*filling a truck with parsley. Each bundle sells for a mere 1 shekel, less than $.40.
Yesterday, after accompanying farmers trying to work on their own land (but daily being shot at by the Israeli army. On Tuesday 27th January 2009, in Al Faraheen, Israeli forces shot at several farmers, killing one. ISM Gaza reports: 27 year old Arwan was working picking parsley and spinach in the village agricultural lands, approximately 700 m from the Green Line, when Israeli jeeps opened fire with machine guns from behind the Green Line – shooting more than 30 bullets in quick succession, eyewitnesses reported. Many of the seven farmers working in the area scattered, taking shelter from the shower of bullets. Arwan, however, was shot in the neck, dying instantly.) in the southeast of Gaza, I returned to the city and worked in one of the coffee-shop restaurants which has free wireless. There, I saw my favourite employee, the whistler with his incredible vibrato-whistle that always startles me out of my thoughts. I hadn’t seen him before Israel’s attacks on Gaza, so was thrilled to know he was alive. He doesn’t work there anymore, I was told. Apparently not able to keep so many employees now, the shop having been shut during the attacks and having already lost much revenue due to the siege.
I read through the news and some emails, learning that my friend Philip has been arrested, his friends and family unaware of his location [see also: Egypt kidnaps Palestine solidarity activist ]. He is Egyptian-German, has lived in Gaza for 2 years, blogs at Tabula Gaza and was part of a number of concerned people demonstrating against Israel’s attacks on Gaza and against Egypt’s complicity in the siege on Gaza, complicity in keeping borders locked while aid trucks wait to enter and patients wait to leave, instead locked inside Gaza’s closed borders.
Today, I visited Abed in the bombed Wafa rehabilitation hospital. He is doing better, although his festering bedsores had re-opened, so he and doctors and struggling to heal them…again. I was called into the room of Atef, a young man from Jabaliya who was seriously injured in a 2004 Israeli attack on Gaza. The blanket over his body hid just how much was missing, but to estimate, he has only stumps at his thighs. The doctor said that Atef must come back to Wafa every so many months as he continues to have problems related to his injury years before. He was gracious and smiling, handsome, married and according to the doctor “leading a normal life in society,” normal for Gaza, anyway. But he remains half-paralyzed and is hoping to have surgery to regain use of both arms, if possible.
From Wafa I re-visited Ezbet Abed Rabbo, going to visit the medics who’ve returned to their bombed-out Red Crescent office and have been busy setting up emergency tent shelters around Gaza. They were in their usual good humour –they’ve seen so much, yet they manage to get on with life –and grilled me on where I, and other internationals who’d worked with them during Israel’s attacks on Gaza, had been the last few days. After seeing and working with them day and night during the 23 day assault, a few days of not seeing one another seems like weeks. I was permitted to leave only by promising to return to one house, with 3 brothers who are all volunteer medics, to see Ahmed’s wedding video.
And back in Gaza city anew, to share more photos and information with the outside world, I am greeted by the staff of the cafe which has the free wireless and never minds my hours-long sessions at a table in their busy cafe-restaurant. Last night, I managed to pry a friend away from his work –he is always so busy, never has time to break for coffee, like many of us, actually –to sit by the sea and reflect on how life in Gaza could be: could be beautiful, could be prosperous, could be self-sufficient, could be happy and host international guests and develop their seaside to support this. If the borders opened, the bombing and invasions truly stopped, a real autonomy were granted…
photos from February 5 farming accompaniment. The 1st plot was successfully harvested. The 2nd plot was interrupted only 10 minutes into the harvest as Israeli soldiers opened fire on us, again.
*photos: Flicker ISM Gaza
*photos: Flicker ISM Gaza
*photos: Flicker ISM Gaza
*harvesting parsley in a hurry
*gleaning, taking the bits of grass and weeds between parsley rows, to dry for animal feed.
*gleanings, animal feed
photos from February 7 farming accompaniment. The farmers report that they were shot at by Israeli soldiers when they tried to harvest the beans and dill growing on their plot. They had begun around 7 am but stopped with the Israeli soldiers attacks. When we arrived shortly after 9 am, the farmers resumed harvesting their plot, this time successfully so. Israeli jeeps were patrolling the Green Line area, and 2 jeeps did stop, with soldiers getting out to observe us for a lengthy period. This is often when the shots begin. This time, thankfully, no shots were fired. This meant that the field of beans and dill could be harvested, the farmers could earn a living for that day. Each large white bucket of beans picked paid 4 shekels to the labourer, meaning a full harvest was necessary in order to earn enough to buy food items at inflated market prices. It all goes back to Israel’s siege on Gaza and attacks on Gaza, economy and livelihood devastated in both instances.
*women farm labourers
*sparse bean crops. The farmers have not been able to water the land for over 1 month now. Immediately harvesting what has grown is imperative, as the crops will now only continue to dry out.
*Ahmed, days after re-claiming the bombed Red Crescent centre at Diwwar Zimmo (Zimmo crossroads), Ezbet Abed Rabbo. The staff had evacuated after the first day of the land invasion during Israel’s gruesome attacks on Gaza, and returned to find that the building had been repeatedly shelled, a fire had erupted in several rooms, and windows had blown out.
*site of explosion just metres from, as well as directly on, the quite visibly marked Red Crescent centre.
*upper floor destruction, office.
*seminar and training room destruction, upper floor.
*the ambulance which the murdered Arafa had been standing at, loading a dead body which the Israeli army had killed into it when Israeli soldiers fired a tank shell at him, shredding his body with flechette darts.
*1st night of the Israeli ground invasion, as seen from the Dawwar Zimmo Red Crescent office.
*destroyed Red Crescent ambulance outside the bombed Red Crescent storage and administrative buildings in Tel el Howa, near al Quds hospital.