Why did I “swap” US for Gaza?

Why did I “swap” US for Gaza?

Ghada Al-Haddad since her return to Gaza. (Photo courtesy of Ghada Al-Haddad)

Why did I leave the US and come back to Gaza?

I have been thinking about that question for more than a year now.

In September 2021, I returned to Palestine, having lived in the US since June 2019.

The time I spent away proved that some cliches have a lot of truth about them. Compared to Palestine, the US is indeed a land of opportunity.

I was there on a Fulbright scholarship. Most of my fellow students at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University had no difficulty finding jobs.

They were recruited by Deloitte, Grant Thornton and other big firms.

It was much easier to live in the US than in Gaza.

I felt welcome. Perhaps that was because I surrounded myself with other Arabs, though I did make a number of American friends.

For the last few months of my stay, I lived in Virginia and commuted to Washington for an internship.

During that time, I often had a weird sensation. Was it really true that I could travel inside the US without having to get a special permit?

Such freedom is unknown in Gaza.

Tempted to remain

My time in the US was by no means stress-free. During it, I figured out that I am traumatized.

Each time a plane flew overhead, I had painful memories of coming under aerial bombardment. All the images of war and destruction would pop up in my mind.

As I – like everyone in Gaza – have witnessed real horror, I was puzzled by the things that preoccupied Americans.

Around the time of the 2020 presidential election, most of my American friends were stressed.

One professor canceled classes because of the strain he felt under at that time. I saw advertisements offering psychological services over issues relating to the election.

Why, I wondered, was an election making people anxious?

In Gaza, I have never even been able to exercise my right to vote in a major election.

The last election for president of the Palestinian Authority was held in 2005. And the last election to the Palestinian Legislative Council was in 2006.

I was too young then to take part in both of them.

Ghada Al-Haddad in Syracuse, New York

The reason why I returned to Gaza is quite simple. My visa expired.

Yes, I was tempted to remain in the US without authorization. But I am someone who obeys rules.

Sowing hope

When I moved back to Gaza, I avoided speaking about my time in the US as much as possible. I do not want people in Gaza to feel envious or resentful.

On my return, I was struck by how – rather than welcoming me home – my friends in Gaza admonished me. They all told me that I should have stayed away.

It is not hard to see why. Overall, the unemployment rate here is approximately 44 percent, according to the latest official statistics.

At 72 percent, the rate is extremely high for people aged between 19 and 29 who hold an associate diploma or higher.

And when people manage to find work, their wages are frequently low.

One of my brothers is a nurse. He has two children and gets paid about $200 per month.

My brother struggles to feed his family.

As if the hardships caused by a complete Israeli blockade were not bad enough, we are subjected to full-scale attacks with dreadful regularity. One such attack took place in August this year.

Although my neighborhood was not directly targeted during the attack, there were explosions nearby.

We were frightened. When I held my young nephew after one blast, I could feel his heart pounding in his tiny body.

The attack once again underscored that nobody here is safe.

We have every reason to despair. Yet I refuse to do so.

The poet Mahmoud Darwish has written about how jobless and imprisoned Palestinians “sow hope.”

Gaza has been accurately described countless times as an open-air prison. All of us who live here are prisoners.

I could have escaped from this prison by remaining in the US. Instead, I opted to come back.

Despite all the suffering I have witnessed, I still yearn for a better tomorrow.

I remain optimistic that things will change if enough people around the world take action against Israel. It is our duty to sow hope.

Ghada Al-Haddad is a journalist based in Gaza.

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A Gaza il mare ora fa’ paura

di Michele Giorgio da il Manifesto del  6/09/22

Nella Striscia di Gaza nessuno dimentica i lutti sofferti da 49 famiglie durante l’ultima escalation, un mese fa, tra Israele e il Jihad islami e sotto i bombardamenti dell’aviazione israeliana. Ma la vita va avanti e a migliaia vanno in spiaggia e al mare, l’unica vacanza possibile per i 2 milioni e duecentomila palestinesi che vivono come prigionieri. Questo piccolo lembo di terra palestinese, sotto blocco israeliano da 15 anni, offre ai suoi abitanti circa 40 chilometri di costa. «Abbiamo solo il mare» ci dice Bilal, 29 anni, con la famiglia nella spiaggia del capoluogo Gaza city, «facciamo il bagno con le nostre bambine e ci proteggiamo dal gran caldo di questi giorni. Arriviamo al mattino e andiamo via al tramonto, come gran parte delle famiglie che vedi in spiaggia». Mentre Bilal risponde alle nostre domande, sette-otto ragazzi davanti a noi si tuffano in acqua lanciando urla di gioia. Una donna va in riva con la sua bimba che piange impaurita. Alle nostre spalle un nugolo di ragazzini circonda il carretto dei ghiaccioli da pochi centesimi. Scene da mare, come in qualsiasi parte del mondo. E fare il bagno a Gaza quest’anno è ancora più bello. Con il completamento di tre impianti di trattamento delle acque reflue – grazie a donazioni per 250 milioni di dollari – quest’estate i bagnanti possono tuffarsi senza temere malattie.

