No Reconstruction in Gaza–But Be Careful, It Might Become ‘Anti-Semitic’ to Say So

The video above shows us what the people of Gaza are living through currently as the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016 makes its way through Congress. The bill, which passed the Senate on December 1, would codify into law a definition of anti-Semitism that includes attempts to “demonize” Israel or hold it to a “double standard.” By the way, the “caravans” referred to in the video are portable buildings made of metal–basically what we would refer to in the United States as “mobile homes,” although I gather that the caravans given to Palestinians in Gaza do not quite meet the same safety standards as the mobile homes sold in the US.

But of course, if you’re a college student and you’re planning on criticizing the Zionist state over any of this, beware that requiring of Israel “a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” could result in your school being denied federal funds should the new bill become law. If you’ve not read my article on the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, you can do so here.

Israel Aids Nepalese Victims, Blocks Gaza Reconstruction

by Stephen Lendman

Israel and America give double standard hypocrisy new meaning. Washington wages endless direct and proxy wars of aggression claiming humanitarian intervention.
Israeli occupation harshness is nearly seven decades old. Besieged Gazans suffer most – preemptively attacked by land, sea and air at Israel’s discretion, isolated in the world’s largest open-air prison.
Last summer’s genocidal war left large parts of Gaza in ruins – besides committing mass murder, including willfully massacring mostly noncombatant men, women, children, infants and the elderly.
According to UNRWA, “(n)ot a single home has been rebuilt” – eight months after Israel’s genocidal war ended.
UNWRA spokesman Chris Gunness reports “(t)o date, 9,161 Palestinian refugee houses have been considered totally destroyed and 5,066 have suffered severe (damage), 4,085 major (damage), an 124,792 minor damages.”
To date, UNWRA received “funding to reconstruct (only) 200 of the 9,161 houses totally destroyed.”
According to Metal and Engineering Industries Union vice president Muhammad Hamad, Israel blocks 85% of needed construction equipment and metal materials from entering Gaza.
In early March, Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement executive director Eitan Diamond said:
“Six months after the fighting, not a single house destroyed during the last round of hostilities has been rebuilt.”
“Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless and living in tents. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed.”
Gaza’s economy is in ruins. Its 1.8 million people are suffering hugely – ruthless Israeli collective punishment according to unenforced international law.
Gisha spokesperson Shai Grunberg said “Gaza’s population needs an economic future.” Israel’s illegal siege must end.
“Merchants and business people must be allowed to exit Gaza in order to revive business connections and make new ones, sign deals, reconnect with the markets, and rebuild factories.”
“Young people must be allowed to get an education and reunite with family. The restrictions on the passage of goods must be lifted” straightaway.
Israel systematically refuses – even after pledging during last year’s Cairo peace talks to do so.
Following Nepal’s devastating April 25 earthquake, the region’s worst in 80 years, Israel sent 260 IDF medical and military personnel to Kathmandu – double standard hypocrisy and then some.
Its team set up a field hospital with 60 beds. On Wednesday, it began operations in coordination with Kathmandu’s army hospital.
Around 2,000 Israelis were in Nepal when disaster struck. Dozens of backpackers were stranded. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said only one of its nationals remains unaccounted for. Four planes and helicopters airlifted Israelis out.
No Israeli relief money was sent. Washington sent a paltry $10 million. Israel sent a large rescue team over 3,000 miles allegedly to help its nationals and Nepalese victims in need.
Israeli media touted its mission irresponsibly. A Hebrew University study “rank(ed) (Israel) near the bottom among leading free-market economies in providing foreign aid to developing nations.”
Washington fares no better. It’s so-called foreign aid is largely military-related benefitting its own agenda.
Israel’s so-called disaster relief combines self-promotion propaganda with exploiting local populations.
Its aid mission to Haiti following its January 2010 devastating earthquake was accused of organ trafficking.
In November 2009, Alison Weir reported on Israeli organ trafficking and theft from Moldova to Palestine.
She cited an earlier Donald Bostrom’s article in Sweden’s Ftonbladet suggesting Israel’s military illicitly removes removes body parts – including from Palestinians. According to Weir:
“…Israeli organ harvesting – sometimes with Israeli governmental funding and the participation of high Israeli officials, prominent Israeli physicians, and Israeli ministries – has been documented for many years. Among the victims have been Palestinians.”
Medical anthropology/Organ Watch founder Nancy Scheper-Hughes says “Israel is at the top” among nations engaging in organ trafficking.
“It has tentacles reaching out worldwide,” she said. It has a pyramid system at work that’s awesome.”
“They have brokers everywhere, bank accounts everywhere. They’ve got recruiters. They’ve got translators. They’ve got travel agents who set up the visas.”
They pay “the poor and the hungry to slowly dismantle their bodies” or simply take what they want from fresh corpses.”
Body parts are commodities, to be harvested and sold to the rich, even though organ sales are prohibited in most countries, but not under international law.
Is Israel’s Nepal mission more about “rescuing” organs and body parts than helping stranded Israelis and Nepalese victims? It has nothing to do with providing humanitarian aid.
At the same time, it continues ruthlessly persecuting Palestinians – besieged Gazans most of all.
Nepalese victims make daily headlines. Long-suffering Gazans are totally ignored – including Israel’s willful reconstruction blockade.
It’s just a matter of time before its forces smash up more of Gaza – along with murdering and maiming thousands more Palestinians defenseless against its onslaught.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Palestinians in Gaza call for united rally to break the siege December 28, urge international support

nif

SYRIA 360°

Posted on December 25, 2014

The National and Islamic Forces in the Gaza Strip have called for a massive popular rally in Gaza on Sunday, December 28, demanding the immediate end to the siege on Gaza and the reconstruction of Gaza without delay. In a press conference held near Beit Hanoun crossing on Tuesday, December 23, Comrade Jamil Mizher, member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and leader of its branch in Gaza said that

“we have decided to collectively mobilize all of the Palestinian people to bang on the walls of the tank through a mass popular rally which will include all Palestinian factions, to pressure the international community to take action to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip.”

The mass march will take place in Beit Hanoun and there will also be rallies in Zeitoun, Shujaiya, central Gaza, Khan Younis and Rafah.

“The occupation has violated all of the understandings on which the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip is based; these understandings stipulated a halt to all forms of aggression and an end to the siege, but the occupation state has abandoned and violated all of its agreements and the siege and closure is worse than it was in the past.”

“There is the potential for a popular explosion in Gaza considering the ongoing enforced delay in the reconstruction of Gaza,” Mizher said, urging Arab national and Islamic forces and international forces to accelerate their efforts to end the Israeli siege on Gaza and She stressed that the delay in the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, the world will pay the price and the Zionist occupation, warning that the occupation of the popular explosion will serve as a barrel of gunpowder explode at any moment. ”

They called on the national and Islamic forces of the Arab world and the European to accelerate the lifting of the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip and allow the free passage of goods and people. Further, they demanded that Palestinian Authority officials act to pressure the Egyptian government to open the Rafah crossing immediately on a permanent basis. Further, the forces reiterated their rejection of the so-called Serry plan for the reconstruction of Gaza, saying “this plan is rejected on a popular level…the national interests of the Palestinian people cannot be placed under the governance of the occupier.” They noted the complete failure of the United Nations to act decisively to implement the reconstruction of Gaza, instead accommodating the demands of the occupier and the destroyer.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine urged Palestinian and Arab communities and friends of Palestine around the world to support the call of the Palestinian people of Gaza to end the siege immediately and stand with this popular movement to break the siege and the marches and rallies on December 28.

“The suffering of the people of Gaza has continued and has reached a truly disastrous situation. The Zionist crimes have continued, the effects and repercussions of the aggression persist and have spread to impact all aspects of life in the Strip, through the intensification of the siege, causing social problems, increasing unemployment, poverty and inflation in light of the continued closure and siege on Gaza, especially the lifeline of Rafah crossing,” said the Front.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

UN predictions fall short: Gaza uninhabitable today

The coastal road bridge linking central Gaza to Gaza City, targeted again in Nov 2012. Photo by Eva Bartlett ingaza.wordpress.com
Dec 21, 2014, RT Op-Edge
By Eva Bartlett
Five months ago the world watched in horror as the bully of the Middle East, Israel, launched the most brutal massacre on the Palestinians of Gaza since the Nakba (perhaps more brutal, Palestinian friends in Gaza have said).
Lasting over twice as long as the 2008-09 war on Gaza (formerly the most-brutal massacre since the Nakba), and killing over 800 more Palestinians than in the attack six years ago, the July-August 51-day offensive killed 2,131 Palestinians and injured over 11,000, and destroyed tens of thousands of homes, buildings, businesses, hospitals, Gaza’s only power plant and other key components of Gaza’s infrastructure.
Palestinian and foreign activists and journalists within the 40 kilometer-long strip of open-air prison tweeted and live-streamed images more horrific than the best Hollywood productions. Weathered journalists broke down sobbing at the sight of Palestinian civilians, especially childrenbeing targeted like prey by one of the world’s most wickedly powerful armies and navies. Doctors who have seen the mutilated corpses and scarcely-living bodies of Palestinian elderly, men, women and children many times before were yet still appalled by the brutality of these latest attacks.
Worldwide, protesters, journalists of integrity called the bombardment of Gaza genocidal(asIsraeli officials and politicians called for genocide). One of the most shocking of many images was that of 4-year-old Saher Abu Namous‘s half blown-off head, his father cradling him and wailing.Entire families were murdered in this latest Israeli offensive. Not for the first time, the Israeli army bombed schools hosting internally displacedhospitals (includinga rehabilitation hospital for disabled and invalid), and entire neighborhoods.
As with prior military operations, the Israelis in 2014 targeted water and sewage lines, electricity networks, hospitals, primary health centersambulances and medics, bridges and major roads, key governmental buildings, schools and universities.They went further and attacked water, electricity and sanitation personnel, killing at least 14, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted. The resulting electricity, water and sanitation crises are such that until November, power was out 18 hours a day, and just 10 percent of the 1.8 million Palestinians get water once a day (for a matter of hours). As of mid-November, Oxfam reported, power cuts were 12 hours per day in some areas.
While the bombs rained down, some Israelis pulled up seats to watch the bloodshed, as21st Century Wire noted“Old sofas, garden chairs, battered car seats and upturned crates provide seating for the spectators. …Some bring bottles of beer or soft drinks and snacks. …Nearly all hold up smartphones to record the explosions or to pose grinning, perhaps with thumbs up, for selfies against a backdrop of black smoke.”
The Israeli army used the same banned weapons on Palestinians this summer that they’ve used in the past two massacres, as well as “armour piercing bombs” which have “high explosive capabilities” and were used on Palestinian homes. Weapons-seekers flocked to Israel after seeing the effects of its weaponry and technology. Israel’s weapons industry thrives with each massacre of the Gaza testing ground.

Strangling and starving Gaza

In September 2005, the 8,500 Israeli colonists finally, unwillingly leave their homes on stolen land. With no Jewish colonists in Gaza, Israel has since been free to lock-down all of Gaza and bomb whenever the whim occurs, with no fear of any Israeli loss of life. The Israelis have waged wars against Gaza every year or two since pulling their colonists out.
Since the June 28, 2006 Israeli repeating bombing of Gaza’s sole power plant—destroying all six transformers – Palestinians in Gaza have neither been allowed to import the transformers and materials needed to rehabilitate the plant, nor offered an alternative solution. Through the now-destroyed tunnels, Palestinians did import smaller transformers and got the power plant hobbling again, but never to full capacity.
In a 2006 report on Israel’s bombing of Gaza’s power plant, B’Tselem called for Israel to:
Cover the expenses needed to return the power plant to full capacity; Finance the upgrading of the infrastructure to transfer electricity from Israel to the Gaza Strip; Permit the entry of the equipment needed to rehabilitate the power plant, without delay.
However, Israel did none of the obliged, nor has it ever paid (in any sense of the word) for the reconstruction of buildings and infrastructure it has repeatedly targeted over the years.
The supply of electricity bought from Israel and Egypt doesn’t suffice for Gaza’s now 1.8 million Palestinians. The crisis impacts on every facet of life: hospital functions, sanitation, water supply, refrigerators and appliances, and education.

Palestinian fishing boat machine-gunned then shelled by Israeli navy. The boat was destroyed. Photo by Eva Bartlett ingaza.wordpress.com
In 2006, B’Tselem noted: “The sewage system is on the verge of collapse.” Mohammed Omer’s photos of the village of Um al-Nasser, flooded with overflown sewage in 2007, should have been a wakeup-call if official institutional and NGO warnings are not. At least five drowned in their own sewage, including an infant. A year ago, reports from Gaza showed the misery of Palestinians’ homes flooded with a combination of that same overflown sewage compounded by heavy rains. Kids waded through sewage to get to school; elderly were, if lucky, paddled by small fishing boats. This, save the rains, was entirely preventable…if the UN and influential world bodies and leaders truly cared and dared to face up to the Israeli lobby.
In 2010, it was revealed that the Israeli authorities were implementing a plan to starve Palestinians. “The security establishment had calculated the number of calories consumed by Gaza residents and used it to establish a ‘humanitarian minimum’, a bottom line to which it was possible to reduce food supply to Gaza without causing hunger or malnutrition….These procedures included mathematical formulas for calculating the quantities of food and the basic products Israel would allow into the Gaza Strip.” The idea was mentioned back in 2006, when Dov Weissglass said, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.
Power outages, 95 percent undrinkable water, constant fuel and cooking gas shortages, sewage andsanitation crises, a shattered economy (unemployment at 45 percent) and manufactured poverty rendering 80 percent of the population dependent on inadequate and dignity-shattering food aid hand-outs (no vegetables or fruit, high carb, almost no protein); food insecurity (72 percent insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity), stunting (31.4 percent) and anemia (72.8 percent) among children. This is Gaza, and with each passing month, even each day, life is less and less tolerable. In August, 2012, UNRWA questioned if by 2020 Gaza would be a livable place. We don’t have to wait till 2020 for Gaza to be declared unlivable: it already is unlivable by any standards.

No crossing them

Since 2008, Israel has incrementally closed down three of Gaza’s four commercial crossings, depriving Palestinians of adequate means for import and export. At present, the only operating (I use that term lightly) crossings are: Karem Abu Salem (commercial), Erez (transit), and Rafah (transit). The closure of Karni crossing, closed in March 2011, dramatically impacted on Gaza’s economy. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) noted that Karni “is the biggest crossing in the Gaza Strip, in terms of its capacity to absorb the flow of imports and exports.Gisha noted that Karni, the “main transit point (via truck) for goods” was “partially closed in 2007 save for the movement of grain and animal feed via conveyer belt. The conveyer belt was shut down in 2011.”
Nahal Oz crossing, closed in 2010, was the primary point for entry of gas and other fuel. And the closed Sufa crossing was notably the main point of entry of construction materials. The sole remaining commercial crossing, Karem Abu Salem, does not have the capacity to allow in the amount of goods needed, assuming the Israelis were to allow them entrance in the first place.
Al Akhbar reported: “Karm Abu Salem crossing has a maximum capacity to receive 450 trucks a day while the Gaza Strip needs a total of 1,000 trucks every day of the year without any interruptions. Today, the crossing is not working in full capacity, allowing only about 320 trucks to pass through each day. …According to the Gaza Chamber of Commerce, the crossing closed down for 130 days in 2014, which means it was not operational for 35 per cent of the year.”
PCHR noted that closure of Karem Abu Salem has meant a cooking gas crisis. “Israeli authorities only allow an average of 98 tons of cooking gas into Gaza per day. This limited quantity is less than half of the daily needs, which is 200 tons per day of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip during winter. The crisis has unprecedentedly aggravated for around six weeks due to cold weather and overconsumption in addition to the power outage and using gas as an alternative in many instances of electricity. The lack of diesel and benzene led to the aggravation of the crisis as a result of using the gas cylinder for cars or as an alternative for benzene to run generators.
Before ever visiting Gaza, I recall reading on how Palestinians overcame these fuel crises. At one point, they used cooking oil as fuel for their vehicles (“Gaza smelled like one big falafel shop,” I was told). They also used their kerosene lanterns (baboor) to cook over, that one I saw. The Israelis learned of their ingenuity and added kerosene to the banned items list.
Palestinian farmland, bulldozed endlessly by Israeli military bulldozers, destroying crops and livelihoods. Photo by Eva Bartlett
ingaza.wordpress.com
Israel has shattered Gaza’s economy in a variety of clever ways: firing on farmers and bulldozing and burning their land; firing on fishers and stealing their fishing boats and equipment; bombing businesses and factories and preventing the materials needed to rebuild; drastically restricting imports. And banning exports save a token few trucks when Israelis need palm leaves for Jewish holidays. Oxfam in December 2014 noted: “Under the blockade, exports from Gaza have fallen to around 2 percent of pre-blockade levels, with devastating impact on the economy. While some extremely limited exports to international markets have been approved, the transfer of produce to Palestinian markets in the West Bank – and markets in Israel – has been banned since 2007. These were traditionally the most important markets for producers in Gaza.” And it isn’t only produce. Furniture, clothing, and a surprising number of other goods which once flowed from Gaza’s borders are banned from being exported.

