A new exhibition is giving Palestinians in Gaza the chance to compare different forms of art
A new exhibition has given Palestinians in Gaza the chance to compare different forms of art.
Launched by Studio Windows from Gaza for Contemporary Arts, the exhibition includes work from 64 artists including those who specialise in plaster moulds, sculptors and experimental photography.
One section covers the pioneering arts, which includes pieces from the early seventies, when plaster moulds and paintings were first used in the Gaza Strip. These pieces tell the story of the artists that created them.
Experimental photographs and sculptures made of scraps, wood or food are also available for visitors to see.
“Artists address subjects inspired by the reality of the political and social life in the Gaza Strip, adopting symbols of resistance and direct representation of disaster and misery in the country,” organisers explained.
They give “a real opportunity for viewers to raise questions.”
Palestinians stage a protest against US decision to cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in front of Beit Hanoun border gate in Gaza City, Gaza on 4 September, 2018
UAE announced a $50 million contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), a statement said today.
UNRWA said this reiterates the UAE’s “commitment to support the vital and life-saving services provided by the Agency to over five million Palestine refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank.”
The UNRWA added: “The UAE is a valued and reliable partner to the Agency, and one of a select few donors whose regular support over several decades has greatly contributed to the Agency’s ability to carry out its mandate.”
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl commended the outstanding show of support from the UAE.
According to the statement, Krahenbuhl said: “At a time of intense pressure on our Agency, the immense generosity of the United Arab Emirates sends a clear message that Palestine refugees are not alone. In addition to a crucial financial contribution, it is also a show of solidarity by the UAE for which I am deeply grateful.”
The statement said: “This extraordinary financial support will go a long way in helping UNRWA maintain its programmes for 2019 as planned, namely in the areas of primary healthcare, education and social services, all vital for the life and dignity of Palestine refugees, and an anchor for their feeling of stability.”
This comes as reports reveal that the UAE has offered to host the second meeting to unveil details of the US’ peace plan for the Middle East dubbed the “deal of the century”. Palestinians have repeatedly rejected the deal saying it is an effort to eradicate their cause and their rights.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki speaks during informal consultation meeting on illegal Israeli settlement in Palestine organized by Indonesia, South Africa and Kuwait at UN headquarters in New York, United States 9 on May 2019
The US and Israel’s disrespect for international law strips the UN of its role, Quds Net Newsreported the Palestinian Foreign Ministry saying yesterday.
In a statement, the ministry warned the international community of the effects of its silence regarding the American and Israeli actions, stressing that they encourage the expansionist Israeli projects which undermine all prospects of peace.
The ministry also called for the international community to urgently move and fulfil its commitments towards the Palestinians and to rein in Israeli occupation forces and the armed settler militias.
It went on to call on the international community to preserve the credibility of the UN and quickly afford international protection to the Palestinians.
Following the abduction of eight Palestinians from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of al-‘Isawiya on Sunday, Israeli troops again invaded the area on Monday morning, abducting 7 more Palestinians.
According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, Israeli occupying forces abducted seven citizens from their homes in the early morning hours on Monday, waking them from their beds and taking them into custody.
Most of those abducted came from a single family. They were transferred to Israeli detention and detention centers in Jerusalem for interrogation .
The abductees include: Ngham Mohammed Hassan Alian (16 years old), Mu’tasim Hamza Obaid, Yousef Hashim Alian, Majid Suleiman Dari, Mohammed Alyan and Anas Alayan .
In the same invasion, the Israeli occupation forces stormed the house of Yusuf Mustafa Obeid and arrested his son Fadi after his assault and assault him in front of his family .
These abductions are just the latest in a series of escalations by the Israeli military targeting the town of al-‘Isawiya over the past two months, during which dozens of young men and children were abducted, and the army engaged in the daily harassment of Palestinian residents.
al-‘Isawiya is one of the areas that Israeli authorities have planned to take over, as part of the E1 Jerusalem plan laid out in 2003. This is a plan to encircle East Jerusalem with Jewish-only settlements, and depopulate Palestinian areas in order to replace those residents with Israeli Jewish passport-holders, thus annexing this area into what is now Israel by using military force.
