PA arrests Human Rights activist over Facebook post

5 Sep

Issa Amro, founder of the Youth Against Settlements movement in the Palestinian city of Hebron. (Photo: via Twitter)

Palestine Chronicle report, 4 September 2017

Amnesty: PA Arrests Human Rights Activist Over Facebook Post

The arrest of a Palestinian human rights defender today who criticized the Palestinian Authorities on Facebook is a shameless attack on freedom of expression, said Amnesty International.

Issa Amro, a Hebron-based coordinator for Youth Against Settlements and a former field researcher for the Israeli NGO B’Tselem, was detained at around midday local time today by Palestinian Preventive Security Forces, after he posted comments on his Facebook page criticizing the arrest of a local radio journalist yesterday by the same Palestinian security forces.

“It is outrageous that a prominent human rights defender has been arrested simply for voicing his opinion online. Criticizing the authorities should not be a criminal offence. Issa Amro’s arrest is the latest evidence that the Palestinian authorities are determined to continue with their repressive campaign against free speech,” said Magdalena Mughrabi Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

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‘Our souls are in our motors’ – A Gaza fisherman’s story

5 Sep

By Omnia Ghassan, Gaza, We Are Not Numbers, 4 September 2017

Our souls are in our motors

I was scheduled to meet Mussad Bakr in the afternoon. The day before, I had called Mussad and from his voice, I could tell that he is an older man, yet in my imagination I pictured him as a healthy one. Thus, I was shocked by the reality. I waited for him next to a big, red boat in the Gaza harbor. Then he appeared: a skeletal-looking man in his mid-50s, so thin his back is almost curved and his hair is colored like the ash that fell from the cigarette he nursed. We sat down by the boat with some young fishermen joining us on a stone bench. I only asked one question, “What is your story, Mussad?” His answer flowed without stopping until he was done. These are his words.

Before and after

I began fishing 27 years ago, to be exact. I chose to fish because I love it; it has always been and always will be my hobby. But, I never really thought of its consequences as a profession.

Venturing into the sea is not as safe, fun or fruitful as it was in the past. Previously, the sea was more available to us [fishermen] than today. We were considered the “kings” of Gaza. We were kings because we had the ability to sail from the Gazan seacoast to the Egyptian and stay in the sea for as long as we wish. Whenever we needed money, we could simply go to the sea and fish as much as want. Then, we sell or eat what we fished. Fishing was a choice. Now, it is an unavailable must!

Fifteen years ago, when Abu Ammar (Yasser Arafat) was in charge of the Palestinian Authority, the Egyptian part of the sea was open to us. The number of fish we caught doubled. We’d ask, “Where should we fish today? Tomorrow?”

Then, the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was captured by Palestinian forces in 2006. (In 2006, an armed squad of Hamas resistance fighters crossed the border into the occupied territories via an underground tunnel. They blew open a tank’s rear doors, killing two of the soldiers and wounding another; a fourth soldier, Gilad Shalit, was captured. He was kept in captivity until a 2011 prisoner exchange.) After that, the inner rage of Zionism erupted in a torrent of revenge against us all. All 2 million of us still suffer the consequences. Today, we can’t even afford to feed our own children.

Zionists prevent our boats from venturing out more than three to nine nautical miles. We used to be able to sail out 200 to 500 miles. We travelled to Damietta and Port Said along the coast of Egypt and stayed there for as long as we could fish.

The sea is my home. It breaks my heart that I can’t visit as much of it as I used to. I can’t float on it, peacefully enjoying the stars and the night sky, without fearing an assault. In the past, if I caught a huge amount of fish, I would stay at home for days in between, resting. Today, I can barely fish enough and sometimes it’s much less than enough. The fish we used to catch, we now only see it on TV!

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15 Gazans die after Israel denies them treatment

1 Sep

A Palestinian boy receives dialysis treatment at a hospital in Gaza on 11 November 2015 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

Middle East Monitor, 30 August 2017

Some 15 Gaza residents have died since the start of 2017 after Israel denied terminally ill patients the necessary permits to travel outside the besieged Strip for medical treatment.

Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights revealed the figures in a statement yesterday, condemning the Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave that has resulted in its healthcare service being brought “to its knees”, in the words of the World Health Organisation.