Art of war

Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert has shared the last three major wars with the Palestinians in Gaza. Recently, Israeli authorities banned him from entering Gaza, in spite of him maintaining a professional neutrality. Gilbert said: “I think the truth is the security risk because when I, as a white medical doctor with blue eyes and white hair, tell the real story of the realities in the sharp end of the Israeli attacks, the Palestinians change from being terrorists to being humans, the numbers change from being numbers to being people, and the children appear as yours and my children. …this is actually a danger to the Israeli narrative and, in a way, the global reputation of Israel, which is partially falling apart now.
Aside from Gilbert’s heart-breaking observations on the slaughter of Palestinians, he notes poignantly, “The average age is 17.6 years, …a child ghetto of 1.2 million children and young people are being denied the right to escape the bombs, to fly, because they cannot get out.” This, incidentally, was the third major massacre for Palestinians six years or older in Gaza since December 2008.

Omar Mukthar police station, bombed in first minutes of Israeli bombings at mid-day Dec 27, 2008.  Photo by Eva Bartlett ingaza.wordpress.com
Six years ago, I was a month into what would be a year and a half stay in Gaza (followed by another cumulative year and a half over the years). In December 2008, the situation in Gaza was already desperate. Back then, Palestinians in Gaza were already feeling the choke of closed borders, no exports, sadistically-limited imports (between 30-40 items), and the beginning of cold winter months during which they would suffer in darkness without the means to even heat water.
The 23-day in 2008-09 offensive killed over 1,400 Palestinians. I shared the three plus weeks of hell, losing my own fiends to Israeli bombs and bullets, meeting tortured parents and families whose children had been shot dead point blank by Israeli soldiers. Like Amer al Helu’s infant daughter Farah; like 4-year-old Ahmed al-Samouni with two bullets to his chest; like KhaledAbed Rabbo’s 2 and 7 year old children, shot dead by soldiers casually snacking on junk food.
Canada’s CBC interviewed then-frantic me some days after my medic friend Arafa was murdered by an Israeli dart-bomb shot directly at his ambulance, after the media building I was in was bombed, and after I had seen more mutilated bodies and white-phosphorous-charred skin than I could have imagined. My interview-balancing counterpart, a Canadian volunteering at an Israeli base, gushed about the weather and what a relaxed time he was having… and, oh yes (to the prompting of the CBC host), he did have to run down to the bomb shelter the other day. I’d just finished saying there were no bomb shelters in Gaza, everything was a target, the Israelis were even bombing schools, kindergartens, hospitals.

Arafa Abd el-Dayem, murdered by Israeli dart-bomb targeting his ambulance. Photo by Eva Bartlett ingaza.wordpress.com
The white phosphorus was a first for Gaza. The flechette bombs (shells packed with thousands of razor-sharp dart-nails) were old news. Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana was martyred by such a shell while filming victims of Israeli shelling in Johr ad-Dik in April 2008. Shana, like other Palestinian journalist maimed and martyred by Israeli attacks, wore the markings of a journalist when targeted.
Post-massacre, as I’d walked through the ruins of Ezbet Abed Rabbo to the east of Jabaliya, my friend from the neighborhood (whose mother was killed in the very first minutes of bombings as she walked to buy bread), joked in the way oppressed people do when getting on with life, “they make like art here,” gesturing to the graveyard of houses surrounding us.
In November 2012, the Israelis “mowed the law” again, murdering over 170 Palestinians. During the 8 days of slaughter, Israeli figures called to “blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages, destroying all the infrastructure including roads and water,” and to “Flatten all of Gaza. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing,” said the deputy Israeli Prime Minister Eli Yishai and Gilad Sharon respectively.
But these massacres haven’t been without a fight. In spite of the massive power imbalance, Palestinian resistance have fought back by any means possible, as is their right, as noted in the UN General Assembly. For those who call for Palestinians to be non-violent (they are, the media just doesn’t speak of the murdered, Bassem Abu Rahmes of Palestine), I quote political analyst Sukant Chandan:
What we have is a largely defenseless population who has been usurped historically, who have been boxed into a ghetto of nearly 2 million people, in a tiny strip of land… and these people haven’t got the right to resist? Absolutely Palestinians have the right to resist, and they should have more rockets, they should have better rockets, and they should have a Resistance that can match conventionally one of the biggest genocidal entities on the planet, which is the white, colonial state of ‘Israel’.”

Status Quo and 2015?

There are daily mini-massacres that go largely unnoticed, whether on the sea, in the Israeli-imposed “buffer zone” or by denying Palestinians the right to exit for health care unattainable within the confines of Gaza.
On December 6, Israeli gunboats machine-gunned Palestinian fishers 2-3 miles off the coast, surrounded and abducted 12 fishers, and stole their boats. A few days prior On Dec 3, a Palestinian fisherman was critically injured by shrapnel to his head after Israeli navy shelling, Maan News reported.
On November 22, an Israeli soldier shot and killed a Palestinian bird hunter 500 metres from the border, east of Jabaliya, shooting him in the back. The same day, in southeastern Gaza, an Israeli soldier shot a 17-year-old Palestinian in the chest. He was 1500 meters from the border. The combination of Israeli jeeps present at the border and the remotely-controlled machine gun towers make Gaza’s border region – the most fertile area of Gaza – a killing field.
Naturally, these incidents, daily realities for Palestinians, didn’t make the headlines.
Now, nearing the end of 2014, the reports coming out of Gaza are even more dismal than one could imagine. After lofty 5.4 billion pledges of rebuilding Gaza, virtually none of the 20, 000 homes destroyed or badly damaged, including entire neighborhoods like Sheyjaiyee, have been rebuilt. Palestinians stand blinking, wondering when and if that promise will materialize. At the end of October, the NY Times reported, “Officials say they have yet to collect a dime of the $5.4 billion that international donors have pledged to the effort.
Photo by Eva Bartlett

Third time the Israeli army has destroyed Jaber Rjila’s chicken farm and land. 2010. Photo by Eva Bartlett ingaza.wordpress.com
The 106,000 Palestinians rendered homeless (40,000 of whom are staying in emergency shelters; many others living in the shells of their homes or in ramshackle tents) face cold rains and flooding. In its latest situation report, UNRWA noted extreme weather in Gaza and said a state of emergency was declared on November 27 “in Gaza City after severe flooding over a 48 hour period,” noting the evacuation of hundreds in flooded areas in Sheikh Radwan district.
Sara Roy notes the insidious nature of what rebuilding plans there are: Israel gets to decide who (if any) receive cement and building materials, and a “permanent and complex permit and planning system similar to the one Israel uses in Area C of the West Bank, which is under total Israeli control,” is being planned for Gaza.
Oxfam’s December 2014 report notes that Gaza needs “at least 89,000 new homes, 226 new schools, as well as massive repairs to other infrastructure.” Even prior to the summer IDF military operation, Gaza faced a deficit of 71,000 housing units, OCHA notedGisha reported that “around 5 million tons of construction materials are required just for the most immediate needs. With 52,351 tons – or 1% – entering since the ceasefire, at this rate it would take more than 23 years to meet “immediate” needs alone.” According to PCHR, “For almost 8 consecutive years, Israeli forces have continued to prevent the delivery of construction materials to the Gaza Strip.
Egypt has kept the Rafah crossing closed since October 25, justifying this after a suicide bomb killed 33 Egyptian soldiers, even though there is no evidence linking the bombing and Gaza. Only as of November 26 was the crossing briefly opened (for 2 days), allowing just 300 Palestinians in Egypt to return to Gaza, and briefly again from November 30 to December 2. A reported 6,000 more Palestinians remain stranded in Egypt or third countries. In early December, OCHA reportedthat 10,000 Palestinians wait to exit Gaza, including over 1,000 medical patients.
Photo by Eva Bartlett

Aftermath of Israeli massacre of Gaza 2008/9. Ezbet Abed Rabbo. Photo by Eva Bartlett ingaza.wordpress.com
Egypt has also long-since destroyed the network of tunnels which were known as Gaza’s “lifeline” for a very good reason: they imported the goods, including building materials, that Palestinians needed and Israel bans. They also served as an alternative conduit to the normally closed Rafah crossing, and having seen them I can attest they were far more efficient than the bureaucracy of the Egyptians’ border crossing terminal. But they are largely extinct, and reports have Egypt creating a buffer zone extending 1 km to ensure the tunnels don’t re-manifest, and to tighten the already strangling noose on Palestinians in Gaza.
During the summer Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, protests raged around the world. Indian peace activist and journalist, Feroze Mithiborwali, noted at a recent Beirut conference in solidarity with Palestine, “In practically every town and city across India, there were pro-Gaza, pro-Palestine demonstrations. There was a continuous spate of protests across India.”South African delegate Firoz Osman, of Media Review Networksaid, “Two hundred thousand people came out to demonstrations to support Gaza. That’s even more than when Mandela was released.”
So there is an increased awareness of the unjust plight of Palestinians in Gaza and throughout occupied Palestine. But as we approach the end of the year, a time when much of the West will be preoccupied by holiday shopping and celebrations, will this awareness be enough to sustain pressure on Israel and prevent a new massacre of Gaza? Will it be enough to pressure both Israel and Egypt into allowing building materials into Gaza and opening the Rafah crossing to Palestinians needing to re-enter or to exit Gaza? Will it be enough for American citizens to call for an end to the billions of dollars of aid given to Israel, let alone munitions, including a reported 3,000 more precision-guided munitions of the type used over the summer? Or for British citizens to demand Britain endarms export to Israel?
Mads Gilbert said it spot on: “As a doctor, I say don’t send more bandages, don’t send more drugs, and don’t send equipment. Stop the bombing, lift the siege, treat the Palestinians as humans, include them in the human family, protect them by international law and find a peaceful political solution to the occupation of Palestine. That’s the preventative medicine of this mayhem that is going on.”
The status quo of Palestinian suffering in Gaza cannot continue as it has these past 8 years.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

December 16, 2014  /  Gilad Atzmon

Israel is shaken by the recent celebrations in Gaza.  In the 27th anniversary of their founding, Hamas militants marched across the streets of Gaza vowing to eradicate Israel.

Displaying rockets and other heavy weapons and drone technology, an estimated 2,000 armed Hamas militants put on a display of resilience across Gaza as they renewed their pledge to destroy the state of Israel, reported The Independent.

The Palestinians seem to be more united than ever while Israel is sinking into shtetle type fights.  Seemingly, even the Jewish Lobby can’t provide the good anymore. Israeli PM has been witnessed in the last few days begging America to veto the plea submitted by Palestinian President Abbas with the Security Council to set a November 2016 deadline for ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

If passed, Netanyahu  feels, the resolution would, “lead Islamic extremists to the outskirts of Tel Aviv and the heart of Jerusalem.” Netanyahu is partially correct. Islamic resistance will liberate Jaffa and Jerusalem, regardless of the Security Council or the UN.

Meanwhile, in the Gaza March Abu Ubaida, a spokesman for the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, said another Israel Gaza conflict, like the one waged three and a half months ago, might be in the works unless the thousands of Gaza Strip homes that were destroyed in the last conflict are rebuilt.

“We will accept no less than the rebuilding of everything that was destroyed by the savage Zionist aggression,” said Ubaida.

Germany donates funds to rebuild Gaza while financing Israeli warships

A Palestinian woman pauses amid buildings destroyed during the Israeli summer assault on in Gaza. AFP/ Mohammed Abed

Published Monday, December 15, 2014

Al Akhbar

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on Monday signed two agreements with the German Development Bank (GDB) worth a total of 25 million euros (approximately $31.3 million) to assist Palestinians in war-torn Gaza as well as struggling Palestinian refugees from Syria who are seeking refuge in Lebanon.

Germany also plans to finance part of the cost of four new corvette warships for the Israeli navy.

Twenty of the 25 million euros – provided by the GDB on behalf of the German government – will go towards “cash assistance for temporary shelter, as well as major repairs and the reconstruction of homes in Gaza,” the UNRWA said in a statement.

“This will help families who are still homeless following the summer 2014 hostilities [the Israeli assault on the Gaza strip] move into transitional shelter until their home repairs have been completed,” it said.

The remaining 5 million euros, the UNRWA added, would “provide vital assistance to the most vulnerable Palestine refugees from Syria in Lebanon through targeted cash assistance for food, shelter and winterization needs.”

“This donation will also fund essential improvements to UNRWA infrastructure and environmental health services,” the UN refugee agency added. “These improvements will help maintain healthy environments in refugee camps and provide emergency collective shelter rehabilitation.”

On Tuesday, the agency called on the international community to earmark $414 million to support Palestinian refugees in the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The UNRWA provides assistance and protection for some 5 million registered Palestinian refugees.

Besides donating money for Gaza reconstruction, Germany also plans to finance part of the cost of four new corvette warships for the Israeli navy.

The government said Monday that it will help finance the four corvette warships, made by German firm Thyssen Krupp, under a deal struck with the Zionist state back in November.

Following approval by German parliament’s budget committee the contract could be finalized before the end of this year, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

The mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday that Berlin had earmarked up to 115 million euros for the warships – which would cost around 1 billion euros in total.

Seibert declined comment on the size of the German contribution.

As part of its atonement for the Nazi Holocaust, Germany is committed to Israel’s security and has often helped pay for the cost of military equipment such as submarines.

These military equipment were used by Israel this summer during the 51-day aggression on Gaza.

According to the UN, more than 2,160 Gazans, mostly civilians, were killed and 11,000 injured.

Moreover, as many as 80,000 Palestinians homes were damaged or destroyed during the days of hostilities, a higher figure than was previously thought, and over 106,000 of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents have been displaced to UN shelters and host families.

The Palestinian Authority has estimated that rebuilding Gaza will cost $7.8 billion.

(Anadolu, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

Related

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Islamic Jihad slams PA-Israel security coordination as unity govt expires

 

Palestinians drive past graffiti depicting (from L to R) late founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) George Habash, late Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and late Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Fathi Shaqaqi, on November 21, 2014 in Gaza City. AFP / Mohammed Abed

Published Sunday, November 30, 2014

Al Akhbar

The national consensus government declared by Hamas and Fatah this summer has finished its interim term, Hamas spokesman said Sunday, as the Islamic Jihad movement urged the Palestinian Authority (PA) to stop security coordination with Israel.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a press conference in Gaza City that the unity government’s six-month term had expired, and that dialogue should be resumed on a national level to discuss the future of the government.

“Any decision on whether the government should be disbanded or continued or be reshuffled must be made only through national dialogue and consensus,” Abu Zuhri said, adding that Hamas “isn’t interested in incitement, but rather seeks to maintain national unity.”

The Palestinian national unity government was formed following a reconciliation deal signed by Palestinian political rivals Hamas and Fatah in April.

The deal sought to end years of bitter and sometimes bloody rivalry between Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, which dominates the West Bank-based PA.

Palestinian parties agreed in September that the unity government would assume immediate authority over Gaza, however the government has so far failed to make any real changes on the ground in Gaza.

Abu Zuhri went on to criticize the PA for making what he called “politically motivated arrests.”

So far in November, 80 Palestinians have been detained in the West Bank for political affiliation, he said, adding that 70 of them were still in PA custody.

“Hamas denounces the escalating violations and criminal acts by the PA security services against supporters of Hamas and the Palestinian resistance,” he added, calling on PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to stop the detention campaign.

Similarly, the Islamic Jihad movement urged Abbas Sunday to release all political detainees and refrain from detaining any Palestinian over political affiliation.

Besides the recent wave of detentions, the movement said the security coordination between the PA and Israel has become a “real danger” to the Palestinian national unity.

Islamic Jihad spokesman Yousef al-Hasayna said in a statement that the appreciation expressed by the Israeli authorities regarding the PA’s readiness to continue coordinating with the occupation forces on the security level “is a strike to the nationalistic values of the Palestinian security services” and “is in contrast with the values and beliefs of the Palestinian people.”

“Israel is using this coordination to oppress the Palestinians and make sure no uprising will erupt in the West Bank and Jerusalem,” al-Hasayna said.

“The only one benefiting from this coordination is the Israeli occupation.”

Gaza reconstruction

Ongoing differences between Hamas and the PA have kept tensions high in Gaza.

Earlier this month, a senior United Nations official warned that another conflict will engulf Gaza unless stability in the territory is achieved rapidly.

“I do not see the national consensus government effectively governing Gaza,” Robert Turner, director of operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, said.

“If we do not have political stability, a national Palestinian government, and at least an easing of the blockade, yes there will be another war,” Turner told reporters.

For 51 days this summer, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip by air, land and sea.

