Leila Najjar is 25 years old and six months pregnant. She and her husband Mohammed Sulaiman want to be together for their child’s birth, but she may not see him for years. That’s because Najjar lives in Gaza and Israeli authorities won’t let her pass through the Erez crossing to join Sulaiman who is studying in Australia. Najjar and her husband are not alone. Countless other Palestinian families are separated by Israeli restrictions as well.
Category Archives: Gaza
Two and half year old Ahmad Najjar is one of 700 children in the Gaza Strip who suffer from Phenylketonuria (PKU), a hereditary disease that causes phenylalanine to build up in the body that can inhibit mental and physical development. The disease is easily treatable in wealthy countries — PKU requires a medical formula that is often in the form of milk as well as a carefully planned diet — but in the Gaza Strip, where 80% of the regular diet is detrimental to PKU patients, this formula is impossible to find due to the Israeli/Egyptian siege.
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was quick to congratulate Israeli soldiers on their relief efforts in Nepal, where an earthquake late last month claimed many thousands of lives. However, Israel’s humanitarian concern for the victims of disasters looks more cynical when set alongside its record once the TV cameras depart.
The Najjar family’s stately home in Khuza’a was one of 100,000 homes damaged or destroyed during Israel’s war on Gaza in 2014. Eight months after the final ceasefire reconstruction in Gaza has not begun, and the Najjar family is is forced to live in a donated shipping container just across the street from the four-meter-high mound of rubble that used to be their home. Youssef Najjar, 46, breaks into tears as he talks about the situation, “In this caravan, our life is all about suffering.”
For Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the period since last summer’s war has been a one-way ceasefire. While Palestinian armed factions have observed the ceasefire, with a handful of exceptions, Israel has violated the ceasefire on a near-daily basis. Soldiers fire at farmers in the buffer zone, gunboats shoot at fishermen, and warplanes and drones are a regular sight over Gaza’s skies. Dan Cohen talks to several people in Gaza about life under this mostly unreported barrage. Moaeen al-Kheysi in Shujaiya says, “We wake up every night to the sound of shooting. The Israelis never stopped shooting at us but Palestinians aren’t shooting them. We want the ceasefire to be from both sides, not just one side.”
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) says no house has been reconstructed in the besieged Gaza Strip eight months after the end of the Israel’s latest war on the blockaded area.
Who could stay home when this self-hating, Jewish-people-hating, delusional ex-professor would address malleable ears? Sadly, with a couple of exceptions, those standing by Israel’s policies chose to stay away when Norman Finkelstein spoke at Syracuse last week.
Not a single house has been rebuilt in Gaza since the end of the devastating war 9 months ago, UNRWA reports
Middle East Monitor reports: “The Israeli army on Saturday reduced fishing space off the coast of the Gaza Strip to four nautical miles from the six miles agreed on as part of last summer’s cease-fire agreement, Gaza’s fishermen’s union has said.”
On Wednesday, Banksy published a video and photos from a recent trip to Gaza and set the internet ablaze.
Since last August when professor of international law William Schabas was appointed as the head of a United Nations war crimes inquiry into violations committed in Gaza over the summer, Israel has repeatedly sought to remove him. Last week, Israel won. Schabas recused himself amid allegations of bias in a favor of the Palestinian government, but the resignation is not enough for Israel. It wants the entire investigation scrapped.
An estimated 2,300 Palestinians in Gaza were killed during the summer assault by Israel. Each one was a mother, father, brother, sister, friend or spouse to someone left behind, and their deep feeling of grieving and loss is still palpable – yet the stories behind these numbers have not been told. A new project called “We Are Not Numbers” is designed to attract attention for those stories – both their beauty and their tragedy.
A new independent medical fact-finding mission in Gaza has detailed Israel’s deliberate killing of Palestinian civilians in its summer 2014 attack, codenamed Operation “Protective Edge.” Acts documented in the investigation include the use of human shields, close-range murder of civilians, targeting of medics, and more.
A little-publicized report released during the final weeks of Israel’s summer offensive on the Gaza Strip last year accuses Israel of targeting water and wastewater infrastructure during the 51-day assault, despite having been provided the coordinates of all water and wastewater facilities. Entitled Water Sector Damage Assessment Report, the paper by the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) meticulously documents $34 million in damages that have caused a humanitarian and environmental crisis throughout the Gaza Strip. Yet the damage detailed in the report is likely incomplete as the team is unable to assess damage to pipe systems because most of the damage is underground and covered by massive amounts of rubble.
