siege on Gaza

Israel, with Egyptian and western complicity, has waged a strangling siege on Gaza, keeping borders mostly closed and aid and the necessities of life banned from Gaza since Hamas was democratically elected in 2006. In the past year, the siege has grown more voracious, and coupled with Israel’s war on Gaza and its ongoing random attacks from air, land and sea, has devastated every sector of life in Gaza: healthcare, the economy, education…

solidarity with Gaza

Photo: ‎كارثة‎
*Awni Farhat

For those concerned about the sewage overflow, heavy rains, cold temperatures and siege-manufactured misery in Gaza, here are some links for solidarity actions/support:

[via Joe Catron]:  If you want to send money for disaster relief in Gaza, please consider the Palestine Red Crescent Society, always on the frontlines.

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP-UK): “Our team in Gaza are working hard to source the most urgent medicines but without immediate help, these stock levels will drop even lower before the end of the year. It is staggering to think that as we approach the end of 2013, children, separated only by their ethnicity, are dying from a lack of basic medical care; medical care that is freely available to other children just a few miles from their homes.”DONATE HERE CONTINUE READING

Gaza: genocide, food insecurity, sewage flooding, and the usual IOF attacks on civilians

http://america.aljazeera.com/content/ajam/articles/2013/12/13/massive-floodingingazacausesthousandstofleehomes/_jcr_content/mainpar/imageslideshow/slideShowImages/slide1/image.adapt.960.high.jpg http://ph.cdn.photos.upi.com/collection/upi/7fb0fbd0e61fb4b206e961fe86f489f2/Dozens-of-homes-and-farms-inundated-by-flood-waters-in-Gaza_12.jpg  http://1-ps.googleusercontent.com/x/www.nst.com.my/w1.nst.com.my/polopoly_fs/1.432664.1387023946!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_454/ximage.jpg.pagespeed.ic.pQfvILFjga.jpg http://desertpeace.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/flood14.jpg?w=168&h=112 http://i1.wp.com/www.jewishpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/raw-sewage-in-gaza-street.jpg?resize=465%2C312
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Storm exacerbates sewage crisis in Gaza, Dec 20, 2013

On 13 November, more than 35,000 cubic meters of raw sewage overflowed when the Zaytoun pumping station failed, affecting 3,000 nearby residents. Just as the mess was being cleaned up, the area was again inundated — this time with approximately twice as much waste — when heavy rains fell over the Gaza Strip between 11 and 15 December.  CONTINUE READING

Gaza flooding updates (Ma’an news)

OCHA: Number of displaced tops 10000 in Gaza
Dec 15, 2013

Approximately 10,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to widespread flooding in the Gaza Strip, according to a report released Saturday evening by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The numbers of displaced dwarf earlier estimates, as they take into account both the thousands who have sought refuge in Gaza shelters as well as those who have sought refuge elsewhere.

The areas most devastated by the storm are “North Gaza and Gaza City where over 1,500 houses suffered damage due to water entering houses, damaging furniture and electricity networks.”

An infant died and 100 were injured in storm-related incidents throughout Gaza, the report said. CONTINUE READING

Gaza flooding, blockade-manufactured crises

Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced because of severe flooding.
(Eyad Al Baba / APA images)

More updates from Gaza, besieged by cruel Israeli policies and now by torrential rains, Israeli-dam flash-floods, and continued power outages [yesterday's post here]:

UNRWA calls Gaza ‘disaster area,’ pleads for end to Israeli blockade
Dec 14, 2013

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said that large regions of the Gaza Strip are a “disaster area” and called on the world community to lift the Israeli blockade in order to allow recovery efforts to proceed, in a statement sent to Ma’an.

Large swathes of northern Gaza are a disaster area with water as far as the eye can see. Areas around Jabalia have become a massive lake with two meter high waters engulfing homes and stranding thousands,” the statement read.

“Four thousand UNRWA workers are battling the floods and have evacuated hundreds of families to UNRWA facilities. Our sanitation, maintenance workers, social workers and medical staff have been working through the night and round the clock to assist the most vulnerable, the old, the sick, children and women,” the statement continued.

“We have distributed five thousand of litres of fuel to local pumping stations, but the situation is dire and with the flood waters rising, the risk of water borne disease can only increase. This is a terrible situation which can only get worse before it gets better,” it added, referring to major fuel shortages across the Gaza Strip that have dramatically worsened in the last few months.

Gunness also highlighted the need for an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip in order to allow the region recover from the current crisis.

“When all this is over, the world community needs to bring effective pressure to end the blockade of Gaza,” he said. CONTINUE READING

Gaza Speaking Tour

Gaza in Crisis-2

The situation in Gaza is one of critical importance, and is sadly largely far from the corporate media’s radar. The 1.7 million Palestinians locked under blockade, occupation, and now darkness, in the Gaza Strip suffer from an endless list of preventable–and dangerous– injustices, and have been so suffering for years, at least since 2007.

Starting November 26, 2013, I will be speaking on the reality of life in Gaza, including the dangers posed to fishers, farmers (and anyone in the border regions), the numerous and layered aspects of the blockade on Gaza, and the various Israeli wars waged upon the Palestinians of Gaza. 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

‘Eid in Gaza, in Canada

Having spent many ‘Eid celebrations in the Gaza Strip, in the years since late 2008, I thought it interesting to compare ‘Eid al-Adha (and the two ‘Eid holidays in general) in Gaza to ‘Eid in Canada.

