“Oh, my Syria!”

In a different area of Lebanon, I meet another Syrian, this time from the Aleppo outskirts. He is wiry, with grey hair though not yet 50, and a bright face, his presence emanating peace and calm… in spite of what he has gone through and lost.

He and his wife and children have been here about a year, leaving behind their home and his work as a tailor. Here, he cleans the simple lodging where I’m staying.

He is a Kurd, from the Syrian village of Ifreen, and while he says he says he would like to have Kurdish taught in schools, he insists that his area was never supportive of the insurgents, nor with the west’s manufactured “revolution“. [An interesting aside, but Armenians in Syria have founded public institutions to teach their language.]

“It isn’t a revolution,” he says (contrary to what an insistent pro-“revolution” foreigner insisted the other day, also insisting if I hear otherwise–in Syria or here–it’s because they are afraid to speak.  Well, once again, here  is a Syrian, uninhibited and not afraid to voice his opinion, and his opinion echoes the countless Syrians I’ve encountered in Syria and Lebanon).

Here he is, a Kurd, who corporate media and talking heads would say is demanding “freedom” and “revolution“. But he’s not demanding those things.  And he’s adamant that if there were to be a “revolution”, it wouldn’t have unfolded as the crisis in Syria has these past few years.  “What is that? Stealing from us, beheading us, destroying my country?  How is that a revolution? If it was a revolution, you target the government not the people, not the history.”

I’ve seen the same nostalgic eyes and heard the same “oh, my Syria“.

He speaks of President al-Assad with admiration, praising his demeanor, refusing the western narrative that he’d want someone else as President. […I’ve heard this before…(Freedom)].  I look around for lurking thugs pressuring him to speak thus. But there is only this man, speaking from his heart.

Sharmine Narwani’s MUST READ: “Stealing Palestine: Who dragged Palestinians into Syria’s conflict?”

 

Palestinian "volunteer forces" stand guard while NGOs tend to Yarmouk camp residents receiving food aid, medical assistance and evacuation.

Palestinian “volunteer forces” stand guard while NGOs tend to Yarmouk camp residents receiving food aid, medical assistance and evacuation.

Palestinians didn’t jump into the fray in Syria. They were dragged into it – violently and reluctantly. Here is the story of how and why Palestinians and their 14 refugee camps became strategic targets in the Battle for Syria.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Middle East geopolitics. She tweets @snarwani
November 10, 2014, RT Op-Edge
A small UNRWA van delivers boxes of staple foods to Yarmouk camp residents who wait at a pick-up point. Bread donated by the Syrian government lies atop the boxes.

A small UNRWA van delivers boxes of staple foods to Yarmouk camp residents who wait at a pick-up point. Bread donated by the Syrian government lies atop the boxes.

My first visit to Yarmouk took place a few days after 20 people were killed in the Palestinian camp’s first major shelling incident on August 2, 2012. Residents showed me the damage caused by the first mortar – which hit the roof of a small apartment building not far from Tadamoun, a Damascus suburb where rebels and security forces were clashing daily.As bystanders rushed to investigate the damage, a second shell hit the narrow street outside where onlookers had congregated, killing and injuring dozens.

Foreign media headlines suggested the Syrian government was shelling Yarmouk, but Palestinians inside expressed doubt. Some said these were rebel mortars from adjacent neighborhoods, but it was clear nobody could provide definitive answers for what may simply have been a series of stray shells.

Yarmouk, once home to around a million Syrians and 160,000 Palestinian refugees, was an oasis of calm that summer day of my visit.

By contrast, driving through rebel-occupied Tadamoun, Yalda and Hajar al-Aswad on my way in and out of the camp, one could only gape at the burned buildings and vehicles, shuttered shops, rubble in the streets and makeshift checkpoints dotting these new conflict zones.

Return to Yarmouk

A year-and-a-half later, in March 2014, I visited Yarmouk again. The camp is unrecognizable now, and the pictures we see don’t do justice to the damage.

