The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Updates from al Khalil/Hebron

CPT Palestine, October 19, 2023

Since 7 October, our lives have been profoundly disrupted—our daily routines upended, and our sense of safety shattered. We find ourselves constantly glued to the news, desperately searching for any glimmer of hope amidst the turmoil. Due to Meta’s collaboration with our adversaries in monitoring, censoring, and limiting Palestinian content, we are compelled to resort to alternative platforms like Telegram to stay informed about the situation in Gaza.

In the initial days, our vibrant city of al Khalil/Hebron metamorphosed into a desolate ghost town. Shops closed their doors, children remained concealed in their homes, and even the sun seemed reluctant to rise. Soldiers were a ubiquitous presence, seemingly wielding unrestrained power, cultivating an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. For almost 75 years, Palestinians have endured the traumas of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and dehumanization, as displayed by the recent comments from the Israeli Defense Minister. Our rights have been systematically eroded, our homes demolished, and our land usurped by colonial settlers. To gain insight into the dehumanizing experiences of detained CPT members, please read their reflections here.

As time passed, restrictions continued to tighten throughout the West Bank. The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) closed the entrance to Hebron and assumed control over the city, despite, or perhaps because of, its pivotal role in contributing to the Palestinian economy. Reports about the treatment of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers have grown increasingly alarming, making it even more challenging for us to leave our homes.

Currently, some schools are operating with a mix of online and in-person classes. In the H2 area near the Ibrahimi Mosque, other schools have transitioned to online classes due to the intensifying crisis and concerns for the safety of students. Even in normal times, safety was a concern, but the situation has become even riskier. In the first two days of the war, the Ibrahimi Mosque was closed to the public.

Movement restrictions have existed for generations, but they have become more challenging to navigate in the current context, depending on where you live. For instance, CPT local members reside in different areas; one of them lives in Area C, very close to the Kiryat Arba settlements. He has remained in his home to protect it in case settlers attack. Additionally, soldiers have blocked the main route to his house, preventing any Palestinians from using it. Instead, they must traverse hilly terrain to reach a nearby village to shop for food and continue resisting and defending their homes.


Meanwhile, Palestinians living in restricted areas, like Tel-Rumeideh near the Ibrahimi Mosque, face restrictions that limit their movements:

To exit the Old City, the following times and checkpoints apply:
08:30 – 09:00 for the Jaber neighborhood via the al Salaymeh checkpoint.
08:00 – 08:30 for the area near Ibrahimi School via the Abu Al-Rish checkpoint.
07:30 – 8:00 for Tel-Rumeideh and the surrounding areas via Tamar checkpoint.

To enter your neighbourhood, the schedule is as follows:
18:00 – 19:00 via al Salaymeh and Abu Al-Rish checkpoints, once every two days: Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and then Saturday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

We are left to wonder if these restrictions apply to settlers as well.

The skies have grown increasingly active, with constant presence of helicopters, airplanes, and other unidentified noises overhead. Despite the continuous sounds, it remains difficult to discern their origin. The evening skies have become particularly congested.

Furthermore, peaceful demonstrations have become a recurring expression of solidarity in the West Bank with the people of Gaza. On Friday, 13 October in Hebron, thousands of individuals participated in a demonstration against the apartheid policies of Israel and their ongoing genocide against our people in Gaza. Demonstrations occurred again on Saturday, 14 October and demonstrations have continued this week following the atrocity at the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza. 

Inside the Old City of Hebron, families continue to experience the daily trauma of living in close proximity to military outposts that protect the illegal settlements in the town. Yesterday, a family shared with us the anxiety of their six-year-old boy, who asks constantly, “Why?” He questions and struggles to understand, as we all do, why Gaza is being bombed, families, homes, schools and hospitals decimated. He wonders if his house will be destroyed as so many homes are. He asks anxiously before he goes to sleep, “Will my house be bombed tonight?”

Business owners and community leaders are angered by the West’s reaction to the genocide in Gaza. They ask how the USA, the so-called most powerful nation on earth, could brush aside their 70 plus years of struggle and continue to pour money and support to the Israeli military, the fourth most powerful army in the world, against an unarmed civilian population.

In the villages around Hebron, settler violence has increased. Encouraged by the whole-hearted support of Western powers for the genocide in Gaza, settler attacks, under the  protection of the Israeli army, have exploded in intensity and frequency throughout the West Bank. 

On Friday, 13 October, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, documented the killing of a Palestinian in At-Tuwani, a village in the Masafer Yatta area south of Hebron. He is in critical condition after a settler, accompanied by an Israeli soldier, invaded the community on Friday and shot him at point-blank range. 

On Monday, 16 October, the residents of Al-Qanub, a small village north of Hebron comprising eight families, faced the burning of their village. It is reported that settler violence led to the expulsion of every resident of the village, located near the settlements of Ma’ale Amos and Asfar. Settlers burned three houses with all their belongings inside.

On Tuesday 17 October, in Simri, southern Hebron, settlers violently attacked residents of two tiny villages, and settlers bulldozed two vacant houses whose residents had previously been forced to leave due to settler violence.

On the same day in the town of Halhoul, north of Hebron, the soldiers killed a 17-year-old boy, Mohammad Nidal Mohammad Milhem, after shooting him with live fire in the abdomen, causing extensive internal organ damage and bleeding. Mohammad was shot after dozens of soldiers invaded the Industrial School in Halhoul, where dozens of Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip have been staying after the Israeli soldiers detained them in occupied Jerusalem and other parts of the country. The army caused damage to the school and interrogated the workers before abducting 50 of them, in addition to 26 Palestinians from several parts of the governorate. The attacks led to protests in several parts of Halhoul before the soldiers fired many live rounds, wounding three Palestinians, including Mohammad. Mohammad’s death is the 61st Palestinian killed by the Israeli army and settlers in the West Bank since 7 October.

On 18 October, after the inexcusable bombing of the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza the streets of Hebron filled with demonstrators in support of the people of Gaza. Snipers dominated the buildings above, injuring several people. 

Many kidnappings of Palestinians under the guise of arrests and detentions have occurred here since 7 October. On Monday night and early this Tuesday, at least 70 Palestinians from the West Bank were arrested by the Israeli occupation forces, including two women from Jerusalem, journalists, and former detainees as reported by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society. The Israeli forces have taken 540 prisoners since 7 October, and made more than 6,000 arrests since the beginning of this year.

Hundreds of workers working inside the occupied Palestinian territories from the Gaza Strip were detained for days at checkpoints before being sent to the West Bank away from their families. Most of them were cut off from contact with their families in Gaza. On Wednesday night, dozens of the Gazan workers were arrested, among those who were deported to Hebron, Al-Dahrieh, and Yatta.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society reported that since 7 October, the Israeli occupation forces have escalated unprecedented acts of torture and systematic crimes against detainees and their families, threatening, intimidating, and assaulting prisoners and their families and destroying and vandalizing homes of detainees. The occupation authorities have imposed measures making it extremely difficult for legal teams and lawyers to monitor detainees since 7 October, particularly in acquiring information about newly detained individuals and their locations and visitation rights.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society stated that the Israeli prison administration is imposing escalating retaliatory measures on a daily basis against women prisoners as part of continuous collective punishment. Besides the general abuses on basic elements of prisoners’ lives like restrictions to water, food, healthcare, and electricity, the prison authorities have resorted to physically assaulting prisoners during the ongoing raids. Furthermore, one of the most dangerous current measures affecting prisoners’ lives is the denial of medical care, meaning that the prison administration has effectively ceased medical treatment for prisoners. There are serious concerns about the potential spread of diseases, as prison authorities refuse to remove waste from prisoners’ cells while reducing the water supply and shutting it off for extended periods in some prisons, like Negev, where water is provided to prisoners for only 50 minutes a day. The prison administration has confiscated prisoners’ clothing in some prisons, leaving each prisoner with only one set. Most prisoners in various prisons are not allowed to use designated showers.

