children in Gaza

forced to walk through sewage

Mohammed Salem, Reuters

Mohammed Salem, Reuters

The Palestinians of Gaza continue to suffer silently. Not only:

-12-18 hour power outages (depending on where in the Strip they live)

-critical shortages of medicines (40% of essential drugs): “We’re not talking here about luxury medications — and by luxury I mean medications that will treat conditions that will kill you in five years or ten years. We’re talking about essential medication.

We’re using medications that my colleagues in Canada have only used if they’ve been in practice since the ’60s. So yes, we have a deep and desperate shortage there. The shortages of medications, the shortages of supplies — especially what we would call “consumables.”

I rarely have the sutures that I want available for the patients when I need them. I rarely have the correct-sized chest tubes. Sutures are how you sew people up together, chest tubes are the things that you put into peoples’ chests when they’ve been shot in the chest or when they’re bleeding in the chest or when there’s water, air in the chest for other reasons.

-”88 Kidney dialysis devices will stop working [endangering 500 dialysis patients], 45 rooms equipped for urgent cases will close, the ICU in the main hospital of Gaza will close, and five blood banks and tens of medical labs will also close. In addition, three mass refrigerators for keeping children’s vaccines and 113 nurseries will close, as will refrigerators for sensitive drugs and x-ray centres. In fact, all service departments are under the threat of closure.”[Nov 7, 2013]

-a shortage of cooking gas (the main means of cooking) and fuel (which combined with power outages render hospitals extremely vulnerable, as fuel is necessary for the back-up generators, which themselves are not meant to run for 8, 10, 12 hour stretches… think life support machinery and prenatal wards, and even simple hygienic laundry work).

-soaring unemployment and manufactured poverty

-the Zionist army shooting at Palestinian farmers and fishers

-random Zionist army bombings

-constant drone presence, constant presence of Zionist warplanes, tanks, and warships

-a ban on construction materials, (meaning the 10,000 … and the 70,000 dependent on the construction sector for their livelihoods, as well as 18 UN projects on education, health, water, and electricity now at risk.

-95% of water in Gaza is not drinkable

…Any one of these factors, prolonged, would make life in, say, Canada unbearable.  But all of these factors… and more?

But the latest insult and danger is the overflowing sewage flooding the streets.  Completely and utterly preventable, were Palestinians allowed to maintain their sewage holding pools, expand them, maintain the lines, treat the sewage. Instead, its pumped into the sea at a rate of 90 million litres a day, and in this case is overflowing into the streets of Gaza.  In 2007, Umm Nasr, a village in northern Gaza was flooded by sewage overflow, killing 5 people.

**notice the LOVE so evident between friends and siblings, the laughter and pride, despite despicable circumstances.

see also: Gaza power outages cause environmental crisis

Frustratingly, these are not new circumstances:

Israeli Siege on Gaza Causes Waste Crisis

notes on Palestine’s preventable water and food crises

Gaza out of the spotlight…and out of power, gasoline, and cooking gas for that matter

fish hiya: no life

Israel’s threat to cut Gaza water supply would be “complete catastrophe”

Attack on Water Brings Sanitation Crisis

lucky to have water

Gangnam Gaza Style: on the siege, Palestinian Prisoners, Palestinian Pride

DSC_0171

*photo: Emad Badwan

First published at Inter Press Services [blog version longer than published version] -By Eva Bartlett

“We wanted to do something to bring focus to the plight of Palestinian political prisoners, of which there are around 5,000 in Israeli jails, including hunger strikers, children, women,” says Mohannad Barakat, 30, one of seven Palestinians who made ‘Gangnam Gaza Style.’

Parodying the South Korean video, ‘Gangnam Style,’ which topped charts in mid- 2012, soon after breaking records for most-watched Youtube video, Gaza’s version injects the sordid realities of Palestinians’ lives under Israeli military occupation and the years-long choking siege of the Strip.

“We wanted to tell the outside world about the impossible circumstances under which we live: that our airport has been destroyed, our fishers are prevented from accessing their sea, that half our population is out of work, that we use tunnels instead of border crossings and donkeys because fuel is scarce.”

The Gazan rendition of the Korean dance video highlights some of Gaza’s most urgent problems under siege, including daily power outages, fuel shortages, lack of freedom of movement, and unemployment. Dressed in black, heads wrapped with the traditional black and white Kuffiyehs (scarves), five men and two children dance a fusion of ‘Gangnam style’ and Dabke, the energetic dance found in many Arab countries.