A qualcuno però il mare di Gaza fa paura. Dozzine di famiglie del campo profughi di Shate, alla periferia nord di Gaza city, lo vedono troppo vicino alle loro povere case fatiscenti. La crisi climatica, l’aumento delle temperature e il conseguente innalzamento dei mari sta avendo un impatto anche su Gaza dove la sostenibilità ambientale è già fragile da lungo tempo. «Il nostro campo è vicino al mare, un tempo avevamo la spiaggia, oggi è quasi sparita», ci racconta Mohammad Abu Hamada, 72 anni, figlio di profughi palestinesi della Nakba. «Fino a una decina di anni fa il mare era nostro amico» prosegue «la sua bellezza ci aiutava a sopportare la povertà. Ora non più, l’acqua è troppo vicina. Quando viene l’inverno e il mare è grosso abbiamo paura che le onde possano inghiottirci, assieme alle nostre case. Nessuno interviene e presto saremo costretti ad andare via, sta diventando pericoloso». Timori ampiamente giustificati.

La gente di Gaza, già costretta a sopportare le conseguenze di guerre e bombardamenti e la carenza di acqua potabile ed elettricità, ora deve lottare per costruire una resilienza climatica. «Non è facile porre rimedio alla devastazione ambientale mentre si è sotto blocco (israeliano) da anni, con una crisi umanitaria da affrontare ogni giorno» ci spiega il professore Ahmed Hilles, direttore del Nied, l’Istituto per l’ambiente e lo sviluppo a Rimal (Gaza city). «Gli interventi da fare sono urgenti» aggiunge «le precipitazioni complessive, già scarse, sono diminuite ulteriormente. E quando arrivano sono molto violente, in poche ore cadono gli stessi millimetri di pioggia che anni fa misuravamo in un arco di tempo molto più ampio e provocano inondazioni in aree urbane popolate. Non solo, queste piogge tanto violente devastano le coltivazioni accrescendo l’insicurezza alimentare e contribuiscono a far infiltrare nel terreno le sostanze tossiche di cui Gaza è impregnata».

In Medio Oriente le temperature sono aumentate di 1,5 gradi, ben al di sopra delle tendenze globali di 1,1 gradi. Le temperature dovrebbero salire di oltre 4 gradi entro la fine del secolo, accompagnate da una diminuzione delle precipitazioni annuali con stime che vanno dal 30 al 60%. Gaza è diventata un hotspot del cambiamento climatico all’interno di un hotspot in cui domina una emergenza umanitaria di base che vede al centro dei problemi la poca acqua potabile. Quella disponibile al 90% non è bevibile secondo gli standard internazionali. Il blocco israeliano è un fattore centrale perché accresce la difficoltà se non l’impossibilità di intervenire con progetti e programmi specifici per affrontate il cambiamento climatico e la poca acqua. Gli impianti di desalinizzazione costruiti a Gaza sono costosi, richiedono una manutenzione continua e non bastano a soddisfare il fabbisogno. «In media – ricorda il professor Hilles – una persona a Gaza riceve circa un quinto della quantità di acqua potabile raccomandata dall’Oms (solo 21 litri al giorno, contro i 100 litri raccomandati, ndr). Questo è meno del 10 percento dei 280 litri medi che i cittadini israeliani ricevono ogni giorno». A Gaza solo la falda acquifera costiera è sicura per bere ed è l’unica fonte d’acqua naturale della Striscia. Tuttavia, avverte Hilles, «questa riserva d’acqua, a causa dell’aumento del livello e della forza del mare, è infiltrata sempre di più dall’acqua salata. Un problema al quale contribuiscono anche l’estrazione eccessiva e le acque reflue non trattate». Intervenire non è facile. «Lo scontro in atto (dal 2007) tra il governo dell’Anp a Ramallah e quello di Hamas a Gaza complica qualsiasi tentativo di mettere in campo interventi seri per contrastare gli effetti del cambiamento climatico. Le due parti invece di farsi la guerra dovrebbero cooperare» ci dice un giornalista di Khan Yunis che vuole restare anonimo.

