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Gaza is the only place the world forgets about (or pretends to forget about)

Israel/Palestine
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Palestinian children look at a double rainbow after heavy rain flooded Gaza on Dec. 12, 2013. (photo: Hatem Moussa/AP)

Palestinian children look at a double rainbow after heavy rain flooded Gaza Dec. 12, 2013. (photo: Hatem Moussa/AP)

‘Look where the world is and where we are!’ an exclamation I very frequently heard at home, and even expressed myself at some points. Going out to this world though, makes this thought invalid. It is a world where a major concern is offering dogs a better life, healthier food and softer napkins because humans do not have problems to worry about. In this world, brains are squeezed to figure out what problems may occur in 2050, and how they can be solved because there is nothing to solve at the moment other than the fact that there aren’t comfortable couches and free Wi-Fi in shopping centres. People are not worried about water supply or power cuts, when to do the laundry or how to charge the laptop. All the basics are available, and what is sought is only to better the quality of life.

People work so hard so they can get the best most comfortable life they can get. They are very concerned about enhancing the quality of their lives, some very precious ones, and this is what really makes the difference. I was once with a French friend at some park, and a lady stopped by to take some information for a questionnaire. One of her questions was what we thought that park was missing. My friend answered “music”. I was staggered by the answer. No water, no benches, no entertainment for the kids, no other parks to take some of the huge loads of people off this one, just music. Music!! I would not give such an answer in a million years. Although I do have the same current life as this friend’s, but my previous life and my family’s in Gaza dominates my brain and my way of thinking. Music got me to think how relaxed and restful one needs to be to come up with a similar answer.

Here in Europe, cycling is promoted, and it would be better if you walk. Special lanes are paved, and traffic signals are placed for cyclists all for the sake of healthier generations and a better greener environment. There, in Gaza, we walk and ride bicycles not for the environment, not even for our health. We do it because there is no fuel for our cars. We read books and we socialize because there’s no power to watch TV or to surf the internet. There, it’s the 21st century, and my medicine-studying brother reads his books under the light of candles. On many days, he has to sleep during the day, and stay up all night to celebrate that the power is on and study. My only way to see my mother is Skype, and very often I can’t see her for days, simply because when the power is on, she has laundry, hovering and baking and other chores to do and 6 hours a day is hardly enough to finish.

Here, they watch TV, do the laundry, and freeze their poultry whenever they want, for months if they want. There, we equip our houses with the most expensive electricals, and in seconds we feel the futility of it all. In seconds, they are no more than dead plastic and metal boxes and everyone is in the dark, back to the Stone Age and the most primitive ways to get light and heat that ended hundreds of years ago. I’ve been there, and by primitive I mean candles and charcoal braziers simply because there isn’t even fuel to start the power generators. And if it is found, it’s too expensive for an average family to afford. Not to mention the hidden diseases it adds to my people there; my family and friends one on top of the other.

However, here, the real disaster comes when we are treated differently because we come from there. Here, we carry our passports and travel the world. I have a red passport, I am a human being. In my case, I am labelled with my Palestinian passport. Last time I travelled abroad I was pulled back by my husband when the airport employee confused my passport for a travel document. I was willing to fight but he held me back. ‘It is a PASSPORT’, I wanted to say, ‘just like yours but another colour and another place of the world that you don’t know even exists’. Another previous time, the employee brought a big book and started turning its pages looking for the passport that looked like mine in order to identify it. I could not but smile. She was trying to insult me in an indirect way. All because I’m not from here, and I won’t state the obvious, my headscarf.

To be honest, however, they are not to blame as we Palestinians receive a far worse treatment by people of our language, religion and kinship; our neighbours the Egyptians. During a 6 hour long ride from Cairo to Rafah crossing, we were stopped last year close to 10 times by soldiers to check our passports (which doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world, “do you have Palestinians?” as if looking for rats). And the situation has gotten much worse after the military took over in Egypt. I was told by a cousin that they were shot on their way to Cairo airport. Now, visiting my family in Gaza, or my cousin leaving Gaza to study, has become a journey where you risk your life. Now, I cannot go home this year and I don’t know when I can return.