At the entrance of the camp, I was greeted by armed Palestinians who are part of a 14-group ‘volunteer force’ formed for the purpose of protecting Yarmouk and ejecting the rebel fighters deep inside the camp. The group falls under the umbrella of the Popular Palestinian Committees for the Liberation of Yarmouk.

When I ask them where they’re from, in rapid-fire, one after the other, they tell me,“Safad, Lubya, Haifa, Tiberias, Jerusalem, Acca,” though, of course, they’re too young to ever have been to any of these places. That’s where their parents or grandparents hail from. That’s where they intend to return one day.

There’s a lone Syrian among them. He was raised in Yarmouk and is a Palestinian as far as he’s concerned.

The stories these fighters tell me is nothing I have read in English, or in any mainstream publication outside Syria. Theirs is a story that is black-and-white. Thousands of Islamist fighters invaded and occupied Yarmouk on December 17, 2012, and Palestinians and Syrians alike fled the camp, literally beginning the next day.

The militants, they say, systematically destroyed the camp, killed people, looted homes, hospitals – anything they could get their hands on. They insist that the rebels could not have captured Yarmouk without the help of Hamas, and are convinced that Hamas supporters are still inside the camp, now members of Al-Nusra Front, AknafBeit al-Maqdes, Ohdat al-Omariyya, Ahrar al-Yarmouk, Zahrat al Mada’en and other rebel groups that they say occupy the camp. They claim Hamas employed and provided financial assistance to displaced Syrians who escaped conflict elsewhere and settled in Yarmouk.

“They hired them for this conflict,” says one.

The finger-pointing at Hamas persists throughout all my conversations with refugees in the three separate camps I visit in Syria. While all Hamas officials exited the country early on in the conflict, the fact remains that many Palestinians affiliated with Hamas did not. On the outside, we understand Hamas is not there, but within the camps, Palestinians identify the individuals they accuse of sedition as “Hamas people.”

This blurred line has provided Hamas’ political leadership with ‘plausible deniability’ against accusations that it has aided Islamist rebels in the camps.

The fuzzy lines first became clear to me in the autumn of 2011 when a Hamas official confided that they had to “remove some people” from these areas who were displaying increasing sympathy with the Syrian opposition.

But back to the Palestinian fighters in Yarmouk.

CONTINUE READING

VERY worthwhile fundraising campaign, plz share widely and donate if you are able!

Navid Nasr is an independent analyst whose interviews have critically examined some of the critical issues of our day, including particularly issues misportrayed in the corporate media. Please take a look at his message regarding his fundraising campaign:

“Just wanted to thank those of you who’ve already donated to the project. It means a great deal to me, personally. We’re still short of our goal so if anyone send a second contribution of whatever amount that would be great. And if some of you all were waiting for your own situation to improve or clarify slightly before you donated anything, I’m hoping that that’s the case now.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/independent-media-project-nasr-post/

I’m sure most of you already know that me and Brenda have moved to Zagreb, Croatia. A large part of the thinking behind this move was our effort to downsize and downgrade our daily and monthly living expenses ahead of the launching of the site. Our options in the US were severly limited in this regard. This move cut our monthly living expenses by two-thirds, if not more. Rent, utilities, cable & internet in northern Virginia were running us $1900 a month. Here it all adds up to $800 a month, flat. Plus no car expenses (gas, repairs, maintenance, etc.) and the tram system that runs through the entire city is completely free to ride.

In three or six months we might actually be moving to Sarajevo, Bosnia where the cost of living is a fraction of even what it is here.

Bottom line the site itself was a huge factor in our decision to move and downsize everything and nothing you give will be wasted or go towards any extravagance on our part.

Thank you all for everything.”

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/independent-media-project-nasr-post

this is how the olive harvest should be in Palestine

IMG-20141108-01421 (640x480)

 

Walking in rural Lebanon the other day I came across numerous families harvesting their olives in the same fashion you see in Palestine: tarp spread out, tree limbs shaken olives tumbling down, break for lunch in the shade of the olive tree, laughter, some singing….

