Palestinian citizens of Israel carry out surgeries in Gaza

For the first time, doctors from the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948 performed kidney transplant operations in the Gaza Strip. Dr Abed Khalayleh, Director of the Organ Transplantation Unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, and Dr Samer Diab, a Vascular Surgeon from Rambam Hospital, both members of the Physicians for Human Rights Association, performed two kidney transplants over the weekend on Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip.

Dr Khalayleh and Dr Diab both arrived in the Gaza Strip as part of the Physicians for Human Rights delegation which visited the Gaza Strip during the weekend to carry out medical activities. The number of delegation members totalled 25 doctors and medical staff, who performed surgeries, brought in medications and medical equipment, provided medical care to patients and held mental health rehabilitation courses.

The two kidney transplants were performed at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. The first operation was performed on a 27-year-old girl from Gaza City, whose father donated his kidney.

The second operation was performed on a 25-year-old girl from Nuseirat refugee camp, who received a kidney from her sister. The operations were carried out after several weeks of preparatory work, led by Physicians for Human Rights and in coordination with Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. The preparations included meetings via Zoom between the surgeons and the medical staff at Al-Shifa Hospital, in addition to taking blood samples from the patients and sending them to Hadassah Hospital, which cost tens of thousands of shekels in order to ensure the organs being transplanted were a match, and buying injections and special medicines for them.

READ: UNRWA Gaza employees strike in protest at recruitment issues

Only a few kidney transplants have been performed, from time to time, in Gaza by two doctors, one from the UK and the other from Jordan. However, Israel has stopped allowing the Jordanian doctor to enter Gaza, which has caused a reduction in the number of such operations in Gaza.

The two operations that took place in Al-Shifa Hospital are in addition to 16 other surgeries that were performed by the doctors of the Physicians for Human Rights delegation, including 9 orthopaedic surgeries in Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, under the supervision of D .Mustafa Yassin and Dr Mahmoud Khatib, two specialist orthopaedic doctors from Hasharon Hospital, 7 eye surgeries under the supervision of Dr Ahed Mtairat, an ophthalmologist from Soroka Hospital, and a vascular operations under the supervision of Dr Jamal Hijazi, a vascular surgeon at Shaare Zedekk Medical Centre, at the European Hospital in Jerusalem.

The members of the medical delegation also held medical days, along with the operations, in the fields of family medicine and gynaecology, both of which were held in the Nuseirat refugee camp, where more than 330 patients were examined. As for the psychologists, who are members of the delegation, they held vocational rehabilitation courses in the field of mental health for Palestinian mental health teams from the Gaza Centre for Mental Health, the Palestinian Ministry of Health and the Medical Centre for Trauma Victims in Gaza City. The visit also included the delivery of medical equipment and medicine worth more than 300,000 shekels (about $87,000).

Salah Haj Yahya, Director of the Physicians for Human Rights delegation, said, “The Gaza Strip has been suffering for a long time, 365 days a year, for more than 15 years, as a result of the Israeli blockade that suffocates the civilian population and prevents them from the possibility of establishing liveable conditions; it violates the Palestinians’ political, civil, economic and social rights. The delegation’s visit, along with its medical purposes, is a form of solidarity with the suffering and hardship of the residents of Gaza. It is a clear message that there is a need to stop the illegal Israeli policy of blockade.”

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Cancer patient dies after Israel blocks treatment

treatment

Ambulances parked up
Ambulance drivers stage a protest last August at the Erez checkpoint to demand free passage for patients.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Mahmoud al-Kurd, 45, from Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, died on 16 December, two days after he was granted an exit permit by the Israeli military to leave Gaza for treatment in the West Bank.

A father of six – one girl and five boys – Mahmoud underwent months of fear and pain.

“We submitted five applications to the Israeli authorities to transfer Mahmoud to a hospital in Jerusalem. For six months, we kept receiving ‘request under review’ replies,” his wife Amatulrahman al-Kurd, 40, said.

In November 2020, al-Kurd had been diagnosed with lung cancer. He underwent seven chemotherapy sessions in Gaza but his health continued to deteriorate.

In 2021, he was transferred to Egypt for treatment, where he stayed three months but showed no improvement.

In September 2021, he was referred by the ministry of health to Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem for urgent medical treatment.

But he needed a permit from Israel’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) – a branch of the Israeli military – to allow him to exit Gaza through the Erez checkpoint.

He had already been assured of financial coverage from the Palestinian Authority.

“My husband lost 60 kilos. I was totally helpless, just waiting for their approval [for travel permit]. Seeing him like this will forever be the hardest thing I went through,” Amatulrahman told The Electronic Intifada.

On 25 November, Mahmoud’s health deteriorated dramatically. He lost consciousness and suffered convulsions and was hospitalized for three days.

Doctors said the cancer had spread to the rest of his body.

At the same time, his family was repeatedly completing procedures to secure his travel permit.

