Nieuw bestand Jemen dankzij Saudi’s

President Saleh van Jemen President Saleh van Jemen
Koning Abdullah van Saudi-Arabië heeft bemiddeld bij de totstandkoming van een bestand in Jemen tussen de regering en het hoofd van een machtige stam. Vorige week bemiddelden de Saudi’s ook bij een bestand, maar dat hield niet langer dan een dag stand.

De koning kwam opnieuw in beeld toen het conflict vrijdag escaleerde. Bij een granaataanval op zijn paleis in Sanaa raakte president Saleh gewond.

Het bestand lijkt te worden gehandhaafd. Voor zover bekend is het al enkele uren rustig in de Jemenitische hoofdstad.

Behandeling

Ondertussen melden de Saudische regering en Arabische tv-zenders dat Saleh een medische behandeling krijgt in Saudi-Arabië. Hij zou granaatscherven in zijn borst hebben gekregen. Ook zou de president brandwonden in zijn gezicht hebben.

Vanwege het geweld in Jemen heeft het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken besloten om de ambassade in het land tijdelijk te sluiten.

(nos.nl / 04.06.2011)

Israel’s Operational Plan to Attack the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

Israel is involved in advanced preparations to attack the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza. The commando attack is scheduled to take place in international waters. A detailed operational plan to be implemented by the Israeli navy has been set in motion. The use of force is explicitly contemplated:

“The Israel Navy has been asked by the government to prepare an operational response to prevent the flotilla from breaking the sea blockade that Israel has imposed over the Gaza Strip. Under the blockade, Gazan fisherman are allowed to sail three kilometers off the coast of Gaza but no further. Ships are not allowed to enter waters that are twenty kilometers from the Gaza Strip. (JP, May 31, 2011)

“….[S]oldiers were under order to use force to neutralize armed danger and neutralize attackers if necessary, but that in general, the objective and the goal would be to take over the ship non-violently and without casualties on either side.” (Ibid)

According to the Israeli navy spokesman, a number of “surprises” await those who dare approach Gazan territorial waters:

“The senior Navy officer said that Israel was preparing a number of “surprises” for the ships that are expected to participate in the flotilla.” (Ibid)

The same commando unit Shayetet 13 which attacked the Marvi Marmara in May 2010 killing nine human rights activists is “undergoing specialized training” involving “mock raids aboard a vessel that simulate events aboard the Mavi Marmara”. (See People’s Daily, May 31, 2011)

The commandos are also to undergo “extensive training in hand-to-hand combat taught by experts from Israel’s Shin Bet security service”.

The commandos, this time, will be heavily armed:

“Navy sources said that despite assessments that most of the activists will engage in passive resistance, the troops that will board the next flotilla are going to carry heavier weapons than the paintball guns and semi-automatic pistols used in the last flotilla.” (Ibid)

Israeli Intervention in International Waters is “Legal”

The report in the Jerusalem Post claims that under international law, Israel’s navy commandos have the right to intercept ships and engage in what is tantamount to acts of piracy:

According to international maritime laws, however, Israel Navy is allowed to intercept and take control of a ship that declares its intentions to sail to Gaza even before it enters the waters that are under the blockade.”

The Marvi Marmara

The articles then proceeds to describe the circumstances of the Marvi Marmara, where nine Turkish human rights activists were killed in May 2010 by an Israeli commando.

Realities are turned upside down. The lie becomes the truth. The Israelis commandos are portrayed as the victims, attacked by Turkish “mercenaries”.

“On May 31 2010, the Israel Navy stopped a Turkish flotilla and when commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara they were attacked by a group of mercenaries.

In ensuing violence, nine of the mercenaries were killed, and a number of Israeli commandos were seriously wounded.

In addition to military preparation, the Foreign Ministry is leading Israeli efforts to convince other countries to use necessary means to prevent the flotilla from departing to Gaza” (JP, May 31, 2011)

The JP report does not explain how these “nine mercenaries” were killed and no casualties were reported on the Israeli side.

