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“What is happening now is not normal”

Voices from Palestine on the current situation

forumZFD brings four stories from the north of the West Bank, a region where tension has increased in the past months. Jenin was in the spotlight of the international media since the large-scale Israeli military operation in early July. Also Nablus has been a constant target of attacks by the Israeli army, due to the presence of local armed groups in the city. Additionally, the city of Qalqiliya is surrounded by the separation wall and tension between Palestinians and Israeli settlers has increased. In these areas are the homes of thousands of people who endure increased violence in their daily lives. We asked a few of forumZFD’s project partners and participants to tell their stories. For their safety, we don't share their names.
Symbol Jerusalem Stacheldraht
© Rodolfo Quevenco auf Pixabay


Nablus is known as a commercial and cultural center with historical shops in its Old City. One of the most important Palestinian universities, an-Najah, is located in Nablus, with more than 20.000 enrolled students. The city of Nablus is in area A, where the Palestinian Authority has control of civil and security matters. There are at least 30 illegal Israeli settlements or outposts in the Nablus governorate.


In the Arab-Israeli war in 1948, Jenin was an important center for Jordanian and Iraqi forces. During the Second Intifada in 2002, Jenin was the target of an operation by the Israeli military that killed dozens of people. The Arab-American University is located in Jenin and has more than 10.000 registered students.


Qalqiliya is in the north and very near the Armistice line agreed upon the creation of Israel. The wall that separates the Israeli territory from the West Bank surrounds the city of Qalqiliya. Many residents of Qalqiliya work in Israel, and the only way for workers with specific permits to enter Israeli territory is by crossing a pedestrian checkpoint. Another checkpoint in the area is only for cars with Israeli license plates. There are at least two settlements near Qalqiliya.

© Open Street Map


This media student from Jenin is a participant of Dooz, a media initiative supported by forumZFD. She says:

The sky was full of black clouds and I couldn’t see the city I always admired.

A media student from Jenin

I am a media student at al-Najah University in Nablus, but I am from a village in the Jenin governorate. It is hard for me, because I do not live in the same city as my family. It is only a one-hour drive, but sometimes it takes three or four hours to get there because of the checkpoints. It is dangerous because you never know who will ride along on the public transport, or if something will happen on the way. The Israeli soldiers may attempt to search the vehicle, and I am always apprehensive. I am a media student and have a camera with me, so I am never sure if they will confiscate anything. Because I am a girl my parents are always concerned.

There was one time when fighting broke out in Nablus and I got stuck in the city all alone. My friends managed to escape and go to their families. It was so terrifying hearing all the gunfire, seeing all the broken glass, not knowing if I was going to make it out alive.

On the last day of the attack in Jenin, my friends and I decided to leave Nablus because we heard that the Israeli forces were coming. It’s safer to stay with our families. We arrived in Jenin after two hours on the road. But we didn’t know that clashes were happening in that particular spot. It was my first time being in the middle of clashes. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. All of a sudden, a military jeep came and the soldier started pointing guns at civilians. Thank God, the driver took us somewhere safe. At that moment of heavy fighting, you could not see the sky. It was full of black clouds and I couldn’t see the city that I always admired.

I ask foreigners to see the stories from both perspectives and not to think that Palestinians are terrorists. They are humans trying to protect their homes. I call people to be more open to know what is going on in Palestine, and to see images, because these speak louder than words. To the people who never visited Jenin, I want to tell them to come. Come here and see Palestine as it is, beautiful and colorful. But I have mixed emotions because I know that Palestine is not safe. But it’s beautiful. Come!

Jenin was in the spotlight of the international media since the large-scale Israeli military operation in early July.


This 26-year old Palestinian woman from Qalqiliya is a participant of Jamea’s Banaat. This is a project by forumZFD that creates a safe space for young women to learn skills and share experiences. She tells:

In every house there is a story, every alley is full of life.

A 26-year old Palestinian woman from Qalqiliya

I visited Jenin in the past because of my studies, and I go there sometimes because of work. I like the city because of its people. The current situation is very hard and it’s the first time that I see all this military equipment used against innocent people. Even after the Israeli army withdrew, the situation is still difficult because at any moment they can enter the city again. It is hard for us to move freely now because of the settlers, who are more violent compared to last year.

My routine has changed a lot, because the violence prevents me from leaving Qalqiliya. I used to go to Ramallah three or four times per week, but now I rarely go there because of security and checkpoints. Also, the Israeli settlements are growing very fast. The situation has gone from bad to worse.

