Since its founding in 1948, the “State of Israel” has promoted an intense campaign to erase Palestinian history, culture and resistance on all its fronts. Human rights organisations such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) and activists around the world are the constant targets of this onslaught.
Recently, “Israel” attacked the Palestinian human rights movement head-on, designating six non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as “terrorist groups” with the aim of silencing, restricting and interrupting the work carried out by them. If human rights NGOs are “terrorists”, how should we designate the “State of Israel” that practices humanitarian law violations, war crimes, crimes against humanity and apartheid?
The designation of “terrorists” announced by Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, based on a draconian 1996 law, is aimed at punishing Palestinians for throwing stones, fighting the police, carrying the flag and chanting slogans in Palestinian defence, or even for publishing and sharing posts on Facebook and Instagram – two platforms inimical to the cause of liberation of the Palestinian people.
The “anti-terror” legislation authorises Zionists to close offices, confiscate assets and imprison directors and employees of the entities. Minister Gantz claims that such organisations would form part of a support network for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which supposedly calls for the “destruction of Israel through terrorist acts.” However, the Israeli minister has not provided any evidence to confirm his claims.
The minister who designated organisations of international reputation as “terrorists” is the one who commands the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), which carry out arrests, assassinations, genocide and ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories. The organisations attacked by Gantz are precisely those denouncing that thousands of Palestinian children are detained every year and that torture techniques and methods are used during interrogations carried out by “Israel”, in an evident fundamental violation of the Palestinians’ human rights.
The affected organisations are the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer), whose website frequently updates the situation of Palestinian political prisoners; Al-Haq, which has defended Palestinian human rights since 1979; Defence for Children International (DCI), which has been working for the rights of children for 35 years; the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC); the Bisan Centre for Research and Development and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, linked to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).
These are internationally-respected humanitarian and human rights groups. They cooperate with the United Nations (UN) and important international courts of justice, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), with whom they maintain a partnership to provide information, research and studies on the constant violations of rights by the Zionist occupation.
The arbitrary measure by the Ministry of Defence of “Israel”, adopted on 22 October, led the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to issue a statement declaring: “Defending rights before the UN and any other international entity is not an act of terrorism, defending women’s rights is not terrorism and providing legal assistance to detained Palestinians is not terrorism either.”
“Israel” is indeed a terrorist state that acts in violation of international law, threatens and violates the rights of Palestinians, as denounced in July this year by Human Rights Watch (HRW). By issuing a report, the organisation brings to public knowledge the apartheid, war crimes and the violation of international law and international humanitarian law promoted by the Israeli state – facts documented for decades by various international human rights institutions.
The HRW’s 213-page report denounces with abundant evidence that “Israel” acts like a “state” that enjoys impunity and, for that, counts on the absolute support of the US. The US, in turn, protects it from punishment and allows it to continue committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, such as repeated murders, arrests, displacement, violations of holy places for Christians and Muslims and theft of land and natural resources such as Palestinian water sources.
HRW and Amnesty International warned of the: “Alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organisations.” Another communiqué, signed by more than 250 human rights groups from around the world, denounces that the measure: “Comes in the context of the continuation of the occupation and the attacks by the apartheid state on the human rights of the Palestinian people, especially their right to fight, in every way, for freedom, return, self-determination and construction of their independent Palestinian state.”
Since 1967, “Israel” has banned more than 400 Palestinian and international organisations, including charity and media, for being considered “hostile” or “illegal”. That includes political parties such as Fatah, which governs the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the PLO, with which “Israel” signed the Oslo Accords in 1993. The most recurrent accusations are for alleged “terrorism” and “anti-Semitism”.
“Israel” has been adopting racist legislation since its foundation to relegate Palestinian Arabs living in the region to a regime of sham democracy, denying equal political rights and subjecting them to permanent and hateful discrimination in different spheres. This renders Palestinians second-class citizens in the face of the Jewish supremacy apartheid.
The international community needs to reassess its involvement with the Zionist regime and adopt approaches centred on defending the human rights of Palestinians. It must punish the “Jewish State” for its constant violations and establish a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate the discrimination and systematic repression of “Israel” against Palestinians and their humanitarian organisations.
Gaza is where I was born and the place where I will die. It is the place where my family lives and where I feel safe.
I can imagine you thinking incredulously: Do “Gaza” and “safe” go together? Yes, because no matter where one travels, no matter how beautiful other places may be, Gaza has something unique. If you see Palestinian life as filled only with despair, this essay is written to correct the record.
Gaza is a land of contradictions and extremes: life and death, love and hate, honesty and hypocrisy, defeat and resistance. Gaza is a land where “rights” that are taken for granted elsewhere are only dreams. It is a land its people sometimes wish they were not in, but at the same time, they miss it if they leave.
When I was a child, my father spoke often about the beauty of Palestine, a land Muslims consider holy. He told me he once prayed in Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque. He described it as an inimitable experience of beauty and piety. When I asked my father to tell me more about the mosque, he replied by quoting a hadith (saying of the prophet, peace be upon him): “Do not set out on a journey except for the three mosques: al-Masjid aI-Haram, the mosque of Allah’s Apostle and the mosque of al-Aqsa.” If you’re not Muslim, let me interpret for you: These are the most majestic mosques on earth! Praying just once at al-Aqsa is the same as praying 500 times someplace else.
I begged my father to let me pray there too. He replied, “Oh, my little daughter, I wish we all could!”
“Why can’t we? Why? Why?” I implored, my eyes filling with tears.
When I went to bed that night, I stared at the ceiling, reflecting on this question. Praying at the al-Aqsa Mosque is still one of my dreams. Being denied the right to pray there is perhaps the worst consequence of our dispossession for Palestinians. Why does the rest of the world allow such prejudice and oppression? All the “whys” with no answers literally feel like they are hanging around my neck and stabbing me in the heart.
All Gazans have a desperate desire to visit the rest of the world. Who doesn’t want to travel? To see beyond their own back yard? However, leaving Gaza is a near-impossible challenge for most of us. Even if we can obtain a visa to visit another country, we probably can’t get a permit to leave. And if we do, we are treated horribly. A friend tried to travel abroad to complete her higher education. At the crossing into Egypt, she was forced to sleep on the ground for two days. After all that, she was turned back. If a stellar student like her can’t make it, I thought, I will only be able to leave Gaza when pigs fly!
