Let’s Boast a Minute about MiniActive Youth

As the school year winds down and children and youth get ready for summer vacation, we wanted to take a minute to boast here about the astounding successes of our leading youth program, MiniActive Youth. We’ve reported about them here and here in the past, but it’s always worth an additional mention.

Working in Jebel Mukaber

MiniActive Youth at work in Jebel Mukaber

One of MiniActive Youth’s important achievements over the last year has been the transformation of a bus stop behind the A-Sala’ah School for Boys in Jebel Mukaber. This was no regular bus stop. It was and still is the main place that hundreds of school children were dropped off before school, and waited after school. Before the youth began work, it was dark and dingy, and areas next to it were filled with junk and garbage. After months of contact and follow-up, we engaged the municipality to help clean up the ad-hoc garbage dump. But the youth did most of the work.

They recently made a movie about the whole process. Enjoy! We certainly did.


Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation and other donors for their continued support of MiniActive.

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Atta’a: Broadcasting its Expertise

We’ve already noted here how Atta’a has become the #1 go-to resource for East Jerusalem Palestinians seeking information about matters having to do with the Israel Ministry of the Interior, coming up first (even before the official site) in any Arabic-language Google search for “Israel Ministry of the Interior, Jerusalem.”

Long lines outside Israel Ministry of the Interior East Jerusalem branch

Long lines outside Israel Ministry of the Interior East Jerusalem branch

Now, Atta’a is broadcasting its expertise in mainstream Arabic-language media as well. On February 17, Atta’a Director, Daud Alian, appeared in a 25-minute interview on Palestinian television, describing the situation that many Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem face when trying to deal with the Israel Ministry of the Interior. Here’s the video, from the Atta’a Facebook page:

A few weeks later, a story on the same subject appeared in the Arabic-language East Jerusalem-based Al-Quds newspaper, the largest and most widely read Arabic-language daily newspaper in the Palestinian territories. Here’s a link to the online version of the article, and a picture of the printed version:

Article in the Al-Quds newspaper March 6, 2108

Article in the Al-Quds newspaper March 6, 2108

0202-Points of View from Jerusalem translated parts of the article into Hebrew. Here are a few selected quotes:

The Suffering of Those Needing Services from the Israeli Ministry of the Interior is Only Getting Worse

Daud Alian, Director of the Atta’a Center, which specializes in informing residents about procedures of the Ministry of the Interior, the National Insurance Institute and the Jerusalem Municipality, says that the situation at the Israel Ministry of Interior branch in Wadi Joz in East Jerusalem is tragic. He added that the tragic occurrence that happened yesterday, like every day…a long line of people waiting to get into the office, reminded him of the old Ministry of Interior branch on Nablus Road 20 years ago – only suffering and crowding.

Alian noted that the Ministry of Interior shirked its responsibility of setting appointments to complete different procedures. Instead, all appointments must be set through the ‘My Visit’ mobile app, which is not associated with the Ministry of Interior and which is only available in Hebrew and English. In addition, currently the app isn’t working and appointments cannot be made. He added that in most cases when residents try to call to make an appointment, the Ministry of Interior doesn’t answer. And if it does, they only speak in Hebrew.

Alian believes that the only way the problem can be solved is if large numbers of residents flock to the branch every day, like what happened yesterday. Only then, when the Ministry of Interior sees how bad the problem is, will something be done to relieve the situation.

And here’s 0202’s Facebook post (Hebrew):

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continued support of Atta’a and its vital work.

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2018-04-21T09:26:13+00:00 March 20th, 2018|Attaa, Blog, Identity Groups and Conflicts, Palestinians/Arabs|

Close the Garbage Can! Campaign Gets Underway

How do you go about getting people to close the lids on the garbage cans and put them back in their place after emptying? Have breakfast, of course. So on January 4, some 40 sanitation workers, from truck drivers to shift managers to department directors, and Haredi activists from Bayit veGan, had breakfast together to discuss how to make the streets of their neighborhood, cleaner.