Honestly, we don’t feel safe anymore. We are sad and disappointed that the international community has left us facing this horror alone, as if we don’t deserve to live in peace! But I was truly happy when I saw how Palestinians stood together and helped the Jenin Refugee Camp, even when we don’t have extensive resources. [Editor’s note: The Jenin Refugee Camp is the home of families who were displaced in the aftermath of the war that resulted in the creation of Israel in 1948.]

I advise people to go to Jenin now. In every house there is a story. People should listen to them, every alley is full of life. I meet foreigners all the time and they always tell us about the mistaken picture they have about Palestine, and how shocked they are to see the truth themselves. Come and see and get to know us!

Qalqiliya is very near the Armistice line agreed upon the creation of Israel. Behind the houses lies the wall that separates the city from Israeli territory.


This media student from Jenin is a participant of Dooz, a media initiative supported by forumZFD:

One feels safer when traveling abroad than in his own country

A participant of Dooz

I am 19 years old and study at the Khodori University in Tulkarem. My village is only 15 minutes from Jenin, so in my life I have spent 90 percent of the time in Jenin. Whenever we need an official document or go shopping, we go to Jenin.

But this year is different. Before we did not have to worry about being late to go back home. So, we could be in Jenin until 9 or 10 PM, because it’s so near. Now we are always afraid that something will happen and we have to be at home before evening. Sometimes I have work in Jenin, but my mother asks me not to go and not to enter the refugee camp. She also asks me not to enter the Old City of Nablus, because at any moment the situation can change. Honestly, current events are escalating in a very quick way that we did not see coming. What is happening now is not normal. It can lead to a third intifada.

I was not born when the Second Intifada happened, but as I learned in school, the events happening now are very similar to that time. We are kind of living in an intifada, but we don’t know it yet. The situation is very serious. In my opinion, one feels safer when traveling abroad than in his/her own country.

The important thing is for people abroad to know the truth about Palestine. We are not terrorists. We are oppressed. Maybe people would help us in contributing to an international agreement that limits all the killing and the destruction that is happening in Palestine on a daily basis. The Israeli media is stronger than the Palestinian media, but we want a peaceful solution, to just live in peace. I would like to say come to Jenin and meet Jenin’s people. They are so nice and good-hearted people. Jenin is so beautiful, peaceful, and calm.

The city of Nablus is known as a commercial and cultural center. In the Nablus governorate, there are at least 30 illegal Israeli settlements or outposts.


A member of Dooz, a media initiative supported by forumZFD in Nablus, says:

After passing through a checkpoint, you keep this tension in you for hours.

A Member of Dooz

I live outside of Nablus, but need to go there often for work. The situation is getting worse. A new policy is intensifying the conditions at the checkpoints. Usually they could close the checkpoint in the morning. Now it’s 4 or 5 times in a day. For example, there are thousands of Palestinians from Nablus, Jenin, and Qalqiliya that work in Salfit. The road was closed, because Israeli settlers were having a motorcycle rally. So all these people were not able to continue driving. The closure of checkpoints is getting worse day by day and causes a lot of tension. After passing a checkpoint, you keep this tension in you for hours. Then you go home and quarrel with your children, with your wife. It’s a daily suffering at the checkpoints.

The other thing is that many people now are even afraid to go to Nablus, because there are many rumours that after Jenin, the Israeli military will invade Nablus. So the atmosphere is tense. People are afraid and worried, especially those that have shops. Trade has dropped almost by 80 percent, and so people are really worried.

I used to go every day to Nablus. Now I cannot do that anymore. This of course affects our work and our office, because we have a lot of media trainees and meetings. Also, when there is normal life, there are a lot of events and topics which we can cover through our journalistic work. But when the situation is like this, people are not holding events. It’s very difficult to organize anything. Many times people plan things and they have to cancel it. Who can tell you that there will be no invasion in the Tulkarem refugee camp or in Nablus? Then no cars in the streets, no buses, no movement. There is only the Israeli army and clashes. The feeling of insecurity is high. When I go to Nablus, I am happy when I leave and go back home.

There is something else that I noted: I read the news of the international press, and they all had a good understanding about Israel and about what the Israeli forces did in Jenin. It seemed to me that in the eyes of the international community it was a good thing and the Israeli forces were right. This made me feel like we have nobody that can protect us. The feeling of not being protected is getting stronger. This is a bad feeling that makes you feel more and more like a victim and that nobody cares about you. If they kill you, it doesn’t matter. Actually, it’s getting so easy for any Israeli soldier or Israeli settler to kill a Palestinian.

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