Nights of Terror in Bil’in Palestine

sound bombs market incident.gifFour hours ago in the Palestinian Village of Bil’in, Israeli Defense Force Soldiers stormed through the streets of Bil’in in the dead of night while mothers, fathers, grandparents and children tried to sleep.

The entire village was awoken to the sounds of explosions.  Terrified, mothers, grandparents and children hid in their homes as the men of the village went out to see what danger there was, to see and try to understand what was happening.

They were met with the sights of Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Soldiers throwing and setting off sound bombs in the streets, in front of homes, for no other reason than to terrorize and intimidate the Palestinian people who slept.

These soldiers and their actions are nothing more than cowardliness at its finest and I say this sarcastically and with rage.  As they set off the bombs, they all ran to their trucks like cowards and drove off into the night.

The men of Bil’in rarely sleep at night, and when they do, it is never more than a few short hours.  Living in a constant state of heightened traumatic stress levels, leave them no choice.  Their families cannot sleep safely without the men remaining awake to keep watch, to protect them to the best of their abilities against acts of barbaric terrorism at the hands of IDF Soldiers.

276This is sadly a regular event in Bil’in and surrounding villages.  Often, IDF Soldiers indiscriminately storm Palestinian homes in the dead of night with no other reason than to intimidate, make their presence forever known, leaving the homes ransacked, and families terrorized.  There is no morality or humanitarian concern extended by IDF Soldiers, they have the free reign to conduct themselves at will under the guise of security checks.

In this video you will see my partner, Haitham Khatib, with camera, stepping out into the streets of Bil’in during one of these night terror activities.  You will hear Haitham’s voice greet the soldiers repeatedly with the word “Salaam”, it is Arabic for “the Peace”, this greeting is met with IDF Soldiers throwing sound bombs at Haitham.

 

 

Palestine…In Your Eyes I see

1282231687-the-secrets-behind-the-palestinian-flag-_414349Palestine…  In your eyes I see the beauty of Palestine looking back at me

In your voice I hear the roar of generations subjected to war

Beaten but not broken, tortured and outspoken

Strong and with dignity, you stand on what is rightfully your land

Martyrs held in mothers’ arms

Wrapped in flags of national pride

Israel may control, but Israel cannot hide

Together with Palestine’s mothers I have cried

My hand upon my chest and its Palestine’s heart I feel beating

Dreams will give way to realty and face-to-face we will be meeting

Demonstrations and protests

Until freedom is won, Palestine’s mind never rests

Taking a stand for what is right in the face of what is wrong

In my mind I hear the call of Palestine’s National song, Fida’i!

Living under the same skies, under the same sun,

Together we stand as one!

 

Translation of Lyrics

Palestine ~ Life in Constant Contrast

Life in Palestine is one of constant contrast between normal day-to-day things and conflict between resistance and Occupation Apartheid.  Both circumstances speak to the strength and resiliency of the Palestinian people.

12570873_951774111580541_1844476624_nThough there is no escaping the reality of life under Occupation Apartheid.  The efforts and fight to live a normal life is an inherent objective of every Palestinian.

Conflict in Palestine has become as routine as breathing.  But unlike breathing of our own free will, it is like breathing through a respirator, breaths we wish to take on own taken but instead with the aid of a machine and the machine is resistance.  Last Friday, January 16, 2016, these photos, taken by photo journalist, Ahmad Hasaballah in Gaza, of strong, young and determined Palestinian men, wanting only peace, wanting the same life and future we all want and some are lucky to have, were taken during a protest against Occupation Apartheid along the border of the Gaza Strip, Nahal Oz.

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When the outside world see these images in mainstream western media, they assume that the Palestinian youth are the aggressors; but such is mainstream, western media.  These young men cannot protest, in the most peaceful ways without being bombarded by occupation forces who shoot live rounds of ammunition, and launch gases, each with the intention of indiscriminate harm and is some cases death.  In an effort to counter affect these brutal attacks, Palestinian youth light fires to rubber, in the hope the smoke will shield them from attack.

12576249_951774181580534_1290131458_nArmed with nothing more than stones, they continue to protest, to demonstrate, in the hopes that the world take notice, not forget them, not forget that they live in the world’s largest open air prison, imposed by occupation apartheid.

It is scenes like this that occur all over Palestine daily.  The heartbeat of Palestine beats forever strong.  The hope and fight for freedom is undying.  What the Zionist Occupation Government strives to break in spirit, serves only to strengthen the resistance and continued resistance is how freedom is won.

