GLOBAL SILENCE ON GAZA MUST BE BROKEN

After 10 years of Israeli siege, the United Nations says Gaza is effectively unlivable.

Israel has consigned the people of Gaza to “living in abject poverty under practically inhuman conditions unparalleled in the modern world,” the human rights group B’Tselem said last month.

Video: Break the silence on Gaza with people power

In recent weeks the situation has deteriorated even further, as Israel has sharply cut the electricity supply, bringing available energy in Gaza to the lowest level ever.

Health, water and sewage treatment systems are breaking down, making life unbearable.

“This is not a natural disaster. This is a policy choice by Israel to do this to 2 million people, and it’s a policy choice the so-called international community are supporting,” I told Aaron Maté of The Real News.

“At best the so-called international community scrambles to do an appeal to various donor governments to patch up, to do palliative care,” for people in Gaza, I told Maté. “What they don’t do is challenge Israel and hold it accountable.”

By refusing to provide people in Gaza with basic health and other services, Israel, as the occupying power, is committing war crimes, I argued.

And it’s happening in silence – even Democracy Now, a flagship progressive outlet, has mentioned the situation only in brief and infrequent headlines.

The humanitarian catastrophe is also the result of collusion between Israel and the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Abbas wants to put political pressure on Hamas, which governs the interior of Gaza, by inflicting additional suffering on the 2 million Palestinians who live there.

This pressure has included curtailing medicine supplies to Gaza and refusing medical referrals for hundreds of patients who need urgent treatment outside the territory, leading to more than a dozen deaths.

“It’s up to us to challenge the institutional complicity and silence,” I told Maté. If regime media don’t make noise about Gaza, “people should be demonstrating, holding protests at the UN and Israeli embassies, at Palestinian Authority embassies, because they’re all complicit in this siege.”

Watch the video above.

Image by Latuff

NEW TOON ~~ THE OCCUPATION LITERALLY STINKS

Image by Carlos Latuff

Gaza’s sewage can’t be treated because of the ongoing Blockade & Israeli wars!!

Life in a septic tank

Hiba al-Ashi has to keep the windows of her apartment closed. It is the only way to avoid the foul odors from the polluted sea.

“Life has become unbearable,” said the 36-year-old mother, whose Gaza City home overlooks the Mediterranean.

Every day, 100,000 cubic meters of raw sewage are discharged into the sea around Gaza.

The Gaza Strip’s environmental problems have worsened in recent years.

Gaza has suffered from chronic electricity shortages ever since its sole power plant was bombed by Israel in 2006. Israel imposed an ongoing, severe economic blockade on the territory one year later, restricting the import of fuel and hindering repair of electricity infrastructure destroyed and damaged during successive military offensives.

Gaza’s power plant shut down entirely in April this year, and Israel further reduced electricity supply to Gaza this week – a violation of international humanitarian law, according to human rights groups. Electricity is currently available fewer than three hours per day.

One of the results – among others profoundly affecting daily life in Gaza – is that there is not enough power to run sewage treatment facilities in the territory. Desalination plants, which provide most of Gaza’s drinking water, are also operating at significantly reduced capacity.

“Unprecedented”

Visiting the beach used to be one of the only possibilities for enjoyment and relaxations for Palestinians living under siege in Gaza.

Pollution has narrowed such possibilities. Around 50 percent of Gaza’s beaches are unfit for swimming, according to the local Environment Quality Authority. A number of beaches have been closed to the public.

“The pollution rate of the sea water and beaches this year is unprecedented,” said Ahmad Helles, a representative of that authority. “This indicates that there is a real environmental disaster.”

According to Helles, both the sand and water are contaminated. The sand, he said, “carries a lot of microbes which may be harmful and cause illnesses in humans.”

Maher Salem, a leading administrator of water services in Gaza, said that the sewage facilities will “stop totally soon.”

“We are forced to pump all the sewage into the sea untreated,” he said. “This is preventing people from swimming and, in many cases, even going to the beach.”

Having a view of the sea or living near it is considered desirable throughout the world. In Gaza, however, many people wish to leave homes close to the shore.

“Living in a septic tank”

Taysir Abu Saada has lived in Beach refugee camp, part of Gaza City, for 18 years. He is trying to save money so that he can rent an apartment elsewhere. He wants to “take my family away from this unhealthy atmosphere,” he said.

“I feel like we are living in a septic tank, not a real house,” said his 19-year-old daughter Shaima.

Wisam Lubad, a 22-year-old student, used to enjoy walking on the beach. Now she has to hold her nose when she ventures towards the shore.

“Nothing is well in Gaza,” she said. “That includes the sea – our only escape.”

One recent day, a local family decided to eat a grilled lunch on the beach in Gaza City. The family found the experience so unpleasant that it abandoned the lunch after a short while.

“We’re living in a big tragedy in this country,” said Samar, one member of the family. “We have one disaster after another.”

Beaches in Rafah, an area of southern Gaza near its border with Egypt, have been closed – at the order of the local authority.

The closures are necessary “to protect our citizens from harmful diseases which may be caused by this pollution,” said Sobhi Abu Ridwan, who heads the Rafah municipality.

Masoud Matar is among a number of people in Gaza who have vowed to keep visiting the beach, despite warnings by the authorities.

“Everybody in Gaza considers the sea as their friend,” he said. “Most Gazans are poor. They cannot pay for holidays in resorts or go to swimming pools. The sea is their only hope for having a bit of fun when it is hot.”

The closure of beaches is also causing income losses. Many people in Gaza work as peddlers during the summer.

Muhammad Abu Assi is a recent college graduate, who was hoping to earn a little money by selling corn on the shore. “I was waiting for the summer to start my life as a peddler,” he said. “Now it seems that this is not going to happen.”

Fishermen, too, are worried about the consequences of the pollution.

One of them, Mahmoud al-Ghandour, said that much of the fish for sale in Gaza’s markets may be unsafe to eat.

“Fishing has been my life for 30 years,” he said. “I have never seen so much pollution as that which we’ve had over the past five years.”

Sarah Algherbawi is a freelance writer and translator from Gaza.

IN PHOTOS ~~ DARK DAYS OF RAMADAN IN GAZA

“Power cuts have become a part of our life. We have already adapted to living with long hours of darkness.”

Image by Carlos Latuff

Abbas has no shame being Israel’ gatekeeper while it’s turning Gaza into a concentration camp where people are locked up living in harsh conditions

In photos: Gaza left to suffer in the dark

Gaza City’s Beach Street, a busy thoroughfare connecting the southern and northern areas of the Strip, is often in total darkness. During power cuts the lights go out along Gaza’s most trafficked streets, plunging the roads into darkness and causing accidents.

Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip have endured a chronic electricity crisis since Israel imposed an economic blockade on the territory 10 years ago.

The territory’s electricity infrastructure has been targeted and damaged during successive Israeli military offensives, and Israeli import restrictions have hindered repair.

An Egyptian crackdown on tunnels through which cheaper fuel was smuggled into Gaza exacerbated the situation in 2013.

Rolling blackouts now last 20 hours per day after Gaza’s sole power plant shut down when it exhausted its fuel supply in mid-April. Resupply has been delayed due to an ongoing dispute between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza over high taxes on diesel fuel and the collection of payments from electricity consumers.

Currently, there are only four hours of electricity per day in Gaza, and that is about to decrease as Israel moves to cut its electricity supply to the territory by 40 percent.

Hospitals have become dependent on generators and solar-based sources that can keep vital equipment running for a few hours when there is no electricity.

Power cuts disrupt the operation of water pumps and wells, with water supply to households currently standing at four to eight hours every four or five days.

Wastewater plants have been forced to shorten treatment cycles, causing 120 million liters of untreated sewage to flow into the Mediterranean Sea each day.

The crisis has led the International Committee of the Red Cross to warn that Gaza is on the brink of “systemic collapse.”

Reportage by Mousa Tawfiq, a journalist based in Gaza and photos by Mohammed Asad, a photojournalist based in Gaza.

Mahmoud Banat, 47, used to run one of the biggest appliance repair and retail shops in Gaza City’s Beach refugee camp. “I took this profession from my father. I’ve done my best to keep up with new technology and the daily improvements in this field.”

Banat said the chronic power cuts in Gaza have caused damage to appliances, and some residents have bought equipment to protect their devices from potential harm caused by outages.

“As you can see, my shop is full of broken and disabled televisions and electrical devices. People are suffering and losing a lot of money to fix their devices. People prefer energy-saving televisions that can be powered with generators and batteries. Some types of televisions consume a lot of power and they aren’t widely used these days.”