A grieving father has recounted to NBC News how his five-month-old son froze to death after the family’s Gaza home was bombed by Israel.
Taman Abusalama grew up in Gaza and is currently studying in Turkey. She writes, “Whenever I talk to Mama via skype, she asks me “When are you coming to Gaza? I’m missing you”. My Dad replies “We do miss you Baba, but don’t come. We don’t want you to live the same tensive experience you had in Rafah border last time”. I can’t hold my tears in such moments.”
A prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has opened an inquiry into possible war crimes carried out by Israel in advance of the Palestinian government’s official ascension to the court. Meanwhile, the Palestinians plan to re-file a UN Security Council resolution to end Israel’s occupation.
A controversial military investigation is illuminating the deadliest incident of Operation Protective Edge, as well as one of the Israeli army’s most shadowy directives: an order intended to thwart the abduction of IDF soldiers, even at the risk of killing them. Code named Hannibal, the protocol was carried out in the southern Gaza town of Rafah on August 1, 2014, a date now known as Black Friday; the resulting artillery barrage and torrent of airstrikes killed 190 Palestinians in two days, according to Gaza human rights groups, after the suspected capture by Hamas fighters of 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin. Recordings of the IDF assault, publicized last week, suggest a chaotic and undisciplined outburst of violence: “I repeat, stop the shooting!” the brigade commander yells over the field radio. “You’re shooting like retards. You’ll kill one another. Enough!”
Alaa Radwan reflects on new year’s 2015: “It saddens me to see that other people’s wishes for the New Year are so different from what so many Palestinians would even consider possible. Why? Why can’t we dream of things other than having a year without another bloody war with Israel, having 24/7-electricity, and having the freedom to travel abroad? Why can’t Gazans just have a normal life? Why can’t we enjoy a festive beginning to the New Year as all other people around the world do? My heart aches, what I and other Gazans call wishes are what the rest of the world calls rights!”
Alaa Radwan is 22 years old and has already lived through three wars in the Gaza Strip. She says there are lessons to be learned from everything, even war: “My grandmother one day told me that everything has a good side and a bad side, even a war. Everybody knows the dreadful face of wars. Those who have experienced wars, like Gazans, know best! “What good side, for God’s sake, could be in a war or a siege?” I stood still and asked myself. After three bloody Israeli wars, I found out the answer!”
Under the supervision of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Youth Rights (PICYR), 30 families whose houses had been totally destroyed during the last Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, have been offered flats to live in as a temporary solution. The campaign, held by PICYR, carries the tagline, “I will not let my brother suffer from the cold winter.”
Three weeks after Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip concluded, Israeli military and political leaders attended a conference next to Ben Gurion Airport to sell the successes of what Israel dubbed Operation Protective Edge, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians including 521 children. The “Israel Unmanned Systems 2014” conference showcased the latest drone technology and previewed the industry’s prospects to a few hundred international buyers, vendors, and military figures. Inside a private conference room, political and industry leaders gave presentations — speaking in military euphemisms that avoided any uncomfortable references to the humanitarian catastrophe resulting from the 51-day bombing campaign. Among the offerings were suicide drones, “loitering munitions” that need to explode; a 16-year-old showing off high-tech robots designed by fellow high schoolers and future drone makers; and “premature” weapons, armaments that have not been fully tested before they are used on a live Palestinian population. Such is Israel the military power.
Dan Cohen reports from Gaza where eight years of siege and three wars in six years have left the besieged Strip in a state of perpetual disaster with no end in sight. After this summer’s assault, tens of thousands of Palestinians are sentenced to living in rubble wastelands that are scarcely recognizable from the thriving neighborhoods they once were. “The survivors are the real victims of war,” Hamza Saftawi, 23, said. “They have to live in the aftermath.”
It’s been two-and-a-half months since Operation Protective Edge ended. During the operation, thousands of Gaza residents took shelter in United Nations (UNRWA) schools. Many have since returned to their homes, and others, whose homes were destroyed, were put up by family and friends. However, 18 UNRWA schools still house more than 30,000 people who have no home or temporary solution. They are waiting for Gaza’s promised reconstruction while living in classrooms that were modified into small one-room apartments.
Israel has banned Norwegian doctor and human rights activist Mads Gilbert from entering Gaza for life. Gilbert, a professor at the University Hospital of North Norway, where he has worked since 1976, earned international renown for his philanthropic work in late 2008, during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, an attack that, according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, killed roughly 1,400 Gazans, including almost 800 civilians, 350 of whom were children.