Archive for the Gaza reconstruction Category

Israeli forces besiege Prisoners Day commemoration

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, IDF, International community, Israel, Israel politics, Israel's separation wall, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Palestine, Peace process, War crimes, West Bank on 22/04/2010 by 3071km

Source: Electronic Intifada

BEIT UMMAR, occupied West Bank (IPS) – A young Palestinian man died in Israeli custody as hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets of villages and towns across the West Bank and Gaza to commemorate Palestinian Prisoners Day on Friday, 16 April.

Raed Abu Hammad, 31, was found dead in his prison cell late on Friday after spending the last 18 months in solitary confinement.

The Hamas member was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2005 for attempted political assassinations.

His lawyer Tareq Barghouti told the media that Hammad was on medication and psychologically ill.

The exact cause of his death is still being investigated after the Israeli authorities announced an autopsy was being carried out.

However, rights groups and fellow Palestinian prisoners, both current and former, have accused the Israeli Prison Services of maltreatment and neglect.

“Hammad is the 198th Palestinian prisoner to die in Israeli custody since 1967 when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza,” said Shawan Jabarin from the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq in Ramallah.

“Many of the deaths have been from natural causes. However, Israel has carried out a deliberate policy of maltreatment and neglect by denying appropriate medical treatment to ill Palestinians. This has aggravated their physical condition and hastened unnecessary deaths,” Jabarin told IPS.

“Several prisoners died from force feeding when they embarked on a hunger strike. Tubes were forced through their noses which subsequently caused damage to their livers.”

“Furthermore, approximately 20 Palestinians have died during Israeli interrogation from beatings and torture since the outbreak of the first Palestinian intifada in December 1987,” explained Jabarin.

Israeli human rights organizations forced the domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet or General Security Services, to change its methods of interrogation after taking the torture of Palestinian prisoners to Israeli courts.

There are now limits to the amount of physical abuse Israeli interrogators can apply to Palestinian prisoners during interrogation.

Palestinian prisoners and their families also accuse the Israelis of forcing the prisoners to endure unhygienic conditions, substandard food, beatings and the denial of family visits.

There are currently approximately 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody. Hundreds are being held in administrative detention or without trial.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military sealed off the village of Beit Ummar in the southern West Bank, north of Hebron, where a prisoner commemoration ceremony was taking place.

Several photographers working with IPS took photos of Israeli soldiers using a young boy as a human shield despite being shot at by the soldiers.

IPS managed to enter the village prior to the exits and entrances being blocked by soldiers as clashes broke out between Palestinian youths and Israeli soldiers.

The confrontations broke out after military jeeps entered the agricultural village and attempted to break up the commemoration.

The village committee had laid out hundreds of chairs and organized music for the celebration when it was stormed by the Israeli military.

Youngsters in the village had spent months rehearsing and preparing for the event which included speeches, dances, plays and music.

“You’ve got five minutes to evacuate the area,” barked the Israeli military commander to the organizers who tried to negotiate the peaceful withdrawal of the soldiers. “If you don’t leave we will arrest you all. This is not open to negotiation.”

“I tried to negotiate with the soldiers. I told them if they withdraw from the village we will control the youngsters. The place where the celebration was taking place is far from the main road and the settlements,” Mousa Abu Maria, an activist leader from the village, told IPS.

But the youths remained defiant and sat down on the ground and refused to move. After the Israeli soldiers withdrew to the entrance of the village, the commemorations continued.

Military jeeps then returned and were met with a hail of stones. They responded with tear gas, rubber-coated metal bullets and some live ammunition.

Sabri Ibrahim Awad, 15, was left bruised and limping after he was used as a human shield by the Israeli soldiers as he rode his bike past them. He was not involved in the clashes.

He was grabbed by the scruff of the neck and marched in front of the soldiers as rocks showered down. He was then cuffed and arrested and thrown into the back of a jeep.

Several hours later a traumatized Awad was released.

Israel security forces have used Palestinians as human shields both in Gaza and the West Bank despite international law and Israeli courts ruling this illegal.

The UN-commissioned Goldstone report admonished the Israelis for endangering the lives of Palestinian youngsters during Israel’s assault on Gaza in winter 2008-09.

While the Gazan youths faced live fire and Awad “only” faced rocks, Abu Maria said it represented a dangerous escalation in Israeli tactics.

“The soldiers have abused many youths in the village. But to take a completely innocent youngster and expose him to this danger is totally unacceptable,” Abu Maria told IPS.

In another development, the Israeli military has placed the West Bank under a complete lock-down for several days as Israel celebrates its independence.

This is the third time since the beginning of March that Palestinians from the West Bank have been sealed off from Jerusalem for days.

All rights reserved, IPS — Inter Press Service (2010). Total or partial publication, retransmission or sale forbidden.

