Saturday, January 12, 2008

George W. Bush: You are not welcome

While I was driving in the car the other day, there was a radio report that the Israeli high court has approved to cut off the electricity from Gaza and leave Gaza in darkness to intensify the collective punishment on Gaza. When the Israeli high court previously agreed to ban the transfer to Gaza of fuel to supply the main power plant, there were power cuts for at least eight hours a day.
Power and fuel cuts mean that hospitals, factories and other essential services suffer as a result. Such Israeli court decisions ignore the humanitarian impact on Gaza.
I drove back home and I found the streets without light and not even much traffic as if Gaza was under curfew. When I arrived home, my family was sitting in darkness with a little candlelight. My three-and-a-half-month-old son was crying. I felt that he didn't want to be in darkness as darkness to him means bed time.
The power cuts that Gazans were experiencing before the last electricity cut was even then too much to bear and now the necessities of daily life are even harder to come by.What drives me and other Gazans crazy is that the international community can see all of the human rights violations being committed in Gaza and yet they choose not to take any action and instead remain silent. In the past I remember hearing the international community condemn such Israeli violations, but now, nothing.
One must conclude they are in favor of the Gaza siege because they support Israel's declaration that Gaza is an "enemy entity" since Hamas took over the Strip, ignoring that there are civilians living in Gaza that cannot be blamed for anything other than residing in Gaza.My family and I are suffering like many others in Gaza. We are all waiting for an improvement in the situation in Gaza, hoping that things will get better. Most Gazans have nothing to do but hope for a better life for our children, families and ourselves.
I wish I could tell George W. Bush that if he is coming to Palestine to complicate the lives of Palestinians while showing sympathy with Israeli then you are not welcome. We want solutions in easing our lives, the opening the borders and the breaking of the siege.I am not optimistic about Bush's visit as it's nothing but more talks. I am expecting a huge Israeli military attack against Gaza with the approval of the US. And as always, occupied Palestinians will receive nothing but the blame.I am sorry George W. Bush, you are not welcome.Published at: Electronic Intifada website:

Gaza residents discuss the closure (BBC)

Three Palestinians describe life in Gaza under the closure of the borders and how much they think the extra funding pledged by donors in Paris can help them.
I am principal of a school for children aged 10-13. The school is in a poor area and we are funded by UNWRA. The pupils who attend are among those hit hardest by the closure [of Gaza's border with Israel and Egypt, since June 2007]. Many of their parents used to work outside the Gaza Strip, so since the closure they have had no income.
Some of them come without proper clothing or shoes. It all affects their health and their performance at school. They attend, but often they are not really concentrating.
We have a lot of problems with low achievement. We do try to raise standards, but the circumstances don't help.
Some of these young people are blaming the whole world for their problems.
Put yourself in their shoes - what do you think will happen to them? They may become radicalised, they may become fanatics.
This is definitely affecting their mentality, their personalities.
As far as this new aid money goes, if it goes directly to the people I can assure you it will help. But the method of delivering the money is important.
The UN is the only international agency in Gaza which is working. It is making a lot of effort to help the refugees.
Every day we hear some clashes between Palestinians and Israelis on the borders to our east. But it doesn't really come into our area, to be honest.
However the closure affects every area of life.
Since Hamas took power there has been no construction work. There are a lot of half-finished projects and broken areas. Everything is upside down.
We heard about the pledges made by the donors. They spend a lot of money in the West Bank but here we don't tend to see it.
There are some shortages. We can't find the washing liquid we want, and there wasn't enough lamb for the Eid celebrations. We couldn't find Cola or Sevenup.
But more important are the medical shortages. In the West Bank patients can leave for treatment elsewhere. Here, they don't have the option.
At the moment I am the only source of income for about 12 members of my family. I work with an international humanitarian organisation and I also work as a freelance journalist.
My father used to work in tailoring in the Israeli industrial areas in Erez. When the Israelis withdrew [in September 2005] they closed the factory and he found similar work inside Gaza for less money.
But since the closure even that factory closed because no materials could get through. I would say about 70% of factories have closed for the same reasons.
I am an ambitious man and want to do an MA. My wife is educated, she's an electrical engineer. We want to travel, get more experiences and more education. But even if I get a visa, I can't leave.
The problem with this donors' conference is that they're giving their money to Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas]. He only represents the West Bank - and he's the one separating the West Bank from Gaza.
How can this man sleep when he has cut the salaries of 33,000 people in Gaza?
Two months ago my wife had our first baby. I look at him and I want to give him a better life, but I don't know how to.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tears and Blood in Gaza New Year

One night before New Year eve, my wife asked me where shall we celebrate the New Year?! I thought for a while, finally I decided not to stay home. An hour later, I received a phone call from a dear friend from France wishing me a happy New Year and then she asked me the same kind of question about where we'll celebrate the New Year.
I really thought deeply of what kind of New Year Gaza should celebrate?! How I can have pleasant time whereas hundred of pilgrims coming back from Mecca are stranded in Cairo can not enter back homes.
Gaza New Year simultaneous an Israeli bloody incursion, southern of Gaza, harvest dozens of Gazans lives. The bloody New Year in Gaza comes during unmerciful siege imposed against Gazans since June 2007.
At the end my wife I decided to stay home and not to celebrate but to cry instead of all the suffering we have and others in the Gaza Strip.
In night time, I went out with colleagues and friends. We talked about the season topics whish are the hardship that Gazans are living under. I came back home at 10pm, my son was in bed like little angel, my wife was waiting me. We watched TV to see how people all over the world are happy celebrating New Year with firework and partying.
"Why don't we have fun and celebrate the New Year as any ordinary people in the world? Aren't we human and have rights in life and to have fun?!" my wife wondered and asked me waiting to answer her back. Her words were like bill ringing in to my ears but I preferred to keep silent because I did not have an answer.
In the next day I got my salary, which I suppose to be a happy, I spent most of it distributing it to my brothers, parent and house food as I am the only source of income and responsible for about 12 members family. I have limited mount of money left for my son, wife, the car and myself. In the first of January I went for shopping and I bought presents for my child, then for my sick mother and finally for my wife. They were so happy, however I used up all my salary but I was not thinking about anything other than how to give them little happiness.
More Gazans died as a result of Israeli attacks, invasions, and incursions in the night of the New Year where families left in broken hearts leaving their sons.
I wish I could say "Happy New Year Gaza", however bloodshed, blockade, lack of money, shortage of food, medicine, and electricity, have banned me from thinking about "happy" phrase.

Finally I dedicate this message to the world by saying, Happy New Year to all people all over the world, have fun and enjoy your time, appreciate the meaning of fun where because there are people in the world like Gazans can find fun at all. With our soul and Blood we tell you Happy New Year.