's Emma Hayward reports.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

bound and blindfolded prisoner shot with rubber bullet

I just saw a shocking video on al Jazeera. I know stuff like this happens, so maybe I shouldn't be so shocked, but still it is amazing to see it happen. Israeli soldiers had blindfolded and bound the hands of a protester in Na'alin village near Ramallah. There have been protests there the last couple months because they are putting the wall through the village's land. This young man had already been beaten, and then one of the soldiers raised his gun and shot him in the foot at seriously close range. When I can find a copy of the video online, I will post it. The footage was filmed by a 14 year old girl from the window of her house. Brave girl. Everyone here should have a video camera with them. After medics treated his foot they realeased him.

The only place so far I have seen this mentioned:

La Hawla Wala Quwata Illah Billah
There is no strength nor power except Allah

Saturday, July 19, 2008

tawjihi results!

All the waiting is finally over. The Palestinian tawjihi results were released Friday. The tawjihi exam is taken by high school seniors after they have finished classes. It is a set of comprehensive exams that determine if the student can go on to university and what majors are open to him/her. The minimum passing grade is 51 and 55.4% of this year's seniors passed. I pasted an article below that tells all about the exams.

My younger daughter got a 91.7! SubhanAllah walhamdulillah! She was in the sciences track. They have to choose arts or sciences in 10th grade. She was actually in tears when she got the result, because she had hoped to do better, but I am very pleased and proud of her. This is such a hard system, it is way more stressful than taking the SAT or ACT in the US. The tests are only offered once a year. I think if you fail one, you can take it again the same year, and if you fail more than one you can take them again the next year. But that is it, no more chances.

She took Islamic studies, Arabic, English, math, physics, chemistry, life science and "Industry and Agriculture." She got the highest grade in the West Bank in "Industry and Agriculture," although there might have been others with the same score. Funny thing is, I always thought she hated that class. And while I am bragging, and it is a mother's prerogative to brag, I must point out that all of the tests are in Arabic except the English exam, and the day she started kindergarten she barely knew any Arabic at all. We still mostly speak English in the home.

And there is more good news. Today they announced the first batch of students accepted into Bir Zeit University, and she was accepted into the Sciences department. I think she intends to major in chemistry, although I think her best tawjihi grade was in math.

The tawjihi results were announced at 10 AM on Friday on the local TV station and radio. They also publish all the names and scores of the students who passed in a special addition of the newspaper. I feel so badly for the ones who failed or had a poor result, and everyone knows it. How humiliating. By 11 AM we started to hear fireworks. Many people celebrate by setting off fireworks, real ones, but my husband and I are in complete agreement that we have no intention to celebrate by risking one of our kids' hands or eyes. It was fun to watch other people's fireworks, but I hope it didn't make my daughter jealous. I downloaded a fireworks screen saver, but it wasn't quite the same. Next weekend we will have a big party for her, inshaAllah.

I am so glad that this is all over, but the year after next it will be Number Two Son's turn.

Tawjihi exam a pillar of Palestinian society; results announced Friday

Bethlehem – Ma'an – The results for the university entrance exam, written by Palestinian students in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, were announced Friday at 10am.

The entrance exam, called the Tawjihi, determines not only whether a student will be permitted to enroll in university, but will also limit their selection of majors and classes.

On average, about half of the students sitting the exam pass, this year the number was 55.4%. A passing grade is 51%, and according to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education the median grade for the exam this year was 52%.

The tests are written over the period of twenty days in June, by 77,047 students, including 32,800 in the Gaza Strip and 44,247 in the West Bank. The majority of those writing have just finished their last year of high school, though those who do not pass the first time can write up to nine more exams to try and pass.

The exams are administered once a year, and comprise tests in a large variety of different subjects, including English, Arabic, Science, Math, Religion (students can choose from Islam or Christianity), Palestinian History, Geography, Biology, Physics, Industry and Agriculture.

Students choose the exams they are to take depending on their intended course of studies following high school. If the student fails one exam, then they do not pass the Tawjihi and cannot enroll in university.