“From July to December, we submitted five applications,” Amatulrahman said. “All were delayed or we didn’t get any replies.”

Too late

Frustrated, the family turned to the Gaza-based rights group Al Mezan and Physicians for Human Rights in Haifa to try to expedite the process.

The two organizations tried to persuade the Israeli military authorities to grant him a permit to receive treatment in the King Hussein Medical Center in Amman, Jordan, which meant more delays.

“We had no choice but to start new procedures to transfer him for treatment in Amman, even though we realized that we were clinging to the tiniest shards of hope,” his wife said.

The permit never came and at this point, she said, Mahmoud was getting progressively worse. With the cancer spreading to his brain, he had first lost the ability to walk, then to move, then to talk and eat.

Finally, he had to be put on a ventilator.

During this time, the two rights organizations eventually prevailed upon the Israeli authorities to issue an exit permit for treatment in Jerusalem.

On 14 December, an ambulance transported Mahmoud from the Gaza Strip to Jerusalem.

A gaunt man sits in a bed.
Mahmoud al-Kurd was only granted an exit permit when it was too late to save his life.

It was too late.

“At 10 pm on Friday, Mahmoud died before my eyes. I don’t know what sin he committed to deserve all this torment. I hope that no one else will suffer the same fate as Mahmoud, although I know there are dozens of similar cases.”

According to the World Health Organization, since 2007 and the tightening of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, about a third of Gaza’s patients’ exit permit applications have been either denied or delayed.

According to Al Mezan, nine patients, including three children, died in Gaza after being denied exit permits in 2022.

“The lives of dozens of patients with critical conditions in Gaza are at risk because they need urgent medical treatment in West Bank hospitals,” said Ashraf al-Qedra, a health ministry spokesperson.

“But they are still waiting for exit permits. A number of them have applied several times.”

A wedding with no relatives

A wedding with no family, a bride without bridesmaids and a special day that caused only painful memories.

This is how Oruba Othman, 32, described her September wedding in the West Bank.

Othman is from Gaza but is teaching at Bethlehem University’s department of social sciences. She is also a PhD student at Birzeit University.

She married a lawyer from Bethlehem, but her wedding turned into a somber occassion without family and friends, who were denied exit permits from Gaza to attend.

“Two months before the wedding, I submitted an application for my father to attend, but I kept receiving ‘request under review’ replies. Not one of my family or friends was able to attend my wedding and this will be one of my saddest moments.”

They supported her as best they could, she told The Electronic Intifada. Her friends and relatives attended via video conference.

It was scant consolation.

Indeed, Othman has not seen her family since 2015, because of Israeli travel restrictions that were always onerous but became almost impossible to navigate after the siege was tightened in 2007.

“I moved to live in the West Bank because I got a scholarship from Birzeit University [in the West Bank] seven years ago,” Othman said, describing her obtaining an exit permit as “miraculous” for a young person.

She had to wait a year.

“Fortunately, I was invited to an event organized by a German Palestinian Academy to collect stories about the suffering of Palestinian journalists, so I took advantage of this opportunity and presented my problem to this academy. They helped me secure the exit permit.”

The Gaza Strip should be less than an hour’s drive from the West Bank. Yet with travel restrictions and checkpoints, the journey can take months or years.

It also confronted Othman with her first direct meeting with an Israeli soldier.

“When the Israeli soldiers searched me at the checkpoint, my emotions were disturbed. I felt so offended: this is my land, yet this soldier controls my freedom.”

She persevered, however, in her excitement to see the West Bank for the first time in her life.

“I was enthusiastic to enter the West Bank, which the Israeli occupation tries to split from the Gaza Strip.”

Palestinians in Gaza who succeed in entering the West Bank then encounter further obstacles. They are not allowed to move between the cities of the West Bank.

The Israeli military checks IDs at the some 100 military checkpoints dotted around the West Bank, and a Gaza ID holder risks imprisonment or forced return to Gaza if stopped in the “wrong” area.

“In brief, being a Palestinian means that you do not have the luxury to enjoy your simplest rights,” Othman said, recalling her student days in the West Bank city of Ramallah, when she was not allowed to go anywhere else.

“Being Gazan and living in the West Bank means that I can barely see my family and friends in Gaza. In other words, I will spend my happy and sad moments alone.”

Not only that, even though she has a permit to work, she lives in constant fear that her marriage, her job, and West Bank life could be ruined at any moment.

“I am always terrified that I may lose my husband, my job and my studies. All it takes is a colonial soldier in a bad mood who discovers that I am from Gaza.”

Her precarious situation has also affected her professionally.

“I am not just prevented from moving through the West Bank, I am also deprived from traveling abroad. Unfortunately, I missed a lot of opportunities to attend international conferences and research fellowships abroad.”

Aseel Mousa is a journalist based in Gaza.

