A photo of 9-year-old Mohammed Ayyash wearing a mask with an onion stalk slipped inside to protect against Israeli teargas has become one of the iconic images of Gaza’s Great March of Return. Asmaa Tayeh talks with Mohammed and his family about the protests and the child’s hope for the future. “I want to have my own playground so I can play football and basketball the whole day,” Mohammed tells Tayeh. “And I want it to be named after my new nickname, Abu Basala (the kid with an onion).”
Category Archives: Gaza
Over the last two weeks Palestinians in Gaza have assembled in mass along the border with Israel for the “Great March of Return,” protesting against their displacement and the siege over the Strip. Here are some of the amazing photographs from the last week of the protest, including a birthday celebration for teenager Hussein Madi who was killed last Friday on his 14th birthday. Yesterday his family lit candles in memorial near the location where he was fatally wounded.
Jehad Abusalim examines how Gaza came to be trapped “from the fence to the fence” by looking back at the Strip from the British Mandate period to present date: “The fence is the history that Palestinians in Gaza never want to forget, and no amount of aid can induce them to do so.”
Ahmad Kabariti reports from the second week of protests in Gaza’s Great March of Return. Israeli troops killed 10 more Palestinians but the people Kabariti spoke to were united in their goal to return to the lands their familes were displaced from during the Nakba. “I do not care about pain,” Mohammed Abu Eida tells Kabariti. “I sit here to tell them that I will go back to Jaffa with my family.”
Hamza Abu Al-Tarabeesh shares stories from the first two weeks of the Great March of Return in Gaza. Despite the fact Yousef Abu Eida, 26, was shot in the leg last Friday, he was back today using crutches and a metal brace. “I came today despite the pain to send two messages,” he tells Abu Al-Tarabeesh. “The first is that I will not give up the right of my return to my occupied town ‘Ashdod’ and another message to the Israeli sniper that we are not afraid of him.”
Arabic is the fifth-most-commonly spoken language in the world, with an estimated 250 million native speakers. It’s a useful language to know, and a university in the Gaza Strip is offering to teach it via Skype — while reducing the isolation imposed on it by a decade-long Israeli blockade.
Bethlehem University’s Jamil Khader writes of the Great March of Return: “The importance of the Great March of Return lies in the way it staged a raw and unmediated confrontation between the brute high-tech power of one of the most powerful armies in the world and the bare life of thousands of unarmed people in their humanity and dignity . . the message of the march reframes the right of return and freedom not only within international human rights law, but also within an emancipatory and utopian future for all.”
Ahmad Kabariti reports from the first day of the Great March of Return in Gaza where 15 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces. Despite the Israeli violence, there are scenes of nonviolent protest and persistence, and even a wedding. Groom Alaa Shahin tells Kabariti, “A few hundred meters away from those soldiers eyes, I emphasize my right and the whole Palestinian peoples’ right to return home after 70 years of displacement, we will not wait another 70!”
“What if 200,000 Palestinians headed peacefully to cross the border, while raising a poster that says they only want to go back to their land? What would happen?” It all started in 2011 with that Facebook post, the dream of a 33-year-old man in Gaza named Ahmed Abu Ratima. The Great March of Return will start on Land Day, March 30, and will continue for six weeks until May 15, which commemorates the Nakba, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced from their homes to make way or the creation of Israel. Palestinian refugees living in Gaza will set up tents near the border and move gradually—and peacefully—closer.
The decade-long siege of Gaza has ground the economy to a halt. “I don’t own anything else now except these debts,” says Sameh al-Madhoun, who used to own a car dealership but is now held in a Hamas jail in Gaza.
Manal Massalha writes from Gaza,”It’s disastrous to be a cancer patient in Gaza. It’s humiliating and undignified. It’s being sentenced to a slow death. Cancer treatment is not available in Gaza and access to treatment outside of Gaza is controlled by the Israelis, the Egyptians and the Palestinian Authority, none of whom seem to care, take our condition seriously or deal with us in urgency. For them we’re just numbers.”
