Archive for Al Jazeera

To shoot an elephant

Posted in Activism, Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, International community, Israeli occupation, Non-violent resistance, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Siege, Videos, War crimes with tags , , , , , , , on 06/02/2010 by 3071km

Source : To Shoot An Elephant

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“…afterwards, of course, there were endless discussions about the shooting of the elephant. The owner was furious, but he was only an Indian and could do nothing. Besides, legally I had done the right thing, for a mad elephant has to be killed, like a mad dog, if it’s owner fails to control it”.

George Orwell defined a way of witnessing Asia that still remains valid. “To shoot an elephant” is an eye witness account from The Gaza Strip. December 27th, 2008, Operation Cast Lead. 21 days shooting elephants. Urgent, insomniac, dirty, shuddering images from the only foreigners who decided and managed to stay embedded inside Gaza strip ambulances, with Palestinian civilians.

George Orwell: “Shooting an elephant” was originally published in New Writing in 1948.



Gaza Strip has been under siege since June 2007, when Israel declared it an “enemy entity”. A group of international activists organized a siege-breaking movement, the Free Gaza movement. Thanks to their efforts, and despite the Israeli ban on foreign correspondents and humanitarian aid workers to cover and witness operation “Cast Lead” on the ground, a group of international volunteers: self organised members of the International Solidarity Movement were present in Gaza when the bombing started on December, 27th 2009. Together with two international correspondents from Al Jazeera International (Ayman Mohyeldin and Sherine Tadros), they were the only foreigners who managed to write, film and report for several radio stations what was happening inside the besieged Palestinian strip.

Were they journalists? Were they activists? Who cares!. They became witnesses. Being a journalist or being whatsoever depends on how you feel. It is an ethical responsibility that you manage to share with a wider audience what you and those who are around you are going through. It will be the result of your work that will lead you to a professional career as a journalist or not, rather than pre-assumptions and labels. Make them know. Make those who you want to: listen and be aware of what you are aware of. That is a journalist. Having a card, with “press” written on it, or getting a regular salary is not necessary to be a witness with a camera or a pen. Forget about neutrality. Forget about objectivity. We are not Palestinians. We are not Israelis. We are not impartial. We only try to be honest and report what we see and what we know. I am a journalist. If somebody listens, I am a journalist. In Gaza´s case, no “official journalists” were authorized to enter Gaza (apart from those who were already inside) so we became witnesses. With a whole set of responsibilities as regarding to it.

I have always understood journalism as “a hand turning the lights on inside the dark room”. A journalist is a curious person, an unpleasant interrogator, a rebel camera and a pen making those in power feel uncomfortable. And that is the concept of my work in Gaza: To fulfil a duty in the most narrated conflict on earth, where the story of the siege and the collective punishment that is being imposed by Israel on the whole population of the territory in retaliation for rockets sent by Hamas will never be told with enough accuracy. For this it has to be lived. I sneaked inside Gaza despite Israeli attempts not to allow us to enter and I was “politely” asked to leave by those in power in Gaza. That is my idea of journalism. Every government on earth should feel nervous about somebody going around with a camera or a pen ready to publish what he or she manages to understand. For the sake of information, one of the biggest pillars of democracy.

This is an embedded film. We decided to be “embedded within the ambulances” opening an imaginary dialogue with those journalists who embed themselves within armies. Everyone is free to choose the side where they want to report from. But decisions are often not unbiased. We decided that civilians working for the rescue of the injured would give us a far more honest perspective of the situation than those whose job is to shoot, to injure and to kill. We prefer medics rather than soldiers. We prefer the bravery of those unarmed rescuers than those with -also interesting, but morally rejectable experiences who enlist to kill. It is a matter of focus. I am not interested in the fears, traumas and contradictions of those who have a choice: the choice of staying home and saying no to war.



Directors: Alberto Arce/ Mohammad Rujailah

Script: Alberto Arce/ Miquel Marti Freixas

Editing: Alberto Arce/ Miquel marti Freixas

Sound: Francesc Gosalves

Posproduction: Jorge Fernández Mayoral

Co-production/distribution: Eguzki Bideoak.