Some rather obvious observations jump out at anyone who has a sense of the collective suffering in the Gaza Strip of the last many decades, but particularly since tightened closures after Hamas’ election in 2006. Amira Hass, who writes for Ha’aretz, would point out that the closures began at least in the ’90s and steadily worsened, even though Hamas was not then in power…That the closures were, as they are now, a form of collective punishment against Palestinians, for no other reason than this is what Zionists do (my paraphrasing).

The Gaza Strip has been rendered desperately poor by the continued closed borders and ban on exports (since at least 2007), and by the Zionist bombings of Palestinian factories and businesses, and the restrictions on imports—so severe between the years of 2007-2010 that all but up to 40 items were forbidden entry into the Strip, banned goods including innocuous things like diapers, baby formula, seeds, fertilizers, medicines, A4 paper, shoes, toys…Calculations were made of the base number of calories average Palestinians in Gaza needed to exist—not to thrive or be nourished, simply to not starve. For the last many years, and including today, roughly 80% of the 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza depend on food aid to survive. These food handouts are scarcely adequate, comprising mainly flour, sugar, oil and if lucky dried chickpeas. Fruits, vegetables, fish or meat are not included. CONTINUE READING

R2P Gaza

It is important to recall, with the current lack of coverage, that the siege on Gaza continues full steam ahead, leaving Palestinians in Gaza (and analysts, human rights organizations, and the casual observer) to say that it is now as bad as it was in 2007. As much potential, culture, and knowledge as Palestinians have, they are forever being forced backwards, grateful for whatever stop-gap for whatever crisis is at the time inflicted upon them. In these times of rolling power outages, fuel and cooking gas crises, medicines and equipment shortages (“zero stock”), inventions and innovations to get around the lack of fuel or deal with no electricity are prized. CONTINUE READING

Egyptian Zionists

The last time I left habib Gaza, I noted thoughts as I went through the ridiculous border procedure. One the one hand, I’d gotten used to jumping through hoops, but on the other I hadn’t gotten used to seeing how the Palestinians around me were treated with disdain and plain contempt by the Egyptian border officials, little men with big positions.

***

The transit is quicker. But still, I have to board a bus and wait till it is full before continuing on from the Palestinian side to the Egyptian departure hall. Inevitably, these buses always paused en route, the back-up on the Egyptian side so great that would-be travelers must wait for 30 min, an hour, several hours, in no-persons’-land.

In the Egyptian departure hall, the wait stretches for hours, if not the full day, or–for Palestinians, I’ve not encountered this myself, but then I have privilege–the wait becomes a denial of exit. Egyptian officials: a mixture of sanctioned stupidity and insecure pettiness. They yell at waiting departees to back away from the counter; they disdainfully screech the names of those approved, stamped out, to pick up their passports…and more disdainfully fling them at the passport holders.

Even so, this, my experience, repeated, is still better than friends, Palestinian and non, who report of the sick abuse by Egyptian border officials of Palestinians: from ill to elder to pregnant to merely human.

And every time I cross the Palestinian side to the Egyptian crossing side, I am struck: what dignity and love I am leaving behind, what pride and generosity despite living in horrible circumstances under siege, despite being rendered impoverished by this siege… And am swamped with the border vultures and the shifty taxi drivers, a sparse population mis-representing the good people of Eygpt, but certainly aptly representing the corruption of Egyptian authorities, Mubarak, Moursi, or Sisi.

Their hate-on for Palestinians is approaching the intensity of the Zionists.
CONTINUE READING

on Anthony Bourdain’s Palestine trip

not specific to Gaza, but an excellent article on speaking truth about Palestinians’ humanity and oppression:

Anthony Bourdain, Will You Marry Me?

Posted on September 16, 2013

Something amazing happened on CNN last night. Palestinians were portrayed as human beings.

In his show “Parts Unknown,” Anthony Bourdain travels to exotic and controversial locales to examine the intersection of food, politics, and everyday life. Last night, he visited Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

He was immediately mesmerized by Palestine, which is a common phenomenon. It is an amazing place, where the gravity of the history and spirituality is heavy in the air. It feels majestic. But something is a little off. Bourdain felt the splendor, but, as he said, “Then you see the young draftees (teenage Israeli soldiers holding machine guns) in the streets, and you start to get the idea.”

He began his journey with an Israeli chef and author, Yotam. They started by tasting some falafel in Jerusalem’s Old City. Yotam told the audience, in a stunning admission, “Israelis made falafel their own, and everybody in the world thinks falafel is Israeli, but in actual fact, it is as much Palestinian, even more so, because it’s been done for generations here… The question of food appropriation is massive here.”

Now if they could only say the same thing about the land, the houses, and the air, we might be able to get somewhere.

Bourdain then made his way into the West Bank. And on his way to visit a settlement, he said something that Americans never hear on TV:

In 2003, Israel began construction on a wall along the green line representing the Israeli-Palestinian border. The wall now stretches 450 miles. When completed, it will span 700 miles, 85% of it in Palestinian territory… Since 1967, 500,000 Israeli settlers have moved into the West Bank, all in contravention of international law, many in contravention of Israeli law, though in effect it seems to make little difference, they’re here and in ever larger numbers.

Anthony, you will be hearing from certain individuals and organizations in the coming days. They will be upset. They’ve been trying to keep this stuff a secret.

Before he got to the settlement, he noticed some Hebrew graffiti on a Palestinian house in a neighboring village. His driver translated it for him: “Death to Arabs.”  CONTINUE READING