Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Israeli Occupation Force bulldozer in Rafah, Gaza Strip, June 2003

Abu Jameel Street is no more. Israeli occupation force bulldozers much like this one destroyed the entire street in January 2004.

You can see the massive destruction

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ghostly Streets, Ghostly Skies

By Laila El-Haddad

19 May 2007
Raising Yousuf

We're used to things going from bad to worse very quickly here. But we never expected the situation to get as bad as it has over the past few days.

After a terrifying 24 hours, we awoke this morning to sporadic gunfire, and ghostly streets.

It was a welcome change. Sleep-deprived and anxious, my colleague Saeed, on his first visit to Gaza, and myself headed to Rafah in the southern part of the Strip to continue shooting a series of documentaries we are working on.

Though the gunfire had subsided, the gunmen were still patrolling the streets, each this time casually manning their own turf, masked and fully armed.

Impromptu checkpoints were still set up along the main Gaza-Rafah road, and we were stopped for ID and affiliation checks.

As we approached Rafah, we received word that clashes had broken out there, too, following the funeral of four Hamas men killed in an Israeli air strike the night before.

We decided to avoid the town centre, and headed instead to film near the border area along Rafah's edge. Young children blissfully flew handmade kites above the iron wall separating them from the Egyptian Rafah. Their atbaq flirted in the infinite sky above with kites flying their way from the Egyptian side. "We play a game with the Egyptian kids" they explained of their unseen counterparts. "We meet here, through our kites, and see who can catch the other's kites quicker by entangling. So far we're winning -- we've got 14 Egyptian kites," he announced proudly.

The children are small enough that they can wiggle their way through the cracks of the large iron gates along the wall, where once Merkava tanks made their unwelcome entrance to battered camps here. And so they can call out to their Egyptian friends, and learn their names and new kite flying techniques.

Even then, we could hear the fearsome roar of Israeli fighter jets overhead, interspersed with the banter of machine guns from feuding factions.

I then received a call from my father back in Gaza City -- a tremendous explosion, the result of F-16 jet bombing a nearby Hamas compound, had just sent intense shockwaves through our house. It was so powerful that it blasted off the windows from my cousin's home in the neighbourhood behind us. This attack was followed by another then another, and then another.

Hamas's Qassam Brigades have sent a barrage of rockets into Israel over the past two days. It has been in an attempt to redirect the battle towards the occupation, they say.

There have been six Israeli aerial strikes since this morning. The latest one happened just as we departed Rafah back to Gaza City. The victims this time were two young brothers, standing near a municipality garbage truck that was obliterated.

Even as I record this from back at home, we were shaken by another large explosion, Israelis tanks are amassing at Gaza's northern border, and unmanned Israeli drones are whirring menacingly, incessantly, overhead in great numbers patrolling the ghostly skies that only the kites can reach, preparing, perhaps, for yet another strike against an already bleeding, burning, and battered Gaza.

Freelance journalist and blogger Laila El-Haddad lives in Gaza City. Laila's blog, Raising Yousuf, is named after her two-year-old son.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Gaza on the Beach

Dr. Mona ElFarra, Laila's aunt, writes of the horror of Israel's slaughter of Palestinian civilians in Gaza last week

"Hoda age 12, with her brothers and sisters, running happily, giggling, racing to reach the beach, her dad and mum busy carrying the picnic basket. It is Friday and Hoda"s family like other Palestinians, were trying to enjoy a little fun.

A moment’s escape from the hardship of daily life... economic sanctions from Israel, the EU, and US, military siege, 4 months with no salaries for more than 160, 000 government employees, a Palestinian economy already vulnerable and impoverished, the high unemployment rate, unsettled political situation, factional interclashes, vulnerable health services, lack of vital medications, widespread psychological problems, and child malnutrition.

The moment shattered. An Israeli gunship suddenly fired at random against the beach, while army tanks fired artillery shells and Apache helicopters crossed the sky. 40 civilians were injured, 10 killed. I watched Hoda on the local TV, shocked yelling shouting crying, “ya baba ya baba” (dad dad dad dad). Her father’s dead body was on the sandy hill unable to answer the child’s plea, her mother was killed along with Heba’s 3 brothers and sisters.