Here, people are so sensitive, so tearful. They cannot take the pain due to the very relaxed style of life they have, no wonder psychiatrists make a very good business here. Impulsively, sometimes I trivialize their pain when they cry for the simplest reasons saying: ‘what have you seen of life?’

Here, a respectable life is taken for granted. However you still have the right to complain, and when you do, you will be taken seriously, and you will see a difference, a change for the better. You will see Parliament members resigning for traffic violations. You will see governments asked to bury their heads in shame for not offering the expected aid to Syrian refugees. But clearly Gaza is the only place that this world forgets or more accurately pretends to be forgetting about. And the greatest witness to that is the late humanitarian crisis that happened in Gaza. A two day rain filled the Strip with sewage water that drowned hundreds of ground floor apartments and ravaged their contents, as well as fertile agricultural patches that were the main source of livelihood for many families. Due to the blockade and fuel shortage, water treatment pumps could not be operated and the residents of the affected areas were left displaced in the UN schools for a week. And after the water dried out, they went back to their houses (which in any other country would need to repaired and the damaged furniture replaced before inhabited again) and they will have to pay for it all.

There, in Gaza, people are deprived of life for the living. All the necessities of life are being taken away from them one after another; power from 8 hours down to 6 and then to 4; water unfit for human use (contaminated water used to irrigate the crops we eat in Gaza). And we have to buy our drinking water, scarce gas and fuel supplies. And even after the mentioned rain, caused and made worse by man-made crisis, nothing changed. And we DO complain, and we DO shout, but the world gives us a deaf ear, and the situation keeps getting worse.

And the question remains: Until When??

A Girl from Al Shati refugee camp, known as Beach camp, in Gaza

Child from Al Shati refugee camp, Beach camp, Gaza, Palestine (Photo: Khaled Al Sabbah)

Hana Alyaqubi
About Hana Alyaqubi

Hana Alyaqubi is 25 year old Palestinian from Gaza currently living the United Kingdom. She is a holder of a BA degree in English language from the Islamic university of Gaza, a part time teacher of Arabic in Birmingham Arabic School and a mother of a one-year old child.

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34 Responses

  1. Citizen
    Citizen
    December 28, 2013, 3:25 pm

    Gee, did Rachel Maddow miss your memo?

  2. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby
    December 28, 2013, 3:37 pm

    That last pic, sigh… :/

    Less people care about palestinians today and that is because of racism, the same racism west supported in South Africa.

    • bintbiba
      bintbiba
      December 28, 2013, 4:28 pm

      ‘That last pic,sigh’…. brings a lump in the throat!
      No words…

  3. Cliff
    Cliff
    December 28, 2013, 3:54 pm

    Anyone asking ‘why they hate us’ still is either young and naive or ignorant.

  4. NormanF
    NormanF
    December 28, 2013, 4:10 pm

    They can blame their own leaders – who pour scarce money into attacking Israel instead of improving the quality of life for their people.

    And then there are their fellow Arabs who treat them like dirt.

    All of which has nothing to do with Israel.

    • annie
      annie
      December 28, 2013, 4:47 pm

      the blockade has everything to do with israel. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=660751

      “It’s all because Israel has shut down the Kerem Shalom crossing, and if they decide to open it tomorrow, fuel will be shipped into the Gaza Strip,” Muhanna said.

      He said Israel has stopped a shipment of fuel into the Gaza Strip through the crossing, and that for solely that reason Gaza’s power plant is out of commission.

      On Friday, Israeli security sources told the Israeli news site Ynet that Hamas was responsible for the plant’s shutdown, saying the Islamist movement was unwilling to pay the PA for the fuel.

      But Muhanna said that the fees for this shipment of fuel from Israel had already been paid for using funds donated by Qatar, as international media reported earlier in December.

      Gaza’s only power plant shut down Friday after running for a mere 12 days, as Israel closed the Kerem Shalom crossing and stopped shipping the already-purchased fuel. Electricity availability in Gaza then dropped from 12 hours each day to just six hours.