Banat’s business hasn’t benefited from the situation.

“When the electricity crisis began in 2006, I started to face difficulties at my shop as I couldn’t work during the power cuts,” he said. He sold his shop and moved into a smaller one, where he currently only does repairs, and no longer sells appliances.

“It’s a disastrous situation. My life is completely destroyed and I have five children; two of them are university students.”

In addition to harming Mahmoud’s business, the electricity situation has put pressure on his wife, Najwa Banat, 42.

“We suffer from a water crisis as there is no electricity to run water pumps at the houses,” she said while preparing a cup of tea.

“I can’t do any housekeeping. I have to get up after midnight to wash clothes and clean the house. I make sure to keep the candles away from the hands of my children. I’m always stressed and feeling uncomfortable. We live in a very difficult situation surrounded by hardships and daily challenges.”

In 2010, Ahmad Rajab, 26, opened his barbershop in Gaza City.

“Eight years ago, when I finished school, my family didn’t have enough money to pay my university fees. Some of my relatives advised me to learn a simple trade that people always need. I decided to master the skill of shaving and I had a diploma from a certified training center.”

From day one, Rajab had to contend with the electricity crisis.

“At the beginning, I bought a small generator to use during power cuts. When we were using the Egyptian fuel, I needed $6 a day just for fuel. Nowadays, with the Israeli fuel, which is three times more expensive, I need $18. I don’t think that I’ve ever earned more than $20 a day.”

“I bought those rechargeable shavers for $100. They are not cheap, but it is my only choice to keep working.”

“I hope to have a better tomorrow and for this crisis to be solved. We have begun to believe that it’s our destiny to not have a better life. It’s like a nightmare without end.”

Hussam al-Sousi, 24, took his mother and two sisters to Gaza City’s corniche to escape from darkness and boredom. They found that the corniche was darker than their house.

“We came here for some relief, but it is all the same. We are very lucky to have the car headlights,” he said.

Hussam, a law school graduate, works at his father’s garment factory.

“Even our work is affected. We used to work in the morning. Now, we organize our work according to the electricity. Sometimes we have to work after midnight using generators with expensive fuel.”

For Hussam’s mother, Sanaa al-Sousi, 45, the power cuts cause other woes: “My daughters’ midterm exams were in the last week. They had to get up very early to study [when the electricity was on]. Studying by candlelight gave my youngest daughter Leila a headache. I don’t know what we are going to do if the crisis lasts until the final exams.”

For Leila, 8, there are additional consequences: “There is no ice cream in the shops. I don’t know what I’m going to eat during summer.”

“I sell grilled and boiled corn on the beach. I work here during summer because the beach is full of people, while in winter, I sell vegetables in a small booth at the market,” said Mahmoud Ghanim, 26. “I’m a father of two sons and my wife is pregnant with a girl. I have no choice but to work hard.”

Ghanim, who lives in Beach refugee camp, said that he had to leave school at the age of 15 to work with his father as a fisherman. His family’s trade has been badly affected by the Israeli naval blockade and constant violence against Gaza fishermen by Israeli forces.

“It wasn’t an easy choice, but I couldn’t risk my life for a job that could barely feed my children,” he said.

Ghanim found his own solution to be able to work during the dark nights – a solution which cost him the equivalent of a week’s earnings.

“Before the current crisis, I didn’t face any problems at nighttime because Beach Street was always illuminated, but now we are in darkness. I paid $40 to buy a battery, a charger and a power-saving light to use when there is no electricity.”

Suha Ashour, 68, has been going to al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City for dialysis treatment for a decade.

“In 2007, I had a heart attack. The medical treatment and the consequences of the heart attack affected my kidneys. I have to go to the hospital three times a week for dialysis sessions.”

Ashour, a mother of six, said that the four-hour sessions are exhausting, especially during summer.

“After the sessions, when I return home, I feel suffocated and I can’t stay in hot weather. My sons brought me an air conditioner, but most of the time there is no electricity and it’s very difficult for me at this age to stay in such circumstances.”

Ashour said hospital staff have warned her and other patients that their dialysis treatment may be disrupted by power cuts.

In 2012, the neonatal unit at al-Nasr children’s hospital in Gaza installed a solar power system to ensure the running of their equipment. The unit receives 100 to 200 patients per month and any power cut can put infants’ lives in jeopardy, according to its coordinator Dr. Shireen Abed.

“We deal with very sensitive cases aged between zero and 28 days. Our unit receives three to five patients per day and all the equipment needs electricity: incubators, monitors and ventilators,“ she said.

“When the solar power system needs periodic maintenance, the situation becomes catastrophic. We transfer the neonates to other units to be attached to the required devices. The power cuts pose a real danger to the lives of our children in the unit, but the solar system provides us with the needed power.”

“I can’t imagine the situation without this solar power system,” she added.

Palestinians in Gaza have used backup generators to provide electricity to their houses and shops. But the high price of the Israeli fuel, $2 for a liter, is out of reach for many in the territory, where unemployment rates are the highest in the world.

“People didn’t use batteries or solar cells in their houses before 2014, they used generators,” said Ziad al-Rayashi, 32, the owner of a batteries and solar cells shop in Gaza City. “Using the generator for eight hours each day costs an average family more than $480 a month. No one can afford it.”

Al-Rayashi sells alternatives that don’t require fuel.

“Engineers invented new methods. We use car batteries to generate electricity by charging the battery and using it for lighting and watching television.”

A car battery charging system cost $1,200 a year ago, according to al-Rayashi. This price was far out of reach for the average Gaza resident – especially after the last cuts to civil servants’ salaries by the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank – so retailers slashed prices to increase demand. He now sells the system for $650.

Despite the price drop, people prefer smaller battery charger systems used just for lighting and Wi-Fi. “This more simple system costs $40 and it can barely light a room, but people can’t afford the bigger one,” al-Rayashi said.

“We do our best to provide our people with the cheapest devices, despite all the difficulties we face. We pay a lot of taxes to the Israeli side to get our goods from their ports and crossings.”

Though Gaza gets more than its fair share of sun, the use of solar power is very limited.

“It’s cleaner and better, but very expensive. The most simple solar power system costs $1,700 just for lighting and television. The upper class are the only people who can buy this system,” al-Rayashi said.

University student Khalid Mahdi, 19, and his friend Hussam al-Khatib, 20, play billiards at a small shop in Gaza City.

“We escaped from the poor LED lighting at our houses to find the same lighting at the billiards hall,” Mahdi said.

“Playing billiards is a hobby and we do our best to practice it regularly, but we can barely see the balls with these lights,” he added. “Every Gazan has these lights at his house and complains of their bad quality. But we don’t have other choices.”

“We are university students. We can’t study with bad lighting and we can’t practice billiards for the same reason,” al-Khatib said.

Most buildings and workshops have big generators which are usually put in the street, causing noise pollution. Yet even towers have stopped using them due to the long hours of power cuts and the cost of the fuel needed to power the generators.

Police officer Ahmad Musallim, 42, lives on the eighth floor of the Sea Tower in Gaza City.

“The generator works for 10 minutes every two hours for the elevator, and from 6 pm to 9 pm every day. If a person wants the elevator [outside the fixed time], he must pay 5 shekels [approximately $1.50] to turn on the generator.”

“My children go to school. After six hours of class, they have to walk up eight flights of stairs. I wish I could do anything to help them.”

“Power cuts have become a part of our life. We have already adapted to living with long hours of darkness,” said Fatima Qudaih, 42, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza.

“The long power cuts prevent us from using the water pumps. It’s the nightmare of every housewife here in Gaza. We can’t wash clothes or dishes.”

“My son takes some jerrycans and fills them at a nearby water station. It’s more expensive and much more difficult to use,” she added.

Wafaa al-Najjar, 63, and her sister Samiha, 60, use a clay oven to bake and cook at their home in Khan Younis.

“We used to use an electric heater for baking, but now we use this oven, especially since cooking gas is expensive,” Wafaa said.

The sisters use tree branches from their farm for the fire. “We live in a rural area. Women in these areas are strong and rely on themselves. We know that our life is difficult, but we do our best to keep going. We simply don’t have any other choice,” Wafaa said.

According to Samiha, the bread baked on the electric heater tastes better, but the one made in the clay oven reminds them of their mother.

Ahmad al-Jahjouh, 52, a carpenter in Gaza City, said that his work is “paralyzed” with only four hours of electricity each day.

“Sometimes the four hours of electricity are during the night. At first, I was coming to my shop with my workers and we worked after midnight. But the neighbors complained because of the noise, which I fully understood.”

“I used to have 20 workers in this shop. Now, it’s just me and my two sons. We produce nothing. And even when we use the generator, our profit is negligible.”

“I have nothing to say. I don’t sleep and I’m very tired. We have been suffering for years and our patience has run out.”

 

FROM

BLACK FRIDAY TOON

Image by Latuff

Israel and the PA agreed to cut Gaza’s electric supply by 40%. Now, Gaza residents prepare for the worst.

Majda Tantesh, 42, lives in the Beit Lahia city in the northern Gaza Strip. Like all of Gaza, the city only gets a few hours of electricity a day. After Monday’s Israeli Security Council ruling, approving the Palestinian Authority’s request to cut Gaza’s electricity supply by 40 percent, Majda told Mondoweiss she only expects things to get worse.

Majda, who has American citizenship, moved back to Gaza in 2009 to be closer to her family and loved ones. When she first moved back to the enclave, they were getting around eight hours of electricity a day. During the past eight years that number has been cut in half.

“We get around four hours of electricity a day now, but still even when the electricity is working, it cuts every half hour for ten to thirty minutes,” she said. “It’s very hard because it’s summer now and so hot here. We need air conditioning, we need fans, we need the refrigerator — we’re always throwing away food because there is no electricity. Our food is constantly going bad and I have to throw it out.”

Earlier this month, Mondoweiss received leaked documents detailing the correspondence between the PA’s Minister of Finance and Planning, Shukry Bishara and Israel’s Minister of Finance, Moshe Kahlon.On Monday Israel’s security cabinet approved the PA’s request to cut Gaza’s electric supply by 40 percent, meaning even shorter periods of electricity for the citizens who have been suffering the devastating effects of a ten-year blockade implemented by the Israeli and Egyptian governments after Hamas won elections in 2007.

In the letters, Bishara requested that the electric supply, controlled by Israel and paid for by the PA, not be allowed to exceed 25 million shekels ($7.1 million), which will mean a 40 percent cut in Gaza’s electricity.

“The parties responsible for the collection of electricity dues in the Gaza Strip have systematically failed to reimburse the PA for the cost incurred on their behalf,” the PA minister wrote. “Accordingly, it should be clear to all concerned [parties] that we have reached a stage where this state of affairs is no longer acceptable.”

In the letter, dated May 15, the PA minister asked for the cuts to be implemented within the week. So far the cuts have not yet been implemented, but are expected to incur in the very near future.

The electricity cuts comes amid failed attempts of unity talks between the Fatah-led PA government and the Hamas-led Gazan government. While the Palestinian people feel united across Gaza and the West Bank, the divisions between the two rival political parties are about to make life for the 2 million people in Gaza even more desperate.

“Everyone is feeling bad here, and expecting more bad to come with the current political situation going on now. It’s a very hard situation,” Majda told Mondoweiss. “It is already hard and it will soon become much worse. I am thinking to try and buy solar panels to store the electricity because we can’t live without it. We need electricity for our daily life. My daughter goes to college and she needs to use the computer to make reports. We barely have enough time with power to charge our phones as it is.”

While Majda hopes to try and get solar panels, she said that as the cuts get worse, demand for such technology will go up, hiking prices and making solar panels harder to find, since the panels must be shipped through the blockaded borders.

In addition to the small scale effects of the power cuts, Gaza is already suffering from lack of power for its water and sewage systems, which are paralyzed without electricity, and result in raw sewage being dumped straight into the Mediterranean coast.

Last month, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, warned that the cuts would end up “plunging [Gaza’s] population into a spiral of a humanitarian catastrophe.”

“The power plant, that supplies 30 percent of Gaza’s electricity, stopped functioning on 16 April, due to a dispute between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas over taxation on fuel,” Mladenov said in a statement. “The lines supplying power from Egypt into Gaza are often down for technical reasons. This leaves Israeli power lines, which provide some 60 percent of Gaza’s electricity, as the only reliable energy source. Meanwhile the Palestinian Government has decided to cap its purchase of electricity from Israel for Gaza.”

Israeli rights group B’Tselem on Tuesday decried the power cuts, and called on Israel not to “shirk” its responsibilities in the Strip.

“Despite [the] intolerable reality [in Gaza], the Israeli cabinet has decided to accept the Palestinian Authority’s cruel plan to further reduce the power supply to Gaza. Should the Israeli decision be implemented, the situation in Gaza will deteriorate even further, making the area virtually unlivable,” the group said.

“This is not some sort of natural disaster. Had that been the case, Israel would have likely sent in a humanitarian aid mission. Instead, the reality in Gaza is the result of Israel’s handiwork, achieved by its decade-long implementation of a brutal policy. Israel can, and must, change this reality.”

As rights groups are predicting catastrophe the people of Gaza are worried, but Majda said they are also hopeful.

“It’s going to be scary situation, but here people when people talk about it they are hopeful,” she said. “We say God willing things will get better — there’s nothing else we can do about it.”

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE RAMADAN IN GAZA

Video: Ramadan in Gaza

Ramadan, a time of worship and joy for Muslims around the globe, is mixed with sadness in Gaza.

During Ramadan three years ago, Israel launched a massive military offensive that would last 51 days and claim more than 2,200 Palestinian lives.

The many families in Gaza who lost loved ones during that offensive, and the ones that came before it, feel little joy in their absence.

Successive Israeli military offensives, and a decade of blockade, have destroyed Gaza’s economy, further clouding Ramadan.

But Palestinians in Gaza try to carry on with Ramadan traditions – sharing meals with family and visiting neighbors after a long day of fasting, enjoying qatayif sweets and and carob and tamarind drinks.

Video by Ruwaida Amer for The Electronic Intifada.

IN PHOTOS ~~ RUNNING FOR GAZA IN BROOKLYN

On March 25th, for the 3rd year in a row, UNRWA held a 5K run in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.  The sky was threatening, the temperature was moderate after a week of winter cold, and the rain never arrived.  At 8AM people started arriving to pick up their numbers, tee shirts, and have something to eat.  At 9AM about 1400 runners took off – they included babies and grandparents, some ran, some walked, some were pushed in carriages and some were in wheelchairs, one used a scooter and many were carried.  It was truly a joyful family event.  The Brooklyn event raised approximately $200,000 for mental health services for the children of Gaza.  The people of Gaza will see photos and videos of the event – they will see that good people are thinking of them and trying to help.  There will be 4 more 5K runs in other U.S. cities.  The people of Gaza will not be forgotten!

Photos © by Bud Korotzer, Report by Chippy Dee

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LATUFF’S SOLIDARITY WITH GAZA ON YOUTUBE

Carlos Latuff expresses his solidarity and support for the Palestinian People, with a condemnation for Israel’s crimes against humanity in Gaza

REMEMBERING OUR FALLEN ANGEL, RACHEL CORRIE

March 16th marked the anniversary of the Israeli killing of Rachel Corrie in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, 14 years ago.

14 years ago today, Israeli bulldozers killed ISM activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza

On March 16, 2003, Rachel was killed by an Israel Occupation Force (IOF) armored bulldozer in Rafah during the second Palestinian intifada.

Rachel had come to Gaza to try and establish a sister city project between her hometown Olympia, Washington and Rafah, Gaza. She was a peace activist connected to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who tried to prevent the demolition of Palestinian houses which were being carried out by the Israeli army.

After a three hour long confrontation between ISM activists and the Israeli army’s demolition forces, she was killed, less than two months after arriving in Gaza.

Israel claims that the driver of the bulldozer could not see Rachel because of the limited field of view from within the bulldozer. Humans rights groups claim that the driver had seen her and deliberately continued driving, disregarding her fellow activists who were shouting and waving their arms, which resulted in Rachel’s death.

The Israeli army’s investigation of the incident concluded that the death was an accident because the driver of the bulldozer had limited visibility and therefore couldn’t see Rachel. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations criticized the military investigation, claiming that it was not transparent, credible or thorough enough.

In 2006 Bradley Burston, Haaretz columnist said “We should have saved Rachel Corrie’s life that day… Right now, somewhere in the West Bank, there’s an eight-year-old whose life could be saved next week, if we’ve managed to learn the lesson are resourceful enough to know how to apply it.”

In 2005 a one-woman drama called ”My Name Is Rachel Corrie” ran at London’s Royal Court Theater, and received a warm reception. In April 2015, the drama was staged Off Broadway in the East Village in New York.

Two years ago a symbolic gravestone with her name was installed in Tehran cemetary in Iran, alongside twelve other symbolic gravestones.

There is a street named after Rachel Corrie in Ramallah, West Bank.

 

Source

 

Italian activist Nicola Arboscelli stands in front of graffiti memorializing American peace activist Rachel Corrie who was killed 14 years ago today, on March 16, 2003, Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. (Photo: Abid Katib/ Getty Images)

 

BONDS OF FRIENDSHIP CREATED BY THE HORRORS OF WAR

“We had no choice but to believe that together, we could face our new fate.”

Adli (right) and Mansour (left) on top of al-Muntar hill, the highest point in the Gaza Strip, near where Mansour was injured in an Israeli strike.

Adli (right) and Mansour (left) on top of al-Muntar hill, the highest point in the Gaza Strip, near where Mansour was injured in an Israeli strike.

A Gaza friendship

When Adli Ibeid went to get his car repaired in a shop in Shujaiya, a neighborhood near Gaza City, in February 2010, he had no idea that he would make a new friend whose life would become profoundly intertwined with his own.

“I heard of a skilled car electrician in the neighborhood. I went there to repair my car and I met Mansour for the first time,” Adli said.

Mansour al-Qirim, the electrician, “was a very energetic, polite young man with a big smile. We grew closer to one another until we became good friends.”

They came to rely on one another as each would be gravely injured in separate Israeli attacks the following year.

“We had no choice but to believe that together, we could face our new fate,” Adli, now 25, said.

Adli was the first of the pair to be injured.

“I was walking near a group of children who were playing soccer in al-Mansoura street in March 2011. Suddenly, they were targeted by an Israeli airstrike,” Adli said. “I tried to help them, but another missile hit the area, leaving me with serious wounds.”

Adli was injured during a week of extensive Israeli airstrikes and shelling, alongside increased rocket fire from Gaza. Fourteen Palestinians, including six civilians, were killed, and 52 more – the vast majority of them civilians, including 19 children – were injured.

Adli lost consciousness on his way to the hospital, and the emergency medics thought he had died. He was taken to the morgue and left there until his father came to identify his son.

Adli’s father sensed his son breathing.

“I felt everything but couldn’t do anything, until I heard my father’s screams,” Adli recalled.

After spending three days at the intensive care unit at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital, Adli regained his consciousness to discover that he had lost his left leg.

“At first, I was shocked, but over time, I accepted the reality and looked towards the future,” he said.

Adli eventually traveled to Egypt for surgery which improved his condition. When he returned to Gaza, his friend Mansour was waiting for him.

Mansour visited Adli regularly and encouraged him to have faith and patience. “It was very difficult to see my friend in such a situation,” Mansour said. “I didn’t know that I was going to have the same fate soon.”

Mansour would need to take the same advice he had given to his friend.

“In 2011, I was moving steadily towards the life of which I used to dream. I got my own workshop after mastering the craft as a car electrician,” Mansour, now 23, said. “I was an ambitious and successful 18-year-old young man.”

This was all turned upside down in August that year.

“I was passing by some of my neighbors, near al-Muntar hill, when they were directly attacked” in an Israeli airstrike, Mansour recalled. “I stayed in a coma for 10 days and when I got out of it, I realized what had happened to my leg, in addition to losing two of my fingers.”

Mansour was injured when Israel carried out approximately 30 airstrikes from 19 to 21 August, killing seven Palestinians and injuring 30 more. Palestinian fire from Gaza killed an Israeli civilian and injured six others. A Palestinian child was also killed, and six others injured, when a rocket fired from Gaza fell short of its target.

After months of treatment, Mansour was released from hospital.

“I went through a regime of physiotherapy which helped me regain my muscle flexibility, especially after the coma,” he explained. “Moreover, I had some surgeries in my leg and my head where I had sustained shrapnel.”

The two friends decided to stick together as they faced their new reality.

“We knew that everything would be easier as long as we’re together,” Mansour said. “I do almost everything with Adli.”

Adli said: “Luckily, we have the same foot size and the same taste in shoes. When we buy a pair of shoes, I take the right shoe and Mansour takes the left one. We also split the cost.

“Furthermore, we drive a motorcycle together to go to the market, to the gym, or even to the corniche.”

Their burdens remain, though their friendship makes them more bearable.

“It took us some months to believe that we could live a normal life again,” Adli explained. “I tried to go back to my previous job as a clothes salesman, but I couldn’t stand in the shop for long hours. I’ve been looking for another job.”

The Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank pays a monthly stipend to Palestinians seriously injured by Israel. But, according to Adli, “It’s not enough, especially because I’m responsible for my family.”

For Mansour, who is no longer able to work as a car electrician, providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities is a national and humanitarian duty.

“No one will hire us, even if the job is in the scope of our abilities. We won’t surrender to our disability. In fact, all we want is to participate positively in society.”

The friends have not been able to acquire artificial limbs. Prosthetics are in high demand in Gaza, and the waiting list for fittings is long, due to repeated Israeli attacks on the territory.

“We wait for an opportunity to travel to Egypt in order to get fitted for artificial limbs, despite their high prices,” Mansour said.

But there are new joys the friends are able to share, alongside the new challenges.

At his parents’ insistence, Mansour married, and in August, he and his wife’s first child arrived.

“My beautiful daughter, Zeina, is the most amazing thing that ever happened for me. I get up every morning to see her smile and to pray for her to have a better tomorrow,” he said.

Adli, who also married recently and whose wife is expecting their firstborn, looks forward to the future, without forgetting the past.

“Five years ago, I was declared dead in the morgue. Today, I have a family and dreams to achieve. I would never be here without having Mansour beside me.”

SOURCE and more photos

IMAGE OF THE DAY ~~ HUNGER IN GAZA

A ‘meal’ you definitely wouldn’t want to be invited to …

Because of extreme poverty Palestinian family in Gaza cooks chicken feet & toes 💔

Because of extreme poverty a Palestinian family in Gaza cooks chicken feet & toes 💔

A LETTER FROM GAZA TO STANDING ROCK ~~ ‘YOUR STORY IS OUR STORY’

As a Palestinian in Gaza, I have grown up feeling detached from the rest of the world as Israel tightens its decade-long blockade. I am sure many of you feel the same way. But we are not isolated. We are “soulmates” in the way that counts.

standingrockgaza

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Gaza writes to Standing Rock: Your story is our story

Israa Suliman

Dear Native Americans:

Although we are of different color, religion, culture and place, I have learned, as I read about the protests at Standing Rock, that we have much more in common than differences. When I read your history, I can see myself and my people reflected in yours. I feel in my core that your fight is my fight, and that I am not alone in the battle against injustice.

My ancestors were not the only ones who lived in Palestine. Jews, Christians and Arabs all lived side by side in my country. But my ancestors—including my grandparents and great-grandparents—were the indigenous people, just like you. And they suffered the same fate as your people. America’s policy of occupation and displacement through forced marches like the Trail of Tears, and the gradual transfer of so many of your people to massive, impoverished reservations, hurts me deeply because it is so similar to the ethnic cleansing of my ancestors by the Israeli military occupation in what we call “al-Nakba” (the catastrophe). We know what you know: that our land is sacred.

In 1948, my ancestors—along with nearly a million other Palestinians—were frightened away or forced off their lands, in some cases at gunpoint. More than 10,000 others were massacred. Hundreds of our villages and cities were completely destroyed in a systemic plan to erase our identity—just as yours has been under continuing assault.

Palestine today is just 22 percent of our original homeland. Like you, some of my people (an estimated 1.5 million) must live in degrading “camps” (our word for reservations), where living conditions are “comparable to the Third World.” Like your reservations, they are characterized by high rates of unemployment, poverty and suicide.

Many other Palestinians (about 6 million)—now including descendants of the original residents—are scattered elsewhere around the world, just as yours are around the United States. Today, not only has the military occupation taken over our land and declared it “the state of Israel,” but it continues to carry on a policy of expulsion, demolishing Palestinian houses in the little bit of land we retain, building illegal settlements and preventing free movement with a network of “security checkpoints.”

Like you, we don’t control our natural resources. Just as you were not consulted about the Dakota Access Pipeline that will traverse your land and contaminate your water supply if installed, we are not consulted by Israel, which wants to mine the gas supply in our harbor for its own use and monopolizes the water supply in the West Bank for the green lawns of its own residents—leaving Palestinians parched and dry. In Gaza, where I live, only 10 percent of our water supply is drinkable due to the conditions in which we must live. We too know that “water is life.”