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campagna ICE stop al commercio con gli insediamenti illegali

L’Unione Europea è contro l’annessione e considera gli insediamenti illegali nei territori occupati un ostacolo alla pace e alla stabilità internazionale. Ma sebbene gli insediamenti illegali costituiscano un crimine di guerra la UE permette il commercio con loro. Questo commercio favorisce i profitti derivanti dall’annessione e contribuisce all’espansione di insediamenti illegali nel mondo. Noi chiediamo una legge della UE che metta fine al commercio con insediamenti gli illegali una volta per tutte. Questa legge si applicherà ai territori occupati ovunque, tra questi il Territorio Occupato Palestinese e gli insediamenti illegali di Israele su di esso. La legge consentirà anche di inviare un forte segnale nel mondo che la UE non riconoscerà più aggressioni territoriali con profitti derivanti dal commercio.

Firma la petizione qui sotto per una storica legge che metta fine agli insediamenti illegali!

firma qui

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The Water is Surrounding Us’: Gaza Grieves as Israel Opens Floodgates

January 10, 2023

By Asma Abu Amra

Without warning, on Saturday, December 24, Israeli Authorities opened the floodgates below Deir al-Balah, inundating the Al-Selqa Valley’s agricultural lands and flooding dozens of homes.

‘The Valley is Flooded’

Ibrahim Abuqutaifan’s straw house perches on the edge of the valley, in a rural area called Al-Mashala. I spoke with Asma Abu Qutaifan, 41, about what happened.

“It was nighttime, and there was heavy rainfall,” she told me. “We went to bed early because it was a cold and wet winter. While we were sleeping, the phone rang.’’

“The caller was my neighbor, saying: ‘You must flee your house now! The valley is flooded!’ It’s hard to express how scared I felt. This was the worst nightmare I ever had,’’ she added.  “As I woke up my six children, dirty water filled the house. We were swimming in that unclean water, trying to get out,’’ she continued. “Then we couldn’t even flee; the water surrounded us. Municipal crews got stuck in the mud and couldn’t reach us.”

Holding back tears, the mother went on, telling me that a neighbor heard her daughters crying and he rushed to help them get to a safe area. Had the neighbor not heard them, they would have all drowned. As it was, everything in their house was ruined.

Meanwhile, her husband Ibrahim, 48, had hurried to look after his sheep. “The first thing I have to do is save the livestock. I had to move them to another place. We totally depend on livestock breeding. It is our only source of income,” he said.

Since that night, Asma and her children have lived in fear of the floodgates suddenly reopening with no one nearby to help them. Although they survived, the ordeal for their family was not over.

Killing Abdullah

In a sodden house in another part of Al-Mashala, Waaed Mesmeh, 25, is still mourning the death of her husband, Abdullah Qutaifan,  29, nephew of Ibrahim.

Abdullah had called his wife at 5:59 pm as he was coming from prayer at the mosque close to his uncle’s house, in the valley area called Berka. He could see the severity of the flooding. “Waeed! Take care, close all the windows tightly!” he warned.

“I never thought that would be the last time I would hear his voice,” Mesmeh said.

Qutaifan was known as a kind and considerate neighbor, always there to lend others a hand in times of need.  This time was no different. “When he realized that the valley where his uncle lived was rapidly flooding,” Mesmeh said, “he just rushed to help them.”

When he arrived, the power was out, and the house was already full of water. Qutaifan and his cousin ran to cut the three electrical cables that ran from the street to the house, as they were not grounded, and the men wanted to avoid any electrical short circuits before the power was restored.  But it was too late.

“The electricity suddenly came on and killed Abdullah immediately,’’ said the bereaved widow.

Qutaifan’s mother and sister had been killed in 2014 when their house was bombed in the Israeli assault on Gaza in which 2251 Palestinians, including 551 children and 299 women, died.

“He was always saying how deeply he missed them,” Mesmeh said. “He passed away, and now he has gone to join them.”

The mayor of Deir Al-Balah, Diab Al-Jarro, talked about the tragedy.

“Israel opened three floodgates feeding Wadi al-Salqa‎ in the middle of the Strip last Sunday at almost 7 PM, which allowed enormous and unusual amounts of water to gush into the valley stream,” he said.

He pointed out that the fragile sewage network in the rural area had only been operational for three years. During rainy days in Gaza, floods often occur, making life in the Strip even harder than usual. But the huge influx of water that inundated the rural areas when the floodgates were opened was disastrous.

The Israeli Siege

According to Yahya al-Sarraj, the head of the Union of the Gaza Strip Municipalities responsible for street maintenance, “the most important reason for the weakness of the infrastructure is the continuous Israeli assaults, particularly in 2021, when the infrastructure was deliberately targeted with missiles that reached 10 to 15 meters underground.”

Al-Sarraj cited additional factors contributing to the worsening conditions.

“The ongoing Israeli siege and the inability of municipalities to self-finance infrastructure projects, along with rapid population growth, intensify the problems,” he said.  “Israel sometimes prevents the entry of necessary materials, including sewage pipes and bulldozers needed for waste transportation,” Al-Sarraj noted that some people have resorted to throwing garbage into the streets.