More than 2,160 Gazans, mostly civilians, were killed and 11,000 injured during seven weeks of unrelenting Israeli attacks in July and August.

The assault ended with an Egypt-brokered ceasefire agreement that calls for reopening Gaza’s border crossings with Israel, which, if implemented, would effectively end the latter’s years-long blockade of the embattled territory.

However, the Zionist entity had repeatedly blocked the entry of building material, prompting the UN in September to broker another deal. The reconstruction of Gaza has yet to begin.

The Palestinian Authority has estimated that the rebuilding Gaza will cost $7.8 billion.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said during a visit to the Gaza Strip in October that the devastation he had seen was “beyond description” and “far worse” than that caused in the previous Israel-Gaza conflict of winter 2008-2009.

According to the UN, as many as 80,000 Palestinians homes were damaged or destroyed during the days of hostilities, a higher figure than was previously thought, and over 106,000 of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents have been displaced to UN shelters and host families.

Israel routinely bars the entry of building materials into the embattled coastal enclave on grounds that Palestinian resistance faction Hamas could use them to build underground tunnels or fortifications.

For years, the Gaza Strip has depended on construction materials smuggled into the territory through a network of tunnels linking it to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

However, a crackdown on the tunnels by the Egyptian army after it overthrew then-President Mohammed Mursi has effectively neutralized hundreds of tunnels, severely affecting Gaza’s construction sector.

Economists in Gaza have estimated that as many as 400 trucks of equipment – from concrete to building materials and machinery – is needed every day for the next six months to meet the demand, but so far only around 75 trucks have made deliveries.

“I know there is frustration at the pace of reconstruction,” Turner said, adding that efforts were underway to fully implement a mechanism negotiated by the UN’s special coordinator in the Middle East, Robert Serry, to speed up the flow of goods.

Alaa Radwan, head of the Popular Committee for Monitoring the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, made a simple calculation: “Given the pace at which construction materials are currently entering Gaza, it will be at least 20 years” before the damage caused by this summer’s war is repaired.

While Hamas and people in Gaza have lamented the slow flow of goods, Turner was optimistic that the volume could be greatly increased if political stability could be brought to bear and if Egypt and Israel fully lifted their combined blockade.

“I do not believe the crossings are a problem,” Turnor said. “All the technical problems can be addressed. The question for me is that the political choke points be addressed.”
“If the political will exists… expanding the crossing to 800 trucks a day is just a matter of paying for the expansion.”

The crisis between Hamas and Fatah has been delaying the flow of reconstruction material into war-battered Gaza because the opening of border crossings, both under Israeli and Egyptian control, is conditional on PA personnel being stationed there.

According to the UN brokered deal, all materials going into Gaza should be extremely monitored, including GPS tracking and video surveillance of their storage, to ensure nothing goes missing and ends up being used for “military purposes.”

On top of the slow pace of reconstruction and the intolerable bureaucracy, Fatah’s failure to pay employees of Gaza’s former Hamas government has further escalated tensions between the two rivals.

Moreover, the situation in Gaza was thrown into doubt early November after bombs targeted the houses of some 10 senior Fatah officials in Gaza.

Even though Hamas leaders rushed to denounce the attacks and called upon security services in Gaza to investigate into the attacks and bring those responsible for it to justice, the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority security services accused Hamas of having knowledge of the blasts before they happened.

Hamas top member, Khalil al-Hayya, however, slammed the accusations as “groundless” and “baseless,” saying whoever was behind the blasts was trying to thwart reconciliation and ensure the Palestinian Authority did not re-extend its control over Gaza.

Hayya also warned against using the incident as an excuse to avoid reconciliation, calling on all sides to uphold their responsibilities towards the national good.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP, Ma’an)

Related Articles

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

UN setting the ground for Israel’s expanded siege on Gaza

A Palestinian man uses a hammer the break the rubble of houses, which were destroyed during the 51-day Gaza war between Israel and Hamas-led militants in the Gaza Strip, on November 14, 2014, in Khan Younis’ Khuzaa neighbourhood in the southern Gaza Strip near the Israeli border. AFP/Mohammed Abed
Published Saturday, November 15, 2014
Fifty-one days of war were not enough to erase the consequences of seven years of siege, which affected every facet of life in the Gaza Strip. After the havoc and devastation caused by the war, it now seems that the siege has been reproduced in different ways. Since before the end of the Israeli shelling, international conditions stipulated that no one was allowed to bring in reconstruction material to Gaza except the “legitimate authorities” [the Palestinian Authority], who only gave “formal” support to Gaza yet was quick to declare that it had reached a tripartite agreement with Israel and the United Nations.
Gaza – While Israel was the first to leak information about this agreement, the Palestinian Authority (PA) did not deny it later. But resistance factions in Gaza, particularly Hamas, officially rejected its terms after several of them were put into force. Hamas declared that it had not known the agreement would lead to an “electronic siege by Israel” in a plan under the name of [UN peace envoy in the Middle East] Robert Serry.
A lot has been written about the details of the agreement, including the fact that the Zionist state has been seeking guarantees to tightly monitor building materials so they don’t reach the Resistance.
To this end, Israel imposed “booby-trapped” conditions, including setting up monitoring cameras that work around the clock in storage locations in a territory where electricity is supplied barely six hours a day. This is in addition to deploying guards – who must have a “history of good conduct” – in these warehouses, surrounded by fences that must have a specific height, all in parallel with GPS trackers that the occupation forces wants installed on vehicles and heavy machinery.
At first glance, it seems that the PA’s approval of these conditions is normal and to be expected, given its commitment to Israel’s security and keenness on coordinating with Israelis on all matters. However, what is not understood is the silence of the other Palestinian factions. To be sure, Hamas had rejected the crossings agreement back in 2005, which contained conditions for opening the crossings, especially Rafah, because of “Israeli surveillance through cameras and international presence.” So why has Hamas changed its position now?
It is even worse for Hamas not to know than to know and be silent about the matter. Yet all that Hamas official and spokesperson Taher al-Nunu said in this regard was that his group “was not up to speed from the beginning about this plan.”
“With [the plan] coming into force and as its details came to light, it turned out to be perpetuating and reformulating the siege,” Nunu said.
According to him, Hamas realized that reconstruction following this mechanism will take four to 10 years.
“[This] is illogical and we refuse it,” he said.
Asked about his group’s silence, Nunu told Al-Akhbar,

“Hamas is no longer the government. It is the consensus government that is responsible for the Strip. We therefore cannot reject Serry’s plan like we had rejected the crossings plan.”

The alternative, Nunu continued, would be

“to demand that the consensus government reject the plan and search for another effective one.”

As soon as the UN got wind of a possible rejection, it made threats, saying that opposition to its envoy’s plan would disrupt the reconstruction process. The Hamas official reacted to this by saying,

“The Gaza Strip does not respond to blackmail. The UN is not in a position to threaten to halt reconstruction.”

While researching the controversial details of what is best described as a new “electronic siege,” Al-Akhbar came across new equally controversial information: The UN had asked people wishing to rebuild their destroyed homes to supply complete data about themselves, including not only their names and ID card numbers, but also recent personal photos, the locations of their previous homes, where exactly they intend to rebuild, and blueprints of both old and new homes.
In light of this, it was necessary to return to the Palestinian side authorized to deal with UNRWA, namely, the Ministry of Housing and Public Works. The ministry presently operates in Gaza under a minister from the consensus government. An official at the ministry said that they agreed to Serry’s plan, “but in a way that is compatible with Gaza’s security.” For this reason, he continued, the data they sent only had the names and ID cards of the citizens, in addition to data on the required quantities of building materials to restore their homes. However, the UN rejected this and returned the information, sparking off a new crisis that culminated with the suspension of all cooperation between the two sides. In other words, the process of reconstruction has now stopped.
For his part, Naji Sarhan, an official at the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, said that the ministry rejected Serry’s plan “because it is futile and will prolong the reconstruction process.”
Meanwhile, the consensus government in Ramallah has called on Gaza to implement the plan despite its reservations. For this reason, Sarhan said, “They [the government] will not take part in besieging the Strip.” “The damage survey was carried out by international agencies, so why are there concerns about bringing in building materials?” he asked.
Even in economic terms, Serry’s plan was nothing to be “happy” about. One company that received security approval to store and distribute building materials said that it was forced to install surveillance equipment, including cameras, at the UN’s request.
The director of Awad Shamali Sons, Hatem Shamali, said that he had to install eight cameras, as well as a generator and batteries to power them, adding that a UN inspector has been conducting surprise visits and “obtaining reports on every single gram that we sell.”
Shamali continued, “It is not worth it. We buy a ton of cement from them for 500 shekels ($133), and have to sell it for 520 shekels (a profit margin of $5). This is not enough to cover the cost of labor and transportation, not to mention the surveillance.” Shamali added that if he sells under different terms, all dealings with his company would be suspended.
It was not possible to reach the UNRWA spokesperson in Gaza, currently on leave, for this article. Since he is the only one authorized to comment on the issue, Al-Akhbar could not obtain a comment on the “electronic siege” that will shift the international agency’s role from the realm of humanitarianism to the political and security arena.
However, the foreign relations official in Islamic Jihad, Khaled al-Batsh, said his group views Serry’s plan as a means to formalize the illegal Israeli blockade under the guise of an international cover.
Speaking to Al-Akhbar, Batsh said that the UN plan agreed to by Israel and the PA not only prevents the entry of building materials to the resistance, “but also seeks to provide sensitive security information and details on the owners of all homes damaged in the war, in order to update Israeli databases on Gaza.”
“Israel will be able to re-engineer the homes in Gaza by controlling their location and the way they are built,” he added.
Batsh also revealed that part of the reconstruction funds “will go to the consensus government to cover the Palestinian Authority’s debts.”
“Twenty percent will be for wages and bonuses for international observers, and we also learned that the UN took $5 million as a fee for transferring funds. This is business, not humanitarian work,” he said.
Regarding the threat to freeze reconstruction, Batsh stressed that his group will not pay much attention to such threats and will continue to reject the plan.
“The UN has to make up its mind, is it a partner in reconstruction or a partner in the blockade?” he asked.
The Islamic Jihad official then promised to start working for an alternative plan that will not help internationalize the blockade.
(Al-Akhbar)
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

PFLP: On the anniversary of the notorious ‪Balfour‬ Declaration, the Zionist entity remains illegitimate

Posted on November 3, 2014 by Alexandra Valiente

balfourOn November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Alfred Balfour delivered a treacherous stab in the back to the Palestinian Arab people, through a letter sent to Lord Lionel Rothschild, expressing the support of the British state for the establishment of a “Jewish national home” in Palestine. This promise marked the stamp of approval on the Zionist project in Palestine and its work to impel the migration of Jews from various countries of the world in order to constitute Zionist military forces, supported with various types of modern weapons, who proceeded to commit massacres as a prelude to the establishment of the Israeli state on the ruins of our homes and lands and the displacement of our people in the region and around the world in 1948.

This historic crime, in which the British colonial state gave away what it was not its to give, continues to be a stain on the British state and global imperialism. The Palestinian people will not forget and will not forgive, over successive generations, the great crime committed against them.

The Palestinian people swiftly rejected this declaration on a popular level. Immmediately upon its announcement, Palestinians engaged in fierce clashes with the British occupation and the Zionists, refusing the dismantlement and destruction of their homeland, Palestine, and giving their lives in order to prevent the dispossession of Palestinian land and giving it to the Zionists. The Palestinian people took action from the outset, boldly acting with a firm commitment to the justice of their cause and the right to defend their land from this scheme. The magnitude of the crimes committed were severe and massive, leading to the establishment of the Zionist entity and the escalation of the conflict that continues until this moment.

We in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, after 97 years of this treacherous colonialist promise, are confident in the ability of the Palestinian people to continue their resistance in order to undo the effects of this heinous crime and defeat the Zionist project in Palestine, no matter how long the struggle continues. We emphasize the following points:

1. Britain bears direct responsibility for this heinous crime committed against the Palestinian people. The imperialist British state is firmly in the camp that is hostile to the Palestinian people, and must not only apologize to the Palestinian people for this crime but atone for it by ensuring the return of the Palestinian people to their land, and the return of the Palestinian land and rights to their rightful owners.

2. There is growing global solidarity with the Palestinian cause, especially in Britain, which is evidenced in the recent vote of the British House of Commons in response to the pressure of the movement. The solidarity movement must escalate the pressure on the British state in order to end the historical injustice against our people and stop supporting the Zionist entity on all levels.

3. The battle with the Zionist criminal enemy and with global imperialism requires a struggle against racism and colonialism on the Arab level. Once again, we reaffirm that this entity is a Zionist-Arab conflict and should not be limited to our people, fighting in isolation from their Arab sisters and brothers.

4. The escalation of the Zionist attacks on the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza, in the occupied city of Jerusalem, and on our prisoners in Israeli jails, cannot terrorize our people, and will not kill the Palestinian will of steadfastness and resistance. The resistance will continue in various forms until the achievement of its objectives.

5. There is a need to build national unity and reconciliation, and expedite the call for the provisional Palestinian leadership to meet and carry out their responsibilities and to rebuild the Palestinian institutions on the basis of proportional representation and a national vision with the participation of all forces in democratic elections, and the formulation of a national strategy based on adhering to constants and unity in order to confront the racist Zionist entity.

6. We draw lessons from the experience of 21 years of abhorrent, absurd negotiations, which have only proven clear failure, and the alternative of going to the United Nations for the implementation of all of the rights of our people without negotiations. It is important to join all national organizations and it is particularly imperative to join the International Criminal Court without further delay to prosecute the occupation for its crimes against the Palestinian people.

7. We must escalate the pressure to end the suffering of our people, who confront siege and aggression, as a national collective responsibility. We reaffirm that our first priority to mitigate the Zionist aggression on the Gaza Strip in the reconstruction is lifting the siege and opening all crossings immediately, and we call for a national committee to monitor the subject of reconstruction to protect it from Zionist involvement and intervention.

Finally, after 97 years of this racist declaration, we reaffirm that the Zionist entity remains an illegitimate and false entity, and we hold our firm conviction that it will be defeated, uprooted and dismantled. This requires us to strengthen our militant role, support the steadfastness of our people, and harness all of our energies to confront the Zionist entity.

We promise our people to remain on the road of struggle until the defeat of the occupation on every inch of our land.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Over 1.7m Gazans isolated from the world after Israel, Egypt close crossings

UNRWA said 138 of its students were killed during the Israeli assault, and the organization’s spokesperson Christopher Gunness said an additional 814 UNRWA students were injured and 560 have become orphans due to the Israeli onslaught. (Photo: AFP)

Published Sunday, November 2, 2014

Al-Akhbar

Updated at 2:22 pm (GMT +2): Gaza has become an open-air prison after Israel decided to close two border crossings with Gaza, after a rocket allegedly fired from the Palestinian enclave struck its territory.

The Israeli blockade comes a week after Egypt closed its border with Gaza. With all borders closed, more than one and a half million people in Gaza are now isolated from the outside world. They are prisoners inside the 360 square kilometers that make up the coastal Strip.

“The crossing points for people and goods, Erez and Kerem Shalom, have been closed until further notice except for humanitarian aid,” an army spokeswoman said.

She said that the measure was taken after a rocket fired from Gaza hit Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory on Friday, without causing any casualties or damage.

There was no claim of responsibility from any armed faction in Gaza. A military spokeswoman said forces were still searching for debris.

Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouq early Sunday condemned the Israeli decision to close crossings into Gaza, calling it “collective punishment.”

“The justifications given by the (Israeli) occupation to shut down crossings are unacceptable,” Abu Marzouq said in a statement, adding that Israel’s decision violated international laws and conventions.

Instead of closing the crossings, he said Israel should establish more crossings in order to allow for greater freedom of movement for people and goods in and out of Gaza.

Friday’s rocket struck harmlessly was the first to strike Israeli-occupied territory since September 16, and the second since the end of the Zionist state’s devastating 51-day assault on Gaza.

For 51 days this summer, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip – by air, land and sea – with the stated aim of ending rocket fire from the coastal enclave.

More than 2,160 Gazans, at least 505 of them children, were killed – and 11,000 injured – during seven weeks of unrelenting Israeli attacks in July and August.

The Israeli offensive ended on August 26 with the an Egypt-brokered cease-fire agreement.

The ceasefire deal stipulated an end to hostilities, and Israel agreed to ease its devastating eight-year blockade on the Strip and expand the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast.

However, Palestinians accuse Israeli forces of regular ceasefire violations, with near-daily reports that navy soldiers have fired at fishermen off the coast of the enclave, and occasional reports of Israeli troops shooting and injuring Palestinians near the border.

The head of the Gaza fishermen syndicate accused Israel of constantly violating the terms of the agreement.

