Archive | Uncategorized RSS feed for this section

Israeli soldiers shoot bound & blindfolded Palestinian teen..

25 Apr

because live fire is their only language

Haaretz video 23 April 2019

If he were a settler teen, he would be chasing the soldiers away, throwing stones and cursing at them. The story would be over. But the 15-year-old Hajajeh is a Palestinian teen.

Two photographs [below] tell the whole story, of about 2,000 words. In the first you see the Israeli commando soldier, armed and protected from head to toe, his face hidden, standing above a hooded mass. The obscure sight is Palestinian teen Osama Hajajeh from Tuqu village, 15 and a half years old, who was arrested a short while beforehand by Israeli soldiers in an ambush. The teen’s hands are tied behind his back, his eyes are covered with a piece of flannel, he is kneeling under orders on the ground, his face down, his back bent over as a soldier from an elite unit of the Israeli Defense Forces points a sophisticated sniper’s rifle at him.

The suspicion: the youth from Tuqu threw stones at passing vehicles. If he were a settler teen, he would be chasing the soldiers away, throwing stones and cursing at them. The story would be over. But Hajajeh is a Palestinian teen. The main street leading to his village has been blocked lately, and not long ago a woman from his village was killed in a hit and run by an Israeli vehicle. His village decided to protest. The stone is his protest. The occupier is his enemy.

The second photograph is much more grotesque than the first. The youth whose hands are tied behind his back, his eyes covered, somehow succeeds in getting up and fleeing from the Israeli commando forces. At least four armed soldiers surround him. They stand at point blank range, stretch out their arms to grab him, or catch him, if that was their intention. But IDF soldiers know to speak only one language. There is none other. The language of gunfire. Live gunfire, to be precise. Whether it’s a suicide bomber or a high school student throwing stones, only their gun can speak. Without it, there’s no other language. That’s how they were taught. That’s how they were trained. They no longer have the ability to discern right from wrong, war from antics. To grab a tied up teen with their hands and arrest him? That’s for the weak. And why should they even break a sweat? So they shoot the tied-up youth, whose eyes are covered, from point blank range, with live fire, straight at his crotch. The teen falls down, bleeding. The IDF has won.

Mustafa al-Badan]

[Mohammad Hmeid]

This picture can only raise much deeper questions: Who’s the blind one here? The teen whose eyes are covered by a rag or the soldiers whose eyes are open? And more than that, who’s the brave one and who’s a coward? The blindfolded and bound teen who tried to flee facing the ready rifles of commando troops, or the soldiers who shot him? It’s not hard to guess who the cowards are in this picture.

Continue reading

Notre-Dame fire a reminder of destruction of Middle Eastern mosques

23 Apr

The remains of a mosque after an Israeli air strike in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip. (Reuters)

By Ramzy Baroud, Arab News, 23 April 2019

As the 300-foot spire of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris tragically came tumbling down on live television last week, my thoughts ventured to the Nuseirat refugee camp, my childhood home in the Gaza Strip.

Five years ago, also on television, I watched as a small bulldozer clawed through the rubble of my neighborhood mosque. I grew up around that mosque. I spent many hours there with my grandfather, Mohammed, a refugee from historic Palestine. Before grandpa became a refugee, he was a young imam in a small mosque in the now long-since-destroyed village of Beit Daras.

Mohammed and many of his generation took solace in building their own mosque in the refugee camp as soon as they arrived in the Gaza Strip in late 1948. The new mosque was first made of hardened mud, but was eventually remade with bricks, and later concrete. He spent much of his time there and, when he died, his old, frail body was taken to the same mosque for a final prayer, before being buried in the adjacent Martyrs Graveyard. When I was a child, he used to hold my hand as we walked to the mosque at prayer times. When he aged and could barely walk, it was I who held his hand.

But Al-Masjid Al-Kabir (the Great Mosque), later renamed Al-Qassam Mosque, was pulverized by Israeli missiles during the summer war on Gaza in 2014.

During Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, 63 mosques were destroyed and 150 damaged, often with people seeking shelter inside.