Israeli occupation forces arrested two youths at dawn on Sunday as they tried to cross the border fence in the Gaza Strip.
Local media reported that the Israeli occupation forces abducted the two young men in the southern Gaza Strip after trying to cross the fence, and took them in for investigation.
Since the Israeli closure of the Gaza border in 2006, Palestinian workers have lost their main source of livelihood – since many used to work in Israel in manual labor, construction and other jobs.
Each month, a number of Palestinian workers are captured trying to cross the border to access work in Israel.
The two were abducted just two days after Israeli forces shot and killed a young man in the same area, in southern Gaza, while he was participating in a non-violent protest along the Israel-Gaza border.
A new report by the group ‘Forensic Architecture’ has found that widespread pesticide contamination from Israel into Gaza has occurred over decades, severely impacting the food grown in Gaza.
The full report follows below:
Staging the terrain
Over three decades, in tandem with the Madrid and Oslo negotiation processes, the occupied Gaza Strip has been slowly isolated from the rest of Palestine and the outside world, and subjected to repeated Israeli military incursions. These incursions intensified from September 2003 to the fall of 2014, during which Israel launched at least 24 separate military operations targeting Gaza, giving shape to its surrounding borders today.
The borders around Gaza—one of the most densely-populated areas on Earth—continue to be hardened and heightened into a sophisticated system of under- and overground fences, forts, and surveillance technologies. Part of this system has been the production of an enforced and expanding military no-go area—or ‘buffer zone’—on the Palestinian side of the border.
Since 2014, the clearing and bulldozing of agricultural and residential lands by the Israel military along the eastern border of Gaza has been complemented by the unannounced aerial spraying of crop-killing herbicides.
This ongoing practice has not only destroyed entire swaths of formerly arable land along the border fence, but also crops and farmlands hundreds of metres deep into Palestinian territory, resulting in the loss of livelihoods for Gazan farmers.
Farmers near the border in Gaza
Tractors flattening land for the ‘buffer zone’ in eastern Gaza, in 2018
(Read the press release from Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement here.)
To this end, our investigation sought to answer the following questions: how do airborne herbicides travel into Gaza? How far into Gaza does it enter? What is the concentration of the herbicide that drifts into Gaza? And what is the damage to the farmland on the Gazan side of the border?
Weaponising the wind
Our analysis of several first-hand videos, collected in the field, reveals that aerial spraying by commercial crop-dusters flying on the Israeli side of the border mobilises the wind to carry the chemicals into the Gaza Strip, at damaging concentrations.
The videos support the testimonies of farmers that, prior to spraying, the Israeli military uses the smoke from a burning tire to confirm the westerly direction of the wind, thereby carrying the herbicides from Israel into Gaza.
Our investigation shows that each spray leaves behind a unique destructive signature. No two aerial sprays will have the same effect, nor can their damage be reasonably predicted by the army, since the location where the toxic chemicals land, and their respective concentrations, depend heavily on the direction and speed of the wind relative to the flight path of the aircraft.
In November 2016, in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request filed by the NGO Gisha, the Israeli Ministry of Defense confirmed that aerial herbicides are sprayed along the width of the perimeter of Gaza. Aerial spraying is conducted between the Erez crossing in the north and Kerem Shalom in the south, over an estimated area of 12,000 dunums (12 square kilometres).
The Israeli government’s response to an FOI request filed by the NGO Gisha. (Gisha)
Following the advice of a contracted civilian agronomist, Israeli military spraying is conducted during key harvest periods, targeting spring and summer crops. Working with the private Israeli civilian aviation firm Chim-Nir (כימ-ניר), the army’s destruction of vegetation along the eastern perimeter is carried out in a continuous manner, using two aircrafts simultaneously, each equipped with a GPS system to enable precision.
The Ministry of Defense also confirmed that the Israeli military sprays a combination of three herbicides: Glyphosate, Oxyfluorfen (Oxygal) and Diuron (Diurex).
Glyphosate, formulated as ‘Roundup’, is the most widely-used herbicide in the world, leaving traces in soil, foodstuffs, air, and water, as well as human urine. Roundup is the flagship product of the Monsanto Company, a leading agricultural chemicals business that previously produced herbicides and defoliants used by the US military in Vietnam.