Translation: Mohammad Rujailah/ Alberto Arce

Design Team: Mr. Brown and Mabrilan


Controversy plagues Hamas West Bank conference

Posted in Everyday life in the West Bank, Palestine, Videos, West Bank with tags , , , on 05/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 5th August 2009

Soure: Al Jazeera English


A senior official in the Palestinian Fatah movement has accused the party’s leaders of abusing their positions and pocketing party cash for themselves.

Farouk Kaddoumi made the accusation as Fatah met in the West Bank town of Bethlehem for its first conference in 20 years.

But as Al Jazeera’s Nour Odeh reports, the conference was dominated by infighting and controversy.

Two years after Hamas won Gaza

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Hamas, History, International community, Israel, Israeli occupation, Palestine, Siege with tags , , , , , , on 14/06/2009 by 3071km

Written by Ayman Mohyeldin

Date published: 14th June 2009

Source: Al-Jazeera English


On June 14, 2007, Hamas drove Fatah out and gained complete control over Gaza [GALLO/GETTY]

Two years to the day after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, the lives of Palestinians in Gaza have seemingly become inextricably defined by two crises.

An internal political impasse has fragmented Palestinian society, reduced the credibility of Palestinian political leaders in the eyes of the public and derailed their people’s momentum for national liberation.Meanwhile, an Israeli-imposed, western-backed siege has created a humanitarian crisis for the 1.5 million people trapped inside Gaza.

What happened on June 14, 2007 depends on whom you ask. Even the language used among Palestinians to describe the events of that day reflects their deep ideological divisions.

A difference of perspective

In the eyes of Hamas and its followers, it is known in Arabic as “el hasm” – or “decisive affirmation”.

For them, Hamas decided to end Gaza’s lawlessness, crime and corruption and US-engineered attempts by the subversive Fatah movement to undermine Hamas’s legitimate right to govern after winning the 2006 elections.

The failure of various power-sharing agreements between Fatah and Hamas, national unity governments and attempts to reform the fragmented security services into one cohesive apparatus between the elections in 2006 until June 2007 set the stage for confrontation.

Those who do not share Hamas’s narrative of events call June 14, 2007 the “enqelaab” – the “coup”.

They say that Hamas violently ousted the legitimate Palestinian Authority, overrunning all government institutions with its loyalists.But the critics say the movement and its paramilitary forces were not prepared to govern, nor were they accustomed to the dissent found in the plurality of a democratic society.

Hamas, they say, wanted to dominate Palestinian politics by ballots and by guns – thus jeopardising years of struggle for statehood lead by the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Regardless of the classification, those fateful days when Hamas gained and solidified its complete control of Gaza have been a defining moment for the Palestinian people and for the region.

Kareem Lebhour, a reporter for Radio France International, was one of the few international journalists who was in Gaza during the takeover.

He believes that the events of June 14 have been exploited by Arab regimes, the US and Israel for their own political agendas.

“Nobody wanted to see Hamas succeed in governing [after the elections they won in 2006],” he said.

Fearful of losing power to Islamist movements, governments across the region have been very cautious in allowing fair, democratic elections.

Instead, they have pointed to the Hamas takeover as a warning, as fitting the image of “Muslim men in beards with guns” taking over power, Kareem said.

In a near complete reversal from its earlier objective of promoting democracy through the Arab world, the administration of George Bush, the former US president, eased off calls for more democratic reforms across the region, fearing Hamas’s popular win could repeat itself in strategic American allies such as Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf States.

Instead, the international community turned its back on the legitimate winners of the Palestinian elections, setting the tone for internal political divisions and bloody clashes between the Hamas movement and its political rivals in the US-backed secular Fatah organisation.

Ignoring Gaza’s reality

If there is one conclusion that all regional players and the US have reached over the past two years, it is that ignoring Gaza’s reality is done at their own peril.

More than 80 per cent of Gaza’s population rely on some sort of assistance [AFP]

If Fatah and the PLO want to carry out elections across the Palestinian territories, they must incorporate Hamas.

If Hamas wants to extend its influence across the geographic divide into the West Bank and cast off its international pariah status, it must tolerate political, social and cultural plurality and demonstrate pragmatism in its dealings with those it ideologically opposes.If the US is serious about achieving a lasting and just peace in the region, it must acknowledge Hamas and what it stands for among the Palestinian people.

And if Israel is to achieve any semblance of security, it will have to deal with Hamas either directly or indirectly.

Life in Gaza

The past two years have been lost time.

Many believe the greatest casualty has been the deliberate social, economic and humanitarian degradation of 1.5 million people forced into abject destitution.

Since 2007, Gaza has passed through isolation, economic sanctions, a brutal Israeli assault – both physical and psychological – and a stifling siege that has made life intolerable.

It has been allowed to happen because of the complicity of the US, European countries, and Arab governments.

Every measure of life in Gaza has grown increasingly worse – from education to health care to economics.

What was once classified as a modest economy has now been reduced to an aid-dependent society with more than 80 per cent of the population relying on some sort of assistance.

Today, the most thriving industry is smuggling, through the tunnels along the border between Egypt and Gaza.

Nearly 1,000 tunnels have been dug to smuggle everything and anything needed in Gaza.

From basic food to medicine, the tunnels have become Gaza’s lifeline to the outside world and a testament to the indomitable will of the Palestinian people to survive these past two years.

There has been little apparent progress in Gaza since 2006, but some credit Hamas with re-establishing law and order.

Officials in Gaza are quick to cite the reduced crime rate and the security that has been restored by the Hamas-run government and security services.

However, human rghts organisations say it has come at a price.

Political and civil liberties in Gaza have shrunk and they accuse Hamas and its security services of often going beyond the rule of law to enforce the law.

A recent crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank by the Palestinian Authority resulted in Hamas security detaining dozens in Gaza.

It is a vicious cycle of revenge, attacks and detentions that has marked and marred the last two years of Palestinian rivalry.

‘The way ahead’

The way ahead for the Palestinians is unity.

Time and time again, from pundits to experts, from the factional leaders to ordinary Palestinians, calls for national unity have become the rallying mantra.

Every round of talks aimed at ending the two-year-old political infighting brings the people a little closer to hope that their lives may soon change.

The way ahead for Gaza will largely depend on how much more the international community – predominantly the US and its Western allies – is willing to tolerate these dire humanitarian conditions.

In his recent speech to the “Muslim World”, Barack Obama, the US president, said that the “humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel’s security interests”, a suggestion that the status quo is untenable.

Whether the US will mount more pressure on Israel to change the reality on the ground remains to be seen and more of that will be gleamed when Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, outlines his cabinet’s diplomatic agenda for peace on Sunday, the same day as the anniversary of the Hamas’s takeover of Gaza.

Until either one of these crises is resolved, Palestinians in Gaza will undoubtedly find themselves living in the balance between internal political paralysis and external international intransigence to their suffering.

Gaza’s school children still struggle after war

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Videos with tags , , , , on 17/05/2009 by 3071km

Source: Al Jazeera English


Hamid al-Mallahi studies under a streetlight when it works, walks an hour or more to school and sleeps in a tent that could collapse at any moment.

More than four months after Israel’s 22-day offensive on Gaza, life for the 14 year-old-is similar to that of thousands of other children still living in makeshift camps.

Al Jazeera’s Casey Kauffman reports from Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza.

Two die in air raid on Gaza tunnels

Posted in Gaza, Hamas, IDF, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Operation Cast Lead, Pictures, Siege with tags , , , , on 02/05/2009 by 3071km
Date: 2nd May 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English

The Rafah tunnels are used by Palestinian groups to  ferry supplies covertly into Gaza [AFP]

The bodies of two Palestinians have been recovered from a tunnel in Gaza bombed by Israeli aircraft, medical workers say.

The air raids, which targeted several tunnels each running between Gaza and Egypt, took place on Saturday near the near the border town of Rafah, the Israeli military said.

The bombing came shortly after three mortar rounds were launched into Israeli territory from the northern Gaza Strip, causing no casualties.

The Palestinian Resistance Committees, an armed group in Gaza, said that it had fired the mortars.

Raids resume

The raids on Saturday came a day after Israel bombed several tunnels, saying they were used to smuggle weapons into Gaza.