Al-Mezan cited the cases of two women who were refused travel documentation on numerous occasions: Kaenat Jarour, a 42-year-old uterine cancer patient, and Faten Ahmed, a 26-year-old woman who died as a result of a brain tumour due to Israel’s refusal to allow her to re-enter Jerusalem where she had initially received treatment.

Four patients whose travel applications were approved attempted to make the journey to Israel, only to be arrested alongside their family members at the Beit Hanoun crossing. Others who make the journey are often beaten and interrogated at checkpoints by Israeli occupying authorities.

The Israeli government shirks its international legal obligations by denying residents of Gaza the flow of necessary medical relief and supplies into Gaza, while simultaneously denying and delaying the movement that residents require to seek the care outside of Gaza the statement added.

As Gaza’s two million residents struggle to survive with a maximum of only four hours of electricity a day, an estimated 40 per cent of necessary drugs are also unavailable or will be depleted within a month. Medical funding to the Strip has also been cut by Israel at the request of the Palestinian Authority (PA), as they attempt to pressure Gaza’s de-facto government Hamas into relinquishing control.

Read: PA reduces medical referrals for Gaza patients by 80%

The figures come as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres makes a visit to Gaza as part of his trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. In a statement last night, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called on Guterres to pressure Israeli occupation authorities to lift the siege on the Strip and end the humanitarian crisis.

Last month, Palestinians protested at the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) condemning the international organisation’s failure to stem the crisis. Many described the UN’s inaction as tacit approval of the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

A report released by the UN last month raised concerns that the Strip is “de-developing” faster than anticipated, such that the 2020 deadline by which it was said that Gaza would be “unliveable” may have already arrived.

 

Israel closes Palestinian news network in Hebron

1 Sep

Israeli occupation forces close the offices of Al-Hureyia media network in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on 31 August 2017 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]

Middle East Monitor, 31 August 2017

Israeli occupation forces this morning closed the headquarters of a media network in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron accusing it of “incitement”.

The Israeli occupation forces closed the headquarters of the Al-Hureyia media network. In a statement, the group said occupation forces raided its headquarters and confiscated broadcasting and media equipment which led to the suspension of the radio station’s work.

A number of its staff members were detained and equipment destroyed. The fate of the workers remains unknown.

The station has also been ordered to close for six months for alleged “incitement” following an Israeli army decision.

The network includes Radio Liberty Forum, Freedom of Information Network and Nawras TV.

The Israeli army has closed a number of radio stations in the occupied West Bank for allegedly practicing “incitement”.

Israeli occupation forces clash with Palestinians after they shut down the offices of Al-Hureyia media network in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on 31 August 2017 [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency]

 

 

“Only God knows how much I cried..”

1 Sep

VIDEO: By IMEU

“It was the worst scene ever when when we were pushed out [by Zionist forces]. Only God knows how much I cried.” A Nakba survivor, 86-year-old Ibrahim lived through displacement in 1948 and has endured 50 years of Israeli occupation. [Music: “Smoky Mountains” by Charlie Jefferson]

‘Every Day is a Bad Day at Qalandiya Checkpoint’: Special Report

1 Sep

Border police officer stands in front of Palestinian as they wait to cross from Qalandiya checkpoint outside Ramallah, West Bank, into Jerusalem to attend the Ramadan Friday Prayer in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. (File Photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

By Viktor Bournonville, Qalandiya checkpoint, Palestine Chronicle, 31 August 2017

‘Every Day is a Bad Day at Qalandiya Checkpoint’: Special Report

Like all of us, Palestinians need to earn a living. For many of them it involves going through sets of turnstiles, a metal detector and X-ray scanning of their carry-ons on the daily way to their jobs.

“They don’t treat us like humans, but like animals. I feel like we are sheep,” a tall guy in a black polo and blue jeans quickly spits out before disappearing into one of the many vans rapidly passing by. Covered in sand, these silver and white vans pick up some of the 120,000 Palestinian day workers sitting beneath the shadow of the separation barrier and take them to their Israeli jobs.