“Sewage pipes in service for more than 20 years should be replaced.”

It is winter in Al-Mashala. The season can be beautiful, filled with warm fires and joyful family gatherings, with time for contemplation. But in rural Gaza, things are unpredictable: suddenly, people’s homes and farms can be flooded, drowning their crops; the power cuts off, and people can be killed.

Residents of this area constantly live on a precarious edge, and these events have overshadowed the season’s happiness. But the people of Al-Mashala keep helping each other: they grieve together, and they resist.

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List of names of the Palestinian Children killed by Israeli so far in 2022

1. Jana Majdi Zakarneh
16 years old, was shot dead on December 12, 2022 by Israeli forces while standing on the roof of her home.
2. Dia Mohammad Rimawi
15 years old from Beit Rima, killed on December 8, 2022 by Israeli forces.
3. Ahmad Amjad Shehada
16 years old resident of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, killed on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, gunfire.
4. Mahmoud Abdel-Jalil al-Saadi
17- year-old, killed on November 21, 2022 during Israeli raid in occupied West Bank city of Jenin.
5. Fulla Rasmi al-Masalma
15-year-old girl shot dead by Israeli forces on 14 November 2022 in the town of Beitunia, a day before her 16th birthday.
6. Mahdi Mohammad Hamdallah Hashash
Israeli forces killed a 15-year-old Palestinian boy on November 10, 2022 by shooting him near Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank.
7. Mohammad Samer Mohammad Khalouf
14 years old, killed on November 7, 2022 near Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank.
8. Mos’ab Mohammad Mahmoud Nafal
18 years old killed on November 05, 2022 near Sinjil Palestinian town, north of Ramallah, in the central West Bank.
9. Ahmad Muhammad Hussein Daraghmeh
18 year old resident of Tubas, killed on October 8, 2022, in Jenin, live ammunition.
10. Ousamah Mahmoud Hassan ‘Adawi
17 year old resident of al-‘Arrub Camp, Hebron District, killed on October 12, 2022, in al-‘Arrub R.C., Hebron District, live ammunition
11. Mahmoud Muayad Muhammad Sus
17 year old resident of Jenin, killed on October 8, 2022, in Jenin, live ammunition. Additional information: Shot in the back of the neck by Israeli forces
12. ‘Adel Ibrahim ‘Adel Dawood
14 year old resident of Qalqiliya, killed on October 7, 2022, near the Separation Barrier in the area of Qalqiliyah, Qalqiliya District, live ammunition.
13. Mahdi Muhammad ‘Abd al-Mu’ti Ladadwah
17 year old resident of al-Mazra’ah al-Qibliyah, Ramallah and al-Bira District, killed on October 7, 2022, in al-Mazra’ah al-Qibliyah, Ramallah and al-Bira District, live ammunition.
14. Salamah Raafat Muhammad Sa’id Sharay’ah
18 year old resident of Bir Zeit, Ramallah and al-Bira District, killed on October 3, 2022, next to al-Jalazun R.C., Ramallah and al-Bira District, live ammunition.
15. Fayez Khaled Mahmoud Damdum
17 year old resident of al-‘Eizariyah, al-Quds District, killed on October 1, 2022, in al-‘Eizariyah, al-Quds District, live ammunition.
16. Muhammad Fadi Hani Nuri
16 year old resident of Bitunya, Ramallah and al-Bira District, injured on September 28, 2022, near the checkpoint in the area of al-Birah, Ramallah and al-Bira District, live ammunition, and died on October 20, 2022.
17. Mahmoud Muhammad Khalil Samudi
12 year old resident of al-Yamun, Jenin District, injured on September 28, 2022, in Jenin, live ammunition, and died on October 10, 2022.
18. ‘Udai Trad Hisham Salah
17 year old resident of Kfar Dan, Jenin District, killed on September 15, 2022, in Kfar Dan, Jenin District, live ammunition.
19. Haitham Hani Muhammad Mubarak