      Israel closed the crossing following an upheaval of violence in the the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, during which a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli Civil Defense employee and Israeli forces killed a 3-year-old Palestinian girl in an airstrike attack.

      Qatar donated $10 million for diesel fuel in response to a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip that came to a head during a December storm that brought record snow and rainfall to the region. Between 10,000 and 40,000 Gaza residents were displaced due to the storm.

      Fuel shortages had caused daily life in the Gaza Strip to grind slowly to a halt since early November, cutting off access to basic necessities for Gaza residents.

      you can’t wash the stain of apartheid off israel’s face and hands.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      December 28, 2013, 4:57 pm

      “All of which has nothing to do with Israel.”

      Nonsense. The zios are the ones who are building a Warsaw Ghetto out of Gaza, are the reason why the resources are scarce, are the reason why these innocents suffer and are the reason why Arab help is either not forthcoming or is not effective enough. Erase the zionist entity from the face of the Earth, and the problems go away,

      • MahaneYehude1
        MahaneYehude1
        December 28, 2013, 5:21 pm

        @Woody;

        “Erase the Zionist entity from the face of the Earth, and the problems go away”???? is this your solution?? If yes, I would say it is little cruel solution.

        What would you say if I write the following: Erase Gaza strip leadership from the face of the Earth, and the problems go away??? I can guess your answer: you would say that I am a racist Zionist!!!

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        December 28, 2013, 10:59 pm

        “‘Erase the Zionist entity from the face of the Earth, and the problems go away’???? is this your solution??”

        My solution is full equality for everyone from the Med to the Jordan with everyone’s political, human and civil rights protected without regard for ethnicity or religion, with universal adult sufferage in the government that controls their lives. The details beyond don’t much matter. What’s yours??? Judeo-supremacy of some kind, no doubt…

        “If yes, I would say it is little cruel solution.”

        You know what? I don’t give a damn. It would be infinately less cruel than what the zionists have done to date and infinately less cruel than having zionism continue into the future.

        “What would you say if I write the following: Erase Gaza strip leadership from the face of the Earth, and the problems go away??? I can guess your answer: you would say that I am a racist Zionist!!!”

        Nope, I’d say you’re delusional to think that the issue is the Palestinians when there has never been a milisecond of the history of the zionist state where Palestinians were not being oppressed. Literally not a single milisecond. You’re a fool if you think that that would be over if only Hamas went away and an immoral disgrace for blaming the victim to protect the oppressor.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 29, 2013, 3:34 pm

        @Woody

        My solution is full equality for everyone from the Med to the Jordan with everyone’s political, human and civil rights protected without regard for ethnicity or religion, with universal adult sufferage in the government that controls their lives.

        I can support that. You don’t support that. Giving them suffrage makes them citizens of Israel with the obligations of Israelis. I support that, but you don’t. You need to have a state where million are permanently oppressed.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        December 30, 2013, 1:12 pm

        “I can support that. You don’t support that.”

        Go to hell, JeffB. Who the hell do you think you are telling someone else what they do or do not support, especially when they are on record, as I am, on this exact point. The people who don’t support full equality and full human, civil and political rights and universal adult sufferage for everyone from the Med to the Jordan are the zionists who insist that the Palesitnians suffer for the benefit of the Jews, either as second-class citizens, as citizens of an demilitarized statelet or as stateless serfs in open-air prisons.

        “Giving them suffrage makes them citizens of Israel with the obligations of Israelis.”

        Yes, which is why the zios will never go for it, because it would also permit all millions of Palestinians, both in pre-1967 occupied lands, and in post-1967 occupied lands, to alter that state so that it is not a judeo-supremacist one. For the zios, equality with full civil rights is not enough. They MUST dominate and oppress Palestinians. Their ideology is meaningless without it.

        “You need to have a state where million are permanently oppressed.”

        Nonsense. That’s the zionist position. I support human right and equality for all. You support the equivalent of a state run by the KKK, but with Jews, instead.