Continue reading

Marking Palestinian Prisoners Day

18 Apr

Palestinian activists take part in a protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners. (Photo: via MEMO)

By Yousef Aljamal, Palestine Chronicle, 17 April 2019

On Palestinian Prisoners Day: A Whole Captive Population Longing For Freedom

Palestinians and their supporters around the globe mark April 17 every year as a day of solidarity with the Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. The PLO’s Palestinian National Council (PNC) chose this date to recall the release on April 17, 1974, of Mahmoud Bakir Hijazi, the first Palestinian prisoner to be held in Israeli jails.

The PNC hoped that the commemoration would send a message of hope, solidarity, and freedom to all Palestinians behind bars in Israel: just as Hijazi was released in 1974, there will come a day when all Palestinian political prisoners will be released.

Continue reading

Palestinian prisoners win demands & end hunger strike

16 Apr

Palestinian prisoners sit during visiting at Gilboa prison in 2006 (AFP)

Israel Prison Service agrees to install landline phones and release those in solitary confinement

By MEE staff, Middle East Eye, 16 April 2019

Palestinian political prisoners ended their hunger strike on Monday after the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) agreed to install landline phones inside prisons and release inmates held in solitary confinement. [ See earlier report: https://kiaoragaza.wordpress.com/2019/04/11/call-for-support-of-palestinian-prisoners-on-hunger-strike/ ]

In a statement on Monday, the Palestinian Authority-run detainees and ex-detainees affairs commission confirmed that the IPS had agreed to the prisoner’s demands.

Continue reading

How the left also dehumanises Palestinians in Gaza

15 Apr

By imbuing Gazans with mythical bravery, the left is failing to recognise Palestinian humanity.

Palestinian demonstrators take cover while Israeli soldiers are seen on their military vehicle during a protest in the southern Gaza Strip on December 21, 2018 [File: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

By Susan Abulhawa, Opinion: AlJazeera, 14 Apr 2019

Along the political spectrum, from the far left to extreme right, and spanning racial and ethnic lines, nearly everyone who has something to say about protesters in Gaza seems to fail the task of recognising Palestinian humanity. If it’s coming from the right, the narrative is of terrorists, rockets and Hamas, a legitimate Palestinian resistance fully cemented as the Boogieman in the western imagination.

From the left, the stories are the stuff of legends, portraying unfathomable Palestinian heroism, courage and “sumud”, an Arabic word romanticised in English to convey epic Palestinian steadfastness.

At both ends of the spectrum, defenceless Palestinians are larger than life, unlike other humans, either superhumanly posing a threat to highly armed soldiers several football fields away, or displaying supernatural courage and fearlessness before near-certain death. The latter narrative, which manages to sentimentalise unspeakable misery is so enticing that even Palestinians have taken up this framing.

Continue reading

Trump administration denies entry to Omar Barghouti

12 Apr

 

Omar Barghouti. [Photo: Kevin Van Den. Flickr/Creative Commons.]

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 11 April 2019

The Trump administration has prevented the entry of a prominent Palestinian human rights activist to the United States.

On Wednesday, Omar Barghouti “was denied entry into the United States at Ben Gurion Airport despite having valid travel documents,” the Arab American Institute (AAI), the organization that had invited him to Washington for a series of talks, stated Thursday.

Barghouti is a co-founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to advance justice, equality and freedom for Palestinians by putting pressure on Israel to comply with international law and human rights through nonviolent activism.

Jewish Voice for Peace (USA) has launched this petition – If you believe in freedom of speech and freedom of travel, then add your voice now: SIGN YOUR NAME

Barghouti explained the strategy in a talk at a conference in Dublin last May:

BDS is modeled on the tactics used to help end apartheid in South Africa and racial segregation in the United States, but Israel and its allies have declared war on the movement, falsely portraying it as discriminatory and anti-Semitic.

Despite the Trump administration’s ban, Barghouti’s first scheduled US speaking event did go forward, albeit by video conference.

Continue reading

Call for support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike

11 Apr

Palestine Chronicle, 10 April 2019

The Palestinian National Council (PNC) issued a statement, on Tuesday, stressing that “the prisoners’ issue is a national issue” and calling for supporting the prisoners in their open hunger strike.

