children in Gaza

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

A Good Friend’s Project: Midwife to Gaza

    

This is the fundraising campaign of a good friend of mine, Sharyn Lock, who I worked with in Gaza in 2008/9 [her blog from Gaza].

A bit of background: Sharyn was on the first Free Gaza boat to Gaza in August 2008, and was a core component of organizing the boats, five trips of which (six boats) successfully arrived at Gaza’s port (I was on the third).  Along with others in Gaza at the time, we did farmer and fisher accompaniment, trying to be in solidarity with these vulnerable sectors who are bullied (read: killed, maimed, abducted) on a daily basis by the world’s most immoral army, and to document these crimes.  Similarly, during the 2008/9 Gaza massacre, we accompanied medics in their ambulances, documenting the worst of the war crimes. Sharyn was in the Quds hospital when it was bombed repeatedly [see her blog entry on that], including with white phosphorous.  And was among the first rescuers to reach the Samouni district in al-Zeitoun, where horrific crimes and massacres were committed against the extended family.

But beyond some of those key moments, Sharyn interacted with Palestinians in Gaza respectfully, whole-heartedly, with dedication and professionalism, and continued her activism after leaving Gaza.

Since then, she’s thrown herself into studying and practising to become a mid-wife, which she just has.

 

Please look at and consider supporting and sharing her fundraising appeal, to get back to Gaza. From Sharyn’s appeal:

I am aiming to raise £3000 after site fees. Rounding up, £5=$9, £10=$17, £20 =$34, £50=$84, £100=$167. I will be blogging here, so you can go click “follow” to be all ready if you like :)
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honouring the dead, advocating for the living

 

"Smoke and fire rise from an Israeli missle strike in Rafah, Tuesday, July 8, 2014." (AP/Eyad Baba)"

“Smoke and fire rise from an Israeli missle strike in Rafah, Tuesday, July 8, 2014.” (AP/Eyad Baba)”

The sheer genocidal power of these bombs being criminally dropped on Palestinian homes and hospitals is horrific. “Strategic strikes” my ass.

The Zionists continue to bomb all over Gaza.  I’m not there, my heart is and I wish I were…but there are some great Palestinian and international journalists, activists and bloggers keeping the info and photos coming out of Gaza.

First, the list of the martyred, as of earlier today. Surely and sadly it will be longer by now. The murdered are 53  now, according to Ma’an News, but at time of publishing the number was 41.

Relatives of Killed Palestinian Hatem Abu Salem, 28, arrive at the al-shifa hospital in Gaza City, following an Israeli air strike, on July 9, 2014. (Photo: AFP – Mahmud Hams)

Al Akhbar reported:

The Gaza health ministry has released the names and ages of 41 Palestinians killed so far in the besieged strip since Israel began its relentless assault early Tuesday. Among those killed, 13 were aged 16 or younger. The youngest victim, 18-month-old Mohammed Malakiyeh, was killed along with his 27-year-old mother. The oldest victim, 80-year-old Naifeh Farjallah, was killed in an air strike on the town of Moghraqa, southwest of Gaza City.

The single deadliest strike killed eight people Tuesday in southern Gaza when Israel bombed the Hamad family home.

Tuesday, July 8:
1. Mohammed Sha’aban, 24, was killed in a bombing of his car in Gaza City.
2. Ahmad Sha’aban, 30, died in the same bombing.
3. Khadir al-Bashiliki, 45, died in the same bombing.
4. Rashad Yaseen, 27, was killed in a bombing of the Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.
5. Riad Mohammed Kawareh, 50, was killed in a bombing of his family’s home in Khan Younis.
6. Seraj Ayad Abed al-A’al, 8, was wounded in the same bombing and succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday evening.
7. Mohammed Ayman Ashour, 15, died in the same bombing.
8. Bakr Mohammed Joudah, 22, died in the same bombing.
9. Ammar Mohammed Joudah, 26, died in the same bombing.
10. Hussein Yousef Kawareh, 13, died in the same bombing.
11. Mohammed Ibrahim Kawareh, 50, died in the same bombing.
12. Bassim Salim Kawareh, 10, died in the same bombing.
13. Mousa Habib, 16, from Gaza City’s al-Shujaiyah neighborhood, was killed along with his 22-year old cousin while the pair were riding a motorcycle.
14. Mohammed Habib, 22, was killed with Mousa Habib.
15. Sakr Aysh al-Ajouri, 22, was killed in an attack on Jabaliyah, in northern Gaza.
16. Ahmad Na’el Mehdi, 16, from Gaza City’s Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, was killed in a bombing that wounded two of his friends.
17. Hafiz Mohammed Hamad, 30, an Islamic Jihad commander, was killed in the bombing of his home in Beit Hanoun, along with five of his family members.
18. Ibrahim Mohammed Hamad, 26, died in the same bombing.
19. Mehdi Mohammed Hamad, 46, died in the same bombing.
20. Fawzia Khalil Hamad, 62, died in the same bombing.
21. Dunia Mehdi Hamad, 16, died in the same bombing.
22. Suha Hamad, 25, died in the same bombing.
23. Suleiman Salman Abu Soaween, 22

Wednesday, July 9:
24. Abdelhadi Jamaat al-Sufi, 24, was killed in a bombing near the Rafah crossing.
25. Naifeh Farjallah, 80, was killed in an airstrike on the town of Moghraqa, southwest of Gaza City.
26. Abdelnasser Abu Kweek, 60, was killed in the bombing of Gaza’s central governorate along with his son.
27. Khaled Abu Kweek, 31, Abdelnasser Abu Kweek’s son, was killed in the same bombing.
28. Amir Areef, 13, died in a bombing in Sha’af.
29. Mohammed Malkiyeh, one and a half years old, died in a bombing along with his mother and a young man.
30. Amniyeh Malkiyeh, 27, Mohammed Malkiyeh’s mother, died in the same bombing.
31. Hatem Abu Salem, 28, died in the same bombing.
32. Mohammed Khaled al-Nimri, 22
33. Sahar Hamdan, 40, died in the bombing of her home in Beit Hanoun.
34. Ibrahim Masri, 14, Sahar Hamdan’s son, was killed in the same bombing.
35. Unknown
36. Sumoud al-Nawasra, a mother, was killed in a bombing along with her two children.
37. Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra, 4, arrived at the hospital “in shreds.”
38. Nidal Khalaf al-Nawasra, a child of unreported age, died along with Mohammed and Sumoud.
39. Salah Awwad al-Nawasra, was killed in the same bombing. His body was found under the rubble of the house.
40. Amal Youssef Abdel Ghafour
41. Ranim Jawde Abdel Ghafour, a young girl

  CONTINUE READING

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