Blockade frustrates Gaza students

Next generation in Gaza Strip may be less educated, less professional, more radical because of Israeli siege.

RAMALLAH, West Bank – The next generation in the Gaza Strip may be less educated, less professional and perhaps more radical because an Israeli blockade has restricted educational and employment opportunities, say UN and other sources.

The four-year blockade has particularly affected youths aged 18-24, limiting access to higher education, academic exchanges and professional development, says Gaza’s education ministry. About 65 percent of Gaza’s 1.6 million people are under 25, according to UN estimates.

“Higher education in all its forms is absolutely critical to a functioning society and the creation of a future Palestinian state,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory Max Gaylard told IRIN, and “to maintain a necessary level of skills in professional sectors, like medicine and engineering.”

Gaza’s unemployment rate – nearly 50 percent according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) – indicates dire prospects for the rapidly growing and youthful population.

The economic blockade, imposed by Israel after the Islamist movement Hamas took control of Gaza, has obstructed the import of books, science laboratory and other educational equipment to Gaza, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Israel allows in limited humanitarian supplies.

The lack of facilities, new information and experiences has caused a marked deterioration of Gaza’s whole educational system. Noor, an English education student at Al-Azhar University, ranked second in Gaza, said she lacked essential books for her coursework and even chairs were missing from lecture halls.

“Our universities are not ready for new generations,” she explained. “We only have one laboratory and two computer labs, and it is not enough.”

Enrolment levels at Gaza’s 14 public and private universities and colleges remain high, but conflict and the stringent blockade have seriously undermined access to, and the quality of, higher education, said UNESCO in a report.

According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, “Under the policy of complete closure imposed since June 2007, Palestinians from Gaza who once constituted some 35 percent of the student body at universities in the West Bank are virtually absent from West Bank education institutions.”

The development of two separate systems due to the Israeli-imposed movement restrictions, meant fewer subjects and facilities for Gaza’s university students, said UNESCO.

Can’t pay fees

About 80 percent of the Gaza population is aid dependent, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and higher education institutions in Gaza are feeling the financial strain.

According to UNESCO, students are increasingly unable to pay tuition fees, resulting in drop-outs and postponement of studies.

The inability of students to cover fees has hit Gaza universities hard, since student fees provide about 60 percent of university running costs, according to Palestinian NGO Sharek Youth Forum.

“The level of education is being compromised and we have trouble hiring qualified professors and staff,” said Kamalain Shaath, president of the Islamic University, ranked top in Gaza and the West Bank. Half the students at the university, he added, were unable to meet tuition requirements this semester.

Damaged buildings still not rebuilt

Islamic University’s first medical school class of about 50 promising young doctors will graduate this spring, and will be desperately needed in this conflict area, although the university science labs that were destroyed during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead – aimed at ending rocket attacks into Israel – were never rebuilt.

Seven universities and colleges were damaged during the offensive, which ended in January 2010, with six buildings fully destroyed and 16 partially, according to UNESCO. As of March 2011, rebuilding has not been possible owing to the embargo on building materials.

Overcrowding in schools is another problem. About 81 percent of Gaza’s public schools operate on double shifts, according Gaza’s education ministry director-general, Sharif Nouman. In 2010, only three new schools were built due to lack of building materials, yet another 100 need to be built, he said.

Meanwhile, the internal conflict between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas is putting pressure on the education system, due to the lack of communication between the Gaza and West Bank ministries, he added.

Rising unemployment

The unemployment rate among those aged 15-19 is about 72 percent, while unemployment affects 66 percent of those aged 20-24, according to a January socio-economic report by the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO). West Bank unemployment rates were 29 percent and 34 percent for these age groups, respectively.

About 70 percent of industrial establishments in Gaza have closed under the blockade, according to OCHA, while 120,000 private sector jobs were lost in the first two years of closure. A recent easing has allowed the limited export of cut flowers and strawberries from Gaza to Europe.

“When young people graduate they have almost no opportunity to find a job in a company or association,” said Bassam, a multi-media student at Al-Azhar University. Some try to start their own businesses, but “this cannot succeed in Gaza now because of the blockade,” he added.

UN officials in the region have expressed concern that isolating youth in Gaza from broader values and opportunities will backfire. “A rapidly growing society, becoming poorer, that is subject to restrictions on education will encourage extremism in its worst forms,” warned Gaylard.

Deputy director-general of the Israeli Ministry of Public Diplomacy, Danny Seaman, however, said: “Hamas uses access to Israel to perpetrate terror attacks against our civilians and this immediate threat outweighs the concern over increased militancy amongst youth in Gaza.”