When I was young, I saw how the media portrays negative images of you, especially in Hollywood films—depicting you as uncivilized, savage, racist and drug abusers. Likewise, my people are portrayed as terrorists, “backward,” misogynists and anti-Semitic. And yet no one regards whites as all the same.

Like yours, our resistance has been labeled as acts of terrorism and violence rather than as a fight for survival and dignity. That’s not surprising, since this is the policy of every oppressor who seeks to criminalize others to justify its acts. It is the oppressor’s way to create its own version of reality to rationalize its behavior and brainwash the masses. And it is the oppressor’s plan to make the colonized feel weak and alone. But you are proving they won’t succeed and I want you to know that my people are with you.

Seeing your women, elders and youth stand together to protest the pipeline and your exclusion from decision making is so inspiring! It gives us strength to go on with our own struggle.

As a Palestinian in Gaza, I have grown up feeling detached from the rest of the world as Israel tightens its decade-long blockade. I am sure many of you feel the same way. But we are not isolated. We are “soulmates” in the way that counts.

Sincerely,

Israa Suliman
We Are Not Numbers

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Image by Latuff

Palestinians and Dakota People together

Palestinians and Dakota People together

#InGaza ~~ THE ART AND WRITING ON THE WALLS

The artwork, “Besieged Childhood,” has garnered renown for its creators. It depicts a child wearing a keffiyehscarf, a melancholy expression on her face, her hands wrapped around two bars, like those of a prison cell.

“Besieged Childhood,” a mural co-created by Belal Khaled, on a Gaza City tower. (Abed Zagout)

“Besieged Childhood,” a mural co-created by Belal Khaled, on a Gaza City tower. (Abed Zagout)

The anguish and anger on Gaza’s walls

Twenty meters high and 15 meters wide, the mural on a wall of a 12-floor building in Gaza City is unmissable.

The artwork, “Besieged Childhood,” has garnered renown for its creators. It depicts a child wearing a keffiyehscarf, a melancholy expression on her face, her hands wrapped around two bars, like those of a prison cell.

Its location, on the Zafir 9 Tower in an upmarket area of Gaza City, is deliberate. During Israel’s 2014 assault, fighter jets destroyed one of Zafir 9’s sister towers, Zafir 4, in a bombing denounced as a war crime by Amnesty International.

No one was killed, though more than a dozen were injured and the homes of more than 40 families weredestroyed. More than 200 residents were left homeless in what Amnesty described as an operation with “no military justification.”

“Besieged Childhood,” painted in 2015, references this wanton destruction, said one of its four creators, Belal Khaled, 25.

“Zafir Tower bears witness to criminal Israeli acts during wars that targeted a [highly populated] residential tower. The mural is a way for us to communicate this reality to the world outside Gaza,” he explained.

Over the last decade, Gaza has been subjected to enormous destruction.

Three overwhelming Israeli military offensives and a decade-old blockade on goods and people entering and leaving, preventing any kind of recovery, have left thousands dead, tens of thousands injured and homeless, caused widespread psychological trauma and damaged infrastructure so completely that the United Nations has warned the coastal strip may be uninhabitable by 2020.

In this devastation, media coverage has had little ameliorating effect and it is no surprise that a frustrated populace is turning to other means to voice their frustration, anger and pain.

Writing on the wall

It was from a desire to convey Gaza’s suffering that the “Besieged Childhood” mural was born, and it was also a “message,” said Khaled, that artists will not be silenced.

“Gaza may be besieged, but it has artists who are capable of absorbing what is happening in Palestine and conveying this to the outside world in different, creative ways,” said Khaled.

Khaled graduated from Al-Aqsa University’s art college and lives in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza. He started out as an artist 10 years ago in photography and sculpture, but he soon moved on to calligraphy art and murals.

Belal Khaled (Abed Zagout)

Belal Khaled (Abed Zagout)

Graffiti is a well-worn and time-honored path for a Palestinian artist, originating in the years before the first Palestinian revolt against British rule in 1936.

Perhaps the most famous of what could be called “revolutionary graffiti” was what one Palestinian wrote on the walls of his Acre prison cell in black coal, moments before his execution by the British mandatory government in 1936:

To my brother Yusuf:
Look after our mother.
To my sister: Do not grieve.
For the homeland I sacrifice my blood,
And this for your eyes,
O Palestine.

While the identity of the prisoner is unclear, most believe the poem was written by Awad Nabulsi of Nablus. His verses later became a revolutionary song, “From Acre Prison,” which has been passed down from generation to generation.

Some of these cell-wall writings still exist, according to Emad Qassem, 61, who said he was arrested in 1978 and accused of taking part in an attack on three soldiers on patrol in Beach camp in Gaza City, where he lives.

Qassem said he spent six months in solitary confinement in Naqab prison, studying the “drawings and scribblings” of those who came before him.

“When I entered this narrow place, I sat down and studied the walls. I spent most of my time trying to understand the murals drawn by ex-prisoners.”

Some were signed and dated all the way back to British Mandate times, he said.

Qassem joined those who had come before. With stones or coal from the floor, he drew, he said, what he had in his mind. One depicted a mourning mother, one was a freedom logo, and one was a broken chain.

“Once I drew a masked man. When the prison guard saw it, he ordered me to erase it with my tongue. I refused. I was beaten until I lost consciousness.”

The practice has continued and spread. Almost every street corner in Gaza is adorned with some kind of mural or writing. Most of it is openly political, some of it factional. Much of it tells the history of the Palestinian people’s suffering.

Art is politics

During the 2014 assault on Gaza, Khaled combined news photos of Israeli airstrikes and digital tools to create his own kind of graffiti-photography. Adding drawings to photos of bombings gave him the opportunity to infuse some meaning into the destruction.

“The photos of bomb smoke were widely spread [on social media] during the war so I tried to create something unique with them. I drew a weary old man, a woman wearing the keffiyeh, a child playing, a young man raising his hands praying to God and a heart to express Gaza’s hope to live in peace,” Khaled said.

His was a response to violence that built on the examples of artists in the first intifada. It was during those years, 1987-91, that graffiti really took off as an expression of resistance.

Palestinian factions used the medium as a means to convey news, make announcements and simply for bragging rights: competition over which faction had the best artists even began to spring up.

Hassan al-Wali, 54, lives in the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza City. During the first intifada, al-Wali, then with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and his friends were some of the most active graffiti artists in the coastal strip.

He remembered his favorites, some of which still adorn the walls of Gaza’s camps. There were the Palestine map drawings, the always-popular key, a reminder of the the homes left behind by refugees during the ethnic cleansing by Zionist militias 1948. He drew assassinated cartoonist Naji Ali’s famous Handala character, the logos of the factions and many more.

“We would split into groups,” al-Wali recalled. “One to paint, one to keep watch and one for protection, should the army surprise us.”

Belal Khaled at work on the “Besieged Childhood” mural in November 2015. Mohammed Talatene/ (APA images)

Belal Khaled at work on the “Besieged Childhood” mural in November 2015. Mohammed Talatene/ (APA images)

They covered their faces and moved only in the alleys of the camp. It became, he said, a dangerous task that Israeli soldiers began taking more and more seriously. If caught, it could result in death or arrest.

“The goal of each drawing was to encourage and energize people. We wanted to spark the spirit of resistance by glorifying our fallen, remembering our prisoners and spreading awareness about the injustice and our history,” al-Wali said. “It worked. At least the Israelis began spending more and more time chasing the artists and designers.”

Finally, in an effort to turn people against the artists, the Israeli army forced the occupants of the houses with graffiti to erase the paintings that had clearly “got on their nerves.”

“Wall murals, graffiti, whatever you call it — it is the art of resistance,” said al-Wali.

Khaled agreed.

“Graffiti can spark a revolution. One phrase can energize people. One drawing can move them to demand their rights.”

Sarah Algherbawi is a freelance writer and translator from Gaza.

IN PHOTOS ~~ CONCRETE APARTHEID

TIMES SQ. NYC: PROTEST ISRAELI HYJACK OF WOMAN'S PEACE BOAT TO GAZA IN INTERNATIONAL WATERS (PIRACY) Photo © by Bud Korotzer

TIMES SQ. NYC: PROTEST ISRAELI HIJACK OF WOMAN’S PEACE BOAT TO GAZA IN INTERNATIONAL WATERS (PIRACY)
Photo © by Bud Korotzer

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Instead, this is what we get …
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Construction on the Gaza border barrier

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Construction underway on the IDF’s largest ever project ever—a subterranean concrete barrier.
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The barrier project is comprised of three components: the construction of a concrete barrier reaching several stories underground, the construction of a barrier several stories tall along the length of the border, and equipping both with a wide range of defensive technologies.
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Building the border barrier (Photo: Roee Idan)

Building the border barrier (Photo: Roee Idan)

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Construction on the border with Gaza (Photo: Roee Idan)

Construction on the border with Gaza (Photo: Roee Idan)

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Construction workers building the Gaza border barrier (Photo: Roee Idan)

Construction workers building the Gaza border barrier (Photo: Roee Idan)

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Cement being poured into the underground Gaza border barrier (Photo: Roee Idan)

Cement being poured into the underground Gaza border barrier (Photo: Roee Idan)

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Full report and video HERE

SOS VIDEO MESSAGES FROM THE WOMEN’S BOAT TO GAZA

SOS video messages were released by the Freedom Flotilla group after the all women crew members were reportedly intercepted and taken by Israeli forces en route to the shores of Gaza. Shortly before the release of the videos, Al Jazeera reported that the activists were expected to be detained and taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod, then deported.

Image by Carlos Latuff

Womens BoatTo Gaza intercepted by the Occupation Navy. Piracy on the open waters! Israel is the enemy of all mankind.

Womens BoatTo Gaza intercepted by the Occupation Navy. Piracy on the open waters! Israel is the enemy of all mankind.

SOS video messages from Zaytouna-Oliva

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Contact President Barack Obama    (202) 456-1111
Contact Secretary John Kerry           kerryj@state.gov or
                                                          (202) 647-4000

Unlike other nations that have women on the boat, we Americans provide military equipment to Israel that may very well have been used against Ann and our international friends.  Please ask Secretary Kerry and President Obama to demand Israel immediately release the women and that they do an investigation on the incident as there are a number of troubling circumstances that are against US and international law. And don’t forget to say that the blockade on Gaza must end.

More contact info here ….

UN: His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary-General
E-mail: sgcentral@un.org
Twitter: @UN_Spokesperson

EU: Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Email: federica.mogherini@ec.europa.eu
Twitter: @FedericaMog

AUSTRALIA

Julie BishopMinistro de Asuntos Exteriores
E-mail: Julie.Bishop.MP@aph.gov.au
Teléfono: +61 8 9388 0288
Twitter: @JulieBishopMP
Facebook: Julie Bishop MP

CANADA

Justin Trudeau, Primer Ministro
Casa de los Comunes
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
(No necesita franqueo!)
Teléfono: +1 613 995 0253
Teléfono: +1 514 277 6020
E-mail: j+ustin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca
Twitter: @JustinTrudeau

Stephane DionMinistro de Asuntos Exteriores
Casa de los Comunes
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Información de contacto
mailto:stephane.dion@parl.gc.ca

Para más contactos en Canadá: http://canadaboatgaza.org

FRANCE

Monsieur le Président, protégez la Flottille des Femmes pour Gaza
http://www.plateforme-palestine.org/Monsieur-le-President-protegez-la-Flottille-des-Femmes-pour-Gaza

NEW ZEALAND/AOTEAROA

Please contact: https://kiaoragaza.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/demand-israel-allows-womens-boat-to-gaza-safe-passage/

NORWAY

Børge Brende
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
N-0032 OSLO
E-mail: utenriksminister@mfa.no
Twitter: @borgebrende
www.shiptogaza.no

SOUTH AFRICA

Follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Womensboattogazasouthafrica/?fref=ts

SPAIN

  • Please check the following link for detailshttp://www.rumboagaza.org/convocatorias-asalto-zaytouna/
  • Rumbo a Gaza calls on civil society and organizations to gather at 7pm in front of Spanish government offices the same day of the possible interception.
  • Rumbo a Gaza calls on the Spanish Government and Spanish MPs and MEPs to protect the Women’s Boat to Gaza mission and their participants, including the Spaniard Sandra Barrilaro.

UK

Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary
Tel: +44 20 7219 4682
E-mail: boris.johnson.mp@parliament.uk
Twitter: @borisjohnson
Facebook: facebook.com/foreignoffice
Twitter: @foreignoffice

TWO SIDED ISRAELI COIN

Now that Israel’s last ‘Man of Peace’ has been buried, the actual dream of Peace was buried with him
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Two sides of the coin …
Sderot By Latuff

Sderot By Latuff

The Palestinian side …

Israeli forces shell targets in northern Gaza after rocket falls in Sderot

It is the latest such incident to occur since Israeli forces carried out several airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip mid September after a rocket was launched from Gaza and exploded in an open area in southern Israel. No injuries were reported.
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September’s airstrikes came as the second wave of Israeli shelling to strike the besieged Gaza Strip in the span of a month, while a few weeks earlier the Israeli army fired missiles into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun that left at least five Palestinians injured in late August, after a rocket fired from Gaza fell inside Sderot, with no injuries or damage reported by the Israeli army.
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More AT
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The Israeli version …

Gaza rocket lands in Sderot

A rocket fired from Gaza has hit the city of Sderot; two are being treated for shock; no damage have been reported; rocket landed next to an elementary school; IDF tanks have fired at Hamas positions in Gaza; Sderot Mayor; ‘if we don’t have quiet, they won’t have quiet.’
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More AT
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Introducing S.T.F.U.

Katie Miranda

Originally appeared at Mondoweiss

stfuobama

UPDATE ~~~~~ ISRAELI PIRATES PREPARING TO STOP WOMEN’S BOAT TO GAZA

Israeli Navy takes control of Zaytouna-Oliva flotilla
After repeated offers to dock at the port of Ashdod were rejected by activists, Israel’s navy board the flotilla 35 miles off the Israeli coast; IDF spokesman: ‘The process took place without resistance and resulted in no injuries.’   Full report HERE
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Message from Ann Wright
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Ann deserves our support
Ann has traveled thousands of miles and made a great sacrifice for human rights.  We can help her with a few small efforts:

Contact President Barack Obama    (202) 456-1111

Contact Secretary John Kerry           kerryj@state.gov or
                                                          (202) 647-4000

Unlike other nations that have women on the boat, we Americans provide military equipment to Israel that may very well have been used against Ann and our international friends.  Please ask Secretary Kerry and President Obama to demand Israel immediately release the women and that they do an investigation on the incident as there are a number of troubling circumstances that are against US and international law. And don’t forget to say that the blockade on Gaza must end

As if this wasn’t expected …..

Image by Carlos Latuff

Sources indicate that the Israeli navy has been given orders to intercept the Gaza Flotilla.

Sources indicate that the Israeli navy has been given orders to intercept the Gaza Flotilla.

A message from the passengers ….

The Zaytouna-Oliva has departed Messina and is now halfway to Gaza. She should arrive on the shores later this week.
We have a landing page where you follow the mission by twitter, facebook and GPS tracking.
The women on the boat represent 13 countries spanning 5 continents. The participants include a Nobel Peace Laureate, three parliamentarians, an Olympic athlete, journalists and a physician. The US representative is former State Department diplomat (and beloved peace activist) Ann Wright.  Bios of all the women can be found here.
Letter to Secretary John Kerry

Dear Secretary Kerry,

In September 2016, several boats with the Women’s Boats to Gaza will sail in a nonviolent effort to break the illegal and immoral Israeli blockade of Gaza. Comprised entirely of women, passengers will include international parliamentarians, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and several American citizens. The Captains and crew of the boats are women. One passenger, former U.S. diplomat Ann Wright who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq, is the recipient of the U.S. State Department’s Award for Heroism.

The women on the boats to Gaza are responding to an invitation by Palestinian civil society. They have committed themselves to nonviolence and in no way pose a violent threat to Israel. They will be sailing in international waters, not within Israeli territorial waters .

As you are aware, earlier this year, Senator Patrick Leahy, along with ten other members of Congress, wrote to you with specific concerns about “disturbing reports” regarding Israel’s “gross violations” against civilians. As Israel is a direct recipient of U.S. military assistance, these human rights abuses violate the U.S. Arms Export Control Act and the Leahy Law. These same laws protect the women on these boats.