These arrest campaigns represent a central and systematic policy employed by the occupation forces to undermine any rising confrontational situation and serve as a primary tool for collective punishment, targeting civilians. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society reiterated its calls to all relevant parties, especially the International Committee of the Red Cross, to put an end to these crimes.

Given this never-ending and violent suppression of the rights of the Palestinian people, the majority of Palestinian people are hanging on by a thread. How much more physical and psychological trauma can they endure? The international community must be more vocal in calling for a swift end to the genocide and the apartheid system to prevent further suffering and abuse.


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Washington, DC – September 27, 2023: Civil society organizations representing tens of thousands of Palestinian Americans, Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and allied communities are expressing deep concern and outrage regarding the United States’ decision to admit Israel into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) despite Israel not fully meeting the requirements outlined by the law.

Israel’s admission to the Visa Waiver Program starkly contradicts the principles of the program itself. Despite being given an answer key to the program’s requirements, Israel has yet to fulfill its obligations. And it has had no incentive to do so. Instead of requiring Israel to comply with the statutory requirement of reciprocity, the agreement signed between the U.S. and Israel completely flouts this principle by allowing Israel to implement different entry procedures that distinguish between U.S. citizens based on ethnicity, the IDs they hold, and various other factors. Compounding this, the U.S. government’s truncated evaluation period provided no real opportunity for assessment. To be clear, adherence to this agreement is not adherence to reciprocity.

We have no faith that Israel will fully abide by the rules and regulations set forth by the Visa Waiver Program, especially after being officially admitted. Many crucial questions about the decision’s ethical implications have been raised, given Israel’s long history of discriminatory actions against U.S. citizens and Palestinians in contravention of the program’s requirements and international law. These ethical concerns underscore the importance of not disregarding a country’s past behavior when considering such privileges.

We call upon the U.S. government to reconsider its decision and prioritize the reciprocity, security, and international cooperation principles underpinning the Visa Waiver Program. The admission of any country into this program must be based on precise adherence to the established criteria and a demonstrated commitment to the program’s core values.

The Biden administration must remember that reciprocity cannot be negotiated or compromised. Concessions that allow Israel to pick and choose which points of entry U.S. citizens can access and implement different entry processes for some Americans not only diminish the integrity of the VWP itself but enshrine discrimination against U.S. citizens into law.


Executive Director of Americans for Justice in Palestine Action (AJP Action) & American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), Dr. Osama Abu Irshaid, said, “This announcement encapsulates the imbalance in the American-Israeli relationship. While Israel continues to violate its obligations under international law and undermine U.S. efforts to attain some kind of a peaceful settlement in the Middle East, which ironically favors Israel, successive American administrations continue to reward Israel for its bad behavior. The Biden administration is no exception in this context. Despite the administration’s repeated condemnation of Jewish settlement expansionist policies in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel has never suffered political consequences.

Israel’s admission into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) falls in the same context. It cements the conventional wisdom that Israel enjoys the right to and immunity from ignoring America’s demands and damaging its standing in the world. The prevailing view is that the U.S. always backs down in the face of Israel’s arrogance.

In the face of Israel’s intransigence, the Biden administration yielded to its racism, which implemented a discriminatory two-tiered system of entry, especially for U.S. citizens residing in the West Bank and Gaza, contradicting the U.S. principles of reciprocity. This humiliating American concession makes it appear that Israel is doing the U.S. a favor by accepting to join the VWP, not vice versa.”

Nihad Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) National, said, “It is clear that Israel is not currently in compliance with the Visa Waiver Program admission requirements, and the Biden administration must not rush to admit Israel into the program at the expense of the requirement of reciprocity for all U.S. citizens. CAIR and human rights organizations strongly urge Secretary Blinken and the Biden administration to heed the concerns raised by Palestinian and Muslim Americans and to deny Israel’s admission into the Visa Waiver Program until it can fully comply with all of the requirements and not harass and discriminate against American travelers.”

Abed Ayoub, Executive Director of ADC National, said, “By endorsing a tiered system for U.S. citizens, our government has given its tacit approval to Israel’s prejudiced policies and apartheid actions. This decision broadcasts a stark message: not all American passport holders are viewed equally. ADC does not accept that message and will be using every available option to fight it.”

Hanna Hanania, Government Affairs Committee Co-Chair and Past President of the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine (AFRP), said, “Although we were repeatedly assured that the core principle of the U.S. VWP is ‘blue is blue’, today’s announcement says otherwise. By admitting Israel into the VWP despite its clear disregard for the program requirements of reciprocity and equal treatment, the Biden administration has compromised both the integrity of the VWP and our rights as Americans. This is unacceptable and should raise alarms not just for Palestinian Americans – but for all Americans who believe that our government should prioritize safeguarding our rights as U.S. citizens. We are disappointed, but not defeated. Now is the time for us to hold our government accountable and make it clear that we will not accept anything less than full reciprocity for all Americans, no matter their ethnicity, religion, or politics.”

Stefanie Fox, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace Action, said, “The Biden administration’s decision to allow Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program is an outrageous endorsement of the Israeli government’s systematic discrimination against Palestinian Americans and a reward to the most extremist, racist government in Israel’s history. Once again, the U.S. is singling out Israel for special and exceptionalized treatment at the expense of the rights of Palestinian Americans. Jewish Voice for Peace Action calls for the immediate reversal of this decision.”

Ahmad Abuznaid, Executive Director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, said, ​​”We learned from the civil rights movement the fallacy of ‘separate but equal.’ Today we are obligated to reject Israel’s inclusion into the Visa Waiver Program because separate is never equal. Palestinian Americans’ tax dollars are just as green, our passports are just as blue, and our rights are just as precious as any other American.”

Salam Al-Marayati, President of MPAC, said, “Israel is not in compliance with the law as it relates to reciprocal treatment for all U.S. citizens, as evidenced by their continued targeting of Americans of Arab descent through travel bans with the absence of due process, seizure of property, harassment, interrogation, and detention at border crossings upon entry and exit. There remains no indication that any policy changes will be implemented to change this status quo. This decision will serve to embolden the Israeli government in its ongoing efforts to target American Muslims, Arab Americans, and Palestinian Americans and exploit the rules in the name of security. It also further damages our credibility as a country that values human rights and equality on the world stage.”

Sandra Tamari, Executive Director of Adalah Justice Project, said, “It is shameful that the U.S. continues to grant Israel not only unfettered impunity for violations of international law and human rights abuses, but also rewards it for its discriminatory policies. The U.S. has admitted Israel into the visa waiver program despite Israel’s continued discrimination against U.S. citizens who are Palestinian. Israel’s discrimination is especially egregious against Palestinian Americans with ties to Gaza, making reunification of families torn apart by Israel’s siege and blockade of Gaza near impossible. Apartheid is not only Israeli policy, it is U.S. policy too.”’

Jehad Abusalim, Executive Director of The Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development, said, “Israel’s designation in the VWP is an endorsement of the actions and rhetoric of its right-wing government, especially given the ongoing challenges and brutal repression faced by Palestinians. Instead of rewards, it’s essential for Israel to be held accountable for its actions and crimes.”

Adam Shapiro, Director of Advocacy for Israel/Palestine at DAWN, said, “Separate can never be equal, as was determined decades ago in the fight for civil rights in this country. Forty countries participate in the VWP, and none have formal arrangements to discriminate against American citizens; only Israel has demanded and been granted this unconscionable favor by the U.S. government.”


