It is astonishing that the reconstruction of Gaza, bombed into the Stone Age has tentatively only just begun two months after the end of the fighting. According to the United Nations, 100,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged, leaving 600,000 Palestinians – nearly one in three of Gaza’s population – homeless or in urgent need of humanitarian help. Aid agency Oxfam warns that at the current rate of progress it may take 50 years to rebuild Gaza. Where else in the world apart from the Palestinian territories would the international community stand by idly as so many people suffer – and not from a random act of God but willed by fellow humans? The reason for the hold-up is, as ever, Israel’s “security needs”. Gaza can be rebuilt but only to the precise specifications laid down by Israeli officials.
Category Archives: Gaza
Katie Miranda reflects on some of the appalling ironies of U.S. and Israeli policy towards Gaza. The Obama administration is paying to both destroy and rebuild the war torn strip, and Israeli companies are now promoting their military equipment worldwide using a sales pitch of having been tested during “Operation Protective Edge.”
The finale of Israel’s mass destruction of the Gaza Strip during “Operation Protective Edge” was the flattening of several landmark towers that provided essential social and economic functions and which stood as symbols of the besieged coastal strip’s beleaguered professional class. While the war began with the flattening of the areas the Israeli military considers Gaza’s “hard shell” — border areas like Shujaiya and Khuza’a — it ended with a brazen assault on its soft core. The targeting of the professional class, a key pillar of Palestinian society generally considered unsympathetic to the political goals of Hamas, was a new front of economic and social warfare on Gaza.
When Sam Bahour asked his colleague in Gaza about her biggest dream, her answer made an impression on him: “I dream of what life would be like with 24-hour electricity.” This was the answer of a single, mid-career, western educated, professional woman who lives in the more affluent part of Gaza City. Her response suggests the depth of despair among Palestinians throughout Gaza.
Tamara Ben-Halim writes about her experience with Cycling4Gaza, a group of 40 people who cycled from from Philadelphia to Washington DC to raise awareness and funds for Gaza. One of those 40 was a 16 year old boy from Gaza, Ahmed Abunammous. Ahmed was shot in the leg by an Israeli sniper last year, at the age of 15. His leg had to be amputated, and Ahmed was lucky enough to be treated by the tireless PCRF (Palestine Children’s Relief) who flew him out to the US soon after to be operated on and fitted with a prosthetic leg. Ben-Halim, writes, “A year later, this time last week, Ahmed was cycling with us across the east coast, working his one leg nearly twice as hard as the rest of us.”
Pam Bailey interviews twin brothers Mohammed and Ahmed Abu Nasser, who are better known as Arab and Tarzan. Their film “Condom Lead” was the first film from Gazan Palestinians to be accepted into the Cannes Film Festival, and it will soon be screened at the DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival in Washington, DC.
What is Israel’s endgame in Gaza? It is a question that has been puzzling analysts and observers for some time. But indications of the future Israel and Washington may have in mind for Gaza are emerging. Reports in the Arab and Israeli media – in part corroborated by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas – suggest that Egypt may be at the heart of plans to solve the problem on Israel’s behalf. This month the Israeli media reported claims, apparently leaked by Israeli officials, that Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, had offered the Palestinian leadership the chance to annex to Gaza an area of 1,600 sq km in Sinai. The donated territory would expand Gaza fivefold. The scheme is said to have received the blessing of the United States.
Overnight Tuesday Israeli special forces killed two Palestinian men who were suspected of kidnapping and slaying three Israeli youths abducted in June while hitchhiking in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc of the West Bank. Amer Abu Aisha, 32, and Marwan Qawasmeh, 29, had evaded Israeli forces for over 100 days hiding out in their home city of Hebron no more than five miles from the site of where the remains of Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, were discovered over the summer.
The Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center field teams have documented full or partial damages to 75 kindergartens and day-care centers caused during the 51 day Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip this summer.
At the height of the Gaza onslaught in July, Netanyahu’s right-hand man met with a group of journalists in Jerusalem to equate Hamas with ISIS. The latest Israeli rhetoric is overheated: Both organizations seek to establish an Islamic caliphate, both “educate (read: brainwash) children to sanctify death and to die as a martyr (shahid) in jihad.” Oh and Hamas is global, but Boko Haram isn’t.