(www.globalresearch.ca / 04.06.2011)

Announcing the Gaza to Ireland Youth Exchange

I am beyond excited to announce that we are formalising a partnership that will ensure one of my fondest goals shall be achieved, that of a youth exchange between the children of Gaza and those of Europe. I am even more excited because we are focusing on the youth of Gaza as well as Belfast and Free Derry in the North of Ireland. These kids, ages 15 to 18, all know what violent conflict is about, and all of them deserve a chance to play with and understand their brothers and sisters from distant but all too similar conflict zones.

Our success will be measured in smiles and laughter and the building of bonds akin to creating a cherished extended family… and we will succeed.

 

The measure of success.

I have wanted to do this for years, giving serious motivation to youth workers in an attempt to make it happen, trying through volunteers to get a program written up and funding to make it so. But with all that I was doing I simply had not managed to secure the right partners and funding, until now that is.

The Samouni Project, a non-profit company soon to become a charity, is to partner with Mr. Maamon Hashem Khozendar, a prominent businessman and philanthropist from Gaza. As a resident of Gaza, Mr. Khozender is also witness to the atrocities committed by Israel against the 800,000 plus children there. His people are providing logistical support in Gaza and the Samouni Project has partners in the North of Ireland who are doing the same. In Gaza and Ireland we are working to identify eight youth to be part of our first exchange.

First we plan to fly the kids from Ireland to Gaza (via Egypt), or possibly carry them on our convoy from London to Gaza in July of this year. After roughly two weeks of educational tours and fun based activities with four youth from Gaza, all will return to Ireland for similar activities there. Mr. Khozendar will be providing the facilities and funds in both Gaza and Ireland and we have high hopes that the program will soon be expanded; which indeed it will if support from people of goodwill is what I think it will be.

I would love to see 50 or 100 children at a time for each exchange, but we shall start with eight kids, and work our way up from there. Plans are flexible, but again we are looking at two weeks in Ireland, two weeks in Gaza, with ongoing support to facilitate continuing communications and hopefully, regular reunions.

If you live in the North of Ireland and wish to nominate a child for this exchange or support this project in meaningful ways, please contact us at SamouniProject@hotmail.com, also cc me at 1worldcitizen@spamarrest.com. Together we are going to do something truly special and everyone will get to see the initial results by July at the latest.

TJP,

Ken O’Keefe

Managing Director – Samouni Project

Algerijnse FLN keurt buitenlandse inmenging in Libië af

Het Front de Libération Nationale (FLN), dat deel uitmaakt van de presidentiële alliantie in Algerije, heeft zaterdag de ‘buitenlandse inmenging in Libië’ gelaakt.

‘Wij weigeren de buitenlandse inmenging en vinden dat de tot dusver genomen maatregelen niet in de richting gaan van een oplossing die de wil van de Libiërs weerspiegelt’, zei secretaris-generaal Abdelaziz Belkhadem van het FNL, aangehaald door het agentschap APS.

Minister van Staat Belkhadem benadrukte dat het standpunt van zijn partij ook het officiële Argentijnse standpunt is.

‘Episode in een lange reeks’

Met de interventie van de Navo ‘vrezen we dat wat nu in Libië gebeurt een episode in een lange reeks (van interventies) is, en enkel de auteurs van dit vreselijke plan weten waar dit zal eindigen’, aldus Belkhadem. Wie die ‘auteurs’ zijn, zei de minister niet.

Algerije is de voornaamste leverancier van wapens aan het regime van kolonel Moammar Kadhafi. De bewapening van de rebellen gebeurt vooral via Egypte.

(www.nieuwsblad.be / 04.06.2011)

Islam and feminism

OFTEN people object to the term ‘feminism’ as being a western one. One maulana when invited to speak in a workshop of this title refused to come as he considered feminism un-Islamic. Is the use of this term objectionable from an Islamic viewpoint? Not at all.