Adalah Justice Project (AJP)
Americans for Justice in Palestine Action (AJP Action)
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)
Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)
Jewish Voice for Peace Action (JVP Action)
Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace (PCAP)
The Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR)

Statement: The Biden Administration Must Remove Israel from the Visa Waiver Program


Black and white protest graphic reading "STATEMENT: The Biden administration must remove Israel from the Visa Waiver Program," with USCPR logo

Press Contact: Submit a media inquiry here.

WASHINGTON, DC, SEPTEMBER 27, 2023—Since the beginning of the process to admit Israel into the Visa Waiver Program, the Israeli government has continuously violated the rights of U.S. citizens while acting with impunity. Israel’s human rights violations have included murdering two U.S. citizens (Shireen Abu Akleh and Omar Assad), discriminating against U.S. citizens based on their identity, and maintaining dozens of laws that deny equal treatment and full reciprocity to millions of Palestinian people under Israeli military occupation and U.S. citizens from several racial, ethnic, and religious identities.

“We learned from the civil rights movement the fallacy of ‘separate but equal,’” said Ahmad Abuznaid, Executive Director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR). “Today we are obligated to reject Israel’s inclusion into the Visa Waiver Program because separate is never equal. Palestinian Americans’ tax dollars are just as green, our passports are just as blue, and our rights are just as precious as any other American.”

“My family has been discriminated against each time we’ve tried to cross into apartheid Israel to visit our Palestinian homeland,” said Iman Abid, USCPR Organizing & Advocacy Director. “My mother was most recently held at the Israeli airport for eight hours for interrogation, only to deny her boarding. I was also held at the airport for 10+ hours to be interrogated, shamed, and name-called by Israeli soldiers for simply being Palestinian.”

The U.S. government is providing more resources and privileges to an occupying power that consistently violates the rights of U.S. citizens, sells arms and other capabilities to authoritarian nations like Azerbaijan and Myanmar responsible for acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing, and commits atrocities against Palestinians.

“The Biden Administration’s designation of Israel to be admitted into the Visa Waiver Program is a heinous lapse of oversight that relegates U.S. law below Israeli law and exchanges the rights of U.S. citizens for closer ties with an apartheid state that arms authoritarian governments abroad,” said Mohammed Khader, Manager of Policy and Advocacy Campaigns for the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. “Lawmakers must ensure all snapback measures are triggered toward Israel, as it continues to show a clear and consistent pattern of unequal treatment of U.S. citizens in violation of U.S. law.”

The Biden Administration’s decision to admit Israel into the Visa Waiver Program without fully demonstrating compliance or eligibility was performed in an accelerated period, inconsistent with the Administrative Procedures Act and without appropriate oversight from Congress. This shameful decision emboldens Israel’s institution of apartheid and decades-long military occupation. USCPR urges the Biden Administration to remove Israel from the Visa Waiver Program, and for lawmakers to hold the administration accountable based on relevant precedents.

About the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) is a national network of activists and organizations who are committed to freedom, justice, and equality for the Palestinian people and who work to end U.S. complicity in their oppression. USCPR is a political home for all who believe that freedom for the Palestinian people is an integral part of achieving our collective liberation. USCPR provides resources and strategic support to the U.S.-based Palestine solidarity movement, channeling grassroots power into positive change in U.S. policy and public opinion. USCPR works with local organizers and activists, policymakers, movement leaders, media, and advocacy organizations to advance a rights-based, accountability and justice-oriented framework from the U.S. to Palestine.

READ MORE: “Civil Society Organizations United in Opposition to Israel’s Admission into the Visa Waiver Program”

Tell Google: #NoTechForApartheid

Backed by hundreds of community members, Google workers protested yesterday outside Google’s biggest cloud conference of the year to demand that their bosses stop doing business with Israel’s apartheid regime.

Activists from JVP-Bay Area, the Palestinian Youth Movement, and the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) chained themselves to the street and pedestrian walkway, calling on Google to drop its contract with the Israeli military and government. Will you sign this petition to stand in solidarity with Google workers and local organizers?

Tell Google: #NoTechForApartheid

This year, Google Cloud is celebrating its first year of profitability — but Google workers and the Bay Area community made it clear yesterday that there is nothing to celebrate as long as Google is profiting off of the destruction of Palestinian lives.

Yesterday’s rally comes a month after Amazon workers and community members rallied at the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit in New York City, demanding an end to Project Nimbus, Google and Amazon’s billion-dollar contract to provide the Israeli military with the AI and surveillance technology it uses to oppress Palestinians. 

One thing is clear: Tech workers and community activists will only ramp up their organizing against Big Tech as long as companies like Google continue to power and profit off of Israeli apartheid.

Google and Amazon workers need to know that we have their backs — and we need to show their bosses that we won’t let up as long as U.S.-based tech companies remain complicit in anti-Palestinian violence.

Will you take 30 seconds to tell Google: #NoTechForApartheid?

Dani Noble
Senior Campaigns Organizer

The violent lies of Israel’s president

When members of Congress applaud falsehoods about Israel being a vibrant democracy, they are aiding and abetting further oppression of Palestinians.


Israeli President Isaac Herzog at the Federation of Local Authorities conference in Tel Aviv, December 6, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israeli President Isaac Herzog at the Federation of Local Authorities conference in Tel Aviv, December 6, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israel’s president stood before a joint session of the U.S. Congress earlier this month and told a story — one the American lawmakers in attendance dearly wished to believe. The sound of their applause filled the room as he described Israel as a “strong and resilient” democracy that “stand[s] for liberty, equality, and freedom.” But wanting to believe a story doesn’t make it true. 

The deception and falsehoods in Isaac Herzog’s story are easily detectable these days. Everyone can see that it is absurd to speak of Israel as a thriving democracy even as hundreds of thousands of Israelis flood the streets to defend their rights and freedoms, fearful of a government that is pushing a racist, conservative, authoritarian, and violent worldview. But Herzog’s story is a lie not because Israel is suddenly in danger of no longer being a democracy, or because of the moves being carried out by extremist ministers in the current government, but because Israel has maintained a racist and discriminatory regime for as long as it has existed. 

To deflect criticism that might expose this lie, Israel raises the false flag of antisemitism to attack Senator Sanders, Congresswomen Jayapal, Tlaib, Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, and anyone else who insists on describing Israeli reality as it truly is: a reality of oppression and ongoing human rights abuses. A reality of apartheid

Over the years, Israel has developed various tools to help it maintain Jewish supremacy. While, as Jewish citizens, we can exercise our rights anywhere in the area Israel controls — whether we live in Tel Aviv or in a settlement in the West Bank — Palestinians’ rights hinge on where they live in the geographical divide-and-rule system Israel imposes and maintains: within the Green Line, in East Jerusalem, in the West Bank, or in the Gaza Strip. 

While Israel allows any Jew anywhere in the world to become a citizen, millions of Palestinians in the diaspora and in their homeland are denied citizenship, even if their parents were born here. Correspondingly, every Jewish citizen gets the right to vote for the Israeli parliament, while over five million Palestinians who live in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip cannot vote in the general elections as they are not considered citizens. 

A billboard by anti-occupation group B'Tselem in Bethlehem, ahead of the arrival of U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to the country, on July 14, 2022. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

A billboard by anti-occupation group B’Tselem in Bethlehem, ahead of the arrival of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to the country, on July 14, 2022. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The state has almost total control over land within the Green Line (over 90 percent of it is under state control), and since 1948, it has built hundreds of communities for Jews and almost none for Palestinians. In the West Bank, Israel built more than 200 settlements for Jews and allowed land use to serve the needs of Jews alone. Palestinians, on the other hand, are denied almost any sort of construction and development. 

