Gaza photographer captured and tortured by Israel

Hatim Abu Sharia

Hatim Abu Sharia is a photographer who was attacked while doing his job.

On 28 May 2018, Hatim was covering the Great March of Return – regular protests called to demand respect for basic Palestinian rights.

Accompanied by a fellow photographer, he was close to Gaza’s boundary with Israel, when Israeli snipers began firing toward them.

Hatim and his colleague managed to find a hiding place, where they could avoid the snipers’ bullets.

While they were spared death, the two men were soon found by Israeli troops.

The soldiers captured both men and took them to the boundary.

“They made us take off all our clothes, except our underwear,” Hatim said. “They kept hitting us until my glasses were broken.”

Hatim and his colleague were handcuffed and driven to Erez, an Israeli military checkpoint.

“Even on the road, they [Israeli soldiers] kept beating us,” Hatim said.

That evening, the two men were taken to a prison in Ashkelon, a city in Israel. When they arrived, the prison’s administrators claimed it was too late for them to enter.

They had to spend the night outdoors, with Israeli personnel watching over them.

“We were still wearing only our underwear and handcuffed,” Hatim said. “And we were blindfolded.”

As it was Ramadan, the two men had been fasting all day. They were not offered anything to eat or drink by their captors that evening.

The following morning, the two men were brought into the prison.

It was the beginning of a lengthy period during which Hatim was subjected to extreme violence, both overtly physical and psychological.

“In almost every interrogation, they beat and tortured me,” he said.

Cramped conditions

Hatim was placed in solitary confinement. His conditions were extremely cramped.

“Sometimes they put me in a cell that was just 1.5 meters long,” he said. “I am 1.95 meters tall.”

Hatim was eventually put on trial in May 2019 – a year after his arrest.

He was charged with entering Israel unlawfully and photographing military facilities without authorization. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment (the sentence included the year he spent in pre-trial detention).

When he heard of his sentence, “I felt like I wanted to cry,” Hatim said. “But I didn’t want to break down in front of the Israeli authorities.”

During the trial, Hatim was kept in Nafha prison. The conditions there were a little better than in Ashkelon.

“I found people to speak with,” he said. “I could cut my hair and take a shower, after spending 53 days without bathing.”

Many other prisoners who he met had been handed sentences of 20 or 30 years. Knowing that his own sentence was shorter eased things slightly.

Hatim was held in Eshel – a prison in the city of Beersheba – but later transferred to Ketziot, which is located in the Naqab region. He was not given any reason for the transfer.

“Your name suddenly comes up for transfer,” he said. “They move you on a whim. You’ve built up friendships and suddenly you’re with new people.”

“They didn’t like seeing us happy”

Hatim found ways of defying his jailers.

Using smuggled mobile phones, he applied to sit the tawjihi, an exam taken before going to university.

Israel does not allow textbooks into prisons. To challenge that ban, Hatim had school books smuggled to him.

The books’ covers and initial 10 pages were altered so that the prison authorities would think that they belonged to the categories of permitted reading material.

Many other prisoners also sat the exams. As the number of textbooks were available, they developed a system whereby each prisoner would have a book for a week and then hand it over to others.

Exam papers are also not allowed. So one prisoner would have to communicate with a particular school, find out the exam questions and then circulate them among other prisoners.

Being able to overcome obstacles created a sense of camaraderie among the prisoners. When Hatim learned he had passed the exam, an impromptu party ensued.

Hearing prisoners break into song, the prison authorities demanded to know why so much noise was coming from the cells.

“They didn’t like seeing us happy,” Hatim said.

“Right-hand man”

Hatim’s mother Fayqa sought permission – via the International Committee of the Red Cross – to visit him on numerous occasions.

All her requests were turned down.

First, Israel cited “security” as a pretext. Later, it invoked restrictions introduced amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the death of his father in 2015, Hatim’s bonds with his mother became increasingly strong.

“Hatim was my right-hand man,” Fayqa said. “When he was imprisoned, I felt like I had lost him.”

The early stages of his detention were especially difficult. With almost no information available to her, Fayqa was uncertain that he was alive until he called her one day with a mobile phone smuggled into prison.

Eventually, Hatim was released in May this year.

“I shed tears of joy when I could hug him again,” Fayqa said. “The feeling was indescribable.”

Now aged 28, Hatim is trying to rebuild his life. He has just become engaged.

Numerous photographers and reporters were attacked during the Great March of Return.

Israel killed two photojournalists – Yaser Murtaja and Ahmad Abu Hussein – while they were covering those protests. Ninety other media workers were wounded.

Israel’s attacks on the press have continued since then. Such attacks caught the attention of the world’s media last year when Israeli forces killed Shireen Abu Akleh, a journalist with Al Jazeera, in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

While Abu Akleh’s killing prompted expressions of concern – so far toothless – from the United States (where she held citizenship) and the European Union, most violence against Palestinian media workers elicits no response from powerful governments.

Hatim Abu Sharia is among many whose plight has been ignored.

Mohammed Hamo is a journalist and translator based in Gaza.

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Deep-buried bombs imperil Gaza

Deep-buried bombs imperil Gaza

A member of Gaza’s General Department of Forensic Evidence and Explosive Ordnance Disposal team uses a shovel to remove an ordnance component in eastern Gaza on 18 July 2023.

Mohammed Zaanoun The Electronic Intifada

Hijazi Abu Jarad’s home in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza is surrounded by olive and citrus trees. The orchard is normally a pleasant place to be, but it is currently cordoned off by red and white caution tape.

Near the center of that tape is a hole, about one meter wide and eight meters deep, and inside the hole is an unexploded Israeli bomb.

The soil is soft on Abu Jarad’s farm, so this bomb did not detonate on impact. Instead, it sank into the earth the night of 12 May 2023, during Israel’s five-day attack on Gaza.

“The bomb may explode at any time,” Abu Jarad said. “Five families live in the area. My neighbor often doesn’t sleep in his house out of fear.”

The bomb is located about 30 meters from Abu Jarad’s home, where he lives with 11 family members, including eight grandchildren.

“Even going to the grocery is a perilous task,” Abu Jarad said. “When I go out, the rocket and my grandchildren are still in my mind.”

Farmer Hijazi Abu Jarad stands next to a hole that contains a deep-buried bomb dropped by Israel during the May 2023 attack near his home in Beit Hanoun, Gaza.

Mohammed Zaanoun The Electronic Intifada

Crews from the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and Gaza’s General Department of Forensic Evidence and Explosive Ordnance Disposal, or EOD, have visited the site and confirmed that the bomb has not exploded.

Still, the Gaza-based teams have not been able to remove the bomb because it is so deeply buried; they must wait for the equipment and funding of UNMAS.

The bomb has hindered all operations on Abu Jarad’s farm, the family’s main source of income, since he can’t access parts of his land.

Abu Jarad’s dilemma is not an anomaly in Gaza, where 19 Palestinians were killed and 170 injured by explosive remnants of war from 2014 to 2020.

According to the UN, 8,786 explosive remnants of war have been removed and destroyed since 2014; 7,000 of those remnants were from Israel’s 2014 war.

Major Ahmad Othman, the director of the technical unit of Gaza’s EOD department, told The Electronic Intifada that the EOD team has carried out more than 300 field missions since May. On 32 occasions, those missions concerned Iron Dome missile remnants. By his unit’s estimate, Israel dropped 277 tons of ordnance on Gaza during its May attacks.

Without access to the latest ordnance removal equipment or advanced training abroad due to the Israeli siege, Gaza’s EOD teams often find themselves ill-equipped to dispose of Israeli ordnance. Othman said that 17 EOD team members have been killed while removing ordnance in the last two decades.

Othman himself lost several fingers while disposing of unexploded ordnance in 2018.

“The EOD is completely civilian and we need the equipment to rescue people,” he said.

The EOD has appealed to international bodies to pressure Israel into allowing the much-needed equipment.

Deep-buried bombs

The Electronic Intifada joined Othman’s EOD team on a mission in the eastern Gaza neighborhood of Zeitoun in July.

After almost three hours of combing the area under the scorching sun, the four-member crew found an Iron Dome missile that had been launched in May 2023.

Members of Gaza’s General Department of Forensic Evidence and Explosive Ordnance Disposal team transport an unexploded Iron Dome missile in eastern Gaza, on 18 July 2023.

Mohammed Zaanoun The Electronic Intifada

The crew used ropes to move the explosive remnants.

“We don’t have any bomb suits due to the siege,” Othman said. “We use ropes to move the explosive remnants, although this is a very primitive way, because we don’t have robots or modern equipment.”

The crews have only a single four-wheel cart to facilitate ordnance transportation. And due to the lack of bulldozers, they use shovels and other basic tools for excavation.

Once removed, the ordnance is then loaded onto the beds of their trucks, which are not shrapnel-proof.

Othman noted that the lack of equipment puts crews’ lives at risk.

And yet another challenge faced by the crews is that they are not able to extract deep-buried ordnance.

“We don’t have equipment,” Othman said. “We can’t pull out deep-buried bombs. We have to wait for UNMAS to work on fully funded projects.”

While the EOD teams and UNMAS have disposed of dozens of deep-buried bombs in recent years, Othman said there are still at least seven deep-buried bombs in Gaza.

To dispose of the unexploded ordnance, the crews use explosive material to detonate it off-site.

“We still have dozens of unexploded Israeli white phosphorus [bombs] since 2008 and we still don’t know how to dispose of them,” he said. “The needed explosive material is missing in Gaza and Israel has refused to [let it enter].”

Wrecked resort

Ayman Shamlakh, the owner of Al-Baidar Resort on the coast of Gaza City, is still waiting for an EOD team to remove unexploded ordnance from his property.

In February 2023, Israel targeted the resort with a barrage of rockets, reducing it to ruins.

“Israel claimed the place was used for military purposes,” said Shamlakh, who noted that there is no truth to this claim. He ran the resort for 25 years, and it was his primary source of income, earning around $50,000 a year.

Yet now there is a bomb buried deep in the ground and he cannot begin reconstruction on his resort or remove any rubble until the ordnance is excavated.

Ayman Shamlakh’s Al-Baidar Resort in Gaza has been targeted by Israel numerous times.

Mohammed Zaanoun The Electronic Intifada

This was not the first time Israel attacked his resort, which is located near a Palestinian military outpost. The resort was also damaged during Israeli attacks in 2012, 2014 and 2021.

“Each damage would cost me from $10,000 to $20,000,” he said. “The place cost me one million dollars [to build].”

Salah Abdul Ati, the director of the International Commission to Support Palestinians’ Rights, said that Israel’s use of white phosphorus bombs, vacuum bombs and suicide drones puts Palestinians at exceptional risk.

As the top supplier of military aid to Israel – $3.8 billion annually – the United States is equally culpable.

Referring to Israel’s unlawful employment of white phosphorus and other attacks, Abdul Ati stated, “Israel intentionally uses internationally banned weapons in densely populated areas in Gaza.” He added, “Israel has used the Palestinian territories, especially Gaza, as a testing ground for its weapons.”

