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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video del medico di Nefrologia responsabile dell’Unità di dialisi pediatrica dell’ospedale specialistico pediatrico Rantissi di Gaza

Carissime/i,

ti inviamo un video del medico di Nefrologia responsabile dell’Unità di dialisi pediatrica dell’ospedale specialistico pediatrico Rantissi di Gaza, il dr. Moahmmed Al Aqar.

Speravamo di ospitarlo nell’Ospedale Pediatrico Santobono di Napoli, per un periodo di formazione e scambio di 3 mesi ed abbiamo raccolto i fondi per questo scopo. Ma non è riuscito ad attraversare il confine perché gli è stato negato il passaggio da parte degli egiziani, e non sono state fornite ragioni.

Sottratte le spese già fatte per questo progetto “abortito” (voli, visti, assicurazione, servizi telefonico e wifi, abbonamento bus, cioè quasi il 30% del fondo messo da parte) abbiamo i fondi residui da utilizzare e abbiamo deciso di spenderli per sostenere l’acquisto di forniture per il Dipartimento di Nefrologia, Unità di dialisi, dell’ospedale specialistico pediatrico Rantissi.

Visitando di persona il reparto, sappiamo che questo contributo sarà utile e molto gradito, e voi ascoltando il video capirete quante sono le esigenze non soddisfatte per l’unità di dialisi, a causa della scarsità di fondi nel Ministero della Salute.

Pertanto, vi chiediamo di aiutare attraverso di noi a dare sostegno a questa unità di dialisi e ad adottare uno dei 42 bambini che trascorrono 3-4 ore della loro vita ogni due giorni attaccati alla macchina per emodialisi.

In primo luogo e subito, speriamo di acquistare direttamente dalle aziende di Gaza le forniture mediche più urgenti da loro segnalate per la cifra residua dal training mancato, e se ci riusciamo con il vostro aiuto futuro fornire strumenti necessari.

Speriamo nel tempo di riuscire a fornire strumenti non medici ma che possano dare più conforto e rendere meglio usate per i bambini, ce ne sono 42 tra i 2 ei 15 anni, per esempio un aiuto a non perdere l’istruzione o per farli intrattenere mentre sono incatenati ai tubi, anche perché questo li aiuterebbe a non essere più fragili nel loro percorso scolastico e sociale.

Naturalmente, contiamo su di voi

Salute a tutti

Paola Manduca, Prof. Genetics

Dear all,

we send you a video by a Nephrologist, dr Mohammed Al Aqar, responsible for the Unit of pediatric dialysis in the specialistic pediatric hospital Rantissi in Gaza.

We hoped to host him in the Pediatric hospital Santobono in Naples for training and exchange for a period of 3 months. We collected funds sufficient for this aim. But he did not manage to cross the border due to the Egyptians denial of exit, and not reason off course were given.

Once we subtracted the expenses done already for this “aborted” project (flights, visa, insurance, phone and wifi services, bus pass, i.e. almost 30%) we have the residual funds to use and decided to spend them to support all the same the Department of Nephrology at Rantissi.

Visiting in person the department, I know this contribution would be very welcome; you will learn why from the video by dr. Mohammed, that tells us that many are the needs not fulfilled easily for the Dialysis unit, due to scarcity of funds in the Ministry of Health.

Thus, here we ask you to help through a donation to us in order to give your support to this unit and adopt one of the 42 children that spend 3-4 hours of their lives every second day attacked to the hemodialysis machine.

Immediately, we will buy directly from Gaza companies the most urgent medical supplies, as listed by the Department of Rantissi, and eventually we hope to buy some instruments.

Hopefully in time we hope to provide so that the children, there is 42 of them between 2 to 15 years of age, may have more comfort while in hospital, some help not miss education or manage to be engaged in a good activity while they are chained to the tubes for 3-4 hours. This may have value in helping them to be less fragile among the other children both in school and socially.

Off course, we count on you

Best to all

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Gaza in the face of two viruses: COVID-19 and occupation

Al Mezan and ActionAid Palestine jointly publish a fact sheet and a documentary on the challenges faced in tackling

COVID-19 under Israel’s Apartheid in the Gaza Strip

https://mezan.org/en/post/24182

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and ActionAid Palestine (member of the People’s Vaccine Alliance (PVA) – Asia) jointly publish a fact sheet that outlines the impact of Israel’s closure and blockade on Gaza’s healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a documentary film titled “Gaza in the face of two viruses: COVID-19 and occupation”.

The documentary addresses the obstacles faced in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic under Israel’s apartheid policy in the occupied Gaza Strip.

You can access the documentary film on the following Here.

https://mezan.org/en/uploads/files/1665041769435.pdfhttps://mezan.org/en/uploads/files/1665041769435.pdf

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The Untold Cost of War: Two Gaza Entrepreneurs Who Lost Everything

By Ahmed Dremly

‘Sami Haboush: The Shop was Our Last Hope’

A week before his blacksmith shop was bombed, Sami Haboush, 32, left the hospital against medical advice to bury his father, who died of a stroke in Israel while working.

Moreover, Sami couldn’t afford to stay in the hospital: he needed to work in his blacksmith shop, to make a living for his 16-member family.

He only stayed in the hospital for one week, though he would have needed to stay for more than a month to treat his gastrointestinal perforation and bacteremia.

“I had two choices: I could stay in the hospital and take the treatment for free or leave it and buy it myself,” Sami said. “But I was forced to choose a third option. I left the hospital and didn’t take the treatment because I had no money.”

“My mum suffers from a heart condition; her treatment costs 1000 Shekels ($280). If my brother and I work, we can afford it; if we don’t, we can’t. Her hair started falling out when stopped taking her treatment,” he explained .

The shop was the sole source of income for his family.

“In 2005, I stopped going to school to work with my father in our shop. He wanted me to complete my studies, but I refused, because he needed someone to help him,” Sami recounted.

“My father had a permit to work in Israel, so I stayed at the shop. We needed that income to pay our debts.”

When Sami’s father was in Israel, Sami worked alone in the workshop until he became ill and he was forced to close it during his stay at the hospital.

On August 5, Israel launched a deadly attack against the besieged Gaza Strip, killing 49 people, including 17 children and 3 women. At least 363 people were injured, among them 164 children and 59 women.

On the second day of the aggression, Sami worked as usual. Then, he closed the shop and went to repair something for a client. His cousin called him, urging him to go back home without returning to the shop.

“At the same time, I saw people gazing at the sky, as if they were waiting for something, in the direction of my shop,” Sami told The Palestine Chronicle.

When Sami asked a pedestrian what was going on, he was told that the Israeli army would bomb the Khalifa building, where his shop was.

“I ran to the shop, I wanted to die inside it. I don’t have another source of living. Many people had gathered 200 meters away from the building. When they saw me running toward the shop, they stopped me. Then, they took me home.”

When the bombing started, Sami and his mother were hugging each other and crying.

“The shop was our last hope. We never imagined the building would be bombed,” he said.

“30 minutes later, I went to my shop but it wasn’t there anymore. It had been completely destroyed. I couldn’t even find the door! My body started shivering and I cried loudly. Then, I fell to the ground. People tried to take me to the hospital, but I refused. I only wanted to stay in front of the rubble of my workshop.”

The following day, Sami went back to the shop and a partially destroyed hall fell on him and left him injured.

“My loss was $20,000. So far, no one has compensated me,” he said.

“Now, I borrow machines from my friends and work in the street, in front of my house. I used to have an assistant but I couldn’t pay him. I work for half the price; I would rather work alone from 7 am to 10 pm despite my physical suffering than bring in someone I can’t pay for.”

Sami was thinking of taking a $5,000 loan to rent and open a shop, but he didn’t because he had to repay $200 per month while he had no money.

“We were fine, yet they turned our life into pain. They stole the memories of 20 years. My heart was shattered; I lost hope.”

Mohammed El-Madhoon: ‘My Center was Destroyed Twice in Less than a Year’

Mohammed El-Madhoon, 32, a director of Centre for Training and Technological Development, lost his center in the Palestine Tower when Israel assassinated Taiseer al-Jabari, a senior commander in the Islamic Jihad movement, on December 6.

For Mohammed, this was the second time to lose his center as a result of an Israeli bombing. The first time was in the Kuhail building on May 18 during the 11-day-aggression on the Gaza Strip last year.

Mohammed was having a barbeque party with his family at the beach on Friday.

“Many people started calling me. I replied to my cousin, who told me that an Israeli assault started by bombing a commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad on the sixth floor of the Palestine Tower.” Mohammed told The Palestine Chronicle.

“My center was on the third floor. It cost me $12,000. I went to check the building. It was extremely damaged; most of the technology devices were broken. The place was no longer fit for training. I was shocked because it was the second time my center was destroyed in less than a year. It is like breaking your hand two times,” he said.

“So I suffered a financial crisis during the aggression because I had no money. It was my only source of income.”

Mohammed started working as a mentor in different training centers in Gaza in 2012

“I started my work for about 200 NIS per month. Then, I developed my skills and gave different courses. I was renting small halls for running courses. Then, I started gaining about 800 NIS per month,” Mohammed said.

Mohammed told The Palestine Chronicle that he got married in 2019. He rented a place with his wife’s help to set up his first center.

“I kept developing it for three years until the whole building was bombed in the 11-day aggression on Gaza in 2021,” he told us.

“I was planning with my colleagues to escape to the building if a war began. We couldn’t imagine they would bomb the building because it has only training and educational centers.”

Because of the loss of his only source of income, Mohammed suffered from depression after the war.

Mohammed had five employees in the first center, but he couldn’t bring them with him to the second center, because he was unable to pay their salaries.

“I only had one employee in the second center, and sometimes, I could not afford his $200 salary,” he said.

Mohammed said that he was never compensated for his loss. “Young men need support or they would develop a sense of failure. Somebody could commit suicide, while others would try to illegaly escape through seas or forests, which is another form of suicide.”

“My business was bombed and destroyed twice, and no one supported me! I have more than $5,000 in debt due to the bombing of my center two times. I don’t know how to pay my debt,” he confessed.

“Everyone has the right to security.”

The government in Gaza hasn’t published the last war cost yet, but the Ministry of Public Works declared that the damage resulting from the bombing of residential units amounts to 5 million dollars.

 

Source: The Palestine Chronicle

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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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