Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis and the United Nations

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By Canadian Boat to Gaza,

Open Letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

Dear Secretary General,

On your recent visit to Gaza, you saw with your own eyes some of the deplorable and inhumane conditions suffered by the Palestinians living in Gaza. You called it “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises” that you had seen. We hope that, backed by the strength of the United Nations, this experience encourages you to bring maximum pressure on the State of Israel to lift the illegal and inhumane blockade the people of Gaza have been living under for ten years.

We want to remind you that there are many civil society and religious groups around the world who are watching the worsening situation in horror. We are depending on the United Nations, under your leadership, to work at the international level to increase the pressure from all nation states to use every economic and political measure to remind the State of Israel of the standards expected of the civilized nations of the world.

We are also pleased that you noticed specifically that the blockade on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt is upheld by that Arab state in defiance of both international resolutions and a sense of solidarity with a fellow Arab people. Israel is imposing the blockade not only by land, but also by air. They have destroyed Gaza airport, which was financed with international aid (including from Spain). At sea, Israeli forces attack Palestinian fishers from Gaza on a daily basis. They also illegally attack international vessels that challenge the blockade non-violently in the Freedom Flotilla missions that have taken place since 2010.

There are political reasons that make a resolution to the crisis of Gaza imperative at the international level. But even more important are the humanitarian reasons to release an entire people from the appalling situation in which they are currently forced to live.

Your own officers and researchers have concluded that Gaza will be uninhabitable by 2020. Many other reports, including those by the UN, OCHA have documented the many threats to the health and even the survival of people in Gaza. The UN has drawn particular attention to the power deficit. Since April 2017 access to electricity is often for four hours or less per day and always unpredictable. Power cuts make sewage treatment impossible leading to pollution of the beaches. Attacks on inshore fishers deprive the people of access to the nutritional value of fish. Your own research has shown up to 57% of Gaza people are ‘food insecure’. Not only is the Gaza economy paralyzed by the blockade, but restrictions on entry of building materials makes it very difficult to reconstruct bombed schools, for example. The blockade also restricts entry of school supplies and other goods that pose no threat to Israel whatsoever. This entire generation of children and young people in Gaza are growing up without the minimum to develop into educated and well-nourished adults.

The situation is so serious that you have announced an emergency grant of $4 million. But the Palestinians of Gaza do not want to have to take emergency payouts; they wants – and need – a cessation of Israeli aggression and real international peace-keeping to prevent further aggression. The so-called “Middle East Quartet” has been a disaster, accomplishing nothing and whitewashing Israeli violation of international law and the breaking of numerous agreements. The State of Israel has also ignored countless UN resolutions aimed at curtailing its activities, as well as continuing the illegal blockade of Gaza and the harassment of its fishing fleets.

In other words, despite its good intentions, the UN has a deplorable record in effectively safeguarding the Palestinians of Gaza and in promoting their security and independence.

We call on you to immediately:

Demand that the State of Israel complies with all UN resolutions, with the threat of sanctions if it does not do so.

Disband the Middle East Quartet and replace it with an effective oversight body.

Resume real peace keeping and effective protection of the civil population of Gaza.

Insist that the State of Israel respects and conforms with all UN resolutions that relate to its relations with Gaza.

Ensure that the world knows that the blockade is illegal and should demand that it be removed immediately.

Sincerely and persistently.
(list of signing organizations, below**)

Freedom Flotilla Coalition Member and Partner Organizations: freedomflotilla.org

Canadian Boat to Gaza  canadaboatgaza.org

Freedom Flotilla Italy www.freedomflotilla.it

MyCARE Malaysia www. mycare.org.my

Kia Ora Gaza [New Zealand / Aotearoa] kiaoragaza.wordpress.com

Palestine Solidarity Alliance [South Africa] www. palestinesa.co.za

Rumbo a Gaza [Spain] www.rumboagaza.org

Ship to Gaza Norway www. shiptogaza.no

Ship to Gaza Sweden shiptog aza.se

International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza en.breakgazasiege.org