      • Bumblebye
        Bumblebye
        December 29, 2013, 9:08 am

        MY1
        To erase the ‘Zionist entity’ would be a physically painless solution, involving as it would merely the removal of all racist laws and the ending of all racist institutions of state and their replacement with laws that favor equality for all. For all the war crimes of course, I would recommend trials with the outcome that some would be imprisoned for periods of time.
        However, your “Erase Gaza strip leadership from the face of the Earth” seems to involve killing, which “The Jewish State”TM is so expert at. So, yes, one would have to say you are “a racist Zionist!!!”

      • Abierno
        Abierno
        December 30, 2013, 3:56 pm

        Jeff B says on Dec 27:
        “There is the problem of Gaza, but I suspect that the Israelis plan to use environmental / ecological destruction to resolve the demographic issue mostly and then take it somewhere around 2030. So I don’t think I’m being unrealistic in saying the current borders are Israel’s final borders. ” This
        does sound like “erase Gaza strip leadership (and population demographic)
        from the face of the Earth.” Essentially, through the blockade – accelerate the ecological destruction so its no longer inhabitable, rife with starvation,
        orphan disease epidemics with no vaccine, medication or medical care. This is already happening. Thank you Jeff B – yours is the most succinct, eloquent and accurate statement of Israel’s intent toward Gaza. Unfortunately for Israel – many of those orphan diseases have airborne vectors so Israel will need not only the barrier fencing but some technological, yet to be invented, barrier for the air.

      • amigo
        amigo
        December 29, 2013, 10:02 am

        “What would you say if I write the following: Erase Gaza strip leadership from the face of the Earth, and the problems go away??? I can guess your answer: you would say that I am a racist Zionist!!!” mahane 1,2 or 3???.

        Well ,it,s not as if Israel has not tried and succeeded (in some cases) to erase not just their leaders but also thousands of Gazans.

        And yes anyone who condemns only the price tag attackers but not the GOI who blames the Palestinian victims is a racist.

        In any event , Zionism is racism and you have earned the dubious title, “Racist”.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 1:36 pm

        @Woody

        Yes, which is why the zios will never go for it, because it would also permit all millions of Palestinians, both in pre-1967 occupied lands, and in post-1967 occupied lands, to alter that state so that it is not a judeo-supremacist one. For the zios, equality with full civil rights is not enough. They MUST dominate and oppress Palestinians. Their ideology is meaningless without it.

        If they aren’t zionist then they are part of the nation. I didn’t say give them citizenship I said let them join the nation.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        December 31, 2013, 10:33 am

        “If they aren’t zionist then they are part of the nation. I didn’t say give them citizenship I said let them join the nation.”

        Baloney. You said you could support my statement, and nowhere in my statement did I say anything about letting somoene “join the nation.” I pressed for full equality, with rights and the vote, for everyone from the Med to the Jordan. You still press your zionist Apartheid.

    • talknic
      talknic
      December 28, 2013, 5:34 pm

      @ NormanF “They can blame their own leaders”

      Palestinian leaders didn’t ask to be colonized.
      Palestinian leaders didn’t ask for Palestine to be partitioned.
      Palestinian leaders didn’t ask for Jews to be given (GRATIS) 56% of the territory of Palestine for a Jewish State.
      Palestinian leaders didn’t ask for Jewish forces to be occupying non-Israeli territory on the day Israel was proclaimed.
      Palestinian leaders have never taken anything of Israel’s.
      Palestinian leaders didn’t ask to be occupied.
      Palestinian leaders didn’t ask Israel to be in breach of the Laws of Occupation.

      Israel meanwhile has illegally acquire over 50% of what remained of Palestine after Israel’s frontiers were proclaimed.

      Israel has offered NOTHING towards peace. Israel demands MORE non-Israeli territory instead. Demanding to swap Palestinian territory for Palestinian territory so that Israel can keep Palestinian territory

      Palestinian leaders have offered to accept only 22% of their rightful territories for peace with Israel.

      Israel replied by building more illegal settlements.

      Israeli demands have no legal basis.

      Palestinian demands are in accordance with their legal rights under the Laws and UN Charter Israel is obliged to uphold, but HASN’T!

      The Palestinians have the law in their favour.

      Israel is in breach of the Law.