On the sunny and warm afternoon of February 25th a crew of fishermen set out from Gaza City to change shifts with their younger team who had the task of preparing their boat for a night of fishing. However as the crew approached the damaged boat, the young men were nowhere to be found. Instead, the fishermen found a pool of blood, bullets and a first aid bag with Hebrew letters printed on it. 18-year-old Ismail Saleh Abu Riyala had been shot dead with a live bullet to the head earlier that day by Israeli forces, while his crew mates were forced to jump into the water and swim towards an Israeli gunboat where they were detained and interrogated.
Six premature infants in Gaza have reportedly died since the start of 2018 due to a lack of respiratory medication that helps them to breathe normally. The lives of another 113 are at risk, according to Gaza’s ministry of health.
Hani, father of a daughter with cancer whose last medical permit from Gaza to Israel was denied: “I don’t even understand why, there were no reasons given to me this time, and I utilised every contact I had.”
Gaza is effectively an open-air prison, an extremely overcrowded one, with only a few hours of electricity a day and its groundwater polluted by seawater and sewage. After a decade of this horrifying experiment in human endurance, the Israeli army finally appears to be concerned about whether Gaza can cope much longer.
The Trump administration informed the United Nations yesterday it would cut aid for Palestinian refugees by more than half, withholding $65 million in funds. For Mariam Oraif, 74, and many other Palestinians who depend on UNRWA health services the cuts could be a matter of life or death. When asked what she will do if UNRWA is no longer able to provide her with insulin and her weekly treatment, Oraif said of Trump, “He wants to kill us.”
Ahmad Kabariti reports from the ruins of the defunct Gaza International Airport, a wasteland of ruins and rotting animal corpses: This arid zone was once the first airport for Palestinians in Gaza, a step towards a dream of independent state. In 2000, during the events of the Intifada, Israel bombed the control tower, then the runway, and finally the elegant Moroccan-inspired terminals. In 2001, Israeli army bulldozers flattened what remained. The airport was the beginning of a dream of a state of Palestine, “but it has been turned it into a helipad for ghosts,” Mohammed Salah tells Kabariti.
In light of Donald Trump’s announcement earlier this month where the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Palestinian Christians held subdued Christmas celebrations across the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
English language teacher Mosab Abu Toha founded the “Edward Said Public Library” in Gaza, a small, modest library he hopes will provide the residents of the Strip with a window to the world through literature, mostly in English. But now the project is in danger as a shipment of books is being held up due to the Israeli siege on Gaza.
The Israeli military said Sunday it has opened an investigation into the fatal shooting of Ibrahim Abu Thraya, a paraplegic Palestinian man who was shot in the head during a demonstration along Gaza’s border with Israel. Abu Thraya is being hailed as a hero and his death has emerged as a rallying cry among Palestinians against Trump’s dramatic declaration, which they largely saw as siding with Israel. “We were telling him not to go (to the border), but he would not listen to us. He said ‘this is Jerusalem; if I don’t go to defend it, who will?’” said Raed al-Komi, Abu Thraya’s half-brother
Mahmoud Abu Salama of We Are Not Numbers documents protests in Gaza’s Jabalya refugee camp over Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Since the start of this year, 20 Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip died due to an Israeli ban on their travel, Israeli newspaper Haaretz has revealed.
“The drones aren’t guests anymore. They are family members. They should have dinner with us.”–Ahmed Alnaouq
Basman Derawi’s poem from Gaza: “A bird sings/of love and longing,/and flutters his wings./His olive tree is silent.”
Hamza Abu Al-Tarabeesh reports from Gaza: “With most of the fine print incomplete, at the moment reconciliation is in a transitional stage where most of the fallout is occurring inside of Gaza. Merging government ministries between the two geographically separated and occupied Palestinian territories has started, but is far from over.”