Environmental decay

Muhammad Musleh, director of the environmental protection unit at Gaza’s Water Environmental Quality Authority, told The Electronic Intifada that the Israeli ordnance dropped on Gaza is an exceptionally perilous and noxious threat to the environment. Musleh, who participated in a study examining the destructive impact of Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza’s environment, noted that the bombings have contaminated crops and destroyed soil quality in agricultural areas.

“Rainfall causes the toxic components to seep into the groundwater,” Musleh said, noting that deep-buried bombs “pose a significant threat to the people and the environment.”

Back in Beit Hanoun, on Abu Jarad’s farm, the May 2023 bombing destroyed 50 olive trees and numerous seedlings, contaminating the soil with toxic components and harming the productivity of the farm.

“Trees can’t grow where the rockets bombed,” farmer Abu Jarad said. “When I run the tap water [which is from a well], I clearly see the gray and black polluted water.”

Ahmed Al-Sammak is a journalist based in Gaza.

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Gaza’s Meow Cat Cafe pounces into hearts of war-stricken residents

Gaza’s first cat cafe, a concept that originated in Taiwan, is allowing residents to distract themselves from the Israeli occupation’s brutality.

In a bid to sprinkle a dash of positivity in the lives of Palestinian residents grappling with the relentless challenges of daily life within the confines of the blockaded Palestinian territory that occasionally suffers from days-long Israeli campaigns of terror, a heartwarming haven named the Meow Cat Cafe has emerged as a beacon of respite.

The innovative brainchild of Nehma Maabad, a visionary and empathetic 50-year-old entrepreneur, this unique establishment seeks to uplift spirits and offer a tranquil escape through socializing with felines.

Nestled amidst the bustling streets of Gaza City, the Meow Cat Cafe opened its doors to the public this week, unveiling an enchanting world mixing coffee with cats and socializing.

For Maabad, who believes cats to be therapeutic and alleviate psychological distress, this project represents the convergence of two aspirations: serving her fellow citizens and giving them a much-needed source of joy.

Meow Cat Cafe features a dedicated space adorned with wooden platforms covered in lush astroturf for the cats to clamber onto, as well as paintings and portraits featuring feline muses, adding to the whimsical atmosphere of the haven.

While the phenomenon of cat cafes has swept across the globe, the circumstances in which the Meow Cat Cafe has emerged are quite moving. The first of its kind, the cafe aims to alleviate the stress of some at a time as two million suffer under the Israeli occupation.

Gaza has long been under a blockade imposed by the Israeli occupation, one that remained enforced despite numerous wars waged on the Strip by “Israel” and the destruction that has caused.

Despite the numerous crises and adversity, Meow Cat Cafe stands as a testament to the spirit of resilience and the innate human capacity to find solace and joy even in the most trying times.

For a nominal fee of nearly 10 shekels ($2.65), patrons are granted an hour of blissful interaction with the feline residents, an investment that not only supports the welfare of the cats but also contributes towards covering their food and essential veterinary expenses.

Maabad stresses the significance of this fee as it not only allows the cats to thrive but also ensures the persistence of this project.

“The quality of cats here is beautiful and sweet, so it’s a wonderful idea – despite its strangeness to society – and when I heard about it I felt happy,” one patreon said, as quoted by AFP.

Maabad explained that the idea of the endeavor was “to have something nice with a cup of coffee […] A cat that you play with and it makes you smile and forget the pressures of life.”

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How Palestinians started smuggling their sperm out of Israeli prisons

An entire generation of Palestinian children has been born through sperm smuggled by Palestinian prisoners behind bars. Israel refuses to recognize these children. In doing so, it criminalizes Palestinian life itself.

In the darkness of Israeli prison cells and the Supreme Court’s halls, there’s no shortage of injustice levied against Palestinian detainees. We were reminded of this grim reality last week when the Israeli Local District Court denied the release of terminally-ill Palestinian prisoner Walid Daqqah, who has completed his 37-year sentence but is still being held for an additional two years for acts he carried out inside prison. One of those acts is smuggling cell phones inside prison, which Palestinian prisoners use to contact loved ones in light of the denial of family visitation. The other is the smuggling of his own sperm outside of prison to his wife, Sana Salameh, in a fertility clinic.

Together, they conceived their daughter, Milad, which in Arabic means “birth.” Milad is now 3.

Walid is not the only Palestinian to smuggle his sperm outside of prison. The story of Walid Daqqah is the story of a nation, and many others have sought to stubbornly cling to life by insisting on creating it, even as they languish behind the prison’s walls. As Daqqah was serving his life sentence, he requested the Israeli court to allow him to have children given his long-term sentence, but his request was denied. So when he and others like him defied the Israeli prison authorities, they faced harsh repercussions. For Walid, he was denied family visitation and the right to visit his daughter, and his sentence was extended. Daqqah’s family has stated that the Israeli District Court’s recent decision to deny his early release is effectively a death sentence.

Milad Daqqa, left, standing next to a poster depicting her father, Walid Daqqa, holding up the victory sign with the sentence "Free Walid Daqqah" at the bottom, at a rally calling for his freedom.
Milad Daqqah, left, with a poster of her father, Walid Daqqah, at a rally calling for his freedom. (Photo: Social Media)

But for Palestinian prisoners, these punitive measures have hardly deterred them in their attempt to resist the attempts of the Israeli prison system to break them. Most Palestinian prisoners enter Israeli prison very young, and leave — if they are lucky — significantly older. Many are serving double or triple life sentences amounting to over 100 years — commonplace sentences for Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

Instead of losing hope, Palestinian prisoners — especially the married ones with spouses waiting for them on the outside — conceived an entire generation of Palestinian children through smuggled sperm. These children are known as “the ambassadors of freedom.”

How sperm smuggling started

Sperm smuggling started in 2012 as a reaction to the Israeli ban on family visitation for Palestinian prisoners. The first successful case of smuggled sperm was in August 2012, when Palestinian prisoner Ammar al-Zobn from Nablus, who was serving 26 consecutive life sentences, successfully smuggled his sperm to his wife, bringing to life a baby boy.

Since then, the phenomenon of sperm smuggling has increased dramatically among Palestinian prisoners, especially with the predominance of long sentences. Even if these prisoners are eventually released, by the time they are, having a child in most cases is not an option. This is their way of fighting back against the fate that Israel decided for them.

Tamer Za’anin, 38, is the first prisoner from Gaza who successfully conceived a child through smuggled sperm and who was later released to meet that child for the first time after serving his 12-year sentence.

Tamer now lives in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza. For him, the years he spent in prison were not wasted because it was in those years that he was able to father his son, Hassan.

His wife Aysha had heard the news in 2013 about a prisoner’s wife from the West Bank who got pregnant through smuggled sperm. Aysha immediately wanted the same. “I was hesitant and worried about my wife,” Tamer told Mondoweiss. “I was afraid that society would judge her. But my wife was prepared for everything. Whenever I expressed any fear, she reassured me.”

Aysha told Mondoweiss that she was desperate for a child, as her husband would be in prison for 12 years.

“Smuggling my husband’s sperm embodied a vow that I will never let my husband down or leave him alone,” she said. “After I received the sperm, I started to do everything to make Tamer feel better. So I informed the family, the local news, and the nearby mosques that I got a sperm sample from my detained husband and that I will use it to get pregnant,” she added.

Now that they can be a family together, Tamer, Aysha, and their child Hassan are all grateful for taking that risk and overcoming it.

“When I got out of prison and hugged my son, I felt that all the years I spent inside Israeli prison blowing away with the wind,” Tamer told Mondoweiss. “I felt that I could be with my family. It’s an indescribable feeling.”

Criminalizing sperm smuggling, criminalizing life

In June of this year in eastern Shuja’iyya, a small celebration was being held for newborn quadruplets who arrived home in full health, all of them born from the smuggled sperm of their father, Ahmad Shamali, who has three years left on an 18-year sentence. The Shamali family won’t reveal how it was smuggled outside of Israeli prison or how it reached them, as they do not want Israel to discover the different smuggling methods at the disposal of Palestinian prisoners. Usually, prisoners are happy to have one child from the smuggling of such sensitive material, and they were granted four all at once.

“It’s a huge victory and a source of happiness for all of us,” Ahmad’s wife said in an earlier interview with the local media. “We tried two times before this one, but it didn’t work. Now, by the grace of God, we’ve been blessed with four children all at once.”

But after a week of the intense media attention that their case received, the Israeli Prison Services retaliated by punishing Ahmad, placing him in solitary confinement. As a result, the family no longer speaks to the media, not wanting to give Israeli authorities any additional reason to enact punitive measures against Ahmad.

Cases like these have made families in Gaza whose children were born through smuggled sperm and whose father still remains behind bars reluctant to speak to the media. And Israel’s penalization of Palestinian prisoners for their actions has only increased in recent years. “There are harsh Israeli sanctions on prisoners who managed to smuggle their sperm,” Abdullah Qandeel, a representative of the Wa’ed Institute for Prisoner Affairs in Gaza, told Mondoweiss. “This includes solitary confinement and bans on family visitation.”

In fact, Israeli authorities refuse to acknowledge these children are actually related to the prisoner, a form of institutional violence that has real consequences.

Sana' Salameh (left), wife of Palestinian prisoner Walid Daqqah, and their daughter Milad (right), before a visit of Daqqah in prison.
Sana’ Salameh (left), wife of Palestinian prisoner Walid Daqqah, and their daughter Milad (right), before visiting Daqqah in Ashkelon prison. (Photo: Social Media)

“Israel does not recognize the newborn babies conceived through smuggled sperm,” Qandeel clarified. “So there is no way for them to visit their fathers inside Israeli prison.”

There have been some very rare exceptions. One of them is Milad, who was able to visit her father, Walid, after several attempts. But the vast majority do not get this chance.

“Family visitation for prisoners without barriers is one of the many rights guaranteed by international law,” Qandeel said. “But Israel denies them this right.”

In doing so, Israel criminalizes Palestinian life itself. In the face of this criminalization, Palestinian prisoners continue to insist on their right to freedom, and their right to life by creating it.

And as of the time of writing, 115 children have been born in Gaza through smuggled sperm.

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Gaza industries getting back on their feet, again

a solar panelled roof
Initiatives, like this solar-paneled roof in Gaza’s industrial zone, are giving hope to industry that production will no longer be hampered by an irregular electricity supply.

Mohammed Salem The Electronic Intifada

Gaza’s economy has taken a battering over the past 16 years of Israel’s blockade on the impoverished coastal enclave.

But adversity breeds defiance, and some sectors of Gaza’s economy are pulling themselves to their feet in spite of the circumstances.

The al-Bawab manufacturing facility, also known as Unipal 2000, currently exports 150,000 to 160,000 items of women’s clothing to the Israeli market.