US Boat to Gaza womensbo attogaza.us

Miles of Smiles miles-smiles.org

Free Gaza Australia www.facebook.com/ GazaAustralia

Other Organizations

Gaza Action Ireland gazaactionireland.weebly.com

Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign www.ipsc.ie

ShannonWatch (Ireland) www.shannonwatch.org

Plateforme des ONG françaises pour la Palestine plateforme-palestine.org

Council of Canadians / Conseil des Canadiens canadians.org

Bestemødre For Fred (Grandmothers For Peace, Norway) www.bestemodreforfred.com

Veterans for Peace (US) www.veteransforpeace.org

CODEPINK: Women for Peace (US) codepink.org

Voice of Women for Peace (Canada) vowpeace.org

Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine www.facebook.com/CJACPalestine

Palestina Solidariteit (Belgium) www.palestinasolidariteit.be

Association France Palestine Solidarité www.france-palestine.org

Cultura e libertà (Italy) palestinaculturaliberta.wordpress.com

Alternative refugee Center (Switzerland)

Badil resource center for Palestinian residency and refugee rights (Switzerland) www.badil.org/en

Women for development (Switzerland)

Union Juive Française pour la Paix (France) www.ujfp.org

Deutsch-Palästinensische Gesellschaft dpg-netz.de

Frauen in Schwarz (Vienna, Austria) www.facebook.com/pg/fraueninschwarzwien

Netherlands Palestine Committee www.palestina-komitee.nl

Palestijnse Gemeenschap in Nederland

Nederlands Arabische Stichting (Netherlands)

TIYE International (Netherlands) www.tiye-international.org/wordpress

Diensten en Onderzoek Centrum Palestina (Netherlands) www.docp.nl

Stop Represión Málaga, Voces Alternativas, Kontrapunto (Spain)

Breed Platform Palestina (Haarlem, Netherlands)

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (Gaza, Palestine) pchrgaza.org

Asociación de la Comunidad Hispano-Palestina “Jerusalén”

Asociación Medica Hispano Palestina (Spain)

Asociación Pablo de la Torriente Brau

El movimiento de mujeres palestinas Alkarama www.alkarama.es

RESCOP – Network of Solidarity against the occupation of Palestine (with 49 member organizations in Spain)

Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia (Malaysia) www.ikram.org.my

Viva Palestina Malaysia www.vpm.org.my

BDS Malaysia bdsmalaysia.com

Persatuan Ulama Malaysia pum.org.my

Al-Quds Foundation Malaysia alqudsmalaysia.org

Association of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine palestina.no

Asociación Española para el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos aedidh.org/es

Parallelo Palestina (Italy) sites.google.com/site/parallel-opalestina

Canadian BDS Coalition bdscoalition.ca

Palestine Solidarity Network (Edmonton, Canada) psnedmonton.ca

People for Peace (London, Canada)

United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI) www.unjppi.org

Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR), Canada www.usw.ca/act/activism/soar

Boundary Peace Initiative boundarypeace.20m.com

Mid-Islanders for Justice and Peace in the Middle East midislanders.com

Palestine Solidarity Working Group (Sudbury, Canada)

B.C. Southern Interior Peace Coalition (Canada)

Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (Victoria, Canada) caiavictoria.ca

Hawai’i Peace and Justice www.wp.hawaiipeaceandjustice.org

Hawai’i Coalition for Justice in Palestine www.facebook.com/HawaiiCoalition4JusticeInPalestine

Malu ‘Aina Center for Nonviolence Education malu-aina.org

Break the Maritime Blockade of Gaza (BMBG)

EBN – End Blockade Now

Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine www.aurdip.fr

Collectif inter-universitaire pour la coopération avec les universités palestiniennes www.aurdip.fr/_cicup-35_.html

Comité de Vigilance pour une Paix Réelle au Proche-Orient plateforme-palestine.org/Comite-de-Vigilance-pour-une-Paix-Reelle-au-Proche-Orient

Comité La Courneuve-Palestine (France) lacourneuve-palestine.fr

Zambra Málaga www.asociacionzambra.org

Confederación General de Trabajadores: Huelva, Málaga, Osuna (Spain) www.cgtandalucia.org