In fact, Islam is the first religion which systematically empowered women when women were considered totally subservient to men. There was no concept of a woman being an independent entity and enjoying equal rights with dignity. What is feminism? Nothing but women’s movement to empower women and to consider them full human beings. Thus we see in western countries until the early 20th century that women did not enjoy an independent status. It was only after the 1930s that women won equal status legally and various western countries passed laws to this effect. Yet patriarchy still looms large in many societies.

Though the Quran empowered women and gave them equal status with men, Muslims were far from ready to accept gender equality. The Arab culture was too patriarchal to accept such parity. Many hadiths were ‘readied’ to scale down the woman’s status, and she, in most Islamic societies, became a dependent entity; often Quranic formulations were interpreted so as to make her subordinate to men. One such hadith even said that if sajdah (prostration) were permitted before human beings, a woman would have been commanded to prostrate before her husband.

This is totally contradictory to the Quran, but no one cares. It is patriarchy which influences our laws, not the Quran. In fact, when it comes to patriarchy its jurists make it prevail over Quranic injunctions. Either Quranic formulations were disregarded or interpreted so as to have them conform to patriarchy. The time has come to understand the real spirit of the Quran. But the Islamic world still does not seem to be ready. What is worse, due to poverty and ignorance Muslim women themselves are not aware of their Quranic rights. A campaign has to be launched to make women aware of their rights.

Another important question is: what is the difference between Islamic and western feminism or is there any difference at all? If we go by the definition of feminism as an ideology to empower women, there is no difference. However, historically speaking, Muslim women lost the rights they had due mainly to the tribalisation of Islam, which was dominated by patriarchal values.

In the West, on the other hand, women had no rights but won them through a great deal of struggle known as ‘feminism’. But there are significant differences between Islamic and western feminism. Islamic feminism is based on certain non-negotiable values, i.e. equality with honour and dignity. Freedom has a certain Islamic responsibility whereas in the West freedom tends to degenerate into licentiousness, not in law but certainly in social and cultural practices. In western culture, sexual freedoms have become a matter of human right and sex has become a matter of enjoyment, losing its sanctity as an instrument of procreation.

Though the Quran does not prescribe hijab or niqab (covering the whole body with a loose garment, including the face), as generally thought, it lays down certain strict norms for sexual behaviour. Both men and women have right to gratification (a woman has as much right as a man) but within a marital framework. There is no concept of freedom for extramarital sex in any form. In a marital framework, it is an act of procreation and has much sanctity attached to it.

It is important to emphasise that in a patriarchal society men decided the norms of sexual behaviour. It was theorised that a
man has greater urge for sex and hence needed multiple wives and that a woman tended to be passive and hence had to be content with one husband at a time. The Quran’s approach is very different. It is not a greater or lesser degree of urge which necessitates multiple or monogamous marriages.

There is emphatic emphasis placed on a monogamous marriage in the Quranic verses 4:3 and 4:129. Multiple marriages were permitted only to take care of widows and orphans and not to satisfy man’s greater urge. Verse 4:129 gives the norm of monogamy and not to leave the first wife in suspense or negligence. Thus, as far as the Quran is concerned, sexual gratification is a non-negotiable right for both man and woman tied in wedlock. Hence a divorcee and a widow are also permitted to remarry and gratify their urge.

In western capitalist countries, woman’s dignity has been compromised and she has been reduced to a commodity to be exploited. Her semi-naked postures and her sexuality are exploited commercially and unabashedly. It is totally against the concept of woman’s honour and dignity. Unfortunately, many western feminists do not consider this objectionable but accept it as part of women’s freedom. Some (though not as many) even advocate prostitution as a woman’s right to earn a living.

This is against the concept of Islamic feminism, which while sanctioning sexual gratification to be as much of a woman’s basic right as a man’s prohibits extramarital sexual liaison. This, on one hand, upholds a woman’s honour and dignity, and on the other, exalts marital relations to the level of sanctity, restricting it for procreation. Islamic feminists have to observe certain norms which western feminists are not obliged to.

