A massacre remembered, a marathon for freedom of movement, and a Palm Sunday protest

Runners race along the Israeli separation wall dividing the West Bank town of Bethlehem in the second annual Palestine Marathon, April 11, 2014. Some 2,500 Palestinian and 700 international runners participated in 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon races under the title “Right to Movement”. Full marathon runners had to complete two laps of the same route, as organizers were unable to find a single course of 42 uninterrupted kilometers under Palestinian Authority control.

It’s been something of an insane week with story after story piling up. With Easter weekend and all of the attendant events in Jerusalem starting tomorrow, I feel like I’m barely catching my breath. So I’m just going to post photos and links to these recent stories all in one post to get caught up. . . .

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Land Day exhibition


In addition to the usual demonstrations and tree plantings [click here for the AIC photo essay] this year, I had the honor of cooperating on a Land Day photo exhibition with Lajee Center and my friend Mohammad Al-Azza. Here’s the press release I wrote for Lajee Center:

From March 29-31, 2014, Lajee Center, in cooperation with Hoping Foundation, presented a photography exhibition in commemoration of Land Day titled, “Our Land, Our Life.” With photographs by Mohammad Al-Azza, director of Lajee Center’s media unit, and photojournalist Ryan Rodrick Beiler of the Alternative Information Center and Activestills, the exhibition . . .

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A month before his arrest, a Palestinian refugee’s plea: ‘I want to live in freedom’

Mohammad Al Azraq stands outside his home in Aida Refugee Camp after being shot in the head with plastic-coated steel bullets by Israeli forces, Bethlehem, West Bank, January 21, 2014. Al Azraq was hit by the bullet while standing near a window on an upper floor of the youth center where he works as clashes took place outside. He was treated at a local hospital and released after receiving four stiches in his scalp.

In late January, while looking out of a window on an upper floor of the Lajee Center where he works with youth in Aida Refugee Camp, Mohammad Al-Azraq was hit by a plastic-coated steel bullet fired by Israeli forces during clashes with local youth. He was treated at a local hospital and released after receiving four stitches in his scalp. About a month later, when I shot this video embedded below, Mohammad was speaking with a delegation of U.S. Mennonite Church leaders, who had a lot of questions about boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), and Mohammad’s hopes for an end to the occupation. . . .

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An evangelical intifada against Christian Zionism


I was honored to both attend and and have my photography featured at last week’s third bi-annual Christ at the Checkpoint conference. I was invited to display a photo exhibition on the theme of “Life Under Occupation” as well as lead a workshop on media with filmmakers Yasmine Perni (The Stones Cry Out) and Porter Speakman (With God on Our Side). My photos were also used in the conference program book and other materials. It was a great week with a lot of good input, and of course way more excellent content than I can share, but I’ve just . . .

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VIDEO: A minor victory for Beit Jala’s prayerful protest


Every Friday for more than two years, come sunshine, rain, or even snow, Father Ibrahim Shomali, a Palestinian Catholic priest, has led a mass as a form of nonviolent resistance against the Israeli separation barrier threatening to divide the Cremisan monastery and a valley of olive groves from the rest of the West Bank town of Beit Jala. Organized by Palestinian Christians, this unique witness has welcomed community leaders of all faiths, international church leaders, diplomats, and journalists.

I’ve done something of a full-court press on this story recently, posting coverage on +972 Magazine, Mennonite World Review, the Collegeville . . .

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Images of a ‘violent peacemaker’


I’ve written about my friend and Israeli draft refuser Moriel Rothman in the past. So it was my pleasure to connect him with my former colleagues at Sojourners so that he could write his own story in their pages. And it was also very cool that they illustrated his article with my photos. An excerpt:

I decide: I will refuse to join the army. I will channel the anger I feel and the violent urges I experience into this struggle. I will do it in a way that humanizes and considers the people of Susiya and of Palestine that . . .

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Life and death on Gaza’s border

Amna (right) and Salman Mansour mourn their son Ibrahim who was shot and killed by Israeli forces while he was collecting gravel near the border with Israel.

Amna’s son Ibrahim, age 35, was collecting gravel near Gaza’s eastern border with Israel when he was shot in the head and killed by the Israeli military on Thursday, February 13. He leaves behind a wife and seven children, ages 2 to 8. One of Mansour’s two companions was injured in the shooting. Both survivors say that no warning was given before they were fired upon. . . .

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VIDEO: Israeli forces prevent activists from planting olive trees


Israeli forces disrupted Palestinians and Israeli activists attempting to plant olive trees Monday on privately owned Palestinian land between the Israeli settlements El’azar and Efrat. All Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law. The land belongs to Ibrahim Mousa of the Bethlehem-area village of Al Khader, who had given permission for the event, which included Israeli solidarity activists from Combatants for Peace.

The truck delivering the olive tree seedlings was delayed by a “flying” Israeli checkpoint south of Bethlehem. As the truck attempted alternative routes to reach the site, several activists decided to block the . . .

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(Another) tear gas Christmas tree in Bethlehem


As I first posted for Activestills on +972, a Christmas tree made of razor wire and tear gas grenades stands near Bethlehem’s official tree in Manger Square as part of an activist art exhibit titled “Chic Art + Resistance.” The project includes numerous pieces by Brazilian-Palestinian artist Sami Musa and activist Mohammed Khatib. Their goal is to use art to talk about the Palestinian struggle, using tear gas canisters, razor wire, and sound bombs to capture the experiences of those struggling against the Israeli wall and settlements.

The exhibit echoed earlier efforts by Bethlehem-area activists to raise awareness of . . .

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Winter storms flood Gaza streets and collapse border wall


A week after record-setting winter storms pounded the Middle East, areas of the Gaza Strip were still struggling to cope with severe flooding of homes and businesses. These photos were taken on December 18, and first published on +972. Gaza City residents reported that local government officials were slow to respond, had few available resources and showed little evidence of advanced planning. Instead, most immediate assistance was provided by community members who organized fishing boats and other makeshift watercraft to rescue people from their homes.

The same storms caused the collapse of a section of the wall and part . . .

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