“In our video, as we show how the siege and Israeli occupation impact on our lives, we hold our hands crossed in front of us, symbolizing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails,” says Barakat. CONTINUE READING

conversations on Palestine re-awaken me to the absurdities of daily life in occupied Palestine

Disturbingly, I’ve become accustomed to and not surprised by, the daily injustices inflicted upon Palestinians throughout occupied Palestine: aadi (“normal”) as many Palestinians say.  In my time in the occupied West Bank in 2007, Israeli army raids and lock-downs (“curfews”), as horrific as they are, became normal, since they happen all of the time.  As do the abductions of Palestinians from their homes, including elderly, youths, children, women, and the everyday people striving to provide for their families, having done nothing wrong or meriting being abducted, arrested, imprisoned (usually without charge, “administrative detention”).

The more I’ve become immersed in the realities of Palestinians, the more unbelievably ‘normal’ and expected they’ve become. It’s when I discuss this abysmal daily injustices with others who’ve just read or heard of them that they again become as outrageous as they are.

Is Gaza being bombed right now or are things okay?

Friends and loved ones ask me this a lot, entirely out of good intentions and hopes.  But, without meaning to be, it’s a loaded question: Gaza is always being attacked and oppressed, things are never okay… if not the whole-out onslaught of Nov 2012, Dec/Jan 2008-2009, and everything before and in between, then the shelling of Palestinian fishers and farmers who on a daily basis face the threat of Israeli assault…. or the random incidents of assassinations of and injury to Palestinian children, civilians of all ages, rubble collectors, bird catchers, and cemetery visitors that occur month after month, year after year. CONTINUE READING

The hardest thing: Palestinian parents speak of their children killed by Israeli bombings

reham2    Nader Abu Mghaseeb1

During the Nov 2012 Israeli attacks on Gaza, 182 Palestinians were killed, according to the World Health Organization’s Dec 2012 report, among whom 47 were children, including 16 under 5 years old. Another 1399 Palestinians were injured, most of them with multiple injuries.

It is only four years after Israel’s last major assault on Gaza, which killed over 1450 including those who died of their injuries, and injured over 5000.  Then there are the random Israeli attacks throughout the years, leaving injured suffering even years later.

And there were the under-reported attacks in the week preceding the Nov 14 attacks: the Nov 8 killing of 13 year old Ahmed Abu Daqqa as he played football, the Nov 10 killing of Mohammed Harara (16) and Ahmed Harara (17) as they played football, the subsequent killings of Ahmed Al- Dirdissawi (18) and Matar Abu al-‘Ata (19) when they rushed to the scene of the Harara killings (source: PCHR).

Every December and January, I remember the victims of the 2008-2009 massacre, particularly some of the harder incidents of burning to death from white phosphorous bombing, or point blank shootings of loved ones. All ages suffered, although we tend to pick up on the children. Somehow their murders, their maimings, their imprisonment strikes us more.

Two cases from the November 2012 attacks struck me and stay with me: the killing of 4 year old Reham as she stood a few metres from the door of her Nusseirat camp home, outside of which an Israeli  bomb exploded…and the murder of Nader, 14, killed by a precision drone missile as he walked to get food for his siblings… just two hours before the ceasefire.

Below are follow-up photos, the families and loved ones of Reham and Nader.  Allah yerhamhum (Allah, God, bless them).

DSC_0454

Mourning area for Reham Nabaheen, killed by an Israeli bombing outside her Nusseirat camp home.

CONTINUE READING

Ceasefire Means ‘Nothing’ to Gaza Fishers

Mohammed Baker

Mohammed Baker (70) has been fishing for half a century. He remembers the days when Palestinian fishers could go out to sea without fear of being attacked, arrested or killed.

first published at IPS -by Eva Bartlett

Shortly after Israel and Hamas signed a ceasefire agreement on Nov. 21, the Israeli navy abducted 30 Palestinian fishers from Gaza’s waters, destroyed and sank a Palestinian fishing vessel, and confiscated nine fishing boats in the space of four days.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reported that fourteen fishers from a single family, stationed just three nautical miles from the coast of the Gaza Strip, were all arrested on Dec 1.

Some fishers were only two miles off Gaza’s coast when they were attacked with machine gun fire and arrested by the Israeli Navy. Ranging from the ages of 14 to 52, the majority in their late teens and early twenties, these fishers hail from some of Gaza’s poorest families. CONTINUE READING

The Civilian Toll of Israel’s Bombs

DSC_0293

Abu Mohammed’s home is opposite the bombed Ministry of Interior complex; his family of 15 are homeless.

first published at IPS –By Eva Bartlett  (**blog version longer than published)

When Israeli bombs struck the Abu Khadra complex for civil administration, they also gutted the sixth floor of the Abu Shabaan complex, located ten metres across the road. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), eight Israeli warplane-fired bombs levelled roughly half of the government compound in eastern Gaza City in the early hours of Nov. 21.