1486702_10207231457037710_4323727660591484658_nResistance comes in many forms, determination, passion, and desire for freedom is humanity’s greatest desire and hope.

Here in the beautiful village of Bil’in, just outside of the city of Ramallah, my partner, Haitham Khatib plants young olive trees on his land.  The trees themselves are a testament to the strength and resiliency of the Palestinian spirit.  And like the green branches of these beautiful and fruitful trees, they bend, yet not break, only grow stronger, day by day, just as every Palestinian child, adolescent and adult does.

12400849_10207312459542722_3699667204299069361_n 12508948_10207312456702651_2758681669371870625_nTilling and caring for the land is a part of the rich heritage and culture that is Palestine.

Haitham takes great pleasure and pride in his land, as all Palestinians do.  But these images carry a power statement of a resistance to Zionist Occupation, a statement that Palestine will be free, that her people are strong, determined, strive to live with dignity and humanity.  Together Haitham and I strive to tell the world the truth about Palestine, her people, their lives, their hopes and dreams.  Together through word, images and videos, we will achieve this and the world will take notice, see the truth of what is happening daily in Palestine under Occupation Apartheid.

 

 

 

Promising Signs of Change for Palestine

10276060_10153358175693325_998773002538043109_n Change never comes easy and never comes fast, and never without heavy sacrifices, but change eventually comes nonetheless…

The European Union together with other Western Governments are putting continued economic pressures on Israel to force the current, Zionist government to comply with international laws, agreements and Accords, and cease their aggressive actions against the non-Zionist population of Palestine.

There is no denying that Palestine is living under Israeli Zionist Apartheid. Just in the last week, one of Ireland’s largest materials firms, CRH has admitted that cement from its Israeli affiliate was probably used in the apartheid wall and has pulled out of Israel, disposing of all its assets there. CHR Pulls Out! (article) .

In over 60 years, around 700 Jewish communities have been established in Israel’s pre-1967 borders – but just seven for Arab citizens (and those were built in the Negev for ‘concentrating’ the Bedouin population). The average Palestinian community inside Israel has lost up to 75% of its land since 1948, while a quarter of all Palestinian citizens are internally displaced, their property confiscated for use by the state and Jewish towns.

An estimated 90,000 Palestinian citizens live in dozens of ‘unrecognized villages’, which suffer from home demolitions and a lack of basic infrastructure. Israeli officials openly talk of ‘Judaizing’ areas and tackling the ‘threat’ posed by non-Jewish citizens. Residency in 70% of Israeli towns is managed by committees that filter out those deemed ‘unsuitable’ for the ‘social fabric’.

Add to this ongoing violation of UN Agreements and International Accords, the internal strife between a divided Palestinian government consisting of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Hamas and it feels overwhelmingly hopeless that change and freedom for Palestine is coming, let alone achievable.

However, there are continued international movements, such as the BDS Movement ~ The global movement for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights – See more at: (Click here to learn more)

The campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is shaped by a rights-based approach and highlights the three broad sections of the Palestinian people: the refugees, those under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinians in Israel. The call urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by:

  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

The BDS call was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian political parties, organizations, trade unions and movements. The signatories represent the refugees, Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

These boycotts are slowly being felt by the Israeli economy that continues to face many challenges. In the short-term its inability to duplicate its success in the telecommunication industry into other growing industries hampers its economic outlooks. Its inability to foster large multinational companies in the last decade also calls into question its ability to employ large numbers of people in advanced industries.

It is imperative for the international community to continue to take a strong stand against the Zionist imposed Apartheid occupation of Palestine.  Peace is possible, and freedom for all Palestinians is possible.  Prior to the Zionist occupation, Arab Muslims, Jew and Christian lived together as neighbors, as friends in peace.

12494996_10153888178442533_2887465968704746376_n To quote a friend “One state (of Palestine) is the only solution but needs world intervention to make it happen.”

Hatred, racism and violence is not born, it is created.  Just as these innocent children demonstrate, we are all humanity, “we are one, we live under the same skies, under the same sun.”

 

 

Daily Struggles in Gaza

10299321_948670508557568_1488982116_nHow much suffering can the human being endure?  Throughout history humanity has proven to be the worst perpetrator of violence, aggression and oppression against itself.  The daily struggles of Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip is immense, forced to live in what is internationally called the world’s largest open air prison, many of those living in the Gaza Strip are living in sub-human conditions, caught in the middle of ongoing conflict between the Israeli Occupation forces and their own Hamas government body.