The coastal territory is under the de facto control of Hamas, an armed Palestinian political group that does not explicitly recognise the Jewish state.

The latest round of Israeli air raids are the first to target Palestinian tunnels in nearly two months.

Missile fire by Palestinian rocket squads has diminished since Egypt began efforts to ensure that a January 18 truce that ended Israel’s 22-day offensive on Gaza holds.

Israel launched its war on Gaza with the stated aim of preventing armed groups in Gaza from firing rockets towards its territory.

At least 1,417 Palestinians were killed during the war, of whom 926 were civilians, a Palestinian human rights organisation says.

The Israeli military says the death toll was 1,166, of whom 295 were civilians. At least 13 Israelis, including three civilians, died over the course of the conflict.

This Palestinian Life

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Gaza, Palestine, Siege with tags , , , on 09/04/2009 by 3071km

Today, while reading Al Jazeera online I came through an article written by Adam Makary, ‘Gaza wears a face of misery’. In it he talks about Philip Rizk, a young Egyptian-German freelance journalist who lived and worked in Gaza from 2005 to 2007. During this time he filmed This Palestinian Life. Stories of Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance, a documentary highlighting Palestinian non-violent means of resistance against the Israeli occupation.

As Rizk’s says “Gaza wears a face of misery and the living conditions are unimaginable. Unless you visit, you wouldn’t be able to picture the kind of agony Gazans have to live through on a daily basis. They function with whatever is available.” In consequence, “At least 85 per cent of the people are dependent on food aid. If the amount of aid was reduced, they would starve.”

According to him, in Gaza “The line between the meaning of life and death becomes very thin. As a student, you can spend your whole life trying to do well in school, get good grades – but all that effort goes to waste because there is no future for the class valedictorian. Everyone alike is left completely powerless without hope and potential future. I’m even shocked at how well kids can even perform in these schools, considering how they live in a constant state of war.”

When asked about the role of the media, Rizk explains it tends not to report much on Gaza for two main reasons. On one side there’s a blackout of information due to the great control of Israel in what and who gets in or out the strip. On the other side, media organisations show a general lack of interest on Gaza: “To them, there’s nothing new about the situation when in fact, the story there is constantly unfolding, breaking news is Gaza’s middle name. But because this breaking news always holds the same kind of information, no one cares to report on it.”

This Palestinian Life. Stories of Palestinian Nonviolent Resistance is an interesting approach to the every day lives of Palestinians. The film, which follows an anthropological and ethnographic method, gives voice to Palestinian villagers and Bedouin scaping from “expert” interpretations of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and aims to explain how Palestinian life is being undermined by the pressure of Israeli occupation.

THIS PALESTINIAN LIFE is a film about people who perservere despite the odds stacked against them. The film documents specifically the aspects of perseverance or steadfastness of the Palestinian nonviolent struggle against Israeli occupation and the deliberate, ongoing, illegal annexation of Palestinian land.

An Arabic term used for everyday acts of nonviolent resistance is sumoud – steadfastness, perseverance. In the film, Egyptian activist and filmmaker, Philip Rizk, tells the stories of Palestinian villagers who attempt to remain steadfast, to persevere, in the face of settler violence, the injustice and duplicity of the Israeli government, and the ambivalence of the international community.

Proved crimes against all of us

Posted in Gaza, Gaza war crimes investigation, Hamas, IDF, Israel, Operation Cast Lead, War crimes with tags , , , , , , on 24/03/2009 by 3071km

The Guardian publishes today the result of its own investigation uncovering evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza during the so-called Operation Cast Lead, which was presented to the public opinion as being aimed to Hamas but left over 1,400 Palestinians dead including more than 300 children.

Through its month-long investigation The Guardian can finally prove Israel used Palestinian children as human shields and targeted medics and hospitals – in other words: it committed war crimes. This is no news for all those who were in the Gaza strip during the massacre, not even for those who attempted to follow the news from all around the globe – especially for those who could watch Al Jazeera and get both sides of the picture.

If you want to read more about it, you can check the article written by Clancy Chassay and Julian Borger and watch the three documentaries with some of the most dramatic testimony gathered by the British newspaper.