The Israeli regime’s logic is realized in its most brutal form in the territories it has been occupying since 1967. In the West Bank, the killing of Palestinians is a daily affair, while entire communities are forced to leave their homes due to intolerable living conditions produced by the army’s restrictions and violence on the one hand, and on the other, an increasingly emboldened settler population that descends upon Palestinian villages to carry out pogroms with impunity. Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, more than two million people live in inhumane conditions, unable to leave or escape the world’s largest open-air prison

These are not stories, narratives. or opinions. These are facts.

As painful as it may be to admit, it is undeniable that Jewish supremacy is the Israeli regime’s guiding logic, and this isn’t being suppressed or hidden: five years ago, Israel enshrined it as a constitutional principle in Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People. The current government’s founding guidelines are even more explicit: “The Jewish people have an exclusive, indisputable right to the entire expanse of the Land of Israel,” the term used to refer to the whole area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. 

Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas at Palestinian protesters during a protest following Friday prayers at the main entrance to the West Bank town of Dura, south of Hebron, August 4, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas at Palestinian protesters during a protest following Friday prayers at the main entrance to the West Bank town of Dura, south of Hebron, August 4, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

An apartheid regime is characterized by one group perpetuating its supremacy and control over another through government practices, laws, and organized violence. The Israeli regime is just that. We pride ourselves on being “the only democracy in the Middle East”; citizens of Apartheid South Africa, a country similarly divided into areas on the basis of race, told themselves and the world that they were “the only democracy in Africa.” They, too, had free and “democratic” elections — for whites only. But again, telling yourself a lie does not make it true. 

When members of Congress stand and cheer falsehoods about Israel being a vibrant democracy, they are not helping us move toward a different future, one based on equality, democracy, and human rights. They are aiding and abetting more oppression and more violence. They are upholding a lie that is turning us into a scared, broken, and cruel society. 

To change reality, you must first recognize it. Instead of applauding fairy tales, the world must recognize reality and help us dismantle the apartheid regime. Because everyone living between the river and the sea deserves to live in a true democracy.

Gaza Americans Urge Washington To Include Them In Israel Visa Deal

Palestinian Americans Hani Almadhoun and his daughter Zayna sit in their home in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip August 2, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Wisconsin Muslim Journal, Aug 11, 2023

GAZA, Aug 3 (Reuters) – U.S. passport holders with Palestinian papers and families in Gaza are urging Washington to ensure they are treated equally under a reciprocal deal with Israel intended to insure visa-free travel for American and Israeli citizens.

Israel, facing a Sept. 30 deadline to qualify its citizens for visa-free admission to the United States, said it has loosened access through its main airport and at the occupied West Bank’s boundary for Palestinian Americans, allowing more than 2,000 people to cross into or through Israel.

U.S. State Department officials have said the Visa Waiver Program must apply to all American citizens, including those in Gaza, but a number of Palestinian Americans with Gaza identity papers have said they have been prevented from entering Israel.

Palestinian Americans Hani Almadhoun and his daughter Zayna sit in their home in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip August 2, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

“As a Palestinian with a Gaza ID I was disappointed it discriminates against people like me. We are specifically excluded from benefiting from this program,” Hani Almadhoun, a Palestinian American visiting family in Gaza, told Reuters.

The severe restrictions imposed by Israel on Palestinians have made qualification for the visa waiver a test for prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, which must show it treats all U.S. passport holders exactly the same, regardless of any other nationality they may hold.

Sitting at his family house in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, Madhoun said authorities rejected his request to return home through the Israeli Ben Gurion airport to Northern Virginia, where he lives with his wife and two American-born daughters.

“As an American I think we should have those benefits because Israelis now, even those Israelis who live in illegal settlements are able to come to America without harassment,” he said.

On Thursday, COGAT, the Israeli Defence Ministry agency for liaising with the Palestinians, said on its official website only U.S. citizens holding Palestinian identity card registered in the “Judea and Samaria area”, a term used by the Israeli administration to refer to the West Bank, may enter through any of the international border crossings.

The website said that, by Sept. 15, additional procedures relevant to Gaza strip residents would be published.

Palestinian American Hani Almadhoun holds his U.S. passport as he sits at home in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip August 2, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

“In these very days, Israel is working on examining an outline for Americans who hold a Palestinian identity card, to enter and leave the Gaza Strip,” a source from COGAT told Reuters. “More details on the subject will be published in an orderly manner in September.”

Speaking to Reuters in Dubai, a Palestinian-American lawyer of Gaza origin said Israeli authorities denied him entry at Ben Gurion, forcing him to return to Dubai, though he had confirmed with the Israeli Embassy in Dubai that he was allowed to fly into Israel though he had a Gaza ID.

“This really shows unfortunately Israeli continuously persistent intentional discrimination and dehumanization of U.S citizens who are Palestinians,” he added.

Israeli Discrimination against Palestinian Americans and the Visa Waiver Program

As a Palestinian-American I know the stress of facing unjust interrogation when I travel through Israel. This discrimination should disqualify Israel from joining the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.



As a Palestinian-American, I have dealt with the stress of traveling in and out of Israel and facing unjust interrogation just because I am Palestinian. My story is not unique – every Palestinian has a similar story of how Israeli security officers treat us at the ports of entry and checkpoints we travel through. However, our experiences are now taking on an added weight as Israel vies to join the U.S. Visa Waiver program. Instead of just being a personal trial, the highly discriminatory treatment Palestinian Americans, Arab Americans, Muslims, and their allies face is taking on contentious geopolitical significance.

A facet that makes my story a little different from other stories is that I have an Israeli passport. I only get stopped on the way out of Tel Aviv and only when I am alone. When I travel with my family, they never stop me, so my experiences with the “special” security are few as I only recently started traveling out of Israel alone. I know Palestinian Americans who get detained on the way in, but my Israeli passport helps me avoid speaking to any security officers when I enter Tel Aviv.

My typical encounter looks something like this:

When I get to the initial security officer, I give them both my American and Israeli passports – and that is when the harassment starts. I am not sure how it works for other Palestinians, but my name pings me as someone who needs to be searched by hand. My name is not particularly Arab nor Muslim, in fact, my name is a fresh-off-the-boat misspelling from when my dad landed in the U.S. in the 1980s. It does not read as anything that they would consider “dangerous.” It is just me that they want to stop. They scan my passport and then talk to their managers to determine why it raised alarms. After that, they put a special sticker on my passport that lets every security personnel I pass by know that I am going straight to hand search, and they all wave me off to the end of the line, where I end up in the closed-off room for weird intricate rituals of putting a laptop through a machine five times just to realize it is in fact a normal laptop.

The only thing about this process that gets to me now that I know it will happen every time I travel is that they confiscate my passports during the interrogation. I do not appreciate anyone else having even temporary possession of my passports. In these secluded areas in the airport, there are almost always only Palestinians. One time there was a nun (I assume she was a Palestinian nun) getting hand-searched by airport security, which felt absolutely ridiculous to me. Let her see whatever fancy European church she’s off to in peace.

Journalists and photographers from Gaza continue to expose ourselves to danger because we believe that Gazans’ stories must be shared with the world in their voice, not distorted by journalists from foreign press.

I understand why they do it too. They want to make Palestinian lives so difficult on the way out of Israel, so they do not return. At the end of the day, it is in the state’s best interest to have as few Palestinians anywhere in the region as possible. Palestinian Americans are an easy target. We know a better life than the one provided for us in the region, whether that is under occupation or as second-class citizens within the Green Line. In the U.S., we are provided a reprieve from the oppressive forces that are hyper-focused on making our lives as difficult as possible. Whatever oppression or discrimination we face in the U.S. will never compare to being Palestinian on the ground. If the last point of contact with Israel and Palestine is one that is unpleasant, invasive, and nerve-wracking, it will make the next trip daunting and remind us of the hostile and unwelcoming environment waiting for us.