“Since signing the truce, the Israeli army has violated (the agreement) eight times, arresting fishermen and destroying a giant fishing boat, in addition to firing at fishermen on a daily basis,” he said.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man on the beach in the northern Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, Gaza is also littered with a large number of unexploded Israeli shells, one of which has recently killed 4-year-old Mohammed Sami Abu-Jrad from the northern Gaza city of Beit Hanoun.

Israel also agreed to allow construction material into Gaza. But two months after the war ended, no building material has entered Gaza due to Israel’s ongoing blockade.

Israel routinely bars the entry of building materials into the embattled coastal enclave on grounds that Palestinian resistance faction Hamas could use them to build underground tunnels or fortifications.

For years, the Gaza Strip has depended on construction materials smuggled into the territory through a network of tunnels linking it to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

A recent crackdown on the tunnels by the Egyptian army, however, has effectively neutralized hundreds of tunnels, severely affecting Gaza’s construction sector.

Egypt closes Gaza lifelines

On Wednesday, Egypt began setting up a buffer zone along its border with the Gaza strip in a move which will see about 800 homes demolished.

It comes in the wake of a suicide car bombing which killed 30 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai last week, the deadliest attack on the military since ousting Egypt’s former president Mohammed Mursi.

Following the bombing, Egypt immediately closed the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip, the principal connection between Gaza’s 1.7 million people and the outside world.

In August, Egypt’s authorities have used an attack on the Egyptian military in Sinai as a pretext to start a campaign to destroy Lifelines into Gaza. Over 120 tunnels were blown up or filled in.

More than just being the only way for some products to make it into the over 1.7 million Palestinians living in the strip, the Gaza tunnels have become a major source of income for the transporters of goods. Egypt has closed Gaza’s lifelines.

Since the beginning of 2014 until the end of May, Rafah crossing has been opened only 14 out of 120 days, limiting access to humanitarian cases and for other authorized travelers – including foreign nationals and visa holders.

Gaza without goods

Abu Marzouq also criticized the Palestinian Authority for what he called a failure to arrange the entry of goods into Gaza.

“Where does the PA come in regarding this Israeli closure? And where does it come in regarding its responsibilities, especially after PA employees have resumed work at Gaza crossings?”

With all crossings closed, water and food supplies in the besieged Gaza Strip are dangerously low.

On Sunday,the Palestinian embassy in Caracas said in a statement that Venezuela will send 10 tons of humanitarian aid and medical equipment for the war-torn Gaza Strip.

A plane will carry the aid from Caracas to the Amman airport on Sunday, and the same plane will bring 100 Palestinian students who have been granted scholarships to study in Venezuela to the country, the statement said.

Last week, Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro said his country would grant 1,000 Palestinians scholarships for Venezuelan universities.

Linda Subih, the ambassador of Palestine to Venezuela, said in the statement that she and 31 young Venezuelan men and women would accompany the aid to Amman, after which it would be sent to Gaza.

Meanwhile, companies in Gaza have stopped providing the al-Shifa hospital with food for meals in protest against not being paid for five months, a hospital official said Saturday.

Nasr al-Tatar, the general director of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, told Ma’an the move was dangerous as it impacts both patients and medical workers.

The hospital owes 800,000 shekels (approximately $211,000) to the companies for food.

Al-Shifa hospital serves about 1,500 meals a day, and this number doubled during the Israeli offensive on Gaza in July and August.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

Related

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Donors, or enablers? Cairo’s ‘Gaza Reconstruction Conference’

By Julie Webb-Pullman

Global donors pledged hundreds of millions to liquidate the Palestinian cause

—–

Donors, or enablers? Cairo’s ‘Gaza Reconstruction Conference’

By Julie Webb-Pullman
Middle East Monitor

Sunday, 12 October 2014 12:18

Egypt is currently blocking injured Gazans leaving the Gaza Strip, and blocking the flow of reconstruction materials to Gaza

CAIRO’S Gaza Reconstruction Conference, you ask incredulously? And well you might – after all, Egypt is currently preventing the entry of materials to complete Qatari-funded projects in Gaza addressing the destruction of previous Israeli offensives. Building of roads, housing estates and hospitals have all ground to a halt despite being underway well before the latest Israeli war crimes in Gaza – crimes which have only further increased the need.

We are seriously expected to accept Egypt as an honest broker? That the current regime has a shred of compassion for the already homeless, sick and injured Gazans still reeling from the 2008-9 and 2012 offensives who it refuses to admit assistance for, let alone those battered by the latest assaults? For the thousands of maimed and injured STILL refused exit through Rafah for necessary medical treatment elsewhere?

Egypt is BLOCKING Gaza reconstruction. At this very moment. Egypt is BLOCKING injured Gazans from receiving essential medical treatment. At this very moment.

Egypt is the bull elephant in the china room of Gaza reconstruction.

But it is not alone.

UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon (Photo: Reuters).The United States, funder and arms supplier extraordinaire to the Israeli serial killers, is also chipping in, as is Ban Ki-moon, famous for undermining the UN independent report into Israeli war crimes in 2008-9.

And let us not leave out the criminals themselves – the Israelis, who stand to profit nicely from this exercise in sleight of hand.

Unconfirmed information from the West Bank last week reports that Israeli companies have already been awarded the tenders for the supply of cement and other building materials, standing to reap billions of dollars in the process. It is difficult to imagine a clearer incentive to continue the cycle of ‘destroy and rebuild’ than to reward the criminal by paying them to repair the destruction they have wreaked, rather than make them pay for it.

Which raises the next point – why is the international community being asked to foot the bill for Israeli criminal damage? In criminal law, reparations are paid by the perpetrators of crimes, not by the onlookers (however morally bereft they may have been for failing to act to halt the murderous rampage).

And Israel’s culpability goes further than merely making good its wanton and criminal destruction of Gaza – it is the OCCUPYING POWER, and as such has full responsibility under international law for “restoring” the territory it has occupied.

“The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all measures in his power to restore and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety…” says Article 43 of the Hague Regulations.

Reports that donors are threatening to withhold Gaza aid “…without fresh impetus in negotiations” exposes the dirty secret of international complicity and enabling of ongoing Israeli abuses of Palestinians.

Israel has been illegally occupying Palestinian territory for decades, built illegal settlements on stolen land, built an illegal apartheid wall, and imposed and maintained an illegal blockade on Gaza for some eight years, breaching a swathe of international laws and UN resolutions – thus exposing the manifest inadequacy of the United Nations in enforcing international law without fear or favour, if not its complete irrelevance in contemporary international affairs.

When Palestinians legitimately resist, they are killed, displaced, have their homes demolished and their country is decimated under the nose and eyes of the international community, which does nothing but launch into another round of victim-blaming ably aided and abetted by the type of response we see today in Cairo, with its emphasis on Israeli security at the expense of Palestinian security – in fact, at the expense of international law itself.

The keys to Israeli and Palestinian security – thus to the longevity of Gaza reconstruction – are in the hands of Israel and the UN: the former, by OBSERVING INTERNATIONAL LAW and withdrawing from occupied territory, leaving the illegal settlements, demolishing the apartheid wall and lifting the siege on Gaza; and the latter, by ENFORCING INTERNATIONAL LAW by holding Israel accountable for its gross abuses not only in regards to the war crimes of 2008-9, 2012, and 2014 but also the 60+ years of breaches of international law and UN Resolutions – and by insisting on the lifting of the siege of Gaza.

The solution certainly does not lie in picking up the bill, and participating in perpetuation of the siege by acting as an international version of the PA Security Services in the West Bank, thereby both acting as an Israeli proxy and lending legitimacy to an Egyptian regime whose role in denying Gazans’ rights is every bit as questionable.

Palestine has an equal right to security, and to defend itself. Which party is occupying and extending its invasion and theft of the territory of the other? THAT is the party that requires international control over its behaviour – and it is clearly not Palestine.

A Gaza reconstruction conference should be held, not in Cairo, but in GAZA – where the international community can see first-hand the destruction the USraeli military machine mercilessly meted out on innocent people and property. But perhaps that is the point – ignorance enables denial.

A Gaza reconstruction conference should be centred on holding the perpetrators accountable, making them pay for their crimes, and ensuring they cannot offend again – by keeping international and humanitarian law centre-stage, not the carnival side-show of ‘Israeli security’ or the equally-absurd victim-blaming and demonisation of Hamas.

A Gaza reconstruction conference should ensure that the criminals do not profit from their crimes, and Israeli firms should be specifically EXCLUDED from all and every tendering process and provision of goods and services in the rebuild.

And the first step in any principled and serious commitment to rebuilding Gaza must be the IMMEDIATE and UNCONDITIONAL lifting of the illegal siege.

If Israel and Egypt refuse to comply, then the Gaza seaport must be immediately opened and if necessary, military protection provided by international peacekeepers for boats entering and leaving Palestinian waters, such that Israeli and Egyptian siege-based attempts to control Palestinians’ enjoyment of their rights to trade and freedom of movement are rendered impotent.

Unless the Gaza Reconstruction Conference delivers Gaza from the siege, holds Israel accountable for its crimes against international and humanitarian law and ensures it does not profit from them, the international community will merely be enabling ongoing Israeli abuse in the best traditions of the dysfunctional incestuous family.

Related

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Global donors pledged hundreds of millions to liquidate the Palestinian cause

Opening a conference in Cairo on rebuilding Gaza after a 50-day Israeli aggression against Gaza, Sisi said;

“We should turn this moment into a real starting point to achieve a peace that secures stability and flourishing and renders the dream of coexistence a reality, and this is the vision of the Arab peace initiative,” 

“I call on the Israeli people and the government: now is the time to end the conflict… so that prosperity prevails, so that we all can have peace and security”

Mahmoud Abbas told the global envoys in attendance that the “latest conflict” had destroyed government institutions in Gaza. In other words: The Palestinian resistance and “Israel” are responsible for for the destruction of Gaza.
“happy” Kerry announced an additional and immediate $212 million…. to relief and budget support for the PA.
He warned that the Hamas resistance movement in Gaza which fought the conflict with Israel continued to pose “a threat.”

“As long as there is a possibility that Hamas can fire rockets on Israeli civilians at any time, the people of Gaza will remain at risk of future conflict,”

Israel was not invited to the conference but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Ynet, Israel would be “receptive” to plans for “the reconstruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza”.

“Gaza cannot be rebuilt without the cooperation and participation of Israel,”

—————
—————

Donors pledge millions in aid to Gaza

Palestinian children sit on the window of a partially destroyed building in al-Tufah, east of Gaza City on October 11, 2014, ahead of a donors conference in Cairo aimed at gathering efforts to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. (Photo: AFP – Mahmud Hams)
Published Sunday, October 12, 2014
Updated at 2:40 pm (GMT +3): Global donors pledged hundreds of millions in aid to the devastated Gaza Strip on Sunday despite warnings the battered Palestinian enclave remained a “tinderbox” after the latest Israeli assault.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and 30 of his counterparts join UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is seeking a record $1.6 billion (1.3 billion euros) in aid to rebuild Gaza.
Kerry announced an additional $212 million in aid to the Palestinian people at the conference.
“Today I’m happy to announce an additional and immediate $212 million to the Palestinian people,” he said, adding that the funds would go to relief and budget support for the PA.
“Taken together the US has provided more than $400 million to Palestinians over the last year, $330 million just since this summer’s conflict began.”
He warned that the Hamas resistance movement in Gaza which fought the conflict with Israel continued to pose “a threat.”
“As long as there is a possibility that Hamas can fire rockets on Israeli civilians at any time, the people of Gaza will remain at risk of future conflict,” Kerry said.
The latest Israeli aggression on Gaza killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, more than 70% civilians, while rockets by Hamas resistance group killed 73 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.
It also left the densely populated enclave in ruins, displacing more than a quarter of Gaza’s population of 1.7 million and leaving 100,000 people homeless.
The Palestinian government has unveiled a 76-page reconstruction plan, calling for $4 billion in funds, with the lion’s share going to build housing for some 100,000 people left homeless by the Israeli assault in July and August.
There is widespread concern that — after three destructive conflicts in the past six years — any help to Gaza will eventually be lost in the enclave’s cycle of violence.
Ban expressed the fears of many when he told the conference the situation in Gaza remained potentially explosive.
“Gaza remains a tinderbox, the people desperately need to see results in their daily lives,” Ban said.
PA president Mahmoud Abbas repeated his calls for an internationally set time frame for establishing a Palestinian state, telling the global envoys in attendance that the latest conflict had destroyed government institutions in Gaza.
Neighborhoods destroyed
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told the conference the enclave’s need was desperate.
“Gaza has suffered three wars in six years. Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed,” Abbas said.
Kerry said the new aid brought Washington’s contribution to helping Gaza to more than $400 million over the last year alone.
Other nations joined the effort, with Germany pledging $63 million and Norway about $13 million.
But there were repeated concerns about donor funds going to waste without new efforts at a long-term solution.
“Letting Gaza fester while leaving the parties to their own devices is the surest way for setting ourselves up for another round of war another year or two down the road,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende told the conference.
“The missing political framework is urgently needed, and our message to donors is clear: ‘There is no more time to lose’.”
Kerry was due later to meet Abbas to press for further peace efforts.
Kerry’s dogged pursuit of a long-elusive peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in acrimony in April after a difficult nine-month process, and there is little prospect of fresh talks any time soon.
Israel and the Hamas resistance group have yet to even translate their temporary August truce into a long-term ceasefire.
In his meeting with Abbas, Kerry is expected to try to dissuade him from seeking further recognition of the Palestinians at the United Nations, including joining the International Criminal Court.
Israel consent needed
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA has described Gaza’s financial needs as “unprecedented”.
The United Nations already has plans for $2.1 billion of the funds, with $1.6 billion going to UNRWA and the rest to other agencies including children’s agency UNICEF and development arm UNDP.
One crucial question will be how the aid is delivered, especially given Israel’s strict blockade of the territory since 2006.
Israel was not invited to the conference but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said any effort would need his government’s consent.
“Gaza cannot be rebuilt without the cooperation and participation of Israel,” Lieberman said in an interview with news website Ynet, though he added that Israel would be “receptive” to plans for “the reconstruction of civilian infrastructure in Gaza”.
Internal divisions among the Palestinians are also a matter of widespread concern and they strive to present a united front in advance of the conference.
On Thursday, a new unity government held its first cabinet meeting in Gaza, months after a reconciliation deal between rivals Fatah, which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, and Hamas, which is in de facto control of Gaza.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Kerry to call for new Israel-Palestine talks as Gaza aid expected to fall short

A Palestinian boy stands on a wall waiting for the arrival of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (unseen) who will visit some of the areas worst hit by the 50-day Israeli war on Gaza in July and August, on October 9, 2014 in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip. (Photo: AFP – Said Khatib)

Published Saturday, October 11, 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry will call for a revival of the collapsed Israeli-Palestinian peace process on Sunday when he attends an international conference in Cairo on rebuilding Gaza, American officials said.

The top US diplomat and 30 of his counterparts convene in the Egyptian capital alongside UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is seeking a record $1.6 billion in aid to rebuild the battered Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian government last week unveiled a 76-page reconstruction plan for Gaza, calling for $4 billion to rebuild the war-battered territory, with the largest amount going to build housing for some 100,000 left homeless.

The Israeli military operation on Gaza killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, at least 70 percent of them civilians, while attacks by Gaza militants killed 73 on the Israeli side, including 68 soldiers.

An estimated 18,000 homes were destroyed in Gaza and infrastructure was badly battered during the seven-week war.

Senior US officials voiced doubts on Friday that an international donors conference to be held in Cairo this weekend will meet the Palestinians’ full request for $4 billion in aid pledges to rebuild the Gaza Strip.

it remains unclear how generous donor governments will be, given the lack of progress toward resolving the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the risk that hostilities could erupt again, destroying whatever has been rebuilt.

“It’s fair to say there are serious questions being raised by the donors,” a State Department official told reporters, citing concerns that unless the cycle is broken they will be “back here doing the same thing again in a year or two.”

The official did not mention whether the cycle of violence would mean fewer US money sent to Israel.

He predicted the conference would yield “significant contributions” for reconstruction, with the Gulf states providing the bulk of it and Washington and the Europeans offering “meaningful and appropriate” amounts as well.

But the official said, “I don’t know whether anybody thinks we’re going to get to four billion (dollars), or whether we need those kind of pledges right now.” Another State Department official added: “We’re not there at this point.”

Kerry will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of the conference, having last met at the UN General Assembly in September, State Department officials said.

“You will hear the secretary reaffirm the commitment of the United States to helping the parties achieve a negotiated two-state solution and our willingness to re-engage in the negotiations and help facilitate successful negotiations,” a State Department official said.

“More broadly we are interested in sort of breaking the cycle we have been in in the last six years of war and reconstruction there,” the official added.

Kerry was the architect of a high-profile bid to re-start negotiations, which collapsed in April and were followed by the devastating 50-day war in Gaza, the third conflict in the enclave in six years.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

REATED

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Does the Palestinian prime minister’s visit to Gaza mark the end of internal divisions?