The PNC called for the support of the Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons, who began an open hunger strike after the Israeli authorities failed to respond to their demands, such as removing the jamming devices, and to restore visiting of Gaza Strip residents to their imprisoned children, ending the isolation of prisoners in the Negev prison, and stop the incursions, abuses and medical negligence against the prisoners, in addition to other demands.

PNC said that the issue of prisoners and detainees is a national issue on the public and official level, where the leadership of Palestinian people is at more than one level handling the honorable battle to defend and take care of the prisoners’ legitimate struggle. The prisoners are on the top of our priorities and are the vanguard of our national struggle and freedom fighters.

PNC called for the implementation of all prisoners international conventions and treating them as prisoners of war.

PNC also stressed that, “The Israeli occupation authorities have escalated the procedures of solitary confinement, repression, harassment and restrictions on prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons. The number of Palestinian prisoners is about 6,000, including 750 prisoners suffering from serious and chronic diseases, whereas the Israeli prison authorities deliberately do not provide them with the medical care.”

PNC said that the prisoners began their hunger strike two days ago, “The battle of dignity 2” demanding the implementation of the prisoners’ rights guaranteed by the related international laws and conventions, and asking to stop all punitive and inhuman measures taken against the prisoners.

PNC also called on all international bodies, human rights and humanitarian organizations, especially the International Committee of the Red Cross, to immediately intervene to rescue Palestinian prisoners and detainees and to pressure the Israeli authorities to provide conditions of detention that comply with the principles of humanity.

PNC concluded that the solution to the issue of prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons is “to release them immediately and return them to their families to live in dignity in an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

(Sources: Ma’an, PC, Social Media. File photo)

What Netanyahu hopes to gain from attacking Palestinian Prisoners

Palestinian prisoners have, without question, demonstrated their tenacity and ability to devise ways to resist the Israeli occupier throughout the years. (Ramzy Baroud) (Photo: via AJE)

By Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle, 11 April 2019

The current violence targeting Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails dates back to January 2. It was then that Israel’s Public Security Minister, Gilad Erdan declared that the “party is over.”

Continue reading

Israel Is Voting Apartheid

8 Apr

A man walks past electoral campaign posters in Tel Aviv. [JACK GUEZ / AFP]

By Gideon Levy, Opinion, Haaretz, 7 April 2019

There will be one certain result from Tuesday’s election: Around 100 members of the next Knesset will be supporters of apartheid. This has no precedent in any democracy. A hundred out of 120 legislators, an absolute of absolute majorities, one that supports maintaining the current situation, which is apartheid.

With such a majority, it will be possible in the next Knesset to officially declare Israel an apartheid state. With such support for apartheid and considering the durability of the occupation, no propaganda will be able to refute the simple truth: Nearly all Israelis want the apartheid to continue. In the height of chutzpah, they call this democracy, even though more than 4 million people who live alongside them and under their control have no right to vote in the election.

Continue reading

Great March of Return is Palestinians’ cry for justice

4 Apr

A Palestinian woman taking part in the March of Return. (Photo: ActiveStills.org)

By Ramzy Baroud, The Palestine Chronicle, 4 April 2019

The aims of the Great March of Return protests, which began in Gaza on March 30 last year, are to put an end to the suffocating Israeli siege and implement the right of return for Palestinian refugees who were expelled from their homes and towns in historic Palestine 70 years ago.

But there is much more to the protests than a few demands, especially bearing in mind the high human cost associated with them. According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, more than 250 people have been killed and 6,500 wounded, including children, medics and journalists.

Aside from the disproportionately covered “flaming kites” and youths symbolically cutting through the metal fences that have caged them for many years, the marches have been largely nonviolent. Despite this, Israel has killed and maimed protesters with impunity.

Continue reading

Israelis have some serious decisions to make

4 Apr

A protest in support for Palestine at Times Square in New York, 20 May 2018 [Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency]

By Rev. Dr Mae Elise Cannon, Middle East Monitor, 4 April 2019

Most Israelis see themselves as having a major decision to make on 9 April. Looking at Israel as an American Christian, I think the decision has two aspects: who will govern Israel following the General Election, and how will this determine Israel’s future direction vis-a-vis the Palestinians. Americans in general, and America’s Christians interested in Israel in particular, will be more influenced by the future direction of Israeli politics and policies than by the outcome of the election.

The Middle East is seeing many decisions for change: the Pope has made a historic visit to the Arabian Peninsula and said mass in the United Arab Emirates; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an official visit to Oman, without the previously anticipated backlash; and the US President is pulling ground troops out of Syria. Some choose to continue down the same roads as in the past, but that too is a decision.

The organisation I lead, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), has long been a friend to Israelis. We are also a friend to Palestinians, and others seeking peace in the Middle East. As such, we have been very critical of Israel’s occupation policies. We have also been critical of Hamas terrorism and the Palestinian Authority’s withholding of resources from its own people. And we have long criticised anti-Semitism here in the US. There is a significant power imbalance between Israelis and Palestinians. While there are legitimate grievances on both sides, the abuse of power in the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian people must be acknowledged and brought to an end.

READ: In open letter, Jewish Americans come out in support of Ilhan Omar

Americans, like Israelis, are coming to a crossroads. Most Americans have long supported Israel, while at the same time opposing some Israeli policies. Also like Israelis, for several decades Americans have thought their policy arguments with each other needed to stop at the water’s edge. The US had a consistent (if occasionally horrendous) foreign affairs outlook and policy. However, this standpoint is ending. Israel’s policies are becoming a bone of contention among Americans, as evidenced on Capitol Hill in response to the controversial statements made by Representative Ilhan Omar.

Minnesota Democratic Congressional-elect Ilhan Omar speaks at an election night results party on 6 November 2018 in Minnesota, US [Stephen Maturen/Getty Images]

Continue reading

Israeli bulldozers raze lands, navy attacks Gaza fishermen

4 Apr

Ma’an News Agency, Gaza City, 4 April 2019

Several Israeli military vehicles raided Palestinian lands along the eastern borders of al-Breij refugee camp in central besieged Gaza Strip, on Wednesday.

Locals told Ma’an that five large D-9 Israeli military bulldozers entered dozens of metres into Palestinian lands, coming from the Israeli security border fence heading south.

Sources added that Israeli military bulldozers razed and leveled the lands while drones flew overhead. No shootings were reported.

Meanwhile, Israeli naval forces opened heavy fire towards Palestinian fishing boats off Gaza’s coast, within the permitted fishing zone, forcing the fishermen to head back to shore in fear for their lives.

Continue reading

Urgent need for your support

3 Apr

The Kia Ora Gaza website builds solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for human rights and freedom, giving prominence to the Palestinian voices.

We draw on a wide range of excellent sources for up-to-date news, analysis and views from Palestine, but two of our most consistently reliable and courageous sources are the Palestine Chronicle and the Electronic Intifada.

Both are appealing for financial support. We ask our readers to consider a donation to help sustain their important work.

Donate to support the Palestine Chronicle

Challenging the skewed and biased corporate media’s coverage of the Israeli occupation, Zionist colonialism and Apartheid in Palestine is not an easy task. But, at the Palestine Chronicle, we have been doing it for 20 years. It has been a long journey, but with your support, it continues to be possible

Courageously, articulately and consistently we presented a whole different reading of the Palestinian struggle against the ongoing Israeli crimes.

CLICK TO DONATE OR TO LEARN MORE

We never hesitated to call it as it is, and we never allowed ourselves to be intimidated by outside pressures, nor succumb to self-censorship.

Instead, day after day, year after year, we produced accurate news, sound political analyses, colorful features, engaging videos, and much more.

Moreover, we scanned social media on a daily basis, giving greater attention to voices that would have otherwise been neglected or marginalized.

We created spaces for unheard voices and storytellers so that we may all equally take our part in this intellectual struggle to present the truth on Palestine and the Palestinian people’s rightful and legitimate resistance.

We did all of this without sitting in ivory towers, but, instead reflecting as honestly as possible the pulse of real, authentic, but often overlooked people.

Our reporters in Gaza’s Great March of Return never missed a day reporting on the ground, as hundreds of  thousands of Palestinians in Gaza resurrected their popular struggle against the illegal Israeli siege of the Strip – a siege that has cost thousands of precious lives and limited the freedom of nearly two million people.

Our seven-member team in both English and French (Romana, Yousef, Claude, Abdullah, Mohammad, John and Ramzy), are largely voluntary, but we still have expenses to pay, operational costs in the field, bills, servers, newsletter fees, occasional travels, etc…

So we ask you to join us, by taking your part as well, in helping the Palestine Chronicle in its ongoing mission to educate people all around the world on the reality in Palestine: The evil of military occupation and the struggle of a nation determined to free itself.

Any donation, large or small is welcome, and will make a difference.

The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization in the USA. Overseas donations are not tax deductible.

Please support the Palestine Chronicle: To contribute using your credit card or PayPal account, please click HERE

Your support does more than help us carry on with our work. It empowers us with the solidarity needed to continue with our mission, with the same vigor and energy that compelled us forward since our launch in September 1999.

Link to the Palestine Chronicle website: http://www.palestinechronicle.com/

 

Donate to support the work of the Electronic Intifada

By supporting The Electronic Intifada you make sure we can publish original, hard-hitting reporting and analysis about Palestine every day, and empower those working for justice with sound information and education. Please give today.

Donate by credit card or PayPal

DonateNow

EI accepts secure online donations using a credit card or PayPal via Network for Good. You can make a one-time or recurring donation. Visa, Mastercard, American Express are accepted. Make a donation now via Network for Good.

Donations are tax-deductible for US taxpayers only.

Donate by bank transfer

EI will provide bank transfer information to anyone wishing to donate in this manner. Please contact us. Please note that bank transfers from overseas to the United States are not recommended for smaller donations due to the high fees that are charged. We suggest instead one of the convenient methods above. Thank you.

Thank you for your support!

The Electronic Intifada is a programme service of the Middle East Cultural and Charitable Society, Inc. a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. While EI accepts donations from around the world, we have nonprofit status only in the United States.

Link to the Electronic Intifada website: https://electronicintifada.net/

‘The time for gentle posturing by New Zealand has passed’

3 Apr

The Palestine Solidarity Network holds rally for Free Palestine at the Aotea Square, Auckland, from 2pm on the first Saturday of each month. All supporters are welcome to join in.

PALESTINE SOLIDARITY NETWORK AOTEAROA-NZ STATEMENT ON LAND DAY & THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE GREAT MARCH OF RETURN GAZA

Since 30 March 2018, the Israeli occupying forces have systematically and deliberately resorted to lethal and other excessive force to suppress the Great Return March in the occupied Gaza Strip, having killed 197 Palestinians within the context of the demonstrations, including 42 children, seven persons with disabilities, three paramedics, and two journalists.

In addition, over 29,000 Palestinians have been injured according to the World Health Organization, including over 6,500 by live ammunition, of whom more than 1,200 have been left with complex limb injuries requiring multiple surgeries and long-term follow up. http://www.emro.who.int/palestine-press-releases/2019/who-appeals-for-us-53-million-to-respond-to-trauma-and-emergency-needs-in-gaza.html

Continue reading

Marking the first anniversary of the Great March of Return

2 Apr

VIDEO REPORT by Ahmed Ghoneim, TRT World, published on 2 April 2019

Palestinians have been participating in the “Great March of Return” for one year now. They are demanding an end to the 12-year Israeli blockade of Gaza and the right to return to their former lands. Listen to their voices.

 

Gaza’s Great March of Return protests explained

1 Apr

By Huthifa Fayyad, AlJazeera, 31 March 2019

The backstory of the Great March of Return protests and the conditions that have brought Gaza to this point.

Every Friday for the past year, Palestinians in Gaza have protested along the fence separating the besieged strip from Israel.

They are demanding the right to return to their ancestors’ homes, which they were expelled from in 1948 when Zionist militias forcefully removed 750,000 Palestinians from their villages to clear the way for Israel’s creation.

The protesters are also demanding an end to the 12-year-long Israeli blockade, which the United Nations says amounts to collective punishment.

The demonstrations started on March 30, 2018, and have continued since, despite the Israeli army’s deadly response.

Israeli snipers opened fire at protesters during the demonstrations, killing 266 people and injuring almost 30,000 others in one year, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Continue reading

52nd Great March of Return: four unarmed Palestinians killed, 207 injured

1 Apr

Ma’an News Agency, Gaza City, 31 March 2019

Four Palestinians were killed, while at least 207 others were injured, on Saturday, as Israeli forces suppressed “The Great March of Return” protests along the eastern [boundary fence] of the besieged Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza confirmed that Balal Mahmoud Abu Jamous, 17, Tamer Hashem Abu Kheir, 17, Adham Nidal Amara, 17, and Muhammad Jihad Saad, 20 were all shot and killed by Israeli live fire.

The ministry said that 207 Palestinian protesters, including 33 children and nine women, sustained various injuries.

The ministry also reported that at least 24 Palestinians were injured with live ammunition, pointing out that the injured were shot either in the neck or the head, noting that Israeli forces used excessive force against peaceful protesters.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians marched, while waving flags and chanting slogans, to the eastern borders of the Gaza Strip in commemoration of Land Day and as “The Great March of Return” protests marked one year.

It is noteworthy that according to statistics issued by the ministry, since March 30th 2018, Israeli forces have systematically and deliberately resorted to lethal and other excessive force to suppress “The Great March of Return” in the besieged Gaza Strip, killing at least 266 Palestinians, including 50 minors, six women, and one elderly, as well as injuring 30,398 during the mass protests.

Photos of Saturday’s Great March of Return: Social media

On Land Day 2019: No return from the Right of Return

1 Apr

Photo by Abdallah Aljamal

By Yousef M. Aljamal, Just World Education, 31 March 2019

On Land Day 2019: No return from the Right of Return

In early May 1948, Zionist gangs launched an offensive against the village of Aqer, to the south-east of Ramle, where my family is from. My great-grandfather fought the invading forces until his last bullet. (He even tied his own legs together so he wouldn’t be tempted to run away.) Later, he was found dead in the school’s primary school. He was buried in the village’s graveyard and within a few days all the village’s residents, including my grandparents, were forced out by the Zionist militias who sent them to the surrounding villages and pushed them all the way towards what later became known as the Gaza Strip. They walked in one straight line along the Mediterranean Sea until they made to Gaza.

My weak-bodied grandmother thought this journey, which lasted for more than 70 years now, would end “within a few days.” The village’s residents believed that Arab armies would soon come and all of them would return home in a few days.

My grandmother, Zinab Abu-Rahma, whose family’s house was bombed by the British due to the role of her father in resisting the British forces, was a simple village woman, whose father who came from a well-known family, married her off to my grandfather, who came from a poor family. He worried about her as he believed that she had a weak constitution and therefore little ability to cultivate the land. She was too simple to believe the promises of Arab armies and thus buried her gold in a hole near her home

The young woman described as “weak-bodied” had to endure much suffering walking all the way from Aqer to Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, carrying her just-born baby, Ghalia, in her arms–and then trying to live in the refugee camp there and later in Al-Nuseirat (the camp where I grew up.) My grandfather also suffered much, dreaming of the day his family would be able again to return to Aqer so that he could recite a prayer at his father’s grave, whose love for the land had led him to die for it.

My aunt Ghalia grew up in Al-Nuseirat refugee camp. For 42 years, she taught at UNRWA’s schools. She survived many wars, many massacres, and witnessed Palestine’s modern history with all its bitter details. She always wanted to be back in Aqer, where she was born. Never was she allowed to. She planted the love of our homeland and the notion of return in every single student she taught. For her, Gaza was a temporary residence and her real home was always Aqer, although she was only a few weeks old when her parents had to leave the village.

The children whom my aunt taught grew up to be strong women and men, mostly refugees, just like my aunt was. The first generation of Palestinian refugees, like my aunt, went for education. The second generation, like my father, went for work; and the third, empowered generation took action– the peak of which today is the Great March of Return.

A year ago, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which is home to eight refugee camps, started a mass, peaceful, protest at the Gaza fence, calling for their right to return back home, known as the Great March of Return. Many of them could spot the villages and towns their ancestors came from across the fence, yet they were never allowed to go back. For them, Palestine was just a step away–the Palestine that they could never return to but had always loved and heard stories about, like the stories my grandmother and then my aunt always told me over and over again.

Those Palestinians wanted to send a message to the world and to Israel, which was created as an apartheid state in historical Palestine, that it is no longer acceptable to live as refugees in Gaza when just a 20-minute drive away live Israeli settlers, on their stolen land, with access to roads, water, education, freedom of movement, and healthcare. These refugees reminded Israel of memories, and exposed how much Israel fears memories, as the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish wrote: “On this land what makes life worth living; the invaders’ fear of memories.”