Christian Peacemaker Teams (Palestine) www.cptpalestine.com

Independent Jewish Voices / Voix juives indépendantes (Canada) ijvcanada.org

Palestinian Forum in Britain PFB

Europal Forum (UK) europalforum.org.uk

BDS Colombia

BDS Slovenia

New Zealand Palestine Solidarity Network (Aotearoa / NZ) www.palestinesolidaritynz.net

Palestine Human Rights Campaign (Aotearoa / NZ) palestine.org.nz

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There’s No Beautifying israel’s Treatment of Palestinian Children

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By Sarit Michaeli,

The central problem at the heart of Israel’s half-century old military court system is clear: these courts will never reflect the interests of the defendants, but rather that of the regime of occupation.

Featured image: Israeli border police officer chases Palestinian children during land day demonstration in Damascus gate, East Jerusalem, March 30, 2014. (Source: Activestills.org via +972 Magazine)

Israeli occupation apologists masquerading as protectors of Palestinian children in military detention? Few displays of alternative facts should shock us these days, but somehow an upcoming event by the Israeli right-wing group NGO Monitor’s at the UN Palais De Nations in Geneva comes close. Under the Orwellian title “Protecting Children: The realities of Israeli Military Juvenile Justice in a Terror Environment,” the event planned for Sept 25th features such doyens of child protection as the former IDF Chief West Bank Prosecutor, Lt. Col. (Res) Maurice Hirsch.

A recent recruit to the Israeli hasbara (public relations) industry, Hirsch seems committed to denying Israel’s 50 year-long occupation — instead, he euphemistically refers to “the changing borders of the State of Israel” — as well as trying to legitimize Israel’s military court system, which has faced broad criticism by British experts, UNICEF, as well as B’Tselem, for its systematic and widespread mistreatment of Palestinian minors.

Hirsch oversaw the prosecution’s part in the assembly line that forces virtually all Palestinian minors prosecuted by the army to accept conviction by plea bargains — which usually lead to incarceration. In 2015, the last year for which official data is available, 95 percent of the approximately 540 Palestinian minors indicted in the military courts were convicted. This is done through interrogations that violate minors’ rights, such that they incriminate themselves and others; these incriminations are later presented to the military court, with no other evidence. Military courts deny most minors bail and the few exceptions are routinely appealed by the military prosecution, which is also responsible for the high percent of indictments – 62 percent of the 871 minors arrested in 2015.

In response to criticism, Israel has implemented tried and true tactic: cosmetic changes that enable it to continue imprisoning Palestinian children. These included several changes to the military legislation, such as formalizing the age for prosecuting Palestinians as adults, the establishment of the military court for youth, and changes in detention and remand periods. Legal cosmetics, however, will not meaningfully improve the treatment of Palestinian minors or the protection of their rights.

Israel soldiers in a courtroom at the Ofer Military Court near the West Bank town of Beitunia, February 8, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israel soldiers in a courtroom at the Ofer Military Court near the West Bank town of Beitunia, February 8, 2015. (Source: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israel has also attempted to deflect criticism by initiating a “secret dialogue” with UNICEF, the UN program that provides humanitarian assistance to children in developing countries, in order to improve its image. But according to the latest UNICEF update, “the data demonstrates the need for further actions to improve the protection of children in military detention, as reports of alleged ill-treatment of children during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014.” And this comes following the “secret dialogue”. Official Israeli statistics present a large increase in the numbers of Palestinian minors serving prison sentences since the round of violence that broke out in late 2015, and a renewal of administrative detention of minors. All this indicates that the situation has not improved, and that the system still rejects the principle that the detention of minors should be a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate time.

The central problem at the heart of Israel’s half-century old military court system is clear: these courts do not – and never will – reflect the interests of the defendants, but rather that of the regime of occupation. Under Israel’s two separate and unequal legal systems, military judges and prosecutors act as Israeli army officers enforcing martial law over a civilian Palestinian population living under military rule.