The writer is an Islamic scholar who also heads the Centre for Study of Society & Secularism, Mumbai.

(www.dawn.com / 04.06.2011)

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

It was the Tahrir uprising that brought about an Egyptian government more accountable to public opinion.

There was a slogan on the streets of Seattle: “This is what democracy looks like.” You can’t love democracy and denigrate protest, because protest is part of democracy. It’s a package deal.

Likewise, you can’t claim solidarity with Egyptian protesters when they take down a dictator, but act horrified that the resulting government in Egypt, more accountable to Egyptian public opinion, is more engaged in supporting Palestinian rights. It’s a package deal.

On Saturday, at long last, the Egyptian government “permanently opened” the Egypt-Gaza passenger crossing at Rafah. A big part of the credit for this long-awaited development belongs to Tahrir. It was the Tahrir uprising that brought about an Egyptian government more accountable to public opinion and it was inevitable that an Egyptian government more accountable to public opinion would open Rafah, because public opinion in Egypt bitterly opposed Egyptian participation in the blockade on Gaza.

In addition, opening Rafah was a provision of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation accord brokered by the Egyptian government – an achievement facilitated by the fact that the post-Tahrir Egyptian government was more flexible in the negotiations with Hamas that led to the accord.

Mubarak had a deal with the US government: I obey all your commands on the Israel-Palestine issue and in exchange, you shut your mouth about human rights and democracy. Tahrir destroyed this bargain, because it forced the US to open its mouth about human rights and democracy in Egypt, regardless of Egypt’s stance on Israel-Palestine. When it became clear to Egypt’s rulers that subservience to the US on Israel-Palestine would no longer purchase carte blanche on human rights and democracy, there was no reason to slavishly toe the US line on Israel-Palestine anymore.

The Mubarak regime also had a domestic motivation for enforcing the blockade: it saw Hamas as a sister organization of Egypt’s then semi-illegal opposition Muslim Brotherhood and it saw enforcing the blockade as a means of denying Hamas “legitimacy,” figuring that more “legitimacy” for Hamas would mean more “legitimacy” for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, thereby threatening Mubarak’s iron grip on Egypt’s politics.

But, of course, post-Tahrir developments in Egypt threw that calculation out the window: the post-Mubarak government in Egypt has reconciled with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a de facto partner in the present interim government and is expected to do well in September’s parliamentary elections. It would be absurd for the Egyptian government to try to isolate the Muslim Brotherhood by trying to isolate its sister Hamas, when the Muslim Brotherhood is a de facto part of the Egyptian government and the role of the Brotherhood in running Egypt is likely to increase.

There are other considerations. Egypt’s government has seen how Turkey’s influence in the region has grown dramatically as a result of its “no problems with neighbors” policy. Now Egypt is saying: “I’ll have what she’s having,” and moving to normalize relationships in the region, just as Turkey has done.

The opening of the Rafah passenger crossing will mean that women, children and the elderly from Gaza will be able to travel freely to Egypt and, through Egypt, almost anywhere else in the Arab world. Adult men will have to get Egyptian visas, a process that currently can take months.

But – although it is virtually certain that some will try to claim otherwise – the opening of Rafah does not mean that the siege of Gaza is over.

Rafah is a passenger crossing, not a cargo crossing, as The Associated Press noted in reporting on the opening of Rafah. Gaza’s cargo crossings are still controlled by the Israeli government.

The Israeli human rights group Gisha reports that, since 2005, “goods have not been permitted to pass via Rafah, except for humanitarian assistance which Egypt occasionally permits through Rafah.”

In general, the Israeli government does not allow construction materials (cement, steel and gravel) into Gaza. Since January, about 7 percent of what entered monthly prior to June 2007 has been allowed in for specific projects.