Yet, in the face of it all, the Palestinian people continue to stand strong, believe in hope, and hold on to that hope that Palestine will have its freedom from occupation.  The youth of Gaza strive for education, to better themselves, to become leaders for their people and their country while experiencing the daily threat of occupation forces.  For many it becomes too much bare; too much to be provoked daily, unable to even walk the streets in peaceful demonstration or protest, against efforts that serve only to break the human spirit and will to live.

12511581_948670498557569_222890157_nThe young men in these photos are risking their lives to demonstrate against occupation of their land and show that they will not be broken, they want only for the world to see and take notice that beyond all political issues, they only want to live in peace, to live, educate themselves and have a future where they too can prosper and contribute to the world around them.

It is important to note, the young men in these photos are not the aggressors, they are only trying to take a human stand against the violence and struggle they are forced to face every day.  These photos have been provided to me by a photojournalist living and working in Gaza, Ahmad Hasaballah.  He has been kind enough to offer his work as a contributor to this site and to the Faces of Palestine project.  I am honored that he has offered to help me show the world the humanitarian struggle, stories and faces of the Palestinian people, especially those most harshly affected by Israeli occupation in Gaza.

12528116_948670521890900_315511345_nJust in the last 23 years Gaza has seen three wars between Occupation Forces and Palestinian Resistance.  Thousands of Palestinians have been killed and continue to die daily due to a severe lack of housing, food, medical care and the basic necessities of life itself.

These young men are armed with nothing more than their bare hands, will to live, and as you see in this photo a simple sling shot used for self defense against Israeli rifles, tear gas launchers, and worse.  These clashes are common daily occurrences along the wall that separates Gaza from the rest of Palestine.

 

 

Palestine Is Calling… Do You Hear?

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Spoken Word Poem – Click on Link Below to Listen to it…

Palestine is Calling…Do You Hear?

Palestine is Calling… do you hear?

Will you look into my eyes or will you avert your gaze

Will you notice the tears that stream for endless nights and days?

For they are weeping tears that shall never cease

Until our land, our Palestine has found her peace…

Can you without conscious keep burying children killed in their sleep?

When will you learn that humanity is one, we exist under the same skies, under the same sun

Our people are seeking refuge where none exists as the blood of innocents’ flows, coursing like rivers on sun baked streets

Faith cannot grow on the graves of the many and actions speak louder than words!

Hope stands strong in the face of darkness where light is a candle and life carries on

Hatred will flourish when none can find peace an eye for an eye will forever increase

Prayers and dua are made daily, but without action, mean nothing

Action is needed to push for peace, for freedom, for sanctity, dignity, and we all must do something

Greed and power make the world blind and in the darkness that follows who will be left behind?

Helping Those Most in Need in Gaza, Palestine

Hani 2 I have had the honor of talking with Hani Qtra, a volunteer at Enterprise Community Training Centre and Crisis Management in Gaza.

Hani’s organization works in some of the worst marginalized border areas stricken with the most fragile groups of Palestinian citizens, and they specialize in helping them from a psychological aspect and social awareness perspective and often with the children by encouraging them through play and art therapy that allows the children to find a means of expressing and releasing emotional stresses and fears in safe and meaningful ways.

Hani

Hani and his team carries out their efforts to help others, people whose marginalized lives and homes have been destroyed by the Israeli occupation of their homes and land in the Beit Hanoun border area. These people are forced to live in small-iron caravans not fit for human habitation as the iron structures are dangerous in extreme summer heat and in the severe freezing cold winter.

These people have lost everything, homes, land, and necessities of life itself.  Hani’s team strive to work with and help these marginalized people, many of which are suffering from severe psychological distress of conditions like PTSD that are incredibly prevalent.  Hani’s team try to bring a greater social awareness of these conditions. 

The ones most affected from Hani’s team observations are the children who suffer greatly from the effects of deep psychological trauma and many have issues of aggression, fear, anxiety and depression, all of which is seen in the low academic achievement levels as a result of several wars, constant conflict, crises and government neglect in providing a humane standard of living through housing and financial aid.

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Hani and his team are working with people to help give them a sense of security and provide an atmosphere of ongoing psychological, and social support.

The reality for Hani and his team is a severe lack of necessary resources, supports and supplies to meet the ever-increasing demands and needs of the many displaced people in Gaza.

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Hani, his team and others like his, working in Gaza, within the camps, need help desperately, in the way of financial support, supplies and other resources to continue their efforts, especially with the children they see and treat.