But in Palestine, foreign colonists attack Palestinian harvesters…with the cover of the Zio army.

A simple, age-old act is rendered impossible or deadly.

for example:

As harvest season begins, Israeli settlers burn 100 Palestinian olive trees

Palestinian family attacked by settlers while harvesting olives

Israeli settlers beat young Palestinian woman picking olives

 

grounding

IMG-20141104-01395 (640x477)

Over the past two weeks in a small Lebanese village, I’ve gotten to know a number of Syrians, including a family from the Hasaka region in eastern Syria who’ve been pushed out of their village. He was an elementary school teacher for nearly 3 decades. They grew vegetables, had some chickens, lived reasonably happily.

They returned six months ago, yearning to see their country, their home. But most people they knew had left, driven out by foreign terrorists. There was nothing left to return to.

He works hard at his menial job, back straight, whistling a song from his memories, always cheerful in spite of his losses. Over coffee he shares stories and laughs, reminisces now and then about his former work and how the terrorists have ruined even schooling in his area. Sometimes he emotes the regretful “ach” I’ve heard so many times in Gaza, Palestine. “Ach, ya Eva, kan el hia helua.” Life was so good before…

She tells me of her siblings and parents who are emigrating abroad, gotten visas to a new life, no way of living here, no means of returning to their homes. “If I return to Syria it will only be to visit,” she says. Everyone she loves has moved away. “Am I going to return to sit alone?”

CONTINUE READING

The Broken Sparrows of Palestine

IMG_20141104_083919Abdul Rahman Abu Oida, pastels, by Ahmad Barqawi

 

 

By Eva Bartlett, Nov 4, 2014, Crescent International

A teen who loved strawberries, adored children far more…A paraplegic young man with soulful eyes, deaf ears and unfulfilled dreams of being a father…A martyr.

This is the story of Broken Sparrow, one of tens of thousands of Palestinians killed by Zionist colonizers; one of 9,100 Palestinians killed since 2000; one of at least 2,053 Palestinian children killed since 2000 (including at least 527 Palestinian children killed in the July/August Zionist genocide of Gaza); one of many Palestinians I’ve known and mourned.

Broken Sparrow wasn’t always broken, wasn’t born that way. To the contrary, he was once a thriving teen who, like a great majority of his Palestinian brothers and sisters, played football, also lifted weights, and lived as normal a life as one could under the brutal, continually-expanding rule of foreign occupiers. His family were just slightly better off than the 80 percent of nearly 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza who depend on paltry food aid for their malnourished existence. They are not wealthy, but had a proper, rain-proof home and simple but nourishing meals.

Before he was broken, he was Abdul Rahman. Abed.

In the February/March 2008 Zionist massacre of Gaza, in which 16 year old Abed Abu Oida was targeted with a Zionist sniper’s bullet to the spine, at least 114 Palestinians were killed (including 27 children, among whom were 2 infants), and another 154 Palestinian civilians were injured (including 56 children). The majority of those injured, murdered, were in Abed’s northeastern Gaza region, eastern Jabaliya, in a 24 hour period.

Some of the murdered children included four boys (ages 9 to 12) playing football, killed instantly by a targeted Zionist missile strike. Six years later, another four boys (ages 9 to 11) from the Bakr family would be murdered in the exact same fashion, the missiles which hunted them down on Gaza City’s small beach fired by a Zionist gunboat.

In the February/March 2008 bombardment of Gaza, another youth was sniped—to death—while in her family home. PCHR reported:

Twelve year old Safaa Ra’ed Ali Abu-Saif …bled to death after being hit by a single bullet on 1 March, 2008. ‘There was a hole in her chest’ said Ali Abu-Saif. ‘The bullet had entered her left side and exited through her back.’ Safaa had gone upstairs to ask her uncle and aunt to come downstairs with their children for their own safety. Ra’ed and Ali Abu-Saif carried Safaa downstairs, and their neighbours called an ambulance. The neighbours then rang the Abu-Saif family, and told them the ambulance could not come to their house because Palestinian ambulances were being attacked by Israeli tanks.”

