It’s a new battle in an old war. The trigger this time was the abduction and the murder of three Israeli teenagers living in ultra-orthodox settlements on the West Bank, considered by international law as territory under illegal Israeli occupation. Israel launched Operation Protective Edge primarily on the Gaza Strip—the small patch of land that is home to 1.8 million Palestinians in one of the most densely populated zones in the world—the latest in the line of similar measures that have overwhelmingly resulted in the loss of
Palestinian lives.

The political problems here are manifold, and answers have remained elusive. Palestinians feel they have been displaced from their own homes, and the steady increase in numbers of Jewish settlers on West Bank is further denying them the use of resources and land, while Israelis feel they are not being allowed to live in peace in the Promised Land. The fact that the last Palestinian election—a free and fair one according to observers—was won by Hamas, a terrorist organisation according to Israel and the Western World, has further made communication between the two sides difficult. A stream of rockets being fired from Palestinian quarters has not helped either, nor has the wrath of retributive justice from Israel. Alia Allana’s cover story (“Home in the Promised Land”) looks into the conflict from many sides and is driven by the narratives of people—both Israeli and Palestinian—most affected by it.

Ecologist T R Shankar Raman reports from Madagascar, a land where the exploitation of forest resources since pre-colonial times has made many species of plants and animals extinct from this unique ecosystem. Some species of lemurs, found only on this island, are now critically endangered.

In her essay (“The living gods of Udupi”), Indologist Lora Tomas examines the Bhuta Kola festival in Karnataka where, in a frenzied environment of dance and drama, performers are believed to be vested with a supernatural force. Do read Aditi Sriram’s account of Berlin (“Writing on the wall”), a city littered with interesting graffiti and a weakness for former East Germany memorabilia.

Our photo story is on the children of Malana, a village in Himachal Pradesh made famous for eponymous hashish. The work is a part of contributing photo editor Harikrishna Katragadda’s ongoing project, a selection from which will be showcased in the 10th Angkor Photo Festival to be held later this year in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Saurav Kumar, Editor

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