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Current Affairs

A Magazine of Politics and Culture

How The Occupation of Palestine Shapes Everyday Life—And What Happens Now

Journalist Nathan Thrall on what the human consequences of Israel’s occupation of Palestine have been, and why the collective punishment of Gaza must end.

Nathan Thrall, the former Director of the Arab-Israeli Project at the International Crisis Group, is the author of two books on Israel and Palestine: The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine and most recently A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy, which focuses on the tribulations of a Palestinian father in the aftermath of a personal tragedy. Because his book is about Palestinians under occupation, several of Thrall’s book events have been canceled since the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel. Based in Jerusalem, Thrall joins us to explain the current state of Israeli society, and to tell us more about the reality of life for Palestinians under occupation. 

Nathan J. Robinson 

In the recent interview you did with The Guardian, you say that you live in Jerusalem and it’s almost “post-9/11” at the moment. Could you explain to us what you meant by that?


I have never seen this degree of intolerance for any sort of nuance in the discussion of Israel-Palestine, for any discussion of root causes, even just expression of sympathy for Palestinians living under occupation. We’ve seen events canceled in the UK and the US, hotels refusing to host long planned Palestinian conferences. A concert in London was shut down, and my own book event was shut down in London by the UK police. And of course, what made headlines was the prize in Germany that was going to be given to a Palestinian author. And you saw that the UK Home Secretary had said—the police, of course, are not going to follow through on this—but she recommended to the police to arrest anyone, or to consider arresting anyone, with a Palestinian flag. We saw in France that they were banning Palestinian protests. It’s really a very difficult moment to speak with any kind of intelligence or nuance about this issue.


And I take it you invoke 9/11 because for those of us who lived through that, and remember the mood—I don’t know if you lived in the United States at that moment, but it was bleak. There was not really an ability to, as you say, speak intelligently. There was a sort of national desire to strike back and exact a toll in blood, a sense that we deserved to have our vengeance and didn’t need to think about what the consequences might be. 




You’ve lived in Israel. Can you tell us what the mood is like there? In some ways, it’s strange because it seems as if in Israel there has always been a little more room for sensible discussion on Israel-Palestine than in the United States. It was shocking to me to open Haaretz after the recent Hamas attack and see an editorial that the blame for this attack lies squarely with Netanyahu, which is not something necessarily found in United States papers. So, tell us a little bit about the public discourse and mood in Israel itself.


You’re absolutely right. It’s always been the case and continues to be the case today that there is much more room for discussion in Israel. The irony is that in the diaspora, pro-Israel organizations have been succeeding for years now in essentially outlawing pro-Palestinian speech by promoting something known as the IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition of antisemitism, which is extremely broad and limits the ability to say the kinds of things that are said by the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, or recently by the Netanyahu appointed director of the Mossad who said that Israel is practicing apartheid, and this is exactly what the IHRA definition of antisemitism is meant to prohibit.

So, it’s been an irony for a long time and continues to be the case now in the wake of the Gaza war, that the conversation in Israel is much more open than it is in the United States and elsewhere abroad. The mood in Israel right now—and when I say Israel, I mean the territory under Israel’s control, for both Palestinians and Israeli Jews—feels like the darkest moment that we have experienced probably since 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes and not allowed to return.

And the worst part is that it’s not just a feeling of despair over what is happening at this moment and what has happened in the last week and a half, but a feeling that we’re just at the beginning of something even darker. I know so many people, even people who are not actually grieving a specific loved one, but are just grieving their future in this place and grieving for the possibility of having their children raised in a normal place. Palestinians now are afraid to go out, of the Israeli police coming, asking to look at the cell phones of any young Palestinian man that they pass, searching them for any kind of images or discussions that they don’t like, and sometimes beating and arresting them. Palestinian families where the mothers are actually just weeping, frightened to let their young men go out—their boys who are teenagers—and just leave the home because they’re afraid, both of what the police might do to them, and also what they might do to the police out of a sense of outrage at what’s happening in Gaza.

And of course, Israeli Jews are in a state of mourning and shock. This was something beyond the worst nightmares, I have to say, of most Israeli Jews. I think we haven’t even really absorbed or heard the full scale of the horrors that took place on October 7. I think that grieving is going to get a lot worse once we do learn more of the details. It’s just a very, very bleak time. I’ve never been so dispirited over the future of this place.


