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Gaza farmers rebound despite Israeli siege

Sarah Algherbawi on
A Palestinian farmer collects grapes during harvest season at a vineyard in Gaza city on July 20, 2016. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

Yasser Shamallakh, 58, stopped growing fruit during the first Intifada, but two years ago he started again and has found success growing the crop, as have many other farmers in Gaza according to official figures. Although having been under a severe Israeli siege between 2007 and 2014, a combination of good weather and a lifting of Israeli restrictions has helped Palestinian agriculture bloom in recent years.

Gaza’s population hits 2 million

Kate on
Tahany Shaath holds her three-day-old new-born son Waleed at their house in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on October 12, 2016. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/ APA Images)

“There are now more than two million residents in the Gaza Strip after baby Waleed Shaath was born last night in Rafah in southern Gaza,” interior ministry spokesman Iyad Bezm told AFP on Wednesday. Gaza, a tiny enclave squeezed between Egypt, Israel and the Mediterranean Sea and just 12 kilometres across at its widest point, has one of the highest population densities in the world, according to the United Nations. The territory could be “unliveable” by 2020, the UN said last year, due in large part to “high population density and overcrowding.”

‘They don’t want our pity, but they do welcome our solidarity’: Dr. Mads Gilbert on living under siege in Gaza

Jeff Smith on
Dr. Mads Gilbert speaking at Calvin College, Grand Rapids Michigan. (Photo: Nidal Kanaan_

Dr. Mads Gilbert recently spoke at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he provided an astute fact-based analysis of the situation in Gaza that was structured around powerful stories of Palestinian civilians whom he has met while working in makeshift operating rooms at Gaza’s Al-Shifa’ hospital. “There is a systemic Israeli attack on Gaza’s healthcare,” Dr. Gilbert explained.

When bombs drop, Gazans joke…and pray

Pam Bailey on
Smoke rises following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike, east of Gaza City October 5, 2016. (Photo: Ahmed Zakot/Reuters)

In the middle of the morning on October 5, sounds of bombs reverberated throughout Gaza. The news would trickle out later that an extremist Salafi fringe group had shot a crude rocket into an Israeli settlement, reportedly as a way of pressuring the Hamas government to release some of its members from prison. Some in Gaza said they believe the Salafis are actually being manipulated by the Palestinian Authority. Israeli forces responded with more than 30 airstrikes and tank hits in two hours, these are the Palestinian accounts of that incurrsion.

Israel begins deporting women who tried to sail to Gaza

Allison Deger on
(Photo: Kia Ora Gaza)

Israel has begun to deport an all-female crew of sailors with the first two women returning to London hours ago after Israeli commandoes seized the Women’s Boat to Gaza, an activist ship skimming towards the Strip’s maritime borders yesterday.

A letter from Gaza to black America

Mohammed Alhammami on
Youth in Gaza show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo:

A Palestinian from Gaza writes a letter to African-Americans pointing out the many similarities share as oppressed peoples: “I do not have to be black to understand the words of Marin Luther King Jr. when he said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I am a Palestinian who is extending his arms in brotherhood to another people who know and live my legacy of oppression.”

Two women’s boats set sail for Gaza in effort to break blockade

Allison Deger on
Mavi Marmara, with images of men who were slain aboard during 2010 mission. 

An all-female crew has set sail on two vessels headed towards Gaza on Wednesday in attempts of breaking the nine-year Israeli blockade on the coastal Mediterranean strip. The “Women’s Boat to Gaza” is the fourth of its kind, captained by women-only with 30 female activists and high-ranking officials aboard the Arabic-named Zaytouna (“Olive”) and the Amal (“hope”).

Banned from leaving Gaza, Palestinian group rocks out at border

Mohammed Asad on
The Palestinian band Dawaween performs outside of the Erez checkpoint in the Gaza Strip. The group was denied permits to enter Jerusalem in early August to perform a concert. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Smacked with a travel ban after Israel denied permits to leave Gaza through the northern Erez crossing, the musical group Dawaween performed a protest concert on the strip’s border with a windswept demilitarized buffer zone and chain-linked fence in the background.

We, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, have been suffering from a slow death sentence for a long time

Tamam Abusalama on
Tamam Abusalama with her Mother

Tamam Abusalama writes, “We, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, have been suffering from a slow death sentence for a long time. We are being punished collectively for no reason, without any crime. The Egyptian and Jordanian authorities in cooperation with the Israeli colonial regime have been successful at turning the life of Gazans into hell. This injustice has to come to an end. A resolution for this siege has to come.”

After Israeli military clears soldiers of killing families in Gaza, Palestinians call on Hague to investigate

Allison Deger on
Palestinian men sit amidst the debris of a neighbouring house which police said was damaged after an Israeli air strike destroyed Tayseer Al-Batsh's family house, in Gaza City July 13, 2014. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

Israel’s military has cleared soldiers of criminal wrongdoing in alleged human rights violations committed during the 2014 summer war in Gaza. According to a report published yesterday, Israel closed investigations into the killing of three Palestinian families and other civilians, and the shelling of a medical clinic, Gaza’s main power plant, and a United Nations shelter, among other offenses. “We did not expect anything less than Israel’s justification of war crimes,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said after the publication of the military report, and urged the International Criminal Court to investigate the offenses.

Israel bans entry for two more US activists

Wilson Dizard on
Ben Gurion airport

Israel has banned an American activist who has worked for years helping Palestinians in Gaza, after denying her entry into the country, detaining her for hours and deporting her against her will. The woman’s ban comes after Israel banned five U.S. citizens at the border in July, all of them the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, and another American woman last week crossing from Jordan.

