Thursday, June 23, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Nasr's Farm Jun 14, 2011
Nasr used to live in a house with his wife and 5 children on a beautiful patch of land that he farms with his brother. They have an orchard, olive trees, watermelon, peppers, aubergine and squash. Walking down a narrow dirt road past the orchard, the land suddenly opens to gently rolling farmland. In the distance you can see the border fence.
Nasr and his family live on the edge of the buffer zone in the northern Gaza Strip. Following the border fence you can see several watch towers securing Israel. No one ensures the safety of Nasr and his family.
One year ago the Israeli army attacked his home. The children were playing outside, Nasr’s wife, Naama, was in the front yard. Shortly before sunset a tank located on a mound 500 meters from the home fired shells packed with nails at the home. Nasr's wife, torn to ribbons, bled to death in the yard when ambulances were not permitted down the narrow dirt road to his home.
Nasr's home was attacked again this past April. Nasr was afraid to move or even put on a flashlight, for fear of additional shelling. He heard two of his children cry out. They were buried under the rubble in the hallway of the upper story of the house, but they survived. On both occasions the Israeli military claimed to have been shooting at terrorists.
You can see the Israeli military outpost about 2 kilometers from Nasr’s front entrance way. The sheet metal siding of the house has hundreds of nail shaped holes in it. Nasr points to the spot where his wife died as we enter the house.
After the second attack, Nasr’s family moved to a house in the village, near to the cemetery where his wife was buried. One night, around midnight, Nasr woke to find his children gone. He went outside and found them at their mother’s grave. The next day he left that house and returned to his land.
Nasser and his family now live in a couple of tents near his olive trees. His brother’s family remains in the first floor of the house. The second story is destroyed. Nasr and his brother still continue to farm the land. He recognizes that another attack could happen at any time, but he refuses to leave the land he was born on.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Rafah Crossing Video Jun 16, 2011
The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt reopened to great fanfare on May 28th 2011. World news agencies trumpeted, “The siege is over.” At the time, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Menha Bakhoum said the decision was made to "Ease the suffering of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip." This has not been
Some people explained to me that they were turned away because their name was ‘not on the list.’ When they asked how to get on the list; they did not get an answer.
A British mother, Wesam Farah had come Gaza with her 2 young sons, Qasem and Qayis for her son’s school holiday. They had planned to visit family for three weeks, but they have not been permitted to leave. They have returned to the crossing on a daily basis for the past 2 weeks, their holiday turned to nightmare. Finally she was allowed to cross the gate, but the border patrol still held her family’s passports and she was uncertain they would pass. For the moment, she was relieved just to have some space to breathe.
A small boy caught my eye, as he stood pressed up against the gate. He held his mothers hand and he did not speak. I asked his mother how long they had been waiting. “We have come everyday and waited all day, only to be turned back. We have received no explanation, just told to go back.” She had planned the family visit for years, spending four thousand dollars on airfare for her family. Her departure flight from Cairo was leaving in 2 days. She was uncertain whether she would make it, but didn’t know what to do to rectify the situation. After our interview, the gate opened and as people surged forward, she was allowed to pass. The authorities still held her passport, her fate was still undetermined, but the relief of making one small step brought both tears and laughter.
|Rafah Crossing is Open (a little bit)|
Later last evening after arriving back in Gaza City, we received a call from Wesam. She was back in Gaza. After 6 hours of waiting, the Egyptians turned her back. She was not allowed to pass and was told to return on Saturday and try again.
For the majority of Palestinians leaving Gaza is like a Kafka tale. The fanfare has faded, the misery persists.
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Beit Hanoun March to the Buffer Zone Video
We marched to the buffer zone with about 20 others including members of the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative who have been organizing non-violent demonstrations for the past three years, as well as several members of GYBO (Gaza Youth Break Out). Carrying flags and alternately chanting, singing and walking in silence we approached the Israeli border. This is a no go zone for Palestinians. Israel has deemed that 300 meters from the wall is a buffer zone, so Palestinian farmland is taken away.
Waving flags and chanting we reached the edge of the buffer zone and continued walking. Almost immediately, dust kicked up just ahead of us, a warning shot rang out. We stopped, daring to go no further. Climbing a small embankment we waved our Palestinian flags and chanted to the soldiers hidden in the guard towers. Not five minutes passed and 2 shots rang out, one kicking up dust at our feet. 19 year old Mohammed Kafarna grabbed his neck, turned, and ran back in the direction we had come. He had been hit with shrapnel.
That effectively ended the demonstration; we turned and headed back toward the village. I was stunned that two dozen people could pose such a threat to Israel that the army would resort to using live rounds of ammunition against us. Of course, we were not a physical threat, I imagine the Israeli soldiers laughed at us as we turned and headed back. But non-violent demonstrations do cause a threat, especially when people walk to the wall and demand access to their land, their olive trees, their resources, and their homes. Israel has only one method to disperse non-violent demonstrators and that is through violent repression.
We often hear of Israel’s need for security, yet the people of Gaza are under occupation by the state of Israel and no one utters a word about their security. For years Palestinians have been killed with impunity, always with the words “Israel has a right to security.” Over the weekend after dozens of unarmed protesters were killed by Israeli forces in the Golan, Netanyahu declared, ‘Unfortunately, extremist forces around us are trying today to breach our borders and threaten our communities and our citizens. We will not let them do that’. The Israeli military said troops fired warning shots into the air after people started approaching the border fence, then issued verbal warnings to protesters to stay away. After some of the protesters reached the fence, soldiers opened fire, ‘with precision’, at their legs. Amongst the dead was a 24 year old woman Enis Shriteh, a fourth year English student. There was no explanation on how she got confused with ‘extremist elements’. There was no explanation of how shots to demonstrator’s legs killed her. There was no questioning of Israeli statements at all. Enis Shriteh’s death did not warrant mention in the mainstream press.
Certainly no one in our group was an extremist, nor were we a threat, merely Palestinian youth and international supporters trying to reach Palestinian land. There is no denying this: Gaza is a jail and Israeli soldiers are the jailers. Imprisoned without charges, the people of Gaza are trapped. Israel would have the world believe they are beneficent and kindly jailers, desperately seeking peace. This is a lie. Gaza is under siege.
You don't believe me? Come, we'll walk with the people of Beit Hanoun down to the buffer zone.
See my first video ever at: http://www.youtube.com/user/ISMPalestine
(Weekly Beit Hanoun non-violent demonstration met with live gunfire, shrapnel injury)
Thursday, June 02, 2011
The port is quiet. Fishing boats sit empty,
tossed along the shore.
A blood red sun sets.
Waves painting the shore whisper freedom.
But the gunboats, out of sight,
are not far. No, they are not far.
Bending toward justice,
the youth rise up to meet the waves.
Tomorrow is a new day. And gunboats
can not stop the rising tide.
Gaza rising, a new day.