The Israeli government prevents regular travel for Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank, even though according to the two-state solution, which is the official policy of the US, Gaza and the West Bank are supposed to be one entity.

Exports from Gaza are generally prohibited by the Israeli authorities.

Palestinians in Gaza cannot farm their lands in Israel’s self-declared “buffer zone”along the northern and eastern borders with Israel, estimated to contain nearly a third of Gaza’s arable land.

The Israeli government does not allow Palestinian fishermen to fish beyond three nautical miles from Gaza, although under the Oslo Accord, they are supposed to be able to fish for 20 nautical miles from Gaza.

Thus, more pressure is needed on the Israeli government – and the US government, which enables Israeli policies in Gaza – to lift the blockade.

And that’s why it’s so important that another international flotilla is sailing to Gaza in the third week of June, to protest the blockade. It’s time to open all the crossings, not just Rafah

(www.onislam.net / 04.06.2011)

De blijvende aard van het goede

“Wat het schuim betreft, het verdwijnt als iets nutteloos, en wat betreft hetgeen de mensen baat, dat blijft op de aarde. Zo geeft Allah de gelijkenissen.” (VBQ[1] 13:17)
Het bovenstaande vers onderstreept de werking van het universum. We leren van zowel de Edele Qoer’aan als van de geschiedenis, dat wat goed is van langdurige aard is. Dit verschilt compleet met de ´survival of the fittest-concept´ (overleving van het sterkste individu, ook wel het Darwinistische concept genoemd) dat in deze tijd veel populariteit heeft verworven.

De aard van schuim
Hetgeen niet goed, positief of nuttig is en wat niet aan het menselijk overleven en het comfort en de vooruitgang bijdraagt, wordt door de Edele Qoer’aan ´schuim´ genoemd. In een begrijpelijke, wijdverspreide term verwijst dit naar iets dat geen inhoud heeft.[2] Het heeft dus gebrek aan stabiliteit en bestendigheid. Het betekent vooral een plotselinge en krachtige beweging die niet van blijvende aard is. Schuim verschijnt aan de oppervlakte en bevat vuil en onzuiverheden. Het is van geen enkel nut voor de mensheid. Of het verdwijnt aan de oppervlakte wanneer het drijft of het wordt afgevoerd. In beide gevallen blijft het niet bestaan. Het beschikt niet over de mogelijkheid om te overleven. De erfenis van de wetten van Allah[3] (VVIH[4]) leiden ertoe dat het kwaad of schuim niet voor lange tijd kan voortbestaan. Als schuim in staat was om te overleven dan zou het een gevaar vormen voor het bestaan van alle schepselen in de wereld. Dit in tegenstelling tot hetgeen waarmee de mensheid zijn voordeel kan doen en wat op aarde overleeft.

Gerechtvaardigde aanwezigheid
Als moslims kunnen bewijzen dat hun aanwezigheid als een voordeel voor hun maatschappij is, dan zullen zij hun aanwezigheid kunnen rechtvaardigen. Op deze manier zullen zij als onmisbaar worden beschouwd. Hierdoor kunnen zij ook niet door middel van tirannie verdreven worden. Moslims zullen dan ongemoeid gelaten worden door hun omgeving. Door hun moed aan de rest te tonen, zullen zij gerespecteerd worden. Allah (VVIH) heeft de aanwezigheid en het bestaan van degenen die waardevol zijn voor het voortbestaan van het ware geloof gegarandeerd.

Auteur: Sayyid Aboel Hassan Ali Nadwi
Bron: http://fridaynasiha.com/display.php?issue=534 Samengevat uit Guidance from the Holy Quran, blz. 221, 222.
Vertaling: Dar al-Tarjama (www.daraltarjama.com)

(www.moslim.net / 04.06.2011)

Private Israeli guard opens fire on protesters, protester hit by shrapnel

A private Israeli guard opened live fire on protesters marching on an illegal quarry near the West Bank village of Shuqba.

