Hebron

Girl (Rajhad, school playground, Hebron)

Rajhad is looking out of the fence that protects her small school in central Hebron. The building is now built like a fortress following severe assaults by Zionist settlers in 2006, 2008 and 2009. In one instance, settlers set fire to the building while classes were taking place.

Like most children in the school, Rajhad has suffered heavy injuries from settler violence. The assailants are usually the children of nearby Zionist settlers, who throw stones at Palestinian children on their way to and from school. This usually happens under the watchful eye of Israeli soldiers, who are ready to arrest Palestinian children but allow the settlers to operate with impunity.

With bitter irony, Rajhad says: ‘I want to beat a settler, so that they can be arrested like we are when settlers beat us.’

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Building young lives in Jerusalem’s Old City

‘In the beginning, the kids who came here were violent’, says Mohammad Abu Sbitan, director of the social centre, ‘they used bad language, were rude and restless. But now we’re beginning to see results.’ His eyes light up a little over his study office desk. ‘The children are polite and at ease with themselves. Before, they could not sit and listen to a story for more than 10 minutes. Now they will sit quietly and enjoy a story all the way through.’

Mustafa (left) and Amir, at the Burj Al Luq Luq Social Centre

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Non-violent & violent protest in Bil’in, Palestine

Tear gas fills our eyes, as a barrage of stones bounces off the soldier’s shields. It’s the weekly protest at Bil’in, a village where the Israeli Wall has taken large sections of land from Palestinian locals, and the event has just turned violent.

Tear gas grenade and alcohol swabs: the soldier and the doctor
'Weapon of choice'. Left, an Israeli solider holding a tear gas grenade; Right, a Palestinian doctor holding alcohol swabs.

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‘Remember Gaza’ – Smash EDO protest, Brighton

'Remember Gaza', 'Blood on your hands' - the protest marches along Lewes Road outside Moulsecoomb. Photo © Josh Jones 2010

Monday 18th January, 2010: Hundreds gathered in Brighton today to protest the presence of EDO, an arms firm that develops weapons parts used in the assault on Gaza last year. Police responded with force, and scuffles outside the EDO/ITT weapons factory on Home Farm Road led to several injuries. In Brighton city centre, protestors were kettled by police for up to an hour, and several arrests were made, including one medic.

The Smash EDO campaign has been calling for the closure of the Brighton-based arms manufacturer for six years, and claims EDO/ITT corp. is complicit in war crimes.

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1417 dead in Gaza – London remembers

 

1417: London remembers the dead. Photo © Josh Jones 2010

16th Jan, 2010: People from all over the United Kingdom came to London today to remember the 1417 Palestinians who died in Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip one year ago.

‘This is not only to remember the dead’, one speaker announced, ‘but also to protest at Israel’s ongoing policy of occupation.’

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International support for Sussex Uni boycott of Israel

Nov 11th, 2009: Students at the University of Sussex have received messages of support from Palestinian grassroots organisations and Israeli and Jewish academics, following a decision by ballot to boycott Israeli goods.

The boycott referendum was in one of the best attended and closest contested in Sussex Student Union’s history, and the final result mandates the Union to remove all Israeli food produce from its stores.

The decision has received support from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, the grassroots Palestinian committee formed out of the campaign to boycott Israel in 2007. Speaking on behalf of its 23 member organisations, a spokesperson said that Sussex’s decision was significant as part of the international movement:

‘The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) salutes Sussex University students for their decision to boycott Israeli goods.

‘Student movements played a key role in ending Apartheid in South Africa. Today, we call on students across the globe to boycott Israeli products and divest from Israel until it complies with fundamental human rights principles and international law.’

Sussex students campaigning on campus. Photo © Josh Jones 2009
Sussex students campaigning on campus. Photo © Josh Jones 2009

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Sussex Students Boycott Israeli Goods

Oct 30th, 2009: Following a landmark referendum, students at Sussex University have voted to boycott Israeli goods. The decision follows the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, which calls upon the Israeli state to respect international law and end the occupation of Palestine.

 

Students of Sussex Palestine Society
Students of Sussex Palestine Society and Stop The War Coalition. Photo © Josh Jones 2009

The referendum result mandates the Students’ Union to remove all Israeli produce from its stores, and review its sources for food outlets. This makes Sussex Students’ Union the first in the UK to implement a full boycott of Israeli goods through referendum. The vote was one of the largest and closest contested in the Union’s history, with 562 votes for and 450 against the boycott.

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Pride

Pride_by_Josh Jones

Bedouin children in the West Bank of occupied Palestine.

The children of this valley are put at constant risk by the live-fire exercises that Israeli military conduct in the area. Their mother told me how soldiers would set off explosives of all sorts, from gas bombs to sound grenades, on the hill pictured behind. The ground is then left dangerous, as many explosives remain undetonated.

These children remain strong, and the older brother insisted I try riding his horse – which I did, bareback, for the first time in my life.

Thanks for dropping by – all comments are appreciated.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Milking

Milking_by_Josh Jones

While visiting the home of some Bedouin farmers in occupied Palestine, I was invited to try milking a sheep.

I was rubbish. Honestly, it’s harder than it looks. And it really feels funny, like a warm furry water balloon.

Later that evening, the farmers treated us to gallons of hot, sweetened goat’s milk. We left after nightfall, disturbed by their stories and humbled by their generosity.

A popular photo of mine depicts this boy and his little sibling, and can be found here.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Strength

Strength

Kalim, local councillor, shows me the positions in which he and other inmates of the prison were forced to stand for days on end.

This building was built by the British during the Mandate control of Palestine, and was later used by the Israeli military as a prison. In the late 90’s, the Israeli military pulled out, and most of the buildings have since been renovated. The building is now a community centre for local groups, arts and theatre.