UN data shows Israel tightened Gaza siege in July

Kate on
Palestinian workers demonstrate against the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip during a rally marking May Day, on May 1, 2016, in Gaza City. Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza since 2006, and recently banned the supply of cement and construction materials for the private sector, citing security concerns. (Photo: Mohammed Asad/ APA Images)

Middle East Monitor reports: New data released by a United Nations agency and an Israeli NGO has confirmed that Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip actually tightened during July.

Over ninety percent of Gaza’s water wells are unsafe for human consumption

Isra Saleh El-Namy on
Palestinian child transporting his family's bottles, filled with potable water from a purification station, in Deir al-Balah central Gaza Strip, on May 22, 2013. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

Yaser el-Shanti, the head of the Gaza Water Authority, has said that 95 percent of the water in Gaza is not safe for the human use. Isra Saleh El-Namy interviews Gaza residents who explain how they are coping. Samer el-Shaer in Rafah says, “This water is not safe, we are sure of this. Its taste, or even color are very worrying, this is why we do not trust it.”

Gaza war diary: Bitter reality, bitter dreams

Nesma Seyam on
Abu Shtayyah

Nesma Seyam shares a diary entry written during Israel’s 51 day attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014: “I have finally realized that what I have experienced was truly a dream and why it had occurred that night. My soul was aching, and my lust for sweets was an attempt to sooth the bitterness in my heart. But all the sweets in the world would still not be enough to erase the cruelty, strife, and bitterness in our hearts.”

Gaza couples struggle with financial difficulties amidst social crisis

Isra Saleh El-Namy on
Palestinian grooms sit with their brides on the stage during a mass wedding ceremony in Gaza City, on April 11, 2015. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

After nine years of Israel’s blockade and consistent assaults on Gaza, Gazans are faced with a financial crisis that impedes on daily and personal decisions leading to disastrous social consequences: young couples lack basic resources to marry and sustain families.

900 Gazans are still in need of care for injuries sustained in 2014 war

Kate on
A mother and son in the orthopedic department at Ash Shifa hospital, Gaza City, October 2015 (Photo: UN/OCHA)

UN: “In early July 2014, the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that Gaza’s struggling health sector was near to collapse due to the severe shortages of medicines, medical disposables and fuel, and the lack of capacity to expand services to meet population needs. In the days and weeks following that warning, the health sector was confronted with over 11,200 injuries, among them more than 3,800 children, which is the highest number of injuries for such period of time it had ever faced. The challenge to the health system posed by the 2014 hostilities has extended into the present; approximately 900 of those injured sustained some form of permanent disability and require continued attention, while a significant part of the health infrastructure was damaged.”

In Photos: Palestinians celebrate Ramadan in Gaza

Mohammed Asad on
Nisreen, 7, plays under Ramadan decorations at Al-balad in downtown Gaza City, June 27, 2016. (Photo: Mohammed Asad)

Muslims across the world have spent June observing the religious month of Ramadan. In Gaza, where reconstruction after three wars in six years has stalled, the celebrations, fasts followed by feasts, and prayer has brought a welcomed sense of normalcy. Palestinian photographer Mohammed Asad brings a glimpse of how Gazans enjoy the month of Ramadan.

The view from Gaza: ‘The Turkish government has sold us out and wants us to be grateful’

Haidar Eid on
Palestinians hold their national flag during a protest against the blockade of Gaza in 2009.  (Photo: Thaer Mahmoud/ APA Images)

Israel and Turkey have reached an agreement to normalize ties six years after an Israeli naval attack that killed 10 Turkish activists and 9 years after the imposition of a deadly siege that has left Gaza unlivable. Gaza-based academic and activist Haidar Eid writes, “A quick reading of the deal proves that it is a stab in the back of Gaza. Improving the conditions of oppression, or rather slowing down the genocide, is a form of complicity because Gaza for the Turkish government is just a humanitarian case. In a nutshell, the Turkish government has sold us out and wants us to be grateful!”

Emad Khalil’s story as a Gazan worker in Israel

Mohammed Saleem on
Palestinian farmers work at their fields during the Workers' Day, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip May 1, 2016. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

Gaza-based writer Mohammed Saleem writes, “Skin tanned and hands calloused from working forty-two years under the sun, Emad Khalil, a sixty-one year old retired laborer, sits in front of me. For thirty of those years, he worked in Israel. His story documents a tremendous change in attitude and policy towards Palestinian freedom of movement, employment opportunities, healthcare, and relations between Palestinians and Israelis.”

American basketball coach devotes his time to disabled in Gaza

Isra Saleh El-Namy on
American coach Jess Markt trains disabled Palestinians to play basketball during a training course organized by the Palestinian Red Cross in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 28, 2016. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

In the aftermath of successive Israeli onslaught waged on the Gaza Strip, the number of Palestinians with physical disabilities drastically increased. Gaza journalist Isra El-Namy covers American coach Jess Markt’s visit to Khan Younis as he trains disabled Palestinians to play basketball and train for future tournaments.

Following Israeli restrictions, Gaza farmers access land for first time in 15 years

Isra Saleh El-Namy on
Kamal Kafarna harvests one of his groves in Beit Hanoun. (Photo: Isra Saleh El-Namy)

Kamal Kafarna could not be happier. He is harvesting his wheat with his own hands from his land that he was prevented from accessing for fifteen years because it is located just a hundred meters away from the boundary line between Israel and the Gaza Strip. “I am very delighted that I have been given one day to harvest my yields. This piece of land is mine, but I was not able to tend it for long years because it is feared that I might be shot by the Israeli soldiers who monitor the boundary areas with Gaza,” he tells Isra Saleh El-Namy.