Getting to Gaza from Egypt is no easier. To see Gaza, you must first experience its pain. There are checkpoints every few miles on the roads, manned by pitiless, greedy police officers. They can take whatever they admire from your suitcase, and they do. While you wait, innumerable hours are spent under the sun, the heat making your head hum. Measured by distance, it should only require five hours to travel from Cairo to the Rafah crossing into Gaza, but it usually takes days. You aren’t told why you are waiting or why you must sleep on the ground; meanwhile, flies buzz all around, rubbish is everywhere, and there is a cacophony of the sick, old, poor and young.
When you finally arrive inside, the first impression can be confusing. I spoke to one of my students, Fathia, a beautiful Palestinian woman who lives in Saudi Arabia, about visiting. She confided that the first time she entered Gaza, she was critical of our culture. Why do Gazan people write on the walls of their houses? Why are so many of them unpainted? Why are the streets so narrow? Why are there so many vendors in the streets instead of in stores? Later, she came to understand that writing on the walls memorializes remarkable moments in a family’s history. Because so many families are poor, they can’t afford to paint. And since unemployment is so high, people try to make money any way they can. But she also came to see that happiness is not dependent on pristine houses or wide streets.
I clearly remember the day when I was 12 years old, sitting at my desk at school when the teacher announced a surprise exam. All exams made me anxious and I obviously had not studied for this one. Then, relief came in a jarring, unwanted form: an explosion, followed by ambulance sirens. The head teacher announced we must leave school “NOW!” Terrified, my tough teacher fled the classroom even before we did.
Still holding my exam paper, I raced home, ecstatic to have been saved from the exam. When I arrived, my older sister, Samira, described what she had just seen and heard. Her voice trembled and she could only utter half sentences. A police cadet graduation ceremony had been bombed, killing scores of newly graduated officers, even traffic police and musicians in the police orchestra. I watched a video on TV of the attack she described. I will never be able to forget the images of bodies stacked on top of the other, with the news station playing “Gathering All Wounds” in the background. This song still makes me cry whenever I hear it.
In Gaza, both life and death are realities that co-exist in the same moment. Have you ever witnessed people bravely waiting for death, willing to accept their fate? Have you ever seen people watching destruction all around them with genuine gratitude that they are still ok? Have you ever comforted neighbors who know that losing their children and houses is the cost of insisting on the freedom of their people?
However, we are only humans, not angels. We are as much terrified as brave. When bombs fall, families gather in front of their televisions, mobile phones or radios, listening to how many people have been murdered so far. Mothers murmur the supplications that all Palestinian women say, asking their Lord to protect their children: “Oh, Allah! Save all our Palestinian youth and let this war have a happy ending for a remarkable Palestinian victory.” Meanwhile, during each attack, children slip out of the house to go to the market. Their parents fear they may come back in a coffin, but their own homes are not any safer. And they still have to eat.
Our forgotten young men
International agencies and media say a lot about the plight of women and children, but my heart also bleeds for our young men. Most Gazan males between 25 and 35 years old are not able to marry because they don’t have jobs and thus cannot afford the associated costs (which, in our society, must be borne by the men). Instead, they continue to live at home, well into their older years, dependent on their elders when they long to contribute to their parents and start their own families.
The other side of Gaza
I now have reinforced your dreadful views of Gaza, I know. But despite the sadness I have just documented, we passionately love this land and so would you, if you were allowed to visit.
I work as a project assistant at UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees. We recently held a party to say goodbye to one of our foreign colleagues, a French humanitarian worker named Claire Cbl. It was her final day in Gaza and she burst out crying. I was curious, so I asked Claire later why she loved it here so much. She wrote back to me with this explanation:
“Living in Gaza has been a very intense and rich experience for different reasons. Workwise, my job was meaningful, since UNRWA provides basic, needed services to nearly 70% of the Gazan people. I also worked with an amazing Gazan team who were very supportive and helpful. Culturally, I visited rich historical sites: al-Omari Mosque, Saint Hilarion Monastery (one of the biggest Christian monasteries built between the 4th and 7th centuries), al-Basha Palace, the British Cemetery, Christian and orthodox churches, the old city, strawberry fields, the zoo, the old hammam (bath house), and lovely restaurants by the sea. All of these places reminded me that Gaza is not only a land of conflict and war but also a place of history, culture and leisure, which deserves tourism.
“Many of the walls are painted with artistic murals, giving Gaza City a very special look. I spent a lot of time learning Arabic and practicing with my colleagues and friends. When I talk to Arab people in Arabic, they always notice that I have the Palestinian accent, about which I am very proud! Socially, I discovered Gazans’ warm hospitality and generosity by being invited to family homes for lunches, Eid festivities and weddings. This gave me the opportunity to experience the people’s way of everyday living. During Ramadan 2018, when I was fasting, I spent one iftar at my Arabic teacher’s house, which was an unforgettable experience. During that time, I learned how to prepare fresh karkade (hibiscus iced tea), which I drank every night after that. Politically, I grew to understand the Palestinian struggle and resistance much more deeply. I realized that Gaza played a crucial role during the intifadas. I feel like every street corner still remembers that time. I now also better understand the internal conflict between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank, and of course the disastrous consequences of the Israeli blockade. When you get to know friends or colleagues whose future is affected because they cannot travel to study or get medical treatment, you realize on a human level the harsh impact of the occupation.”
For all the reasons Claire gave, Gaza is extraordinary. She hopes to come back one day and bring her family and friends to show them how beautiful this place is. She sees that Gaza is a unique place full of potential. It is populated by welcoming people willing to live in peace, prosperity and security.
In Gaza, you will find…
Top-achieving students unable to complete their studies due to the unaffordable university fees.
Engineers, doctors and teachers working as taxi drivers, due to the scarcity of job opportunities.
The ever-present sound of drones above, watching you always and ready for war. The sound is like a cloud of bees, causing headaches and hindering sleep, almost like a story your Mum reads to try to lull you to sleep.
