Monday, October 31, 2005
Democracy of the Palestinian Authority
posted by: beitsahourplayer at 8:14 PM
Bier Zeit university students suspend all classes

Bier Zeit University students, suspended on Monday all classes until further notice in protest to the violent response of the Palestinian Authority security forces to a protest they held in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Saturday.

The Demonstration, which took place in front of the PA Presidential compound in the city, demanded the release of Ala' Barahma a student in the university.

Several students were injured, including Fadi Ahmad the head of the Students Counsel in the university, local sources reported.

The students released a press release demanding the resignation of the Palestinian Minister of Interior, Nasser Yousef, holding him responsible for the state of lawlessness in the PA security forces.

Barahma is the representative of the Islamic Movement in the University.
Friday, October 21, 2005
Marriage in Palestine
posted by: Frubious Bandersnatch at 10:45 AM
Things are relatively quiet in Bethlehem at the moment. Some may think that this is a good sign. Some may even go so far as to say that the existence of the blog should be in question in this time of relative quiet.

I believe however that the role of the blog is to highlight this truth; There does not need to be blood and explosions for the occupation to cause suffering. Let me give you one small example to illustrate this point.

A friend of mine recently told me that he was engaged. He's a wonderful guy and so naturally I was very pleased to here the news. I asked him where his future wife is from and if I already know her. He replied that she is from Jerusalem. They met and fell in love whilst they were both representing their organisations at a meeting abroad. It was such great luck, when you think about it, that they live so close to each other.

Unfortunately, when you live under occupation with no civil rights, things are never that simple.

She is from Jerusalem and he is from Bethlehem. Both of them are from Arab cities, born within 7miles (10km) of each other. This is where the Aparthied kicks in. As a resident of Bethlehem he will not be able to live in Jerusalem as Israel does not believe that non-Jews have a right to freedom of movement.

On the other hand, Arabs that live in Jerusalem (often the descendents of people who have lived their for centuries.) have been classed as sub citizens ever since the illegal and unilateral theft of East Jerusalem in 1967 – an act which has been condemned by numerous UN resolutions – since then the Arabs of the city have been graciously granted 'residence', but not citizenship, in the city in which they were born.

This means that if she lives outside the city for more than a few years then she risks losing here Jerusalem ID, and therefore, losing any right to return to her birth place, her home and her family.

How long can this absurd situation remain in place? To all the Israelis reading this post – Do you really believe that the restrictions placed on this couple have anything to do with security? With all the new Jewish only settlements being illegally built in East Jerusalem, do you not even have the slightest suspicion that this might be something to do with ethnic cleansing? Why does your great democracy not grant residency to people who were born in your country? Open your eyes and see what is right in front of you. This Aparthied needs to end if Israel is ever to have any chance of maintaining its credibility.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
New Illegal Settlement around Bethlehem
posted by: bethlehembloggers at 9:56 PM
We got an email from someone who said the following:

"Hi, I just saw your blog. I'm an Israeli living in Ramat Gan.

My justification for the security fence is that it stops terrorists from exploding themselves together with our children in Israel proper, and it has success cause until the hudna it stopped 80% of all of those attempts.

Why don't all of you take care of that not happening anymore, so I can change my views about the (human) legality of that fence.

Thanks in advance for the answer"

Without going into how exactly the Wall has stopped 80% of attacks on Israel ‘proper’, (if you say so), let’s look at what is Israel ‘proper’ in the first place – the Wall (let’s not get into whether it should be called a fence or not either) is not about security at all. Why else is it being built so deep inside the West Bank? This is a new method of stealing Palestinian land to be used for expanding the illegal settlements.

In the photo above you can see the hill that used to be visible from Bethlehem before 1997. On the other side of the hill is Jerusalem.

In this second photo you can see the monstrosity that is ‘Har Homa’ as it was in 2001. All of this is built inside Palestinian West Bank, inside the so called Green Line.

More photos of Har Homa Settlement as it was being built (and it’s still expanding).

And guess what? IMEMC news reported just last week that ARIJ have found out that Israel plans to build a new settlement on Beit Sahour's land:

Dr. Jad Isaac, head of the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem said on Wednesday that Israel is planning to build a new Jewish settlement on the land of the West Bank town of Beit Sahour east of Bethlehem.

Dr. Isaac's comment came in a meeting organized by the municipality of Beit Sahour and the Ministry of Local Governments in the Palestinian Authority with the residents of the lands threatened to be confiscated for the settlement to be built on.

He urged the land owners to provide the municipality with their land deeds so that the lawyer can act and try to stop the confiscation.

The land projected for confiscation is 3666 Dunams (916 acres) where as the area of the town of Beit Sahour is close to 4500 Dunams (1225 acres).

The Israeli army has already built a crossing point on the eastern entrance of the town and is planning to build a permanent military base close to it.

This would block Bethlehem area from the rest of the West Bank from its east and northern sides.

Thanks to Ben White and to the Israeli, who we won’t name here, who emailed us. Why is the route of the ‘security fence’ cutting so deep inside Palestinian land (see map above from stop the wall)? Answers on a postcard please...
Monday, October 17, 2005
posted by: beitsahourplayer at 8:38 PM
Alternative Information Center proudly presents

Free entrance

The Story of Three Villages in One: Ain Hawd, Ein Hod, and Ain Hawd Al-Jadida
“Rachel Leah Jones' documentary 500 Dunam on the Moon unsettles the dominant Israeli narrative about the artists' colony Ein Hod, founded in the wake of the dispossession of the Palestinian village Ayn Hawd, while giving the term “artists' colony” an ironic twist. Within the film, the pictorial setting of the region does not serve a kind of a nostalgia for the exotic, but only highlights a multi-layered history of silence; the much glorified (“hod” of the Hebrew) hybrid architectural style that combines “East” and “West” has been literally built upon the ruins of Palestinian houses. Capturing this process from the perspective of the remaining Palestinian villagers, living on the outskirts of their old home, Jones's film courageously puts the “present absentees” back, as it were, on the map.”
Professor Ella Shohat, NYU

In Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles. ALL ARE WELCOME
For more information email or phone 02-2775444

Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Bethlehem NGO worker illegally detained
posted by: bethlehembloggers at 3:15 PM

Alternative Information Center Staff Member Ahmad Abu Hannya Placed in Administrative Detention

Ahmad Abu Hannya, staff member of the Alternative Information Center, was detained by the Israeli army on 22 May 2005 on his way to work. After a few days the Israeli army decided to place him under administrative detention for six months, and he was transferred to the notorious Offer Camp. Ahmad is still being held at the Offer Camp without charge to this very day.

Ahmad Abu Hannya was born in 1973 in the Palestinian village Dar of Salah, south of Bethlehem. Following completion of elementary school in his village, Ahmad graduated with a diploma in design from the Design Center in Beit Sahour and studied Business Management at Al Quds Open University until his arrest.

Ahmad’s natural talent for drawing became apparent already in elementary school, and professional courses and life under occupation served to further his artistic skills. Ahmad particularly enjoys drawing and portraying themes related to landscapes and portraits.

As the eldest son among six siblings, Ahmad took financial care of his family, particularly after the retirement of his father.

In 1998, Ahmad joined the Alternative Information Center, a joint Palestinian-Israeli organization, as a volunteer in its Bethlehem office. He worked with the local Palestinian youth, both raising their and his own awareness of the local political realities, and in 2002 joined the AIC staff as the youth project coordinator. As an AIC worker, Ahmad had excellent relations with everyone on staff and always demonstrated his readiness to learn and to live in common with the others, regardless of religion or gender. Ahmad is a strong defender of human rights and advocate for freedom, and he built a wide range of networks with progressive young Israelis, international solidarity delegations, the Palestinian youth in the West bank and 1948 Palestinians.

The AIC is urging people to write letters to "high ranking Israeli officials demanding that Ahmad’s administrative detention not be extended, and concerning the arrest of all Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails. We further encourage you to write letters of support to Ahmad himself," say’s their website, before listing a number of addresses:

Mr. Shaul Mofaz,
Minister of Defence,
Ministry of Defence,
37 Kaplan St.,
Tel-Aviv 61909,
E-mail: or
Fax: ++972-3-696-27-57 / ++972-3-691-69-40 / ++972-3-691-79-15

Chief Military Attorney
Military postal code 9605, IDF
Fax: ++972-3-569-43-70

The department for administrative detention in Ofer camp
Military postal code 01649, IDF
Offer military prison 386
fax ++972-2-5884234

for writing to the Israeli representative in your country.

Ahmad Abu Hannya
The alternative information center
POB 31417
Jerusalem 91313

Emails to Ahmad can be sent to
please write in the subject "to Ahmad Abu Hannya"

Information about administrative detention

Administrative detention is the imprisonment by administrative procedures of an individual without charge or trial. In the Palestinian Occupied Territories executive authority is held by the Israeli area military commander, who holds the power to authorize administrative detention against Palestinian residents.

The freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention is an integral part of international human rights law and is enshrined in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 10 of the Universal declaration enunciates an individual’s rights to due process:

"Everyone is entitled in full equality to fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him".

Despite this, the Israeli Government uses this kind of detention widely and intensively against Palestinians during this current Intifada and thousands of them have been arrested numerous times. Currently, approximately 600 Palestinians are held in administrative detention, tens of them for several years and about ten of them are children under the age of 18.

Israel's use of administrative detention blatantly violates restrictions placed on this act under international law. Over the years, Israel held Palestinians in prolonged detention without trying them and without informing them of the suspicions against them. While detainees may appeal the detention, neither they nor their attorneys are allowed to see the evidence. Israel has therefore made a charade out of the entire system of procedural safeguards in both domestic and international law regarding the right to liberty and due process.

Alternative Information Centre
Monday, October 10, 2005
"From Martyrs to Elections"
posted by: bethlehembloggers at 3:47 PM
It’s a little old, this article, but it is still relevant. It was written by Ben White, who stayed in Bethlehem during the summer. We keep saying to send us your stories, so the least we can do is put them up… sorry for the delay Ben:

Returning to Bethlehem after an absence of around nine months, one of the first things I noticed were the new posters. Even by the summer of 2004, the pictures of the shahid were fading, and recent additions were few and far between. A year on, and the faces of martyrs have been replaced by aspiring politicians, a reminder of the local elections that took place in the Bethlehem district not so long ago. Perhaps this is an example of the kind of ‘reform’ urged on the Palestinians by the U.S. and her allies.

The city streets are livelier in the evenings now, as the young men cruise around in their cars, and families take the opportunity to go for a late stroll. Behind this superficial improvement in life here, however, is a crippling unemployment rate that has become most people’s foremost concern. Many here have been out of work for months, if not years, and those lucky enough to be in employment are taking home a salary so low it is almost as insulting as it is gratefully received.

Full story here and Ben has his own website, if you want to read more of his writing.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Sabbah's blog/ IDF uses human shields... again
posted by: bethlehembloggers at 11:26 AM

Another site we should mention is Sabbah’s blog. Apparently there was something back in August called Blog Day 2005 where loads of bloggers made a list their favourite blogs and ‘tagged’ them, letting them know they’ve been recommended and bringing their readers to notice other blogs of interest... sounds like a good idea. Shame we missed that at the time.

Well, we were ‘tagged’ by Sabbah so it only seems fair to pay back the favour, giving Sabbah's blog a mention… I noticed this story (which the photo also comes from):

"On Thursday at dawn, 29 September 2005, IOF killed 3 Palestinians in two separate incidents in Jenin. Two of the victims were killed in Bourqin village, while the third was killed in the old town of Jenin…."

Full story here.

Then I noticed actually it’s originally from umkahlil's blog, and probably from another website before that… that’s the great thing about the internet; freely sharing info and spreading news.

Thanks for the mention Sabbah, consider yourself tagged back :)
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Australians against the Wall
posted by: bethlehembloggers at 5:50 PM

More supportive and encouraging emails coming in, this one from Australia (photo from peacerider):

I was interested to read your website as my husband was born in Beit Sahour and most of his family (apart from parents and siblings) are still there. We feel so much for the wonderful people of Palestine and can only hope, one day, peace for you all will come.

We live in an area in Australia where the locals do not listen to the news, or take heed of the propoganda therein, and have much sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians.

Hold your heads high and keep care of your warm hearts, the Western world has much to learn from you all. It is good you protest with non violence, that is the secret, please be aware we understand we have no idea what you are going through, it is easy to sit back here and give our thoughts and opinions – we see the Arab people as being highly educated, warm, embracing and strong, who deserve to be respected in the highest regard.

Hope and Peace to you all,

Anne Shomali

Thanks Anne. Again, if anyone else wants to share messages of support to the Palestinian people, we'll happily publish your views/ stories; just email us or use the comments tool.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
A letter to President George W. Bush
posted by: beitsahourplayer at 11:56 PM

A letter to President George W. Bush

Dear Sir:

I know you do not know me, but I am a young Palestinian man who knows you well. I am sending this letter to you, Sir, to tell you this:

I was listening to the news today as I do all the time and scientists were talking about major changes in the climate. They expect that the hurricanes to come will be worse than Katrina was.

There for, I am telling you, Sir, for the love of your children: stop using your weapons and destroying nature with your wars and your quest for riches.

When will everybody realize that the way of living you're presenting us with is destroying humankind? By using weapons and exploiting nature you are killing the hope of a better future for our children and yours.

There is no need for wars or killing. We do not need your oil or fancy cars, we only need to learn how to live with each other as human beings. When activists like me fight against your capitalism and the destruction of nature and humanity, you call us crazy.

But let me tell you this: we are the last defense for humankind. We are the ones who are going to save humanity. In our world, there will be no weapons to kill people with or to destroy the natural world; there will be no occupation to oppress people. In our world, everybody will be saved from harm In your world, your military was killing people while their families were dieing from Hurricane Katrina.

Sorry, sir, for the long letter. I know you are a busy man-- you have a country to run and an occupation to look after.


Beit Sahour Player

Sunday, October 02, 2005
A Diary of a Mother under Occupation
posted by: bethlehembloggers at 9:23 PM

We have on our links board to the left a list of a few of those israel/palestine blogs we think are worth checking out. We decided not to put a HUGE list of anyone who simply mentions Palestine (which is why a few bloggers wanting to be linked with us got the 'sorry' email). But one we agreed to list has recently moved from Occupied in Gaza to Raising Yousuf, a Diary of a Mother Under Occupation.

It's a brilliantly written diary of one mother's life in Gaza. A snippet of a recent post below:

"Am I beginning to sound like a broken record? If so, that should be a telling statement regarding the situation in Gaza after disengagement. Its the same old same old..."

That's Laila in the photo above in between Palestinian and Egyptian Rafa, the 'Dead Zone'.

When our techy get's things sorted, the links on the left will be repaired.

If we're missing good blogs or websites you think we should add to our list, please let us know.
Visits to Bethlehem
posted by: bethlehembloggers at 9:03 PM

Those who've been emailing us lately might have been annoyed to not to get an answer as quickly as we'd like. Due to a few changes in our team lately, we've been slow to respond... but now we're going to post some messages we get now and then, starting with one from Mike, (pictured):

"I am an american who never been out of the country except when i went to bethlehem. I realized the struggle that the palestinians have to go through and want you to know i have been spreading the word here in america. Having palestinian roots i feel very strongly about the isreali aparthied."

If you've ever been to Bethlehem and want to share your experience, then email us and we might put your comments up. If you send anything to us include 'for posting' in the message so we don't have to check if you mind being quoted or not.

Thanks again Mike.