In 2012, a delegation of eminent British jurists concluded that

“it may be that much of the reluctance to treat Palestinian children in conformity with international norms stems from a belief, which was advanced to us by a military prosecutor, that every Palestinian child is a ‘potential terrorist’. Such a stance seems to us to be the starting point of a spiral of injustice.”

The jurists did not speak to Hirsch, who took up his post in 2013, but his conduct seems to reflect a similar position: treating all Palestinian child detainees, regardless of age, as terrorists, while denying Israel’s obligations as an occupying power in the West Bank.

Israeli Border Police officer detains a Palestinian child at a protest in Kufr Qaddum, January 25, 2013. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Israeli Border Police officer detains a Palestinian child at a protest in Kufr Qaddum, January 25, 2013. (Source: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

In 2016, bloggers Noam Rotem and John Brown revealed a series of private Facebook posts published by Hirsch, in which he demanded to hang the killers who committed the horrific killing of five members of the Fogel Family in March 2011, and for the “elimination” of Hamas heads on a daily basis until Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is freed. According to Rotem and Brown, these comments “reflect on the head of the military prosecution in the West Bank, who should at least pay lip service to providing a fair hearing for Palestinians.” Hirsch’s deeply disturbing indictment of a troubled 12-year-old Palestinian girl, arrested near a settlement carrying a concealed knife is another telling indication of his take on protecting Palestinian children, with the entire military legal system’s backing and participation. The girl was sentenced to four-and-a-half months in prison, of which she served two-and-a-half months, eventually released following an international outcry.

The steady entrenchment of Israel’s occupation and dispossession of Palestinians, while eliciting some condemnation, has not yet led to meaningful international action. Still, the abuse of Palestinian minors in the military court system is one of the few matters that some countries have been willing to take up seriously with Israel. This is the context of the forthcoming event in Geneva: yet another example of NGO Monitor’s role in promoting Israeli government’s propaganda while smearing critical human rights groups. Now they have moved to trying to justify systematic abusive treatment of minors. But no PR exercise can eliminate the contradiction in terms known to the world as Israel’s “military justice system.” Only ending the occupation will.

Sarit Michaeli is B’Tselem’s international advocacy officer.

Ignore the spin, the siege of Gaza endangers everyone, israelis included, so end it now

Ignore the spin, the siege of Gaza endangers everyone, Israelis included, so end it now

By Alastair Sloan | MEMO | September 16, 2017

Palestinian children sit on a horse cart in Gaza [file photo]

Save the Children reckons that the Israelis have delivered a major project in record time, with the Gaza Strip described in the NGO’s latest report as “unliveable.” The United Nations made its own prediction in 2012, giving the territory until 2020 before it would be at that inhospitable stage.

As autumn wears on and some three years ahead of the UN deadline, the Israeli government has turned basic essentials such as food, water, hospital access, education and shelter into luxury items in an enclave that the state and its supporters still claim somewhat disingenuously to have “withdrawn” from in 2005.

Of course, Save the Children and the UN aren’t to be trusted; it you pay heed to the pro-Israel lobby you will know this. The lobby has a convenient conspiracy theory that the UN is engaged in “anti-Semitism” rather than reasonable criticism of the Israeli state and its policies. Much of this lobby nonsense comes from mysterious pro-Israel organisations like “UN Watch”, which routinely derides UN predictions and announcements the moment that they are made public.

Another such group is “NGO Monitor”; it has already dismissed the Save the Children report as a “renewed anti-Israel campaign.” Which, of course, it is, and rightly so. This group condemns the respected NGO for daring to publicise the suffering of children, and suggests that Save the Children “should return to a policy of providing aid without adopting the Palestinian political narrative.”

Telling NGOs what they can and cannot do and say is in vogue in Israel, much as it is in autocratic Turkey or Hungary, but the illogical positions of NGO Monitor are still worth exposing. Consider this: “[Save the Children] also called on Israel to blindly ‘lift the Gaza blockade’ without acknowledging the rationale behind it.” NGO Monitor claims that the siege is in place, “to prevent weapon smuggling into Hamas-controlled Gaza.”