People who look like they are in their 70s when they are only in their 40s or 50s.
“Electricity schedules” that we memorize like our own phone numbers and that dictate how we go about our daily lives. As much as our desire to travel, we wish simply for a full 24 hours without electricity cuts. Yet, if we suddenly have a day like that, we ask why, suspiciously.
Mothers ululating when they learn of their children’s death just as they would at a wedding. In the Arab world, ululation is performed to honor someone (it also is heard at traditional Palestinian weddings).
Young men without a leg or legs, now a common sight on the streets.
But in Gaza, you will also experience these blessings:
If you are hungry or thirsty, if you get lost, if you fall in the street, if an irritating person is rude to you, you will immediately find people by your side defending you. They will defend you as if you are their own son or daughter, even though they have never met you before. There is a “safety net of caring.”
The aroma of your neighbors’ lunch or breakfast while walking in the street. Nothing is more delicious than our ful (a stew of fava beans), falafel and hummus. It’s a meal all Gazans share daily. And our kanafa? To die for!
Our imams with their melodic voices calling us all to pray at midday.
Our 8-year-old children memorizing the entire Holy Qur’an by heart.
Long queues of young men fighting over who gets to go first when hospitals ask for blood donations.
Children who are taught that education is as valuable as their soul.
All generations of family members sitting and talking for hours on end; the power shortages mean we cannot “lose” ourselves in our digital devices.
People who have learned how to be strong even when they are reluctant to be so.
Gaza is a bosom cradling everyone who enters! Even though the Israeli blockade has exacted a high cost, it has also strengthened us, making us more mature, more knowledgeable and more passionate about resisting injustice. What others are learning about “Black Lives Matter,” we learned long ago.
Gaza is like the great Mother Earth who deeply loves her children—as well as all those who seek her embrace. Gaza is loved not just by its people, but also by those who visit, like Fathia and Claire.
Paradox and contradiction have found shelter here in Gaza. Even though our freedom has been stolen by the Israeli occupation, Gaza is worth dying—and writing—for.
Vermont senator says if he is elected US president, he would consider moving US embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “reactionary racist” at the Democratic presidential debate.
Sanders said if he is elected, he would “take into consideration” moving the US embassy back to Tel Aviv, adding that Middle East policy should be about protecting Israel, “but you cannot ignore the suffering of the Palestinian people.”
“I am very proud of being Jewish. I actually lived in Israel for some months. But what I happen to believe is that right now, sadly, tragically, in Israel, through Bibi Netanyahu, you have a reactionary racist who is now running that country,” he said.
Sanders said the US has to have a policy that reaches out to the Palestinians and brings nations together.
In late 2017, US President Donald Trump unilaterally recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, triggering a world outcry. The following May, Washington relocated its embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is the third holiest city for all Muslims around the world.
Apart from Sanders, six other candidates vying to take on Trump were on the stage at Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in South Carolina.
Netanyahu vows action against PA over ICC bid – Cartoon
By Jihad Al-Khazen
My opinion of the terrorist Benjamin Netanyahu is well known and I have expressed it several times in my articles. Today I will refer back to the UN and six resolutions against Israel that were supported by the international organisation’s member states.
The most important resolution is related to Jerusalem and it rejects Israel’s sovereignty over the Holy City by 148 votes to 11, with 14 abstentions.
There was another resolution on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It was supported by 156 countries and opposed by eight with 12 abstentions. The resolution speaks of the Haram Al-Sharif and does not refer to the Temple Mount, as Israel calls it.
Israel dug under the Haram Al-Sharif and found neither a first, second or third temple. All of these are myths that are baseless in history and geography.
There was also a resolution calling on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights, which was backed by 99 countries with ten countries against and 66 abstentions.
The United States, Canada and Australia opposed these six resolutions, which are a part of about 20 resolutions against Israel adopted by the United Nations each year.
An Israeli UN representative attacked support for the resolutions against Israel and talked about the relationship of the Jews and Christians to the alleged Temple Mount. There is absolutely nothing related to the Jews in the Haram Al-Sharif, but the Christian presence is known and there is cooperation between the Christian churches in Jerusalem and the House of Fatwas against Israel’s lies.
The European Union voted in favour of the two main resolutions on Jerusalem but requested a change of wording regarding the holy sites.
I reiterate, perhaps for the thousandth time, that Christian and Islamic connections were written about within less than ten years of the miracles of Jesus Christ and the revelation that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), while the apparent Jewish links were written a thousand years later.
The six resolutions endorsed by the United Nations refer to uncontested Palestinian rights. This year, the UN hosted Marc Lamont Hill, a CNN commentator, and he said that the resistance is a right exercised by the Palestinians and supported the BDS movement against Israel. He was fired last week due to his political positions.
I say that Israel and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu neo-Nazis, and perhaps it is the only remaining neo-Nazi state in the world.
The Israeli police recommended Netanyahu be tried on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust and the police accused him of supporting a telecommunications group in exchange for supporting the terrorist government against the Palestinians in their country.
This case and two others against Netanyahu await Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s decision to go to court. If the cases reach the courts, this will be the first time a serving Israeli prime minister has been tried.
I believe bribery is a simple charge in exchange for killing Palestinians including hundreds of children. If there is justice in the world, the terrorist prime minister would be tried before the ICC in The Hague, as he deserves. Every time Netanyahu denies he committed the crimes, he further proves that the charges against him are true.
Despite the obstacles, Palestinians in Gaza show a strong will to defeat their disabilities and achieve their dreams.
By Mersiha Gadzo
Some laughed at him, others told him that he wouldn’t succeed. But with a strong will and positive attitude, Abdulrahman Abu Rawaa proved them wrong.
With just one arm and a leg each, he can easily ride his bike along Gaza’s sandy streets.
He took off the pedal and chains to adjust the bike to his needs, allowing himself to easily balance on the bike and push himself forward.
It’s the easiest way for him to get around his neighbourhood in the “Bedouin Village” in the northern Gaza Strip.
“Learning how to ride a bike has been my greatest accomplishment. It might not look so, but it really is,” Abu Rawaa said.
“Everyone told me it’s dangerous; some people criticised me [for trying] and even made fun of me at first. But I challenged all of that. I’ve proven to myself and to others that my disability isn’t really going to ‘disable’ me.”
For the 23-year-old, life has always been about trying.
Having been born without an arm and then losing his leg after two surgeries, he hasn’t allowed his physical disability to prevent him from trying to live life to the fullest.
Monday marks the International Day of Disabled Persons. Despite the immense obstacles, Palestinians in Gaza have shown a strong will to defeat their disabilities and achieve their dreams.
For the two million Palestinians living in Gaza under an Israeli-Egyptian siege, life is already difficult enough.
But for those with physical disabilities, they face additional challenges – something as simple as moving from one neighbourhood to the other in one of the world’s most densely populated areas is an immense challenge.
Most buildings are not accessible for the disabled people. There are no braille signs for the visually-impaired. With a dire economic situation, there are little to no resources to assist them.
Artificial limbs made in Gaza are typically of poor quality since the blockade has disrupted imports of prosthetic limbs and raw materials used to make them.
The limbs are made out of hundreds of different parts, but even if a single part is missing, it’s difficult for the limb to function.
Consequently, for many in Gaza, the prosthetic limbs that they use are for aesthetic purposes – to be able to put on a prosthetic leg or arm while taking photos for special occasions, for instance.
Rawaa had tried wearing an artificial limb, but it was terribly uncomfortable, despite costing $2,000 – an exorbitant amount for the average family in Gaza.
It was impossible for Rawaa to walk with it, as it pulled and scratched his skin.
In the first grade, he tried to use a wheelchair, which was also futile. He would fall to the ground and would have to push his chest against the wheelchair seat to push forward and move.
“But in fourth grade, I once saw my brother Tareq riding his bike and I asked him to let me try. It was a good try, although I fell. My father was impressed that I can balance myself on the bike, and I asked him for a bike. He bought me one. Step by step, I did just fine. And in the sixth grade, I totally depended on it to go to school, though my school was around two kilometres away from home.”
Stigmatisation and a lack of knowledge about disabilities persist in Gaza, Rawaa explained. Some ask him how he can cook or fix his bike on his own. For Rawaa, these are strange questions since he is entirely self-reliant.
“When my bike is broken, I’m the one who fixes it,” Rawaa said. “Some people say ‘You can’t!’ Immediately, to them I say, why don’t you try? It could work and it could not, but at least try. If you’re willing to try, you’ll succeed in one way or another. Everyone should have the will to try. Life is all about trying.”
‘They’ve amputated my leg, not my dream’
While misconceptions about disabled persons persist, Rawaa believes it has decreased over the years due to the three Israeli military assaults on Gaza and the Israeli attacks on the Great Return March demonstrations, which has left dozens of unarmed demonstrators disabled.
According to Gaza’s health ministry, at least 5,300 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli bullets since the start of demonstrations on March 30. AT least 68 Palestinians have had their legs amputated.
It has become a common sight today on the streets to see Palestinians with missing limbs. Unlike Rawaa, who was born with a disability, they face a harsh learning curve in adapting to their new life.
Alaa Aldali, 21, has been trying to persuade himself that he was born without a leg to adjust more easily. Israeli forces shot his leg with an expanding “butterfly” bullet on March 30, the first day of the Great Return March demonstrations.
He says he was standing with his friends more than 300 metres away from the Israeli fence when he was suddenly hit in the leg. He found himself on the ground, with smoke coming out of his wound.
“It was scary… It wasn’t like a bullet; it looked like a grenade exploded in my leg,” Aldali said.
After undergoing eight surgeries in the hopes of saving his leg, it was amputated due to serious damage to his arteries and nerves.
“It’s quite hard, but that’s all I can do now. You know, just on the way home, while I was getting out of the taxi, I thought my right leg was still there and I almost fell,” Aldali said from his bedroom in Rafah, in southern Gaza.
Trophies, medals and plaques decorate his table. For the past four years, he has spent practically every waking moment on the move, cycling, and would mostly come home just to sleep.
Ranked third in the occupied Palestinian territories, Aldali’s dream of representing Palestine internationally presented itself with an invitation to compete in the international cycling competition that took place in Indonesia in late August.
But his dream was crushed that fateful afternoon. Since then it’s been an uphill battle – mentally and physically.
Aldali says he’s determined to keep fighting for his dream of competing for Palestine as a cyclist, even if it’s just with one leg.
“They’ve amputated my leg, but not my dream. I’m coming back to do my favourite sport. We’ll also return to our home. Those sacrifices are not going to no avail,” Aldali said.
Heavy unemployment rate
For others, such as 27-year-old Abeer Elhorokly, the Israeli occupation affects them before they’re born.
During the First Intifada in 1992, her then-pregnant mother was subjected to gas inhalation by Israeli forces. Consequently, Elhorokly was born with deformed nervous cells, which left her in a wheelchair.
Like Aldali, Elhorokly found her passion in playing competitive sports – basketball and tennis. Her team has achieved first place in the Gaza Basketball League for the third time in a row and she aspires to compete internationally in tennis for disabled athletes.
However, with the siege on Gaza now in its 12th year, many Palestinians – disabled or not – are deprived of such opportunities.
Gaza’s job market remains stagnant with an unemployment rate of 44 percent, but for the disabled population, it’s at 90 percent.
Elhorokly graduated two years ago with a BA in Public Relations and Media, and is determined to find work. Palestinian labour law stipulates that five percent of its workforce must include disabled people. However, this isn’t applied on the ground, Elhorokly said.
“I want to be a big journalist and prove that we’re capable. To be a journalist and have a disability at the same time is a real challenge and I love challenges,” Elhorokly said.
Rawaa has been raising chickens in his backyard for a living. He would like to eventually afford a new home as his family’s house becomes flooded in winter.
He has been approaching various institutions with his proposal, trying to find funding to expand his chicken-raising project. Rawaa has yet to find support, but he says he will keep trying.
“Never let anyone or anything stay in your way. If you think you can’t take the stairs by yourself, ask yourself – did I try? You can always find ways. Create your own solution,” Rawaa said.