This marks a remarkable turnaround for a company that had left Gaza to survive in 2007. The company relocated to Egypt in the aftermath of clashes between Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian political factions, following the former’s parliamentary election victory the year before, and the full blockade Israel imposed.

“In 2017, we shut down the business in Egypt and returned to Gaza, with the hope of resuming production for the local and Israeli markets, the way we did before 2007,” said owner Nabil al-Bawab.

The factory is now located in the PADICO industrial zone to the east of Gaza City and just west of Shujaiya, the neighborhood that was the site of a massacre during Israel’s 2014 assault.

PADICO is a Palestinian investment group that, among a number of other interests, runs two industrial zones, one in Gaza and one in Jericho.

The Gaza industrial zone is nearly 500,000 square meters, allowing plenty of space for the dozens of companies and factories operating there. Unipal 2000 runs a large facility that employs more than 1,000 people, according to al-Bawab, who said the return to Gaza – even with the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic – had been a success.

“We only stopped production for a short period of time once, back in May 2021,” al-Bawab told The Electronic Intifada. This was during Israel’s May assault on Gaza that year, he said.

The size and scale of Unipal is an aberration in Gaza, where poverty runs at over 50 percent and unemployment has reached 45 percent, while investment opportunities have been few and far between.

In 2020, the UN estimated that Israel’s blockade had cost Gaza’s economy nearly $17 billion in the years 2007-2018.

Aiding al-Bawab’s production are the power generators made available by PADICO to mitigate for power shortages that have been a major problem in Gaza ever since Israel bombed the coastal strip’s only power plant in 2006.

Since then, Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have had to cope with eight hours of power, followed by eight hours of outage.

Hope for industry

Nevertheless, at the Gaza offices of the Palestinian Federation of Garment and Textile Industries, Fuad Odeh, head of the union, spoke with optimism about Gaza’s garment industry, which, he said, currently employs 8,000 people and contributes $20 million to Gaza’s economy annually.

He hopes the industry will expand to employ 12,000 people in the next few years.

“Local producers have excelled at their job for about four decades now,” Odeh told The Electronic Intifada.

In addition, international investment in solar power – some of which has benefited the industrial zone – has somewhat eased concerns over the reliability of electricity supply, allowing industries to save significant money otherwise spent on spare generators, said Odeh.

Over the past year, Odeh added, Gazan companies have met 90 percent of local demand for jilbab, traditional women’s dresses, that importers used to bring from Jordan. They are also producing half of Gaza’s jeans, according to Odeh, with the other half being imported from Turkey.

Nevertheless, Gaza’s garment manufacturers continue to face significant obstacles as a result of the closure on Gaza, including stringent rules for pallet sizes for export, that raise the costs of shipping.

Another major industry in Gaza is food processing.

The Saraya al-Wadiya food-processing facility, also located in the PADICO industrial zone, processes potato chips and cookies for the Gaza and West Bank markets.

During Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, the company lost more than $5 million due to damage to its factory near the eastern boundary of Gaza.

As a result, the owners sold their real estate assets in Gaza and managed to survive without financial compensation by opening a factory in the PADICO zone.

The company also expanded to Egypt, opening a factory with four times the capacity of the existing facility in Gaza, according to Ayman al-Jadba, a company marketing official.

The Egyptian location allows the company to export to several Arab countries, including Sudan, Libya and Bahrain, in an effort to make up for the difficulty in exporting directly to these countries from Gaza.

Indeed, the company sued the Israeli government in 2019 for improved access for exports.

The Saraya al-Wadiya factory in the PADICO zone employs more than 200 workers.

At the Gaza City office of the Palestinian Food Industries Union, Tayseer al-Safadi, union deputy-head, also told The Electronic Intifada that he was optimistic for more exports from Gaza to the outside world.

“We hope there will be more industrial zones in the Gaza Strip. For now, we have tens of food production facilities,” al-Safadi said.

This hope is shared by Khader Shinawara of the General Union of Industries, an umbrella group for 13 different industrial sectors in Gaza.

The group has been in contact with relevant international bodies over ways to develop industry in Gaza, Shinawara told The Electronic Intifada, and is looking at progressive plans for a green economy.

“We are trying to be optimistic,” said Shinawara.

Rami Almeghari is a journalist based in Gaza.

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The Elephant in the Room

more than 600 jews intellectuals….
Firmato da oltre 600 accademici e personalità Israeliane e israelo americane, tra cui tra cui Benny Morris, Avraham Burg, Michael Sfard, Eyal sivan, Paul Mendes Flohr, Avi Shlaim, Dov Waxman, Nurit Peled, ecc.  Invita ad  appoggiare il movimento di protesta in Israele, sostenere le organizzazioni in difesa dei diritti umani dei palestinesi, porre fine all’impunità di cui Israele gode internazionalmente.
Signed by more than 600 academics and Israeli personalities and israel-north americans. Benny Morris, Avraham Burg, Michael Sfard, Eyal sivan, Paul Mendes Flohr, Avi Shlaim, Dov Waxman, Nurit Peled, etc.

We, academics and other public figures from Israel/Palestine and abroad, call attention to the direct link between Israel’s recent attack on the judiciary and its illegal occupation of millions of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Palestinian people lack almost all basic rights, including the right to vote and protest. They face constant violence: this year alone, Israeli forces have killed over 190 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and demolished over 590 structures. Settler vigilantes burn, loot, and kill with impunity.

Without equal rights for all, whether in one state, two states, or in some other political framework, there is always a danger of dictatorship. There cannot be democracy for Jews in Israel as long as Palestinians live under a regime of apartheid, as Israeli legal experts have described it. Indeed, the ultimate purpose of the judicial overhaul is to tighten restrictions on Gaza, deprive Palestinians of equal rights both beyond the Green Line and within it, annex more land, and ethnically cleanse all territories under Israeli rule of their Palestinian population. The problems did not start with the current radical government: Jewish supremacism has been growing for years and was enshrined in law by the 2018 Nation State Law.

American Jews have long been at the forefront of social justice causes, from racial equality to abortion rights, but have paid insufficient attention to the elephant in the room: Israel’s long-standing occupation that, we repeat, has yielded a regime of apartheid. As Israel has grown more right-wing and come under the spell of the current government’s messianic, homophobic, and misogynistic agenda, young American Jews have grown more and more alienated from it. Meanwhile, American Jewish billionaire funders help support the Israeli far right. 

In this moment of urgency and also possibility for change, we call on leaders of North American Jewry – foundation leaders, scholars, rabbis, educators – to

No more silence. The time to act is now.

 List of the first 10 on 600 signatories
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progetti sostenuti con i fondi Otto per Mille della Chiesa Valdese

NWRG ha realizzato, o sta realizzando, i seguenti progetti sostenuti con i fondi Otto per Mille della Chiesa Valdese:

OPM/2021/22715 Sostegno allo screening per malattie infettive neonatali nella striscia di Gaza, Palestina, concluso. Contributo totale utilizzato per il progetto: € 43.065,22
Il progetto ha permesso di fornire al laboratorio del Ministero della Salute a Gaza i materiali per la diagnosi e cura delle sepsi neonatali nei reparti di cura intensiva neonatale, che, data la situazione di carenza attuale, ha reso necessario un intervento esterno per garantire la continuità di questo
servizio essenziale

OPM/2022/32180 Provvedere medicine essenziali e strumenti per salvare neonati immunocompromessi ed altri neonati a rischio a Gaza, Palestina, in fase di verifica finale. Contributo totale assegnato al progetto: € 47.000,00
Il progetto prevede di procurare medicamenti (gamma immunoglobuline), necessari per la sopravvivenza di neonati ad alto rischio di morte perché immunocompromessi, e un ventilatore portatile, necessario per la ventilazione di neonati gravi che richiedono trasferimento in ospedali specializzati. Il ventilatore è stato consegnato nel febbraio 2023 all’unità di cura intensiva neonatale dell’Ospedale pediatrico Nasser di Gaza City. Un totale di 67 fiale di immunoglobuline, dopo un lungo periodo di ricerca dei necessari quantitativi di tale farmaco, attualmente di molto difficile reperimento, è stato consegnato in due lotti, nel giugno e nel luglio 2023, alla farmacia centrale del Ministero della Salute di Gaza per la sua distribuzione alle tre unità di cura intensiva neonatale degli ospedali Al Shifa (GazaCity), Al Taheer (Kan Younes), Al Nasser (Gaza City).

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How do people with disabilities cope when Israel bombs Gaza?

When Israel invaded southern Gaza in 2014, Alaa al-Nahal, who is deaf, could not hear the Israeli attacks but he could feel them. Above, several men assist a woman wounded in the 2014 Israeli airstrikes on Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

Ramadan El-Agha APA images

Emad Qudeih was sitting with his friends on the road close to his house in Khan Younis when a loud explosion shook the area. It was May 2016, and he was only 13. Everyone panicked and fled, leaving him alone.

“I attempted to flee, but I didn’t know what road was safe,” Qudeih, now 20, said. “I’m blind. I just froze and awaited my fate.”

He remained still, frozen in fear, until his father rushed to his side and took him home. The Israeli military had bombed the area, and this was not the first time Qudeih had been caught in the violence of the occupation.

In the 2014 war, Qudeih and his family had to evacuate their home during Israeli ground invasions of the southern Gaza Strip.

All Palestinians in Gaza are vulnerable during Israeli attacks, but blind Palestinians are even more at risk.

Medications of no use

Qudeih was not born blind; he lost his sight gradually.

In the first grade, he lost sight in his right eye due to retinal detachment. Two years later he lost sight in his left eye for the same reason. He was 7 years old.

Between the ages of 7 and 14, he had surgery after surgery at St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital.

“The surgeries proved successful, and I was able to see for a while,” Qudeih said, “but a haze would eventually obscure my vision.”

It turned out that there was bleeding in his retinas. The doctors said the bleeding would go away with time and medications like eye drops.

“But the medications were of no use,” Qudeih said.

In 2015, when he was 12 years old, he traveled to Spain and underwent five surgeries in three months, but he lost vision completely several months after the surgeries.

Qudeih spoke to The Electronic Intifada at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he is pursuing a degree in English translation.

“In addition to proving myself to my professors,” he said, “it took me time to learn to navigate university facilities.”

He counts his steps while walking, so he can retrace them. He has also memorized various routes to help him get around.

“I want to be an activist who appears on TV, speaking both Arabic and English,” Qudeih said, “describing our needs as both disabled people and as Palestinians.”

“No one is going to hire a deaf person”

Alaa al-Nahal, 52, was watching the news on television during Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, when suddenly he felt rumbling very close to his home, though he heard nothing.

“I felt the floor shaking and understood that the Israelis were bombing very near,” he said. “My wife hurried to me, telling me that it is better to evacuate the house.”

The family gathered their belongings to evacuate Rafah – Gaza’s southernmost city. Israel declared a ground invasion on the Gaza Strip from the south.

As the family were preparing to leave, a strong explosion shattered the windows.

“They didn’t give us any warning [of the bombing],” al-Nahal said.

Despite the terror of that night, al-Nahal said he didn’t face any special challenges during the war.

“I found no difficulties other than not feeling safe in my house.”

Many Palestinians in Gaza, living under siege, might say the same thing. But when al-Nahal was born, he had a fever that caused his hearing loss.

Al-Nahal communicates with sign language, and his wife translated for us during our interview at their home.

He said his condition does not feel isolating, though he wishes he could find work.

From 2001, al-Nahal had worked as a driver to support his four daughters and one son. However, when his car broke down in 2020, he had to sell it. Currently, the family receives social welfare payments to provide the daily necessities – though those payments are not always reliable.

“There is no income, and no one is going to hire a deaf person,” al-Nahal said. Sometimes his siblings help him out. But unemployment is already over 40 percent in Gaza, the result of the Israeli blockade, and his chances for work are small.

Occupation doesn’t differentiate

Hasan al-Zaalan, the head of the Palestinian General Union of People with Disabilities, explained how people with disabilities face many obstacles during Israel’s attacks.

“People with disabilities face many obstacles amid wars, such as having limited mobility as they escape the bombing,” he said.

“The occupation does not differentiate between people with disabilities and others in wars. They do not respect their rights. In the last war, we had three … martyrs [who had disabilities] and others were injured.”

On 6 April 2018, Mahmoud Malakha, 34, who lives in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, was going to retrieve the key to his coffee and snack shop from an employee who was attending the Great March of Return along the boundary with Israel.

He was among the other protesters when he “felt a powerful electric shock in my leg and fell to the ground,” he said. “A sniper’s bullet struck my leg.”

After he fell to the ground, people crowded around him and he was carried to an ambulance.

This was not the first injury inflicted on him by an Israeli weapon.

In the 2009 war on Gaza, he was on a bus with his friends when an Israeli airstrike hit the bus. Malakha was the only survivor. It is not a day in his life that he feels comfortable talking about in detail.

“I spent one year and seven months lying in bed, unable to move my hands or neck,” he said. “I had to wear diapers because I was not able to go to the bathroom.”

Nine years later, he was again rushed to the hospital. Doctors there insisted on immediate amputation, but Malakha refused.

Over the next two years, he had dozens of surgeries to help him regain use of his leg. When he developed bone cancer in 2020, he underwent chemotherapy, but amputation of his leg was the only way to eradicate the cancer completely.

In September 2022, Malakha had his 89th surgery, by his own count. He woke up seven hours later to continue his life with one leg.

“I approached the situation with a sense of normalcy,” he said. “After the operation, I returned home, rested, woke up the next morning and went to the market.”

As compensation for his lost leg, Malakha receives about $165 each month. A compensation that barely puts food on the table for his wife and the four children.

To support his family, Malakha opened a coffee shop in Gaza’s port. But there were too many challenges to overcome and it failed.

So he became a taxi driver.

“Surrendering to people’s opinions and the harsh reality would only lead to excessive overthinking and stress,” he said. “I made a conscious decision to not give up.”

In the 2014 war, when he still had both legs, his house was damaged by a nearby strike, and his family had to evacuate.

“There is no doubt that getting out of the second floor is hard. I can focus my mind on the difficulty, but I don’t want to. It will only hurt me and destroy my children. Adapting to this reality is the only option I have.”

Khaled El-Hissy is a journalist from Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip.

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Blockade, Bombings, and Continuing Trauma: Assessing Mental Health in Gaza

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023

featuring Dr. Yasser Abu-Jamei (Gaza Community Mental Health Programme), Ghada Majadli (Physicians for Human Rights Israel), and Razzan Quran (George Washington University) in conversation with  Dr. Yara Asi (FMEP Non-resident Fellow)

Listen to this conversation as a podcast

More than 15 years into Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, and after rounds of devastating Israeli bombing campaigns, life in Gaza continues to become more difficult and traumatic for the two million Palestinians who live there.

What is it like to live under such conditions, with no end or reprieve in sight? Join FMEP for a conversation among experts about the current state of mental health in the Gaza Strip, and what it might mean for the future of Gaza’s residents. We will look at the findings from a recent study conducted over two years by Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) and the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP).


Dr. Yasser Abu-Jamei MD, MSc, a psychiatrist, is Director General of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. He was born in 1974 in Saudi Arabia and has received degrees in the mental health field from universities in the UK, Germany, Lithuania and Gaza. He has lived in Gaza-Palestine since 2000 and has been working at the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) since 2004, during which time he occupied different supervisory, clinical and research roles. On July 21, 2014, during that year’s Israeli military offensive, 28 members of Dr. Abu-Jamei’s extended family – including 19 children – were killed by a missile strike as they were sitting down to their Iftar dinner to break the Ramadan fast. His research has focused on the impact of ongoing violence and the 15-year-long blockade of Gaza on the physical and psychological health of children and their caregivers, and the connection between public health and human rights.

Dr. Yara M. Asi, Non-resident Fellow at FMEP, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida in the School of Global Health Management and Informatics and a Visiting Scholar at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University in her capacity as Co-Director of the Palestine Program for Health and Human Rights. She is also a Non-resident Fellow at the Arab Center Washington DC, a 2020-2021 Fulbright US Scholar to the West Bank, and the co-chair of the Palestine Health Justice Working Group in the American Public Health Association. She has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Nation, +972 Magazine, The New Arab, and The Conversation, and has been featured on Al Jazeera, The World, and other outlets. Her forthcoming book with Johns Hopkins University Press will examine war as a public health crisis.