The march was organized by the Ni’lin and Budrus popular committees and commenced at noon. Dozens of Palestinian and Israeli activists marched toward the illegal quarry to stop the further confiscation of Palestinian lands from the nearby villages of Ni’lin, Qibya, Shuqba and Shebteen.

As demonstrators were marching towards the quarry, an Israeli security guard opened fire. Villagers had not even arrived to the designated spot of protest, the quarry, before live ammunition was shot. The injured protester from Budrus was evacuated to the hospital for necessary treatment.

After some time, 3 three Israeli military jeeps arrived and began firing tear gas canisters at the protest. Many suffered from gas inhalation and a few olive trees caught on a fire.

The quarry, owned by an Israeli commander, rests on lands confiscated from Palestinian villages. The demonstrators hope to deter further confiscation, since the quarry continues to be expanded illegally.

(www.nilin-village.org / 04.06.2011)

Israel accused after Palestinian boys burned by mystery canister

Military experts say unidentified devices found in West Bank may have contained outlawed white phosphorus.

Eid Da’ajani, 15, suffered severe burns after picking up a mysterious silver canister close to his home Link to this video

The Israeli army has been accused of leaving dangerous munitions near Palestinian homes after two boys were seriously burnt when they picked up a mysterious silver canister which exuded toxic white fumes.

A second canister, discovered nearby less than a week later, was destroyed by the army in a controlled explosion

The army does not deny leaving the devices, but would not identify them and suggested they were left over after training exercises. But the area where they were found does not feature on an army map of designated training areas and the canisters appeared new and unweathered.

Eid Da’ajani, 15, found the canister on 20 February, around 100 metres from his home in the village of Buweib, south of Hebron. The device, around 20cm (7.9 ins) long and 5cm in diameter, was lying in a scrubland where the boys were watching the family’s goats.

A metal cannister found by Mohammed and Eid Da'ajani near their homeA metal canister found by Mohammed and Eid Da’ajani near their home. Photograph: Conal Urquhart for the Guardian

Eid showed it to his cousin, Mohammed, also 15, who said that it might be a bomb, but Eid picked at the tube’s foil-like covering, causing it to emit dense white fumes. The boys ran away but the gas clung to them and burnt their clothes, melting their shoes and burning their skin.

“The moment the smoke came. I dropped it, but the smoke followed us. When we escaped that’s when the pain started, ” said Eid.

Military experts consulted by the Guardian said the effect of the smoke was similar to that caused by white phosphorous but could not speculate on the nature of the devices from photographs alone.

One suggested that it could be chaff – projectiles fired from an aircraft to decoy enemy missiles – which had not ignited.

The use of white phosphorous in civilian areas is banned by the Geneva conventions yet it is often used by armies for marking and creating smoke screens. Israel used white phosphorous in civilian areas during the Gaza war in 2008-2009 but stopped after international criticism.

Khalid Da’ajani, the boys’ grandfather said that 10 people in the area had been killed by discarded army bombs. “We knew it was the army [which left the cannister] but we had never seen anything like this. The burns seemed to spread along their bodies and all we could do was pour water on them which didn’t seem to help,” he said.

Both boys were taken to the local hospital in Yatta, but when contacted by Eid’s father the Israeli army showed little interest until told that there had been an explosion. Soldiers then questioned the boys and doctors eventually gave them an intravenous transfusion which eased their pain. The family’s request to receive treatment in an Israeli hospital was denied, but two days later, the boys were taken to hospital in Hebron where a team of visiting Italian doctors spent three hours cleaning their wounds.

The hospital report states that boys suffered first to second degree burns to their faces, hands, ankles and legs due to “the explosion of a foreign body”. They were then referred to a burns unit in Nablus, around 60 miles from their home, rather than to an Israeli hospital less than half the distance away.

But last week, Lo’ai, Mohammed’s younger brother discovered an identical canister not far from where the first was found.