For those of you reading this article, if you wish to support Hani, his team and organization, please contact Maria Atherton, head of the Faces of Palestine literary project at facesofpalestine@gmail.com

 

Palestine Needs More than Your Prayers Alone

We all need to take a stand and bring greater awareness of the atrocities taking place in Gaza daily. We are all a part of humanity and our conscious should be telling all of us that when one suffers, we all suffer and when one dies a part of ourselves also dies. How much longer is humanity going to turn a blind eye? Engage your conscious and help Palestine and her children, help the people of Palestine. Prayers alone are not enough, words without action mean nothing to these children.

2016 Another Year of Hope for Palestine

1170723_10207199263912902_6965094478210071624_n 2016 is here.  It represents another year of hope for the Palestinian people; hope for peace, hope for change, most of all hope for freedom.

I say goodbye to 2015 feeling a sense of gratitude so great and unlike other years.  In just a short time at the end of 2015, I have been blessed to meet and work with some very incredible people in my own country, my own city here in Canada.  What started for me as an opportunity to help incoming refugees from the Middle East resettle in my city an opportunity that is ongoing for sure into this new year, has led my heart, ambition and abilities to Palestine.

The Faces of Palestine project is in its infancy, but I have great hope that this year will bring much success for this project, for my partners Haitham Khatib and Fadi Thabet, and collaborator Sary Baraka, without them, their help, their knowledge, experiences, and their eyes and ears on the ground in Palestine on my behalf, this project would not continue to progress or succeed.

As we bid farewell to 2015 the beautiful Faces of Palestine welcome with hope 2016 ~

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The light of Palestine shines bright in the eyes of her children and every child in Palestine is like every child in the world, filled with hope and dreams for their future!10250258_10207148634927209_8588347955187711560_n

In spite of continued challenges, conflicts and darkness, the light that is the soul of Palestine shines on unfailingly so.

May humanity take note that the resiliency of the human spirit is unsurpassed by any other.

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The pride of Palestine lives strong in her children, the future of a strong and free Palestine will be reality because the coming generation is striving to live, be educated and make a better country.

 

 

 

 

 

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The handsome faces of two generations of strength, resistance, resiliency and great hope for the future of Palestine!

 

 

 

12366322_577208325768698_3095207307809717800_n The life joy of children in Palestine is no different from any other place.  They love to laugh and play and forget the ongoing conflict around them.  In the midst of the worst circumstances, children only want to be children.  The humanity of the world owes this to the children of Palestine.  Let us all work toward peace and freedom.

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Together we can all make a difference.  Like a stone dropped into still water, the ripples become endless and the water will never be the same again.  Let us stand and work together to be the stone that leaves in its wake ripples of change, strength, peace and a better Palestine.

12346398_958616560884035_3914899219623339068_n New Public Relations and Media graduates of Al Aqsa University.  The greatest force against the occupation of Palestine is the use of technology, social media, and photo journalism.

Instead of guns, these strong young graduates are armed with education, knowledge, cameras and a bold unwavering determination to show the world the true faces of Palestine!

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Every Palestinian is fighting for what so many in the world take for granted – a normal life, a life of peaceful co-existence with the greater world around them.

In spite of deep wounds to mind, body and spirit, the soul of Palestine remains strong, determined, filled with ongoing hope and dreams for a future without conflict, without killing, and a future of freedom and peace.  Together we can make this a reality.  Just as war begins in a day, freedom can also come in a day.  No one human being has a right to life greater than any other human being.  When one is killed we kill also a part of ourselves, it is only when humanity sees this, accepts this, and works together to keep humanity whole that peace will be realized.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

1888612_10202934194408830_6174820751435918259_n “Our thirst for Freedom in unquenchable, for we are lovers of life and justice, and haters of barbarity and chaos ~ I put my trust in God.”  Haitham Khatib

In speaking with Haitham and others living, working and surviving in Palestine, this sentiment rings true throughout Palestine.  The greatest desire of any and all Palestinians is for peace in their country; an end to the barbarianism that is all to prevalent in the day-to-day life.  The people of Palestine want what everyone wants, to be able to live, exist, work, have families and make a good life for themselves and contribute positively to the world around them.

Like any other society caught in the middle of conflict, not of their own choosing or design, but by leaders and oppositions ruling for greater control over the other, the Palestinian people feel trapped and overwhelmed.

Every human being has a breaking point when faced with exceptionally overwhelming odds, and many living in Palestine face their own breaking points daily and yet in spite of it all, their spirits rise, and they hold their heads high, pushing through the pain, the loss, the struggle, resilient to the very core of their being, and hold on to continued hope that positive change is coming and they will see a free Palestine.