For most of the century that Palestinians and Israelis have fought over the same land, the conflict has not been nearly as visible as the 2023 war in the Gaza Strip, or the murder of Israeli civilians by Hamas that it answered. Since 1967, when Israel won military control of every disputed acre, the conflict has typically ground along at the level of everyday existence. That’s somehow easier to imagine for the 2 million Palestinians isolated in the fenced enclave of Gaza. But another 3 million Palestinians reside on the West Bank, where Israeli troops enforce an “administrative” control that’s intended to avoid drama. It was there, in 2012, that a fiery school bus accident killed kindergarteners on the outskirts of Jerusalem. In A Day in the Life of Abed Salama, Nathan Thrall not only recounts a father’s frantic search for his 5-year-old son after the crash; his deeply reported book also places the reader in the realm Palestinians navigate every day, a lesser world in which life and death may be decided by others. —Karl Vick
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