Some of the cells and torture chambers, such as this one, lie hidden behind locked doors. They have been left to fall into disrepair, but significantly not demolished. Graffiti on the wall mimics the ‘agony position’, a sort of half-crouch, which the prisoners – almost all of them incarcerated for political reasons – were forced to endure. Kalim spent seven years, from the mid eighties to the early nineties, mostly in this jail.

___

Twenty-four hours before, I was eating ice-cream in a water park. The smell of water is intoxicating in the Jordan valley – so many rivers have run dry because of climate change and Israeli water diversion, that to catch the moist scent of humid air always brings out smiles and gasps of pleasure. The owners of the park, five brothers, had given us the warm greetings we had become accustomed to in Palestine, and within minutes we were stuffing ourselves with shockingly sweet bubble-gum ice cream.

On the table we spread out a souvenir from Jerusalem: a map of Palestine and Israel, showing the Israeli ‘security wall’ that surrounds and divides much of the West Bank. Pink splotches represented Israeli settlements, and checkered pink showed the settlements of Gaza that were abandoned in 2006. Dotted, intangible lines marked the theoretical boundaries between Israel and Palestine, which now lie well neglected.

Somewhat dizzy from ice-cream, I sat admiring place-names. One of our group, with a air of sadness and of hope, indicated with a sweeping hand from East to West, from occupied Palestine to the coast of the Meditteranian, ‘One day. All this.’ His suggestion was that Palestinians might regain the land that was given away by the British to form the state of Israel. Kalim shook his head. ‘Not even that’, he said, ‘Let them keep their land.’ We fell silent. He was calm and spoke as though from a great depth. He said: ‘Just for us to be left alone.’

___

I thought I knew what strength was before I came to Palestine. Really. I thought that if you could take a blow and not flinch, you were strong; that if you could risk your life in order to save what you loved the most, you were strong. That strength is about fighting for what you believe in.

I have met strong people, and by example they have shown me I was wrong. They do not fight; they do not take up the knife or gun, they do not preach violence or hatred. They have endured immeasurable suffering.

They are strong because in spite of their experience, in spite of every low feeling telling them to tear apart their oppressors, they have kept their humanity. They are still kind. They are, I can say for sure, the most peaceful people I have ever met. I see now that any old fool can pick up a gun and fight. It takes real strength to preserve your humanity.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Strength II

Strength_II

Khalim is sitting in the courtyard where he and other Palestinian political prisoners were kept chained and hooded. He explained how he was commonly kept awake there for a number of days; soldiers would pour freezing water over anyone who appeared to fall asleep. The courtyard was abandoned by the Israeli military, and has since been left untouched.

This courtyard is a part of a large prison, most of which has been renovated and turned into a community centre. This photo is the second of two, and the first is accompanied by some of my thoughts. You can read it here.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Al-Aqaba

Al_Aqaba

A man of Al-Aqaba, a village in the Tubas region of Palestine, shows us the demolition orders for the school, nursery, clinic and mosque that he helped to found.

If the orders are not challenged in court, which is a lengthy and expensive process, then all the buildings in the village will be razed by Israeli military bulldozers.

I should add something personal here to help the reader digest this, but honestly, I don’t know what to say.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Father

Father

A man of the village of Furush Beit Dajan stands before the mud brick structure that he and his family were forced to live in after their home was demolished. Having destroyed their home, the Israeli civil service have prohibited the family from making any repairs to the dilapidated farm buildings they now have to inhabit.

He told me how one of his sons, aged five, was recently bitten by a poisonous snake while he slept. The snake had entered through one of the many holes in the building. The father rang the hospital but on hearing his location, the person on the end of the phone said, ‘Sorry, no Arabs.’

The father attempted to drive his son to the nearest emergency hospital, at Nablus, but was blocked at an Israeli military checkpoint and forced to return home. His son died later that night.

I cannot imagine how someone can retain their sense of humanity after such an incident. As we sat over sweet Palestinian tea, the father told me he did not want retribution. ‘All I want is the right to build, and access to water and electricity’, he said.

Out there it seemed to make sense, but having returned to Britain I am more and more bemused by the stoic humanity of the people I met in Palestine.

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008.

Precious

Precious

Woman and her grandchild, in a small Bedouin tent in the West Bank, Palestine.

The soldiers from the nearby Israeli settlement use the crop fields around these tents for live-fire exercises. I spoke to a woman in the next tent who had been shot in the head by a rifle bullet while picking herbs in the middle of the day. She had survived with fifteen stitches.

I asked the woman pictured if she or her family had had a similar experience. ‘The bullets fly over our heads’, she said, ‘but so far, God has been kind.’

Image and text © Josh Jones 2008

Students maintain occupation of Sussex University

Press and Publicity working groups
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25th Jan, 2009: After five days of occupation, the students at Sussex University have entered negotiations with management. Meanwhile, other occupations across the country are sending their support and swapping advice and information.

Sussex Students hold Occupation for Gaza

23rd Jan, 2009: Students of Sussex University, UK, have made a symbolic occupation of lecture hall Arts A2 to show their support for the sufferers in Gaza and to call upon the University to take positive action.

The occupation started on Tuesday evening and has continued to hold a peaceful presence, allowing lectures to continue with minimal disruption. The demands that the occupiers have agreed on can be read on the facebook page or the blog.

It comes at a time when similar occupations are being held at Universities across the UK, including Warwick, Essex, Oxford, Manchester Metropolitan and others.

See the facebook group:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=46788527758

Regular updates can be found on the blog:

http://sussexoccupation.blogspot.com