“One should always have the hope and courage to jump over life’s challenges – to try at least.”
Today, November 29, marks the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the day in which the United Nations passed the Partition Resolution in 1947.
The Partition Resolution is the biggest stab to the Palestinian people, because it robbed them of a large part of their land, taking it from its original owners and giving it to alien Jewish settlers who came from various parts of the world. In response to this United Nations resolution, governments and civil society conduct various activities annually to mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
On this day in 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 181, later known as the Partition Plan, which stipulated that a Jewish and a Palestinian Arab State would be established in Palestine. Only a Jewish State, Israel, was established, while the Palestinian state remained ink on paper for up till now.
The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is an opportunity to remind the world and its forces of the reality of the Palestinian tragedy and the injustice inflicted upon the people of Palestine as a result of the Partition Resolution.
This is also an occasion to remind the international community of the fact that the question of Palestine has not yet been resolved despite all the efforts, endeavors, initiatives, negotiations, visits and exploratory tours of the Middle East undertaken by hundreds of officials and delegations from foreign countries.
It is worth mentioning that the Palestinian people, whose number had surpassed twelve million, have not yet attained their inalienable rights as established by the General Assembly, namely the right to self-determination without external interference, the right to national independence and sovereignty, the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and property, from which they have been forcibly removed.
Israel’s greed was not limited to the articles of Resolution 181. In 1948, when the war broke out between Israel and the neighboring Arab states, the Jewish state expanded and captured 77 percent of the territory of Palestine, including a large part of Jerusalem.
There have been many Arab-Israeli negotiations in Madrid, Geneva, Oslo, Washington, Camp David and many others, but they have shown one fact that Israel does not want a real peace, and that all it wants is negotiations for the sake of negotiations.
Unjust and void resolution
The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) asserted in a statement on the anniversary that the Partition Resolution 181 is unjust and void because it establishes and legitimizes the occupation of the lands of others by force in a flagrant violation of the most basic principles of justice, the rules of international law, and the legal and moral foundations on which the United Nations was established.
The Movement called the resolution “a crime and a great injustice to our people and our homeland, Palestine, as an Israeli entity was internationally recognized by the resolution 181 on the land of Palestine and at the expense of its people.”
Hamas noted that this painful anniversary reaffirms our attachment to our land and our full rights. Hamas added: “We recall the blood of the martyrs and the wounded, the suffering of our heroic families and that of millions of our people who live in forced exile as a result of that unjust resolution.”
‘Israel received a hurting slap in its botched operation in Gaza,’ former Israeli commander told Israeli TV Channel 2
By Motasem a Dalloul
The war between Hamas (which leads the Palestinian resistance) and Israel is now also being fought online. Israel’s recently failed attack on Gaza was an important victory for Hamas.
“Palestinians everywhere have provided very valuable and important information which serves the resistance regarding the consequences of the Operation Sword Edge,” Abu-Obeida, the spokesman of the Al Qassam Brigades – the military wing of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas – said on last week.
He refers to the failed Israeli attempt to carry out a secret operation against the Palestinian resistance somewhere in the Gaza Strip on November 11.
This announcement by Abu-Obeida came one week after pictures were published of the members of the secret Israeli commando unit, which was involved in the failed operation in Gaza, including pictures of the Palestinian collaborators who helped them.
Israel was stunned by the success of Al Qassam Brigades in tracing the members of the secret Israeli unit, the Israeli Military Censor issued a statement warning both the Israelis and the Palestinians of trusting Al Qassam Brigades and of circulating the pictures on social media.
“We ask you to avoid circulating the pictures and any notable information on social media, including WhatsApp or any other medium. You must act responsibly,” the statement said.
Following this statement, the Israeli TV Channel 14 deleted reports and news stories from its website, however, it included only blurred pictures.
The Israeli TV Channel 13 did not report or publish the pictures because, it said, this might harm the people involved in the failed operation and might harm the national security of Israel.
Alon Ben-David, the military correspondent and analyst at the Israeli TV Channel 10, said, “Publishing the pictures of the people involved in the operation by Hamas causes a strategic harm to Israel, not only in Gaza, but across the Middle East. This is a very dangerous issue … and the Israelis have to know that if they republished them, they would serve Hamas.”
New online battleground
Meanwhile, the Israeli news website 0404 said that Hamas’ military wing had moved the battle with the Israeli forces to the psychological field. Maybe the danger of publishing the pictures would hurt the corporeal spirit for the Israeli soldiers, who are tasked to carry out daily secret operations in Gaza.
Barak Ravid, the diplomatic correspondent for the leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz, reported the Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant saying that the Israeli army carries out almost daily operations in Gaza similar to the failed one.
Galant is a former commander of the Southern Command of the Israeli occupation forces. The Israeli TV Channel 2 said, “Thirteen years after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the secret Israeli security operations have not stopped.”
Israeli military and security experts described the success of exposing information about members of one of the most secretive Israeli military units as a “big achievement.”
Israeli Channel 10 Arab Affairs Analyst Tsvika Yehezkeli said, “Publishing the pictures of the [Israeli] cell is considered an important achievement for Hamas thanks to its smart technological abilities. It was a shocking work mainly as Hamas claims it also has the names and it might publish them in the future.”
Military Censor blunders
The Israeli occupying army worked hard to undermine the information battle initiated by Al Qassam Brigades but failed.
Ronen Bergman, the Israeli investigative journalist and author who is a senior political and military analyst for the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, said the military censor failed due to shock and lack of expertise in this field.
“The measures of the Israeli Military Censor gave Hamas an important victory in this memory battle related to the disaster that took place in Gaza,” he said, “but the Military Censor does not recognise this.”
This came as a shock because as Israeli military reporters and analysts and former Israeli commanders told Israeli TV Channel 2, the Israeli forces tasked to carry out such operations are trained to succeed 100 percent.
They stressed, according to Channel 2, that “Israel received a hurting slap in this operation as the Israeli forces were uncovered and one of the Israeli commanders was killed.”