He ran away and his family contacted the army. After inspecting the device, troops piled rocks and explosives around it before blowing it up.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Israeli army said: “The area under discussion served in the past as a training field and is no longer in use. The young men were treated on site by a military medical team. Because their injuries were light, they did not require evacuation to an Israeli hospital, and they were evacuated by the Red Crescent.”

Almost two weeks after the event the boys have stopped vomiting and suffering from headaches. Large parts of their skin remain bleached white and blistered. Both seem to be recovering but still find it hard to walk.

A spokesman for Physicians for Human Rights and Israeli non-governmental organisation said that the incident represented a violation of the Palestinians’ right to the health by the Israeli army.

“Leaving bombs unattended on the lands of Palestinians where children and others spend most of their time is a violation of human rights. Worse, is the fact that the army denied these children a better treatment in Israeli hospitals despite the fact that they admitted it was a bomb they had left in the field,” the spokesman said.

Physicians for Human Rights have said that they have written to ask the army for answers about the incident and will take legal action with the family if the army does not explain how two of these dangerous devices appeared in village lands that are regularly frequented by children, adults and animals.

(www.guardian.co.uk / 04.06.2011)

Egypt may be open, Palestine is still closed

By Mohammad Rujailah
Mohammad RujailahThe Rafah border between Egypt and the Gaza strip will be opened in the next couple of days. People of the Gaza strip will be able to leave Gaza and enjoy the freedom of movement. Or will they..? Not quite. Filmmaker Mohammad Rujailah comments.

Soon, I’ll be able to cross the borders of my country, but I want the right to move INSIDE my country. We should not be that excited about going OUT, when we are prevented from going IN.

When Egyptians said that they are opening THEIR borders we were happy, we deserve it, thank you Egypt so much for that, we know that Egypt is an independent country, they can do what they want! But they shushed Israel and ask them not to interfere. Why? This is an internal Egyptian decision that Israel has no say in. Besides, Egypt already allowed Jordanians, Lebanese, Japanese, Chinese, Americans, and even Israelis in. Their decision.

Gazans are hooked on Egypt. In school I had to study the Egyptian curriculum. I learned about Egyptian economy, politics, history, characters, food… Everything until I was completely fed up with it! We are next to each other; Gaza is closer to Egypt than it is to the West Bank and Jerusalem, the other parts of our country.

The second Intifada, that started ten years ago and still affects our lives, has changed the way we see things. For the last ten years our lives and heads were thinking one thing: how to leave Gaza. Key words that defined our lives were: OPEN, CLOSE, TERMINAL, DENIED ACCESS, PERMIT and CHECK POINT.  Some of us succeeded and left for education, medical treatment, or to see our families abroad. One of them is me.

We have a more visual memory of Cairo or Spain than of the West Bank! I am fed up with everyone wanting to leave – myself included. Living in Europe made me realise how easy it is to move around – outside.  I feel ashamed of thinking all the time of visiting museums here in Spain, when these places don’t represent anything for me, at least not right now! We should not be that excited about going OUT, when we are prevented from going IN.

Opening the borders with Egypt is great but I want to move inside my country! I want to study at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, or Al-Najah University in Nablus. I’ve never even been to Nablus! I want to take a sun bath at the Dead Sea, I want to be medically treated in Abu Dis, I want to buy the famous pastry Knafeh Nabulsyeh from Nablus and eat Musakhan there, and I want to come home to Gaza with my friends from Ramallah and Bethlehem or Bi’lin and enjoy a good fish meal on Gaza beach.

How come a Dutch, French or Japanese can visit the West Bank and we can not? How come someone, from outside has got more right than me to be in my country, when all I’m allowed to do is leave. Basically we’ve become refugees yet again.

For everyone think that opening Rafah might help I say, it won’t! It is a pain killer. Gaza belongs to The West Bank and both are supposed to be extensions of Jerusalem, and form a free Palestine! We are still occupied, Palestine is still closed, and Gaza is still a restricted area.

(nederland-gaza.nl / 04.06.2011)