      Only the US Veto vote in the US allows Israel to continue to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity

      ” who pour scarce money into attacking Israel instead of improving the quality of life for their people”

      Israel prohibits the means to improve from entering Gaza. All goods pass through Israeli control incl between Egypt and Gaza

      “And then there are their fellow Arabs who treat them like dirt”

      Strange, the surrounding Arab states have generously hosted Palestinian refugees for 65 years. Fought wars on their behalf and fought the legal battle for almost a century.

      “All of which has nothing to do with Israel”

      Whatever drivel you need to post in order to keep your bile levels up (or is it income flowing ?)

    • Danaa
      Danaa
      December 28, 2013, 6:31 pm

      “They can only blame themselves …” is what the guards said at the concentration camps too. The israeli plan for Gaza is clear – what we are seeing is something far beyond ethnic cleansing. It is a slow strangulation of an entire people, while the evil-doers a stone throw away, wash their hands and say, “who, we? blame hamas!”.

      Every israeli who pretends to care about anything at all is guilty. Far more guilty than the German people were at the time. Because nowadays, the information is out there, at one’s finger tips and the eye’s edge. One cannot say ‘but we didn’t know!”.

      The incredibly tragic truth is that just about all israelis know exactly what they are up to in gaza. And many only wish that it would “end’ already, however the “end” happens. Or, if they have no strength for wishing on a star (of david?) they just don’t care. And that tells you all one needs to know about who and what they are.

      And right along with the israelis and their hard spinning co-ideologues outside, the world also pretends that gaza is already on the dust bin of history. The beautiful souls of the world move about their do-goodism business, as if gaza does not and never did exist. It is not our business, the good people of the world shrug. And the few who made it their business get mysteriously killed, or smeared, or exiled, or silenced.

      This story, the life of Gazans is hearty-breaking, but NormanF laughs all the way to the park, where he gets to munch on a bagel while watching for his very own much promised rainbows. Because the likes of NormanF, whoever he is, have had nothing to do with “it”, after all. It must be hamas (that israel created so it can have a boogey-man) or that Egyptian Junta Israel so kindly helped bring to power, right?

      Later, NormanF, or one just like him, will ask – “but what about the Syrian refugees”? and the loud echo from the civilized continents will reply – “yes, what about them?”.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        December 28, 2013, 10:41 pm

        This was perfect, Danaa.

      • Refaat
        Refaat
        December 29, 2013, 5:51 am

        what a profoundly beautiful way to put this… thanks, Danaa…

      • bintbiba
        bintbiba
        December 29, 2013, 9:44 am

        Danaa , you are a stalwart on this site… Shmuel also whom we miss these few days. Kudos.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 29, 2013, 3:41 pm

        @Danaa —

        Gaza is not the first place in the world to be subject to a blockade. There is a well supported system for ending blockades when a society decides their situation is hopeless, they ask for terms of surrender. Israel has repeatedly shown some willingness to ease the blockade when Hamas isn’t violent. I don’t think there is any reason to believe that a strong treaty with Hamas wouldn’t end this blockade.

        If Palestinians are capable of self governing then they are capable of self governance then they need to be responsible for their own choices. They choose the path of resistance when bordering a much more powerful state. Most states are smart enough not to pick fights with their much more powerful neighbors. Most states are smart enough to act in ways that their much more powerful neighbors don’t find threatening.

      • Ellen
        Ellen
        December 30, 2013, 8:21 am

        JeffB, just keep talking.

        I guess you also think the Jewish resistance of Warsaw brought their fate and the fate of those in the Ghetto with them onto themselves. That it was their fault for picking a fight with a stronger neighbor/nation.

        You really are a piece of work.

      • eljay
        eljay
        December 30, 2013, 8:56 am

        >> If Palestinians are capable of self governing then they are capable of self governance then they need to be responsible for their own choices.

        Zio-supremacist Jews chose and continue to choose terrorism, ethnic cleansing, oppression, land theft, colonization, supremacism, destruction, oppression, torture and murder. They need to be responsible for their own immoral and unjust choices and to stop blaming Hamas, the Holocaust, Iran, “the Arabs” and anti-Semitism.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        December 30, 2013, 9:50 am

        @eljay

        Jews did choose to build a state and they do take moral responsibility for what’s involved. Next complaint?