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Barak urges end to occupation

Posted in Activism, Everyday life in Gaza, Fatah, Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, Gaza war crimes investigation, IDF, Israel, Israel politics, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Palestine, Peace process, USA foreign policy, War crimes, West Bank on 20/04/2010 by 3071km

Source: Aljazeera English

Israel occupied the West Bank after
the
1967 Middle East war [AFP]

Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, has said that his country must recognise that the world will not put up with decades more of Israeli rule over the Palestinian people.

Speaking to Israel Radio on Israel’s Memorial Day on Monday, Barak acknowledged that there was no way forward in negotiations with the Palestinians other than to meet their aspirations for a state of their own.

“The world is not willing to accept – and we will not change that in 2010 – the expectation that Israel will rule another people for decades more,” he said.

“It is something that does not exist anywhere else in the world.

“There is no other way, whether you like it or not, than to let them [the Palestinians] rule themselves.”

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled since Israeli forces launched a 22-day offensive in the Gaza Strip in December 2008.

‘Alienation’

Barak heads the Labour Party, the most moderate member of the government of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and it was not clear if his remarks were his personal opinion or reflecting a changing attitude within the government.

He said that Netanyahu’s government had “done things that did not come naturally to it”, such as adopting the vision of two states for two peoples and curtailing settlement construction.

IN DEPTH
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Map of East Jerusalem housing plan
Focus:
Comments: US-Israel relations
Jerusalem’s religious heart
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Q&A: Jewish settlements
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Israel: Rise of the right
Holy Land Grab

“But we also should not delude ourselves. The growing alienation between us and the United States is not good for the state of Israel,” he said.

Washington and its long-time ally have been at odds in recent months over Israel’s continuing settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Barack Obama, the US president, recently issued a pessimistic assessment of peacemaking prospects, saying that his country could not force its will on the Israelis and Palestinians if they were not interested in making compromises.

The Israeli defence minister said that the way to narrow the gap with the US was to embark on a diplomatic initiative “that does not shy from dealing with all the core issues” dividing Israelis and Palestinians.

Chief among these are the status of Jerusalem, final borders and a solution for Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Middle East war.

Meanwhile, in an interview Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America”, Netanyahu south to minimise differences with the US and said he would not accept Palestinian demands that Israel stop building in predominantly-Arab East Jerusalem.

He said that the US and Israel “have some outstanding issues. We are trying to resolve them through diplomatic channels in the best way that we can”.

Later on Monday, Netanyahu told the audience at the national cemetery that Israel is eager for peace, but is ready to confront its enemies.

“We extend one hand in peace to all our neighbours who wish for peace. Our other hand grasps the sword of David in order to defend our people against those who seek to kill us,” he said.

Israel’s Memorial Day, which is dedicated to the nearly 23,000 fallen soldiers and civilian victims of attacks, is observed with a two-minute nationwide siren when people stand at attention, traffic is halted and everyday activities come briefly to a standstill.

At sundown on Monday, the sombre Memorial Day will switch to Israel’s 62nd Independence Day celebrations.

Azam has a real story to tell

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Everyday life in the West Bank, Fatah, Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, Gaza war crimes investigation, History, IDF, International community, International conferences, Israel, Israel politics, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Pictures, Siege, War crimes, West Bank on 11/04/2010 by 3071km

Azam is looking for unknown ways to get back to his family in Gaza

Azam  has a long and sad story! He left Gaza during the last war as his wife got an American nationality, but unfortunately, after the end of the war he was not allowed by the Israeli to get back to Gaza again with his family! of course, the Stories of the Palestinians suffering will not end here.

here you are his story as he sent it to us two days ago!

On the Borders

by Azzam Almosallami

I still remember that scream of the child on the borders. The sun was fiery, and the mother was wiping the perspiration drops off her forehead. The cadaverous features had drawn at the family faces as a result of the big fatigue of travel .
Despite the severe hard situation that the family was facing, the love
among the family members was mitigating the pain of suffering. The child was playing cherubically between his father and mother, as if the kindness of his parents was protecting him from the stress of travel. The child was transforming between his parents like a small charming bird learning flight among the branches of trees.
The land was barren on the borders- there! you would not see more than some terrestrial and arid plants, and some of the standing army working next to, or inside a caravan. The parents were sitting on hard chairs made by iron. The seats were uncomfortable, so they were always wriggling on them.
I was listening to some catchwords that the family was talking about.
I heard the child telling his mother, “mom… ! when we reach our home, I’ll ride my bicycle that I am keeping in my room, Also I’ll drop my dolls and toys that I’m keeping in a box on the top of my cupboard.”
They were really appearing like they were longing to reach their small paradise… their home!
After 4-hour-hard waiting, two policemen of the borders came to the family with their passports. They told the father abrasively, ” hey man!… you can’t cross the borders to your home, you have no permission, but your family have a permission. So, you must go back where you have come. ” The family shocked! and the panic catches on their hearts because of these horrible news. How they will not be joined with each other to their lovely home! The mother hardly gasped, and asked the police ” how the child and I can cross these lonely borders without our man!… how you could have a pluckiness to separate between a father and his family.” The police replied harshly, ” if you don’t like to be far away from your husband, you can join him and go back to where you have come.” The father thought for a while, and then he decided to face this mysterious situation alone. He convinced his wife to go back with their cherubic child to their warmer home, and he will try to join them after a while.
The policemen took the family out the caravan, and there, two police cars were waiting them. they pulled the father to one car, and the mother and the child to the other car. The child turned his face, peeking through his father, and when he found himself faraway for the father, he could flee from the hard catch of the policeman, and ran away into his father’s warm cuddle. The child’s arms tightened ardently around the father’s thigh, hardly catching his trousers. The policeman followed the child, trying to pull him far away from the father. The child screamed with reddish eyes and warm tears, ” I want my dad…! ”
The policeman brutish catch was much stronger than the childish catch, and then he could flee the child, hustling him toward the car. The mother of the cleaved heart, was wiping the hot tears through her bloody eyes, and swabbing drops of mucus on her lips by a handkerchief wetted by a severe wail.
The child could flee again from the policeman brutish catch, and suddenly he transformed into a stronger fighter. He catches a stone and threw it toward the policeman to trickling blood into his cheek. The wrathful policeman catch the child brutally, to hustling him and the mother into the car.
I still remember those bloody eyes, and hot tears of the child and the mother through the car’s windows. I still remember those small hands of the child which were climbing on the window’s glass. They were saying a lot about the prejudice that some people are facing on the borders.
When the child reached home, he took his toys, dolls and bicycle and sold them. And by money, he bought a gun. The child decided not to be a child!

Thirsty for justice

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, International community, Israeli occupation, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Pictures, Siege with tags , , , , , , , , , on 25/03/2010 by 3071km

Written by Mona El-Farra

Published on Electronic Intifada

Date published: 25/03/2010

_____

Mona El-Farra writing from occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 25 March 2010

Palestinian children wait to fill up water in the Gaza Strip. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

Toni Morrison once wrote “All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.” I feel it is the same for Palestinian refugees, who have struggled for decades for their right to return home. I thought of this connection between water and refugees during a recent meeting about the Middle East Children’s Alliance’s (MECA) Maia Project with Aidan O’Leary, Deputy Director of the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) Operations in Gaza.

UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. We are working with UNRWA to install locally-made water purification and desalination units in their schools. Mr. O’Leary expressed his total appreciation for the Maia Project and stressed that providing clean drinking water to children is among the highest priorities and needs for Gaza schools. Mr. John Ging, UNRWA’s Director of Operations in Gaza, also expressed his admiration for the Maia Project.

The situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate under Israeli military occupation and siege. The refugees are often the hardest hit by rising unemployment and poverty. Access to clean water is one of the many basic needs that UNRWA is no longer able to meet. A recent UNRWA report states that the most common infectious diseases affecting Palestinian refugees in Gaza — who make up more than three-quarters of the population — are directly related to inadequate supplies of safe water and poor sanitation: diarrhea, acute bloody diarrhea and viral hepatitis.

Creating a positive impact on children’s health is the main goal of the Maia Project, and working on water access when you live in Gaza is self-explanatory. The reality is that tap water in Gaza is undrinkable due to its bad quality and contamination. At best, when you have access to a running tap, the water is not clean and is very salty. Our daily water consumption averages around 78 liters a day per person, while Israelis average over 300 liters each, more than four times as much. Israel is under increasing scrutiny by international organizations including Amnesty International for “denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over the shared water resources and pursuing discriminatory policies.”

We move to help the children as quickly as we can. Children in Gaza will have the chance to drink clean and soft water, but only at the rate in which we can implement the Maia Project. And we race against time. The UN estimates that Gaza will have no drinking water in the next 15 years.

Water is life, but here in Gaza it can also bring death. Numerous military attacks on the Gaza Strip have devastated Gaza’s water infrastructure. Israel’s twenty-two day assault last winter destroyed or rendered unusable an estimated 800 of Gaza’s 2,000 wells, and caused $5.97 million in damage to our water and wastewater treatment facilities. Since January 2009, the Gaza Health Ministry and the World Health Organization have issued drinking, seafood and swimming advisories.

We yearn for our water and our freedoms to return to us. We roll up our sleeves and hope for rain, the kind of rain that floods the hearts and minds of those who hunger and thirst for justice.

Here in Gaza, we are still thirsty.