The pass/fail results of the tests are announced nationwide over the radio, internet and television. Students are asked to report to their schools for the detailed breakdown of marks.

Following the announcement cities and towns erupt with fireworks and parades of celebrating students driving down main streets.

The Tawjihi has been part of the Palestinian schooling system for years. In the West Bank the exams started when the area was under Jordanian administration, and in Gaza students began taking the tests in the 1990s when the Palestinian Authority took over administration of the area from Egypt.

Up until 2006 the tests were based on the Jordanian curriculum books, but now anything published in the textbooks authorized by the Palestinian Authority is fair game for the test.

The long tradition of the exams, its high stakes for so many students, and the public nature of the results announcements, have together made sure that the tests are a staple of modern Palestinian society.

The Tawjihi is also one of the elements of Palestinian life common to Gazans, East Jerusalemites and West Bankers. When the Ministry of Education and Higher Education announced that the results for Gaza and the West Bank would be announced separately, students protested and asked that they could wait until all results could be announced together.

Even Palestinians in Israeli prisons were permitted to write the exams this year, although their results have not yet been released.

So far this year the highest grade was awarded to a Gazan student, who had an average on the tests of 99.3%

In years past there have been accusations that Israeli troops and road closures have been strategically planned to prevent students from getting to school to take the tests.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

who's afraid of airport security these days?

The last time I flew anywhere was 1994. The world has changed a lot since then, and every time I read about a Muslim having trouble with airport security, I get more nervous about the idea of trying to get on a plane again. Not that I am likely to try it any time soon. I know that certain security measures have to be taken, after all I don't want to get on a plane with any crazies either, but sometimes the security folks go overboard.

Read Tunisianbelle's post Muslim While Flying, for her upsetting experience. This is the first time I have seen her blog, which I found via Global Voices.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

10-year-old subjected to torture by Israeli soldiers

This horrifying piece is from the Defence for Children International/Palestine Section website.

10-year-old subjected to torture by Israeli soldiers

Name: Ezzat H
Age at incident: 10
Date of incident: 11 June 2008
Location: Sanniriya, Qalqiliya
Accusation: None

A 10-year-old boy was subjected to physical abuse amounting to torture for 2.5 hours by Israeli soldiers who stormed his family’s shop on 11 June, seeking information on the location of a handgun. The boy was repeatedly beaten, slapped and punched in the head and stomach, forced to hold a stress position for half and hour, and threatened. He was deeply shocked and lost two molar teeth as a result of the assault.

On Wednesday 11 June 2008, at around 10:30am, 10-year-old Ezzat, his brother Makkawi (7) and sister Lara (8) were in their father’s shop selling animal feed and eggs in the village of Sanniriya, near the West Bank city of Qalqiliya. The children were suddenly startled to see two Israeli soldiers storm in to the shop.

Interrogation and abuse in the shop

One soldier wearing a black T-shirt started shouting in a loud, menacing voice in Arabic, “your father sent us to you to collect his gun”. A terrified Ezzat responded, “My father does not own a gun”. The soldier responded by slapping Ezzat hard across the right cheek and his brother Makawi across his face. The soldier then ordered Makkawi and Lara to leave the shop. Once the younger children had left the soldier demanded once again that Ezzat hand over his father’s gun. Although Ezzat repeated that his father did not own a gun the soldier ordered him to search for it in the sacks containing the animal feed. Ezzat kept insisting that there was no gun in the shop so the soldier slapped him once again, this time across his left cheek.

One of Ezzat’s friends, realising that something was wrong, tried to enter the shop but was kicked by the soldier standing at the door and prevented from entering. Soon a group of local people had gathered outside the shop. Some of the people in the group also tried to enter the shop but were prevented from doing so by the soldier at the door.