In the Hospital

The child arrived at the Al Awda Hospital with tens of injured and dead. She was shocked and in a state of denial. She kept saying to me “mum and dad did not pass away, they are in another hospital”!!!

Whole families were destroyed in minutes, but all I heard was “the Israeli army will investigate the incident”. American officials commented on the right of Israel to defend its security!!!!!!!!!

I personally have no comment. Like many of us in Gaza, I burst into tears. Some of my collegues at the hospital could not go to the child’s room. The camera man collapsed at the scene.

Friends, last week while I was at Al Awda hospital, I visited the health emergency crew, who were targeted while evacuating the dead bodies of resistance fighters, after a battle between the Israeli army and the resistance movement. One of the injured was Dia Halaby, age 27, he is one of the hospital’s health emergency team. Ten civilians were injured, as well as a local radio news reporter.

The ambulance was heavily damaged, though it was clear that it was a rescue team. I tried to write, to report what I have heard from Dia and others. I couldn’t write, I felt that this was one of the normal practices of the Israeli army, to attack health emergency teams.

But now I am wondering, is it our destiny as people living under occupation, to deal with abnormal practices as if they were settled normal facts?

I feel that no place in Gaza is safe. I mentioned that phrase in one of my press releases at the beginning of the intifada, and I still feel the same way. Friends please help me to stay strong , so i can continue helping others . Mona Elfarra Gaza-palestine

Yours in solidarity,

Mona ElFarra


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Internationals Injured at Anti-Wall Demonstration

Thanks to God for the Australian press. The International Solidarity Movement issued a press release a couple of days ago after activist Phil Reiss was shot in the head by Israeli occupation forces in Bil'in, occupied West Bank, Palestine.

Most of the international press coverage were Australian sources like this one.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Tel Rumeida Project

I just saw this recently and my stomach churned:

Israeli settlers attacking Palestinian schoolchildren

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Rachel Way Group

An email from Fida last night:
1 July 2005

Rafah Bitter Life

Factual description. Figures and Statistics
Since the beginning of the peace process efforts, the Palestinian people and Palestinian National Authority have made their decision to choose peace as an important strategic foundation to end the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian ­Israeli problem no matter the measures of risk and obstacles may occur in this way.
The Palestinians, in fact, exerted no effort to make it clear to the whole world as well as to the Israeli governments and people that the Palestinians are serious in their
Choice to the peace process. Nevertheless, the Israel governments showed no signs of
Seriousness or real intentions for the noble value of peace. As a result, the Palestinians faced, .- veral and frequent delays of putting the signed agreements into practice and implementation. Consequently, frustration has rapidly increased among the Palestinian public which in turns caused the unforgettable breaking out of AL-Aqsa Intifada (uprising) and protests against the Israeli aggressive acts which spread in the whole Palestinian territories.
Since September 28th 2000, the Palestinians faced all sorts and forms of Israeli oppression, torture, isolation and destruction for the civilized human values ~d laws represented by the Israeli continuous escalation of targeting, shelling, killing, demolishing, closing borders and airports, building settlements, bulldozing and
Confiscating land... etc '
Rafah Governorate, in fact, can't be isolated from what is going on in other parts of Palestine. It witnesses the worst campaigns of the Israeli madness, hatred, violence and discrimination that caused massive harm and destruction in the following aspects:­
1. Human being loss:­
I) 433 martyrs, 151 of them are children.
11) 3150 injured '
Ill) Disability cases (120): different kinds of disability cases distributed as follows:
(Paralysis- brain damage- arms, legs and eyes loss)
2. Houses
I) Demolished houses (2963)
11) I- uttial destruction (800) Ill) (9379) Houses alongside the Palestinian-Egyptian borders suffering from the
Daily Israeli indiscriminate shooting and shelling.
IV) Absolute destruction of (729) stores and workshops around the area of Salah­
Eldeen Gate.
As a result of the complete demolishing of 2963 houses 3950 families including ( 14178 individuals) have become homeless.
*Six mosques were demolished in Rafah since the beginning of the Intifada
* 214 cars demolished


In Rafah Governorate, (4580) dunums of land have been bulldozed and/or confiscated. This land was planted by different kinds of fruit, vegetables, olives, citrus... etc in addition to the destruction of many water resources like wells and pools besides destruction of irrigation machines.