We should test this thesis that it is all the fault of Hamas, and the Israeli-led blockade of Gaza is simply the state acting in self-defence.

Fifteen year old Ali suffers from cerebral palsy, and is an example of the kind of problems engulfing a Palestinian youngster which NGO Monitor cannot have missed because his story was included in the press release which accompanied the charity’s report. Ali’s mother Yara told Save the Children:

“My son is dying in front of my eyes. He can’t sleep most nights, and suffers from continuous pain. We don’t have enough power to get his electric wheelchair and mattress fully charged. If his wheelchair doesn’t get charged, he suffers psychologically, as he sees people around him move and walk but he can’t. He feels depressed and often fights with other children. When the wheelchair runs out of battery, Ali becomes totally paralysed. He also needs constant showers as he is wearing diapers, but there is no water. We don’t get water unless there is electricity. If I don’t change his diapers and wash him regularly he will suffer from skin rashes and other problems. We have not had any tap water for two days. I feel suffocated.”

The problem here then, as with so many of the problems outlined in the report, is primarily one of electricity, or the lack thereof. This is why Ali is growing up soaked by his urine and faeces, is unnecessarily paralysed and is suffering psychologically as he grapples with one of the world’s most cruel medical conditions.

In April, Gaza’s sole power plant was forced to shut down after completely exhausting its fuel reserves; the company which runs the plant was unable to obtain fuel due to a shortage of funds. How this makes Israel any safer is unclear, but its government claims that the blockade is all about security. Having 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza in darkness surely doesn’t make Israelis more secure, does it?

Likewise the contamination of Gaza’s water supply. The Palestinian Water Authority and the UN have now warned that the territory’s fresh water aquifer, shared by Israel and Egypt, may be “completely contaminated” by the end of this year. Israel says it won’t let in more aid or spare parts to repair the water treatment plants that it destroyed in its 2008/9 military offensive. Why? Because of Hamas. That, though, doesn’t explain why Israel has repeatedly refused to allow UN Environment Programme inspectors to assess the water situation and try to improve it.

As yet another curious pro-Israel lobby organisation – the American-Israeli Co-operative Enterprise (AICE) – puts it, “There is indeed a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but it is not to be blamed on Israel.” Thus does the lobby acknowledge the pain that is being caused, and yet it denies that its favoured state, Israel, has anything to do with it, despite controlling everything that goes into or comes out of the Gaza Strip. “Israel has consistently sent aid in many forms through the border,” claims AICE, “and the blockade will be lifted once the violent Hamas government is ousted and the people of the Gaza Strip are ready to live in peace with Israel as their neighbour.”

There is no suggestion by the lobby that Israel, which is the relative newcomer in the neighbourhood, might decide to live in peace with the Palestinians. It is, after all, Israel which has repeatedly broken ceasefires, before telling the world that Hamas started firing rockets. It is also a fact that Hamas can be remarkably quiet when given the choice. Every few years, however, the Israelis re-invade Gaza unnecessarily, launching massive military offensives with accompanying death and destruction, and then withdraw, killing, maiming or traumatising a million children in the process.

The reality is that the siege of Gaza is a manifestation of Israeli military weakness. There is no chance that Israel will re-take Gaza from Hamas by force; the resistance movement not only enjoys general popular support amongst Palestinians but, more importantly, is also expert in the kind of guerrilla warfare that the founders of Israel used to such devastating effect themselves not so many years ago. Conventional armies of the kind that Israel deploys never, ever, win against Middle Eastern militias, particularly those with a religious mindset faced with a Western-backed enemy.

The siege tactic is the only option that the Israeli government can resort to. Ten years on, it appears to be working. As making somewhere “unliveable” is essentially a form of ethnic cleansing by what claims to be a democracy, a coterie of propaganda organisations and lots of media-spin groups are required to defend Israel and gloss over that very distasteful fact.