      • ziusudra
        ziusudra
        December 30, 2013, 7:08 am

        Greetings Danaa,
        Brava, Danaa.
        Happy N.Y.
        ziusudra

      • eljay
        eljay
        December 30, 2013, 12:22 pm

        >> Jews did choose to build a state and they do take moral responsibility for what’s involved.

        You wouldn’t know it by the way they blamed and continue to blame everyone but themselves for the blowback resulting from their past and on-going immoral and unjust actions.

    • eljay
      eljay
      December 29, 2013, 8:12 am

      >> All of which has nothing to do with Israel.

      Until such time as the oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel ends its occupation, withdraws to within its / Partition borders and honours its obligations under international law, it has a tremendous amount to do with Israel.

    • HanaY
      HanaY
      December 29, 2013, 5:35 pm

      The leadership in Gaza has nothing to do with the current crisis except the mere fact that they are Hamas. Israel closes Kerem Shalom crossing when anything happens and even when it’s opened, limited merchandise and fuel supplies are dripped to the Strip. The situation got better with the previous Egyptian government as Rafah crossing was opened without restrictions, and tunnels worked efficiently to get everything to the strip. But after El-Sisi took over, it was all destroyed and the border closed again and now Gaza is besieged from all directions. It is meant to put pressure on Hamas government and to force it to step down, and Israel is a definite beneficiary and accomplice in this, and sadly the commons are who pay the price

  5. just
    just
    December 29, 2013, 2:26 am

    Thank you Hana Alyaqubi.

    Has anyone ever experienced the sheer helplessness of a power outage or a car that will not perform? No heat? No nothing?

    I have. And I can fix it. The people in Gaza cannot. The people in Afghanistan cannot. The people in Iraq cannot. The people in many places cannot. Because of our terrible actions, many in the world cannot. I remain in awe of the strength and resilience of the many that rise up and meet the day, every day, while under such conditions.

    What happened in Gaza is/was awful, terrible, life destroying and most of America was totally preoccupied with buying presents and one- upping each other. And it is ongoing.

    Many thanks for bringing this to our attention, MW.

  6. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    December 29, 2013, 5:03 am

    @ Hana,

    We try – Bethlehem Unwrapped.

    We will keep that little flicker of hope alive and well. It’ll take time, but the Apartheid walls are crumbling as we speak.

  7. bilal a
    bilal a
    December 29, 2013, 9:13 am

    Besides Gaza ,the occupation extends elsewhere:

    AIPAC’s Fed Candidate Stanley Fischer
    AIPAC, Fischer’s co-author of harmful U.S. economic policies on behalf of Israel, likely sees the Fischer appointment as an important test case to assess American tolerance for openly dual Israeli-American citizens running key U.S. federal agencies. In 2009 former AIPAC research director Martin Indyk, who was at the center of AIPAC’s research division during the FTA push, said that “the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement served as a wedge that opened up the Congress to free trade agreements across the world, including the NAFTA agreement.” Likewise, if Fischer can be “wedged” into the Fed, it begs the question of why former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and historian Michael Oren could not someday lead the Near East division of the State Department. From AIPAC’s perspective, having qualified Israelis directly run key divisions of the U.S. Treasury such as Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, rather than indirectly through AIPAC-vetted appointees such as Stuart Levey and his hand-picked successor David Cohen, could probably boost the volume of taxpayer give-aways while improving coordination with Israel. Given AIPAC and Israel’s overly large influence on U.S. military initiatives in the region, the lobby may now feel the moment is right for appointing Israeli generals into the Joint Chiefs at the Department of Defense. This, AIPAC may well reason, would be much more convenient than constantly arranging visiting Israeli military and intelligence delegations that increasingly serve as sole briefers (rather than DoD or the American intelligence community) of members of the US Congress.
    http://original.antiwar.com/smith-grant/2013/12/27/aipacs-fed-candidate-stanley-fischer-on-a-warpath-against-iran/

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