Since the grief will be followed by a lot of anger and a lot of fear. And the actions taken by people who are afraid and angry cannot be counted upon to be rational and humane.


The thing about the mood in Israel right now is that on the one hand, we were discussing how the tolerance for dissent and criticism is much higher there even in the wake of October 7 than it is here, but on the other hand, the sense of outrage and the desire for revenge is extremely widespread. That’s how you have not just right-wing commentators, journalists, and politicians saying things that are genocidal in their intent, but also you have the center-left president of the country, Isaac Herzog—somebody who went to school in New York City and was raised in a family of statesmen and diplomats—getting up and saying there are no innocents in Gaza and clearly setting the stage for even worse and more indiscriminate attacks against civilians than we’ve seen.


Ron DeSantis said something similar, and was pressed on the question of, what about the half of Gaza that are children? And to not back down, he said, the children are taught in school to hate Jews. So essentially, every child can be considered a budding terrorist, and we don’t have to have moral qualms about doctrines of collective punishment.


It’s here as well. It’s shocking how people are justifying the cutting off of food, water, and electricity to 2.3 million people in Gaza, who had absolutely nothing to do with Hamas’s attack and were as surprised by it as Israelis were.


I want to get to the story of your book because what you’ve been describing is dehumanization: seeing an entire population as an indistinguishable monolith that thinks with one collective mind and acts as a collective and therefore can be punished collectively. That mentality certainly existed before the recent attacks. In many ways, what you have been trying to do in your recent work, as I understand it, is to show us, by zooming in very closely on a single Palestinian life, the deep humanity of individual Palestinians and the diversity of Palestinian life and thinking. Tell us what you are trying to do here to fight against this type of stereotyping.


Thank you. I think you characterized the book and its intentions very well. I tell the story in this book, A Day in the Life of Abed Salama, the story of one man, a father who takes his young boy, a kindergartner, out to buy treats on the eve of a kindergarten class trip.

Abed and his son live in a walled enclave called Anata and also Shuafat refugee camp. This enclave is just two miles from my home in Jerusalem. It’s surrounded on three sides by a 26-foot tall concrete wall, with a fourth side that has a different kind of wall running through it. There’s a segregated road, Route 4370, that runs on the fourth side of Anata, and in the middle of that road is another wall separating Palestinian from Israeli traffic. These people live in a dense urban ghetto that sits just underneath Israel’s most prestigious university, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. And down below, when you stand on the rather pretty manicured grounds of the Hebrew University, you can look down and see this area of utter neglect.

About 130,000 people live in this crowded area. There is one central artery for all of these people to drive on; it has no lanes, and is barely wide enough for two cars to pass. When I come to visit the families whose stories I tell in my book, I have to roll down my window and pull in my side mirror in order just to let the bus pass by me on this road. Half of this enclave is within municipal Jerusalem—territory that Israel annexed in 1967—and the other half is unannexed, but you couldn’t tell which part is formally, as far as Israel is concerned, part of the State of Israel and which part is part of the unannexed West Bank—it’s just one area of total neglect. Half of these people are paying municipal taxes and getting no services. Even emergency services will either refuse to go in or be prevented from going in without an army or police escort.

And what I do in the book is I tell the story of this father, Abed, who lives in this walled ghetto, just two miles away from me, and how his son Milad goes on a kindergarten class trip one morning. They are going to a play area that is rather distant from them, and the only reason that they’re going to such a distant play area is that they cannot go to much closer ones just on the other side of the wall in the settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev.

And so, what this bus does is it follows the winding, snaking path of the concrete wall, and after they pass a checkpoint, they’re struck by a giant semi-trailer that’s on its way to a settlement quarry, where it is hauling rocks that will be used to help pave the roads in Israel. So, this bus is struck by the semi-trailer, it flips over, catches fire, and the only people around are Palestinian bystanders who come and try to rescue these kindergarteners from a burning bus. Because this area is one of total neglect, every single kindergartner is evacuated just by individuals in private cars before the first Israeli fire truck arrives on the scene more than a half hour later.

Abed and other parents rushed to the scene, and when they got there, all the kids had been evacuated. Abed asked the crowd: “where are the kids?” He was told different rumors: some are in a military base just a minute up the road; some are in Jerusalem hospitals; some are in the hospital in Ramallah. He himself has a green colored West Bank Palestinian ID, which means that he cannot enter Jerusalem.

