Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Gaza gastronomy - A women's collective serves up traditional Palestinian dishes – with an authentic taste

Women preparing food in the Zeitun Kitchen, Gaza. Photograph: Harriet Sherwood for the Guardian

In a kitchen in the "martyrs' quarter" of the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, one of the toughest places in the West Bank, Islam Abu Aouda is preparing a soft dough of yoghurt, oil and flour. Soon she will fill small pockets with chopped spinach, sumac and lemon, and bake them in the oven. The mouthwatering parcels are called krass; I ate four but I wanted 14.

Less than 50 miles away, Reem Daloul is also kneading dough in a makeshift kitchen in Gaza City, lit only by a small window during one of the coastal enclave's regular eight-hour power cuts. This dough is for small cigar- and horseshoe-shaped pastries, filled with za'atar, a blend of spices, or soft, salty cheese mixed with hot chilli.

These two Palestinian women are divided by walls, fences and checkpoints, but connected by a love of traditional food – and the will to use this to improve their circumstances. Islam, whose six children include a 13-year-old disabled son, is part of a small collective of women, nearly all mothers of disabled children, who offer cookery classes and homestays in the Aida camp; Reem is part of the Zeitun Kitchen women's co-operative, which caters for weddings and family parties in Gaza. more

Video: “From Al-Araqib to Susiya” - Palestinians highlight Israel’s ongoing efforts to expel them


Today, 15 May, Nakba Day, Palestinians everywhere mark the 65th anniversary of their continuing expulsion and exile from their homeland.

A new short film, released to mark this date, features Palestinians talking about their experiences of ongoing forced removal from their lands and homes by Israel.

The film “documents a journey between the two villages and two communities, whose very existence on their land is under threat today” according to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, which produced it.

“It also demonstrates how, in the face of a single Israeli policy to forcibly displace Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line, the people are drawing on deep reserves of courage and steadfastness to remain on their land.”

The 15-minute documentary, in Arabic with English subtitles, includes the voices of Bedouins in the Naqab (Negev) village al-Araqib – which has been demolished 48 times just since July 2010, and Palestinians from Susiya, a village in the southern West Bank in an area heavily targeted for Israeli settlements. more

Clashes in West Bank as Palestinians mark Nakba Day


HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Clashes broke out across the West Bank on Wednesday as Palestinians marked the 65th year since the Nakba in 1948, witnesses and Israel's army said.

In Hebron, protestors threw a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli military jeep, causing it to flip over and set alight. Four soldiers were wounded in the incident and taken to hospital, a military spokeswoman said.

In Qalandiya, Israeli forces fired tear gas at protesters demonstrating to mark Nakba Day, locals said. An Israeli army spokeswoman said over 50 Palestinians hurled rocks at Israeli soldiers, who responded with "riot dispersal means."

Over 150 people gathered in Beitunia to mark Nakba Day, locals said. Israel's army said it used riot dispersal means against protesters hurling rocks. more

Clashes at Al-Aqsa mosque compound


JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Clashes broke out on Wednesday around the Al-Aqsa mosque compound as Israeli rightists tried to enter the holy site.

Dozens of Israeli right-wingers raided the compound through the Moroccan gate, and clashes broke out at the Bab al-Hutta gate as Israeli forces escorted rightists into the mosque area.

Witnesses told Ma'an that 17 Israelis tried to enter the compound area via Chain Gate, before local Palestinians obstructed them. A group of Israeli rightists and Palestinians began pushing each other, before Israeli forces intervened to protect the Israelis, witnesses said.

An Israeli organization called Temple Mount Organizations published invitations on their Facebook page encouraging Israelis to enter the Al-Aqsa compound for the religious holiday of Shavuot. more

Thousands mark Nakba Day in the West Bank and Gaza


BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Thousands of people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Wednesday marked the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, an event which saw hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced from their homes in what is now Israel.

Sirens were sounded for 65 seconds in the West Bank to mark the start of celebrations, with thousands of people gathering in Ramallah, Nablus, Qalqiliya and other West Bank cities.

"The right to return does not become invalid or ineffective as time passes, because this right is the core of the Palestinian plight," PLO official Wasil Abu Yousif said while addressing crowds at Yasser Arafat's tomb.

In Nablus, a minute's silence was held before demonstrators marched in the city waving black flags and Palestinian flags side by side.

"After all these years of the Nakba, the Palestinian people have not achieved their goals, but they have managed to accumulate major victories, such as establishing the PLO in order to tell the Palestinian narrative," the governor of Nablus Jibril al-Bakri said. more