Ghada Majadli is a researcher, human rights activist, and the director of the Department of The Occupied Palestinian Territory at Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI). She holds a master’s degree in Human Rights and Transitional Justice from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her work focuses on policy and humanitarian work in Palestine, with particular attention to the Israeli regime’s multilayered system of control and management of Palestinians’ health, including access to medical care, socio-political determinants of health, and health infrastructure. She has published papers in peer-reviewed journals, including the Health and Human Rights Journal, The Lancet, BMJ Paediatrics Open Journal, Developing World Bioethics & The Journal of Jewish Ethics. Her work has been featured in +972 Magazine, Haaretz, Local Call, and other outlets.

Razzan Quran (she/they) is a Palestinian organizer, psychologist and facilitator. Razzan is currently a doctoral candidate at George Washington University (GWU) and a pre-doctoral intern at Boston Medical Center. She is a co-founding member of the Psychoanalysis in the Arab World Lab at GWU the intention and orientation of which pertains to utilizing decolonial, and feminist praxis towards cultivating collective liberation and transformative justice in the mental health field. Razzan received their counseling training at the Palestine Counseling Center. Additionally, she held process therapy groups, parent groups and play therapy with Palestinian and Syrian refugees based in Beirut, Lebanon.

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Bereaved Palestinian family gives significant evidence in Paris to investigating judge for unprecedented war crimes and corporate accountability case arising out of 2014 military attacks on Gaza

 Nine years after Israeli missile attack on the Shuheibar family home kills three young children, its family members give live testimony for criminal investigation into a French company’s alleged complicity in a war crime

Gaza City and London, 03 August 2023 – Last month, five members of the Shuheibar family in Gaza travelled to Paris to provide vital evidence to an investigating judge for an unprecedented war crimes and corporate accountability investigation into the alleged complicity of Exxelia, a French company, in a war crime. The military component manufactured by Exxelia enabled Israeli forces to precisely guide a missile to strike the roof of the Shuheibar family home on 17 July 2014, killing three children and seriously injuring two further children. This is the first war crimes and corporate accountability case being effectively pursued that arises from the 2014 attacks on Gaza.

Documented by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, the missile attack killed three young children: Afnan (8 years old), Wassim (9 years old) and Jihad (10 years old), who were feeding pigeons on the roof of the home at the time.

The missile attack seriously injured a further two children, Oday (16 years old) and Basel (9 years old), who are among five Shuheibar family members – alongside the parents of Afnan and the father of Wassim and Jihad – that provided testimonial evidence to the investigating judge in Paris last month. In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Oday says: “I still remember in detail what happened that day. This issue affected me a lot, it completely destroyed me psychologically.

The Gaza City fieldworker from Al Mezan who attended the scene soon afterwards to document the attack, also travelled to Paris last month to provide witness evidence to the investigating judge.

The fatal attack took place ten days into the devastating seven-week Israeli military offensive on Gaza that was code-named ‘Operation Protective Edge’. Al Mezan and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR) submitted specific information on the Shuheibar family home attack to the subsequent UN independent Commission of Inquiry, who assessed the case and raised several extremely serious concerns in its report on the 2014 hostilities in Gaza. There has been no legal accountability in Israel for alleged war crimes committed by its military forces in Gaza during the summer of 2014.

It is within this context that, in 2017, the Shuheibar family submitted a civil party complaint through its Paris-based legal representatives for the proceedings in France, Ancile Avocats, to an investigating judge in France, alleging that Exxelia is criminally responsible for complicity in a war crime. This year, in a landmark step, the investigating judge issued summons to five members of the Shuheibar family and Al Mezan’s fieldworker to provide her with live testimonial evidence. Last month, they provided vital evidence in closed-door meetings with the investigating judge.

The family is resolutely committed to achieving justice which is otherwise wholly denied by Israel’s military investigation and prosecution system. This would be a unique and exceptionally significant outcome for a Palestinian family devastatingly impacted by the 2014 hostilities in Gaza.

The fatal attack on the Shuheibar family home was tragically not exceptional. The missile attack took place within the context of the deliberate military targeting of residential homes on a widespread and systematic scale during the full course of the seven-week-long hostilities in Gaza. This clearly apparent military policy was viewed by local human rights organisations as the emblematic feature of Israel’s military offensive. The UN independent Commission of Inquiry illuminated the quote of a witness who said: “This war was different from previous wars, especially for women. Civilians were attacked particularly in their homes. The home is the domain of the women”. Over 66 per cent of children killed (370 out of 556) and over 82 per cent of women killed (241 out of 293) during the course of the hostilities were targeted inside their homes. Hundreds more were injured, including life-changing catastrophic injuries.

Hundreds of cases relating to attacks against family homes during the 2014 hostilities in Gaza have been pursued by Palestinian human rights organisations, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, with the Israeli Military Advocate General. Nine-years-on there have been no charges, prosecutions or convictions – inclusive of the criminal complaint pursued by Al Mezan and Adalah on behalf of the Shuheibar family – emboldening the foreseeable repetition of serious violations.

The empirical record is plain and clear: Israel is unwilling to hold its political and military leadership to account. The output of its fundamentally flawed investigation system unquestionably activates the mandate of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate the grave issue of the documented widespread and systematic military targeting of family homes in Gaza. It is incumbent on the Office of the Prosecutor to meet the hope and imperative of victims, survivors and their families, and bring to an end the catastrophe of systemic impunity.

Al Mezan and LPHR fully support the Shuheibar family in its ongoing courageous pursuit of justice and legal accountability in loving honour and memory of Afnan, Wassim and Jihad.

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