*AL-Mawasi (the sea-shore) area.
AL-Mawasi is a Palestinian agricultural area in the western part of Rafah city; it is surrounded by the Israeli settlements. AL-Mawasi has the population of about 12000 people: Most of them mainly depend on agriculture and fishing. This area is considered as the main food basket for Rafah and Gaza strip as it supplies Gaza strip with the needed vegetables and fruits. AL-Mawasi lacks different services...
Educational, health, recreational... etc. So, in our efforts to minimize the level of
Suffering for the people and students of AL-Mawasi, we decided to construct a school there despite the Israel obstacles to have this dream comes into reality. Therefore, we started thinking of constructing a mobile school using caravans in stead of the normal classrooms to operate the school to offer educational services for the pupils in the area.
The current Israeli aggression and the settlers' practices in that area caused big harms in Al-awasi in both the agricultural and fishing sector.

4-Economy: ­

The Palestinian economy which is considered as one of the main financial resources to the Palestinians has been affected severely by the current situation. This, indeed, affected different categories of Palestinian people especially labor forces. As a result 16000 labors have become unemployed because of the strict closure.
Reasons behind the bad economic situation in Rafah: ­
I. Closing borders and the airport.
2. Closing many smallloca1 factories.
3. The, tack of agricultural productions because of bulldozing many agricultural
4. Imposing constraints on exports.
Therefore, this has caused severe hardship for the Palestinian population since most of them mainly depend on labor and agriculture. Thus, people have completely relied on urgent aids.
* Graduates:
In Rafah, there are 6000 unemployed graduates.
5-Gaza International Airport & Rafah entry-point (passage): ­
*Gaza International Airport: -

Gaza International Airport is located in the eastern south of Rafah. It has been the only way out for Palestinians to the world. Since October 2000, the airport was shut down. Nevertheless, most parts of the runway were bulldozed in addition to the complete destruction of Radar-Building. As a result, the airport now is unfit for taking off or landing any plane.

*Rafah entry-point (Rafah passage): ­
Rafah entry-point is, also, an important passage for the Palestinian people. Students, patients and people with different vital and humanitarian purposes usually pass through. Yet, this passage is used as a tool of pressure on -the Palestinians as it is almost closed. When the Israeli side declares opening the passage, it is opened for a
Certain period of time and for limited number of passengers. Therefore, hundreds of Palestinians have to wait for a number of days in hard conditions till the Israelis let them in.

6. Education: ­
In Rbfo1-1 we have overcrowded schools lacking different facilities, computer and science labs. Moreover, many schools need to be built or maintained.
Rafah also has no university. Therefore, students of Rafah have to go to Gaza city for that purpose passing through the Israeli checking-points. Big number of students here has no money to pay the university fees or even the transportation money to reach
Their universities. .

7. Health
The health sector in Rafah is lacking: ­
1. Health facilities (hospitals- and special clinics).
2. Medical equipment.
3. Medicine, medical supplies
4. Ambulances
It is worth mentioning here that many martyrs died bleeding while preventing ambulances to cross the checking - points or: not allowing them to reach the areas of shelling and shooting to evacuate injured people to save their lives.
Moreover, the Israel occupying forces prevented many sever cases from receiving
Treatment abroad. ­

8. The psychological impact of the Israeli continuous aggression: ­
The current Israeli aggression has had its clear and negative effect on the Palestinian people in general and women and children in particular. This is due to the lack that those children have become the victims of the Israel escalation of violence and oppression. The traumatic experiences and fears they face as a result to the daily frequent shelling have been resulted in different behavioral disorders, fear feeling, unsafety, nocturnal enuresis, sleeping disorders and lack of concentration which showed the real need of immediate intervention to offer psychological support and care for those children