The bombings also took a considerable toll on the homes and businesses nearby, including the Gaza bureau of Al Jazeera.

Over 50 percent of the private medical centre in the Abu Shabaan building was destroyed, says Dr. Naim Shariff (42), owner of the Benoon In Vitro Fertilisation clinic.

Two weeks after the bombing tore apart the sixth floor and ravaged the fifth floor, Shariff has re-paned the windows, ordered new specialised machinery, and re-opened for clients.

“The problem with replacing my machines and equipment is that most of it doesn’t exist in Gaza. It takes months to arrive and costs more money than it would elsewhere,” he says.

“What else can I do but start again? There’s no insurance here for war damages.” CONTINUE READING

nicer things, Gaza

DSCN5652I go interviewing homes and shops near the repeatedly bombed Saraya complex in Gaza City and the Abu Khadara ministry complex virtually across Omar Mukthar street.

The first home i enter is extravagant by the standards of most in Gaza (80% of 1.7 million are food aid dependent and, needless to say, live in barebones accomodations). Rich wood and tasteful carvings and art from around the world, an inset wood fireplace, nice furniture, nice rugs, nice everything.

But although not among Gaza’s poor, the family has suffered from repeated Israeli bombings of the Saraya complex less than 20 metres across the road. Every time (three times now in the 4.5 years they’ve lived there) Israel bombs the Saraya, windows and glass shatter, window frames warm, plaster cracks, fixtures loosen, and this time the door blew out. Replaceable, not the end of the world, but also not something anyone deserves, let alone repeatedly. CONTINUE READING

Israeli Soldiers Fail to Cease Firing on Palestinian Farmers

mahmoud naim*Mahmoud Naim, 21, shot by an Israeli soldier while Naim walked on Palestinian border land in northern Gaza, Nov 28

first published at IPS, by Eva Bartlett (*blog version longer than published version)

It was the first day of the cease-fire. An Israeli soldier shot once in the air and within seconds shot me in the leg. He was only a few metres away.”

DSCN5618_edited-1

Haithem Abu Dagga, 26, an electrician and farm labourer, will not be able to work for as many months as it takes his right leg to heal. The bullet exited his leg but fractured his shin bone in the process. CONTINUE READING

stories from the border, where donkeys and carts are potential threats to Zionist security

DSCN5618_edited-1

The Israeli army killed a Palestinian civilian in the southern Gaza Strip and wounded 42 civilians, including 7 children along the border fence in the Gaza Strip from Nov 22-29 (source: PCHR)

The Israeli soldiers saw us. They were speaking at us, but they didn’t tell us to leave,” says Haithem Abu Dagga. “About eight soldiers moved past the electric fence and towards the interior fence about 30 metres inside Palestinian land, where we were standing. After only a few minutes they began shooting.”

The Israeli soldiers were by this point roughly 5 metres away, he says.

Haithem, a lean young man from Abassan, a rural farming area east of Khan Younis, speaks in short sentences as he tells his story of being shot point-blank by an Israeli soldier. He relates the shooting with no drama, as though he’s speaking of an everyday event. Which, unfortunately, for Gaza’s farmers is more or less true. CONTINUE READING

Israel bombed the stadium where disabled athletes train

*Palestine stadium, home to Gaza’s association for disabled athletes, bombed in the Nov 2012 Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Deaths also happened naturally during the recent Israeli attacks, as did illnesses. For the ill, most over-crowded hospitals, functioning in emergency mode, had no room for mundane everyday illnesses (however serious they would normally be considered). One of Emad’s uncle’s passed away by natural causes during the attacks. Holding the three days of mourning most families abide by becomes difficult under the bombs, particularly when the Zionist army is noted for bombing mourning tents (including in the week prior to the officially-declared Zionist attacks (Israel bombs mourning tent, Nov 10)

   

Walking on a Gaza backstreet parallel to the main east-west street, Omar Mukthar, I see over a low wall splatters of mud across the side of tall building. It takes me a minute to understand how the mud got sprayed there. Stepping through a space in the wall, I see the crater whose dirt was spewed onto the wall when a presumably F-16 bomb was dropped. CONTINUE READING