In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s Cancer Research Agency classified glyphosate as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’. Since then, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency have ruled it safe for use, although a number of European environmental groups have opposed this ruling.
Oxyfluorfen, formulated as ‘Oxygal’, is manufactured by the Israeli company Tapazol Chemical Works Ltd, and suppresses the growth of certain broad-leaf and grassy weeds. According to the Material Safety Data Sheet provided by Tapazol, Oxygal can cause ‘severe irritation’ upon contact with skin or eyes, and must be ‘kept out of water supplies and sewers’.
The Ministry claimed that it is ‘not carrying out any aerial spraying over the area of the Gaza Strip… [but] only over the territory of the State of Israel along the security barrier’. Citing Israel’s Plant Protection Law, 5716-1956, the Ministry claimed that its spraying practices along the Gaza border are identical to aerial spraying carried out in other Israeli-controlled areas.
A bottle of Oxygal herbicide
However, wind direction is a key factor that determines the movement of aerial herbicides from the purportedly-targeted area, and when effective drift control techniques are not applied, the Israeli army cannot mitigate the reach of those chemicals into Gazan farmland.
Plant scientists have noted that under similar environmental conditions, and with all sprayers adjusted properly, herbicide drift is ‘generally greater from aerial application than from ground application’; the use of ground-based field crop sprayers through tractors reduces the likelihood of extensive drift.
The Israeli military has confirmed that it sprayed aerial herbicides at least thirty times in along the border with Gaza in the period from November 2014 to December 2018. The spring of 2019 season was the first spring season during which the military has not conducted aerial spraying in the past four years.
To date, no Palestinian farmers have ever been compensated for damages to their crops.
Tracking a single spraying
On 5 April 2017, standing on the Gazan side of the border area near Khan Younes, a fieldworker with the NGO Gisha recorded a video of an Israeli crop-dusters spraying herbicides.
Palestinian farmers in the area reported concerns that their crops would be damaged as a result of this spraying, once it was carried by the wind, considering that crops had already been harmed in a previous round of spraying that took place only months prior. Further, most of the crops in the area had been recently sown, making them particularly susceptible to damage from herbicide spraying.
Leaves damaged by herbicide
To determine the unique destructive signature of this spraying event, we threaded together evidence derived from vegetation on the ground, the testimony of civilians living and working in the area, and the nature of the environmental elements mobilised in the event.
We identified the plane spraying herbicides along the eastern border of Gaza as a Model S2R-T34 Turbo Thrush.
Using the GPS location of the videographer as recorded on their smartphone, we were able to establish the camera’s cone of vision by comparing the dimensions of visible landmarks, such as a watchtower. Through a process of camera calibration we found the location of the plane and used motion-tracking to model its path, in time and space, as it sprayed.
The flight paths seen in videos collected by Forensic Architecture were mapped onto a 3D model
Our analysis revealed that before each spray, the plane dives to roughly 20m altitude to get closer to the ground. Each spray goes on for a duration of 2–5 seconds, covering the area to be fumigated by travelling back and forth in linear paths.
For the spraying that took place on 5 April 2017, we were able to identify six such spraying paths during the course of the two videos. All six of the sprayings were conducted on the Israeli side, close to the eastern border of Gaza.
With the assistance of a fluid dynamics expert, Dr Salvador Navarro-Martinez, we sought to determine the extent and concentration of herbicide drift.
To this end, each spray event was simulated using our flight path reconstruction, the local topology, the injector systems fixed to the plane, and meteorological conditions at the time of spraying. We then collected key variables such as wind direction and speed, droplet distribution, and ground chemical deposition to determine the extent of the drift.
The results of Forensic Architecture’s analysis show the distribution of concentration of herbicide as it travels westward into Gaza
The results showed that as the wind moves across the path of the herbicide spray, it carries chemicals westward that are then deposited onto Gazan farmland. The simulation indicates that for the spraying on 5 April, harmful concentrations of herbicide drift reached in excess of 300m into Gaza. This confirms that Palestinian crops could have been harmed as a result of herbicide drift.
Satellite imagery analysis
Analysis of satellite imagery corroborates the findings of our drift simulation. We compared satellite imagery 5 days after the spraying, and 15 days after the spraying, to reveal visual indicators for the presence and health of vegetation. When the two analyses are overlaid with one another, vegetation degradation becomes visible across much of the same area potentially affected by herbicide drift.
An NDVI analysis showing losses of vegetation between 5 days and 15 days after the herbicidal spraying. Red indicates areas in which vegetation has been lost
These findings suggest that herbicides carried by winds during and after the Israeli military spraying on 5 April contributed to the degradation of vegetation on the Gazan side of the border, in Khan Younes. We believe that these findings are largely generalisable, since similar vegetation degradation is also visible in other areas in Gaza which are close to the border and in the vicinity of known Israeli target areas for aerial herbicide spraying.
Following another confirmed spraying flight by the Israeli military on 9 and 10 January 2018, also in the Khan Younes area, the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture actively surveyed dozens of farms that had reported crop damage. Gazan farmers living hundreds of metres away from the border reported damage to crops totaling 250 acres following the January spraying.
Three days after another spraying in December 2018, we gathered similar samples of leaves that exhibited characteristic damage from a contact herbicide.
Spraying by the Israeli military was conducted along the border on 3 December 2018. On 6 December 2018, samples were collected from Palestinian farms whose leafy crops showed visible damage
Leafy crops sampled from two locations along the border with Israel in East Gaza and Juhor ad Dik, hundreds of metres into Gaza, revealed visible damage from fungal pathogens, insect feeding, and possible herbicide drift carried by the wind into Gaza. Corroborating human testimony on the ground, leaves of plants along the Israel-Gaza border function like sensors, recording memories of environmental violence.
Aerial spraying: Less control, unpredictable damage
When analysing the elements of a single spraying event on 5 April 2017, the testimonies of farmers, satellite imagery, and drift analysis we have gathered all confirm that agricultural lands more than 300m from Gaza’s eastern border experienced damage, and with concentrations of herbicides above the recommended amounts for drift, according to the European Union.
Evidence derived from vegetation on the ground, civilian testimony, and the environmental elements mobilized in the spraying event all correspond to show that the Israeli practice of aerial fumigation at times when the wind is blowing into Gaza causes damage to farmland hundreds of metres inside the besieged strip.
This confirms that as a practice for the clearing of vegetation, aerial spraying causes indiscriminate damage: the effects are less readily controllable, and the extent of damage to Palestinian farmland per spray is largely unpredictable. As such, the Israeli military cannot guarantee the reach of the chemicals it sprays by air, nor ensure that those chemicals remain proportionate to the declared objective of improving visibility for security operations.
Israeli military authorities continue to reject calls to end the practice of aerial herbicide spraying along the border with the Gaza Strip. Israel does not coordinate or share the proposed timing of planned operations with the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, the International Committee of the Red Cross, or with Gazan farmers, a practice which could mitigate some of the harm to those farmers’ property, and possibly to the surrounding environment as well.
Damage to land, health and livelihoods
The inability to control both the effects and reach of this ongoing military practice along the eastern border enacts a heavy price on Gaza’s farming community and the broader civilian population.
The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture estimates that between 2014 and 2018, herbicide spraying damaged upwards of 13,000 dunams of farmland in Gaza. The NGO Al-Mezan has further warned that, in addition to crop damage, the long-term consumption by livestock of plants affected by the sprayed chemicals has negative effects that may harm the health of humans who then consume meat from those livestock.
In the context of an ongoing Israeli blockade—with restrictions on the movement of people and goods into Gaza, and diminishing possibilities for farmers to cultivate land, maintain livelihoods, raise livestock, and to fish—the agricultural lands along Gaza’s eastern border are an important part of the food security of its population.
This map displays long-term changes to visual indicators of vegetation health across the Gaza region over the past three decades of Israeli occupation. Red indicates areas in which vegetation was completely eradicated. Vegetated areas that have degraded over time are shown across a gradient from yellow to red, according to the severity of vegetation degradation over time. Areas that have become greener over time are shown across a gradient of light to dark green, and occur mainly on the Israeli side of the border
Along with the regular bulldozing and flattening of residential and farm land, aerial herbicide spraying is one part of a slow process of ‘desertification’, that has transformed a once lush and agriculturally active border zone into parched ground, cleared of vegetation.
These practices have provided the Israeli military with visibility along the eastern border of Gaza—a visibility that has also left Palestinian civilians, including farmers, youth and families, further exposed to Israeli fire from hundreds of metres away.
The slow violence of spatial degradation through the mobilisation of environmental elements thus accelerates into an eruptive violence.
BETHLEHEM, PALESTINOW.COM — Israeli soldiers abducted, Sunday, three Palestinians, including one child, in Bethlehem governorate, south of occupied East Jerusalem, in the West Bank.
Media sources said the soldiers invaded and searched several homes in various parts of Bethlehem, and surrounding communities, and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.
They added that the soldiers abducted a child, identified as Ahmad Maher Khalifa, 14, in addition Qoteiba Khalifa and Ahmad Maher Ekhmayyes.
In related news, the soldiers invaded Doura town, south of Hebron, broke into the home of Abdul-Fattah Amro, and violently searched the property, before summoning his son, Shadi, for interrogation.
The soldiers also installed military roadblocks at several roads leading to ath-Thaheriyya town, south of Hebron, and Halhoul, north of the city, before stopping and searching dozens of cars, and interrogated many Palestinians while inspecting their ID cards.
The Hamas Movement has said that the Palestinian refugees in all camps of Lebanon will continue to stage protest activities until the minister of labor excludes them from his recent work measures.
In a statement on Sunday, Hamas warned that the popular moves could escalate until the injustice and discrimination against the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon were removed.
The Movement reiterated its rejection of any action harming the Palestinian refugees’ interests and rights in Lebanon, stressing the need for revoking any measure or law restricting or targeting their humanitarian and social rights.
It called on the Lebanese minister of labor to necessarily redress his decision or refer the issue immediately to the government, adding that the Palestinian in Lebanon must be treated as a refugee and not a foreigner.
The Palestinian Commission of Detainees’ and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs has accused the Israeli administration of Ashkelon jail of procrastinating over providing Palestinian prisoner Basem al-Na’san with medical treatment.
According to the Commission, prisoner Na’san suffers from a bullet injury and serious colon and bowel problems, and thus he uses special bags attached to his body for excretion and secretion.
The prisoner, a 24-year-old from the West Bank village of al-Mughayyir, has been waiting long for medical tests and an urgent surgical operation, but the administration of Ashkelon only pays him lip service.
Recent events have shone a spotlight not only on how Israel is intensifying its abuse of Palestinians under its rule, but the utterly depraved complicity of western governments in its actions.
The arrival of Donald Trump in the White House two-and-a-half years ago has emboldened Israel as never before, leaving it free to unleash new waves of brutality in the occupied territories.
Western states have not only turned a blind eye to these outrages, but are actively assisting in silencing anyone who dares to speak out.
It is rapidly creating a vicious spiral: the more Israel violates international law, the more the West represses criticism, the more Israel luxuriates in its impunity.
This shameless descent was starkly illustrated last week when hundreds of heavily armed Israeli soldiers, many of them masked, raided a neighbourhood of Sur Baher, on the edges of Jerusalem. Explosives and bulldozers destroyed dozens of homes, leaving many hundreds of Palestinians without a roof over their heads.
During the operation, extreme force was used against residents, as well as international volunteers there in the forlorn hope that their presence would deter violence. Videos showed the soldiers cheering and celebrating as they razed the neighbourhood.
House destructions have long been an ugly staple of Israel’s belligerent occupation, but there were grounds for extra alarm on this occasion.
Traditionally, demolitions occur on the two-thirds of the West Bank placed by the Oslo accords temporarily under Israeli control. That is bad enough: Israel should have handed over what is called “Area C” to the Palestinian Authority 20 years ago. Instead, it has hounded Palestinians off these areas to free them up for illegal Jewish settlement.
But the Sur Baher demolitions took place in “Area A”, land assigned by Oslo to the Palestinians’ government-in-waiting – as a prelude to Palestinian statehood. Israel is supposed to have zero planning or security jurisdiction there.
Palestinians rightly fear that Israel has established a dangerous precedent, further reversing the Oslo Accords, which can one day be used to justify driving many thousands more Palestinians off land under PA control.
Most western governments barely raised their voices. Even the United Nations offered a mealy-mouthed expression of “sadness” at what took place.
A few kilometres north, in Issawiya, another East Jerusalem suburb, Israeli soldiers have been terrorising 20,000 Palestinian residents for weeks. They have set up checkpoints, carried out dozens of random night-time arrests, imposed arbitrary fines and traffic tickets, and shot live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets into residential areas.
Ir Amim, an Israeli human rights group, calls Issawiya’s treatment a “perpetual state of collective punishment” – that is, a war crime.
Over in Gaza, not only are the 2 million inhabitants being slowly starved by Israel’s 12-year blockade, but a weekly shooting spree against Palestinians who protest at the fence imprisoning them has become so routine it barely attracts attention any more.
On Friday, Israeli snipers killed one protester and seriously injured 56, including 22 children.
That followed new revelations that Israeli’s policy of shooting unarmed protesters in the upper leg to injure them – another war crime – continued long after it became clear a significant proportion of Palestinians were dying from their wounds.
Belatedly – after more than 200 deaths and the severe disabling of many thousands of Palestinians – snipers have been advised to “ease up” by shooting protesters in the ankle.
B’Tselem, another Israeli rights organisation, called the army’s open-fire regulation a “criminal policy”, one that “consciously chose not to regard those standing on the other side of the fence as humans”.
Rather than end such criminal practices, Israel prefers to conceal them. It has effectively sealed Palestinian areas off to avoid scrutiny.
Omar Shakir, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, is facing imminent deportation, yet more evidence of Israel’s growing crackdown on the human rights community.
A report by the Palestinian Right to Enter campaign last week warned that Israel is systematically denying foreign nationals permits to live and work in the occupied territories, including areas supposedly under PA control.
That affects both foreign-born Palestinians, often those marrying local Palestinians, and internationals. According to recent reports, Israel is actively forcing out academics teaching at the West Bank’s leading university, Bir Zeit, in a severe blow to Palestinian academic freedom.
Palestinian journalists highlighting Israeli crimes are in Israel’s sights too. Last week, Israel stripped one – Mustafa Al Haruf – of his Jerusalem residency, tearing him from his wife and young child. Because it is illegal to leave someone stateless, Israel is now bullying Jordan to accept him.
Another exclusion policy – denying entry to Israel’s fiercest critics, those who back the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement – is facing its first challenge.
Two US congresswomen who support BDS – Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who has family in the West Bank – have announced plans to visit.
Israeli officials have indicated they will exempt them both, apparently fearful of drawing wider attention to Israel’s draconian entry restrictions, which also cover the occupied territories.
Israel is probably being overly cautious. The BDS movement, which alone argues for the imposition of penalties on Israel until it halts its abuse of Palestinians, is being bludgeoned by western governments.
In the US and Europe, strong criticism of Israel, even from Jews – let alone demands for meaningful action – is being conflated with antisemitism. Much of this furore seems intended to ease the path towards silencing Israel’s critics.
More than two dozen US states, as well as the Senate, have passed laws – drafted by pro-Israel lobby groups – to limit the rights of the American public to support boycotts of Israel.
Anti-BDS legislation has also been passed by the German and French parliaments.
And last week the US House of Representatives joined them, overwhelmingly passing a resolution condemning the BDS movement. Only 17 legislators demurred.
It was a slap in the face to Ms Omar, who has been promoting a bill designed to uphold the First Amendment rights of boycott supporters.
It seems absurd that these curbs on free speech have emerged just as Israel makes clear it has no interest in peace, will never concede Palestinian statehood and is entrenching a permanent system of apartheid in the occupied territories.
But there should be no surprise. The clampdown is further evidence that western support for Israel is indeed based on shared values – those that treat the Palestinians as lesser beings, whose rights can be trampled at will.