Ma l’ostacolo principale alla capacità di rispondere alla crisi umanitaria e a mitigare i cambiamenti climatici resta il blocco israeliano. Da anni Israele limita severamente l’ingresso di materiali a Gaza che definisce di «doppio uso», ossia utilizzabili sia per scopi civili che militari da parte di Hamas. L’accesso dei palestinesi ai materiali di base per la costruzione e la manutenzione delle infrastrutture è sotto il controllo dell’esercito israeliano che può decidere in qualsiasi momento di bloccare del tutto l’ingresso di certi materiali. Ciò rallenta i progetti per la riabilitazione delle reti idriche, per l’energia elettrica e la sicurezza alimentare. «Intanto – conclude il professor Hilles – aumentano i bisogni di una popolazione in forte crescita demografica in un territorio minuscolo. Ogni anno il saldo tra morti e nuovi nati fa segnare +70-80mila. Di pari passo aumentano i bisogni primari e si aggrava l’inquinamento».

 

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Euro-Med officer: Israeli security pretexts for Gaza blockade are ‘contradictory and entirely ridiculous’

GENEVA, Tuesday, September 6, 2022 (WAFA) – Euro-Med Monitor’s Chief of Programs and Communications, Muhammed Shehada, recently called Israel’s security pretexts for its Gaza blockade “contradictory and entirely ridiculous” considering that, “It’s now relatively easier for a Gazan to get a permit to work daily inside Israel than to get a permit to study, work, live, or marry in the West Bank”.

The 29 August webinar, entitled “Gaza’s Unending Nightmare”, was organized by the Middle East Council for International Affairs and featured Shehada as well as Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, Dalal Iriqat, Assistant Professor at the Arab American University (AAUP), and ME Council Fellow Omar Rahman.

Shehada shared that one of the worst aspects of living in Gaza is “the painfully slow passage of time that leads many young people to say: ‘we’re terrified of the idea of dying without experiencing living’.” Israeli authorities greatly restrict mobility between Gaza and the outside world, he told webinar attendees, citing “enforced bans on technological equipment as simple as ATMs and money counting machines…to further constrict the basic functioning of Gaza’s economy.”

As a result of decades of Israeli dehumanization and securitization of Gaza’s besieged population, Shehada noted that “Today, no Israeli politician on the right, left, or center would dare to show the slightest sign of genuine compassion towards Gaza because that would be political suicide. The only thing Israeli politicians do is show strength and deterrence in their actions and language towards Gaza.”

He stressed that Israel purposefully blocks intra-Palestinian reconciliation and obstructs elections, which necessitates concrete action from the international community to stop Israeli practices in this regard.

Shehada also discussed several reasons for cautious optimism, such as Gaza’s immense unrealized potential in terms of landscapes and natural resources, as well as Gazans’ resilience and entrepreneurial spirit despite the harsh limitations imposed on them. He mentioned Gaza Sky Geeks and We Are Not Numbers as powerful testaments to Gazan youths’ prodigious efforts to live in dignity in the face of successive humanitarian crises.

Shehada told attendees that one cannot disregard the harsh realities preventing the employment and development of Gazans’ human potential. Residents of Gaza suffer continually as a result of Israel’s collective punishment policy and other practices that keep them in constant fear of danger, such as the proliferation of drones above the Strip.

M.K.

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Israeli occupation have rejected or delayed 1922 medical permit requests for Palestinian patients from Gaza

UN has called on Israel to “end the arbitrary delay and denial of permits for Palestinian patients in need of essential care and ensure unhindered access for patients and their companions throughout the occupied Palestinian territory”, yet nothing changes.

source : days of Palestine

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Listen to Dr. Bakr as he narrated to Days of Palestine⁩ about his tragic experience during the last aggression on Gaza:

https://youtu.be/RDaBGUkJk9U

 

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Al Mezan holds Israel responsible for the death of 6-year-old patient in Gaza denied exit permit to access needed care in Jerusalem

Al Mezan strongly condemns the discriminatory movement restrictions and the arbitrary permit system imposed by Israeli authorities on Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip, which obstruct their access to hospitals outside Gaza. The most recent case of delay lead to the death of the six-year-old child Farouq Mohammed Abu Naja, who died after he was denied access to medical care at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

 

According to Al Mezan, Farouq’s legal representative, the child suffered from developmental regression. Despite having obtained a special medical referral and secured appointments at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israeli authorities denied him the requisite exit permit to travel there. Both patient

exit permit requests submitted to Israeli authorities on 12 January 2022 and 10 August 2022 remained under review. This delay led to a serious deterioration of Abu Naja health condition and eventually to his death on Thursday 25 August 2022.