Abed’s injury also occurred at his home, the day after Safaa was targeted and murdered.

On the family’s roof, checking the water tank to see why the family suddenly had no water, Abed was shot in the spine by a sniper in the “world’s most moral army” hiding on another rooftop. The bullet destroyed three vertebrae; the shot left Abed paralyzed in a puddle of his own blood until his 13 year old brother 15 minutes later found him and dragged him downstairs. As with Safaa’s case, as with most cases, ambulances were prevented from accessing the area. Abed lay untreated for three hours before he reached a hospital in Gaza City.

At first it seemed that Abed had been lucky: he survived the Zionist sniper’s bullet to his spine; he was sent for care in Egypt while the attacks continued on Gaza.

But when months later I met Abed in a Cairo hospital, he was near-deathly emaciated, with appallingly large bedsores on his backside and feet. These festering bedsores—a result of the poor care he was given in the various Cairo hospitals he was shifted to—would be the cause of other ailments which plagued him and eventually caused his death. Isolated from his family who could not get Egypt’s permission to exit Gaza to be with their paralyzed son, Abed began to succumb to his injury.
CONTINUE READING

Remembering Abdul Rahman Abu Oida, “broken bird”, a beautiful soul,


*Abdul Rahman Abu Oida, at the Wafa Rehabilitation hospital (Eva Bartlett)

 

I am very, very sorry to learn of the death of a stoic young Palestinian man, Abed Abu Oida, a result of years of suffering after being shot in the spine by a zionist mercenary sniper in eastern Jabaliya, March 2008.

I met Abed in a Cairo hospital in mid 2008, where he was wasting away (severely emaciated and had festering bedsores on his backside and heels—which would later be the cause of infection). Steve Sosebee, from the Palestinian Children’s Relief Foundation, was fundamental in getting Abed back to Gaza where–in spite of the severity of life under lockdown-siege, Abed was able to get excellent care at the recently-destroyed al-Wafa Rehabilitation hospital (this hospital came under genocidal zionist attacks in 2009, including w White Phosphorous (see links below), and again during the latest zionist genociding of Gaza this year.

Abed’s story was this:

“Bedridden but painfully conscious, nearly paralyzed with no feeling from the waist down, 16-year-old Abdul Rahman (Abed) is one of the hundreds who were injured by intense Israeli shelling and firing on Gaza between 27 February – 3 March 2008, during an operation dubbed “Hot Winter” by Israel. According to a World Health Organization report, during this period the Israeli army killed at least 116 Palestinians, nearly half of them civilians and more than a quarter children, including a six-month-old and a 20-day-old baby, and injured 350. Later counts put the number killed as high as 150, with more than 55 killed in one day alone. Over half of the week’s fatalities and injuries occurred in and around Jabaliya, the northern Gaza region where Abed was born.

At 11:00am on 2 March, Abed stood on the roof of his family’s home, observing as Israeli tanks overran the area. No curfew had been announced, and he was unaware of the presence of soldiers on a neighboring rooftop. The youth was struck from behind by an Israeli sniper’s bullet that dug into his spine, destroying three of his vertebrae and leaving him paralyzed and bleeding on the roof where he lay for 15 minutes before his younger brother found him. The 13-year-old dragged Abed to the stairs and down into the family’s home, dodging further sniper fire as he went. The invasion outside continued, preventing ambulances from coming for Abed. Three hours after his injury, the teen finally reached a hospital in Gaza City where doctors, after seeing his injury, were surprised to see the youth was still alive. Unable to provide adequate emergency care in Gaza, they immediately loaded him into an emergency transfer ambulance bound for the Rafah border crossing to Egypt.”
CONTINUE READING