Some 71 percent of university students surveyed by UNESCO reported they were not hopeful about the future and almost the same number worried there will be another war.

“Most of my peers want to emigrate,” said Shadi, a 26-year-old physical therapist in Gaza City. “We are isolated and frustrated.”

(www.middle-east-online.com / 23.03.2011)

Eight killed, 35 injured in last 24 hours of Israeli aggression

Two resistance fighters were injured Wednesday morning after an Israeli air strike in the eastern Gaza city district of Al-Shajaa’iyya.

Both men are from the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Gaza.

One of the men had his lower left leg amputated with the chance that one of his hands could also be removed, medics told our correspondent, adding that he was taken to intensive care. The second man sustained minor injuries.

Israeli warplanes launched a raid on Al-Mansura Street in the Al-Shajaa’iyya district with a rocket hitting the car of the victims and another targeting another group deployed in the area, our correspondent said.

Another group stationed at a farm east of the Al-Zaytoun district was also targeted without report of injury.

Ambulances rushed to the site in search of possible victims, medics said.

Israel has boosted aggression in the last 24 hours, killing eight Palestinians, including two children, an elderly man and four resistance fighters, and injuring around 35, including many children and women.

An Israeli drone fired on Tuesday evening at least one rocket at Palestinians gathered near the Abdulazeez al-Rantissi Mosque in the Zaytoun district killing four and leaving a fifth injured.

The Quds Brigades identified the victims as Saadi Hillis, Mohammed and Adham al-Harazin and Mohammed Abed, some of the brigades key fighters.

That attack came just hours after Israeli occupation artillary missiles hit a home east of Gaza killing four, including two children and an elderly man, and injuring around ten, according to medical reports.

Some of the injuries were classified as serious.

(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 23.03.2011)

Bahraini activists plan Day of Rage on Friday

Bahraini opposition activists are planning to hold a day of demonstrations throughout the tiny island country on Friday, in defiance of a ban on all public gatherings under martial law declared last week.

It was not clear which groups were behind the marches, plans of which were circulated by email and Internet. They did not appear to involve the mainstream Shi’ite Muslim opposition group Wefaq, nor the February 14 Youth Movement which led protests at Pearl roundabout that were dispersed by riot police a week ago.

Western countries appeared to be taking the plans seriously.

The British Foreign Office updated its travel advice on Wednesday to warn against travel to Bahrain and to inform Britons going to the Gulf Arab country about the protests.

“Those who are doing so should be aware there are possible demonstrations planned on Thursday 24 March at 15:30 in the Sanabis area; and on Friday 25th March in a wide range of locations,” it said on its website.

“The timings are not yet known but are likely to be during the afternoon. Whilst we seek to ensure the information we give is as reliable as possible, we cannot confirm that all such events will go ahead as listed.”

Bahraini security forces launched a crackdown on March 16 that drove protesters from the streets and saw troops and police fan out across Bahrain.

They also banned all marches and public gatherings though they have not dispersed the funeral processions of civilians killed in the crackdown, most of which turned into anti-regime protests. Security forces also turned a blind eye last week to a brief protest outside the Drazi mosque after Friday prayers.

“There is no Wefaq position over these protests. It appears to be the same way it began on February 14, some calls on the Internet and on Facebook that draw significant support,” said Wefaq spokesman Mattar Ibrahim Mattar.

“I expect there will be a lot of people protesting on Friday. Either the government does not use force and the protests return or they use force and there may be victims. Either way it will not calm the situation.”

Nine demonstrations appear to be planned for Friday, across different parts of Bahrain, including one headed toward the airport and one that aims to “liberate” Salmaniya hospital.

Security forces raided Salmaniya hospital during their crackdown last week, removing several tents set up by protesters in previous weeks. Doctors and human rights groups have complained that strict security has hampered medical access.

Four medical staff have been arrested at Salmaniya since the crackdown, doctors and opposition activists say.

“As long as people have legitimate demands, a security solution will not work,” Mattar said.

(us.mobile.reuters.com / 23.03.2011)

Kamer akkoord met Nederlandse missie Libië

Een ruime meerderheid van de Tweede Kamer gaat ermee akkoord dat Nederlandse militairen meedoen aan de NAVO-missie bij Libië. De regeringspartijen VVD en CDA en de oppositiepartijen PvdA, D66, GroenLinks en de SGP steunden woensdagavond het kabinetsbesluit hierover.

Gedoogpartij PVV, de SP en de Partij voor de Dieren zijn tegen de missie (totaal 41 zetels). De ChristenUnie moet nog een besluit nemen.

De NAVO-operatie is erop gericht om het wapenembargo tegen Libië te controleren. Nederland stelt daarvoor zes Nederlandse F-16-gevechtsvliegtuigen, een mijnenjager en een tankvliegtuig beschikbaar. In totaal gaat het om tweehonderd Nederlandse militairen. De inzet kost ongeveer 20 miljoen euro.

(www.parool.nl / 23.03.2011)

Women’s Support Centre in Nablus holds anniversary handicrafts exhibition

The Women’s Support Centre in the West Bank municipality of Nablus has opened an exhibition of popular Palestinian women’s handicrafts to mark the centre’s one year anniversary.

The exhibition consisted of a range of Palestinian women’s handicrafts like Palestinian embroidery, weaving and sewing alongside tradition Palestinian food.

The Centre has paved the way for many women to work and to fill the emptiness and unemployment they experience while allowing them to develop personal skills within a program which creates opportunities for work. It is the most prominent achievement and one of the most important features of Nablus’ women’s committee.

The exhibition had a good turnout and the reaction to its distinctive and reasonably priced goods was positive. It will last for the next seven days and is in the commercial complex in the city centre. Many notable personalities such as members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and members of local community groups, particularly women, have already visited the exhibition.

(www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk / 23.03.2011)

Human rights group calls for international intervention to stop Israeli escalation in Gaza

A Palestinian human rights organisation has called for international intervention to stop Israel’s escalation of violence against the people of Gaza.

Sawaseya Centre for Human Rights expressed its deep concern for increasing numbers of Israeli military operations in the besieged Gaza Strip, with frequent incursions, assassinations and night-time raids terrorising women and children. Many casualties have resulted, claims the Centre.

“These dangerous developments come at a time when world attention is focused on the uprisings and revolutions in other parts of the region. Israel is using this as a smokescreen for its military excesses against the Palestinians.”

In a statement, the Centre noted that Israel is “misleading the world” when it claims that such acts are in “self-defence”. The Zionist state is promoting itself as the victim in this scenario when, said the Centre’s statement, “it is anything but”.

Warning that these serious developments are taking place while the Israeli government is talking up the possibility of a new war against the people of Gaza, the Centre said that this gives the green light to the Israeli military to act without being accountable for the deaths of innocent civilians. “The IDF’s actions contravene international laws and conventions regarding the protection of civilians in times of conflict.”

Sawaseya Centre demanded that the international community and UN bodies “intervene immediately to stop Israel’s military operations and threats to prevent the Israelis from committing further war crimes”. It also called on the Arab and Muslim world to end its silence and file a complaint at the UN, as Israel did, because Palestinians are being subjected on a daily basis to Zionist aggression.

(www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk / 23.03.2011)

Revolutionary Egyptian youth refuse Clinton meeting

CAIRO (IPS) – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week paid a highly-publicized visit to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt’s recent popular uprising. But young leaders of the revolution declined an invitation to meet with her, citing Washington’s tepid support for anti-government protesters over the course of the 18-day rebellion.

“We refused to meet Clinton due to the US administration’s vacillating position and contradictory statements as the revolution unfolded,” Islam Lutfi, spokesman for Egypt’s Coalition of Revolutionary Youth, told IPS. “The decision also expressed our rejection of fifty years of faulty US policies in the region.”

Shortly after her arrival to Egypt on 15 March, Clinton met with newly-appointed Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil el-Arabi. The two reportedly exchanged views on the precarious political situation in the Middle East, particularly in Libya — currently the target of US-Europe-led air strikes — and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Early the next day, Clinton was given a ten-minute walking tour of Tahrir Square amid tight security. “To see where this revolution happened — and all that it has meant to the world — is extraordinary for me,” she was quoted as saying.

Shortly afterward, Clinton met with Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), with whom she reportedly discussed bilateral ties and the regional situation. Clinton is the highest-ranking US official to visit Egypt since Mubarak handed over executive authority to the SCAF on 11 February after thirty years in power.

At her meeting with Sharaf, Clinton stressed Washington’s stated support for democratic transformation in the region. She also confirmed that US financial assistance to Egypt, which she described as a “strategic partner,” would be maintained.

“I am so looking forward to help in any way that we can,” she was quoted as saying. “There is so much to be done and the United States is ready to help in every way possible to translate what happened in Tahrir Square to a new reality for Egypt.”

Clinton went on to announce that Washington had earmarked $90 million dollars for immediate economic assistance to Egypt, while the US Congress had been asked to establish a $60 million-dollar Egyptian-US fund to support the Egyptian private sector. This comes in addition to the roughly two billion dollars in US economic and military assistance Egypt receives every year.

Sharaf, for his part, told Clinton that Egypt “seeks to achieve the transition to real democracy, which guarantees the participation of all segments of society in political life,” according to the state-run MENA news agency.

Later the same day, Clinton held a ninety-minute closed-door meeting with Egyptian civil society representatives and a handful of political party leaders.

“We spoke with her about the consequences of the revolution and the current political situation in Egypt,” Hafez Abu Saeda, head of the Cairo-based Egyptian Organization for Human Rights and meeting participant, told IPS. “But several of us also sharply criticized Washington’s wavering position throughout the course of the revolution.”

On 25 January, as mounting street protests in Egypt morphed into a nationwide revolt, Clinton had notoriously stated that “the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”

According to Abu Saeda, Egyptian representatives that met with Clinton also slammed the US for its practice of coupling its strategic interests in the region to dictatorial Arab regimes.

“We told her that all these regimes were on the verge of imminent collapse and that Washington would be better served by linking its interests with the will of the people,” he said. “Several meeting participants also urged Clinton to throw US support behind the ongoing popular uprisings in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen against the dictatorial regimes in those countries.”

Clinton was even less warmly received by Egypt’s influential Coalition of Revolutionary Youth. Virtually all members of the coalition, which comprises several youth-oriented revolutionary groups that were heavily involved in the uprising, turned down formal invitations to meet with the US secretary of state.

“The US State Department invited several of us to meet with Clinton,” said the coalition’s Lutfi. “But we refused due to the US administration’s wavering stance during the revolution, which remained ambiguous right up until Mubarak’s departure.”

In a statement on its Facebook page issued on 14 March, the coalition cited additional reasons for its decision not to meet with Clinton. “The US administration only looks after its own interests, even if these interests conflict with those of the Egyptian people; the US administration supports oppressive regimes throughout the region,” the statement read.

As for the financial largess promised by Clinton to Egypt, Lutfi was no less dismissive.

“The US has given Egypt some two billion dollars annually for the last thirty years as a bribe to allow it to intervene in Egypt’s domestic affairs and ensure that Egypt honors the Camp David peace agreement with Israel,” he said. “From now on, all foreign funding should only be accepted on the condition that it doesn’t come with political strings attached or promote values alien to Egyptian culture.”

Echoing a common opinion among Egyptian revolutionary circles of all political stripes, Lutfi added: “We really don’t want anything from America — neither intervention in our sovereign affairs nor advice on ‘good governance’ and democracy.”

During her two-day stay in Egypt, Clinton did not meet with — nor request to meet with — representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition force.

(electronicintifada.net / 23.03.2011)

U.S. Gates condemns “horrific” Jerusalem attack

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said a bomb attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday was a “horrific terrorist attack”.

Gates, speaking during a visit to Cairo, said he did not see the situation in Israel deteriorating, despite the attack.

“It’s obviously a horrific terrorist attack. I extend sympathy to the families of those who have been injured. But I think, I don’t think I would characterize the situation there as deteriorating,” Gates said.

(www.reuters.com / 23.03.20111)

Egyptian FM: Ending Gaza siege a priority

Egyptian foreign minister Nabil al-Arabi has said ending the five-year siege on the Gaza Strip is a priority in Egypt.

GAZA (Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – Egyptian foreign minister Nabil al-Arabi has said ending the five-year siege on the Gaza Strip is a priority in Egypt.

The Palestinian ministry of foreign affairs and planning said in a press release Tuesday that it received a letter from the Egyptian FM praising bilateral relations between the two countries and confirming that ending the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip and opening the Rafah border crossing are some of the country’s priorities.

Separately, the Palestinian ministry of foreign affairs and planning said it has made extensive contacts with Egypt in an effort to ensure that stranded Palestinians returning from Libya can transit Egypt on their way home to the Strip.

The ministry also sent a cable consoling the foreign ministry in Japan and assuring that the Palestinians stand by the people of Japan in their plight.

(abna.ir / 23.03.2011)

WE NEED YOUR HELP

Thank you to everyone who helped in our last collection for Gaza. We had great success with your good help and want to start collecting vital aid items to send to Gaza via flotilla. Can you help with any of these items?

Baby Clothes
Gloves and Hats
Educational Books
Educational Toys
Wheelchairs
Medical Supplies
Laptops/PCs/Software
Boxed tined food/ Rice
Building Supplies
Winter Coats

Can you help us help them our campaigian for Gaza 2011. We have drop off points throughout the Uk.
Contact us on Facebook or email teampalestina@hotmail.com

These message we have got today, please if you can help them, please do …