Dan Cohen talks with Usama Abu Safer from Gaza’s Deir al Balah Rehabilitation Center. They met during the final days of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s 51-day assault that killed 2,168 Palestinians and injured nearly 11,000. Frequent Israeli violence has raised the rate of disability among more than 1.8 million Palestinians living in Gaza to an astonishing 7.5%. According to the Deir al Balah Rehabilitation Center, 3,000 of the injured in Operation Protective Edge now have permanent physical disabilities, most of which are paraplegia and amputations. Many more suffered permanent hearing loss resulting from explosions.
Since Operation Protective Edge began in Gaza in early July, Israel has strengthened economic relationships with its closest allies. Within days of the air campaign starting, the U.S. and Israel penned a mutual recognition customs agreement which will lift screening barriers and tariffs. Then on Monday Israel cinched a similar Declaration of Intent from Canada, while focusing on the threat of ISIS, Hamas and Hezbollah.
This lukewarm truce in Gaza is part of a long, boringly consistent pattern. A 2009 study that tracked patterns of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza over the course of eight years revealed that unlike what Western mainstream media coverage of the conflict suggests, Israel violates the vast majority of ceasefires first.
Sarah Salibi talks with two young men in Gaza dealing with the post-traumatic stress of life after ‘Operation Protective Edge’. Ahmed abu Shanab, 17 years old, and Mahmoud Naser, 18, recall the day they were injured. After few days of the Shijaia massacre, the Israeli warplanes and the artillery tanks shelled Al-Shijaia market with several missiles during a ceasefire. The bombing left 17 deaths and 200 injuries. Ahmed and Mahmoud, who after the strike became close friends, were among the injured and are now at Al-Quds hospital receiving treatment.
Israel’s leading human rights groups will no longer provide information on solider misconduct to army investigators. After years of delayed military investigations for two Israeli wars in Gaza, the last without any army abuse convictions, the Israeli legal rights group Yesh Din and the human rights organization B’Tselem said, “the military law enforcement system is a complete failure” and is “incapable of conducting professional investigations.”
A Palestinian student visits patients injured in Gaza who are being treated in a West Bank hospital.
Accusations that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza during its latest military operation there have come in hard and fast. But the burning question is whether the Israeli soldiers or commanders responsible for the alleged crimes will be held accountable. The prospects for accountability are slim, but there are three main tools the Palestinians can wield to attempt to put Israel in the dock.
A leaked transcript of a meeting between Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mashal includes Abbas’s claim that the U.S. has pressured the Palestinian Authority from joining the international criminal court, Abbas’s threats to hand over West Bank to Israel, and Israeli reports of assassination attempts by Hamas.
If 2000 Israeli children were killed by Palestinian forces, imagine how the world would react. But proportionally, that is how many children were killed in Gaza over the last two months, with the use of American weaponry. And western governments have largely shrugged.
Sarah Algherbawi writes about life in Gaza for the survivors of ‘Operation Protective Edge': “The war is over but to the survivors it has merely begun. I was jailed in my house for 50 days, it feels strange to deal with people again, to carry out the routine work we used to do…the simplest aspects of life are the most difficult now. I didn’t experience death. But now, I have the belief that many things can be more painful than death.”
Polling shows that Hamas’s popularity has spiked across Palestine with 61 percent saying the same strategy of militant resistance should be adopted in the West Bank. Israelis, meantime, have shifted right, more supporting settlements leader Naftali Bennett, who makes sitting P.M. Netanyahu look like a centrist
Eslam Saqqa says that he made the short film Running because in the West Bank they have electricity and can make videos, while his relatives in Gaza are always running to avoid bombs. An interview with Annie Robbins
The writer Ian McEwan was on the BBC NewsHour yesterday, and at minute 8 was asked about Gaza. You have spoken out about the Israeli Palestinian question, accepting the Jerusalem Prize in 2011 and saying you would, rather than boycott, engage. Have you had any effect? No. The best bit of Israel as represented in writers like […]
The cease-fire that ended seven weeks of hell in Gaza is only two days old. But the countdown to the next round began as soon as the ink dried on the agreement between Israel and the Palestinian armed factions. The deep-rooted problems bedeviling the Palestinian people and Israel have not gone away. The only question is when that next spasm of violence breaks out.