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2015-01_dc

D+C Vol.42.2015:1 13 Another time, the Blog Bus visited families of Palestinian inmates of Israeli jails in Tulkaremon in the West Bank. The bloggers afterwards posted interviews with prisoners’ relatives and told their stories. The Blog Bus is not welcome everywhere. Kar- zoun wanted to take it to the public hospital in Ra- mallah to research difficulties in health care. How- ever, the hospital management denied the bloggers access. “They were obviously afraid of us and did not want us to cover certain issues,” assumes Kar- zoun. Social media are a new phenomenon on the West Bank. Karzoun started blogging in 2008, after graduating from university. At the time, blogging was not something many people did, in the Pales- tinian Territories, but media usage has since changed considerably. According to a survey pub- lished by the Sharek Youth Forum in April 2014, more than a quarter of Palestinians aged 15 to 19 spend at least six hours a day with social media. About half of the youth population uses social me- dia for three to six hours a day. Palestine has nearly 2 million Facebook accounts and about 37,000 twit- ter users. These numbers are huge in view of the West Bank’s population of 2 million and another 1.8 million people in the Gaza strip. Half of Pales- tine’s population is under 25 years. Writing about the occupation Social media are of growing relevance to the young generation – both in view of the occupation and the infighting of Palestinian political parties (see box below). The internet allows them to network with friends, stay in touch with people and access infor- mation fast. Moreover, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter enable young people to make them- selves heard in public. They write and post what they want. Facebook is more useful than TV programmes, says Ahmad Al-Khatib, a teenager who lives near Jerusalem. One reason is that Facebook provides more detailed information on clashes of youths with the Israeli army. “I pass on such information immediately,” says Al-Khatib. Palestinian bloggers tackle all sorts of topics, Karzoun states, but he adds: “It does not make sense to assess economic and social issues without taking into account the political situation.” Inflation matters, and so does the inner-Palestinian conflict that pits Hamas against Fatah. The poor services delivered by Palestinian municipal governments are another blogging topic. The occupation, however, is a grievance all bloggers basically agree about. Bloggers and activists Mohammed Abu Allan is a successful blogger. His blog has about 3000 visitors per day. He posts clip- pings from Israeli newspapers that he translates into Arabic. On top of that, he tells the stories of local occupation victims in Tubas, his home town, and its surroundings. He also covers daily grievances such as the difficulty of getting a fixed-line telephone or a road that is flooded due to government negligence. “I blog because I want to express my views. I am convinced that no ra- dio station, newspaper or TV channel is truly free here, no matter how ob- jective they claim their reporting to be,” Abu Allen says. He states that he enjoys covering topics that are ne- glected by the mainstream media. He also wants to raise awareness for campaigns he finds convincing. One example is a public appeal to set free Omar Zahr Ed-Din Saad, an Israeli Druze who objected to doing military service on the West Bank. People in the Palestinian Territo- ries – the West Bank and the Gaza strip – are frustrated with Pales- tinian politics as well as with Israeli occupation. In the mid- 1990s, the peace process launched in Oslo inspired hopes for coexistence with Israel, but those hopes have faded. Harass- ment by the Israeli military marks daily life on the West Bank, and so does the fear of being displaced by Israeli settlements. According to B’Tselem, an Israeli human- rights group, over 100 settle- ments have been built since 1967. Each one is a violation of interna- tional law. Making matters worse, Palestin- ians’ political parties are at loggerheads. Elections were last held in 2006 on the West Bank and in the Gaza strip. The Islamist Hamas won, and the conflict with Fatah escalated. Fatah is the strongest group in the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian authority, belongs to it. Currently, Hamas is governing the Gaza strip while the PLO is governing the West Bank. (mn) Troubled politics “More than a quarter of Palestinians aged 15 to 19 spend at least six hours a day with social media.”

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