16 year old resident of Bitunya, Ramallah and al-Bira District, killed on September 8, 2022, at the checkpoint in the area of al-Birah, Ramallah and al-Bira District, live ammunition.
20. Muamen Yasin Muhammad Judah Jaber
16 year old resident of Hebron, killed on August 9, 2022, near the checkpoint in the area of Hebron, live ammunition.
21. Ibrahim ‘Alaa ‘Izat Nabulsi
18 year old resident of Nablus, killed on August 9, 2022, in Nablus, by gunfire.
22. Hussein Jamal Hussein Taha
16 year old resident of Nablus, killed on August 9, 2022, in Nablus, live ammunition.
23. Derar Riyad Lutfi al-Haj Saleh
16 year old resident of Jenin, killed on August 1, 2022, in Jenin R.C., Jenin District, live ammunition.
24. Kamel ‘Abdallah Kamel ‘Alawneh
17 year old resident of Jaba’, Jenin District, injured on July 2, 2022, next to Jaba’, Jenin District, live ammunition, and died on July 3, 2022.
25. Muhammad ‘Abdallah Salah Suliman
16 year old resident of Silwad, Ramallah and al-Bira District, injured on June 24, 2022, in Silwad, Ramallah and al-Bira District, live ammunition, and died on June 25, 2022.
26. ‘Odeh Muhammad ‘Odeh Sadqah
16 year old resident of al-Midya, Ramallah and al-Bira District, killed on June 2, 2022, near the Separation Barrier in the area of al-Midyah, Ramallah and al-Bira District, live ammunition.
27. Zeid Muhammad Sa’id Ghneim
14 year old resident of al-Khader, Bethlehem District, killed on May 27, 2022, in al-Khader, Bethlehem District, live ammunition.
28. Gheith Muhammad Rafiq Ziad Yamin
16 year old resident of Nablus, killed on May 25, 2022, in Nablus, live ammunition.
29. Amjad Walid Hussein Fayed
16 year old resident of Jenin, killed on May 21, 2022, in Jenin, live ammunition.
30. Thaer Khalil Muhammad Mislet
16 year old resident of Um a-Sharayet – Samiramis, Ramallah and al-Bira District, killed on May 11, 2022, in al-Birah, Ramallah and al-Bira District, live ammunition.
31. Lutfi Ibrahim Lutfi Labadi
18 year old resident of al-Yamun, Jenin District, injured on April 18, 2022, in al-Yamun, Jenin District, live ammunition, and died on April 21, 2022.
32. Shawkat Kamal Shawkat A’bed
17 year old resident of Kfar Dan, Jenin District, injured on April 14, 2022, in Kfar Dan, Jenin District, live ammunition, and died on April 15, 2022.
33. Qusai Fouad Muhammad Hamamreh
16 year old resident of Husan, Bethlehem District, killed on April 13, 2022, near the checkpoint in the area of Husan, Bethlehem District, live ammunition.
34. Muhammad Hussein Muhammad ‘Adel Qassem
16 year old resident of Jenin, injured on April 10, 2022, in Jenin, live ammunition, and died on April 11, 2022.
35. Sanad Muhammad Khalil Abu ‘Atiyyah
16 year old resident of Jenin R.C., Jenin District, killed on March 31, 2022, in Jenin, live ammunition.
36. Nader Haitham Fathi Rayan
16 year old resident of Nablus, killed on March 15, 2022, in Nablus, live ammunition.
37. Karim Jamal Muhammad Isma’il al-Qawasmi
18 year old resident of Abu Tur, East Jerusalem District, killed on March 6, 2022, in the Old City (Jerusalem), East Jerusalem District, live ammunition.
38. Yamen Nafez Mahmoud Khanafsah
15 year old resident of Abu Dis, al-Quds District, killed on March 6, 2022, in Abu Dis, al-Quds District, live ammunition.
39. Ammar Shafiq ‘Issa Abu ‘Afifah
18 year old resident of al-‘Arrub Camp, Hebron District, killed on March 1, 2022, next to Beit Fajjar, Bethlehem District, live ammunition.
40. Shadi Khaled ‘Ali Nijm
18 year old resident of Jenin R.C., Jenin District, killed on March 1, 2022, in Jenin R.C., Jenin District, live ammunition.
41. Muhammad Rizeq Shihadah Salah
13 year old resident of al-Khader, Bethlehem District, killed on February 22, 2022, in al-Khader, Bethlehem District, live ammunition.
42. Muhammad Akram ‘Ali Abu Salah
16 year old resident of al-Yamun, Jenin District, killed on February 13, 2022, in al-Yamun, Jenin District, live ammunition.