Specialist in Israeli Affairs, Dr Saleh al Naami, said, “The Palestinian resistance inflicted a harmful attack on the Israeli military and intelligence efforts … This means that such Israeli units, which carry out secret operations in other countries will be dangerous as it could be revealed like what happened in Gaza.”
Naami added, “Israel has been looking for an answer for the question, which is worth a billion dollars: Where and how did Al Qassam Brigades get some of these pictures, which are considered part of the most confidential information about the most secret units of the Israeli Army?”
Speaking to TRT World, Hamas Spokesman Hazim Qasim said, “Again, the Palestinian resistance proves that it is able to challenge the Israeli occupation, and it is able to embarrass its calculations and plans in its way to regain the freedom of the Palestinian people and their rights.”
Abu-Obeida said, “We still have much sensitive information about the Operation Sword Edge [the failed Israeli operation in Gaza]. We will reveal each piece of information about it when we feel it is needed.”
The military correspondent of the Israeli Radio Iyal Alima said, “Hamas has been achieving continuous military intelligence and information superiority over Israel throughout this operation.”
Maher dances in Al-Manara Square, Ramallah in the occupied West Bank
By Rebecca Stead
Film director Toomas Järvet discusses Rough Stage ahead of its screening at the London Palestine Film Festival on 27 November.
Al-Manara Square, central Ramallah. Children eat candy floss greedily as their parents tug at their hands, hurrying them along. Street vendors peer cautiously into the camera. Taxis fight their way through the gridlock that clogs the roundabout.
Amid the chaos, Maher stands barefoot on the concrete, his movements soft and graceful against the cityscape. In the fading light he dances, paying no heed to the bewildered onlookers who, after a few moments of curiosity, carry on with their lives.
“Maher told me when we first met to discuss the film that he has always had this idea that he wants to dance in Al-Manara Square,” explains Toomas Järvet. “It was meant to symbolise his connection to the people of Palestine. As you can see from their reactions, he has a long way to go to really be connected to the people.”
This was the first dance scene that the director filmed when he began working with Maher to create Rough Stage. Set in the occupied West Bank, the film traces one man’s struggle to build a career as a contemporary dancer and put on a production at Ramallah’s Cultural Palace.
“It all started when I first read a Facebook post by a friend,” Järvet explains. “They had reposted an advert from an NGO looking for volunteers to go and teach classical dance in Palestine. Right away it caught my eye; I thought it could be interesting to follow how ballet could relate to the cultural and religious background of Palestine.”
Järvet travelled to the occupied West Bank with the teacher selected for the programme, but quickly found himself more interested in Maher, the head of the dance school in Ramallah. “I wanted to know who he was, why he was doing this, what this meant for him and how he was capable of doing all this, despite all the frustrations and difficulties that one has to face in Palestine. These restrictions and constraints aren’t just set by Israel but also by the Palestinian authorities and the community itself, his family and friends; this was really the most interesting point.”
Maher’s attempts to continue in the face of these restrictions lie at the heart of Rough Stage. From early on in the film, it is clear that Maher’s family is far from enamoured with his decision to pursue a career in dance. “There are not many demands, son,” his father tells him. “But you’re getting older, this is it! Look for a good girl; you must turn your life around.”
Candid moments such as these are woven throughout the film. Maher goes to visit his mother a few days ahead of the performance, for example. Just like his father, she wants Maher to get married. “I don’t like your way of life, I’m often criticised for it,” she berates him, adding that people speculate if he is “not in fit shape to marry.”
“I’m happy,” Maher tells her, as he laughs at his mother’s no-nonsense talk.
As far as director Järvet is concerned, the essence of the film is very simple; how to stay true to what you believe in and what you want to achieve no matter what the obstacles are in life. “The ideas and problems the film talks about are very common and universal,” he insists.
Yet while, true to Järvet’s intention, Rough Stage deals with relatable, universal challenges, it also cleverly explores some of the deep-seated problems facing Palestinian society as a whole. During the film’s opening sequence, Maher stands at his kitchen sink speaking to the camera. “We have a lot of water in Palestine,” he explains, “but there is a limit to how much Israel gives us. You put a fish inside a bottle and throw it into the sea. They see food and they have a lot of water, but they cannot swim.” This captures perfectly the impact of the overbearing restrictions that characterise life in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip.
According to Järvet, the analogy was completely Maher’s. “During my first trip I really wanted to know his opinion on everything. He was just constantly talking and I managed to capture the scene you see on camera. It’s one of the very few things from our first meeting that actually made it into the final cut.”
Throughout the making of the film — four years’ worth of trips to meet Maher in Ramallah — one thing that struck its director the most was the extent of these restrictions. “I thought I was socially and politically sensitive and that I knew all the stories and background, because my first degree was in cultural theory and I had studied the Middle East, but of course when you enter it all becomes alive and real.
“When you have to go through the likes of Qalandia checkpoint [situated between Ramallah and Jerusalem] and you see people waiting in long lines like cattle waiting to be executed, it really affects you. If it affects us Westerners, who know that this is something we have to go through once and that’s all, how must it affect Palestinians who go through this on a daily basis? I thought I knew about Palestine until I saw the occupation first hand.”
One of the subtle themes running through Rough Stage is the question of what it means to resist. Although not mentioned explicitly, before becoming a dancer Maher was active in the Second Intifada which started in 2000 and lasted until February 2005. He was arrested, spent three years in an Israeli prison and was banned from entering Israel for a further ten years. Yet now, almost two decades later, his interpretation of resistance has altered.
“At a certain point,” explains Järvet, “he said ‘no’, my way of resistance has to be different: ‘I don’t want to throw stones or use a gun or communicate that violence is the solution’. He knew that he wanted to express himself in a different way and that’s how he found dancing.”
Maher touches upon this himself. In one scene, as he drives to Ramallah to deal with yet another pre-performance obstacle, he laments, “It’s like jihad the things we are doing in this country. I’m not doing this for myself. I feel this need for change. I don’t know what it is, but we have to change something during our lifetime. If not, what’s the meaning of one’s existence?”
Later, as Maher discusses his dancing with his brother, the latter says: “When our mum does embroidery, it’s a form of resistance. When I see you dancing, competing with an Israeli and receiving awards, this is also resistance of the occupation, but I want you to explain this, because our people don’t understand modern dance and what your movements symbolise.”
