thebowspring:

The Pope made an unscheduled stop to pray at Israel’s Apartheid Wall in Bethlehem, Palestine, where he is reported to have told a Palestinian official “I know all about this.” His next stop was Manger Square where he was welcomed by thousands of Palestinian Christians before leading an open air mass.

The altar from which Francis delivered his message showed a baby Jesus wrapped in a keffiyeh, the traditional Arabic scarf that is a symbol of Palestinian nationalism. His trip to Palestine was rounded off by spending lunch with five families from the Deheishe refugee camp. “I am with you,” he told a group of Palestinian children.

(Photos: Ariel Schalit/AP, Abbas Momani/AFP, Thomas Coex/AFP, Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

Today in Palestine

1. A Palestinian demonstrator holds portraits of late South African Leader Nelson Mandela and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as he stands in front of Israeli soldier during the weekly demonstration against Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah on Dec. 6, 2013. (Majdi Mohammed/AP)

2. A placard depicting former South African President Nelson Mandela hangs on a barbed wire as a Palestinian protester reacts to tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers during clashes at a weekly demonstration against Jewish settlements in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah on Dec. 6, 2013. (Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

Flowers planted in used tear gas canisters are seen on land Palestinians reclaimed two years ago following an Israeli court order to re-route its controversial barrier, in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah on October 1, 2013. Mohammad Khatib, a Bilin resident, has been collecting the canisters left over from clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians protesters during weekly protests in the West Bank.
[Credit : Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

Flowers planted in used tear gas canisters are seen on land Palestinians reclaimed two years ago following an Israeli court order to re-route its controversial barrier, in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah on October 1, 2013. Mohammad Khatib, a Bilin resident, has been collecting the canisters left over from clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians protesters during weekly protests in the West Bank.

[Credit : Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

A Bedouin woman carries her child as she prepares to leave her home in the West Bank village of Wadi al-Maleh, near the border with Jordan on April 29, 2013. Israeli soldiers on Monday evicted several hundred Bedouins from the village in the occupied West Bank after the army declared the area a live-fire training zone. The residents of Wadi al-Maleh, a village mostly inhabited by shepherds in the arid area, had almost all left their homes by an evening curfew and retreated to neighboring villages, a local leader told Reuters.
[Credit : Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

A Bedouin woman carries her child as she prepares to leave her home in the West Bank village of Wadi al-Maleh, near the border with Jordan on April 29, 2013. Israeli soldiers on Monday evicted several hundred Bedouins from the village in the occupied West Bank after the army declared the area a live-fire training zone. The residents of Wadi al-Maleh, a village mostly inhabited by shepherds in the arid area, had almost all left their homes by an evening curfew and retreated to neighboring villages, a local leader told Reuters.

[Credit : Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

israelfacts:

(Reuters) - Israeli soldiers evicted several hundred Bedouins from a village in the occupied West Bank on Monday after the army declared the area a live-fire training zone.

The residents of Wadi al-Maleh, a village mostly inhabited by shepherds in the arid area bordering Jordan, had almost all left their homes by an evening curfew and retreated to neighbouring villages, Aref Daraghmeh, a local leader, told Reuters.

The displacement coincided with several demolitions of Arab properties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which come as the United States is trying to revive stalled peace.

In January, villagers received a similar eviction order and left without resisting, only to return after 48 hours. Almost all of their 90 buildings, including shelters for their animals, were demolished in 2010, local rights groups said.

Israeli soldiers prevented outsiders, including journalists, from entering the area, saying it was a “closed military zone”.

“It should be emphasised that these structures, located in closed military zones actively used by the IDF, are illegal in nature…the residents of these illegal structures have been requested in advance to vacate the premises voluntarily,” an Israeli Defence Forces spokesperson said.

“This drill is a part of the IDF’s pre-planned yearly exercise schedule,” the spokesperson said.

Wadi al-Maleh is located in “Area C,” a swath of land making up two-thirds of the West Bank under full Israeli control and where most [illegal] Jewish settlements are located.

Half a million settlers live [illegally] in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, territory captured in the 1967 Middle East War which Palestinians want for a future state.

Israeli army firing zones comprise 18 percent of the West Bank, roughly the same size of “Area A,” the land including major cities and towns which is under full Palestinian control.

According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 5,000 Palestinians in 38 herding communities live on army firing zones, along with several sprawling Jewish settlements and farms.

Besides al-Maleh, 12 Bedouin villages throughout the length of the Jordan Valley have received eviction orders since 1999, according to the Association for Human Rights in Israel.

The International Court of Justice and most governments deem Jewish settlements in the West Bank illegal. Israel disputes this and cites Biblical and historical links to the land.

Israeli authorities razed two family homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of al-Tur on Monday morning, displacing 18 Palestinians who failed to acquire elusive building permits, local officials said.

The army also demolished a well near a Palestinian refugee camp south of the city of Hebron and cleared an agricultural area of dozens of olive trees east of Bethlehem, according to Palestinian government media.

Israeli officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on those incidents.

israelfacts:

A Palestinian Christian wearing a rosary holds a stone during minor clashes with Israeli troops in protest against Israel’s attack on Gaza, in the occupied-West Bank village of Bir Zeit, near Ramallah, November 19, 2012.
Rushdi Tamimi, a Palestinian demonstrator who was shot with live fire by Israeli troops during a similar demonstration on Saturday in Nabi Saleh died of his wounds today. 
The number of Palestinians killed by Israel since their latest assault on Gaza began on Wednesday rose to 94 on Monday afternoon. The Israeli death toll has remained at 3 since Thursday.
Yesterday saw the bloodiest day for Gaza as Israel took 24 Palestinian lives, most notably twelve members of one family in one strike. Four small children and five women including an 80-year-old were among the dead [graphic].
(Photograph: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman)
Related: Palestinian Christians take part in prayer in solidarity with Gaza

israelfacts:

A Palestinian Christian wearing a rosary holds a stone during minor clashes with Israeli troops in protest against Israel’s attack on Gaza, in the occupied-West Bank village of Bir Zeit, near Ramallah, November 19, 2012.

Rushdi Tamimi, a Palestinian demonstrator who was shot with live fire by Israeli troops during a similar demonstration on Saturday in Nabi Saleh died of his wounds today.

The number of Palestinians killed by Israel since their latest assault on Gaza began on Wednesday rose to 94 on Monday afternoon. The Israeli death toll has remained at 3 since Thursday.

Yesterday saw the bloodiest day for Gaza as Israel took 24 Palestinian lives, most notably twelve members of one family in one strike. Four small children and five women including an 80-year-old were among the dead [graphic].

(Photograph: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman)

Related: Palestinian Christians take part in prayer in solidarity with Gaza

A Palestinian protester throws a molotov cocktail towards Israeli security forces during clashes outside Ofer prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah April 17, 2012. The clashes broke out during a rally marking Palestinian Prisoners Day. At least 1,200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launched an open-ended hunger strike on Tuesday, upping the stakes in a protest movement that has put the Jewish state under pressure.
[Credit : Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

A Palestinian protester throws a molotov cocktail towards Israeli security forces during clashes outside Ofer prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah April 17, 2012. The clashes broke out during a rally marking Palestinian Prisoners Day. At least 1,200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launched an open-ended hunger strike on Tuesday, upping the stakes in a protest movement that has put the Jewish state under pressure.

[Credit : Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]