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World gives cold shoulder to people from Gaza

from Gaza

For people in Gaza, holding a passport offers no guarantee that they will be allowed to travel abroad.

Ashraf Amra APA images

The Netherlands appears to discriminate against Palestinians based on where they live.

That is what I discovered when I made a visa application to the Dutch consulate in Istanbul (where I spent some time recently).

I had been invited to the Netherlands for a training course. Another Palestinian who lives in the occupied West Bank had an identical application approved.

But mine was rejected.

One of the course’s organizers informed me I was turned down because I am from Gaza. Many EU governments are worried, my contact informed me, that people from Gaza will apply for asylum if granted travel visas.

Why was I treated differently to someone with an address in the West Bank? Is it a crime to have grown up in Gaza?

And if people from Gaza wish to apply for asylum, why can’t we do so? The EU nominally accepts. that everyone has the right to seek protection from war and oppression.

I have been working as a journalist for 12 years now. An internet search should suffice to confirm that I write about human rights, particularly how the rights of Palestinians are violated.

I am not a threat to anybody. And yet my travel possibilities have been curtailed throughout my career.

The biggest hurdle has, of course, been the blockade which Israel has imposed on Gaza, with the assistance of Egypt.

For long periods, the Rafah crossing – which separates Gaza and Egypt – has been closed. Leaving and returning to Gaza has, for that reason, often been impossible.

Even when Rafah is open, the hurdles are huge.

The Netherlands is not the first country to stop me from going to a conference or training course.

In 2016, I was refused permission by the Jordanian authorities to attend an annual conference on investigative journalism.

On that occasion, too, only Palestinians from Gaza were blocked from traveling. Palestinians living in the West Bank were allowed to enter Jordan for the event.

My application was turned down because I did not receive the required “security” clearance.

Dangerous?

I was luckier – if that is the right word – in 2019. Then, I did indeed get “security” clearance and was able to attend that year’s conference on investigative journalism in Amman after taking a flight from Cairo.

I cannot explain why I was granted something in 2019 that had previously been denied to me. How come I was apparently considered dangerous in 2016 but not three years later?

The lack of travel opportunities has affected me in more personal ways, too.

With Gaza under siege, it was necessary to cancel a total of 14 plans I had made for visiting my mother, who lives in Egypt.

It was not until December 2019 that I was able to see her for the first time in two decades.

A number of countries now subject people from Gaza to “security” clearance.

Some Arab states, for example, will not recognize documents issued by the Hamas-led administration in Gaza. They insist on travel papers from the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which is involved in “security coordination” with the Israeli forces of occupation.

In March this year, I traveled to Khartoum so that I could train Sudanese journalists on producing digital content.

The organizers of that training course sought “security” clearance before I arrived in Sudan.

“Obstacle”

During my recent trip to Turkey, I met Majid Samaan, 30. He has a psychology degree from Al-Azhar University in Gaza and wishes to study further in Western Europe.

Samaan has unsuccessfully requested student visas from Germany and Belgium.

Two reasons were cited for turning down his applications.

The first reason was doubt about documents showing that an uncle guaranteed him financial support. The second reason was the possibility that Samaan would remain in the European Union after his studies had been completed.

“I didn’t intend to seek asylum,” Samaan said. “I just wanted to study. If you want to discover the world, then having a Palestinian passport is an obstacle.”

Abdulrahman al-Fadi, 21, applied from Gaza for a visa so that he could study fine arts in Spain.

After the Spanish authorities rejected his request, al-Fadi made some inquiries. He was told that the Spanish do not want to admit people from Gaza as they fear they will apply for asylum.

“I want to draw and paint,” said al-Fadi. “I don’t want to study in Gaza. I am a philosophical painter and don’t want to work under the stressful situation we have here.”

Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, Ibrahim Hassan went from Gaza to Qatar, so that he could avail himself of a university scholarship.

There, he met an Omani woman with whom he had been in contact over the internet.

The couple have subsequently become engaged. But Hassan, 30, has not been able to visit his fiancee in Muscat, the Omani capital, as the country’s authorities will not issue him with a visa.

“When my fiancee made inquiries, she was told that I was rejected because I am from Gaza,” Hassan said. “I met people from the West Bank in Qatar, who have been able to get tourist visas for Oman. I have a master’s degree in Arabic literature and I am working as a researcher for an Arab institute. How am I dangerous?”

Amjad Ayman Yaghi is a journalist based in Gaza.

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Israeli occupation is still banning the entry of medical appliances to Gaza Strip Hospitals

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First the drones. Then the bombs

The weekend had finally arrived.

And the best thing about weekends is that I get to spend time with my 5-month-old nephew Yahya.

He and my sister Inas visit us every weekend at our family home in the Maghazi camp in central Gaza.

But this past weekend, I wish they hadn’t.

On 3 November, around 10 at night, we were all gathered in the living room talking about how the Israeli drones were flying especially low and loud.

Though drones are a cursed part of every Palestinian’s life in Gaza, I’ve never gotten used to them. The buzzing makes it difficult to study and work, and I have to sleep with a fan on, even in winter, to block out the noise.

More than an annoyance, though, the drones are a deadly threat. A reminder that the Israeli occupation is always watching us from above, ready to kill at any moment.

The discussion was interrupted when my sister asked who wanted to feed Yahya. I gave him a bottle of milk and rocked him to sleep, singing a song to him to obscure the buzz of the drones, even just a little bit.

A rude awakening

We all headed off to bed, with Yahya and my sister upstairs, but we were not asleep for long.

Around 3 am, I awoke to the sound of a huge explosion.

I immediately thought of Yahya. I could barely get out of my bed before the second explosion took place. The electricity went out. I reached for my phone to use the flashlight, but the third explosion was so strong that the window above my bed shattered, covering my body and pillow in glass.

Two more explosions followed. The way it sounded, it was like the Israeli planes were firing two missiles for each explosion.

I could hear glass shattering, dirt and bricks falling, screams. It had been less than a minute.