That scene, says Toomas Järvet, is both intense and interesting. “It explains the problem in Palestine. Palestinian people, and possibly people in general, expect more explicit ways of making art that is more easily understandable.”
Perhaps the same is expected of resistance. Yet, as Rough Stage shows, maybe simple acts like dancing, planting trees or crafting cultural products can, in their own way, act as powerful statements of resistance in the face of Israel’s all-encompassing occupation.
Israeli occupation elite forces attempted to carry out a secret military operation in the depth of Gaza, but the vigilance of its resistance foiled it and pushed Israel to beg a ceasefire.
While the whole world is busy dealing with the case of assassinated journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and after the announcement of an internationally-mediated cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a surprise security operation was carried out by a group of elite forces in the Zionist enemy army under the cover of darkness in Khan Yunis, southern Gaza.
The operation aimed to abduct two prominent leaders of Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades from the heart of the besieged Gaza Strip. As is common in such operations – which they carry out with extreme professionalism – the Zionist elite forces had used a civilian bus as camouflage and some of the soldiers had worn women’s clothing, under which they had hidden lethal attack weapons.
Nevertheless, the vigilance of the strong resistance men – who figured them out from the very beginning and followed their movements – thwarted their plan and caught them in the trap the resistance forces had prepared with extreme cleverness and high professionalism. The elite forces thus became surrounded, prompting the Zionist army to intervene to contain the situation and rescue the special group from the hands of the resistance combatants.
Aircraft intensified their attacks to provide cover for the fleeing force, leading to the martyrdom of six resistance combatants. Field leader Noureddine Baraka – said to have been one of the combatants targeted to be kidnapped in the operation – was also killed, having arrived at the location to assess the situation. Meanwhile, the courageous heroes of the resistance managed to inflict heavy losses among the ranks of the attacking unit, killing a senior officer and injuring others, who fled like rats under the protection of Israeli aircraft.
In order to cover up its catastrophic failure, save its reputation and confirm the famous saying that it is “invincible,” the Zionist army resorted to a new round of escalation in Gaza. It launched continuous raids and heavy attacks on the already-besieged Strip, entering into military confrontation with the resistance. As it used to do, it resorted to the most cowardly and villainous methods – targeting civilian sites. It also wanted to silence the voice of the media for exposing its failures, so bombed Al Aqsa TV. The battle was on the verge of spiralling out of control and turning into a comprehensive war, which neither side wants to go through.
During two days of intense escalation by the Zionist enemy, the resistance confronted it with all its factions through a joint operations room. Its strong men fought with great courage and the resistance it proved its readiness for any unexpected attack. It also proved the illusion of the Iron Dome, since neither the dome nor the iron protected the enemy from the missiles fired on them like rain. The Iron Dome repelled only 100 out of 400 missiles. How, then, will they be able to sell this dome in the arms market after the uncovering of its failure before the world?
It can be argued that the resistance was easily able to change the rules of the game and that it now has a strategy of deterrence. It has managed the situation with great restraint, especially in the messages it sent to the Zionist leadership warning them that, if the army continued to bomb civilian targets, this would lead to a large Palestinian counterattack. The resistance has also compelled the Zionists to stay in their shelters. The most dangerous warning message came when the resistance targeted a bus transporting army soldiers with a guided missile after the bus offloaded the soldiers. This avoided casualties, which would have turned the military confrontation into the all-out war both sides tried so desperately to avoid.
However, those who are driven by their innate hostility to the Zionist entity occupying the land of Palestine criticised the resistance because it did not bomb the bus when the forty soldiers were inside. Some have even whined over the Granit missile the resistance lost with no material results. This is short-sighted and those of this opinion have not yet understood the strategy of deterrence and what it actually means.
We are not in a decisive war that will resolve the conflict. Rather, we are in one of its rounds. Whether we like it or not the conflict will be ended by a truce – or, let us say, a stabilisation of the truce – between the belligerent parties. Each party wants to improve its conditions and even impose its conditions on the other. This is what has happened with Hamas. Zionists were quick to ask for a truce. The only reason behind this request was that the Zionist foe realised the balance of power was not in its favour and that the Palestinian resistance now has the same deterrent power the Zionists used to consider a source of pride. A microscope caption of the Zionist Defence Minister from a sniper’s rifle can forward a straight message with unequivocal clarity: “we are able to reach you wherever you are, if we want to, or if you decide to assassinate one of our leaders”. Hamas has succeeded in imposing its word and the Zionist enemy is in a state of confusion and agitation, faced with the extent of power and resilience managed by the resistance.
The Zionist enemy sought a truce when it felt its massive losses and cracked internal front, which was followed by the resignation of the Zionist Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Meanwhile the masses in Gaza, even those whose houses were bombarded and their children martyred, went out cheering and rejoicing for the crushing victory. This is the difference between the original offspring of the land and the son of those who came from all over the world to take over others’ homeland.
It also wanted to prove its superiority and ability to penetrate Hamas, yet the movement’s response proved that it has a great deal of strength, stability and organisation in the face of any possible escalation. Hamas does not feel pressure to rush into a truce agreement as was hoped.
The Zionist enemy was surprised by the reaction of the resistance, which has shaken the occupation entity. The former Israeli Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, admitted that Hamas had imposed its conditions and that Israel had become submissive to Hamas’ decisions, not only because of the number of sudden rockets dropped on occupied lands, but because of the Kornet missiles that broke the rules of the game and disrupted Israel’s preventive strategy. Barak’s stance was supported by Ehud Yaari, the Zionist expert on Middle Eastern affairs. Yaari saw the demand made by Hamas’ political bureau member Hossam Badran to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – “to isolate Lieberman” if the latter wanted to end the confrontation – as a call that reflected the confidence of the Palestinian resistance in the impact of such strife.
Thanks to Allah’s generosity, Gaza won and defeated the Zionist Arabs before vanquishing the Zionist aggressor. Gaza overpowered the Arab conspirators and traitors.