Hamas’ former Gaza prime minister and leader, Ismail Haniya (2ndR) welcomes Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah at his house in Gaza City on October 9, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Said Khatib)
Published Friday, October 10, 2014
While many of its residents are still displaced, Gaza welcomed Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah and ministers from his cabinet who came through the Erez crossing in coordination with the Israeli occupation.
Gaza – Large crowds warmly greeted the prime minister of the Palestinian unity government, Rami al-Hamdallah, and cabinet ministers as people wondered about the purpose of eight years of internal division if their fate is to “be together to end the occupation,” as Hamdallah himself put it. Despite the warm welcome, people noted the arrival of the Palestinian government after coordinating with the Israeli occupation and the Israeli coordination officers as they came through the Erez crossing.
It was interesting to see pictures of bearded Hamas policemen with members of a small force from the presidential guard with their distinct appearance and uniform accompanying Hamdallah. Hamas speakers tried to remind the prime minister that the security deployment which secured the entry of cabinet ministers was overseen by forces that have not been paid for six months. All of this, however, did not eclipse the great popular welcome that the delegation received, especially in Beit Hanoun in the north and al-Shujayeh neighborhood in the east.

The deputy prime minister, Mohammed Mustafa, placed the visit in a context that “will reassure donor nations that the reconstruction process” is going well.

After this tour, the unity government held its first meeting in the house of the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Abbas, in Gaza, which was turned a day before the visit into a temporary headquarters for the premiership. The meeting lasted for two hours only before the ministers went to the house of the former prime minister of the Gaza government, Ismail Haniyah, to meet with him and members of the Hamas political bureau in addition to a number of security agency leaders in the Gaza Strip.

The deputy prime minister, Mohammed Mustafa, placed the visit in a context that “will reassure donor nations that the reconstruction process” is going well. He told Al-Akhbar in an interview that the aim behind the series of successive meetings in Gaza is for “the government to continue its work in the Strip to the fullest extent and to work on creating the right atmosphere to hold the elections.”
Hussein al-Sheikh revealed that building materials will enter Gaza early next week, stressing in an interview with Al-Akhbar that the government will take over the two crossings of Karam Abu Salem and Beit Hanoun so the crossings would be opened officially by the end of next week.
Justice Minister Salim al-Saqqa, who is from Gaza, said that money for the salaries of civil servants affiliated with the former Gaza government was transferred from Doha to New York. He added that they are waiting for procedures to arrange the transfer of $30 million to pay employees before the end of this month.
As far as Hamas is concerned, Haniya expressed his belief that this visit represents “hope for a new future.” He stressed during his meeting with Hamdallah the need to start implementing government tasks, “and foremost among them are the issues of employee salaries and reconstruction.”
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Gaza struggles to deal with 2.5 million tons of rubble after the war

 

Palestinian boys walk past buildings which were destroyed by Israeli strikes on their way to school in the Shujayeh neighbourhood of Gaza City on September 14, 2014 on the first day of the new school year. (Photo: AFP-Mohammed Hams)
Published Thursday, September 18, 2014
The dead were buried and the wounded are trying to heal while the rubble of the war on Gaza remains in place. Hundreds of thousands of tons worth of rubble, not to mention the environmental and health hazard they pose, remind the survivors of death every morning. Removing the rubble means finally beginning the process of reconstruction and a return to normal life.
Gaza – Despite the end of the war in Gaza, wherever its residents or visitors look, they are surrounded by the sight of rubble and ruin. Hundreds of thousands of tons of debris – remnants of the Israeli war – still block entire streets, prompting people to invent new bypass roads. Work has begun in some areas with the available resources to remove this rubble. However, delays in actual plans to clear all of it threaten the environment and health conditions of people here. Besides, some residents still search every day through the ruins of their homes, hoping to find something, or any of their belongings, especially important papers and documents.
According to preliminary figures published by the Ministry of Public Works, it is estimated that buildings destroyed during the 51-day war were reduced to 2.5 million tons of rubble. This figure is four times larger than that of the 2008-2009 Israeli war [on Gaza].

According to preliminary figures published by the Ministry of Public Works, it is estimated that buildings destroyed during the 51-day war were reduced to 2.5 million tons of rubble.

Gazan families are impatiently waiting for the removal of the piles of debris as they view it as a sign of the actual beginning of reconstruction. Otherwise, all the promises made are nothing but a smokescreen. This is the sense you get in the neighborhoods of al-Shujayeh in eastern Gaza, Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza and Khuzaa area in southern Gaza. Statistics also reveal that about 10,000 houses were totally destroyed and 30,000 were partially destroyed, including 5,000 houses that are in dire need of rehabilitation. The result is that 11,000 families are without shelter in addition to losing their basic resources.
Rubble for infilling parts of the sea and crushing it for reconstruction
Al-Akhbar contacted the under-secretary of the Ministry of Housing in Gaza, Naji Serhan, to ask what they are planning to do with the debris. He said that the government, in cooperation with specialized agencies, devised an emergency plan for 100 days to deal with this problem. The emergency plan includes clearing part of the rubble in addition to providing rent and alternative apartments for people whose houses were destroyed. “Temporary caravans were provided to shelter the rest of the families,” he added.
As for long-term plans, it is believed that part of the rubble will be crushed for use in building and construction. The rest will be used in building small dirt roads in the sea and consolidating the fishing port in Gaza, in addition to coastal areas overlooking the sea such as the eroded al-Shati Camp (Beach Camp), according to the under-secretary.
Serhan went on: “We can use the rubble in more than one area, but the most important thing is to remove it. Reusing it requires huge amounts of money that we currently do not have. Besides, building a port requires Israel’s approval. He pointed out that they were directly threatened by Israel when they built one dirt road in the sea before the war.

Statistics also reveal that about 10,000 houses were totally destroyed and 30,000 were partially destroyed, including 5,000 houses that are in dire need of rehabilitation.

Despite these ideas, there is an ongoing public concern especially in light of the negative impact of the rubble. Abu Ali Darduna was one of the people who lost their homes in the war in addition to a small shop that constituted his livelihood. He is embarrassed because the rubble of his home is blocking a street which forces the rest of the area’s residents to take another road to get to their homes. He says no one came to check the debris to see if it contains hazardous materials. At the same time, he is worried that clearing the rubble quickly might lead to losing whatever is left of his belongings beneath it. Yet, he is afraid to look through the rubble in case there are unexploded ordinances.
Mouin Rajab, an economist in Gaza, believes that we can deal creatively with the tons of remaining rubble and benefit from it, “but there are more obstacles.” He estimates that to load and transfer this amount of rubble requires at least 60,000 trucks. He told Al-Akhbar that workers are going to face huge problems in crushing the rubble that is still held together “because it requires heavy equipment, especially in the case of the high-rise towers such as Basha Tower, Zafer Tower and the Italian Complex.”
Attorney and human rights activist at the Independent Commission for Human Rights, Salah Abdel Atti, thinks that we should let some of the destroyed sites stand as a testimony of Israeli crimes. He talked about the Lebanese experience as an example. “When some of the remnants of Lebanon’s civil war were left in the early 1990s to bear witness to the events and were only rebuilt after a while.” He went on to say: “I mean leave some evidence in a way that does not affect the people and the reconstruction project, especially the big towers.”
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
 RELATED

 

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Interview with former Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar

Mahmoud al-Zahar. (Photo: Al-Akhbar)

By: Mohammed Fouad

Published Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On the ruins of his home destroyed in the last war on Gaza, we sat with Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar to discuss a variety of issues after the war. We talked about direct negotiations with the occupation; Hamas’ position regarding the reconciliation with Fatah; participating in the upcoming elections and last but not least, Hamas’ position on the conflicting regional axes.

Mahmoud al-Zahar is a leading figure in Hamas even though he was left out in the last internal election for the movement’s political bureau. His son Houssam was martyred during the second Intifada. Those close to him describe him as the head of the hawkish wing and a champion of Hamas’ policy of armed struggle. He was foreign minister in Ismail Haniya’s 2006 government.

Al-Akhbar: What is your position regarding what was said by a member of the movement’s political bureau about direct negotiations with Israel and the possibility of Hamas engaging in them in the future?

Mahmoud al-Zahar: This is a hoax that the media used and it is not true. We do not negotiate directly with Israel even though there is no religious or political deterrent that would prevent us from doing so. But we are opposed to the idea. The person who did that is Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas). He helped us negotiate indirectly with the Israeli occupation during the ceasefire talks in Cairo but we did not authorize him to negotiate with Israel on a political program or the 1967 borders or anything else. Abbas was negotiating to lift the siege and for humanitarian issues such as bringing goods and products into Gaza.

To be clear, we told Abbas negotiate as you like, so that no one would accuse us of putting a spoke in the wheel of his project. But he does not speak in our name and we have not agreed to his project.

AA: Then what did Mousa Abu Marzouk mean by talking about direct negotiations?

MZ: He meant that if Abu Mazen does not play his role to the fullest in the negotiations around humanitarian issues, we will look for another mediator to negotiate with Israel directly. We could ask an Arab or international party such as the United Nations to negotiate with Israel on humanitarian and not political issues.

The proof is that during the Gilad Shalit deal, the Irish negotiated with Israel directly and Egypt and Germany interfered too and negotiated with Israel directly but we do not sit with Israel. We, however, insist on our right to choose certain parties rather than others to negotiate.

Fatah’s leadership was angry with Abu Marzouk’s statement because they believe that their organization is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people even though Fatah lost its electoral and popular legitimacy.

AA: How do you respond to the fact that Abu Mazen accuses you of monopolizing the war and peace decision and of having a shadow government in Gaza?

MZ: Fatah took the decision to make peace in 1992 without consulting anyone. In the latest war, Israel was the one that decided to go to war. Are we supposed to consult him on the decision to defend ourselves? Before him Abu Ammar (Yasser Arafat) also did not consult anyone about peace. This means that we are not the ones making the war and peace decision.

Regarding the shadow government, Abbas makes up terms to cover up for the failure of the current government. He should tell us who are the shadow ministers and who is heading it? We gave him the reconciliation government and he insisted on making most of its members from Fatah, not to mention that he wanted Hamas to pay the salaries in Gaza and this is the result.

AA: What are the alternatives?

MZ: If the failure of the government continues then we must have an alternative. The Palestinian factions should sit together and discuss their options. The Popular and the Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine called for a national unity government and recognized the weakness of this government. Until then, we shall study this option.

AA: But you agreed that Abbas would be a consensus president of the people?

MZ: Mahmoud Abbas is neither a consensus nor a legitimate president, he is a de facto president. We dealt with him as a president who was elected a year before us and we gave him half of the government in the Mecca Agreement in 2006. But he turned against us and called for our killing. That is why he has lost his legitimacy since 2005 and why he does not represent us politically. It is enough that his 22-year-old project has failed and his political “bazaar” is bankrupt so he is attacking others. Hamas, on the other hand, succeeded in confronting Israeli aggression in the years since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and achieved victories in these confrontations.

They might say that we (Hamas) lost our legitimacy too that is why we are always ready for elections and we do not fear them. An election is supposed to take place six months after establishing the government but Abbas is refusing. Our information indicates that he does not want to have the election because he is afraid of its outcome.

AA: In light of the crisis of legitimacy, why has the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) not been strengthened and activated to become a frame of reference for all political forces?

MZ: The PLO’s agenda is not our agenda. We want to preserve it as a political framework but if we join it then we will change the agenda. The issue for us is not joining the PLO but changing its program because of the Oslo Accords which the organization adopted as a “political free-for-all.” Hamas turned into a resistance project.

AA: What has become of the quintet committee that Fatah established to meet with you and what are you going to agree on?

MZ: We have no information about the date or the place yet but discussions will focus on how to implement lifting the siege on Gaza.

AA: You had talked about a national committee to follow up on the issue of reconstruction.

MZ: We have not formed it yet because if we do, they will say that we are trying to circumvent the reconciliation government which should take responsibility, pay the salaries and implement the reconstruction projects.

AA: Does Hamas fear that there will be a trade-off between its arms and reconstruction?

MZ: We don’t fear that at all. The weapons of the Resistance are off the table in talks and on the ground. This is the position of all Palestinians and they all refuse any talk of disarming the Resistance.

AA: Fatah leader Azzam al-Ahmed said that not a dime will go in and the Rafah Crossing will not open unless the legitimate authority enters Gaza. What do you think of this condition?

MZ: The problem is that Fatah considers itself legitimate because international parties, mostly the US and Israel, want to give it this legitimacy and a free position instead of the government that resisted the Israeli project. Regarding the Rafah crossing, there are two decisions, one Arab from the Arab League and the other Islamic from the Organization of the Islamic Conference, that were taken in 2006, calling for lifting the siege on Gaza and opening the crossings. But political changes in Egypt at the end of 2013 led to the closing of the Rafah Crossing in violation of the law.

We said earlier, we are not against the presidential guard coming but there is some sort of political confusion. The presidential guard should guard the president and the border guard is charged with the crossings that have civil bodies like agriculture, health and others. I believe that their goal is to make money as was the case with the security forces that worked at the crossings under the late president Yasser Arafat. The problem is that they don’t know what to do with these crossings or how to deal with people who work there.

AA: What happened with the date of resuming indirect talks in Cairo?

MZ: Until now, we haven’t been told anything. But the agreement stated that we should return to Cairo in a month to consolidate the truce and discuss outstanding issues such as borders, nautical miles and reconstruction. By the way, the ceasefire has lasted and it hasn’t been a month but if the Israelis attack we will retaliate. As for the port and the airport, in my opinion, we should not take the permission of the Israelis to build them. According to Oslo, there was an airport that Israel destroyed in 2000. If we decide internally to build an airport and Israel attacks it, we will attack its airport.

Also, there is a decision to build a port, the dispute is over where to build it. It can be built anywhere in the Gaza Strip as part of a Palestinian decision. Also here, Israeli approval is of no concern to us because we paid for the airport and the port in the Oslo Accords when the PLO recognized Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people.

AAWhat is the significance of the role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in supporting the Resistance in Gaza and why did Hamas bashfully thank it?

MZ: We did not thank anyone and we did not distribute medals to anyone after the war. The people know who stood with us and who supported our agenda. Some people thanked Qatar and Turkey for their positions in the last war. But if we want to talk about the agenda of the Resistance, there are many parties that we ought to thank, first among them is Iran which provided military, political and financial support throughout the last period. I will not respond to claims that Iranian funding of Hamas stopped after the crisis in Syria because Israel will benefit. It is true there’s been a mild divergence after the events in Syria, where we maintained our neutrality. But after leaving Damascus, we should’ve went to Beirut. We could have lived in the midst of the Palestinian people there and created a framework for a real program in coordination with the parties present there.

As to why we did not go to Beirut? You should ask those who went to Doha instead of Lebanon.

Nevertheless, whoever thinks that going to Qatar means that Hamas is against Iran is mistaken. Playing the axes game is destructive. That is why we should have good relations with Syria, Iran and all the countries.

AADoes this mean that you are with restoring the relationship with Damascus?

MZ: There is no enmity between us and the different components of Syria. We were guests there as part of a Resistance program sponsored by the host country. We left because we were shoved in the middle of the problems. I stress that we are opposed to any activities by Palestinians in the Yarmouk refugee camp or anywhere else because our battle is against Israel only.

AA: What about your relationship with Cairo?

MZ: We are not interested in engaging in a political or military dispute with Egypt and everything that was claimed about us is baseless. There isn’t a shred of evidence to support claims about killing Egyptian soldiers in Rafah. All the charges against us were meant to link us to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and describe them as terrorists. That is why we welcome restoring our relationship with Egypt.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

No Dams in the Negev? Anatomy of a Hasbara Swarm

niramres

“How can we return the occupied territories? There is no one to return them to.”
—Golda Meir

“There are no dams in the Negev.”
—Hasbara talking point

By Richard Edmondson

In the week before Christmas, the Zionist-hasbara crowd came out swinging in response to comments by Palestinian officials that Israel had opened dams east of Gaza and thereby further aggravated the flood disaster then engulfing the coastal territory.

In a December 18 article published at Commentary magazine, Jonathan S. Tobin accused Palestinians of “blaming Israel for the weather” and insisted that “there are no dams in the region bordering Gaza.” His article additionally included a link to my own site, richardedmondson.net, as well as to a Press TV video on YouTube, and went on to express the cheerless lament that “purveyors of Jew hatred” (presumably like myself) have come to “dominate” Palestinian politics with the result of keeping alive “false hope about Israel’s eventual destruction.”

Tobin’s article, headlined “Hamas Asks You to Buy a Dam in the Negev,” called attention to an article in the Times of Israel, also with an evocative headline—“How Hamas Used the Weather to Defame Israel”—and both articles referenced statements by two Palestinian officials in Gaza which the writers deemed as erroneous and defamatory toward Israel.

The two officials named were Yasser Shanti, chairman of Gaza’s Disaster Response Committee, and Muhammad Al-Maidana, a Civil Defense spokesperson. Shanti is said to have told journalists late in the day on December 13 that Israel had opened dams east of Gaza, causing even greater flooding within the coastal territory than what was already then taking place. And in what both Tobin, as well as his colleague at the Times of Israel, viewed as but a slight “variation” on Shanti’s comments, Al-Maidana is reported to have said that “sewage canals” (rather than dams) were opened, and that these also (or instead of) were to be found east of the Gaza Strip.

“There is only problem with these claims (sic),” said Tobin. “While Israelis have made the southern portion of the country bloom via ingenuity and clever irrigation schemes, dams are a scarce commodity in a desert region without rivers or lakes. In fact there are no dams in the region bordering Gaza.”

I first became aware that something stupendous was happening in Gaza when a friend emailed me an article by Gaza journalist Mohammed Omer, headlined Gaza Returns to Donkey Days, which I posted on December 6. This was actually a few days before the arrival of winter storm Alexa, but Omer noted that homes in Gaza were already flooding due to rain, power outages, and backed-up sewage. He also noted that streets were lined with garbage because there was no fuel to run the garbage trucks, and that the job of refuse collection had been relegated to people driving donkey carts. Accompanying the story was a photo of a girl sitting on a donkey cart parked next to a pile of litter:

gazadonkey

Then came winter storm Alexa. On December 12 I posted a second report from Omer and also I began making periodic visits to In Gaza, a website that had begun posting information on the disaster that it was collecting from a variety of sources. Included in their material were some stunning photos and videos showing streets completely inundated and people paddling in boats. I thought back to the December 6 article by Omer, and it didn’t take much imagination to figure out the water that those people were paddling around in and wading through was filled with garbage and sewage.

gazaflood5

All of this I began reposting at my own site—including an article from Ma’an News Agency in which Shanti’s comments were reported. Here is an excerpt from that article:

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Gaza government’s Disaster Response Committee announced late Friday that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just east of the Gaza Strip, flooding numerous residential areas in nearby villages within the coastal territory.

Committee chairman Yasser Shanti said in a press conference that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just to the east of the border with the Gaza Strip earlier in the day.

He warned that residential areas within the Gaza Valley would be flooding within the coming hours.

Could Israel really have done what Shanti said they did? Does it really have the capability to flood Gaza? And if it did do this, what were its reasons? Were they as outright despicable as one might initially jump to conclude, or were there perhaps mitigating circumstances?

With all this in mind, on December 17 I put up a post entitled Did Israel Deliberately Flood Gaza? I made no accusations in the article. I merely asked the question. But one thing I had discovered was that if Israel did open dams or somehow divert water into Gaza, it would not be the first time, or at least it was not the first time it had been accused of such. What I had come across was a 2010 Press TV report in which Palestinians in Gaza had levelled almost identical charges to those they were making last month. The story is told in the video, which I embedded into my article and which you’ll find at the above link. With scenes of flooding as a backdrop, the Press TV reporter narrates:

The Valley of Gaza, once a dry basin, turned into a raging river on Monday night. At approximately 6 p.m. hundreds of families in the central Gaza Strip fled their neighborhoods as water gushed into their homes. Israel had opened one of its dams located to the east of the central Gaza Strip, allowing water to spill into and flood two Palestinian towns.

Just below the video I wrote the following words:

If Israel did this in 2010, does it begger belief they would have done the same thing again this past week? If they did, the question then becomes did they do it out of a) a need to divert flooding from their own communities in Israel, or b) pure malice?

The following day, December 18, Tobin published his article in Commentary:

It should first be noted that the original sources for the claim that Israel opens dams to flood Gaza come from Iran’s Press TV. That font of journalistic integrity floated stories in 2010 and 2012 that spoke of Israeli authorities flooding Gaza by opening dams that supposedly exist to the east of the Gaza strip. But these stories provide no maps showing the site of the dams or documentation about them. Neither that shortcoming nor even a basic knowledge of the geography of the area has stopped Israel-bashers from continuing to blog or tweet links to these fallacious reports.

In the passage above, the link coded into the date “2010” is to my own article, “Did Israel Deliberately Flood Gaza?”, while the one almost immediately adjacent to it is to yet another Press TV video—also on dams being opened east of Gaza—this one from two years later. And here I have to give a hat tip to Tobin, for I was unaware of this second Press TV report. But like the first one, the report from 2012 features footage of flooding in Gaza (though different footage from that shown in the 2010 report) along with allegations from local residents and officials that dams were opened. Also, curiously, in both reports the flood-stricken area is more or less the same…the central Gaza valley…suggesting that in both instances the water possibly was released…again, if it was released…from the same location.

Also on December 18 we got our hasbara swarm. I would hasten to add, though, that the swarm that descended upon us was not near the size of the one that came down on Ma’an News (more about which in a moment), but at any rate our first comment was posted by “Sarah” at 11:24 a.m. She wrote:

I’m not sure if my favorite part is when they claim that the water reached 5 meters in some places (maybe they don’t know what a meter is?) or when they showed the picture of the Mediterranean Sea claiming that to be flood water. Or of course the fun non-fact that Israel opened its non-existent dams. That one had my sides almost splitting.

The water shown in the Press TV report was clearly not from the Mediterranean Sea (unless there was an unreported tsunami that day), but my reply to Sarah was as follows:

Maybe the solution, Sarah, is for Israel to end its blockade of Gaza, as the UNRWA official has called upon them to do. By imposing its blockade Israel bears ultimate responsibility for fuel shortages and other problems that have led to this disaster–and ultimately is going to be blamed, either justly or unjustly, for whatever calamities occur in the course of it. By the way, Israel has at least one dam that I know of, the Degania Dam on the Jordan River.

My comment about the Degania Dam, located on the Jordan River at the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, prompted accusations that I was either a lunatic or else clueless about geography, and that there was no way water from a dam at that location could have flooded Gaza. I, of course, had not made such a claim; I had merely pointed out to Sarah that her remark about Israel’s “non-existent dams” was not entirely accurate, and that there was at least one.

A System of Reservoirs and the Israeli National Water Carrier

As it turns out, however, there are other dams in Israel, including in the Negev. The desert region also has reservoirs. A click here will take you to a location on Google Maps showing you the town of Sderot in southern Israel. Directly to the west of the town lies the Kibbutz Nir Am, and due west of the kibbutz you will see the Nir Am Reservoir. It sits on a point overlooking Gaza. Move the map to the south and west and you will see four additional reservoirs, all lying along Israel’s border with Gaza. With a capacity of 1.5 million cubic liters of water, the Nir Am is the largest of these five reservoirs, but all are connected. The image below shows what is known as the National Water Carrier of Israel. It is a system of giant pipes, canals, tunnels and pumping stations, by means of which water is pumped from the Sea of Galilee in the northern part of the country, down to the coastal areas surrounding Tel Aviv, and finally to the Negev Desert in the south. The system is operated by Mekorot, Israel’s national water company.

watercarrier

You’ll note that the blue lines represent fresh water, while the red line leading down around Gaza and into the Negev contains treated sewage. The water in this line is used for agricultural purposes.

The National Water Carrier began pumping water in 1964. Here is what the system looked like as it was being constructed.

watercarrier

Also perhaps of interest, especially to those who claim there are “no dams in the Negev,” is the system of limans—small, manmade bodies of water throughout the desert that were created for irrigation and also as a means of combatting soil erosion and desertification. Limans catch runoff from wadis when they occasionally flood. Each liman has a small dam. According to the Jewish National Fund, there are approximately 420 limans in the Negev. Below is a photo of one:

liman

But limans, as you can see, are rather small. Likewise the dams, referred to as “check-dams,” that are built into them. They’re also scattered out over a wide area, and the chance they may have been a factor in the flooding of Gaza is remote. But also at the Jewish National Fund website is a proud history of the work it has done in developing various parts of Israel, including the Negev, and including apparently dams. In the following passage, the letters “JNF-KKL” are the English and Hebrew acronyms for the organization spliced together. It is how the Jewish National Fund refers to itself in this article. Here is an excerpt:

JNF-KKL spread out to the south, to the edge of the Arava. Some 25 percent of all tree plantings in the 1980′s were carried out in the Negev, bringing its forest area to a total of 45,000 acres. Army camps that had been set up in the Negev after the evacuation of the Sinai were planted with JNF-KKL trees to create shelter from the burning sun, shield soldiers and equipment from dust storms, and provide some respite for those soldiers stationed in the harsh desert.

JNF-KKL began to focus a large part of its attention on the burgeoning water crisis during this period. Towards the end of the 1980′s, JNF-KKL carried out a number of large-scale water conservation projects, building dams and reservoirs. These vital projects allowed JNF-KKL to capture rainwater run-off when the infrequent rains did fall, water which would have otherwise been lost to the sea.  Reservoirs were built in the Arava Valley, at Reshafim in the Beit She’arim Valley, and at Kedma near Kiryat Gat. An artificial lake was built in Timna Park in the southern Negev.

Additional references to dams in the Negev—and particularly adjacent to Gaza—can also be found in a book entitled Water and Peace in the Middle East, edited by J. Isaac and H. Shuval and published in 1994 (hat tip to “Lana”, commenter number 25 ). Here is an excerpt :

Wadi Gaza which flows during the winter season, originating from the Hebron mountains in the east and ends at the sea shore south of Gaza, has been blocked by Israel. Several dams were built along the way preventing the water from flowing into the Gaza Strip which otherwise would have provided a valuable source of water to be used for irrigation and for compensation for the lost pumped out water. There are no known figures of the amount of water this wadi brings, but it would have been a great help to the irrigation in the middle zone of Gaza.

Note, of course, the words “the middle zone of Gaza.” Recall also that both Press TV reports, from 2010 and 2012, described the flooding as occurring in the central area of Gaza. Hearken back also to the announcement by Shanti this past December 13, as reported by Ma’an:

He warned that residential areas within the Gaza Valley would be flooding within the coming hours.

Flooding in central Gaza, and the opening of dams there, is also mentioned in this report, posted December 15, from the Palestine Information Center:

GAZA, (PIC)– Hundreds of houses in central Gaza Strip were flooded as the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Saturday afternoon opened the earth dams east of the town of Wadi Salaqa in Deir al-Balah.

The IOF established many earth dams east of the Gaza Strip to collect rainwater to use it; however in case the levels of water increase they open these dams and water flows to Gaza.

Palestinian sources told Quds Press that the rescue teams and civil defense have evacuated 40 families including 200 people from the town of Wadi Salaqa and brought them to a shelter center.

The sources added that 300 families have been moved to the shelter center of Hussein School run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees “UNRWA” in Jabalya north of the Gaza Strip.

The Municipality of Gaza appealed to the residents living in low-lying areas in the Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes before the evening for fear their houses will be flooded with rainwater.

The town of Deir al-Balah, cited in the lead paragraph above, is mentioned in a lot of other reports on the Gaza flooding as well.

floodrefuge

The area seems to have been especially hard hit. If you look at it on Google Maps you will see that it is pretty much smack dab in the middle of Gaza. But just a few miles to the south and west of there lies the town of Khan Yunis, where a 21-year-old girl named Rana lives. Rana wrote the following report…and yes, she too mentions the dams:

My name is Rana. I have lived in the city of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip all 21 years of my life. What is happening in Gaza is not fiction but a bitter reality, which we lack the means to defend ourselves against. In the last few days, an unusually powerful storm has flooded many areas, displacing hundreds of residents from their homes. Children are without shelter from the cold and rain. Entire neighbourhoods are sinking.

My family and I spent four days in darkness in below freezing weather: no electricity, no water and no heat. I was so cold, I couldn‘t leave my bed and the small comfort it and my blankets provided. The cold felt like it penetrated my bones. Yet, I am lucky. I witnessed many people as they became homeless, their children desperate for food and warmth.

Friends called to tell me about the flooding and freezing in their areas. I felt bad, unable to help.

Power lines are down and our streets are filled with raw sewage. Greenhouses have been destroyed, affecting farmers and reducing the already minimal food supply we Gazans are forced to survive on.

Making conditions worse, Israel opened two dams, releasing a torrent of water that inundated many homes. As their houses sank, some of my neighbours nearly drowned. Fortunately, rescue workers came to their aid.

All of this was not enough for Israel. Its soldiers have been shooting at civilians in the village of Khuza’a, to the east of my city. Unarmed residents, women and children, attempting to flee the flooded town, were driven back for fear of being shot.

Israel’s action, assisted by the world’s silence, increases our suffering. Where is the international law we hear so many people talk about but never implement? Where is the community that talks about justice and humanitarian support? If my people are prevented from obtaining the basic requirements of life at least we should speak up and raise our voices.

Another storm is expected to hit my vulnerable homeland next week, bringing with it more suffering and more homelessness. When will the world wake up and treat us like human beings?

Rana Alshami, Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip

If you once again go to Google Maps you will notice that Khan Yunis lies in fairly close proximity to two reservoirs. Of the five reservoirs Israel maintains along the Gaza border, these are the two southernmost. They are small, but if water somehow were diverted from them, the effect upon the people in the nearby Gazan villages would probably be not inconsiderable.

But of course, it isn’t only central Gaza that was inundated in the recent flood. In a story posted at Ma’an News on December 13, reporter Alex Shams reports particularly heavy flooding also in the northern Gaza Strip.

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Gaza Strip was pounded by fierce winds and rain again on Friday as flooding reached dangerous levels in many areas, forcing thousands to flee their homes amid widespread power outages as temperatures plunged into the single digits.

The flooding was worst in the northern Gaza Strip, where hundreds fled their homes and water levels reached 40-50 cm in some parts, forcing residents to use boats to navigate their neighborhoods.

In the same article, Shams goes on to quote Chris Gunness, of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, who also notes heavy flooding in the north:

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness told Ma’an, “In Gaza there is a significant problem with flooding in the north, specifically in Jabaliya, and UNRWA staff has been working all night,”

“An UNRWA staff member reported that there were three meters of water surrounding his house,” he added, pointing out that water had come up to the first floor in some areas.

Here’s Jabaliya on Google Maps. Move the map southeast by northeast and you will see the other three reservoirs. Note that all three lie in fairly close proximity to Jabaliya.

Let’s turn our attention once more to the northernmost of these—the Nir Am Reservoir.

The Nir Am Reservoir is pictured in the photo at the very top of this post. Look real closely at it. You are standing on the southeastern side of the reservoir, looking out across it, with the skyline of the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun showing in the background.

Below is the reservoir as it is shown on Google Maps, with Sderot to the east, Beit Hanoun to the west, and the reservoir lying in between.

niram

And here is the Google Earth view, though from a slightly different perspective—with the side of the reservoir facing Beit Hanoun shown in the foreground.

niramres3

You can also go here and see a series of 30 photos shot as the reservoir was under construction in 1996. Click on any image to enlarge the photos, and then enlarge them even further by playing with the zoom controls that show up. The photos are under copyright of the Jewish National Fund and are in repository at the Widener Library at Harvard University.

Question: Was a means of diverting water from the Nir Am Reservoir into Gaza built into the system when it was constructed, or, alternately, has one been added since? And if the answer to that is yes, did someone, say perhaps from the nearby town of Sderot, feeling himself divinely chosen by God and aggrieved over the landing of the occasional rocket, slip out during the Alexa downpour to pull the switch, open the floodgate, and release the tide? It is probably impossible for us to know the answer to this, but very much worth keeping in mind is the National Water Carrier and its lines running parallel to Gaza’s border. Theoretically the release point, if such exists, would not necessarily have to have been to be at the Nir Am Reservoir. It could be anywhere along this line. Or, there could be more than one release point. Which might explain why especially heavy flooding was recorded in both northern and central Gaza.

Or—as I say—there may be no way of diverting any of this water, not so much as a single drop, into Gaza whatsoever…although my own personal hunch is this is unlikely.

But one thing is for certain. The hasbara crowd, ever convinced of Israel’s virtue and goodness, ever convinced also of the inviolability of their own “Jewish values,” are of the mind that a deliberate flooding of Gaza is unthinkable, and moreover seem convinced that only the vilest purveyors of “Jew hatred” could even contemplate such a thing.

“The Damn Dams Don’t Exist”

Most of us have encountered hasbara swarms on the Internet. You get to recognize them after a while. Such a swarm hit Ma’an News following publication of its initial report on the dams on December 13. A total of 77 comments were posted in response to that article. Given that it has been common knowledge for a while that Israel organizes and recruits teams of people to post comments favorable to the Jewish state on the Internet, it is not unreasonable to assume that at least some of those who descended upon Ma’an were being paid to do so. At any rate, the comments began lickety-split. The very first person to respond to the article, apparently only shortly after it was published, was “Abe.”

How far will Hamas go! Now they blame the weather on ISRAEL!!

comments

Many of the comment posters felt oh-so-acutely aggrieved—not over the fact that Palestinians were literally swimming in sewage, but that a “false” accusation had been made against Israel. The following comments, including grammatical errors and misspellings, are reproduced verbatim et literatim.

Said “Hanzie”:

Blame you Mr. Editor! The IDF are helping these Palestinians instead of these liars. Complain, complain, complain. Get a life, start to build something up, instead of this looser beheviour.

And “Ros D”:

To those asking if this is true – this article is complete and utter lies. Israel has transferred water pumps and fuel to Gaza to help them. They also transfer tons of aid given every week. As for those maintaining Israel is a terrorist state and the usual BS, all I can say is, there are gaps in their ignorance.

A common theme running through many of the comments was that there are no dams or rivers east of Gaza. Said “Lilith”:

ANYONE BEEN THERE?? I have and there are no rivers. Look on a map. Once again this has nothing to do with Israel in fact Israel took pumps in to get rid of the water. So suck it up twits.

“Sam” (who probably intended to say “west” of the Jordan River):

LOL. There are no dams or rivers east of the Jordan river. What a pathetic lie.

“yon7391”:

There are no rivers east of Gaza. So who would build dams in the wadi? Even without dams, the rains would have brought flooded wadi for a few hours. It is a fact of life in desertic flood plains. This too happens in Arizona and New Mexico and is it Israel’s fault? Probably not since Hamas does not rule Arizona… Yet.

“Michael Greenwald”:

Dear Editor, there are no rivers in Israel immediately east of Gaze. So, there are no dams. Perhaps you are referring to one or several of the wadis. These run during heavy rains as is happening now all over the Med and middle?east. The area getting?flooded is called a “flood plain,” implying “do not build there.” But every once in a while there is a flash flood and when that happens the Gazans blame it on israel.

“Natan” (apparently an Israeli):

If someone could tell me where these dams are I shall personally make a trip to photograph them and post on this site. The whole scenario is totally ridiculous – pls. people check your facts.

Other Israelis, elsewhere on the Internet, were also defending their country from the “defamatory” accusations regarding the dams. In an article entitled “Gaza and Their Dam Lies,” published December 19 at JewishPress.com, Paula Stern wrote:

I keep thinking that someone will look at this and get a real laugh. Oh, not for the tragedy of three people dying and 5,000 being evacuated…but about blaming Israel for the worst storm of the century and saying we opened the dams.

We didn’t. We really didn’t. And we didn’t – because the damn dams, damn well don’t exist. That’s right…there are no dams that we dammed up…in fact, if I’m not mistake (sic), there are no dams at all between Israel and Gaza…and, if there are any rivers that flow into Gaza, well, by the time they get anywhere near Gaza, they’re more of a tiny, tiny, tiny stream than anything that anyone would ever call a river.

Stern managed to get through her article without saying anything particularly noxious about the Palestinians, but this was not quite the case with Tobin’s piece in Commentary. The author of that article believes “Hamas blames Israel for suffering in Gaza because that is the only way it can deflect responsibility from itself for the incompetent manner with which it rules the strip,” and he goes on to assert that “Palestinians buy it because it allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their own fate and for making peace.”

Or in other words, the Palestinians are irresponsible, shiftless, no-count, and lazy. It falls into the category of comment one might have heard from plantation owners during the era of slavery in the US, but give Tobin credit for one thing: he does use the word “Palestinians,” suggesting he at least recognizes they exist.

Unlike Tobin, some of the commenters at Ma’an crossed the border into open, sarcastic derision—not only in their denigration of the Palestinians, but also in their expressions of delight at the catastrophe then sweeping over Gaza.

“Adi”:

bwahahahahah now we in control of the weather as well? they to funny these choppie ignoramaces maybe we can do other things as well wooooooooo

“Walt”:

Interesting – except for Iranian and Palestinian “news” agencies, there is not a single reliable agency in the world that has reported this … because it’s a fake?

“southparkbear”:

it’s time to turn gaza to venice of the islamist world

At the same time, some professed to express sympathy for the Palestinian cause, as for instance “Dale”:

There is no dam or river. There is a reservoir and a one meter wall that can’t be opened or closed. During the storm it overflowed. Iam very disappointed that Maan would print such allegations without checking out the facts first. This destroys their credibility on other issues when they may be telling the truth. It is supposed to represent a “responsible” palestinian media. what a disappointment. when they hurt their credibility, they don’t help the palestinian cause

Although a number of Ma’an’s readers posted replies in response, some of which were quite good, the news agency itself seemed to have a policy of simply letting all comments stand on their own as posted (probably due to lack of staff). At any rate, nothing resembling an “official Ma’an response” can be found in any of the 77 comments.

This was not the case at our own site, where the hasbara swarm that hit on December 18 quickly escalated into a war of words, a war of words fueled at least as much by the direction of events in America as those in Gaza—if not more so.

“Get Your Scummy Lobby Out of My Congress”

Suppose a resolution were to be introduced into the US Senate not only increasing the likelihood of war with Iran, but also calling for the decision-making power as to whether America embarks upon such a war to be turned over to the government of Israel. Think about how you would feel if you were an American. It would probably make you pretty angry, would it not? Well, in fact such a bill was introduced on December 19, and sadly it is not the first time such traitorous legislation has come before Congress. Threatening to derail peace talks between Iran and the Obama administration by imposing even more sanctions, senate bill S.1881—the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013—contains the following provision:

if the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapon program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence;

The bill was introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and has gained 33 cosponsors (so far). Click here to see a list of Israel’s deputy ministers in the US Senate who have signed onto the legislation.

Shortly after I posted my reply to “Sarah,” wherein, recall, I pointed out the existence of the Degania Dam and suggested that an end to the Gaza blockade might be the solution to the problem and even in Israel’s best interest, a comment was posted by “George Metesky”:

Um…Richard, we would love to end the blockade if it were safe to do so. Only when Gazans declare their desire to live in peace with Israel can we consider this possibility. The Jordan River is nowhere near Gaza. When Hamas and Gazans declare their unequivocal acceptance of a Jewish state as their neighbor and partner for peace, Israel will be overjoyed, and definitely lift any siege, develop economic and cultural ties and everything else that peace-loving people want.

This was closely followed by a comment from “aReefer”:

Richard, please do me a favour and open Google Earth, and then tell me how close the Dagania dam is to the Gaza strip in your own best estimate?

I think that you are clutching at straws to defend your false assertions in your article and flying in the face of common sense and the laws of both physics and liquid dynamics. Water would need to entirely flood every city in Southern Israel before reaching the Gaza Strip from there, including filling-up several large desert canyons on the way, creating 100 meter-deep rivers in the process(!!)

Another newsflash: The Dead Sea – which this dam feeds into – is famous for one thing in particular – namely for being the lowest place on Earth, so your response makes no sense at all – unless of course water flows uphill where you live?

The comment’s very last character was a “smiley face.” I, of course, had not made any “false assertions” in my article—something I pointed out in a response directed at both posters:

Dear Impeccably Honest Zionists,

Thank you for the “news flash.” Now please tell me what about my comments “makes no sense at all” to you. The previous commenter made reference to Israel’s “non-existent dams.” I merely pointed out to her that there is at least one dam in Israel, that I know of. Please read my comment again carefully. I did not say the Degania Dam was used to flood Gaza. I do know where the Jordan River is and I do know where Gaza is.

I have the feeling that you folks are getting a little rushed in your hasbara posting efforts. Did you read what I wrote carefully? Please quote back to me what “false assertions” I made. I did not say unequivocally that Israel had flooded Gaza. I merely reported that these are the allegations that were made. Did you take note of the question mark at the end of the title line?

Um…George, all I can tell you is that if you had imposed a blockade on the town in which I live for the past six or seven years, like you’ve imposed upon Gaza, I would probably be firing rockets at you too. End the blockade of Gaza. Also get your scummy Lobby out of my Congress and stop getting us into wars. If you want a war with Iran, go fight it yourselves.

By this time, the war of words had been joined by Ariadna, a regular visitor to our site. Ariadna, who maintains her own site at Boldface News and is also a frequent contributor at deLiberation, is a talented satirist (see her essay Shabbat Goyim Subgroup: The Copulatory Covenant) with a very sharp wit. Zionists would do well to steer clear of her.

“I’m with you,” she proclaimed to “George Metesky,” and then proceeded to propose conditions under which peace could be achieved between Israel and the Palestinians “if both sides compromise fairly”—

1. — Israel must allow a small number of Palestinians to remain in the Jewish State, before shipping the rest out. They get to select which ones. Palestinians must accept that those who stay must be sterilized. There is no other way to deal with the demographic time bomb.
2. — Israel must settle for a non-existent acceptance by the non-existent Palestinians of the Jewish State based on Golda Meir (and a large majority of Israeli jews’) opinion that Palestinians do not exist. Palestinians must refrain from provocatively insisting that they exist.
3. — Israel must designate areas where the remaining Palestinians can live. They will not be called “bantustans,” which is a wrong-headed allusion to apartheid in the only democracy in the ME, but something more gemütlich, like “shtetls.” The Palestinians must accept to keep themselves in the designated areas.
4. — Israel must guarantee that the IDF raids organized regularly on the shtetls for training purposes will not inflict, to the extent possible, lethal harm to the shtetl dwellers. The shtetl dwellers must in turn pledge cooperation with the raid exercises to avoid damaging IDF equipment and wasting ammo.

What do you say? Oh, I forgot the good point you made about cultural exchanges: yes the Palestinians could benefit greatly from so much the Israeli culture has to teach them: falafel, humus, kuffiehs, you name it!

In a second response Ariadna addressed the issue of whether my article had contained any “false assertions,” concluding that while it did not, it nonetheless failed to “look at things from the other side.”

She then asked: “Dam, shmam, who cares about technicalities?”—whereupon she alluded to Israel’s use of white phosphorous during the Gaza war five years ago, as well as to its more recently adopted practice of spraying Palestinians with a foul-smelling chemical known as “skunk.” (Click here and here to view videos showing tanker trucks spraying the chemical on Palestinian demonstrators as well as on residential homes, and here to see it being sprayed on a funeral.)

“So now the Israelis have released a dam, a shmam, a valve, a clutch, a gizmo, whatever, and flooded them,” she concluded.

Some of the posters also criticized my use of the Press TV video, with one referring to the Iranian news agency as “the mouthpiece of a genocidal islamofacist (sic) regime,” to which I replied that “compared to the mainstream media in America, Press TV is a model of responsible journalism.” This prompted predictable choruses of scorn—and yet another comment from Ariadna:

Doug, of course Iran is a theocratic state! Any rabbi in Israel can confirm that. I check PressTV every day just to keep an eye on them. Then I compare their reports to those in Arutz Sheva and J Post, which for me are the standard of objective reporting.

I don’t trust MSM in the US because they all too often portray Israel in a negative light. They fail to emphasize the suffering of the Israeli Jews terrorized under Palestinian occupation and they never place this conflict in its proper historical context: why don’t they ever publish stories about the Holocaust? Is it the Islamic lobby? Or perhaps it is the internet’s influence, as Abe Foxman warned us when he said he found a direct correlation between the rise of anti-semitism and the internet.

You can read the whole exchange—all 33 comments—by going here.

260 Million Cubic Meters of Water and the Inability to Self-Reflect

So is there any saving grace in all this from Israel’s point of view? Could it be believed, for instance, that the reservoirs, due to some ten inches of rain, simply broke their banks and overflowed on their own? Could the water that nearly drowned Rana’s neighbors in Khan Yunis—and the three-meter high wall of water that surrounded the UNRWA staff member’s home in northern Gaza—could all of this have been caused by the storm alone? Certainly it’s possible, but the system of reservoirs—220 altogether—and the miles upon miles of pipelines that have been built give Israel control over huge volumes of water. This is made clear by the JNF:

For many years, KKL-JNF has been working to bolster Israel’s water economy by developing alternative water sources, saving the economy millions of shekels each year, advancing Israeli agriculture, and saving palatable drinking water.

KKL-JNF’s collects and treats water from agriculture, sewage, flash floods and urban runoff for recycling, saving precious fresh water sources for drinking. With its 220 water reservoirs throughout the country, KKL-JNF has enriched Israel’s water economy by a total of 260 million cubic meters.

JNF supplies this additional information on the reservoirs:

The reservoirs that collect runoff water and those that store treated sewage water make it possible to redirect other sources of water for Israel’s water system, as the reservoirs main and primary purpose is to increase the balance of water available for use. The reservoirs produce 260 million cubic meters annually. In 2010, the water in reservoirs built by KKL-JNF provided about half of the water consumed by Israeli agriculture.

By storing effluent (partly purified sewage water) in reservoirs, the effluent is prevented from flowing into the environment, thereby preventing pollution of rivers, soil, underground water sources and bodies of water into which the waters flow (the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Galilee – Lake Kinneret, the Dead Sea and the Red Sea). The Israeli rivers’ restoration projects would have no meaningful significance unless the flow of sewage and effluent into the rivers is stopped by means of controlled storage in reservoirs that are custom-made for the task…

Reservoir technology has improved, becoming incomparably more effective and sophisticated over the years as a result of the accompanying research and development, as well as the lessons learned by KKL-JNF from actual experience in building reservoirs in past decades.  This includes using sealing technology using plastic sheets, reservoir enginieering (sic), preventing embankments from collapsing, improvements in maintenance and access, extending previously existing reservoirs, and hydraulic control.

The National Water Carrier of Israel is a vast system, one that is still under expansion and development to this day. The direction and flow of water throughout is determined by gravity as well as strategically placed pumping stations. Click here to see what one of these pumping stations looks like. Such a system gives those who operate it a considerable amount of power over what is essentially a force of nature—the flow of water. This is a power that can be used for good, or it can be used destructively.

The claim that the Israelis “made the desert bloom” is one we often here, and when you consider the cyclopean system of limans, reservoirs, pipelines, and pumping stations, the validity to the assertion has to be acknowledged. Yet what also has to be acknowledged is that the Negev faces some severe environmental problems as well. This was the subject of a 2007 article by Rebecca Manski, who writes:

The ‘Promised Land’ has in a matter of decades become a ‘Poisoned Land,’ reveals the November 10th weekend edition of the widest-read Israeli daily, Ma’ariv.

According to the article, Israel’s 10 major polluters include industrial polluters, wealthy contractors, waste dumps, and the indigenous Bedouin of the Negev/Naqab Desert.

The charge that the Bedouin are as responsible as industrial polluters for polluting the Negev is one Manski devotes considerable attention to in her article. She notes:

Naqab Arabs share some 2.5 % of the desert with Israel’s nuclear reactors, 22 agro and petrochemical factories, an oil terminal, closed military zones, quarries, a toxic waste incinerator, cell towers, a power plant, several airports, a prison, and 2 rivers of open sewage. Due to constant exposure to toxicity and radiation, the risk of cancer for residents in this entire area is significantly higher than the rest of the country, according to a 2004 preliminary Israeli Ministry of Health study.

Yet despite all this an Israeli academic official—quoted in Manski’s article—insists that the Bedouin are at least as responsible as some of Israel’s worst polluters. The official is Alon Tal, director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. “Tal prominently featured the indigenous Bedouin as spoilers of the beauty and health of the ‘Promised Land’ on ‘equal’ par with the largest regional toxic waste facility, high-rises, a superhighway, a sprawling shopping center, electro-chemical plants in Akko, and a Haifa ammonia tank,” Manski writes. She goes on to note:

Those who cast Bedouin as environmental hazards often fail to note that Negev Arabs were secured as cheap labor to construct toxic regional infrastructure on confiscated Bedouin lands, infrastructure to which they ultimately have little access, and from which they suffer major health impacts.

Tal concluded his interview with Ma’ariv with the declaration: “As someone who deals with ecology and environmentalism I have to speak the truth.”

“The Bedouin harm open areas. They create a situation of over-grazing, which brings about land erosion. There are fifty-thousand illegal structures in the Negev built by Bedouin. They are halting the development of the area since nothing can be done with land they’ve occupied. It’s not fair towards the general public, who’re supposed to enjoy these open spaces, to go on a retreat and even ride a jeep through the open landscape.” As this writer would have, Ma’ariv journalist Sarah Leibovitz-Dar queried, “So you suggest wiping out Bedouin culture so that Yuppies can drive in jeeps?”

Those ecologists that fail to see destitute Bedouin as sharing the same level of responsibility as corporate polluters flush with cash, those advocates who refuse to vilify the population suffering the worst effects of pollution in Israel – are they less honest than Tal?

Manski goes on to quote another Israeli, an unnamed official with the Ministry of the Environment, who seems to have a problem with the Bedouin having babies: “The Bedouin are an environmental hazard. They throw their trash everywhere and they’re having children all over the place. They steal our land.”

Though their styles are different, what Tal and the unnamed official have in common—along with Tobin in his article in Commentary—is a refusal to admit that Israel could have contributed in any way to the misery now being experienced by the indigenous peoples of the area. This may reflect something deeper than simply a PR tactic. It may be a genuine belief. “We didn’t. We really didn’t,” wrote Stern in her article—and one gets the feeling she is quite sincere in her conviction. Israel, despite its record of war crimes against the Palestinians, could not be capable of such an evil as opening dams and deliberately flooding a trapped population, such people seem to feel. Similar sentiments can also be detected in the hasbara comments. One commenter at our site, “Doug,” used the term “Palywood” and seemed to imply we were delusional if we believed anything reported by Press TV:

You had me with “it has been reported”. Look at your sources Press TV? Hamas? Palywood? “These are reports”? And then you proceed to write paragraphs about something that never happened?

After you could’t stretch this ‘blame israel for things it did not do’ any longer, you utter: “Israel and its supporters have unleashed an avalanche of denials”. So spreading fiction is ok, but when some people call on your nonsense, it’s not OK? Instead of: “I was wrong (and dumb to believe my ‘sources’)”, it’s Israel and its supporters who have unleashed an avalanche of denials. Let’s blame them again because they have no right to simply show how wrong you are like normal people, those people only “unleashed an avalanches of denials” as if there is a debate here.

And yes, Dgania has a dam, but don’t ask Press Tv where it is, use the Evil Empire’s Jewish-controlled Google Maps and see how far it is from Gaza.

Unbelievable

It is “unbelievable” because, of course, Jews simply don’t do such things. And by using the term “Palywood” (he presumably meant “Pallywood”), Doug seemed to be implying that the Press TV video was staged, that the people shown in it were hired as actors to pretend they were flooded, and that the waters themselves were perhaps nothing more than special effects—all done by Press TV for the purpose of victimizing Israel. Such logic suggests a fundamental inability to look inside and self-reflect, this coupled with a sense of perpetual victimhood. The twin tendencies in fact serve to sustain each other—and thus thousands of years of pogroms and expulsions have come down in the Jewish imagination as nothing more than eternally recurring outbursts of anti-Semitism directed against blameless Jews.

We might pause here and also consider the words of Menachem Begin, whose Irgun terror group carried out the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948, and who later wrote that the village of Deir Yassin was a legitimate military target and that public characterizations of what occurred there as a massacre were nothing more than a lie told by “Jew haters all over the world.” (Roberta Feuerlicht, The Fate of the Jews, Times Books, 1983, p. 244). Begin, of course, was a bona fide, genuine “extremist” if ever there was one, but the same sort of blind spot, the same sort of Jews-can-do-no-wrong attitude, can also be seen in the comments of Tobin, Stern, and the hasbara brigades that routinely patrol the Internet.

What it comes down to is that people of this nature are equally incapable of fathoming why Americans would become angered at watching 33 US senators, at a mere snap of AIPAC’s fingers, rush to sign onto a piece of legislation like S.1881. But the anger is there. Such anger will initially be directed at AIPAC and its puppets in Congress, but in the course of things, as it diffuses through the human subconscious, it will assuredly attach itself to Jews in general.

So did they or didn’t they? Did someone with access to Israel’s National Water Carrier system release “a dam, a shmam, a valve, a clutch, a gizmo,” to cause additional flooding in Gaza? In some respects it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because that Israelis possess the level of malice necessary to induce them to such an act is a thing that most people, or a good many people at any rate, have no trouble believing. And they have no trouble believing it because the malice has been on display throughout the Jewish state’s existence. Particularly has it been manifest over the past ten years or so—palpably obvious in comments like those of Dov Weisglass, who in 2006 talked about putting the Palestinians “on a diet”; or the release in 2012 of the so-called Red Lines document, showing Israel had indeed set a “minimum number of grams and calories that Gaza residents would be permitted to consume” and that Weisglass hadn’t simply been speaking rhetorically. But of course at no time has the malice been more conspicuous and out in the open than in the brutal, war-crime atrocities of Operation Cast Lead five years ago.

All of which brings me back around to my comment to Sarah on the blockade of Gaza and its inevitable implications:

“By imposing its blockade Israel bears ultimate responsibility for fuel shortages and other problems that have led to this disaster–and ultimately is going to be blamed, either justly or unjustly, for whatever calamities occur in the course of it…”

This of course is true. By imposing a blockade on Gaza, Israel in essence is assuming moral responsibility for what goes on there. If a baby dies in a Gaza hospital tomorrow night, it is Israel’s fault. When you have 1.7 million people locked up in a prison, you are responsible for them. There’s no way around that. The only way for Israel to get out from under this burden of responsibility is to end the blockade. I honestly have no love for the state of Israel, and I’m probably about the last person who would ever wish to share any advice with them of any kind, but it really is in Israel’s best interest at this point to end the blockade.

Ending the blockade at any rate would be the sensible thing to do—but of course we’re not dealing with sensible people. We are dealing with a people whose national identity has been molded and shaped by the Old Testament and its genocidal ideology, devoid of the pacific, moderating influences of the New Testament, and there’s a good chance that what has been referred to as a “slow motion genocide” could at any time, and over any pretext, quickly escalate into something even worse. In 2008, roughly ten months before Operation Cast Lead, Matan Vilnai, Israeli deputy defense minister, talked of inflicting a “shoah” (holocaust) upon the people of Gaza, and in 2012 Gilad Sharon, son of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, published a commentary in the Jerusalem Post calling for the Jewish state to “flatten all of Gaza.”

“The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima—the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too,” Sharon wrote.

Then there is The King’s Torah—in which it is argued that killing non-Jewish babies is permissible under certain circumstances—and other similar rabbinical writings and statements. Things of this nature tend to be kept largely under wraps by the Western mainstream media. Nevertheless they are there. They are bubbling in the background. And cumulatively, over time, such sentiments are propelling Israel closer and closer to a genocide of the Palestinian people. All of which, in turn brings me—finally—back around to my comment to George Metesky:

“Um…George, all I can tell you is that if you had imposed a blockade on the town in which I live for the past six or seven years, like you’ve imposed upon Gaza, I would probably be firing rockets at you too. End the blockade of Gaza…”

The above is something I’ve often actually pondered. I live in a small town in the southern part of the United States. If the Israelis were to impose a blockade on my town, what would I do? And if the blockade had been ongoing for seven years, what would I do? If I were watching people around me, friends and family members, growing undernourished, ill of health, due to shortages, succumbing to treatable diseases or dying in sporadic military attacks such as the one that claimed the life of three-year-old Hala Abu Sbeika on Christmas Eve, what would I do? And if I were forced to watch my streets fill up with garbage and sewage, or endure the agony of seeing my wife or daughter obliged to wade through it, what would I do?

It’s not easy to know the answer to these questions because it’s hard for most of us to conceive of living under such conditions and under such threats as Gaza faces from Israel every day. But these are the choices confronting the people who live there. And they confront them knowing that their lives are considered expendable, that whatever horrors the Jewish state decides to unleash upon them, whether it’s opening a floodgate or dropping a white phosphorous bomb or maybe something even more monstrous yet to materialize—that whatever disaster-plagued future summons them, the world, almost assuredly, will stand by and do nothing.

(Many thanks to MSA for research assistance)

New Report from Gaza Journalist: Gaza in State of Emergency

gazaemergency

Below you will find the latest report from Gaza journalist Mohammed Omer, which is preceded by an email action alert sent out yesterday by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

***

We decided to make this urgent report from Mohammed Omer into an action alert—Gazans need our help now!

Contact Secretary of State John Kerry:

Write: U.S. Department of State

2201 C ST., NW

Washington, DC 20520

Call:    202-647-4000; select option 4 and ask operator for the comment line.

202-647-6575  (Public Communication Division); select option 8 to leave your comment.

***

State of Emergency in Gaza

By Mohammed Omer

It is cold, there is no power, and I am charging my computer using a car battery in order to get this message out. It is so cold in Gaza that everyone has cold feet and a cold nose. A new storm is hitting this besieged enclave. There is no electricity, and shortages of water, fuel, and vital services mean people just sit and wait for the unknown.

Tens of houses east of Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip, in Khan Younes and Rafah are flooded with rain today. The sewage system cannot function and Gaza municipalities announced a state of emergency. Schools and most shops are shut, there is no traffic and few people are walking in the street.

Gaza City’s garbage trucks have been at a standstill due to the ongoing fuel shortage. I’d gotten used to the bright orange truck that usually passes by, sounding its horn, a sign for all my neighbors to bring out their garbage for collection.

Now the donkey is our only remaining hope. Since last week—when fuel supplies ran dry—the only sound one hears now is the click-click of their hooves as they pull their carts along the road at 4 a.m. By noon, they have collected all they can on their busy route. In Gaza’s Barcelona neighborhood, garbage containers are overflowing—a normal occurrence since fuel ran out.

I went down to chat with 41-year-old Abu Ghaleb. Alone, on his donkey-cart, there’s no way Abu Ghaleb can manage to clear all the streets of garbage. A shy, slim man, his attention is focused only on collecting sacks of garbage, which he piles onto the donkey cart, empties, then moves on to the next pile.

Prior to the crisis, Abu Ghaleb sold palm dates from his donkey cart, calling customers through a loudspeaker. It’s a business which doesn’t pay well—especially when people have their wages delayed and cannot buy his dates, which begin to spoil on the cart.

Now Abu Ghaleb’s only option is to collect garbage, which earns him around $200 per month—not much to feed his family as well as his donkey. But at least he keeps a sense of humor about the situation. He tells me, smiling shyly, “The fuel crisis means that people like me get some work at least.”

Because the Gaza municipality can’t afford to purchase expensive Israeli oil, it pays 450 people, who work with 250 donkeys, to clear away massive piles of garbage before health risks worsen among the 1.8 million Gazan civilians under siege by Israel.

After collecting piles of garbage and filling his cart to the brim Abu Ghaleb is tired and excuses himself. I am well aware that I may not see him for many days, because he is in such high demand. So my only option is to find a place to dump the garbage from my apartment. The smell is becoming unbearable.

On 8th Street in Gaza City I run into a mother and her small daughter on a donkey cart. I wonder if she is doing work similar to Abu Ghaleb’s and taking her daughter with her. But I soon learn that she earns a living, and supports eight children, by recycling household waste. She can use plastic to cover a broken window or an old frame to make improvised items of furniture.

We had no running water for the past two days—when there is no fuel, water is not pumped regularly into houses. The tank on our rooftop is empty. So we can’t even flush our toilet.

Fuel cannot enter Gaza through the supply tunnels recently shut down by Egypt’s new government. As a result Gaza’s water-treatment plant is at standstill, with raw sewage waist-deep in some streets and flooding into Gazan homes, bringing with it rats and disease.

The political strife between Hamas and opponents—Israel and the Palestinian Authority on one hand, and the Egyptian regime on the other—is affecting the life of everyone here.

According to the United Nations, Turkey donated $850,000 dollars to ease the crisis. But from what I hear from the local municipality, this represents just a small drop in a very large bucket. The 16,700 liters of fuel which was received in Gaza City will last for only a few days. Officials say the Gaza Strip needs 150,000 liters per month for garbage trucks alone.

Tonight, the smell of rotten sewage floods into my nose. I inhale and exhale the stink of rotten garbage. The night air is filled with this suffocating smell, and in the morning I can only hope that Abu Ghaleb will be around with his donkey and cart to try to clear away as much as he can.

It makes me wonder if U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is aware of Gaza’s situation. Would he find it acceptable if Israeli citizens lived in the same conditions as Gazans? Or don’t we in Gaza count as humans?

I wander down the street to see what others are doing. Abu Karim sits in his supermarket, door closed, unable to tolerate the odor. One of his neighbors tried to lessen the smell by burning his garbage—so now the night air is filled with smoke as well as the nauseating smell of burned plastic. The basic act of breathing is uncomfortable, and I am aware that however I try to describe this mess to Washington Report readers, I cannot do justice to the present crises.

My friend Richard Falk, the U.N. special rapporteur, described the situation in Gaza as a near catastrophe. I can only hope it stays at the “near” level—which is crisis enough—without getting any worse.

As floodwaters continue to invade people’s homes, Abu Ghaleb—and even his donkey—understand the dire situation facing the people of Gaza. It’s one that political leaders can’t—or don’t want to—grasp.

See also:

Gaza: Out of Fuel, Out of Air, and Running Out of Time

GAZA WITHOUT FRIENDS

No electricity, No fuel, No tunnels, No money , No fishing near Rafah , No medication for the ill . Also, No solidarity movement , No boats , No convoys , No humanitarian help . This is the situation in Gaza and you can add to it daily attacks and assaults on behalf of Israelis . It is not just the Israelis who are besieging Gaza, but also the Egyptians and the Palestinian Authority are doing the same . And, as if this was not enough , you have the NGO called TAMAROD that is a par to the Egyptian TAMAROD who wants to overthrow HAMAS and take the rule and it is coordinating with Egyptians and the Palestinian Authority and maybe with Zionists -who knows?- in order to end the rule of HAMAS in GAZA.

Great challenges Gaza is facing these days and the leadership of HAMAS is not in its best shape . Its credibility has suffered after it has sided with sectarians at the detriment of the cause and now while Arafat’s image has been revived as a Martyr of the cause, poisoned by the enemy , HAMAS needs to save what remains of its reputation without much success .

Regarding the national cause that it claims to carry , HAMAS has lost a big part of its credibility and has become vul

nerable to dubious NGO movements like TAMAROD who are monitored by the outside and financed by the US administration. HAMAS has little to show for and is being undermined by the Palestinian Authority and threatened by Israel and Egypt and has lost the unconditional support of its allies : Iran, Syria and Hizbullah .

The only way out of this mess is to have the military faction of HAMAS take the initiative , act as a leader , impose its will , resume the armed struggle and correct the deviation done by Mish’al and Haniyya and others and bring Haniyya and Mish’al and whoever compromised to justice .If HAMAS does not do this it will not be able to face TAMAROD and other fake NGOs who are threatening Gaza . If this is not done , there is no future for HAMAS , it will end the same way the Palestinian Authority ended ie: in the arms of the Israelis.

The Olive Tree

by  
November 5, 2013
The still slow life is mine, my days are years.
Tied to the soil, I reach towards the sky,
as men rush by, so driven by their fears,
and with their fears intact pass on and die.
From Plato’s Olive Tree
 Unknown author
This is the olive picking season. Like other harvests, it should be a season of joy. However, the land-grabbing occupiers of Palestine have imbued Israeli youth with the destructive arrogance of conceited, swaggering, self-loving Jews.
“A group of extremist Israeli settlers set ablaze more than 350 Palestinian olive trees” reports the International Middle East Media Centre. (Sept. 23, 2013) “Extremists further attacked a Palestinian orchard, south of Nablus, and uprooted its trees.”
According to the Palestine News Agency (WAFA), “Israeli settlers Monday (Oct.14, 2013) cut down olive trees in the village of Ras Karkar, west of Ramallah….Settlers always attack villages during the olive picking season and destroy olive trees to harm the local Palestinian population who live from harvesting olive crops.”
Noam Chomsky observes, “The result, predictably, has been severe disruption of Palestinian lives, and according to UN reports, a decrease of more than 80% in number of farmers who routinely cultivate their lands and a decline of 60% in yield of olive trees, among other harmful effects.”
Local human rights groups allege that more than 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967.
“The ancient olive trees are regarded by Palestinians as a symbol of their connection to the land,” reports Al-Jazeera. “Each year during the olive harvesting season, such incidents spike across the West Bank – where more than 515,000 Israelis occupy over 125 settlements, considered illegal under international law.”
Oxfam confirmed in a report that “Olives are the area’s most important crop, whose oil is exported around the globe and whose annual harvest is a crucial source of income for about 100,000 farming families. Olive cultivation contributes up to $100 million in income for some of the poorest Palestinian communities.”
According to Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 80,000 Palestinian families depend on olives as a sole source of income, which constitutes 14% of the Palestinian agricultural output.
“In the village of Burin on Sunday, 20/10, Palestinian olive pickers and Israeli volunteers were attacked by masked settlers,” says 925 Magazine.
“Olive trees are a Palestinian national symbol, a fact acknowledged by Israeli settlers who continually seek to destroy them,” writes Daoud Kuttab.
The story of Palestine in the olive tree deserves to be heard.
The Story of Palestine
By Anonymous

If olive trees could speak, what would they tell us?
Would they recount the glories witnessed in this hallowed place?
Would they tell of the horrors that transpired long ago in the name of many things?
Would they recall the small human lives that lived for generations in pastoral dignity?
Would they give evidence of the suffering and abuse inflicted by mechanical monsters and ill-inspired men?
Would they share the love they have received from the once young and now old who tended them?
Would they boast of the healing, the wealth and the comfort they bring?
Would they complain of the loneliness of the field and the neglect of the world?
Would they speak of the hope and courage that lives in the earth and endures in the souls of their children?
The olive trees speak all this and more to people who are ready to hear.

 “If the Olive Trees knew the hands that planted them, Their Oil would become Tears.”

Concludes Mahmud Darwish,
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: