Tag Archives: Info

In admission of defeat, Israel eases siege of Gaza

21 Sep

Youngsters in Gaza give the “V for victory” salute to Kia Ora Gaza convoyers in June 2012, showing the unbreakable spirit of Palestinians in the besieged strip


by Grant Morgan

editor of kiaoragaza.net

21 September 2012

After five years of besieging Gaza, Israel yesterday announced the first significant easing of the Zionist state’s near-total export ban imposed on the Palestinian territory in 2007 after Hamas won election and took power.

This turnaround amounts to an admission that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is facing defeat, leaving Tel Aviv casting around for an alternative mechanism of control over the battered enclave.

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The signs are looking hopeful for Palestine

19 Sep

In 1993, Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accord, the economic and political treaty between Israel and Palestine which is now under siege from Palestinian protests across the West Bank


by Grant Morgan

editor of kiaoragaza.net

19 September 2012

Gaza’s Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniya, asked for a free trade zone with Egypt at a meeting last Monday with Egyptian prime minister Hisham Kandil, a Hamas government official told Reuters from Cairo.

“We explained the [free trade zone] concept in detail … the idea is to alleviate the economic hardship in Gaza,” Taher al-Nono reported.

An Egyptian official confirmed that the free trade zone proposal was made at the meeting, but said it was too early for a response by Cairo.

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Auckland: Gaza eyewitness report from Kia Ora Gaza

18 Sep

Wellington fundraiser for the displaced people of Syria

10 Sep


Saturday 15 September

8pm @ 13 Garrett Street, Wellington

Concerned Citizens presents:

Garret St party fundraiser for a charitable foundation in Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, now a shelter for many internally displaced families.

Featuring the amazing bands:

  • The Body Lyre
  • All Seeing Hand
  • Hutt Old Boys
  • Von Thundersvolt 

$10 donation. All proceeds to Jafra Foundation in Yarmouk, Damascus.

Gaza premier’s regional tour linked to ending Israel’s siege

8 Sep

Gaza premier Ismail Haniya (left) talks with Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi


by kiaoragaza.net with alresalah.ps

7 September 2012

Gaza premier Ismail Haniya is soon to go on a regional tour to boost reconstruction in the Palestinian territory which Israel has besieged, bombarded and terrorised for years, reports a senior Hamas politician.

Ziad Zhazha, Gaza’s deputy prime minister and finance minister, said in an interview with Aqsa satellite TV on Wednesday that Haniya’s tour aims to secure funding for reconstruction projects and resolve an electricity crisis.

Egypt, the site of an ongoing democracy revolution, will be a vital link on Haniya’s tour. According to Zhazha, a delegation from Gaza’s electricity corporation will talk with their Cairo counterparts about hooking Gaza into Egypt’s power grid. And, he says, these negotiations are bolstered by ongoing political contacts between government leaders in Gaza and Egypt.

In addition, reveals Zhazha, Gaza’s government has requested that Egypt pump fuel through the Rafah border crossing to end the territory’s electricity crisis.

It’s clear that economic issues will be closely connected to political issues on the Gaza premier’s visit to other states in the region.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Arab League, Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi declared the Palestinian cause as “the first cause for the Arab world”. Egypt’s first elected president also condemned Israel’s “aggressive attacks against the Palestinian people”.

Given these statements, which resonate deeply throughout the Arab world, it appears certain that Haniya’s tour will be met warmly in Arab capitals, perhaps especially Cairo.

And it seems likely that reconstruction aid for Gaza from other Arab countries will be linked to a regional push to break Israel’s siege and open the Palestinian enclave to the world.

Egypt says Gaza crossing open next week, big changes likely

24 Aug

Press TV, 22 August 2012. Ashraf Shannon reports from Gaza.


by Grant Morgan

editor of kiaoragaza.net

24 August 2012

Momentous changes are unfolding in Egypt’s relations with Gaza which look likely to benefit all Palestinians and undermine Israel’s dispossession of the land’s indigenous people “between the river and the sea”.

According to Ashraf Shannon’s latest report from Gaza, the territory’s officials expect the Rafah border crossing with Egypt to be fully operational next week. That follows three weeks of closures and partial reopenings in the wake of a nearby Sinai attack where 16 Egyptian policemen were killed on 5 August.

“Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniya was promised by Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi that he will lift the blockade and ease the restrictions at the Rafah crossing,” said Maher Abu Sabha, manager of Rafah, on 22 August. “We were told by Egyptian officials that the Rafah crossing would likely be in full operation next week.”

A day later, however, another senior crossing official in Gaza, Ayoub Abu Shaar, said Rafah would open for three days a week, starting next week. “Egyptian authorities informed us that the crossing will be re-opened both ways on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays,” he stated

So, at the time of writing, it’s unclear whether Rafah will be opened every day each week, or only three days. Regardless, next week appears to promise a real step forward in re-opening Gaza to the world.

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Egypt will stand by Gaza, Morsi tells Haniya

20 Aug

Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi (right) shakes hands with Ismail Haniya during a recent visit to Cairo by Gaza’s premier


by Ma’an News Agency in Gaza City

19 August 2012

article re-edited

Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi telephoned Gaza premier Ismail Haniya on Sunday during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Morsi told Haniya that Egypt will stand by Gaza, while Haniya thanked Egypt for its support of the Palestinian people.

Haniya stressed the importance of joint security cooperation with Egypt.

After gunmen killed 16 Egyptian border guards in August, Cairo closed its border with Gaza and sealed smuggling tunnels that provide a lifeline to the besieged territory.

Haniya and his government insist they have not seen proof that Gaza was connected to the attack, and are calling for the border to be fully reopened.

Moscow stabs Assad in the back as Arab Spring rolls on

20 Aug

Press TV, 18 August 2012. Julia Lyubova reports from Moscow.


by Grant Morgan

editor of kiaoragaza.net

20 August 2012

For the second time this month, Bashar Assad’s embattled dictatorship in Syria has sent a high-level delegation to their main imperial ally, Russia, pleading for urgent assistance.

The Syrian delegation admits to talking with Moscow about concretising the “agreement in principle” reached earlier in the month whereby Russia would supply economic and military aid to Damascus.

My translation: Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin’s new tsar, is wary about being chained to a failing tyrant and, as a consequence, losing everything in Syria, including Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean. Such a disaster would ripple outwards and undermine Moscow’s influence in especially Muslim Asia’s “stans”, such as Uzbekistan, which are “heartland” territories for Russia in a way that Syria is not.

Thus the Kremlin’s commissars made airy promises earlier in August about supplying economic and military aid to Assad, but are deliberately slow in delivering. Why? As a way of compelling the dictatorship to transition towards a more sustainable regime which makes limited concessions to the rebels while retaining considerable Russian influence in Syria.

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Can Israel use Sinai attack to escape its strategic impasse?

8 Aug

Stratfor, 6 August 2012. A Texas-based private intelligence agency with close links to the US state, Stratfor echoes many of the Israeli propaganda themes that Tel Aviv hopes will provide an exit from its strategic impasse in the wake of the Arab Spring.


by Grant Morgan

editor of kiaoragaza.net

8 August 2012

Last Sunday evening, at an obscure Egyptian security post in Sinai near Gaza and Israel, 16 policemen were killed in a deadly raid that could well change geopolitics in the Middle East and ripple out into the world beyond.

The state of Israel, enforcer of a crippling blockade on Gaza, has been looking on in horror at the Egyptian democracy revolution on its southern border and the Syrian people’s uprising on its northern border. Tel Aviv sees these two grassroots revolts as representing a grave strategic threat to Zionist control of historic Palestine.

Now the state of Israel is exploiting Sunday’s Sinai raid as a possible escape route from the seemingly inescapable strategic threat posed to Zionism by the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Syria. 

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Syria: an indigenous uprising shakes an indigenous dictator

7 Aug

NHK, 5 August 2012


by Grant Morgan

editor of kiaoragaza.net

7 August 2012

A widely distributed video clip (see above) shows four dozen Iranians captured by the Free Syrian Army in Damascus. The FSA claim proof that at least some of them are members of Iran’s elite military force, the Revolutionary Guard. Iranian authorities assert that the group are merely “religious pilgrims”.

Meanwhile, the official Iranian news agency is reporting that the Syrian military have arrested a Turkish general in the fiercely contested commercial hub of Aleppo, according to a low credibility conspiracy website, which says Turkish authorities are contesting the claim.

Every state agency running a covert operation manufactures a cover story, which the CIA calls “plausible deniability”. To uncover the truth behind allegations about Iranian mercenaries and a Turkish general is obviously beyond the resources of kiaoragaza.net.

Never mind, whether it’s fact or fiction doesn’t actually matter all that much. Even if there were Iranian killers in Syria, the Assad regime is still an indigenous dictatorship. Even if there was a Turkish general in Aleppo, the Syrian democracy movement and its armed wing are still an indigenous uprising. 

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Syrian tyrant sends desperate begging mission to Moscow

6 Aug

Press TV, 4 August 2012


by Grant Morgan

editor of kiaoragaza.net

6 August 2012

Bashar al-Assad, the dictator of Syria, has sent top officials to Russia to beg for economic and military aid in a desperate bid to stem a popular uprising now 17 months old.

That’s the unstated subtext to the “official line” broadcast by media sycophants of the doomed tyrant who hasn’t been seen in public since his senior enforcers were killed in a Damascus bomb blast several weeks ago.

The logistics crisis eroding Assad’s militarised state was publicised in a kiaoragaza.net reprint on 31 July 2012 headlined “Syrian army supply crisis has regime near collapse: general”.

The Syrian dictators’s last gasp mission to Moscow raises vital geopolitical questions:

  • Will imperial Russia attempt to prop up the collapsing Assad dynasty?
  • Or will the new Tsar in the Kremlin instead seek to orchestrate a transfer of power to another “safe” strongman, perhaps in collaboration with Washington’s “masters of the universe”?
  • Or will all imperial plans be thwarted by an independent Syrian people’s revolution which draws strength from the Arab Spring?

With Syria on the northern border of Israel, a victory for the Syrian revolution may be of pivotal importance in the long struggle to restore Palestinian lands and rights. Especially since Egypt, on the southern border of Israel, is the scene of an unfolding revolution which is weakening the US imperium and Israeli Zionism.

Watch this space. Our website brings you the news that Damascus, Moscow, Washington, Tel Aviv and their MidEast cronies do not want you to see.

Egypt takes concrete decisions towards ending Gaza siege

29 Jul

Crossing hours, traveler numbers and energy hookups among decisions taken

Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi (right) meets Gaza premiet Ismail Haniya in Cairo. Their decisions will start to lift the siege on Gaza.


by Ma’an News Agency in Gaza City

28 July 2012

Egypt will follow a new policy on the Rafah crossing between it and the Gaza Strip, and the people of Gaza will experience changes in travel procedures and times, says Ismail Haniya, prime minister of the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking to the Gaza-based Hamas-affiliated Palestine newspaper following a meeting with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Haniya said the crossing would operate 12 hours a day, from 9am to 9pm.

Further, the number of travelers leaving the enclave will rise to 1,500 a day, and all arrivals from abroad will be let in.

“60 percent of the Gazan citizens blacklisted by Egypt and denied entry have been removed from the list,” Haniya added.

In addition, he said, an agreement has been reached that any Palestinian citizen who arrives in Egypt from other countries will be granted a 72-hour visa, so as to make travel arrangements and avoid been deported.

The electricity crisis was also discussed, he said.

“Three major steps will be carried out to solve the power crisis starting with an increase in the amount of fuel to Gaza’s power plant in tandem with amplifying the power grid from Egypt to Gaza from 22 to 30 megawatts. After that, a gas pipeline will be built to provide Egyptian natural gas to the sole power plant in the coastal enclave. Then, the Gaza Strip will be connected to the joint Arab grid known as the 8th grid.”

Haniya and Morsi discussed reopening the Egyptian consulate in Gaza City which had been shut down since the Israeli military offensive on Gaza, according to Haniya.

He hinted that he discussed with Morsi the issue of smuggling tunnels under the borders with Egypt.

“The tunnels were a temporary phenomenon created when the Palestinians lost all elements of life. They used them to fulfill their needs, and it is their natural right, but if the siege on Gaza is ended, these tunnels will be needless.”

Divergent media reports on opening of Egypt-Gaza border

25 Jul


by Grant Morgan

Auckland, New Zealand

25 July 2012

Mainstream media outlets are carrying tentative and contradictory stories on whether or not Egyptian border officials have been instructed to allow the free passage of Palestinians living in Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem.

This reflects the intense war being waged within the power structures of the Egyptian state between the military junta, long complicit in Israel’s siege of Gaza, and newly elected president Mohamed Morsi.

Despite the one step back for every two steps forward since last year’s revolutionary ouster of the dictator Hosni Mubarak, the general direction has to date been positive for the grassroots of Egypt and Gaza.

Going by the history of the past year-and-a-half, we can expect a continuation of one step back for every two steps forward until the power of the military junta has been whittled away. 

If, however, the military junta deposes Morsi from the presidency, the gates could well swing shut on Gaza, at least until the generals are again forced backwards by the momentum of the Arab Spring inside Egypt and across North Africa, the Levant and the Middle East.

No matter how much the state of Israel and Egypt’s military junta wish to turn the clock back, their reactionary plans are being relentlessly buffeted by strong winds of democracy blowing from the Arab Spring.

In terms of regional dominance, the Zionists have passed their peak and are on the downwards slide as they run out of allies, options and legitimacy.

So the real question appears to be when, not if, Egypt’s border with Gaza will be opened to the free passage of people and goods. 

Below are two examples of divergent media reports on the Gaza border issue.


This video from RT (Russian television), screened on 24 July 2012, describes how Cairo is opening Egypt’s border with Gaza:

Egypt is allowing Palestinians free entry to its territory in a landmark move ending part of a longtime blockade on Gaza. It was imposed by Israel with the help of Egypt five years ago, after Hamas took control of the Palestinian territory. But with a president from the Muslim Brotherhood now leading Egypt, the move is widely seen as a friendly gesture to Hamas, an offshoot of the Brotherhood which operates independently.


But the Daily News, Egypt’s only English-language daily paper, starts a report on 24 July 2012 by Hend Kortam with Cairo officials denying that any change in border regulations has taken place:

Multiple news reports on Monday that Egypt is allowing Palestinians entry into the country without restrictions are being denied by Cairo airport officials.

An airport security official told the Daily News Egypt that immigration officials had not changed their policy toward Palestinians. In a press release sent out to a number of Arab publications, airport authorities confirmed there had been no changes to immigration policies for Palestinians.

However, the tenor of most of the Daily News report tends to cast doubt on these two opening paragraphs:

Political analyst and university professor Fayek Fahim said the decision to lift the siege on Gaza, if taken, has three dimensions. “One for the Palestinians, one for the Israelis and a third for the Egyptians,” said Fahim.

“The move will represent the opening of another lung for Palestinians, which Israel will see as a possibility for them to get weapons. The Egyptians want to ease the Palestinians’ suffering. The lifting of the siege will be good news for Palestinians and it will be the natural development,” said Fahim.

These reports came only weeks after President Morsi took the oath of office. Fahim believes that if Egypt really decided to lift the siege, the decision would not be announced and would only become a matter of fact.

“It is not in Egypt’s best interest to announce the decision. It is preferable to keep the decision on low radar in order to avoid criticisms from the US, the first defender of Israel,” he added.

Fahim believes that there are issues that have to be taken into account should the Egyptian government decide to make such a decision. Chief among them, Fahim said, is whether Egypt will make a decision to “stop subservience to Israel,” which could lead to an escalation of tension between the two countries.

Wellington speakout by Tali Williams, Kiwi convoyer

6 Jul

 17.45 on Tuesday, 10 July 2012

19 Tory St, Wellington

Two weeks ago I returned from an international aid convoy to the Gaza strip.

Gaza is under an illegal Israeli siege preventing critical supplies such as medicines from entering the Palestinian enclave.

Our group Kia Ora Gaza took in medical supplies and investigated the effects of the blockade on the average Gazan.

In this presentation at 19 Tory St, I will share photos and stories of the convoy and discuss what role New Zealand plays in seeking a just resolution for the people of Gaza.

Light refreshments will be available. No cost.

Kia Ora Gaza convoyers speak about the Gaza of 2012

21 Jun

Video production: Billy Hania

Tired Kiwi convoyers get a hero’s welcome in Auckland

20 Jun

Four tired convoyers (back right) greet the welcoming crowd

Today saw a nice “Welcome Home” celebration at Auckland Airport for our returning Kia Ora Gaza convoyers. Giving our team to Gaza a heros welcome were 40 supporters, a good turnout in the middle of a working day.

Congratulations to our four Kiwi convoyers – Roger Fowler, Tali Williams, Hone Fowler and Gibran Janif – for putting themselves on the line to help the imprisoned population of Gaza and the cause of Palestinian liberation.

And thanks to Lydia Sosene, a member of the Auckland Council’s Mangere Local Board, and Javed Khan, vice-president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, for speaking at the homecoming celebration and extending their support to Kia Ora Gaza.

Here’s a photo gallery of the homecoming, courtesy of Auckland photographer Doug Fisher:

Roger Fowler holds aloft the Champions Cup presented to Kia Ora Gaza at Nuseirat, a refugee camp in central Gaza, while (from left) fellow convoyers Tali Williams, Hone Fowler and Gibran Janif look on


Lydia Sosene, a member of the Auckland Council’s Local Board, brings greetings from Mangere


Javed Khan, vice-president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, brings greetings from Aotearoa’s Muslim community


Ismail Waja, an executive member of Kia Ora Gaza, holds aloft the plaque to be presented to each convoyer


Roger Fowler, leader of the Kiwi Team to Gaza, accepts his plaque from Abdul Elah Arwani


Tali Willians gets a big hug for her service in Gaza from plaque presenter Tawera Ormsby


Abdul sparkles while presenting a plaque to tired convoyer Hone Fowler


Almost asleep on his feet, Gibran Janif accepts his plaque from Tawera


Gibran wakes up to give a stirring speech about how Palestinians in Gaza refuse to be defeated despite facing massive odds


Billy Hania, a Palestinian Kiwi, says the countdown has begun for Israeli apartheid


Yusuf Abdullahi, a Somali Kiwi, praises the Kia Ora Gaza team for their mission to Gaza

Welcome Home ceremony for Kiwi Team back from Gaza

18 Jun

Nuseirat Refugee Camp’s mayor and other civic leaders extend a warm welcome to the Kia Ora Gaza team: Tali Williams, Gibran Janif, Hone Fowler and Roger Fowler (team leader). The Kiwi Team facilitated twinning accords between civil society groups in Gaza and New Zealand.

If you can, please come along to welcome our Kia Ora Gaza team as they return to Auckland from a hugely successful aid mission inside besieged Gaza.

Roger Fowler, Tali Williams, Hone Fowler and Gibran Janif would greatly appreciate stepping off their plane and seeing your welcoming faces.

1.30pm this Wednesday, 20 June

Arrivals gate (ground floor), Auckland International Airport

Look for Kia Ora Gaza’s big ‘Welcome Home’ banner

If you cannot make it, or live outside Auckland, can you pen a support message to our returning convoyers? – send to Kia Ora Gaza’s Facebook page.

‘Our next project is a water well’: mayor of Gaza refugees

15 Jun

A gift signifying the building of friendship: Roger Fowler (left), leader of the Kia Ora Gaza team, presents a pounamu taonga to Mohamed Abu-Shkian, mayor of Nuseirat Refugee Camp in central Gaza


by Tali Williams

Kia Ora Gaza convoyer

14 June 2012

The mayor of Nuseirat Refugee Camp in central Gaza looks tired as he addresses the Kia Ora Gaza team.

“We need water. Our next project is to build a water well for the camp,” he says. The last one was struck by an Israeli missile.

His council’s other humble ambitions included some street lighting and paved roads. “We start these projects, but everything must be done bit by bit until the next dollar comes along.”

The economic situation is dire. US$48 million a month is lost due to the siege. Over the past few years many areas important to the economy have been hit by Israeli bombs. We visit factories and farms, critical players in the Gazan economy, that have been targeted.

Half of Gaza’s families live below the poverty line, a figure that has reduced only due to international aid support.

“The children are not resistance fighters, why are they being punished?” a mother asks.

Down at the Nuseirat soccer club, half the building has been torn off as if by a giant hand. Another victim of Israel’s invasion. The playing field is smaller than the average Kiwi backyard, but local student Tareq tells us 1,000 children use this space to play. This evening there are no children, the blackouts have kicked in again and you can’t see the ground.

Reconstruction is almost impossible due to restrictions on construction materials at the borders. Many of the materials needed to complete Nuseirat’s basic projects are banned, even if the money comes as the mayor hopes.

We are here at a historic time. The Egyptian presidential election over the coming few days will play an important role in what happens next for the Gazan economy. If a candidate is elected who permanently opens the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, it would not only mean goods currently under blockade could move through, but more importantly it would create jobs for 80 percent of those unemployed.

Gaza endures the most hardship of any place I have visited.

But somehow, as the bus takes us back across the border to Egypt, I realize almost all the money I had brought in is still in my pockets. That this could happen is testament to the persistent and humbling hospitality of Gaza’s people.

Due to fuel shortages and grinding poverty,animal-pulled carts are seen everywhere in Gaza

‘I invite people to visit Gaza and see the truth themselves’

14 Jun

Days 4 & 5 of international aid mission to Gaza led by Miles of Smiles

From a distance, Gaza’s port looks almost idyllic, with joggers, white sands, beached boats and a stray donkey. But up close, the problems besetting this Mediterranean enclave besieged by Israel are horrific.

The final two days of Kia Ora Gaza’s stay in the besieged Palestinian territory of Gaza were largely filled with building lasting partnerships and exploring medical requirements.

Tuesday began on a sombre note. Miles of Smiles convoyers turned out en masse for a memorial to the nine Turkish civilians gunned down by Israeli commandos on the Gaza aid ship Mavi Marmara two years before. To remember the martyrs, nine palm trees were planted around the Mavi Marmara commemoration statue overlooking the Port of Gaza.

Ceremony at the Mavi Mamara memorial, Gaza Port

Afterwards, our four-person Kiwi Team joined a convoy visit to Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest. In Arabic, Al-Shifa means “healing”, but medical staff are frantic about the patients they cannot heal since basic medicines are scarce or unavailable due to Israel’s blockade.

Dr Naser Al Tattr, head of the medical centre, says his hospital is currently short of 200 medicines because of the siege. And crutches and wheelchairs are in short supply, he added.

Over 400 locals have died from lack of medicines since the blockade began, many of them children, the doctor reported. He stressed the need for international solidarity to end the siege.

“I invite people from around the world to visit Gaza and see the truth for themselves,” he pleaded. “This convoy shows that we are not alone.”

Kia Ora Gaza team leader Roger Fowler addresses medical staff at the largest hospital in Gaza, Al-Shifa

Then Dr Amman, head of the Emergency Department, invited convoy leaders to speak, and afterwards led a tour around the hospital.

The doctor described the “horrific attack” in 2008 when Israeli F16 warplanes blasted the hospital, killing 30 people and injuring many more. The main part of the hospital, including Intensive Care, was almost totally wrecked.

Although much of the building has since been restored, dozens of shell holes can still be seen on the walls.

Dr Amman (left) recalled a moving story of parents who had waited 15 years to have a baby carrying their two-year-old son into hospital with an Israeli bullet in his head. His life could not be saved.

After another Israeli airstrike, a nine-year-old boy stumbled into the hospital holding the remains of his right arm which was attached only by skin.

Gaza hospitals are running out of saline solution, explains a doctor

Non-governmental organisations donate most medicines, said Dr Amman, but they are frequently held back at the Israeli crossing for up to six months, leaving them expired or nearing expiry. This he demonstrated with many examples from the meagre stocks on ward shelves.

He urged an end to the blockade so that much needed medicines could flow into Gaza.

Everything said by these doctors points up the importance of the medicines brought from Cairo to Gaza, thus bypassing Israel, by component parts of the Miles of Smiles convoy, including Kia Ora Gaza. All these medicines were on the urgent list of Gaza’s Ministry of Health.

Pollution warning at Gaza’s port. Raw sewage is flushing into the sea after Israeli warplanes blasted Gaza’s sewerage plant.

Then convoyers visited key infrastructure which were targeted by warplanes during Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2008-9. The bombed sewerage works, which continues to pollute a stream nearby that drains to the sea, cannot be restored to proper functioning due to Israel’s siege. Likewise, the blockade stops Gaza’s power plant from getting spare parts to repair Israeli damage and sufficient fuel to operate more than intermittently.

Just three days earlier, the power authority in Gaza was reporting that the plant had stopped functioning due to fuel holdups on the Egyptian side of the border. Under the old rule of Hosni Mukarak, Egypt was Israel’s “silent partner” in the blockade of Gaza, and upholders of that legacy still retain potency despite losing ground to the people’s revolution.

Nuseirat Municipality’s mayor and other civic leaders welcome Kia Ora Gaza to the refugee camp, home to almost 70,000 souls

On Tuesday evening, our Kia Ora Gaza team was warmly welcomed to Nuseirat Refugee Camp by its mayor, Mohamed Abu-Shkian, and other civic leaders. The camp is home to almost 70,000 refugees whose families were forced out of their homes by the state of Israel.

“International convoys and contacts with Palestinian communities will help to build awareness of the plight of the Palestinians and hasten the end of the inhuman Israeli siege on Gaza,” Kiwi Team leader Roger Fowler told the civic gathering.

The refugee camp’s Science & Cultural Centre enthusiastically endorsed a twinning compact with the Mangere East Community Learning Centre in Auckland, New Zealand. Twinning, which will foster mutual understanding and friendship exchanges, is a practical way of supporting Gazans as they rebuild their shattered territory in the face of ongoing Israeli aggression and besiegement.

The centre’s staff proudly showed Kiwi convoyers around their building which houses a library, educational classes, parenting programmes and a preschool.

Devastation at Nuseirat’s soccer club inflicted by Israeli warplanes

And our convoyers visited Nuseirat’s Ahli Football Club. They saw the devastation inflicted on the club by Israel’s invasion at the end of 2008. F16 warplanes twice targeted the soccer club, destroying most of the complex and leaving the rest in an unsafe condition.

Typical of the spirit in Gaza, club members cleared away the mountain of rubble and made the best use of what remained. They have no means of rebuilding.

The Kia Ora Gaza team presented a letter from the Manukau City Football Club in New Zealand offering a twinning accord. The pact was warmly endorsed by the Gaza club.

Kiwi convoyer Hone Fowler (third left) with members of Nuseirat’s soccer club and a ball proclaiming “Free Gaza”

Wednesday morning saw a meeting at Gaza’s bombed out Legislative Council between convoyers, including Kia Ora Gaza, and the foreign minister of the elected Hamas government, Dr Mahmoud al-Zahhar.

Welcoming the convoyers, al-Zahhar (left) declared: “Our project isn’t extreme Islamism, it’s a relationship between humans”. He said Hamas wants relations with the world that are based on “justice and not clashing civilizations”.

Afterwards, the Kiwi Team visited the general hospital at Rafah, on the border with Egypt. Here prime minister Ismail Haniya opened a heart surgery wing, making mention of Kia Ora Gaza as an example of the global support for Palestine.

Again, in conversations with convoyers, doctors exposed the lack of medicines caused by Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

Gaza’s prime minister, Ismail Haniya (centre, hands on table), opens a heart surgery wing at Rafah Hospital

That evening, Miles of Smiles was informed that Cairo had closed the Rafah crossing from Gaza into Egypt a day earlier than had been previously announced as a precautionary measure during the presidential election. The border would remain shut for five days.

Egyptian authorities said they would reopen the border for only convoyers so long as they fronted up that very night.

Action stations! Convoyers in Gaza City had to quickly pack, jump onto buses and race for Rafah.

Not long after midnight, all convoyers had been processed by Egyptian customs and were waiting for buses from Cairo to pick them up. So ended their stay in Gaza.

Our Kiwi convoyers will be flying back to Auckland in a few days time. Watch this space for news of our “Welcome Home” ceremony at the airport.

Showing the unbeatable spirit of Palestinians in Gaza, boys on a homemade motorbike-with-tray give a victory salute to Kiwi convoyers

This report was compiled by Grant Morgan and is mainly based on feedback from Kia Ora Gaza convoyers. Check for related information on Kia Ora Gaza’s website and Facebook page, and also the personal FB pages of our four Kiwi convoyers: Roger Fowler, Tali Williams, Hone Fowler and Gibran Janif. Photo credits: Hone Fowler and Roger Fowler.

‘The ban on medicines is the worst crime’: Gaza doctor

14 Jun

A heart surgeon at Rafah Hospital displays critical medicines that are in short supply due to Israel’s five-year blockade of Gaza. Photo credit: Roger Fowler.

by Tali Williams

Kia Ora Gaza convoyer

13 June 2012

One of the leaders of Gaza’s Hamas government, Dr Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, tells us: “If we lost our dignity, we’d be our own enemy.” Perhaps this is the spirit that has seen the people of Gaza return and build even in the face of Israeli attacks and unimaginable adversity.

We visit hospitals, schools, universities, parliamentary complex, bridges, all of which have been struck by Israeli F16s over the past few years. And every single one of them has been at least partially rebuilt despite the siege not allowing construction materials into Gaza.

Our taxi driver says after Israel’s Operation Cast Lead invasion in late 2008, people got back to normal life as soon as possible, starting to rebuild their infrastructure the best they could with the resources they had.

Like New Zealanders, Gazans have a tradition of ingenuity. We see how they have reconstructed critical pieces of machinery that aren’t allowed across the border by using scrap metal or smuggled parts from Egypt. The smuggling tunnels, running from Egypt to Gaza, were dug without the use of modern construction equipment.

Yusuf, a student who translates for us, says nothing will stop Palestinians looking after their own. “If the food doesn’t come from across the border, we will just dig it up from the ground.”

At Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza, we are met by Dr Amman. During Operation Cast Lead, he came across many instances in his hospital where patients were burned by white phosphorus, dropped from the sky. And Israel used weapons that resulted in injuries the medical staff did not understand, nor know how to treat, which devastated him as a doctor.

The hospital was bombed in 2008 and has now been rebuilt. At the emergency department, we walk past shelves of expired medicines. “The ban on medicines is the worst crime of all,” says the doctor. “We cannot help the sick, even those with treatable illnesses.”

We visit Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the evening and are met by the mayor and top engineers and physicists. These humble men show us true Palestinian hospitality, serving falafel on the coast overlooking the ocean. The sole street light that allows us to see the food we are eating blinks twice. Another power blackout. There is a sigh and shout of frustration, then they all laugh and the generator kicks in.

These family members of Palestinians forced out of their homes at gunpoint to “purify” the new state of Israel in 1948 are now living as refugees in Gaza. Photo credit: Tali Williams.

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