And it is, in fact, true that the kids were taken to different locations based on the color of the ID that the Palestinian bystanders had who hauled the kids off. So, if you had a blue Palestinian ID that allows you to enter Jerusalem, you would take the kids to the nearby Jerusalem hospitals, which are far superior, and if you had a green ID, you were driving off in a different direction to the Ramallah hospital, or a couple of people went to Nablus.

And so, Abed didn’t know where his son was, was told all these rumors, cannot enter the military base or Jerusalem, and so he went to the Ramallah hospital. I tell the story of how Abed spends the next 24 hours of his life—more than 24 hours of his life—trying to find his son and navigate his way through this bureaucracy of occupation that controls his life.

It’s called A Day in the Life of Abed Salama, but it’s really more than that. It’s about Abed’s entire life and about the degree to which the system reaches into the most intimate details of his life and the lives of the people around him, to such a degree that at one point, Abed even chooses a marriage partner by seeking out somebody who has a specific color ID so that he can retain his higher paying job in Jerusalem and continue to access the city.


There are a few things that struck me as you were talking about the situation you’re describing. One of them is that this tragedy—the loss of his son in this horrible accident—is not counted as a death caused by the occupation in any official statistics. But what you are describing there is the way that the system that has been built—the chain of events that is unleashed by building a wall, by designing roads in certain ways, by giving certain permissions—set up this accident. These things are in law what they call “but-for causes“: but for the existence of this, this would not have happened. And so, you’re drawing our attention to a horrific thing that happened that is, I guess, officially an act of God. But it’s not, when you examine it closely, in any real sense, an act of God.


That’s very well put. That is exactly what the book aims to show, without presenting that as a thesis upfront, but rather to describe in detail what transpired, and to show the perspectives of the Israeli emergency responders, the founder of the Israeli settlement just adjacent to the accident site the Israeli commander of the local Binyamin Brigade who is attending to the scene of the accident, and the architect of the wall who describes why this area was selected to be walled off.

Why was the route in this place chosen in that way? The answer is very clear: there is an Israeli policy to try and minimize the number of Palestinians who are present in the heart of Jerusalem, and it’s why they chose the route of the wall. The reason Abed Salama and these other parents are living in a walled ghetto is because they selected a densely populated urban area that they could lock off so that Israel was relinquishing the minimum amount of land, while excising the maximum number of Palestinians from the heart of the city.

And so, the book aims, as you say, to show how something that was on the face of it an accident was in fact not so accidental when you think about all the policies that were put in place to ensure that the chain of events that occurred on that morning occurred in the way that they did.


And the people who live in the [Jewish] settlements, I assume, may feel terrible about the accident. They didn’t actively try to cause the deaths of children in this accident. But you’ve spoken to many of them. Do they notice at all, or have any sense of, the way in which the project that they are part of ends up destroying people’s lives?


Yes, I think that they do when they are forced to confront it. The basic conception of the world and of most Israelis—I think this is less true of the settlers and the settler characters in the book—is this idea that, yes, of course, the situation is awful. Of course, when you look at it, it is a moral catastrophe. This cannot go on. But it’s temporary—obviously, it’s temporary. And so, let’s discuss what kind of future we ought to have. This doesn’t seem this way to me, but this situation that is claimed to be temporary, which is more than half a century long, continues.

To answer your question specifically about some of the settler characters in the book, there were conversations I had with them. I asked one in particular, who actually lives in a settlement that is, in part, on the family land of Abed Salama: do you think that Israel has a responsibility for the lives of these people? And he took a long pause, and he said, maybe. And that, to me, felt like a real concession from him. But in his daily life, no one is asking him that question. He is not forced to confront that question. Because there’s a—


There’s a wall! There’s a physical wall. 


He happens to be a settler who is on the land of Anata, so he’s actually on the other side of that wall also, although he can travel into Jerusalem seamlessly on a highway and on the segregated road that I mentioned.

I think that part of the durability of the system is that most Israeli Jews do not have to really think about it. Even the most well-meaning, anti-occupation, left-wing Jew would really have to go out of their way to be exposed to it, to think about it, and to do something about it. Most Jews in Tel Aviv don’t have to confront this reality at all.


One of the things that comes across in the book is that for Palestinians living under occupation, you can’t tell anybody’s life story without telling the story of the way in which it’s shaped by the occupation. You mentioned one example earlier of even marriage decisions, even thinking, how am I going to maintain my job permanently? Even though you point out that in the culture that Abed Salama is from, there is all this elaborate etiquette around courtship and marriage, but even that is intruded upon by the reality of this system that everyone has to spend every day trying to navigate—thinking about where you can go, how will you get there, what kind of identification will you have to bring, will you be stopped, will they let you through, will they beat you up.


One thousand percent. And I’ll tell you more than that, more than just the way in which the system is stealing your time and forcing you to navigate it in your every move in your life, it’s also enormously disruptive to the social fabric of Palestinian society. Because it’s not just a matter of navigating the system, it’s also a choice of, how far will I go every minute of the day I have to make decisions? Will I take a job that is connected in some way to the Israeli government that’s much higher pay? Will I work in a settlement, which is also higher paying? The settlements are constructed by Palestinians. Will I have a coffee with the Israeli security official who wants to give my mother a permit for cancer treatment inside Israel? He wants to start off with some innocent questions—when do I end that conversation when he starts asking me about the mood in my town, or about what my neighbors have been saying about current events?

And so, these choices confront everybody every day. And you look around, and you see that the driver of the semi-trailer lived across the street from Abed, and his family came from a different part of the West Bank where it is impossible to get a blue ID that allows you to enter Jerusalem. So, when he and his family moved to Anata and that family got blue IDs, everyone in Anata was sure that they were working with the Israelis in some way. It’s just the very fact that Palestinian society has survived this and has maintained these intimate familial and social ties despite this cloud of suspicion that falls over anyone for doing the most basic things to maintain their lives and their livelihoods.


One of the things that struck me in this book, and I think will strike most readers, is the number of maps and diagrams of the places that you’re writing about. I take it that you felt in putting this together that a US reader, or a reader who has not been to these places, can’t understand this man’s life and the forces that shape it without looking at the political geography and how everything is arranged: where the walls, gates, and roads are, and which areas are under whose control. Because it seems to me like everything about this man’s life is affected every moment by the lines that you draw on these maps.


Yes. So much of what is driving Israeli policy is the desire to confiscate land and to settle it with Israeli Jews. One can’t really understand anything of what’s happening in this place without looking at the land and the geography of it. Since the beginning of 2022, 1,100 Palestinians in the West Bank have been forcibly displaced—entire communities have been eradicated and moved to other locations that are more densely populated. So, land is central to understanding the policies that are in place in order to prevent Palestinians from resisting the theft of their land.


I don’t know how hard you had to work in this book to not write in a tone of anger. But it is hard for me as a reader not to feel a certain anger, as you see the kinds of humiliations, the totally avoidable, petty bureaucracy, the small-minded cruelty, and the indifference that forces this father going through the worst thing that a father could go through compounded by having to deal with what I can only describe as a bunch of bullshit. You’re very much a journalist in this book. You’ve described this in somewhat of a neutral tone, but I take it you want us to feel a little bit of that anger?


Yes. I’m glad to hear that you say that you felt that I took a cool or neutral tone because that was absolutely my desire. I didn’t want my voice screaming from these pages. The facts themselves are so devastating that I felt there would be a far greater power in letting them speak for themselves. 


I want people to read this because I really do feel as if just zeroing in on one Palestinian man going through something that is ostensibly unrelated to the occupation—an ordinary human tragedy—allows you to get so much of a glimpse as to what it feels like to live with this every day, especially right now, where everything before a week ago is all of a sudden forgotten. Bearing in mind what it is like to live with this every day is so critical.


I’m so gratified to hear you say that because you’ve read the book exactly as I hoped it would be read. It’s very much connected, as you say, to this moment. In my intention with this book, it would have been easy for me to choose some other kind of event: an invasion of a West Bank town, a war, an episode in the Second Intifada. Those kinds of things would much more naturally be the subject of a journalist’s book on Israel-Palestine, and I very much did not want to choose an event that could be exceptionalized. I wanted to avoid the very pattern that we see today, which is to only look at this place when there’s an eruption of violence, when there is a war in Gaza.