The soldier in the black T-shirt asked him once again to produce the gun. Ezzat answered, “We do not have anything”. The soldier responded by punching him hard in the stomach causing Ezzat to fall over on to empty egg boxes. Ezzat started screaming and crying out from pain and fear. The soldier in the black T-shirt started making fun of Ezzat and imitated him crying. Ezzat remained in the shop alone with the soldiers for a further 15 minutes when the soldier in black abruptly grabbed him by his T-shirt and dragged him out of the shop. Ezzat asked the soldier if he could lock up his father’s shop but the soldier said he wanted it to remain open so that it could be robbed. The soldier also threatened to put Ezzat in his jeep and take him away.

Once they were out of the shop, Ezzat was ordered to walk in front of the soldiers to his house, whilst a gun was pointed at his back. The soldiers hit him several times on the nape along the way. On approaching his house Ezzat saw many Israeli military officials surrounding the house and a number of green military vehicles parked outside. One of the olive coloured jeeps had the word “police” written on it.

Interrogation and abuse in the home

After arriving at the family’s home the soldier in the black T-shirt stood Ezzat in the yard and ordered him to search the flower basin for the gun. Before Ezzat had a chance to respond the soldier slapped him so violently that Ezzat fell down face first into the basin. Without giving him the chance to stand up the soldier grabbed him by his T-shirt and lifted him up roughly. He was then instructed in Arabic by another soldier to head to the guestroom.

On approaching the guestroom Ezzat could see his father standing by the door. The soldier slapped him on the neck and Ezzat fell to the ground. As Ezzat stood up the soldier slapped him a second time making him fall to the ground once again. All this happened in front of his father. He then grabbed Ezzat by his T-shirt and lifted him in to the air. The soldier told Ezzat’s father that he was going to take his son to prison. He also threatened to take Ezzat’s 19-year-old sister to prison. Ezzat was then pushed forcibly in to the guest room where his mother and four of his other siblings including his sisters Diana (19), Raghda (18), (Aya) 15 and brother Jihad (3), were being held. His mother was crying. Ezzat was also crying and when asked by his mother why he was crying, he said it was because he had been hit by the soldiers. His mother asked the soldiers to stop beating her son and to beat her instead.

After several minutes Ezzat was taken out of the guestroom and slapped several times by the soldier in black, once so hard that he fell to the ground. After being moved to several locations in the house Ezzat was told to stay in the boys’ bedroom. The same soldier then left the room but would return every five minutes to slap Ezzat and also to punch him several times in the stomach. Each time this took place Ezzat would shout and scream out in pain and burst in to tears. The soldier would then imitate him and make fun of him. The soldier hit him around six times.

Destruction of property and use of stress positions

A short time later, five soldiers entered the room and proceeded to destroy the family’s property using hammers. In all, the soldiers destroyed wooden ventilation panels in the attic, a small refrigerator in the bedroom and it contents, damage to the kitchen, a fan and the fireplace.

Ezzat spent one hour in the bedroom alone with the soldiers. In that hour he was ordered by the same soldier to stand on one foot for half an hour, with his back against the wall and with both his hands lifted up in the air (see picture). Ezzat was exhausted by this but was too scared to put his foot down on the ground. Eventually he was told by one of the other soldiers that he could put his foot down. He was then asked to sit down in a squat position. He managed to remain in this position for two minutes and then had to stand up. A female soldier then walked in to the room and asked him to sit on the refrigerator box.

Shortly after the soldier in the black T-shirt returned accompanied by Ezzat’s older sister Diana. He proceeded to ask Ezzat whether he cared for his sister to which Ezzat responded, “Yes I do”. The soldier then asked him to tell him where the gun was hidden and that if he told him where it was hidden that he would not tell Ezzat’s father. The soldier left the room with Ezzat’s sister. He then returned to the room on his own and hit Ezzat all over his body. He left the room once again and after a while came back offering Ezzat 10 Shekels in return for telling him where the gun was. Ezzat responded that he did not care about money. This made the soldier extremely angry and he took off his helmet and started throwing it at Ezzat from two metres away. Ezzat was in extreme pain. The soldier continued to hit him with the helmet and then left the room once again returning to slap him across his face and on his stomach. This continued for some time with the soldier leaving the room and returning to hit Ezzat and to question him over the gun.

Interrogation of family

Ezzat then witnessed the soldier in the black T-shirt and the female soldier leading his sisters and mother to one of the rooms close to the boys’ bedroom. They closed the door of the room but Ezzat could hear the soldiers shouting at them. He overheard the soldier telling the female soldier to hit his mother because she was refusing to take her clothes off to be searched. After the incident was over Ezzat’s sister informed him that they were all strip searched by the female soldier, while the male soldier waited outside.

Meanwhile, a soldier wearing black sunglasses entered the bedroom in which Ezzat was being held. He walked in pointing a rifle, a few centimetres away from Ezzat’s head. Ezzat was so terrified that he began to shiver. The soldier laughed and made fun of him. He asked Ezzat to tell him where the gun was and threatened to shoot him if he didn’t. Ezzat continued to maintain that there was no weapon hidden away. The soldier, getting agitated shouted at Ezzat, “for the last time, tell me where the gun is before I shoot you". Ezzat repeated that he did not have a gun. Hearing this, the soldier lowered his rifle and left the room. After about five minutes the soldier in the black T-shirt entered the room along with four other soldiers and said that they were leaving but would return.

The soldiers spent two and half hours in the house in total. After the incident Ezzat spent the night at his uncle’s house because he was too scared to sleep in his home. As a result of the physical assault Ezzat lost two of his molar teeth and is deeply shocked by the incident.

DCI/PS Statement

DCI/PS is appalled that Israeli authorities would subject a 10-year-old child to beatings, position abuse and threats over the course of several hours. The treatment of Ezzat falls within the definition of torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as defined in the UN Convention Against Torture, to which Israel is a State Party. The treatment of Ezzat also infringes numerous other international conventions to which Israel is bound1, as well as Israeli military and domestic law2.

DCI/PS again calls on Israel to immediately ensure its compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture and to thoroughly and impartially investigate the allegations of torture and abuse of Ezzat and bring those found responsible for such abuse to justice.

DCI/PS also calls on the EU to make the upgrade of EU-Israel bilateral relations conditional upon measurable and confirmed progress by Israel to uphold the EU human rights standards in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.


1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) – article 5; Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) – articles 27 and 31 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) – article 7; and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) – articles 2(2), 3, 16 and 37(a).

2. Israeli military law establishes the specific offence of “ill treatment” which prohibits the beating or other abuse of any person in a soldier’s custody: see Military Adjudication Law, 5715-1955, Article 65. See also articles 378-382 of the Israeli penal code.

** Take Action **

Please send appeals in English, Arabic, Hebrew or your own language to Israel and/or the EU:


  • Urging Israeli authorities to comply with the UN Convention Against Torture and thoroughly investigate the allegations of torture and abuse of Ezzat and other Palestinian detainees and bring those responsible for such abuse to justice.

Appeals to:

President of the State of Israel
Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel
Office of the President
3 Hanassi St., 92188
Jerusalem, Israel.
Tel: +972 2 6707211
Fax: +972 2 5610033
Salutation: Dear President

Prime Minister of the State of Israel
Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister
Telephone: +972 2 6753277
Telephone2: +972 2 6753547
Saluation: Dear Prime Minister

Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ms. Tzipi Livni, MK
9 Yitzhak Rabin Blvd., Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91035
Fax: + 972 2 5303367
Salutation: Dear Foreign Affairs Minister

European Union

  • Urging the EU to pressure Israel to immediately ensure its compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture and thoroughly investigate the allegations of torture and abuse of Ezzat and other Palestinian detainees and bring those responsible for such abuse to justice.
  • Urging the EU to make the upgrade of EU-Israel bilateral relations conditional upon measurable and confirmed progress by Israel to uphold EU human rights standards in the occupied Palestinian territory.
  • Making the EU aware of the recent inclusion of Palestine/Israel as a priority conflict for the implementation of the EU Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict, and of the subsequent reporting tasks on child rights violations incumbent upon EU diplomatic missions and EU institutions in the field.