Perhaps these spin doctors should be asking their government why it can’t defend its citizens, who all pay for the Israel Defence Forces. The answer – or their own conclusion – might then be, because the increasingly right-wing governments of Israel which control the military are stubborn and stupid. They alone are endangering the people of Israel every day through their thankless and pointless siege. So ignore the spin, the siege needs to end now, not in 2020; that will be too late for all concerned.

Read also:

Poverty rate hits 80% in Gaza

Oslo: 24 years of Palestinian losses

WHO: Israel hinders 40% of Gaza patients’ access to health care abroad

Document: British Officials Disturbed by Israeli Child Rights Abuses

Document: British Officials Disturbed by Israeli Child Rights Abuses

A Palestine Solidarity Campaign-led rally in London. (Photo: via PSC, file)

Newly published government documents have revealed considerable concern amongst British officials about human rights abuses experienced by Palestinian children at the hands of Israeli authorities.

The documents, released under the Freedom of Information Act, are a stark contrast to the warm support offered to the Israeli government in public by Prime Minister Theresa May and other leading Conservatives. Some information regarding contacts with Israeli officials was redacted.

In April 2017, an email sent from the British Consulate General in Jerusalem noted the “widespread use” of administrative detention – that is, without charge or trial – by Israeli authorities, including “15 [Palestinian] children held without charge during reporting period”.

In July 2016, meanwhile, an email sent from the British Embassy in Tel Aviv reported that “the number of minors detained in East Jerusalem…has exploded from previous years”, and described “the reintroduction of the use of administrative detention of minors” as a worrying trend”.

The same email acknowledged “limited progress” in the Israeli authorities’ adoption of recommendations made by a UK-sponsored Children in Military Custody report in 2012. “Overall”, the email states, just “one of the 40 recommendations…has been substantially implemented”.

Other emails from British officials note Israeli forces’ abuse of detainees, and use of lethal violence against Palestinians, including Khaled Bahar, “shot and killed” by an Israeli soldier “from a distance of about 20 meters, striking him in the back as he was running away”.

Last month, in a separate Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the Foreign Office declined to identify what boundaries of the Israeli state the UK government recognizes. Meanwhile, another FOI revealed that up to five British nationals are currently detained in Israel – the precise number of reported cases was withheld, “to avoid the risk of identifying the individuals concerned”.

israel denies aid workers visas

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MEMO | September 5, 2017

Humanitarian aid sent by Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD) and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) are being distributed in Gaza City, Gaza on 16 July, 2017 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Israel has suspended granting work visas to foreign charity workers delivering aid to Palestinians, according to AFP. Humanitarian organisations have noted numerous refusals or delays on the part of the Israeli government for over a year, affecting dozens of aid workers as they try to enter the country.

“This situation could escalate into crippled humanitarian operations,” a senior aid worker told AFP. “A country director who is waiting outside the country for months means timely delivery of aid will be affected.”

Israel has suspended various visas since August 2016, and in June of this year stopped issuing the B1 work visa, the most common documentation sought by those working with NGOs. Many are left working illegally on tourist visas only and fear that they could be expelled at any time.

Israeli authorities deny that the delays have been intentional and the Ministry of Social Affairs has attributed them to “ongoing inter-ministerial considerations regarding the applications approval procedure”.

Read: 15 Gazans die after Israel denies them treatment

Aid workers however, cite the length and extent of the refusals as evidence of other motives, pointing to the recent Israeli decision that would give the government the right to deny entry to those who support the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement. They argue that the right wing stance of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government have resulted in their work being curtailed.

In the past, Israel has accused aid workers of supporting Hamas, and the Gaza head of the international Christian charity World Vision Mohammed El-Halabi, is currently on trial after facing such allegations. He denies all charges.

In February, Israel also refused a visa to the US head of Human Rights Watch, claiming the group was “fundamentally biased” towards Palestinians. The authorities were forced to reverse the decision following international condemnation.

Palestinians in the occupied territories and the besieged Gaza Strip are heavily dependent on aid, the vast majority of which is distributed by international charities crossing through Israel. Such dependency has only increased in recent months as the situation in Gaza deteriorates even further. The coastal enclave faces an energy, water and healthcare crisis prompting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on his visit to the region last week to label conditions as “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises that I’ve seen”.