It is the memory that was installed in my aunt through her mother, the memory that was conveyed to me through my aunt that Palestine is a step away, that my great-grandfather’s grave is in the village of Aqer: A village that I recalled countless times whenever my name was called by my teachers at UNRWA’s schools, who asked me where I originally came from. It is the sure knowledge of Palestinian generations that time can’t change the fact that Israel was built on their ruins and they would be one day able to return back.

Israel’s response to the Great March of Return was, as it had always been since Israel’s establishment on the ruins of Palestine, brutal and lethal. Israeli snipers stationed at the Gaza fence killed 270 Palestinians and injured nearly 17,000 with live bullets. This brutal response has not deterred Palestinians who continued their long march to freedom, protesting every Friday at the Gaza fence in an attempt to shake their chains and knock the walls of their prison.

Israel has to understand that brutal force and its colonial tactics, which it has overused against Palestinians, will only make them stronger and more intent on return. Israel has to understand that no foreign-looking Israeli forces could scare a Palestinian child who grew up in Gaza’s refugee camp and survived at least three major Israeli offensives against the coastal enclave between 2008-2014. Israel also has to understand that their professed love for the land will never equal the love for the land of a Palestinian woman who planted an olive tree and cared for it decades, hugging it to prevent Israeli bulldozers from uprooting it. Israel has to understand that it will never be able to uproot the love of Palestine from the hearts of its children and that there is no force on earth could forever be able to prevent a refugee from returning back home. And this is the message that the Great March of Return is sending loudly, all around the world.

Yousef M. Aljamal is a Palestinian refugee who grew up in Al-Nuseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He is a PhD candidate at the Middle East Institute at Sakarya University in Turkey.

Yousef was a key note speaker at the 2013 NZ Conference on Palestine in the Auckland Town Hall. [Photo: Kia Ora Gaza]

Egyptian officials arrive in Gaza for truce talks, as Israeli troops amass at border

29 Mar

The largest deployment of Israeli forces since Israel’s 50 day bombardment of Gaza in 2014, now surrounds the Gaza Strip.

Update by Celine Hagbard, International Middle East Media Centre, 29 March 2019

The Israeli government authorized even more troops and weaponry to be deployed to the Gaza-Israel border on Wednesday evening, as Palestinians in Gaza prepare for the one-year anniversary of the weekly protest movement known as the ‘Great March of Return’ on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials crossed the Erez border crossing from Israel into Gaza to work on negotiating a truce. Palestinian officials from every major faction have repeatedly stated their desire for a truce, but the Israeli government has not responded to the overtures for peace.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya, whose office was bombed into rubble on Monday night by Israeli bombs dropped by F16 fighter jets, made his first public appearance since the attack, on Wednesday evening. He said that the Palestinian resistance had made clear their intentions for peace, and that “The Occupying Power [Israel] has heard the message.” Now, he said, it is up to Israel to decide if they will go the way of war or peace.

The Egyptian officials are scheduled to be in Gaza overnight until Thursday. Israeli bombings, drone strikes, sound bombs and other weapons continue to be dropped on the Gaza Strip by the Israeli airforce.

The negotiators are from the Egyptian General Intelligence Service. They are said to have met with Israeli officials on Monday night, and had claimed at that time that a ceasefire was imminent – but Israeli bombardment continued without abatement through Tuesday and continuing into Wednesday.

On Friday, the weekly non-violent protest at the border between Gaza and Israel is scheduled to take place, and then on Saturday, Palestinians across Gaza, the West Bank and around the world will commemorate Palestinian Land Day with massive protests against Israeli land confiscation, imprisonment of the Gaza Strip and illegal and wanton use of military force against civilian populations.

Palestinian Land Day marks the anniversary of a non-violent protest in 1976, following the Israeli government’s seizure of thousands of acres of Palestinian land to annex for the Jewish state.

At that time, protests against the land confiscation were also met by deadly force imposed by the Israeli police, who killed six unarmed Palestinian protesters.