I made my way upstairs, to Inas and Yahya’s room. I heard him before I saw him: bawling, his face red from screaming.

We went into the “safe area” of our house, which is not actually safe at all. It’s just a hallway that we tell ourselves is safe because it doesn’t have windows. But do windows really matter when the whole house is shaking from explosions?

Everyone was in shock, terrified, but we did our best to calm Yahya. We sang, clapped, and laughed to try and lessen his fear.

I later learned that when Yahya woke after the first explosion, my sisters covered him with their bodies to protect him from harm.

After about an hour in the hallway, Yahya went back to sleep and I checked on the rest of the house.

Windows were shattered in every room, and cracks had formed along several walls.

Destruction

The next day, I went to the mosque for Friday prayers. Our street was unrecognizable: covered with mud, bricks and rocks that had traveled from the impact site about 300 meters away.

Neighbors were talking about the Israeli attack, what bombs were used, what planes were flown. These attacks are so numerous that we are now experts in planes and bombs.

After prayers I took a walk through the neighborhood. I could barely recognize al-Mamoura playground, where I grew up playing, where I had recently watched soccer matches on a big outdoor screen. The playground was now buried in dirt and rubble.

I thought about how this wasn’t even the first Israeli attack that Yahya had lived through. How, on 5 August 2022, when Israel attacked Gaza, Yahya had cried through the night.

It’s now been almost a week since this latest Israeli attack, and while fortunately there have been no reported deaths, English-language news coverage has been minimal to non-existent.

Meanwhile, we work to repair the damage to our home. We’re still picking up pieces of glass so tiny that they are embedded in our clothing, curtains and carpets. And only yesterday did we replace the glass on our windows. Until then, wind blew in the heavy rains through the curtains, and I rushed to clean up the water.

I’ve checked in on Yahya every day since the bombing. He is young, but the trauma from Israeli attacks has untold and lasting impacts on children. My hope is that he forgets it all.

And, as the weekend approaches, I look forward to holding Yahya again, singing him to sleep.

Abdallah al-Naami is a journalist and photographer living in Gaza.

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Rights group calls for ICC investigation of possible war crimes during August Israeli offensive on Gaza

https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde15/6079/2022/en/

An International human rights group has urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to look into potential war crimes following the “unlawful attacks” committed during Israel’s deadly assault on the Gaza Strip in August.

Using photographs of weapons fragments, satellite imagery analysis, and testimony from dozens of interviews, the rights group reconstructed the circumstances around three specific attacks carried out during the offensive, it said in a report in late October.

“Israeli authorities boasted about the precision of their operation.” Yet, the rights group found that “victims of these ‘precise’ attacks included a four-year-old boy, a teenager visiting his mother’s grave, and a 22-year-old student at home with her family.”

Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general said that “Israel’s latest offensive on Gaza lasted only three days, but that was ample time to unleash fresh trauma and destruction on the besieged population.” “The three-day deadly attacks we examined must be investigated as war crimes.”

Callamard pointed out that the violations documented by the rights group were perpetrated in the context of Israel’s ongoing illegal blockade on Gaza imposed since 2007, describing it as “a key tool of its apartheid regime.”

“Palestinians in Gaza are dominated, oppressed and segregated, trapped in a 15-year nightmare where recurrent unlawful attacks punctuate a worsening humanitarian crisis,” she elaborated, noting “As well as investigating war crimes committed in Gaza, the ICC should consider the crime against humanity of apartheid within its current investigation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

According to the report, all the witnesses, survivors, and victims’ relatives interviewed by Amnesty demanded accountability for the heinous crimes committed by the Israeli regime forces.

Wissam Nejem, who lost four cousins in the Israeli attack on al-Falluja cemetery in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, told the rights group “Nothing can bring back our dead children, but truth and justice could at least give the families some peace.”

On August 5 Israel unleashed a wave of air attacks on Gaza. The so-called “preemptive” operation against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, killed at least 49 Palestinians, including children. According to the UN, around 360 were also injured during the deadly onslaught.

The rights group has repeatedly documented unlawful killings and potential war crimes in Gaza and set out (in Chapter 6) of its February report, Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity, how such acts constitute the crime against humanity of apartheid.

In 2021, the UN documented 2,934 grave violations against 1,208 Palestinian children in occupied Palestine and the Gaza Strip. The UN Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch, and other international human rights organizations have accused Israel of apartheid in the past two years.

Israel has killed at least 183 Palestinians since the start of 2022 in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, including 26 since the start of October, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

Local and international rights groups have condemned Israel’s excessive use of force and “shoot-to-kill policy” against Palestinians, at the time the mainstream media and Western powers turned a blind eye to the atrocities committed by the Israeli occupation forces on a daily basis.

 

 

Source: PRESS TV

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Danger rises for Gaza’s fishers

Danger rises for Gaza’s fishers

Source: Electronic Intifada

Beirut al-Aqraa was two miles out at sea when his fishing boat started to sink. He immediately headed back toward the shore but a few hundred meters away from it, the vessel became completely submerged in water.