Before parting ways, the Palestinian worker manages to tell me his name. His name is Safi, but I don’t catch his age, or where he is heading. Now looking upon me through the dusty windows of a silver van, Safi is most likely on his way to a construction job. About half of all Palestinian construction workers are employed inside Israel or in a settlement and many from other services find their jobs in Israel escaping the double-digit unemployment rate of the West Bank. It’s around 6:30 a.m. at the Qalandiya Checkpoint and there are a lot of people like Safi passing me this early Thursday morning.

They all have the same thing in common. They all must go by foot through a turnstile, pass metal detectors, and place their belongings on an X-ray scanner to get from Palestine to Israel and occupied Palestinian territories. From Ramallah to Jerusalem. From home to work. And because they all start molding, building and plumbing at approximately the same time, the journey through Qalandiya Checkpoint is an arduous one.

Palestinian men waiting at an Israeli military checkpoint in Qalandiya, West Bank. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman, PC)

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Child dies after swimming at polluted Gaza beach

31 Aug

VIDEO: By Al Jazeera English, published 29 August, 2017

By Bethan McKernan, Beirut, The Independent, 29 August 2017

Palestinian boy dies after ingesting poison at Gaza’s increasingly polluted beaches. More than 110 million litres of sewage is spilling into Gaza’s waters a day thanks to the coastal enclave’s electricity crisis.

A five-year-old Gazan boy has died after swimming in seawater contaminated by the raw and minimally-treated sewage that is flowing into the Mediterranean thanks to the Gaza Strip’s escalating power crisis.

Mohammad al-Sayis died last month a few days after being admitted to hospital after swimming at the beach in Sheikh Ijlin, a statement from the Gaza Health Ministry said on Sunday.

Mohammad and his siblings had pestered their father to take them to the beach to cool down during the stifling Middle Eastern summer – the only respite for many of Gaza’s two million inhabitants, who are dealing with a burgeoning water and electricity crisis.

“It’s hot and humid and there is no power, water or fans in the house,” Mohammed’s father Ahmad told local media. “The sea is our only outlet.”

Mohammed died from poison ingested during his swim, the health ministry said. His brothers were also hospitalised, but recovered from their illnesses.

The little boy’s death has drawn more attention to the deteriorating living conditions in the Gaza Strip; dozens of people have been hospitalised in recent months after swimming off the increasingly polluted coastline. 

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Child footballers killed by Israel still get no justice

31 Aug

Video by Gaza’s Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 29 August 2017

On 16 July 2014, Israeli forces fired missiles that killed the four Baker boys – Ahed, Zakaria, Muhammad and Ismail – as they played soccer on a Gaza City beach.

The killing of the boys, all aged between 10 and 11, was witnessed by international journalists at a nearby hotel.

Their deaths became emblematic of the horrific violence Israel meted out for 51 days against Palestinians in Gaza that summer, leaving 2,251 Palestinians, including 551 children dead – about one in every 1,000 Gazans was killed.

Now, Israel’s handling of the investigation into how and why the boys were killed exemplifies the total impunity Israeli forces enjoy for the mass killing of civilians and wanton destruction from which Gaza has still not recovered.

Two days after the killings, Gaza’s Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and Adalah, a human rights group in present-day Israel, wrote to Israel’s defense minister, military advocate general and attorney general demanding an investigation.

About a year later, Israel closed the investigation without further measures. In August 2015, the two human rights groups filed an appeal on behalf of the boys’ families demanding to see evidence in the case and a reopening of the investigation.

For two more years, Israel has simply ignored the request. A similar request from a third group, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, has also been ignored.

The video above published by Al Mezan in 2015 tells the story of the Baker boys, including testimonies of children who survived the attack.

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Gazans stranded in Egypt as Rafah rumours swirl

25 Aug

Palestinians wait for travel permits to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing after it was opened by Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 16August, 2017. [Ashraf Amra]

By The Electronic Intifada, 24 August 2017

Rumours reported over the past two weeks suggest that the Gaza-Egypt border, closed with only rare exception for the past four years, may be opened for the regular passage of people and goods in September.

But for the unknown number of Palestinians from Gaza currently stranded in Egypt, separated from their families, seeing is believing.

The steel gates at Rafah crossing – the sole point of exit and entry for the vast majority of Gaza’s two million residents – have not budged for more than 100 days, except to allow for some 2,500 Palestinians to leave Gaza to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

For Gaza residents in Egypt awaiting Cairo’s decision to open Rafah, their difficulties grow each day that the border gates remain closed.

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Gaza living conditions: ‘humanitarian emergency’

25 Aug

A Palestinian boy drags a water filled jerrycan in a street in Gaza City, on August 21, 2017. [AFP / MOHAMMED ABED]

By Jonathan Fenton-Harvey, Middle East Eye, 24 August 2017

Gaza living conditions constitute ‘humanitarian emergency’, NGO says

Living conditions in Gaza have declined to their lowest ebb outside of war time, Medical Aid for Palestinians said on Thursday, describing the situation in the coastal strip a “humanitarian emergency.” 

The Israeli blockade since 2007 has restricted the electricity flow, which damages vital infrastructure, the statement says.

Water treatment and desalination plants cannot function effectively, causing pollution along 73 percent of the shoreline. A five year old boy died in July after swimming in the sea, becoming the first fatality linked to the pollution.

The ICRC recently warned of the impending “systemic collapse” of Gaza’s infrastructure and economy and of a looming “public health and environmental crisis”.

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Why has Egypt blocked Algerian aid convoy to Gaza?

25 Aug

The Algerian solidarity convoy of 14 trucks full of medical aid stuck on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border to Gaza.

By Nadia Suleimany Middle East Monitor, 24 August 2017

Egypt’s reasons for refusing aid for Gaza are unconvincing, says Algerian relief chief

A convoy of aid for Gaza from the Algerian Muslim Scholars’ Association has been held up at the Rafah Border Crossing by the Egyptian authorities. [See earlier report on kiaoragaza.net dated 21 August 2017. Ed] The Egyptians have refused to allow the convoy into the Gaza Strip. The head of the relief committee, Sheikh Yahya Sari, believes that this is “irrational”. All he and his team can do now is return to Algeria and hand back the medicine and humanitarian aid before its condition deteriorates.

Echorouk spoke to Sheikh Yahya, who is now in Port Said to complete the return procedures. I asked him what the members of the Committee for the Gaza Relief Convoy had experienced whilst in Egypt, especially at the Rafah crossing, which is located in a very dangerous part of the country.

What is the latest development with the Gaza Relief Convoy after the Egyptian authorities prevented it from going through the Rafah Border Crossing?

We worked hard to get the convoy into the Gaza Strip. We waited for three days at the border crossing in a “high risk” security spot but the Egyptian authorities would not let us enter Gaza. The Algerian ambassador in Egypt explained to us the reasons behind the ban and provided us with the information we needed. In order to preserve the contents of the convoy with which we have been entrusted, we decided to get back to Algeria before the use-by dates expired and the goods deteriorated due to the extreme heat and humidity. The goods had already spent four days in the open at Port Said.

How did the Egyptian authorities justify preventing the convoy from entering Gaza, even though you obtained prior approval and facilitated security procedures?

We were only told about this when we reached Rafah. It was a surprise for us to hear the officials telling us that they were not completely convinced about letting the convoy in for a number of reasons. First, they said that the convoy is supposed to be purely medical and not all-inclusive aid. We were carrying aid other than medicine. We told them that we will take the medical goods and hold back the rest of the aid until we get approval, but they said that they would either let everything in or return everything. After that, they told us about the serious security situation the area is experiencing. On Friday, after the prayer, an Egyptian intelligence officer told us that we had to leave. Then he left the crossing zone and all of the staff left after him, telling us that the situation was serious and no one could guarantee our safety.

What was going on at the Rafah crossing?

We saw dozens of trucks entering and leaving the Gaza Strip loaded with various goods, which makes the justifications given by the Egyptian side to refuse our entry all the more unconvincing.

What did you do after you were prevented from crossing and after the staff left?

We found ourselves alone at the crossing. Before the officer left, he said that he would mention us to the security services. It was, very clearly, an insecure situation, so we left the crossing and headed back across Sinai to Port Said, where we have been waiting since 3am last Friday to return the convoy to Algeria after the completion of the necessary paperwork.

The Egyptian authorities claim that you did not inform them about the contents of the convoy other than medical aid. Is that true?

We respected all the legal procedures necessary for the entry of the convoy into Egypt, and told the authorities about everything that we were carrying. If they had any doubt about what we were carrying, they would have searched the convoy, but they have not inspected it since we entered the country. Our convoy left Port Said for the Rafah crossing and no one provoked us in spite of the curfew in North Sinai. In fact, we were surprised by the unprecedented security provision; we did not even have to stop at all of the security barriers located in Sinai where nobody approached us, because they had received orders [to let us through].

Didn’t the unprecedented Egyptian security provision for the convoy trigger any doubts that there could be something plotted against you, especially as North Sinai is a seriously risky place?

We were aware that the area was dangerous, especially at night with the security barriers, but we were surprised when the way was opened to us with ease. They did not even ask for documents or speak with us. We asked ourselves how the convoy could cross to Rafah so easily. Only Allah knows if this flexibility was meant for something else.

What will happen to the aid convoy now?

The convoy is still in Port Said. We are taking the necessary measures to return it to Algeria, and I do not know what will happen next.

The Egyptian Embassy in Algeria has confirmed that the convoy was not allowed into the Gaza Strip “because its contents did not conform to what was approved and in order to preserve our national security.”

The Information Bureau of the Egyptian Embassy in Algeria explained that the aid shipment provided by the Association of Muslim Scholars in Algeria to the Gaza Strip was approved by the relevant authorities of the Arab Republic of Egypt. A statement of the contents of the shipment was confirmed, and “when the aid convoy made it to Rafah crossing, it has been revealed that it contained unauthorised items which were not included in the table of contents approved by the Egyptian authorities.”

The statement added that the return of the shipment to Cairo was because of non-compliance with the approval granted. “The issue is now being resolved to allow the entry of specific items, without conceding what was agreed in advance for this shipment, or the requirements of Egyptian national security.”

This was first published on Algerian website:  echoroukonline.com.

Israel forces destroy new village school

24 Aug

VIDEO: Mondoweiss, 24 August 2017

By Sheren Khalel, Mondoweiss, Bethlehem, 23 August, 2017 

Israeli forces destroy new village school hours before children’s first day

Israeli military jeeps came barreling down towards Jubbet al-Dhib’s first and only primary school late Tuesday night, terrifying locals who had been finishing preparations for the school’s grand opening set for the next morning. Soldiers shot tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets as they cleared the way for bulldozers and flatbed trucks brought in to take the school.

The school, located between four Palestinian villages on the outskirts of Bethlehem, was built with caravans on a concrete foundation by local authorities and international NGOs partnered with the European Union, hoping to mitigate the myriad of challenges facing students in the area.

Israeli soldiers quickly cleared the area with crowd control weapons, and within an hour of the soldier’s arrival the caravans had been loaded up and taken away along with the tables, desks, construction equipment and everything else other than the concrete foundation, bathrooms and tiny chairs brought for the seven-to-nine-year-olds that were expected to attend their first day of school the next morning.

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3,800 Palestinians detained since start of 2017

23 Aug

Israeli forces detain Palestinian. [File photo]

By The Palestinian Information Centre (english.palinfo.com), Ramallah, 21 August 2017

Nearly 3,800 Palestinians have been arrested by Israeli occupation forces since the beginning of 2017, according to official Palestinian statistics on Monday.

Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Commission said in a statement that the arrests this year included families of detainees as part of an Israeli collective punishment policy pursued against the Palestinian people.

Head of the Commission, Isa Qaraqe, described these “retaliatory practices” as war crimes and flagrant violations of the international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Qaraqe pointed out that the sanctions imposed recently on the family of the Palestinian detainee Omar al-Abed constitute a “blatant example of the arbitrary collective punishment policy adopted by the Israeli occupation authorities”.

Around 6,400 Palestinian prisoners are being held in Israeli jails including 62 females, 10 of whom are minors, 300 children, 450 administrative detainees and 12 MPs.

A family of fishermen – minus one

23 Aug

Majed Bakr and his granddaughter [photo by Ezz Al Zanoon]

By We are not numbers [wearenotnumbers.org] posted 16 August 2017

On May 15, 2017, Israeli naval forces shot dead a young fisherman from Gaza while he was in his boat. Below is an interview with Majed Bakr, the father of the victim—also a fisherman from Gaza and a member of the family of the four little Bakr boys killed by an Israeli missile while playing on the beach in 2014.

Could you introduce yourself to my readers?
Majed: My name is Majed Bakr. My four sons and I have suffered due to Israel’s [restrictions on our livelihood] since 2012 [when the first of the attacks on our boat occurred] until the 15th of May of this year. As our ability to fish becomes more complicated, each day becomes another day of suffering for us. [Note: For so-called “security” reasons, the Israeli military prohibits boats from Gaza from sailing out more than three to 9 nautical miles, depending on their whim. However, the best fish are found 11 or more miles out.]

What happened on the 15th of May?
Majed: As usual, my sons Omran, Fadi, Saddam and Mohammed sailed out to sea to fish. This is how we make a living. They were 400 meters away from the Israeli-imposed nine-nautical-mile limit. Suddenly, an Israeli patrol boat started shooting live bullets at their  boat. One of them hit my son, Mohammed, in his heart. Obviously, the others who were with him are not doctors and couldn’t save his life. They shouted to get urgent help. He was already vomiting blood and his heart had swelled like a balloon by the time the  Israeli navy came to take him to a hospital in Majdal, a city in occupied Palestine.

If they wanted to save him, then why did they shoot at him in the first place?
Majed: This is their policy: to ruin with the right hand, then to fix with the left. Therefore, their position looks as if it’s legal and humanitarian internationally. (Majed heaves a deep sigh.) And he died.
I’m sorry.
(Long silence.)

Mohammed Bakr

How old was he?
Majed: He was born on the 19th of February in 1992, and he died on the 15th of May. He was 25 years old. He has two daughters: Joud, 3 years old, and Majeda 10 months. On the day of the funeral, Joud saw his father’s dead body and said, “Dad is asleep. He went to the sea. He is not back yet.”

Do you still sail now?
Majed: I sail every day with my sons. I am a 57-year-old man and this is my life. But then one day, I said to Omran, “Son, you all are young men now. You can depend on yourselves.” Four days later, they went fishing without me and the accident happened. The Israeli navy boat was so fast; it was as if my sons’ boat was not moving. My son told me how Mohammed hugged the motor of the boat so the Israelis would stop shooting, but to no avail. We had taken out the boat as a loan in Mohammed’s name from the FATEN (Palestinian Credit and Development) Association, planning to buy it. But it was shot with seven bullets, and Mohammed died. I wish the boat was gone instead!

Why did they shoot him? Did he exceed the sailing limit?
Majed: A fisherman never intends to exceed the limit, but it happens very easily. The sea is naturally unstable. While a fisherman sails, the current pulls the boat as much as 300 meters in any direction. When we see an Israeli boat, we try to escape quickly. But the Israeli boats are free to shoot at us; sometimes they do, other times they leave us alone. This time, I was not with my sons, but the other times—since 2012—I was.

What else happened during that time?
Majed: Israel has destroyed five of my boats, in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and, now, the fifth one this year. We paid only two months of the loan on the boat. We do not know how we can afford the rest now. It is a loan tied to Mohammed’s soul. (Note: In Islam, the soul is tied by any debts it has in life. When the dead person’s siblings pay his debt, his soul is liberated and becomes free from punishment.)

What does each boat cost?
Majed: It costs at least $10,000. We repaired one of the boats, which was brought back destroyed. That cost us 8,000 NIS [about $2,200].

Does fishing deserve all this sacrifice?
Majed: I adore the sea. Fishing is the profession of my ancestors. If I fish five hours a day, I earn just 30 NIS [$8]. But it’s better than working 12 hours a day as a construction worker and making the same amount. It is enough to live ok in Gaza. Here, even the employer whose daily salary is 400 NIS [$110] is in debt. Each son can never marry and have a family if they live in separate houses. So, with each one of them making 30 NIS, the total allows us to live in one house comfortably and to eat together. Only Allah blesses our days. But our lives are controlled by Israel’s mood.

Why does the fishing limit differ from one time to another?
Majed: The Israelis are not idiots. They know that the area in the sea where there are the most fish is found 11 miles or more from shore. We know this because we fished up to 14 miles before the siege on Gaza began. And not all of Gaza’s sea is open even up to 9 miles. They also prevent us from fishing in the entire sea during the reproduction season.

