Unforgotten keys: A walk through the West Bank

Guest contribution by Wedad Yassin

Abd, 64, has been a loyal worker in the Hirbawi family’s kuffiyeh factory in Al-Khalil (Hebron) since it opened in 1961. This is the only authentic Palestinian kuffiyeh factory in the world.

A Palestinian family’s home enclosed by Israel’s apartheid wall.

“My home. Not here, the one over there.” Ameer, 8, and twenty other children at the Jalazone Refugee Camp just north of Ramallah were asked to draw their favorite places in the world — places they would like to visit. Most of the kids drew houses or the Dome of the Rock, two places they have never had the opportunity to visit.

More than 16.5% of Palestinians living in the West Bank are unemployed. As a result, selling antiques, metal fragments, and used furniture has become an increasingly popular sources of income for many families. In this picture, a small shop displays small metal trinkets, mostly keys to homes from which Palestinian families were evicted.

Two boys bike along Israel’s apartheid wall which stands 25 feet tall and is expected to run 403 miles in length upon completion.

To enter the Ibrahimi Mosque in the old city of Al-Khalil, Palestinians must cross through this Israeli-run checkpoint. The checkpoint was created after the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre on 25 February 1994 when Baruch Goldstein, a terrorist claiming to operate under the Jewish faith, entered the mosque, murdered 29 worshipers, and injured hundreds more.

Saeed, 18, with two of his nine siblings. Saeed’s family refused to sell their home to the Israeli military and have since been facing severe consequences.

In 2005, Israeli soldiers set fire to a room in Saeed’s family’s home in which Saeed’s newborn baby brother was sleeping. In 2007, his eight-month-old brother was shot, also by Israeli soldiers.

Young men barter in the markets of Al-Khalil. Most vendors in Al-Khalil are young men who were forced to abandon their schooling in order to support their families.

Zeitoun Ahmad Al-Badawi, or Ahmad the Bedouin’s olive tree, is a 5,000 year old olive tree growing in Al-Walaja, a few miles northwest of Bethlehem. The town of Al-Walaja has been the site of many recent Israeli military raids against unarmed and nonviolent protesters and this native olive tree —- a symbol of Palestinian identity, culture, and resiliency —- faces possible uprooting by Israeli military and municipal services.

The Israeli military deploys a flying checkpoint and closes off a street in Al-Khalil to allow settlers to tour through the West Bank city. Besides shutting down streets to Palestinian civilians, Israeli soldiers have also broken into Palestinian-owned cars to “reassure safety on the streets”.

Getting to Friday Prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is tremendously challenging with all the checkpoints and spot checks the men and women of the West Bank have to endure. Given the opportunity, they spend their whole day praying in the courtyard of the mosque.

Palestinian women walk toward the entrance of the Dome of the Rock while a slight breeze rustles their traditional hand-sewn dresses.

Khalid, 24, from the Jalazone Refugee Camp wears the key to his family’s home in Beit Nabala. On May 15, he joined the masses commemorating the Nakba, demanding an end to the occupation, and calling for their Right of Return.

ارفع راسك … انت فلسطيني
“Raise your head, you are Palestinian.”

Wedad Yassin

Wedad Yassin is a 21-year-old Palestinian-American who studies Middle Eastern Studies at Benedictine University. She currently holds an executive board position with her University’s Muslim Student Association. She just recently returned to the United States from a study abroad program at Birzeit University where she also taught English at the Jalazone Refugee Camp. Wedad is an aspiring professor and an ambitious photographer.

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There are 9 comments

  1. Fernando

    Great pictures. If Israel use a portion of the resources they have to help the people in the West Bank and Gaza things will be so different. All that money for their own defence is suppose to be unnecessary if people likes you.

  2. lehrerdan

    AWESOME SITE & PHOTOS, I TWEETED AND SHARED ON FB!

    The zionist Israeli apartheid has a name: the unique democracy”” in the Middle East! And it has a diplomacy, this is Avigdor Yvet Liberman! But also, it has a shameful pretext: the Holocaust!
    The apartheid it is an obscene tool of big political & social corruption, of the American Congress, btw. Above all it is a tool of Israeli state terror and piracy, of blackmail and zionist Gestapo censorship! Breivik liked it!

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