Along with two of his workers, Beirut swam to safety. Yet three of his brothers had to be rescued and were brought to hospital.

“Luckily, it was around 1 o’clock in the afternoon,” said Beirut. “And some other fishers saw us and rushed to help us.”

The accident had a serious effect on his brother Nayef.

“If I had been stuck at sea any longer, I would have died,” Nayef said. “I have vomited every day since then. And I have a fear of the sea. I will never sail again. I would prefer to stay jobless than to go out on Beirut’s boat once more.”

A number of Beirut’s boats had been damaged by Israel when it mounted a major attack on Gaza in May last year. Israel targeted Deir al-Balah port in central Gaza, where Beirut’s vessels were moored, during its attack.

One of the boats proved irreparable.

The Gaza authorities estimated that Beirut’s losses from the May offensive came to around $25,000. “But it’s more like $30,000,” he said.

The boat which sank on 24 December was named Amal, the Arabic word for “hope.” It was among those damaged by Israel’s shrapnel in May.

To fix the boat properly, Beirut needed approximately 3 kilograms of fiberglass. He could not afford fiberglass, so he used a sealant, which was cheaper.

He had been able to keep working as a fisher, using Amal, since the May attack. Yet when the boat started to fall apart on 24 December, it was clear that the repair job had not been adequate.

No compensation

Beirut recalled how he was nicknamed “the king of fishers” as “I used to have four boats.”

Before the May attack, he would earn up to $1,300 per month. Now he makes only around $300.

“And no one has paid any compensation for my loss,” he said.

It has been well documented that Israel often attacks Palestinian fishers directly. A total of 73 incidents in which Israel opened fire on Gaza fishers were recorded by human rights monitors between October and December.

Israel’s naval forces even fired on Gaza fishers twice on New Year’s Day.

Khader al-Saidi holds some of the rubber-coated steel bullets that Israel’s navy fired at him. Ahmed Al-Sammak

Khader al-Saidi has been repeatedly fired on by Israel.

Following one such episode of state violence in 2017, Khader was arrested and detained for almost a year. He was accused of crossing the permitted fishing boundary off Gaza’s coastline – a boundary that is often arbitrary.

In February 2019, Khader was out fishing with his cousin Muhammad when they were attacked by the Israeli navy. The two men tried to escape but could not.

Israel’s navy fired an estimated 30 rubber-coated steel bullets at Khader, while his cousin managed to hunker down.

After being struck in both eyes, Khader fell over and lost consciousness.

“I woke up four days later in an Israeli hospital in Ashdod [a port city],” he said. “I heard someone speaking Hebrew and asked him ‘where am I?’ But he didn’t answer.”

A doctor, who spoke Arabic, then explained to Khader that he had lost sight in his right eye. His left eye would take about a week to recover, the doctor predicted.

Despite being in severe pain, Khader was shackled by hand and feet as soldiers brought him to the Erez military checkpoint, which separates Gaza and Israel.

He was escorted through the checkpoint and abandoned by the Israeli soldiers. A man came to assist him and brought him to the local police, who called an ambulance.

When Khader was examined by doctors in Gaza, they confirmed that he was now blind in both eyes.

Today, Khader seldom leaves his home. “I don’t have any desire to meet anyone,” he said.

“Israel turned me into a beggar”

He has applied for a disability allowance from the Palestinian Authority but has not received any. “I used to be a breadwinner for my extended family, nine people in total,” he said. “Now I depend on kind people to give me some money. Israel has turned me into a beggar.”

Opening fire is not the only way that Israel undermines the safety of Gaza’s fishers. The relentless siege on Gaza has caused living standards to decline generally and particularly among fishers.

Many fishers cannot foot the bill for maintenance work on their vessels. Israel’s import restrictions have also led to a shortage of spare parts.

The shortage means that when spare parts are available to buy, they are more expensive than they were previously.

According to one man who carries out repair work on Gaza’s boats, the price of a new engine for a medium-sized vessel is now more than $11,000 – almost twice what it was a decade ago.

Three of Muhammad Musleh’s children. Ahmed Al-Sammak

The consequence of working in boats that are not seaworthy can prove fatal – as the story of Muhammad Musleh illustrates.

Muhammad, 40, drowned in September when the boat in which he was fishing capsized. Its engine had ceased to function.

His brother, Alaa, admitted that the boat was not in good condition. But the family had to keep using it for reasons of economic necessity.

“If we had had money to buy another engine, we wouldn’t have lost Muhammed,” Alaa said. “But we couldn’t afford a new one. And we still can’t.”

“I know it was wrong for us to go out to sea,” he said. “But we didn’t have another choice. I am a father of four, Fayez [another brother] is a father of three and Muhammad was also a father of four. Who else will feed our children?”

Ahmed Al-Sammak is a journalist based in Gaza.

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