Even with Israel claiming they will be less discriminatory toward Palestinian Americans at ports and checkpoints, the U.S. should still not allow Israel to enter the Visa Waiver Program without solid proof. My belief is based firmly on the shared experiences of Palestinian Americans, including myself and my family. This belief also comes with conflicting emotions, as the visa waiver would make it easier for me to see my extended family, all of whom are Israeli passport holders. They would not have to go through the process of applying for a visa, which feels daunting and includes a six-month wait if it is approved. As much as I would love to bring my family on trips to the U.S., at the end of the day, not even being an Israeli national will stop the state from harassing Palestinian Americans – and that should be reason enough for the U.S. to deny Israel the visa waiver.

Facial Recognition Powers ‘Automated Apartheid’ by Israel

“These databases and tools exclusively record the data of Palestinians”

An Israeli soldier under a surveillance camera at a checkpoint in Hebron in 2021.
An Israeli soldier under a surveillance camera at a checkpoint in Hebron in 2021. (Hazem Bader/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Adam Satariano and Paul Mozur, New York Times, May 2, 2023

Israel is increasingly relying on facial recognition in the occupied West Bank to track Palestinians and restrict their passage through key checkpoints, according to a new report, a sign of how artificial-intelligence-powered surveillance can be used against an ethnic group.

At high-fenced checkpoints in Hebron, Palestinians stand in front of facial recognition cameras before being allowed to cross. As their faces are scanned, the software — known as Red Wolf — uses a color-coded system of green, yellow and red to guide soldiers on whether to let the person go, stop them for questioning or arrest them, according to the report by Amnesty International. When the technology fails to identify someone, soldiers train the system by adding their personal information to the database.

Israel has long restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians, but technological advances are giving the authorities powerful new tools. It is the latest example of the global spread of mass surveillance systems, which rely on A.I. to learn to identify the faces of people based on large stores of images.

In Hebron and East Jerusalem, the technology focuses almost entirely on Palestinians, according to Amnesty’s report, marking a new way to automate the control of interior boundaries that separate the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. Amnesty called the process “automated apartheid.” Israel has strongly denied that it operates an apartheid regime.

“These databases and tools exclusively record the data of Palestinians,” said the report, which is based on accounts by former Israeli soldiers and Palestinians who live in the surveilled areas, as well as field visits to observe the technology’s use in affected territories.

The Israel Defense Forces, which plays a central role in the occupied territories of the West Bank, said in a statement that it carries out “necessary security and intelligence operations, while making significant efforts to minimize harm to the Palestinian population’s routine activity.”

On facial recognition, it added, “Naturally, we cannot refer to operational and intelligence capabilities.”

Government use of facial recognition technology to so explicitly target a single ethnic group is rare. In China, companies have made algorithms that sought to identify minorities as they passed by the country’s ubiquitous cameras. China’s government has also used facial recognition checkpoints to control and track the movements of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities.

Israel’s use of facial recognition at checkpoints builds on other surveillance systems deployed in recent years. Since protests in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah over the eviction of Palestinian families in 2021, the presence of cameras has increased in the area, most likely supporting an Israeli government video surveillance system capable of facial recognition known as Mabat 2000, according to Amnesty.

In one walk through the area, Amnesty researchers reported finding one to two cameras every 15 feet. Some were made by Hikvision, the Chinese surveillance camera maker, and others by TKH Security, a Dutch manufacturer.

TKH Security declined to comment. Hikvision did not respond to a request for comment.

A surveillance camera at a checkpoint in Hebron. “My whole life is watched. I don’t have any privacy,” a Palestinian activist said. (Hazem Bader/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Government forces also use the cameras on their phones. Israeli authorities have a facial recognition app, Blue Wolf, to identify Palestinians, according to Breaking the Silence, an organization that assisted Amnesty and collects testimonials from Israeli soldiers who have worked in occupied territories.

Soldiers use the app to photograph Palestinians on the street or during home raids to register them in a central database and to check if they are wanted for arrest or questioning, according to the 82-page Amnesty report and testimonials from Breaking the Silence. Use of Blue Wolf was reported earlier by The Washington Post.

The surveillance is partly an effort to reduce violence against Israelis. This year, Palestinian attackers have killed 19 Israelis. At least 100 Palestinians this year have been killed by Israeli security forces, many during gunfights that broke out during military operations to arrest Palestinian gunmen. Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967 after capturing it from Jordan during the Arab-Israeli war that year.

Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist in Hebron, a West Bank city where there is regular violence, said people are under constant surveillance. He, his friends and family are regularly stopped by soldiers to be photographed using the Blue Wolf app. Surveillance cameras line the streets and drones commonly fly overhead.

Mr. Amro said the Israeli military has become so dependent on the automated systems that crossing the checkpoints grinds to a halt when there are technical problems.

“Everything is watched. My whole life is watched. I don’t have any privacy,” he said. “I feel they are following me everywhere I go.”

Mr. Amro said Palestinians are angry that the surveillance tools never seem to be used to identify crimes by Israeli settlers against Palestinians.

Ori Givati, a former Israeli tank commander who is now the advocacy director of Breaking the Silence, said the new surveillance systems began being put in place around 2020. The technology has allowed the Israeli government to move toward an automated occupation, he said, subjecting Palestinians to constant oversight and supervision.

The facial recognition systems work, he said, “not just as an invasion of privacy but a powerful tool for control.”

In Hebron, a salad needs security coordination

The direct violence of the occupation is obvious, but what are the subtle ways in which apartheid seeps into Palestinian life?

Ameera Al-Rajabi, Community Peacemaker Teams, April 11, 2023

The Israeli occupation of Palestine is marked by the war crimes directly carried out by the occupiers, such as murder, demolition, displacement, and other violations that are blatantly apparent to anyone who visits Palestine or follows the news on social media. However, after reflecting on our lives as Palestinians, I have come to realize that there are small details in our daily lives that are not directly attributed to the occupation but still have profound effects on us. These details can only be seen or felt by those who live here and grow up with the reality of an obstacle lodged in each straightforward daily task or any plan for the future.

One clear example is that of a resident of the Tel Rumaideh neighbourhood in Al-Khalil/Hebron who wanted to buy a knife to cut vegetables for a salad. Checkpoints surround Tel Rumeidah on all sides; therefore, when residents want to bring items into their homes, including a kitchen knife, they must communicate with the District Coordination Office for security coordination between Palestinian and Israeli authorities to ensure that the item will not be used illegally. The term ‘illegal’ here refers to any behaviour that Israeli authorities may deem a threat to the security of Israeli individuals. In contrast, the same behaviour may be considered legal when it involves Palestinians.

A ‘security coordination’ process can take days or even weeks. The same procedures are required for any sharp tool, no matter how simple. Have you ever had to think twice about buying a kitchen knife for your home?

Another reality that highlights the occupation’s impact is the restriction of movement. In less than four months, I will be 24 years old, and so far, I have not experienced the feeling of walking on the seaside, the waves crashing against my body, or the cool salty air on my skin. This scenario exists only in my imagination and the TV series I am watching. Is this not a product of the occupation when I face a question on Instagram about whether I prefer the sea or the mountains and cannot answer because I have not had the chance to try?

The Mediterranean Sea is only 62 kilometres away, and it takes only two hours to get there. However, checkpoints are everywhere, and when I tried to get Israeli permission last month as a last resort in an attempt to visit my country, it was rejected and postponed to a time when I could not go. This was one of the biggest disappointments of my life.

Is it not a product of the occupation that every foreigner I meet has visited Jerusalem and other Palestinian cities in the occupied territories without any restrictions, while I have only visited Jerusalem twice in my lifetime, only after obtaining permission from the Israelis?