 

Israel’s draconian, stifling closure of Gaza serves to deny inhabitants their fundamental right to health, and other inalienable rights, as part of an entrenched system of oppression, domination, and discrimination against the Palestinian people. Al Mezan’s documentation shows that since the beginning of 2022, four patients—including three children—have died following Israel’s denial of requests for exit permits and delay.

 

Al Mezan deeply regrets Farouq’s death. This case is yet another example of Israel’s continuing violation of international humanitarian and human rights law and its obligations as an occupying power, notably to respect and ensure freedom of movement in occupied territory and to guarantee the right to health of the occupied population. These obligations bear greater weight when involving children and, as provided in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Israel has an obligation to ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child. Delaying access to necessary medical care for a toddler for more than five months is unwarranted and grave.

Al Mezan emphasizes that Israel is fully responsible for Farouq’s death as the occupying power and relevant duty bearer in these circumstances. The State’s persistent breaches of its international law obligations require the intervention of the international community and accountability of perpetrators. The continued impunity granted to Israel and the absence of accountability encourage the recurrence of crimes and violations against the Palestinian people.

 

Al Mezan calls on the international community—in particular, the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions—to uphold their moral and legal obligations vis-à-vis the protected Palestinian people and to ensure Israel complies with its obligations under international law, ends the closure and blockade on the Gaza Strip, and stops its ongoing restrictions of Palestinian patients’ access to medical care outside the Gaza Strip. The continued impunity provided to the Israeli forces and the absence of accountability, encourage the repetition of crimes and violations against the Palestinian people.

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from Francesca Albanese

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Remember their names, they were just children…

The largest sand sculpture on the seashore of Gaza with the names of Palestinian children, who were killed by the Israeli occupation airstrikes during the latest onslaught on Gaza.

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Palestinians in Gaza held a vigil to denounce the killing of the five children whom ‘Israel’ admitted today having murdered

Palestinians in Gaza held a vigil to denounce the killing of the five children whom ‘Israel’ admitted today having murdered in an air strike on Al-Faluja Cemetery east of Jabalia during the most recent attack on Gaza.

 

 

The Egyptian authorities prevented 11-year-old Palestinian girl, Rahaf Salman, who lost both her legs and her right arm in an Israeli air strike in the latest onslaught on Gaza, from traveling through the Rafah crossing to Istanbul, Turkey, for treatment.

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Israeli Strike Killed 5 Gaza Children, Israeli Occupation Officials Admit, After Initially Blaming Islamic Jihad

https://daysofpalestine.ps/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/photo-2022-08-16-08-36-08-1660628397.jpg

Israeli Occupation officials have confirmed on Tuesday, August 16th, 2022, that Israel was responsible for the deaths of five minors killed on the last day of the recent attack over Gaza this month.

An army inquiry into the incident, which occurred on August 7 in the Al-Faluja Cemetery east of Jabalya, has concluded that the minors were killed by an Israeli airstrike, several military sources have confirmed.

Immediately after their deaths, several senior officers jumped to say that the five were most likely killed by a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket.

After a similar incident in the Jabalya refugee camp the day before that killed eight civilians, including children, an army inquiry concluded that this was in fact caused by a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket. The Palestinians had claimed the eight were killed by Israel, but the army quickly released evidence indicating that they were actually killed by Islamic Jihad.

“We didn’t conduct any strikes in that area, not in urban areas and not at that time,” Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Ran Kochav said shortly after the incident in the refugee camp. The head of the army’s Operations Directorate, Maj. Gen. Oded Bassuk, similarly said that “based on intelligence assessments, it can be concluded that this was a self-inflicted injury. We could see the rocket hit a Palestinian home.”

The next day, the IDF released what it said was evidence of the misfired rocket. The footage showed several rockets being launched, and one, circled in red, falling downward. The army claimed that this rocket had exploded inside Gaza.
But in the cemetery incident, despite their off-the-record assessments, senior IDF officers never commented publicly about who was responsible.

The five victims were Jamil al-Din Nijm, 3; Jamil Ihab Nijm, 13; Mohammad Nijm, 16; Hamed Nijm, 16; and Nathmi Karsh, 15. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, three of them had participated in a support program for trauma victims in Gaza.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said that during the three days of fighting, dubbed Operation Breaking Dawn, the army was working to defend the country’s security, and therefore “attacked Islamic Jihad military targets in the Gaza Strip. During its operations, the IDF made every reasonable effort to minimize, insofar as possible, harm to civilians and civilian property.”

The army investigates all its actions during the operation, the statement continued, and the cemetery incident is still being investigated.

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