It was far from obvious that this meeting took place. There are many differences between these two groups – religious, ethnicity, nationality, gender, occupation, standard of living. Despite these differences, everyone present wanted to see – and work toward – a cleaner Bayit veGan.

This initiative is part of our Little Prince project, which seeks to advance a range of initiative to help make Jerusalem’s streets cleaner. The garbage can initiative was first presented at our Open Space Technology meeting that we held in May 2017, led by the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee of the Haredi neighborhood of Bayit veGan.

Breakfast with the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee

Breakfast with the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee

This breakfast was the culmination of a long process of discussing the extent of the problem, the root of the problem, and possible solutions to the problem. We helped the women of the committee reach the conclusion that, in order to improve the situation, it was critical to develop a relationship with all involved, and not just be seen as complainers. Thus, the breakfast idea was born.

The idea was to invite all the local sanitation workers together with their managers to learn about the garbage collection from their standpoint. The local community center, alongside the community social worker and the community center director, invited all to breakfast at the community center.

So many attended there was barely enough food

So many attended there was barely enough food

The breakfast itself was a huge success. We were prepared for 5 workers, and 25 – 30 showed up – including all the regular workers, some substitutes, the managers, and the regional manager for Bayit veGan. Everyone cleared the air in an unusually good-natured meeting – residents complained about cans having their lids opened, how the trucks block the streets, how the cans are put back in different places. The workers complained that cars parked on the sidewalks and blocked access to the cans and other issues. Each ‘side’ brainstormed about ways they can help each other make the streets of Bayit veGan cleaners again. All came away with a fantastic feeling that despite the great differences in identity – ranging from Muslim Palestinian and Ethiopian Israeli to Haredi – bridges were built that laid the groundwork for future cooperation. And ultimately, cleaner streets.

Keeping our streets clean means so many things to so many people. From construction waste to littered parks to shutting the lids on the garbage cans in the streets, and having workers put them back in their place after they’d been emptied. Brainstorming and planning together about how to advance these issues in our individual communities – that is the beauty of the Little Prince. It is an example of wonderful, uniquely contemporary Jerusalemite, cooperation. We all live in Jerusalem and want to see it cleaner – for all of us.

Here’s the post from Facebook that was published on the Jerusalem Tolerance Facebook page:

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Eastward from Here – Training Activists in East Jerusalem

East Jerusalem has aroused the curiosity and interest of many activists in and around Jerusalem. But how much do they really know about this part of the city?

On tour in East Jerusalem

On tour in East Jerusalem, with Aviv Tatarsky of Ir Amim

In order to raise the level of activism in East Jerusalem, we, together with the Ir Amim organization, held an 8-session workshop called, Eastward from Here. The workshop sought to teach Jewish activists – all who work or seek to work in East Jerusalem – more about what is really going on on-the-ground, in order to enable them to be more effective in their work.

There are 22 participants, from a wide range of organizations – municipally-connected such as Moriah and the Young Adults Authority, New Spirit, Yerushalmim, Hamiffal and Blue and White Human Rights.

Each meeting dealt with a different issue, from effective dialogue and effective activism to East Jerusalem communities and East Jerusalem today to the basics of cultural competency. One of the meetings was a tour around different parts of East Jerusalem, led by Ir Amim researcher, Aviv Tatarsky.

From the workshop, participants are developing 15 different initiatives designed to work in East Jerusalem. These initiatives range from joint first aid courses for Jewish and Arab youth, Arabic-language study in Palestinian businesses in East Jerusalem, joint Jewish-Arab climbing club, academic assistance to East Jerusalem pupils, and more.

 This course is part of our Grassroots Campaign for Tolerance, supported by the UJA-Federation of New York. Many thanks also to Ir Amim for their partnership. We hope to see some very effective activism taking place in East Jerusalem very soon!
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Coming Together to Take Care of the Dajani Cemetery

We wrote here about our efforts earlier this year to clean up the Dajani Cemetery on Mount Zion. We are proud of and grateful for our partnerships with the different institutions on Mount Zion, organizations and authorities that made this project possible.

Cleaning up a special grave

Cleaning up a special grave

In November, we were unfortunately called to action again in defense of this cemetery. This time after head stones had been smashed and grave sites desecrated.

Dajani Cemetery, after the damage

Dajani Cemetery, after the damage

In response, the residents of Mount Zion released a statement in three languages:

The statement of the residents of Mount Zion

The statement of the residents of Mount Zion

Recently headstones were smashed and grave sites were desecrated at the Muslim cemetery on Mount Zion, belonging to the Dajani family. The cemetery is adjacent to David’s Tomb on Mount Zion – a holy site for many people. Esteemed Jerusalemites, members of the Dajani family, are buried there.

We, the religious and civic organizations and the residents of Mount Zion, together with Dajani family are shocked and hurt by the desecration of the memory of the deceased, and by this violent act.

We call upon the police to locate the perpetrators and to bring them to justice. Moreover, we call upon the authorities to renovate the headstones and the neglected cemetery urgently, as well as to improve on-site security. We will assist in any manner possible.


Diaspora Yeshiva

Jerusalem Intercultural Center

Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Harp of David

Custody of Holy Land

Rachel and Boaz Cohen

Dormition Abbey

Jerusalem University College

Dajani Family

A few days after this was published (and picked up in the Arabic press as well), trucks from the Jerusalem Municipality came to clean the weeds and trees that had accumulated in the vandalized cemetery.

In addition, new and better security cameras were installed for the police in an attempt to prevent further damage.

Municipal workers doing the heavy cleaning

Municipal workers doing the heavy cleaning

On the following Friday, members of the Dajani family, volunteers from the Dormition Abbey and from the Tag Meir organization, helped to clean up and improve the area. Muslims, Jews and Christians worked side by side to bring the cemetery back to its former condition as much as possible.

Improving and protecting the cemetery as much as possible

Improving and protecting the cemetery as much as possible


News of this incident made the Arabic, Hebrew and English press as well.

AlQuds November 21, 2017 article

AlQuds November 21, 2017 article

Here’s the text of the article that was published in the December 22, 2017 edition of the national Ha’aretz newspaper. (Here’s the link to the article, and a .pdf of the text.)

When a Jerusalem Cemetery Is Desecrated Yet Again, Jews, Muslims and Christians Team Up to Clean It
The often-vandalized Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem’s Old City is neglected by the authorities

Shakked Auerbach, December 22, 2017

White fragments from smashed headstones were interspersed with the yellowed autumn leaves spread over the Muslim cemetery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The graves of the Dajanis, the Palestinian family entrusted by the waqf (Muslim religious trust) with caring for the site prior to 1948, next to what is traditionally thought of as David’s Tomb, had been vandalized more than once in the past. But this time the perpetrators did not make do with scrawling graffiti – they also smashed five large headstones into smithereens.

“The Dajani family, according to their tradition, and written testimonies, protected David’s Tomb for nearly 600 years,” says Dr. Gadi Gvaryahu, chairman of Tag Meir, a coalition of Jewish groups that seek to counteract hate crimes. “Unfortunately, the headstones are frequently desecrated. It happened a few weeks ago, but it’s a recurring phenomenon.”

Following the most recent act of destruction, all the groups that have a presence on Mount Zion – Jews, Muslims and Christians – banded together to denounce the vandalism and issue a statement, which called on all the relevant authorities to take responsibility for the cemetery. “Many Jerusalem dignitaries are buried in the cemetery,” the letter stated. “We, religious and civilian institutions and tenants on Mount Zion, are shocked and grieved at the desecration of the honor of the dead and at the violent act We call on the authorities to restore the headstones and the cemetery forthwith.”

Tag Meir also declared a joint cleanup day, on Friday, December 8, and launched a campaign to raise funds for the renovation of the site. According to Gvaryahu, the Muslim cemetery, in addition to being a target of nationalist attacks, does not receive the same kind of publicly funded care that other Old City religious sites do.

“Because of its location, this place is very neglected and dirty, like a backyard, or a public garbage can. So we decided to go there,” says Gvaryahu. It’s not the first time that voluntary groups have undertaken to clean up the cemetery, but it requires regular maintenance.

“We hope that all the authorities will mobilize to deal with the cemetery,” says Merav Horovitz-Stein, coordinator of the “Window to Mount Zion” project run by the Jerusalem Intercultural Center, which aims to heighten public interest in and activity on behalf of the site. “There are graves there of a family that safeguarded David’s Tomb. This story is part of the history of Jerusalem.”

The recent cleanup campaign was testimony to the cooperation that has existed for years between several institutions on the mount that have been attacked by nationalists and religious extremists.

Gavaryahu: “A large number of volunteers from the Dormition Abbey came, as well as Franciscan clerics and also representatives from the church at Tabgha [the Church of the Multiplication, on Lake Kinneret]. There is much symbolism in the fact that representatives from Tabgha and from the Dormition came. The Dormition was vandalized four times by the [ultranationalist] Tag Mehir group, and Tabgha was once [in June 2015], as we all remember.”

One of the volunteers in the campaign, Katharina Bloebaum, 33, from Germany, was delighted to discover her coworkers speaking Arabic, German, English and Hebrew.

“It was a good feeling to meet with so many people from different countries and to clean the cemetery together. I think it is a sign of solidarity,” said Bloebaum, who arrived in Israel a year ago to work on behalf of Jerusalem’s Church of the Redeemer, a Lutheran institution. “This way we will understand the way of life and thinking of each person. And that is very valuable.”

A spokesman for the Jerusalem Municipality stated that the owner of the Mount Zion cemetery is the Israel Land Authority, which is also responsible for its maintenance. The spokesman added that the municipality had no knowledge of any desecration of the cemetery.

The lands authority stated: “The ILA and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority are working to clean up the cemetery and improve the situation there, including dealing with the damage done recently to the headstones there. It is our hope that we will already be able to see results in the near future.”

Many thanks to all who helped. May this be the last of these types of incidents. Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their ongoing support of this program.

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MiniActive – Story of a Corner Garbage Dump in A-Tur 2017

This is the story that has a happy ending, thanks to the involvement of MiniActive and local residents.

This is what the kids saw at the entrance to their kindergarten

This is what the kids saw at the entrance to their kindergarten

A new kindergarten director noticed a severe sanitation problem, basically right outside her door. There was an area that was not only filled to overflowing with household garbage, there was quite a bit of construction waste there too. In addition, the supporting wall to the kindergarten, which is adjacent to this ‘corner garbage dump,’ is in danger of collapsing, due to the garbage and construction nearby that dug beneath the wall.


Discussing how to improve A-Tur together

Discussing how to improve A-Tur together

Whose responsibility was it to clean this situation up? That’s a good question – City sanitation is definitely the Municipality’s job. But are they responsible for the construction waste, when it was there because of private construction? What about the supporting wall of the kindergarten, which is rented from a private owner by the Municipality?


Working together to make A-Tur cleaner

Working together to make A-Tur cleaner

MiniActive, the residents and the Municipality discussed these issues back and forth over a full month. On October 31, the municipal director for sanitation in East Jerusalem toured the area with residents in A-Tur. They came to an agreement of who will do what:

  1. The residents would properly dispose of the construction waste and repave the area.
  2. The Municipality agreed to sweep the streets regularly and to empty the garbage receptacle every two days.
  3. The residents, together with the kindergarten landlord, will collect money to re-build the faulty wall.
  4. The residents also agreed to cordon off an area for garbage, so that it won’t spill out onto the street.
The 'after' picture - all cleaned up and re-paved

The ‘after’ picture – all cleaned up and re-paved

Congratulations A-Tur! We’ll keep you posted on further developments.

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its continuing support of the MiniActive project.

Here’s the ‘before’ situation, as picked up by the 0202 Facebook page:

Here’s the final product in English, from the 0202 Facebook page:

And here’s the original post in Arabic:

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Atta’a – East Jerusalem’s Go-To for Information and Assistance

Do you know how to get here?

Ministry of Interior Municipality office

Ministry of Interior Municipality office

This is the Israel Ministry of Interior office, within the Jerusalem Municipality complex, where Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem can go to change their address and register newborns.  At the beginning of October, the The Atta’a Assistance Center for the Rights of East Jerusalem Residents posted a short video on exactly where it is inside this rather large complex of buildings, and exactly how to get here. Here’s the video:


This 1 1/2 minute video got over 20,000 views! (11,500 on the Atta’a Facebook page, and the rest as a result of the 138 shares)

Indeed, over the past year, Atta’a has become the go-to source of information for East Jerusalem Palestinians on issues regarding the Ministry of Interior, the National Insurance Agency, and more. Google “Ministry of Interior, East Jerusalem” in Arabic and you would expect to get the government agency. But what really comes up first? Atta’a.

Over the past year and half, since the launch of Atta’a’s new web site, Atta’a has become the authority for East Jerusalem Palestinian residents. Uniquely, Atta’a provides information that is geared to the needs of East Jerusalem residents, providing them with information regarding their Jerusalem residency status, family unification issues, etc., that affect only East Jerusalem residents. There are sites that explain in Arabic but often they are geared toward Arabs who are full Israeli citizens. There are also sites geared for residents of the Palestinian Authority, but these, too, are not relevant for Jerusalem residents. And residency issues affect them not only vis-a-vis the Ministry of Interior, but also in health care, welfare, social security, education and more. Explanations on the Atta’a site seek to be easy to understand, cutting through the bureaucracy as simply as possible. Atta’a provides step-by-step demonstrations in filling out different forms and going about different procedures, and is there to individually help residents when needed, both online and in person.

Likes on Atta'a Facebook page 2017

Likes on Atta’a Facebook page 2017


As we have seen in nearly every parameter, the demand for Atta’a is huge, and we are proud that Atta’a is rising to the cause. Here are some of Atta’a’s accomplishments in 2017:

  • The number of active entrances into the Atta’a web site increased tenfold! (In 2016, there were 3,631 entrances, and in 2017, 36,760 in 2017.)
  • The number of likes on the Atta’a Facebook page increased by 300%! (from 5,000 likes in 2016 to over 13,500 in 2017)
  • 425 questions were answered by e-mail or telephone messaging.
  • In-person consultations at the three assistance centers also increased by 60%, from 500 requests to 800.

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its support of Atta’a since its founding in 2004.

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2017-12-08T14:13:03+00:00 December 1st, 2017|Attaa, Blog, Identity Groups and Conflicts, Palestinians/Arabs|

MiniActive – Celebrating a New Playground in Shuafat

It’s always nice to see the fruits of your labors.

Want to come and play in Shuafat?

Want to come and play in Shuafat?

It’s even more rewarding when these fruits have taken time in coming.

In the spring and summer of 2015, MiniActive women, especially from Shuafat and northern Jerusalem, were asked to take part in a process of public participation to plan a playground. On the one hand it was an incredibly sensitive time (things really hadn’t been the same since the Gaza war the previous summer); on the other hand, the dearth of playgrounds and open green spaces in East Jerusalem is such that this was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed.

We're sure it's pretty crowded in the afternoons

We’re sure it’s pretty crowded in the afternoons

This playground was one of several that were planned throughout Jerusalem, as part of a joint project with the Jerusalem Municipality and the Bloomberg Philanthropies. (You can read here about a similar playground that was planned and constructed in Gilo, and here about the earlier process.)

Not only playground, but grassy lawns as well

Not only playground, but grassy lawns as well

The Gilo playground was renewed in 2016. And many in Shuafat, had lost faith that the Municipality would actually install the playground as they discussed. But lo and behold, one bright summer’s day, our MiniActive women were walking in Shuafat and found this, which was installed this past summer. Here’s a video of the new playground:


Have fun!

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continued support of the MiniActive project.

Here’s MiniActive’s Facebook posts about the discovery (in Arabic):

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2017-11-18T13:34:16+00:00 November 25th, 2017|Blog, Deliberative Democracy, Effective Activism, MiniActive, Palestinians/Arabs|

Working Together, Working Separately to Help Jerusalemites Live Safer, Live Longer

We wrote here about introducing the Living Safer, Living Longer program into the Haredi community in Jerusalem. But really, the program is not just in the Haredi sector, it’s being developed simultaneously in the Palestinian population, and in the ‘general’ (religious / secular Jewish) population. We’re especially excited about this new model for effective activism – each sector is focusing on preventive health / home safety, but each sector is developing, designing and refining the program to meet the specific needs of that community. All three sector share information and lessons learned, but the program is developing uniquely in each sector.  It is the community itself, through the volunteer Lead Teams – not the professionals – who are leading the way.

Volunteer Lead Team hearing about self breast exams from a nurse from the Bishvilech organization

Haredi Volunteer Lead Team hearing about breast self-exams from a nurse from the Bishvilech organization

We’re now getting down to business in all three sectors. There have been 5 meetings of the Haredi volunteer Lead Team, which chose to focus on preventive medicine. Thus far, they’ve learned about different issues affecting babies and toddlers, to youth, to women and seniors. Some of the lectures were given by nurses from the local well-baby clinic, and others from the Bishvilech organization, is the first and only woman to woman nonprofit organization in Israel focused on preventive medical care. (One of the lecturers was a female Haredi doctor, whose husband studies in Yeshiva, and who works at Sha’are Zedek hospital and volunteers with United Hatzalah emergency response organization. We thought she was really cool.) The team is currently in a learning stage, and are also considering learning about home safety as well. As the learning process progresses the team will come up with a checklist that will be used when going into people’s homes.

The West Jerusalem team (religious and secular Jews) has also had five meetings. They chose to focus on home safety, and learned about home safety for children from the Beterem organization, and learned about home safety for senior citizens from the Milbat organization. (They also tried out Milbat’s phone app for home safety for seniors.) They’ve already devised a checklist, and are in the process of revising and refining it. Members have even designed a logo (we’ll share it when it’s final), and are networking to bring in more participants into the program.

Introducing Living Safer, Living Longer to MiniActive women in East Jerusalem

Introducing Living Safer, Living Longer to MiniActive women in East Jerusalem

And on November 8, we held the first meeting of one of two Arab East Jerusalem teams. This 20-woman team is from the MiniActive program, one of East Jerusalem’s largest networks of volunteers, which has been working since 2012 to improve infrastructure in East Jerusalem. In this introductory session we presented the program, its importance and its principles. Right now they’re also focusing on home safety, and the next meeting next week will feature a lecturer from the Beterem organization, who will talk about home safety and children. Until then, the women were asked to photograph a place in or around their homes and ask themselves if this area really is safe for children. How would you do in such as test?

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MiniActive – Teaching First Aid for Teachers and for the General Public

As in the past, this year MiniActive is again offering a range of courses to help participants as mothers, and to grow as people.

Teaching critical first aid to educators

Teaching critical first aid to educators

Last week, on October 17, 20 teachers and teachers’ aides began a 44-hour advanced first aid course, designed only for educators. This course will be approved and its graduates will be qualified by the Ministry of Education, and it will run until December.

Learning the basics of CPR

Learning the basics of CPR

This is the second such course that MiniActive has offered over the past few months.

Learning First Aid to help their families

Learning First Aid to help their families

In August they held a short, 22-hour introductory course, for 35 Palestinian women from all over East Jerusalem.

Different aspects of urgent first aid care

Different aspects of urgent first aid care

The course consisted of 5, 4 – 4 1/2 – hour meetings. This was one of the first activities held at MiniActive’s new offices in Sheikh Jarrach.

Learning CPR

Learning CPR

All came out of the first meeting enthusiastic for the rest.

Measuring blood pressure, pulse

Measuring blood pressure, pulse

Here’s a Facebook post from the MiniActive Facebook page at the beginning of the 44-hour course:

And at the beginning of the shorter course in August:

And here’s a Facebook post from the end of the August course:


Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its ongoing support of the MiniActive program!

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