Archive for the Operation Cast Lead Category
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!
|Date published: 2nd April 2010
Source: Al Jazeera English
Israel has warned that it could launch a fresh military assault on the Gaza Strip if Hamas does not stop rocket and mortar attacks from its territory.
The threat on Friday came just hours after a series of air raids across Gaza, which Israel said were in response to rocket fire the previous day, injured at least three Palestinian children.
The Israeli military has said that almost 20 rockets have been fired into Israel in the past month, including one that killed a Thai farm worker.
“If this rocket fire against Israel does not stop, it seems we will have to raise the level of our activity and step up our actions against Hamas,” Silvan Shalom, Israel’s deputy prime minister, told public radio on Friday.
“We won’t allow frightened children to again be raised in bomb shelters and so, in the end, it will force us to launch another military operation.
“I hope we can avoid it, but it is one of the options we have, and if we don’t have a choice, we will use it in the near future.”
About 1,400 Palestinians were killed when Israel launched its last offensive on the Gaza Strip in December 2008.
Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians also died over the 22-day period of the assault.
“Twenty rockets in the space of one month might not sound a huge amount compared to the intensive rocket fire preceeding and during the Gaza war of just over a year ago,” Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Jerusalem, said.
“Nevertheless, in comparison to recent months it did mark an escalation.”
There was no claim of responsibility for Thursday’s lone rocket, which caused no casualties.
The Israeli military said Friday’s air raids had targeted weapons manufacturing and storage facilities in the central Gaza Strip, in Gaza City in the north and the southern part of the Palestinian enclave, all in response to rockets fired from the territory.
“The IDF [Israeli military] will not tolerate any attempt to harm the citizens of the State of Israel and will continue to operate firmly against anyone who uses terror against it,” the Israeli army said in a statement.
“The IDF holds Hamas as solely responsible for maintaining peace and quiet in the Gaza Strip.”
But witnesses and Hamas officials said that Israeli missiles hit two caravans near the town of Khan Younis and a cheese factory, while helicopters attacked a metal foundry in the Nusseirat refugee camp.
The children injured in the air raids were hit by flying glass, Palestinian medics said.
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, told Al Jazeera that Hamas held the Israeli government led by Binyamin Netanyahu responsible for the “escalation”, but said air raids had been expected because of threats by Ehud Barak, the defence minister, and other ministers.
He also blamed “the international community and the Arabs” for failing “to do anything about the situation in Gaza”.
“The absence of the international community and the Arabs has allowed the Israelis to escalate the situation,” he said.
There have been increasing tensions between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, a Palestinian teenager was killed and several others wounded as Israeli troops fired on protesters near the border between Gaza and Israel and last weekend two Israeli soldiers and two Palestinian fighters died during clashes.
Clashes have also broken out in the West Bank and Jerusalem over Israeli settlement plans, the reconsecration of a synagogue in East Jerusalem and other issues.
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.
Date Published:February 10, 2010
Source: The Palestine Telegraph
Hadeel Abu Kwaik is one of 7 students whose Fulbright scholarships were recently withdrawn, then swiftly reinstated by the US State Dept. But almost 700 other students remain stranded in Gaza
Three days ago, on 1 June, Hadeel Abu Kwaik was sitting in her computer lab at Al-Azhar University in Gaza looking worried, and perplexed. Today, having just been told her Fulbright scholarship has been reinstated, she says she is “Happy but still worried. I’m still not sure we will [all] be able to leave for the US.”
Hadeel is one of seven Gaza students who, on 29 May, all received letters from the US Consulate in Jerusalem, informing them that their Fulbright scholarship applications would not be finalised. The US consulate letter gave no reason for the sudden withdrawing of the 7 scholarships: instead all seven students, three women and four men, were “Strongly encouraged” to re-apply for the same Fulbright scholarships the following year, and assured they would receive “Priority consideration.”
The withdrawing of these Fulbright scholarships caused international uproar, momentarily focusing the world’s attention on the plight of the seven Gaza Strip students. US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice intervened, saying she was “Surprised” by the decision, and adding “If you cannot engage young people and give complete horizons to their expectations and their dreams, I don’t know that there will be any future for Palestine. We will take a look.”
In the face of mounting criticism from both within the US and Israel, the US State Department swiftly reinstated the seven Fulbright scholarships, and on 2 June assured the students they were “working closely” with Israeli officials to secure permits for the students to leave Gaza. Hadeel is now waiting to travel to Jerusalem, where she will be interviewed at the US Consulate in order to secure her US visa. Then she will return to Gaza in order to prepare for her departure at the end of summer. She hopes to study her MBA in software engineering at Minnesota University.
For the mainstream press, this story “moved quickly” and has now concluded with a positive ending for the Gaza Fulbright seven. But hundreds of other Palestinian students remain stranded inside the Gaza Strip, and the number is expected to rise this summer. According to data from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), almost 700 Palestinian students are still waiting to leave Gaza in order to pursue studies, and scholarships, abroad. “This number will increase within the next month, after the schools announce their exam results and Gaza students want to move onto universities” says Khalil Shaheen, a senior PCHR researcher. “All of these students are stranded inside the Gaza Strip because of the Israeli siege and closure, and they are being denied their rights to pursue their education, and their futures.”
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights both explicitly confirm the rights of all people to freely travel to and from their own state. The Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip, which is about to enter its third year, is systematically and deliberately destroying the Gazan economy, its health and education services, and crushing the future of its people. Gazan students who want to pursue specialist education abroad, many of whom intend to return to Gaza afterwards and assist in rebuilding their country, are being denied this right because Israel remains intent on its illegal policy of collective punishment. An Israeli human rights organization, GISHA, has just gone to the Israeli Supreme Court to petition for 2 Gaza students, Wissam Abuajwa and Nibal Nayef, to be permitted to leave Gaza and study their Masters in the UK and Germany.
Meanwhile, 29 year old Said Ahmad Said Al-Madhoun has been waiting more than a year to pursue his Master of Law abroad. After being awarded a fellowship by the Open Society Institute in January 2007, he was accepted onto a Masters program at the American University, Washington College of Law, but has been unable to reach the US. “I managed to get out of Gaza in December 2007 and to travel to the Egyptian border” says Said. “It was a complex journey – because of the closure we were forced to travel through Erez Crossing (in northern Gaza) and then via another Israeli crossing, at Kerem Shalom, to the Egyptian border. But I was turned back at the [Egyptian] border because I had no US visa.” Said could not obtain a US visa, because, like the vast majority of other Gazans, he is not permitted to travel to Jerusalem, where the US Consulate issues its visas. He attempted to leave Gaza once more in early January, and was turned back at the Egyptian border again. His academic career, and life, suspended, Said is still waiting. “This is so frustrating for me, and for all of us students in Gaza” he says wearily. “We want to work and to learn. We want to enjoy our freedom of movement. We want to determine our future.”
When Hadeel Abu Kwaik first heard that her Fulbright scholarship had been withdrawn, she said she felt angry and disappointed. “I wonder if Israel wants an educated neighbor or an angry one” she stated publicly. Like Said Al-Madhoun, Hadeel wants to pursue her studies overseas and then return to Gaza and work in her own community. Although she says she’s happy her Fulbright scholarships has been reinstated, she admits she is still worried about whether she will actually be able to leave Gaza, and her anxiety is clearly tainting her joy. “I won’t be relieved until we actually reach the United States (to start my studies),” she says.
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
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.