The fish usually stay in calm waters. So, we see the fish but we can’t fish. The Israeli navy officers say loudly in Hebrew, “The fish are ours, not yours.” But we never see any Israeli fishermen! Sometimes the Israeli navy uses water cannons to turn the boats of Gaza fishermen upside down, making the motors wet and obstructing the fishing process.

When will these attacks stop?
Majed: They will never stop. We are attacked daily. Since the beginning of the siege until now, I’ve lost six of my friends, and now my son. Mohammed is not the first martyr to the sea, nor will he be the last. Fishermen in Gaza have started losing hope. Some are selling their boats for one-third of their real cost. But we can’t stop fishing. We must go back to the sea to feed the family. To try to live is much better than to die without trying.

How is your family now?
Majed: We are all depressed. My wife wakes up crying and falls asleep crying. Mohammed’s wife can no longer live among us. I, as a man, look strong but my heart is broken. When I used to shout at Mohammed, as his father, his mother would stop me by saying, “When I gave birth to him, I lost my vision [fainted] for two hours.” And now, she loses her vision as she cries for him.

How will you live after this?
Majed: I don’t know exactly. Life is hard. One time, the wives of my sons gave me their wedding jewelry to sell so I could use the money to buy a new boat.

How do you feel now toward the sea?
Majed: I cannot look at it. I want to go to the Gaza port, but when I arrive, I turn around and go back home right away.
I have one last wish: I wish that no one has to bury his son or daughter while he is alive. No one, neither a friend nor an enemy.

NOTE: Kia Ora Gaza reported on the killing of Mohammed on 16 May 2017, and also the deaths of the four Bakr boys on the beach of Gaza City on 17 July 2014 at kiaoragaza.net

You can help the Bakr family and others by supporting the Solidarity with Gaza Fishers campaign, a project of the Freedom Flotilla.- See more at: https://wearenotnumbers.org/home/Story/A_man_and_his_boat

Solidarity with Gaza Fishers is a campaign of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition which aims to link the struggle of Palestinian fishers in Gaza, under blockade and under constant attacks by Israel, with their counterparts in countries all over the world, and to build international civil society support for the end of Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza. Website: Solidarity with Gaza Fishers

Kia Ora Gaza is part of this international coalition – facilitating New Zealand involvement in the last two Freedom Flotillas to Gaza.

Egypt prevents Algerian aid convoy from entering Gaza

21 Aug

Some of the 14 Algerian convoy vehicles that are currently stranded at the Egypt/Gaza border [Photo supplied]

Report based on posts by Middle East Monitor and Daily Sabah (20 August 2017) and Kia Ora Gaza correspondents

Egypt prevents 14 truck Algerian aid convoy from entering Gaza. Convoyers refuse to turn back, and are staging a hunger strike at Rafah border

Egyptian authorities have prevented an Algerian humanitarian aid convoy from entering the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Crossing.

The 14-truck convoy carrying huge containers of mainly medical aid worth over $US3 million, has been organised by the Algerian Scholars Association.

“Egypt’s decision to block the entry of the aid convoy is very unfortunate and does not reflect the positive spirit that has recently characterized Gaza-Egypt relations,” the National Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza said in a press statement.

According to Palestinian and Algerian sources, the convoy was denied entry despite having all the required credentials and documents.

Both sources said that the convoy was carrying medicines, medical disposals, electricity generators and other equipment urgently needed for Gaza’s hospitals.

Last Tuesday, Sheikh Yahya Sari, head of the relief department of the Algerian Scholars Association, announced the launch of the convoy. He noted that it included 14 truckloads of aid and five members from the association’s relief department.

Sari said that they obtained all the documents and Egypt’s agreement to deliver the aid to the Gaza Strip.

Algerian reports say that the convoyers have refused to move the trucks from the Rafah border and have been staging a protest hunger strike.

The Algerian Scholars Association has called on the President of the Republic to mediate with the Egyptian authorities in order to allow the convoy to pass through the Rafah crossing to deliver their aid to Gaza. The convoyers are concerned that some of the medicines will deteriorate in the heat.

The row of Algerian convoy trucks parked up at the Rafah border gates [Photo supplied].

The convoy truckers’ message to Egypt: “We enter Gaza or we go on hunger strike”

The Egyptian authorities opened the crossing from Monday to Thursday last week on both sides for the exit of the pilgrims and patients seeking treatment abroad.

The Rafah Crossing, which is the main Gaza opening to the world, has been completely closed since July 2013. On a few rare occasions it was opened for a couple of days to allow hundreds of stranded Gazans travel in and out. Prior to last week’s opening for pilgrims, the last time it briefly opened was five months ago.

Egyptian security forces stand guard at the border as Palestinian Muslim pilgrims arrive at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip, on August 14, 2017. [Photo: AFP]

Caterpillar equipment used in Israel’s revenge demolition

18 Aug

The ruins of the Hamed family house in the occupied West Bank village of Silwad, one of several Palestinian homes destroyed by Israeli forces in recent days as collective punishment. [Iyad Hadad B’Tselem]

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 16 August 2017

Israel uses Caterpillar equipment in revenge demolition

Israel carried out the revenge demolition of the family home of Omar al-Abed, 19, who is accused of killing three Israelis in the occupied West Bank settlement of Halamish last month.

Wednesday’s was the latest in a spate of such demolitions – collective punishments that are illegal under international law.

In keeping with the apartheid character of Israeli rule, Israel exclusively uses this method of punishment against Palestinians and never against Jews.

Al-Abed, who was shot and injured, is in Israeli custody, but has not been convicted or sentenced in any kind of legal process. Yet members of his family are already paying a steep price.

Local residents told the Ma’an News Agency that a large Israeli force stormed the West Bank village of al-Kobar early on Wednesday and surrounded the al-Abed family home while construction equipment was used to destroy most of the house.

Al-Kobar has been sealed by Israeli occupation forces, another form of collective punishment, since the 21 July stabbing attack in Halamish.

Palestinian youths confronted Israeli forces during the assault Wednesday morning. Twelve Palestinians, including a journalist, were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets, according to medical services.

Israel has also been taking direct revenge on members of al-Abed’s family: occupation forces have already detained his mother, father, two of his brothers and an uncle.

Illegal and morally repugnant

Israel’s B’Tselem human rights group said that punitive demolitions are “morally repugnant and prohibited under international law.” But Israel’s high court has “repeatedly allowed the state to use this extreme measure.”

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What does it take to be a Palestinian supermum?

18 Aug

 

VIDEO: Al Jazeera English, 17 August 2017

How to be a Palestinian supermum

It’s not easy being a Palestinian mother. You must be ready to protest, get arrested, be injured and have difficult conversations with your children. Al Jazeera followed Manal Tamimi from Nabi Saleh to learn what it takes.

[Archive footage: Bilal Tamimi. Music: “Melt” by Broke for Free.]

 

 

There are no “both sides” to “Israel/Palestine conflict”

17 Aug
Jewish Voice for Peace 17 August 2017.
There are no “both sides” to “Israel/Palestinian Conflict” – There’s settler domination, land theft, ethnic cleansing, occupation, and apartheid.

Abby Martin talks about her visit to Israel/Palestine

16 Aug

 

VIDEO: Documentary maker Abby Martin (‘Empire Files’) exposes Zionism & Israel on Joe Rogan podcast (strong language). 7 August 2017

The little village that refuses to surrender – 116 times

16 Aug

Israel continues to try to displace thousands of Palestinian Bedouins. [Reuters]

By Ramzy Baroud, TeleSur, 14 August 2017

Al-Araqeeb village: Palestinian Bedouins refuse to surrender 116 Times

It would be no exaggeration to state that there is a war waged by Israel against Palestinian Bedouins.

On August 1, the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb was destroyed for the 116th time. As soon as Israeli bulldozers finished their ugly deed and soldiers began evacuating the premises, the village resident immediately began rebuilding their homes.

Some 22 families, or about 101 residents, are estimated to live here. By now, they are all familiar with the painful routine, considering the first round of destruction took place in July 2010.

It means that the village has been destroyed nearly 17 times per year, since then. And every single time, it was rebuilt, only to be destroyed again.

If the repeated destruction of the village is an indication of Israel’s stubborn insistence to uproot Palestine’s Bedouins, the rebuilding is indicative of the tenacity of the Bedouin community in Palestine.

But Al-Araqeeb is only symbolic of that historic fight.

 

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