Gaza is the only place in the Arab region facing the Zionist enemy with all its might and pride. Gaza terrifies and humiliates the Zionist entity, despite the siege and desperate attempts to starve Gazans, in addition to the conspiracies of Zionist Arabs who seem more eager to destroy Gaza than the Israeli Zionists themselves. Yet Gaza is proud to embrace the Palestinian resistance and the protection provided by Hamas to its population. Instead, Hamas knocked down and humiliated the Zionists with its legendary steadfastness throughout these long years. It also exposed the shameless Zionist Arab rulers, who are terrified of the resistance missiles fired at the Zionist enemy, under whose custody they submissively hide and with whom they disgracefully race to normalise.
The sympathy of all the Arabs with Gaza and their support for the victory of the resistance is a significant emotional participation that sends an important message that Palestine is still at the heart of every Arab person, running like blood in his veins. This did not however go beyond posts on social media platforms, since oppressive regimes have banned such demonstrations that used to take place in the past. Yet it is a unique and unending love. The Arab regimes’ previous attempts to reduce Arab awareness of the Palestinian cause and twist facts – making Hamas the foe and the Zionist entity the friend – have indeed failed. Palestine is still the essential cause for the Arab citizen and the Zionist entity is still the eternal enemy of the nation.
Gaza is defending the dignity of an entire nation; a nation that was the best nation brought to the world and still pays the costs of its resilience with its children’s blood. Today, Gaza is the last stronghold of resistance in the nation and tomorrow will be the core symbol of victory and the liberation of Palestine, by God’s will and by Gaza’s brave and righteous men. They will conquer their enemy, ignoring the ones who failed Palestine.
In conclusion, there is nothing more beautiful than the words of the late poet Mahmoud Darwish about Gaza: “Gaza has no horses, no planes, no magic sticks, and no offices in capitals. Gaza liberates itself from our traits, our language and its invaders all at the same time, and when we meet with Gaza in the same dream, perhaps it will not recognize us; because Gaza was born with fire inside and we were born waiting and crying over wrecked homes.”
In this Friday, Sept. 14, 2018 photo, a Palestinian who was injured during a protest stands after sunset near the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, east of Gaza City
Atalla Fayoumi hobbles on crutches across the flat, sunbaked plain near Gaza border fence, gazing toward plumes of smoke rising from a clutch of burning tires in the distance.
The 18-year-old Palestinian’s right leg was amputated after Israeli soldiers shot him in April at one of the mass demonstrations held weekly for the past eight months against Israel’s long blockade of Gaza. Yet, like other desperate young men in Gaza who feel they have nothing left to lose, he has kept returning to the protests.
The Gaza Strip has been on the front line of confrontations between Palestinians and Israel for generations. But the territory has been brought to its knees over the last decade by three punishing wars with Israel and an air, sea and land blockade.
The 11-year blockade, imposed by Israel, is aimed at weakening Hamas, the militant group that seized power in Gaza from the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority in 2007. But its impact is felt by all. Raw sewage flows directly onto once-scenic Mediterranean beaches, tap water is undrinkable, and electricity is available just a few hours a day. Over half the Gaza Strip’s 2 million people are unemployed, and most residents cannot leave.
While most Gazans see the protests as the inevitable reaction to Israel’s siege, Israel views them as coordinated attacks and says it must defend itself.
Since they began on March 30, Israeli troops have killed more than 170 people and shot nearly 6,000 others. Thousands more have been wounded by tear gas or rubber-coated bullets. On the Israeli side, one soldier was killed by a sniper and six others wounded.
Every Friday, there are more.
When Fayoumi arrived at one of five protest sites along the border just after 2:30 p.m., the area was largely empty. A few days earlier, he swore he would keep participating despite his wounds. But why?
“Because I want to die,” he said.
Yes, he hopes the blockade gets lifted so he can leave Gaza to get a new, prosthetic leg. But if that doesn’t happen, “what’s the point of living?”
By 5 p.m., at least 13,000 people are gathered along the border, throwing rocks and burning tires. Ambulance sirens begin to howl soon after, signaling the start of the day’s violence. At a medical triage tent about a kilometer from the frontier, they bring the wounded: a 22-year-old shot in the left leg, an 18-year-old struck by shrapnel, a 31-year-old shot in the chest.
“Every Friday we wait for the injuries, and every Friday it’s always the same,” says one of the staff, Dr. Khalil Siam. “They always come.”
A few dozen meters away, five men in checkered, black and white headscarves are performing a traditional folk dance with their arms crossed for a captivated crowd under a massive tent. Behind them, in the distance, the border fence looks like a war zone; the sky is completely black, burning tires are shooting flames into the air, and gunfire is ringing out every few minutes.
At the border, all hell is breaking loose. Protesters are swarming the 12-foot-high fence. One man is hanging from the top, shaking it back and forth. The noise is constant, like a waterfall. Men are blowing whistles. Others are screaming at the top of their lungs.
Most are throwing rocks over the fence, thrusting their fists in the air, taking selfies, waving Palestinian flags. Every time a gunshot rings out, they duck like a school of fish darting in unison. Sometimes a man falls, and within seconds he is surrounded by medics in orange uniforms, who bandage him on the spot and rush him on a stretcher to the ambulances waiting in the rear.
After the sun sets, the crowds dissipate rapidly as two black drones circle overhead. A pair of nearby explosions sends shards of concrete and debris hurling into the air. The Israeli army will say that aircraft and a tank struck two Hamas watchtowers after a soldier was wounded by a pipe bomb.
The last casualty arrives at the medical tent at 7:24 p.m. Siam says his team treated 25 people, mostly for gunshot wounds. Half were shot in the leg.
Almost every Friday protest is followed by at least one funeral on Saturday. This week, there are three, including one for an 11-year-old boy.
On Sunday, Fayoumi is sitting on the small bed in his small room, showing off pictures of himself at Friday’s protest.
He is proud that he went. Proud that he stood up for the Palestinian cause. But when asked if having a job would have changed anything, his answer is clear: “I would never have gone.”
After his injury, Fayoumi received a payment of $200 from Hamas. It was spent long ago, he says, on medical bills.
Now he has nothing. No work. No hope. And little else to lose.
Next Friday, he says, he will return to the protests again.