When that happens, we’re horrified and focused rightly on ending that right away, but it ends there. For all of these calls for calm that have happened with each of these Gaza wars that we’ve seen, what is the calm that is being called for? The calm that is being called for is the reality in this book, which we should not accept. We’re all seeing Gaza wars, and then asking to get back to where we were. Where we were is unacceptable. Where we were is a moral catastrophe.

And what this book aims to do is specifically to put our attention on the everyday lives of both Jews and Palestinians living in this clearly unjust system, and to attempt to have people, as you say, feel viscerally what it is to live in it. My hope is that as a result of feeling that, we’ll feel renewed motivation to end our own complicity in it.


In the current moment, you talk of ending our complicity. You must have thought about the fact that as Americans, our country is, in many ways, responsible for every single policy of the State of Israel due to our almost unwavering support for Israel, financial and otherwise. What do you think the message that Americans need to hear right now is? Joe Biden obviously just made this trip to Israel to tell Netanyahu he’s got his back. There was just a protest yesterday at the Capitol to call for a ceasefire. What is the message that you are giving to your fellow American citizens at the moment?


At the bare minimum, the United States needs to call for the end of collective punishment of 2.3 million people in Gaza. The Israeli government is openly declaring that it is collectively punishing 2.3 million innocent people by depriving them of food, water, electricity, and fuel, and by forcing 1.1 million people telling them that they must leave northern Gaza, and it’s unclear when they can return. And the Israeli government is also openly stating that it is bombing indiscriminately—the IDF spokesperson saying that [“the emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy.”]

The fact that the United States is not opposing these things publicly and is, in fact, giving a green light to them, makes them complicit not just in a moral sense, but in a legal one. And of course, I don’t have any hope that the International Criminal Court, which is currently investigating the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, is going to do much against US complicity, but it’s something that they can look at and should look at, especially in light of the green light for war crimes.


In our last episode, I asked someone who had written a book on Israel-Palestine: what would be the least bad policy option for Israel to respond to the attacks by Hamas? And the somewhat unsatisfactory answer, obviously, is eliminating illegal collective punishment, and that seems a good moral baseline. But as Israelis say to you: “we have to do something, we have to act, we were attacked, Hamas must be prevented from doing anything like this ever again—what would you have us do?” What do you say to someone who says that to you?


So, there are two real questions that I feel are being asked there. One is, what do you feel I have moral license to do in retaliation for a terrible atrocity? The second question is, what ought Israel do in a more strategic sense? The elimination of Hamas is the stated goal of Israel. You cannot eliminate Hamas. You can eliminate Hamas’s control of Gaza, and even that is a very difficult undertaking. There is no Israeli strategy to actually achieve any of its stated goals. It will either have to walk down those goals, or find itself in a total morass. It does not have another entity that can take over Gaza, and does not want to sit there and bleed out in Gaza and have its own Vietnam there.

So, it will be extraordinarily bloody if there is an Israeli ground invasion, and there almost certainly will be one. The Israeli public sees this attack on October 7, rightly, as a qualitatively different kind of attack, and they will demand of their government a qualitatively different answer. The problem is that the government doesn’t have an answer that would actually address the problem. Going and occupying northern Gaza and declaring that it’s a buffer zone now, or creating some other kind of buffer zone in Gaza, will not resolve the problem. It doesn’t stop paragliders. It doesn’t stop tunnels. It doesn’t actually eliminate Hamas, and it certainly doesn’t eliminate support for Hamas.

So, Israel doesn’t actually have a solution, and doesn’t really have a strategy even to do the first step of eliminating Hamas’s control of Gaza, which is an achievable goal. But again, they don’t know what they would do the second that they’d achieved it. So, the other question is a moral one, and that is, of course, you have to abide by the laws of war and distinguish between civilians and military targets, and not do all the kinds of things that Israel is doing now, like bombing people fleeing northern Gaza on the orders and instructions of the Israeli military.


Yes. Obviously, we can and should demand that in whatever response Israel makes it complies with the basic rules of international law. “Damage, not accuracy,” calling people animals—this sort of stuff is abhorrent. I want to return, though, to that first part because you said Israel doesn’t have a good option for achieving its goals. You said that the Israeli public is demanding, and will demand, a qualitatively different response to this than to previous incursions and attacks. So, if you are advising some member of the unity government, and they ask, what is the least bad actual path for Israel to take as a response, what would you say our ideal response from Israel would be?