Mona El-Farra is a physician by training and a human rights and women’s rights activist in practice in the occupied Gaza Strip. Her blog is From Gaza, with Love.

HRW: Israel failed to properly investigate Gaza war crimes

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, History, IDF, Israel, Israel politics, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Pictures, Siege, War crimes on 09/02/2010 by 3071km

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Date Published: February 9, 2010 

Source: The Palestine Telegraph

Human Rights Watch said Israel has failed to demonstrate that it will conduct an exhaustive and impartial investigation into violations of the laws of war by its troops during last year’s offensive on the Gaza Strip.

The organization added that there is a need for an independent investigation to hold accountable those who committed abuses, including senior military officials and politicians who set the policies.

Human Rights Watch interviewed lawyers from the Israeli army to discuss the situation. In the meantime, although Israel has investigated the allegations, officials did not provide any information showing that they can be fair and thorough, said HRW, or that it will change the decisions and policies of the leadership that led unlawfully to the death of civilians.

Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division, said: “Israel claims that it was investigating credibly and fairly, but so far it has failed to prove this. There is a need for an independent investigation to understand why many civilians were killed in this manner, and to provide justice for victims of unlawful attacks.”

In one case, it appears that the military investigation did not pay attention to important evidence: the remains of a bomb found in the Al-Bader mill near Jabalya. According to the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict, Israel denied targeting the mill from the air, despite the available videofootage obtained by Human Rights Watch showing what appeared to be the remains of a 500-pound MK 82 bomb.

Translated from WAFA

70% of Palestinian Youth Oppose Violence

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, History, IDF, Israel politics, Israeli politics, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Siege, War crimes on 09/02/2010 by 3071km

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Date Published: February 10, 2010

Source: The Palestine Telegraph

 More than 80 percent of young Palestinians are depressed and 47 percent identify themselves as Muslim rather than Palestinian, according to a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report.The report, based on interviews with 1,200 Palestinians over the age of 17 from the West Bank and Gaza found that 39 percent were “extremely” depressed and 42 percent were depressed by their conditions. Depression was more marked in the Gaza Strip where 55 percent said they were “extremely” depressed.When asked to define their identity, 47 percent identified themselves as Muslims, 28 percent as Palestinians, 14 percent as humans and 10 percent as Arabs.The survey also revealed that the majority of Palestinian youth (69 percent) believe that the use of violence as a means to resolve the conflict is not very helpful, while only 8 percent believe it is an important tool.The survey of attitudes of Palestinian youth was part of a report, “The Mapping of Youth Organizations” commissioned by the UNDP and presented to a workshop designed to plan a strategy for youth development for the Palestinian Authority.Youth are exceptionally vulnerable to conflict, and unemployment rates for youth range from 35 percent in the West Bank to 51 percent in Gaza. UNDP commissioned the survey to understand the needs and expectations of youth organizations, levels of intervention, gaps to be filled, and set youth policies and strategies relevant to the needs of the Palestinian society and adopted by both the public and private sectors.

Gaza’s state of health … not so good

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Gaza reconstruction, Israel politics, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Palestine, Pictures, Siege, War crimes on 08/02/2010 by 3071km

Gallo/Getty

Date Published:February 8th, 2010

Source: Middle East Blog, by Ayman Mohyeldin

We all know what its like when we go to the doctor’s office for that routine check up once a year … and undoubtedly there is that moment of anxiousness when the doctor looks you in the face to level his criticism on what you can do better next year. 

So you leave the office, go to the nearest gym, sign up for that cardio class and then off to the supermarket to get that new low fat salad dressing. It’s a new year and you are gonna take your health seriously!

A universal human right for all…

That’s the way it should be … for you and for the people of Gaza. But Gaza’s health report card just came back … and it ain’t looking good for the 1.7 million people living under a stifling siege.

Even worse, there is little the people here can do about it.

According to the United Nations, which examined the state of health one year on from Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, a collapsed economy and staggering unemployment will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the physical and mental health of the people here. 

Here are some of the highlights, or should I say the sad points, of Gaza’s Health:

● Infant mortality rates, which were steadily declining in recent years have stalled.

● 15 of Gaza’s 27 hospitals were damaged or destroyed in Israel’s war and have yet to be rebuilt or repaired. 

● Since 2000, very few medical professionals have been able to leave for training to update their clinical skills or learn about new medical technologies – which in return limits their ability to provide adequate health care. 

● Many patients are in need of specialised treatments not available in Gaza and referred abroad for care. Sadly, their applications to travel for care get delayed or denied by the Israeli authorities and some have died while waiting for referrals.

But some times its not the press releases or the statements that sum up the difficult situation in Gaza, or even the peoples own stories. Here is a animated clip from the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem that captures what is so wrong with the Israeli siege on Gaza.