In your role as U.S. Secretary of State, you are in the unique position of ensuring that military aid to Israel is not used against civilians, including fellow Americans. Simply put, you not only have the leverage to prevent a potential tragedy and clear violation of international and human rights laws from occurring if the Israeli defense forces use violence against the women on these boats, you have an obligation to do so. Given that Israel has taken violent measures in the past, we ask that our concerns be taken with the utmost seriousness.

Throughout history, non-violent peace activists and human rights advocates have relied on third parties of goodwill for protection and security to violent attacks against their efforts. While many organizations and individuals have already committed to providing such support to the Women’s boats, you are in a position of having one of the most tangible impacts on the safety of these passengers. We remain hopeful that you will take to heart your role in this and will do everything in your power to ensure their safety.

Sincerely,

Zohar Chamberlain Regev, Women’s Boat to Gaza

Alice Walker, Author

Marie Dennis, Executive Director, Pax Christi International

Rachel Kushner, Author

Sr. Mary Wendeln, C. PP.S., Original member, Nuns on the Bus

Sr. Patricia Chappell, Executive Director, Pax Christi, USA

Linda Sarsour,  Executive Director Arab American Association of New York

Look at our Greeting Party in Gaza

Aren't they the absolute cutest!!!

Aren’t they the absolute cutest!!!

And here is Israel’s response …. 

15 women to try to break Gaza blockade
The Zaytouna-Oliva, which set sail from Barcelona earlier this month, will try to reach the strip, as the Israeli Navy prepares to stop it and escort it to the Ashdod Port; Northern Ireland activist and 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire is among those on board.

The Israeli Navy is preparing to stop a group of women who will try to reach the Gaza Strip on board a boat on Wednesday in a bid to break a decade-long blockade by Israel.

Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade since 2006 but it was tightened in 2007 after the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas seized control in the tiny enclave.

Israel’s maritime, land and sea blockade of Gaza is aimed at preventing Hamas from receiving supplies which could be used for military purposes.

Fifteen women will try to breach the blockade aboard the Zaytouna-Oliva boat early on Wednesday, said spokeswoman Claude Leotic.”But we fear there will be an Israeli attack” to prevent the boat from reaching Gaza’s shores, she told AFP Tuesday in a telephone interview.

Much like other similar instances since the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla, the Navy will not allow the boat to arrive in Gaza and it will likely be escorted to the port of Ashdod.

The Zaytouna-Oliva is one of two vessels that set sail from Barcelona in September.

The flotilla dubbed “Women’s Boat to Gaza,” is part of the wider Freedom Flotilla Coalition that consists of pro-Palestinian boats that regularly go to Gaza from all over the world to try to break the blockade.

None have yet managed to get through, and Israeli authorities have made several arrests.

One such operation turned to tragedy in 2010 when Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists in a raid on the Mavi Marmara flotilla. The incident strained ties between Turkey and Israel, with the crisis only resolved earlier this year with the signing of a reconciliation agreement.

Among the women of different nationalities on board the Zaytouna-Oliva is Northern Ireland activist and 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire.

A South African passenger, Leigh-Ann Naidoo, told AFP she expected the boat to be 100 nautical miles off the shores of Gaza by 3am GMT.

“Our goal is to reach Gaza. We are not worried about what Israel plans on doing,” she added.

In early July, a week after Israel and Turkey signed their reconciliation agreement, a Turkish aid ship arrived at the Ashdod Port with food, medicine and toys that were checked and then transported into the Gaza Strip. On board were 22 crewmen, journalists and Red Crescent personnel. All were approved entry to Israel by the Interior Ministry.

Source and video HERE

TIMELY TOONS ~~GAZA REMEMBERS SHIMON PERES ~~ NOBEL ‘PEACE’ LAUREATE

For those of you with the gall to call Shimon Peres a ‘peace maker’ You all have no idea what peace is – clearly.

Images by Carlos Latuff

The way Shimon Peres will be remembered

The way Shimon Peres will be remembered

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Shimon Peres, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in Gaza, 2009

Shimon Peres, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in Gaza, 2009

The Three Faces of Eve Evil

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Related article FROM

He was seen abroad as an urbane diplomat but at home often as an ego-driven manipulator in domestic politics who eroded his party’s identity out of a thirst for cabinet posts after election losses to Likud.

Shimon Peres Won Plaudits and Nobel Prize — but Goal of Peace Eluded Him

Shimon Peres, who died on Wednesday at the age of 93, never realized his vision of a new Middle East built upon a 1993 interim peace deal he helped shape with the Palestinians.

But Israel’s elder statesman won world acclaim and a Nobel prize as a symbol of hope in a region long plagued by war fueled by deep religious and political divisions.

Peres was hospitalized following a stroke two weeks ago and his condition had improved before a sudden deterioration on Tuesday, doctors said. In announcing his passing, family members said that he did not suffer pain, and as a last act after death, he donated his corneas for transplant.

“Don’t forget to be daring and curious and to dream big,” Peres urged first-graders at the start of the school year in a posting on his Facebook page earlier this month. The comment seemed to sum up his own credo.

In a career spanning nearly seven decades, Peres, once a shepherd on a kibbutz, or communal farm, served in a dozen cabinets and twice as Labour Party prime minister, but he never won a general election outright in five tries from 1977 to 1996.

“I am a loser. I lost elections. But I am a winner — I served my people,” Peres, who held the largely ceremonial post of president from 2007-2014, once said in a speech.

He shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Israel’s late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for a 1993 accord that they and their successors failed to turn into a durable treaty.

When a far-right Jewish Israeli opposed to the peace deal assassinated Rabin in November 1995, the torch passed to Peres.

But Palestinian suicide bombings that killed dozens of Israelis and an aggressive campaign by Likud battered Peres’s rating and he lost the 1996 election to Benjamin Netanyahu by less than 30,000 votes.

In 2000, the failure of final-status peace talks with the Palestinians and the eruption of a Palestinian uprising rife with suicide bombings further damaged Israel’s left and Peres’s leadership prospects.

In 2005, Peres left the Labour Party to join then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s new party, Kadima, which had spearheaded Israel’s unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip earlier that year. Following Kadima’s 2006 election victory, Peres served as vice prime minister.

FOUNDING FATHERS

Born in 1923 in what is now Belarus, Peres immigrated to British-ruled Palestine with his family a decade later.

Israel’s founding father David Ben-Gurion groomed him for leadership. He oversaw arms purchases and manpower in the Hagana, the Zionist fighting force, before Israel’s establishment.

Peres is widely seen as having gained nuclear capabilities for Israel by procuring the secret Dimona reactor from France while defense ministry director-general in the 1950s.

As defense minister he oversaw the dramatic 1976 Israeli rescue of hijacked Israelis at Entebbe airport in Uganda.

Peres was popular in his first term as prime minister in 1984-86 as part of a power-sharing pact with Likud. He pulled troops back from Lebanon, normalized relations with Egypt and cut inflation from 445 percent a year to below 20 percent.

Despite his key role in building Israel’s defenses, Peres never gained broad popular trust in his security credentials as Rabin, his Labour rival and former army chief, or Sharon enjoyed.

Most Israelis, hardened by frequent conflict, dismissed his vision that a new age for the Middle East was dawning hand-in-hand with peace deals.

He was seen abroad as an urbane diplomat but at home often as an ego-driven manipulator in domestic politics who eroded his party’s identity out of a thirst for cabinet posts after election losses to Likud.

Nevertheless, during his last years, the last of Israel’s founding fathers saw a rise in his popularity among Israelis. He used the presidency as a pulpit for advocating peace and maintained an active public schedule, encouraging Middle East diplomacy and technological innovation.

He is also known for his stewardship of the Peres Center for Peace, a non-governmental organization focused on building closer ties with the Palestinians, improving healthcare and developing local economies.

Earlier this month, after a series of health scares including a mild heart attack, Peres received an artificial pacemaker.

“I feel great. When can I get back to work already? I’m bored!” he told reporters at the time.

Peres wrote several books including “Entebbe Diary,” “The New Middle East” and “Battling for Peace.” His wife, Sonia, died in 2011. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.—Reuters

#InGaza ~~ A POEM TO MAKE YOU WEEP

This poem was written by a German friend, Christopher Ben Kushka, a courageous activist for human rights and Palestinian liberation . It is not easy to speak out for Palestine in Germany. He is a teacher who is having a very hard time , threatened by Benjamin Weinthal and the lunatics and ideologues trying to harm him. He writes that 85% of Germans are indifferent or think it is a 50:50 conflict. Like me, he has been dropped like a hot potato for his views considered extreme.  He is also shut down from taking part in public discourse.

Bansky graffiti

Bansky graffiti

Here is a heartbreaking poem Christopher wrote at the height of the Gaza massacre in 2014

I want Palestinians to die

I want Palestinians to worry
about
which career to choose?
where to go on vacation, which country to travel to first?

I want Palestinians to despair
over the sun having set already
when they arrive at the beach to BBQ with family and friends

I want Palestinians toddlers and kids to cry
over a broken toy
and then to stroll on to another day full of adventures

I want Palestinians to battle
the challenges inside their own society
in a country based on justice and rights and peace
with none of us well-meaning friends interfering

I want Palestinians to die
a calm death
after a fullfilled and dignified life
after doing the deeds and praying the prayers
and working the work and
watching the next generations grow and prosper

a calm death they shall die
with a smile on their face
and an Alhamdulillah! on their lips

Click HERE to see a report written by the poet for Mondoweiss

WOMEN SET SAIL TO FREE GAZA

Two boats packed with activists, politicians, and artists from around the world have set sail for the Gaza Strip as part of an effort to break a nearly decade-long Israeli blockade. The boats, named Amal and Zaytouna (“hope” and “olive” in Arabic, respectively), set sail on Wednesday from Barcelona, with only women comprising the crew for each vessel.

(FREEDOM FLOTILLA COALITION/FACEBOOK)

(FREEDOM FLOTILLA COALITION/FACEBOOK)

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Images by Carlos Latuff

Women's Boat to Gaza

Women’s Boat to Gaza

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This is the one Carlos drew when we 1st broke Israel's siege, 23/08/08 We arrived successfully 4 more times

This is the one Carlos drew when we 1st broke Israel’s siege, 23/08/08 We arrived successfully 4 more times

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For the past two days, locals and international supporters have been flocking to attend the activities hosted by Rumbo a Gaza (Boat to Gaza) to mark the launch. Hundreds attended the events, including concerts, talks and non-violence training.

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Related report from Mondoweiss

Two women’s boats set sail for Gaza in effort to break blockade

Allison Deger

Two vessels with all-female crews set sail for Gaza from Spain on Wednesday in an attempt to break the nine-year Israeli blockade on the coastal Mediterranean strip. The “Women’s Boat to Gaza” is the fourth of its kind, captained by women-only, with 30 female activists and high-ranking officials aboard the Arabic-named Zaytouna (“Olive”) and the Amal (“hope”)

The organization said in a statement the boats are on a course to pierce Israel’s maritime control over Gaza’s borders, and in doing so, raise awareness of conditions inside of the Strip.

“While our focus is on opposing the blockade against the Palestinian people of Gaza, we see this in the larger context of supporting the right to freedom of movement for all Palestinians,” the group said on their website. “The Occupation daily violates the rights of Palestinians to move freely around their country and to leave and return to their country, as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Gaza is home to 1.8 million Palestinians, under siege since 2007. In the last decade, unemployment has soared to 42 percent, according to the World Bank. Gaza’s weak infrastructure already lacking basic services took a toll in the 2014 war, and of the funds promised to reconstruct, only half have been disbursed. 

Since 2014 Gaza’s southern crossing into Egypt has also mostly been shut down, with the exception of a few dozens of days of openings, leaving a majority of Gaza’s residents living in poverty reliant on aid parcels to survive. 

Notable passengers on the boat include Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead MacGuire from Northern Ireland, retired U.S. army colonel and State Department official Ann Wright, parliamentarian Marama Davidson from New Zealand’s Green Party, and playwright Naomi Wallace.

“We hope that people will put pressure on their governments to hold Israel accountable, to put sanctions on Israel for what it’s doing to the Palestinians and to tell them to lift the blockade,” Wright told the Middle East Eye before the ships left port in Barcelona two days ago.

“For us, as the women of the world, this fight is also important, it is important to show our rights and opportunities; to prove that we are able to send ships to the Gaza Strip; to show that we stand in solidarity with women and people in the area,” Palestinian-Spanish activist Jaldia Abubakra told Spanish RT.

In 2010 passengers aboard a boat in an aid flotilla charted toward the besieged Gaza Strip, the Mavi Marmara, were intercepted by Israeli commandos in an night-time raid while the boats were nearing the edge of international waters. The Israeli navy fired several rounds while commandeering the ship, killing 10 passengers including the husband of one of the sailors now aboard the Women’s Boat to Gaza, Çiğdem Topçuoğlu.

At the time Israeli officials claimed the ships were shuttling weapons. Ultimately, no such items were found stored. “Since no material aid is being provided, Israeli cannot claim the ships are bringing contraband,” the Women’s Boat to Gaza said.

The after effects of the raid disrupted relations between Israel and Turkey for six years. The two countries had a rapprochement earlier this year when they signed a memorandum of understanding. In the deal, Turkey agreed to absolve Israel of any civil or criminal penalties for the deaths of its citizens. Topçuoğlu came out against the agreement last spring. 

The two-boat flotilla left Barcelona two days ago with a sendoff from the city’s mayor. “Barcelona wants to continue to exercise the Mediterranean leadership for peace and human rights,” said a letter to the government of Israel from the Barcelona City Council.

The ships are due to arrive in Gaza during the first week of October. 

GAZA’S UNDERGROUND SIEGE

Do you see a similarity? … as history repeats itself
Famous photo taken in the Warsaw Ghetto

Famous photo taken in the Warsaw Ghetto

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Photo that Israel does not want you to see .... child being harassed by ziocop in Gaza Ghetto

Photo that Israel does not want you to see …. child being harassed by ziocop in Gaza Ghetto

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The Warsaw Ghetto in 1940, the year of its construction. The Nazis herded and confined more than 400,000 Jews into a small area of the city.

The Warsaw Ghetto in 1940, the year of its construction. The Nazis herded and confined more than 400,000 Jews into a small area of the city.

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The nazis never went as far as this ….

Building starts on underground Gaza barrier

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With a budget of NIS2 billion, work has begun on constructing an above and below ground barrier on the border with Gaza; work has started primarily in the Gaza border communities; government promises that there is a budget for the project.
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Israel is planning to build a massive concrete wall which will extend below ground along the Gaza Strip border, Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper has revealed. The barrier is aimed at combating the threat posed by Hamas tunnels crossing into the country from Gaza.
The wall, which will stretch along the 96km (60 mile) border around the Gaza Strip, will extend several dozen meters below the ground, and will also be present above the ground. It is estimated to cost US$568 million.

The costly plan – aimed at tackling Hamas terror tunnels – was cleared for publication by Israel’s military censor, according to Ynet, a website affiliated with Yedioth Ahronoth.The wall will be the third defense system of its kind to be erected along the border.

The first 60km (37 mile) barrier was constructed in 1994, following the Oslo Accords. The second was built following Israel’s decision to disengage from Gaza in 2005. However, neither system proved successful in combating the threat of attack tunnels.

Israel’s plan comes after two Hamas tunnels spanning from Gaza to Israel were discovered in April and May. Hamas has confirmed it is building tunnels, and residents in southern Israel communities bordering Gaza have reported hearing digging sounds under their homes, i24 reported.

Hamas has previously used tunnels to avoid or carry out attacks, store weapons, and enter Israel. It says, however, that the tunnels are needed to defend against Israeli fire.

In February, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to build barriers to “defend ourselves against wild beasts.”

“We are preparing a multi-year project to encircle Israel with a security fence, to defend ourselves in the Middle East as it is now, and as it is expected to be,” Netanyahu said in a statement at the time.

“At the end, in the State of Israel, as I see it, there will be a fence that spans it all,” he added. “I’ll be told, ‘This is what you want, to protect the villa?’ The answer is yes. Will we surround all of the State of Israel with fences and barriers? The answer is yes. In the area that we live in, we must defend ourselves against the wild beasts.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Policy reported in March that Israel is building an ‘Underground Iron Dome,’ a system that could detect and destroy cross-border tunnels. The government has spent more than $250 million on the project since 2004, according to Israel’s Channel 2 TV station.

The Thursday report comes just one day after a senior Defense Ministry official said that Israel has “no desire to rule over Gaza, and as long as there is no alternative government there, we have no business being there…but on the other hand, we cannot conduct a constant war of attrition.”

“Therefore the next conflict has to be the last conflict in terms of Hamas ruling the Strip. We are not looking for an adventure, but a confrontation with Hamas is inevitable. It is an ongoing and growing threat and we need to be prepared for it,” he added.

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