 

Review of Gaza Girls, Growing up in the Gaza Strip

By Eve Mykytyn

Monique Jaques’ new book, Gaza Girls, Growing up in the Gaza Strip, is a study of young women living and often thriving in the difficult conditions that are present day Gaza. Jaques is a news photographer based in Turkey, who has covered the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iraq and West Africa. Her work has appeared in many news outlets, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

In 2004, Jaques documented the eight day war between Hamas and Israel. While covering the war, she became curious about the everyday life of girls growing up in Gaza. As Jaques writes, “Gaza is a troubled land— a 45-square-mile district, isolated by towering concrete blast walls, reams of barbed wire and foreign soldiers who patrol its perimeters.

After years of blockades and travel restrictions, the territory is shut off from the rest of the world. At night the never-ending buzz of drones lull you into a light sleep under their watchful din. If you stand on the beach you can see lights coming from Israel — a land that you will never be able to touch. Boundaries and surveillance define your existence and growing up there isn’t easy.”

But there is still the experience of growing up. “Like many peers around the world, these girls are figuring out who they are in a world built by grown-ups. Navigating girlhood is universal, even if the circumstances are not.”

Her experience as a war time photographer shows in her pictures. You can’t help but examine each picture carefully; Jaques has made each picture a story in itself. She shows moments of joy, and moments of girlhood; girls sitting on beds sharing secrets. We stare in wonder at the girls on surfboards, what are they doing out there?

There is a girl on horseback, and one singing in a music studio. Some of the older women portrayed are medical students and police officers (albeit in traditional covered dress), but there is a telling photo of a bride dressed in white, and totally covered from head to toe. We cannot see the woman that this bride is. A young girl stands next to her staring off in the distance. We are left to wonder if this is a modern society or a traditional one?

The book is not intended as a political statement. Still, any portrayal of Gaza raises political questions, at least in the mind of the viewer. Too many pictures portray children sitting in the dark because there is no electricity. We see girls in bomb shelters and girls attending weekly protests against the partition of Gaza and the West Bank. We fear a little for the girl in the boat. What will happen if she strays too far from shore? We are forced to wonder, what will happen to these beautiful young girls?

Jacques lets the pictures tell the story. Her book is available now on kickstarter.

Source: http://mwcnews.net

62% rise in israel’s arrests of Palestinian children

62% rise in Israel’s arrests of Palestinian children

MEMO | July 19, 2017

Palestinian children are often beaten and strip searched at arrest

Some 331 Palestinian minors were arrested by Israel between January and May this year, a 62 per cent increase on figures from 2012 to 2015, NGO Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) revealed yesterday.

According to a report released by the human rights group, Israeli forces regularly abuse Palestinian children, depriving them of food, subjecting them to beatings and preventing them from accessing legal counsel.

Accountability Programme Director at DCIP, Ayed Abu Eqtaish, stated: “For over a decade, ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system has been widespread and systematic.”

From the persistent and institutionalised ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children, to the systematic denial of their due process rights, emerges a system of control far removed from justice.

DCIP records of cases between January and June also show that 81 per cent of Palestinian children were strip searched upon detention, two thirds were denied legal counsel prior to interrogation and only three had a parent present during proceedings.

Read: Palestinian boy, 13, loses eye after Israeli forces shoot him

The report details that one of the youngest children to be detained was 12-year-old Suheib from a refugee camp in the occupied Ramallah-area. He was allegedly throwing stones when he was knocked to the ground by Israeli officers and then restrained, beaten and blindfolded. He was subsequently held overnight at a police station where he was interrogated and denied food for 24 hours.

In another case, a 13-year-old boy known only as Anas M. was tortured as an Israeli soldier grabbed his neck and attempted to strangle him.

Israel prosecutes up to 700 children each year in military courts. Last month DCIP held a congressional meeting on the situation of Palestinian children over 50 years of illegal occupation, concluding that Israel’s actions against minors outdoes all security rationale

 

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