I spoke with a woman who met her husband 20 years ago in Gaza. She agreed to marry him, and they moved to his hometown of Hebron, where he built a house for them. However, a few years later, Gaza was completely shut down, and no Palestinians were allowed to enter, even if they were from Gaza but married someone from another city. She told me that her little brother, who was only eight years old when she left Gaza, is now 28 and about to get married. She has been trying to get a permit to enter Gaza for one day to attend her brother’s wedding because he was her favourite sibling, but she will likely not be able to attend.

The last story in my article, but certainly not the last in the lives of Palestinians, is about a woman who lives in the village of Khalet al-Dhabe in Masafer Yatta/South Hebron Hills. The Israeli army has ordered the demolition of the entire village on an undetermined date. The woman recounted how she fell sick one night, and because of the occupation, no vehicles were allowed in or out of the village. She had to ride on a donkey for three hours through empty lands full of predators to reach medical attention. If anything had happened, there would have been no one to help her.

Being occupied is not only about facing direct violence but also about the subtle ways in which occupation impacts our daily lives and curtails our aspirations. It makes us afraid of getting sick without a choice of treatment or mobility. We are deprived of the simplest essentials of life, like a functional kitchen or a day on the beach. The occupation restricts not only physical mobility but also emotional and mental freedom by imposing ceilings on people’s dreams and ambitions. And while the rest of the world develops, we are stuck in a time warp: living in caves, hiding from the occupation, and using animals to move.


Rise of Israel’s far right puts focus back on the West Bank occupation

The Israeli-controlled checkpoint in Hebron (Bab al Zawiyah) divides Palestinians in their city. A new weapon placed on the side of checkpoint (upper right) was installed before recent Israeli elections. It can remotely shoot live ammunition as well as other special “crowd control” munitions. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)
The Israeli-controlled checkpoint in Hebron (Bab al Zawiyah) divides Palestinians in their city. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)

A new weapon on the right side of the checkpoint can remotely shoot live ammunition and special “crowd control” munitions. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)

Shira Rubin, The Washington Post, December 10, 2022

HEBRON, West Bank — Last month, as tens of thousands of right-wing Jewish pilgrims paraded through Hebron’s old city under the protection of the Israeli army, 18-year-old Aisha Alazza ventured onto her balcony to catch a glimpse. As she sipped coffee and watched the march spiral into violence, a gang of Israeli men approached from across the road, shouting “Whore!” at her in Arabic and throwing stones. She was struck in the face.

Since Palestinian cars are banned from this neighborhood, an ambulance was out of the question. Instead, Alazza’s four sisters took her inside, applied ice and oils to the swelling wound and waited for the men to go away.

Alazza knows she will see them again — after all, they are her neighbors. They are also directly linked to members of Religious Zionism, the once-fringe, far-right political bloc that has championed asserting Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank and will be the second largest force in the new Israeli government.

Aisha Alazza, 18, in her garden. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)

Even before Religious Zionism assumes office — taking on influential cabinet portfolios that will give them unprecedented control over this contested territory — their promises to set the stage for annexation are exacerbating the daily dangers and indignities of life in the occupied West Bank, residents say. Many warn that Hebron’s bloody, biblically tinged conflict, between its 800 hard line Israeli settlers and its 200,000 Palestinians, is a test case for the future of relations between the two peoples under the next government.

Some of the faces in incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new administration are familiar ones to Hebron. Both Itamar Ben Gvir and Orit Strook are residents of the nearby hard line settlement of Kiryat Arba and have harassed and assaulted Palestinians for decades.

View of Hebron from a garden in h2 — where Palestinians are separated from the rest of their city among Israeli settlers and the army. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)

“Netanyahu has given Ben Gvir the jurisdiction to do whatever he wants, and what he wants is us gone,” said Alazza this week, from the balcony where she was struck.

Israel’s most far-right and pro-settler government in its history is being sworn in during one of the deadliest years for both Israelis and Palestinians. Since last spring, a string of Palestinian attacks in Israeli cities and many military posts has been met with near nightly Israeli military raids across the West Bank, leaving at least 150 Palestinians and 31 Israelis dead.

Tal Sagi, of Breaking the Silence, beside a Palestinian home surrounded by Israeli military-installed fence and camouflage net. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)

For activist Tal Sagi, however, the violence and deteriorating relations has had one positive side effect — Israelis are paying attention to the occupation again.

The former soldier with the anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence said that many Israelis are shocked by the images coming out of Hebron, where on the same day that Ben Gvir was appointed head of the expanded National Security Ministry, Israeli soldiers violently confronted left-wing Israeli activists.

Viral videos show a soldier pinning an activist to the ground and punching him repeatedly, and another, from the same unit, saying, “Ben Gvir will make order in this whole place. … You’re screwed. … You’re done making this place into your ‘whorehouse.’”

“There’s something good about Hebron being in the news,” said Sagi, who grew up in a West Bank settlement and later served in Hebron. “There’s so much normalization, so much silence that many Israelis — people I know — aren’t even aware that entire swaths of land and groups of people are under Israeli military control.”

The Beit Haddassa Israeli settlement in the middle of h2 Hebron. It was the first settlement established in the center of the city of Hebron. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)

Religious Zionism’s head, Bezalel Smotrich, will be granted oversight of the Defense Ministry, as well as access to billions of shekels as alternate leader of the Finance Ministry. He has vowed to enshrine in law the rights of residents in all settlements, especially to facilitate further building in the West Bank.

Smotrich and Ben Gvir were both suspected of being involved in terrorism in their youth, supporting attacks against Palestinians and Israeli politicians who sought to sign peace deals to end the conflict.

“I’m going to make sure that Israel takes responsibility for Judea and Samaria,” Smotrich told 103fm Radio on Monday, using the biblical name for the West Bank. He added that previous administrations have “choked” the growth of the half million strong population of settlers.

An Israeli soldier opens a gate for a Palestinian teacher and visiting E.U. congregation. The gate separates Palestinians from their streets and their homes. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)

Harel Chorev, a researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, said that though the Religious Zionism bloc represents a small minority of the Israeli electorate with just 14 seats in the 120-member Knesset, their critical role in the next coalition will give them outsize power.

“They are a minority, but one that is determined and dogmatic, that thinks it is the pioneers of the new frontier,” he said. “They will be able to dictate the policy in a territorial struggle, in which they want to limit their opponents’ ability to expand.”

A former high ranking official in COGAT, the Israeli military agency responsible for civil affairs in the occupied West Bank, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak about sensitive military issues, called Religious Zionism’s expected authority in the West Bank “a creeping annexation, taking away all options for a two state solution.”

Smotrich and Ben Gvir, he said, “could bring about all kinds of explosions.”

Issa Amro pauses under the trees beside his property. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)

Issa Amro, a Palestinian activist who gives tours to bring attention to the occupation, said those explosions were already happening in Hebron, which he said should be a cautionary tale for the rest of Israel.

“In the past two years, there’s been a gradual Hebron-ization of the rest of Israel,” he said on his first tour since being released from an intermittent week-long detention for filming the video of the soldier that went viral.

As he walked through the streets with his group, Amro was confronted by a young settler who harangued him. When Amro just walked away, the man shouted repeatedly “where are you running away to, Issa?”

A settler follows reporters and Issa Amro — taunting him in Hebrew and calling police. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)

“For years, we have known about the oppression and the brutality, but now there’s also the fascism in the next government, and that makes it harder for everyone to close their eyes,” Amro said, struggling to make himself heard over the settler’s shouting.

The tour then turned a corner onto Shuhada Street, once the bustling heart of the old city that is now a ghost town of shuttered buildings. At one end is the Bab al-Zawiyah checkpoint, where since the right wing election victory, the wait for Palestinians coming back into the city from work or errands has stretched up to six hours.