Since the Great March of Return began on March 30th, 2019, over 240 Palestinians have been killed, and over 28,000 wounded by Israeli forces.

Rights groups urge UN to protect Palestinians on ‘Great March’ protest anniversary

29 Mar

197 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israel at the weekly boundary fence protests since they began on 30 March last year [AFP]

Middle East Eye, 28 March 2019

Almost 20 Palestinian rights groups – both regional and international – urged the United Nations to protect Gazans who participate in the anniversary of the “Great March of Return” protests this coming Saturday.

In a letter sent to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday, the groups warned that Israel “will once again resort to lethal and other excessive force, including live ammunition, to suppress the protests”.

“We urge the UN to take meaningful action to prevent further unnecessary loss of life and injury by the Israeli occupying forces, which entails individual criminal responsibility and may amount to international crimes,” the letter read.

Continue reading

What you need to know about the bombings in Gaza

28 Mar

By Mike Merryman-Lotze, American Friends Service Committee 26 March 2019

Israel has begun bombing targets in Gaza and has issued call-up orders for thousands of reserve troops, signaling that a new large-scale attack on Gaza may be in its early phases. Political action is needed now in the U.S. to push for a halt to violence that could result in the deaths of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza.

Here’s what you need to know about the bombings:

Israel’s actions follow the firing of one rocket from Gaza on March 25.

That rocket hit a home in Israel and injured seven people. This is the sixth rocket fired from Gaza this year and the first to cause any damage or injuries. No faction in Gaza has claimed responsibility for the firing of the rocket. It may have been fired by an individual without formal authorization from any political group in Gaza.

The bombings follow months of violence against Palestinians in Gaza.

This rocket comes after Israeli tanks shelled Gaza on Sunday, Israeli aircraft bombed two targets on Saturday, and two Palestinian civilians were killed on Friday during protests near the Gaza fence. 

Since the start of 2019, the Israeli military has shelled or opened fire on targets in Gaza on more than 170 occasions outside of the context of protests. Israel has also carried out numerous airstrikes during the same period. So far this year at least 17 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and over 3,500 injured by the Israeli military.

Next week will also mark one year since Palestinians in Gaza began protesting in what has come to be known as the Great March of Return. Since the start of those protests, Israel has killed more than 260 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded over 20,000 more.

This violence is largely absent from the narratives that are already developing about this latest attack on Gaza, but it is important that both these actions — and Israel’s ongoing blockade on Gaza — be placed front and center when considering developments  over the coming days or weeks.

Israel has indicated that new military actions in Gaza could last days or event weeks.

Gaza still hasn’t recovered from the devastating 2014 attack. Photo: Lucy Duncan/AFSC

The last large Israeli attack on Gaza was in 2014. During that attack, more than 2,250 Palestinians, including over 500 children, were killed and over 11,000 people were injured. More than 160,000 were displaced during that attack. Gaza has yet to recover from the destruction and damage of homes, schools, and infrastructure. 

If another large attack is allowed to move forward, these numbers could be surpassed. 

Even without an attack, Gaza is on the verge of complete collapse. 

Over 80 percent of the population in Gaza relies on international assistance to survive, and cases of disease and malnutrition are on the rise. More than 40 percent of the population is unemployed, and 90 percent of businesses closed as a result of the blockade. Hospitals are out of up to 40 percent of needed supplies and medicine. Approximately 96 percent of water is undrinkable. And electricity is only available for approximately four hours per day. 

The U.S. and the rest of the international community must take action to stop Israel from escalating the violence against Gaza. 

However, simply stopping a new attack on Gaza is not enough. 

The 2014 attack on Gaza ended with a promise by Israel that it would ease restrictions on Gaza. That never happened. To bring change in Gaza, there must be significant change in policy. Israel’s blockade on Gaza must end, and Gaza must be allowed to reconnect to the West Bank. 

AFSC stands with Palestinians in Gaza in calling for action to stop the violence against Gaza and to change other policies that have led to this crisis. 

 

About the Author: Mike Merryman-Lotze is the American Friends Service Committee’s Palestine-Israel Program Director.  He coordinates AFSC’s Israel and Palestine focused advocacy and policy programming, working closely with AFSC’s offices in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, and throughout the US. 

%d bloggers like this: