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50 Years Of Occupation: Suicides on the rise in Gaza

29 Jun

 

TRT video report, 20 June 2017

Palestine: 50 Years Of Occupation: Suicides on the rise in Gaza

The ten-year Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip impacts every aspect of daily life for Palestinians there. And the pressure is having a devastating impact. TRT Middle East Correspondent Iolo Ap Dafydd reports on the increasing number people turning to suicide.

 

Why Hamas was not on the Saudi list of demands for Qatar

28 Jun

Ismail Haniyeh (L) recently elected new leader of Hamas’ political bureau, shakes hands with Palestinian Fatah party strongman Mohammed Dahlan, following a vote by MPs approving the long awaited unity government in Gaza City 17 March 2007. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
 

By David Hearst, Opinion: Middle East Eye, 27 June 2017

Why Hamas was not on the Saudi list of demands for Qatar

Hamas was left off Saudi’s list of demands for Qatar. Days earlier, a Fatah strongman made a deal with one of the movement’s leaders – only no one else in Hamas knew. Now it threatens to split the movement.

There was one notable omission from the list of 13 demands that Saudi gave Qatar 10 days to fulfil.

The movement in question is undoubtedly sheltered by Qatar. It grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood and seeks the destruction of the state of Israel. Both the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and US Ambassador Nikki Haley have called on the UN Security Council to list it as a terrorist organisation.

And yet Hamas appears to have dropped off the list presented to Qatar on Friday.

A few days before this list emerged, another curious event took place in Cairo. Mohammed Dahlan, the arch rival of the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, and a man bankrolled and sheltered by the Emiratis, was in town to meet two Hamas men, one an elected official.

Al-Resalah, a Hamas newspaper in Gaza, confirmed the meeting took place but denied that Dahlan himself was present.

In fact, not only was Dahlan – the Fatah strongman who tried to mount a pre-emptive coup against Hamas in Gaza in 2007 – present at the meeting, I am told. More importantly, so was Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ newly elected leader in Gaza.

A pro-regime Egyptian newspaper Al Fajer, went further: Dahlan, it reported, will lead the government in Gaza, control the crossing with Egypt and Israel and the finance, while Hamas will keep the interior ministry and its employees will be treated as part of the administration. This may not materialise, but it at least shows the direction of travel.

As the siege imposed on the Egyptian border has been even more brutal than the one imposed by Israel, the offer was tempting. So tempting that Sinwar apparently shook hands on it. Within days, fuel trucks rolled through the crossing point at Rafah.

The only problem with this new arrangement was that the rest of Hamas knew nothing about it.

Four years, one meeting

Sinwar is the leader of Hamas in Gaza. Of the three sections of Hamas – Gaza, the West Bank and the diaspora – Gaza is the most important because it is a de facto state, but it is only one of three.

Yahya Sinwar (C), the new leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, arrives for the opening of a new mosque in Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip on February 24, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)

It took four years of internal discussion to change its charter. It apparently took one meeting for Sinwar to reverse a policy which has been in existence for 11 years.

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Pushing Gaza to suicide: The politics of humiliation

28 Jun

A Palestinian man watches only Gaza’s power station in the central Gaza Strip. [Ashraf Amra. ApaImages]

By Ramzy Baroud, Middle East Monitor, 25 June 2017

Pushing Gaza to suicide: The politics of humiliation

Mohammed Abed is a 28-year-old taxi driver from the village of Qarara, near the town of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. He has no teeth.

Lack of medical care and proper dentistry work cost him all of his teeth, which rotted and decayed at a very young age. Yet, his dire financial needs prevented him from acquiring dentures. His community eventually pitched in, collecting the few hundred dollars needed for Mohammed to finally being able to eat.

Mohammed is not unemployed. He works ten hours, sometimes more, every single day. The old taxi he drives between Khan Younis and Gaza City is owned by someone else. Mohammed’s entire daily salary ranges from 20 to 25 shekels, about 6 dollars.

Raising a family with four children with such a meagre income made it impossible for Mohammed to think of such seemingly extraneous expenses, such as fixing his teeth or acquiring dentures.

Strange as it may seem, Mohammed is somewhat lucky.

Unemployment in Gaza is among the highest in the world, presently estimated at 44 percent. Those who are ’employed’, like Mohammed, still struggle to survive. 80 percent of all Gazans are dependent on humanitarian assistance.

In 2015, the UN had warned that Gaza would be uninhabitable by 2020. At the time, all aspects of life had testified to that fact: lack of reliable electricity supply, polluted water, Israel’s military seizure of much of the Gaza Strip’s arable land, restricting the movement of fishermen and so on.

An Israeli military siege on Gaza has extended for over 10 years, and the situation continues to deteriorate.

A Red Cross report last May warned of another ‘looming crisis’ in the public health sector, due to the lack of electricity.

The energy crisis has extended from electricity supplies to even cooking gas.

Last February Israel cut cooking gas supplies to the Strip to a half.

“The cooking gas stations stopped accepting empty gas cylinders because their tanks are empty,” according to the Chairman of the Petroleum and Gas Owners Association of the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud Shawa. He described the situation as “very critical.”

Three months ago, the Mahmoud Abbas-controlled Palestinian Authority in Ramallah decided to reduce the salaries of tens of thousands of its employees in the Gaza Strip.

The money provided by the PA had played an essential role in keeping the struggling economy afloat. With most employees receiving half – or less – of their salaries, the barely functioning Gaza economy is dying.

‘H’ is a university professor and his wife, ‘S’, is a doctor. The middle-class couple with five children has lived a fairly comfortable life in the Strip, even during the early years of the siege. Now, they tell me they are counting their money very carefully so as to avoid the fate of most Gazans.

‘S’s salary comes from Ramallah. She is now only able to claim $350 dollars from what was once a significantly higher pay.  ‘H’ does not receive his money from the West Bank’s authority, but his salary was slashed by half, anyway, since most of the students are now too poor to pay for their tuitions.

Mu’in, who lives in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, is worse off. A retired teacher, with a pension that barely reaches 200 dollars a month, Mu’in is struggling to put food on the table. An educated father of four unemployed adult sons and a wife recovering from a stroke and can barely walk, Mu’in lives mostly on hand-outs.

With no access to the West Bank due to the Israeli siege, and with severe restrictions on movement via the Rafah-Egypt border, Gaza is living through its darkest days. Literally. Starting June 11, Israel began reducing the electricity supply to the impoverished Strip, as per the request of Abbas’ Palestinian Authority.

The results are devastating. Gaza households now receive 2 to 3 hours of electricity per day, and not even at fixed hours.

‘S’ told me that her family is constantly on alert. “When electricity arrives at any time of the day or night, we all spring into action,” she said. “All batteries must be charged as quickly as possible and the laundry must be done, even at 3 in the morning.”

But Gazans are survivors. They have endured such hardships for years and, somehow, they have subsisted. But cancer patients cannot survive on mere strength of character.

Rania, who lives in Gaza City, is a mother of three. She has been struggling with breast cancer for a year. With no chemotherapy available in Gaza’s barely-functioning hospitals, she has taken the arduous journey from Gaza to Jerusalem every time she has needed to carry out the life-saving procedure.

That, until Israel decided not to issue new permits to Gaza’s terminally ill patients, some of whom have died waiting for permits and, others –  like Rania –  who are still hoping for a miracle before cancer spreads through the rest of their bodies.

But Israel and Egypt are not the only culprits. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is using the siege as a bargaining chip to put pressure on its rivals, Hamas, who have controlled the besieged Strip for ten years.

Hamas, on the other hand, is reportedly seeking a partnership with its old foe, Mohammed Dahlan, to ease the Gaza siege through Egypt in exchange for making him the head of a committee that is in charge of Gaza’s external affairs.

Dahlan is also a foe of Abbas, both fighting over the leadership of the Fatah party for years.

Abbas’ requests to Israel to pressure on Gaza via electricity reduction, together with his earlier salary cuts, are meant to push Hamas out of its the proposed alliance with Dahlan.

Palestinians in Gaza are suffering; in fact, dying.

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Gaza: Power crisis worsens

28 Jun

VIDEO: Gaza: Power crisis worsens with PA push to reduce electricity supply

Wednesday marks the 10th anniversary of Hamas rule in the Gaza strip. The decade has been marked mainly by conflict with Israel and economic collapse under the strain of the Israeli blockade against the Palestinian territory.

Divisions between Hamas and the Fatah-lead Palestinian Authority have worsened recently, with the PA sharply reducing its support for Gaza’s electricity supply.  Al Jazeera‘s Harry Fawcett reports from Gaza 13 June 2017.

A guide to the Gaza Strip

28 Jun

The Israeli siege on Gaza has devastated Gaza’s economy and led to what the UN has called the ‘de-development’ of the territory [EPA]

Al Jazeera, 27 June 2017

A guide to the Gaza Strip

From Israel’s occupation to a decade of siege, here is all you need to know about ‘the world’s largest open-air prison’.

The Israeli siege on Gaza has devastated Gaza’s economy and led to what the UN has called the ‘de-development’ of the territory [EPA]

The Gaza Strip, home to two million Palestinians, is frequently on the news. The small enclave is one of the most densely populated areas in the world and has been aptly described as “the world’s largest open-air prison”.

It is a small self-governing Palestinian territory that came under Israeli occupation, along with the West Bank and East Jerusalem, after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

Bordered by Israel and Egypt on the Mediterranean coast, the strip is about the size of the US city of Detroit – about 360sq km.

Gaza was part of historic Palestine before the state of Israel was created in 1948 in a violent process of ethnic cleansing, expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes.

It was captured by Egypt during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and remained under Egyptian control until 1967, when Israel seized the remaining Palestinian territories in a war with the neighbouring Arab countries.

Gaza is but one of the focal points in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although it is part of the Israeli-occupied territories, the Gaza Strip was severed from the West Bank and East Jerusalem when Israel was created. A range of Israeli restrictions have since been created that further compartmentalise the Palestinian territories.

Siege

The Israeli blockade of the occupied Gaza Strip, in its current form, has been in place since June 2007, when Israel imposed an airtight land, sea and air blockade on the area.

Israel controls Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters, as well as two of the three border crossing points; the third is controlled by Egypt

 
Movement of people in and out of the Gaza Strip takes place through the Beit Hanoun (known to Israelis as Erez) crossing with Israel, and the Rafah crossing with Egypt. Both Israel and Egypt have kept their borders largely shut, and are responsible for further deteriorating the already-weakened economic and humanitarian situations.

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Closing bank accounts: Israel’s new displacement policy

23 Jun


Middle East Monitor report, 22 June 2017 

Israel is closing the bank accounts of Arab institutions in Jerusalem in an effort to displace Jerusalemites and force them out of the city, the Department of Jerusalem Affairs has said.

In a press release, the organisation said the Israeli occupation’s moves against social, cultural, educational, relief, housing, legal or engineering institutions were political and go hand in hand with the Israeli policy of collective punishment against the defenseless Palestinian civilians in order to Judaise the city by force.

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Rafah crossing still closed after 100 days

23 Jun

IMEMC News, Gaza Strip, 22 June 2017

Rafah Crossing, the main artery for Palestinians in Gaza to travel out of the Strip, has been closed for 103 consecutive days, with no indication that it will reopen soon, Quds Press reported yesterday.

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