A remote control machine gun that can be loaded with stun grenades, sponge-tipped bullets and other anti-riot tools, was attached to the upper level of the gate in September. For weeks, Palestinians who passed underneath it had thought it was just a camera.

The Israeli-controlled checkpoint in Hebron (Bab al Zawiyah) divides Palestinians in their city. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)

Suddenly a police officer backed by two armored vehicles pulled up around Amro and his group and informed him he’d been detained. The angry settler from earlier had called them in claiming that Amro was violating a restraining order supposedly barring him from the city.

“We don’t want you making trouble, any provocations,” said the Israeli officer, his hand shaking as he handed back the group’s IDs after recording the numbers, and letting the tour resume.

“Is it a provocation for me to discuss my own rights?” asked Amro repeatedly. The officer ignored him.

Grandmother Najah Abu Manshar and her 4-year-old granddaughter exit a checkpoint that divides Hebron. (Tanya Habjouqa/NOOR for The Washington Post)

Fatima AbdulKarim contributed reporting from Hebron.

I’d like to you to meet Mahmoud and Emily, a Palestinian and foreigner couple who are thinking about taking the next big step in their relationship together.

Watch “Love Under Occupation,” a 2-minute short film by Mondoweiss.


No relationships were harmed in the making of this video. But they will be soon.

While Mahmoud and Emily are a fictional couple, they represent real couples who will now be required to report their relationship to Israel, in an extremely invasive, oppressive process.

Under new Israeli discriminatory restrictions that went into effect in October, foreigners romantically involved with Palestinian people must declare their relationship to the occupying Israeli government as part of their permit or permit renewal application to visit or stay in the West Bank.

These Israeli restrictions on foreign entry into the West Bank threaten to separate Palestinian families, and isolate Palestinian society from the outside world.

The same laws do not apply to foreign nationals who are in a relationship with Jewish Israelis. Another clear example of anti-Palestinian discrimination under Israel’s apartheid system.

Learn how these Israeli apartheid regulations impact Palestinian people, their partners, and their families on our “Love Under Occupation” educational resources page.


You can share this film and mobilize your base to fight anti-Palestinian racism and oppression. Consider screening it in your local Palestine solidarity group, student group, faith community, or other activism/educational space, and share the film online with #LoveUnderOccupation on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Thank you for watching and for raising your voice.


In solidarity,

Organizing & Advocacy Director

Amnesty Says ICC Israel Probe Should Include ‘Crime Against Humanity of Apartheid’

“Israel’s apartheid remains the root cause of Palestinians’ suffering,” said the group.

Palestinians inspect the ruins of a collapsed building destroyed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on August 6, 2022. (Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

JULIA CONLEY, Common Dreams, October 25, 2022

Calling for the International Criminal Court to open a new investigation into possible war crimes by Israeli military forces in Gaza in August, Amnesty International on Tuesday said the court must also include Israel’s illegal apartheid policies against the Occupied Palestinian Territories in its probe.

“As well as investigating war crimes committed in Gaza, the ICC should consider the crime against humanity of apartheid within its current investigation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

The organization’s call centered on the three-day offensive launched by Israel between August 5-8 in the Gaza Strip, with advocates saying its research suggests three specific attacks could amount to war crimes.

Seventeen civilians were among the 49 Palestinian people who were killed by Israeli forces during the offensive, while seven were determined to have been killed by Palestinian rockets that were likely misfired. The group could not determine which side was responsible for the deaths of seven other civilians.

Amnesty noted that Israel, which claimed the attacks were “preemptive” and targeted the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization, has set the stage for such deadly assaults on civilians for years by imposing a blockade and other apartheid policies on Gaza.

“These violations were perpetrated in the context of Israel’s ongoing illegal blockade on Gaza, which is a key tool of its apartheid regime,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general, in a statement. “Palestinians in Gaza are dominated, oppressed, and segregated, trapped in a 15-year nightmare where recurrent unlawful attacks punctuate a worsening humanitarian crisis.”

“As well as investigating war crimes committed in Gaza, the ICC should consider the crime against humanity of apartheid within its current investigation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Callamard added.

The group said Israel’s policies—including military control of Palestine, restrictions on the movement of millions of people in the West Bank, and denial of essential services—are the “root cause of Palestinians’ suffering.”

The call comes eight months after Amnesty outlined Israel’s apartheid system in a report, saying “the international community and the ICC should all investigate the commission of the crime of apartheid under international law.”

In its report released Tuesday regarding the three-day offensive that took place in August, the group said it had interviewed 42 people including attack survivors, family members of those killed, eyewitnesses, and medical professionals. A fieldworker, the organization’s evidence lab, and a weapons expert determined that at least three of the 17 attacks Amnesty documented should be investigated by the ICC as possible war crimes.

An Israeli tank fired a projectile on August 5, hitting the home of 22-year-old art student Duniana al-Amour and her family in the southern Gaza Strip. Al-Amour was killed and her mother was wounded. Amnesty concluded in its analysis that the family’s home had been “deliberately targeted,” even though there is “no evidence that any members of the al-Amour family could reasonably be believed to be involved in armed combat.”

Five children were killed on August 7 when a missile struck Al-Falluja cemetery, near the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza. The children ranged in age from four to 16.

Israel initially blamed Palestinian Islamic Jihad for the attack, but Haaretz reported days after the children’s deaths that “neither Palestinian Islamic Jihad nor the Al-Quds Brigades were firing rockets at the time of the attack.”

“Israel, however, had reportedly been attacking ‘targets’ near the area,” reported Amnesty. “Since the publication of the article, the Israeli army has neither confirmed nor denied these reports.”

“The absence of apparent military targets indicates that the strike may have been a deliberate direct attack on civilians or civilian objects, and could therefore constitute a war crime,” said the group. “Even if Israeli forces had been targeting Palestinian fighters or military equipment when they hit the cemetery, the horrifying outcome requires an urgent investigation into whether all feasible precautions were taken to protect civilians.”

The final attack documented in the report was at Jabalia refugee camp on August 6, and killed seven civilians ranging in age from six to 50. Researchers identified similarities between the attack and “previous strikes which have been attributed to Palestinian armed groups,” concluding the attack was consistent with past firings of indiscriminate rockets, which are “inherently inaccurate” and whose use “in civilian areas violates international humanitarian law.”

Muhammad al-Neirab, whose son was among those killed at the refugee camp, “was one of many people who alluded in interviews to hardships caused by Israel’s illegal blockade, such as power cuts and lack of space,” reported Amnesty.

“It was a hot summer evening and we had the usual power cut, so the children could not stay at home, which is very small and suffocating especially when there is no electricity,” said al-Neirab. “At 9:02 pm, the street was hit. It was filled with wounded people, with blood, with shrapnel.”

The humanitarian crisis caused by the blockade was worsened during the fighting as it forced “Gaza’s sole power station to shut down for two days,” said the group, adding that “more than 1,700 housing units were damaged during the fighting, leading to the internal displacement of some 450 Palestinians.”

“You Can Be the Last Leaf” by Maya Abu Al-Hayyat

Maya Abu Al-Hayyat directs the Palestine Writing Workshop on the West Bank. She’ll read poems & be in conversation with poet Deema Shehabi.

    A Virtual Book Celebration!
    October 29, 2022, 1 PM CT
    Benefit for the Palestine Writing Workshop, Tickets $10
    RSVP and share!

Maya Abu Al-Hayyat is a Palestinian writer, storyteller, and mother based in occupied East Jerusalem. Each day she passes through Israeli checkpoints, like the infamous Qalandia checkpoint, to direct the Palestine Writing Workshop, one of MECA’s partner organizations. Maya and her team at the Palestine Writing Workshop have published award-winning Arabic children’s books and led hundreds of interactive workshops from Nablus to Silwan to Gaza for children, youth, librarians and parents on reading aloud, creative writing, and storytelling. Her work is grounded in the belief that art and literature can change lives and aims to improve Palestinian children’s literacy and also encourage their imaginations. She is a gifted storyteller who captures the attention of children of all ages (and adults too!). Maya also runs writing courses for former prisoners, helping them transform trauma into art.

She has published four collections of poems, four novels, and numerous children’s stories, including The Blue Pool of Questions. She contributed to and wrote a foreword for A Bird Is Not a Stone: An Anthology of Contemporary Palestinian Poetry, and she is an editor of The Book of Ramallah. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Cordite Poetry Review, The Guardian, and Literary Hub. Please join us to learn more about Maya’s work and life in Palestine!

Deema K. Shehabi is the author of Thirteen Departures From the Moon and co-editor with Beau Beausoleil of Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, for which she received the Northern California Book Award’s NCBR Recognition Award. She co-authored Diaspo/Renga with Marilyn Hacker and won the 2018 Nazim Hikmet poetry competition. Her work has also appeared in Literary Imagination, the Kenyon Review, Literary Hub, Poetry London, and Crab Orchard, and has been translated into French, Farsi, and Arabic; she has been nominated for the Pushcart prize several times.

Cosponsored by Middle East Children’s Alliance and Sacramento Bethlehem Sister City. Info:, 510-548-0542.

PRAISE FOR “You Can Be The Last Leaf”

“The Palestinian poet’s U.S. debut gathers two decades of her intimate testimony about private life in a public war zone, where ‘those who win by killing fewer children / are losers.’”—New York Times

“Al-Hayyat’s latest devastating and courageous collection captures the precarious everyday lives of Palestinians with enormous empathy and glistening clarity . . . The vivid translations by Fady Joudah will jostle readers into discomfort and pin Al-Hayyat’s stunning voice into their ears.”—Booklist

“Abu Al-Hayyat explores the broader political and geographic aspects of Palestinian life under colonial rule while at the same time interweaving the quotidian aspects of life and loss in such settings. Within these frictions of exterior trauma and private contemplations, large constraints and small freedoms, these poems soar.”—Chicago Review of Books

No Government Has the Right to Pass Such Laws

Dr. James J. Zogby, Arab American Institute, October 17, 2022

During the past month Israel has held 800 Palestinians under administrative detention orders, expelled several Palestinians from East Jerusalem, seized more Arab-owned land from areas around Hebron and in the Jordan Valley turning much of it over to settlers, and instituted a lockdown of many Palestinian areas during Jewish religious days. All of this passed without notice in the US press because Israel policies, such as these, have long been routine features of the 55 year-long occupation.

What’s important to note, however, is that all of these practices are in violation of international law, and all have a disturbing history in Israel/Palestine.

Many of them were initially put in place by the British as part of their effort to squash the Great Palestinian Revolt of 1936-1939. Back then, as Palestinian rebels at the peak of their uprising had gained control of significant areas of the country, the British put in place what they termed the “Emergency Military Administration in Palestine.” Under the provisions of this new regime, thousands of Palestinian rebels were arrested and detained without charges, hundreds were expelled, villages were subjected to collective punishment, and Palestinian properties were confiscated and/or destroyed—all in an effort to end the Revolt.

While these repressive measures did play a role, what finally ended the Revolt was a combination of false promises by the British that they would consider Palestinian demands for independence and the naïveté of some Arab leaders who accepted these British pledges and, therefore, urged the Palestinian fighters to disarm.

After World War II, when faced with a new threat from a Zionist armed insurgency, Britain reinstated the Emergency Administration — this time directed against the Jewish militias. In response, Jewish leaders rose up in outrage. One noted attorney, Ya’acov Shimshon Shapiro (who later served as Israel’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice) criticized these British laws as “unparalleled in any civilized country.”

There were, he said, “no such laws even in Nazi Germany. . . There is only one form of government which resembles the system in force here now — the case of an occupied country. . . It is our duty to tell the whole world that the Defense Laws passed by the British Mandatory Government of Palestine destroy the very foundation of justice in this land.”

He concluded by noting that “no government has the right to pass such laws.” Given this outrage and condemnation, it might be seen as ironic that immediately upon assuming state power in 1948, the State of Israel would adopt these very same laws, applying them to the Palestinian population that remained after the Nakbah & mdash; without any protest from Jewish jurists.

From 1948 until 1965 the Emergency Defense Laws (EDL) & mdash; as they were now called & mdash; were in place in order to control the captive Palestinian community in Israel. Collectively, these laws functioned to: establish a military administration over the Arab sector, give the state the power to institute collective punishment, intern Palestinian citizens of Israel without judicial process, expel Palestinian citizens without recourse, confiscate Arab-owned land, and impose curfews and lockdowns over entire regions.

While the EDL were formally lifted in 1965, they were resurrected and rehabilitated in 1967 & mdash; this time to be applied, even more harshly, to the areas of Palestine that had been occupied in the 1967 war. Collective punishment of entire villages was widespread, as was the use of administrative detention. No political parties or expressions of Palestinian national identity were allowed. Well over 1,200 Palestinian leaders & mdash; mayors, college presidents, labor leaders, and clergy & mdash; were expelled. Substantial areas of Arab-owned land were confiscated, placed under Israeli control and declared either “green spaces” or “security zones” & mdash; off limits to Palestinians, later given over to Israeli settlement construction. And since any Palestinian construction required Israeli permission, which was rarely forthcoming, homes and community buildings were routinely demolished.

Even after the Oslo Accords, which Palestinians hoped would lead to an independent state, provisions of the EDL remained in place as accepted legal practice by the Israeli occupation authorities.

Given that these Israeli “laws” have been in place for more than seven decades, it might not be surprising that Western media and political leaders have become inured to these Israeli repressive measures. This, however, only adds insult to injury.

Palestinians are not “children of a lesser god.” They are human beings, deserving of the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions. Israel’s “security concerns” (like those of the British in the 1930s and 1940s) do not excuse their wholesale trashing of international law and conventions. And they do not absolve the silence of the West in the face of this total disregard for Palestinian rights. To repeat the quote from Israel’s first Attorney General, these laws “destroy the very foundation of justice in this land. . . no government has the right to pass such laws.”

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Arab American Institute. The Arab American Institute is a non-profit, nonpartisan national leadership organization that does not endorse candidates.

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Eyewitness Palestine October Delegation Arrived in Jerusalem!

Eyewitness Palestine, October 2022

We are excited to announce that our 73rd Delegation is underway! This delegation was three years in the making, and it has finally arrived. Focusing on the Olive Harvest and Environmental Justice, 28 participants will learn from our Palestinian and Israeli partners over the next several days.

Delegates Arrive in Palestine

Unfortunately, one delegate, a Cypriot national with Arab roots, was denied entry upon arrival and two rounds of intense questioning. Israel’s racist targeting of Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims for questioning and denial of entry at the airport is not new. As Israel tries to join the Visa Waiver Program in the US, we are appalled at how this racist and undemocratic practice is allowed to continue. 

The annual Environmental Justice and the Olive Harvest delegation offers a unique cultural and environmental angle on Palestine. Delegates are in Palestine during the olive harvest season — a culturally rich and important time. They hear from farmers and learn of the importance of agriculture to the economy and culture, learn about threats to the environment, the exploitation of natural resources, and the struggle of Palestinian communities to maintain access to land and water.

Follow the delegation to read their Eyewitness Accounts from their time in Palestine/Israel, reports from meetings, and experiences with our Palestinian partners and Israelis partners working in solidarity. This and more exclusive content is available on our websiteFacebookInstagram, and Twitter under the hashtag #eyewitness73.