First of all, I would not be in a position of advising the Israeli government. There would have to be so many premises that I would have to swallow to be in that kind of position. Their goal is to return to a situation that exists now and has existed for decades and is the subject of my book, where from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea seven million Israeli Jews and seven million Palestinians are under Israeli control, with the vast majority of those Palestinians living without basic civil rights. The goal of the unity government—the goal of the center-left and of the right—is returning to that deeply unjust system that we all refer to as the “status quo.”

So, all of my recommendations would be oriented around ending that system, in addition to achieving a ceasefire right now. But for those who are inside the Israeli government now and are thinking strategically and paid to think strategically about what is the least bad outcome for Israel, I am sure that what they are thinking about is the potential for maintaining a buffer zone by reoccupying parts of Gaza, asking how they could put international forces there in place of Israel, or what kinds of guarantees they could get from the international forces that they would actually go after any militants inside of Gaza. It will be very difficult to find any international parties who will be willing to occupy Gaza for Israel.

The other thing that they, I’m sure, are trying to achieve is to push Gazans into Sinai. That is the fear of every Gazan, and particularly those who have been directed to flee from the north to the south. They feel it’s the first step before Israel tries in one way or another to push them into Sinai, and Egypt wants to avoid that at all costs. You can read between the lines in [US Secretary of State] Blinken’s statements following his meeting with [Egyptian president] Sisi that the US was delivering this message on behalf of Israel and was testing the waters. When you see what Blinken said the other day after having met with Sisi, he did not categorically reject the idea on moral and legal grounds that Palestinians should not be removed from their homes and from Gaza. He said, we have discovered that this idea in conversations with our regional partners is a non-starter, and therefore we are not pursuing it.

It was unbelievable to hear the American Secretary of State say that, admitting that he had been actually attempting to sell this Israeli idea to regional partners. So, the options for Israel: a buffer zone is one; the bloodiest, which I think they really want to avoid, is a reoccupation of urban centers within Gaza. I think if they tried to do a buffer zone, it would probably be in the less populated areas, the 30% of mostly farmlands on the edge of Gaza. If they cannot get an international force to go in, they will think about trying to get the PA [Palestinian Authority] to go in, and that will be extremely difficult, both in terms of the willingness of the PA to come in on the backs of Israeli tanks, but also just the ability of the PA to do that. The PA is more in peril today than it has ever been. There were massive protests against the Palestinian Authority in city centers in the West Bank, people calling on [President] Abbas to resign, calling the PA collaborators with Israel, and you had PA Jeeps driving into protesters in city centers in the West Bank.

So, it is a very fraught moment for the PA. The worst nightmare for Israel is that what Hamas’s attack precipitates, and actually much more strategically consequential than who winds up controlling a buffer zone in Gaza, is if the PA were to collapse. That is a strategic nightmare for Israel. And there is no international force that will be willing to come in and do Israel’s occupation for it in the West Bank.


The last question that I have for you is, have you been in contact with Abed Salama since the recent disaster? Do you know how he and his family are feeling right now?


Yes. So Abed and I were on book tour together for the last weeks, and we were in the United States prior to the attack on October 7. The next day, we had to fly to London, and we were in the UK for a week, and now we’d been back for most of this week in the US together. Just yesterday, he flew back to be with his family. It was just too difficult at this time to be away from them.

The people in the enclave that he lives in are suffering economically because there’s a huge spike in violence and settler violence in the West Bank. Many people work in settlements, which is a much higher source of income, and whether you personally work in a settlement or not, every family is dependent on other members of the family who work either in Israel or in settlements. And so, for the town of Anata where he lives, there are two exits: one toward Jerusalem for blue ID holders, one toward the rest of the West Bank. On the day of the attack, Israel shut down both of them, and 130,000 people were trapped in there. Eventually, Israel eased those restrictions and people can move. But, for example, Abed’s son works in Ramallah and his employer told him, do not come to work, it’s unsafe because of the settler violence for you to just drive on the road from Anata to Ramallah. There were armed settlers who wanted to enter Anata the other night, and the Israeli army prevented them from entering. It feels like a very dangerous time, and he simply did not feel comfortable continuing the book tour and being away from his family. So, he’s now on his way back.

Transcript edited by Patrick Farnsworth.

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