Appeals to:

Mr. Bernard Kouchner, Ministre des Affaires Etrangères
Ministère des Affaires Etrangères français
37, quai d’Orsay, 75 007 Paris, France

Personal Representative for Human Rights (CFSP) of the EU Secretary General/
High Representative Javier Solana
Ms. Riina Kionka
175 Rue de la Loi BE 1048 Brussels, Belgium
Fax. : +32 2 281 61 90
Email :

The Commissioner for External Affairs and European Neighbourhood Policy
HE Ms. Benita Ferrero- Waldner

waraq diwali

Want to spend a lot of time making dinner? Start outside picking the leaves.Try not to let the cat trip you while you pick a million of them.
Spend all day rolling them. It has to be enough for 7! No, it was 8 that day, since My New Son-In-Law was here too.
They are no longer than 2 joints of my finger. Kaliliyya women have a contest to see whose are smallest!
Hours and hours of preparation, and they are gone in 15 minutes.

What's for dinner tomorrow?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


(May 2008)
It doesn't rain here all summer long. We probably won't have any significant rain again until late October, or even November. In the spring we have a lush growth of wild flowers as most wild plants rush to finish their growing season before the heat of summer and lack of water kills them off. By now, the beginning of July, the fields are brown and dry.
(May 2008)
Water is naturally a scarce resource here. It is one of the issues of contention between the Israelis and Palestinians. I was pleased to see that the BBC's website had an article about Israeli Human rights group B'Tselem's latest report about the water shortage in the West Bank. The report says that the already unfair distribution of water between Palestinians and Israelis will be further aggravated by this year's drought. Here are the figures from the report:

According to the World Health Organization, the per capita minimal amount of water needed for household and urban needs is one hundred liters a day. Due to the chronic water shortage, water consumption in the northern West Bank has dropped to one-third this amount. In Tubas, per capita consumption is 30 liters; in Jenin, it is 38 liters. In Nablus and the Southern Hebron Hills, the figure is slightly higher than fifty liters a day.

Average per capita consumption throughout the West Bank is 66 liters, two-thirds of the minimal amount needed according to the WHO. These figures include water for livestock, meaning that the water consumed for personal use is even less.

In comparison, average daily water consumption in Israeli cities is 235 liters, and 214 liters in local councils, 3.5 times higher than Palestinian consumption in the West Bank.

Every year we have water shortages in the summer, but this year seems worse than usual. Do you see the black barrels on the roof in the background of this picture?
All the houses here have those barrels to store water. They are supposed to ensure that if the water from the main line runs out, there is still water for the house. They are placed on the highest part of the roof to increase the water pressure into the house. Lately the water has stayed off so long we end up with no running water. Yesterday when I woke up, there was just enough water left to flush the toilet once. It was off all day yesterday. We have a cistern under the house that collects the rainwater that falls on the roof each winter, to use as a backup, alhamdulillah, but it isn't clean enough to drink. There is a pump to get the water out, but it quit working last year. My husband and the landlord don't seem to be able to agree whose job it is to get it fixed. So it still doesn't work. I can still siphon water out, but it is slow, and I have to carry it in buckets. Just carrying enough water to flush the toilets for a family of seven is a pain. I also drag my dishes outside to wash them when the water is off.
When the boys were in school, I ended up washing their uniforms out there too. (The cat fell in to the wet laundry the second after I snapped that picture.)I have dozens of bottles stored in the kitchen and bathrooms for days like this, for washing and drinking. But last night the water only came on very weakly, and didn't have enough pressure to get up to the roof to fill our barrels. So, no water again today. At 7AM I filled a couple bottles at the main line, but the water was murky and yellow. By 9 AM I was pleased to find that while the pressure was still weak, the water looked clear enough to drink. I had hoped it was going to come on stronger, but by noon there was no water again. So now it is time to drag my dinner dishes outside in the late afternoon sun to wash them again. And then if I have the energy I will bring in enough water to at least wash my hair.

I used to tell my kids when we were growing up that we have just enough water to make our lives reasonably comfortable, but not so much that we forget to be grateful for it.