Archive | Gaza

Nazi Navy Shoots, Injures Two Palestinians off Gaza Coast

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

The Nazi Navy shot and injured two Palestinian fishermen, on Saturday, off the northern coast of the besieged Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

Local fishermen committee said Nazi navy ship opened fire with rubber-coated steel rounds at the fishing boat, injuring Mohamed al-Sultan, 26, and his 12 year old brother.

The two were sailing off the coast of Beit Lahia in the northern Nazi occupied Gaza Strip.

The Jerusalem Press described the wounds as mild, no further details were available.

The Nazi occupation state imposed a land, air, and sea blockade upon the coastal enclave in 2007, causing high rates of unemployment and poverty, resulting in the current humanitarian crisis.

Nazi navy ships regularly harass and open fire at Palestinian fishermen, sailing within the stipulated boundaries.

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Fatah accuses PA government of ‘discrimination’ against Gaza

Some Palestinians said that the activists’ demand could mark the beginning of a Fatah revolt against Abbas in the Gaza Strip.

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH   

President Mahmoud Abbas gestures during a meeting with the Palestinian leadership to discuss the United Arab Emirates' deal with Israel to normalize relations, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank August 18, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/POOL)

Zionist puppet Abbas gestures during a meeting with the Palestinian leadership to discuss the United Arab Emirates’ deal with the Nazi regime to normalize relations, in Ramallah in the Nazi occupied West Bank

Activists from the dominant Fatah faction have demanded that the Palestinian Authority stop its policy of “discrimination” against its own employees in the Gaza Strip, who have seen their salaries either cut or halted in the past three years.The demand was a sign of growing discontent among Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip with PA Zionist puppet Mahmoud Abbas and the PA leadership, and some Palestinians said the demand could spark a revolt within Fatah in the Strip where the faction has tens of thousands of members.

The demand to redress the salaries came after Ahmed Majdalani, the PA social development minister, complained that PA employees in Gaza had been receiving salaries for the past 13 years despite not doing any work.Majdalani, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, said it was inconceivable that those employees should continue to receive full salaries, including payments for transportation and other privileges, while idle.

The PA government ordered its thousands of employees to remain at home after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. It wanted to prevent them from continuing to work under Hamas’s administration. But in 2017, the PA government, facing a deep financial crisis, decided to suspend or cut the employees’ salaries and discontent grew among them because their colleagues in the West Bank have continued to receive their salaries in full.The activists have launched an online campaign titled “Stop the Discrimination” in which they have accused Abbas and the PA government of failing to fulfill their obligations to their Gaza employees.

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Three Palestinians Detained by Nazi Forces Crossing Gaza Border

Two Palestinian young men, on Thursday, were detained by Nazi forces after crossing Gaza borders into Nazi, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

An Nazi army spokesman alleged that the youths were in possession of a knife and a hand grenade, and they were taken for questioning.

The army announced that an unarmed Palestinian youth was captured on Wednesday night, as he attempted to cross the Gaza borders into Palestine 1948.

The Nazi occupation army announced the arrest of the two youths, for crossing the security fence separating the besieged Gaza Strip from Nazi, the Jerusalem Press reported.

The Nazi occupation army alleged that the youths crossed the border and threw an immobilized ‘grenade’ that did not explode, and that the Nazi forces fired live ammunition at the young men.

The army spokesman stated that they “were taken for investigation by the security forces,” and denied any injuries.

In the southern besieged Gaza Strip, Nazi bulldozers infiltrated 100 meters into the besieged enclave, on Thursday morning, leveling Palestinian-owned land, as army jeeps and armored vehicles provided cover, according to PIC reporter.

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News Brief: Al Mezan Issues a Fact Sheet on Water Shortage in the Gaza Strip Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Al Mezan published a fact sheet that addresses the deteriorating living conditions in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israel’s 14-year blockade and recent punitive measures, notably the ban on fuel entry to the Strip,  and their repercussions on the provision of municipal services, particularly water and sanitation.

In addition, the fact sheet sheds light on the struggle of low-income families to access alternative sources of water to offset the intermittent supply of municipal water amid a full lockdown imposed on Gaza to fight the spread of COVID-19, which further exacerbated these families’ financial troubles.The presented information are based on a compre- hensive survey of municipalities in the Gaza Strip conducted by Al- Mezan last year as well as a series of phone interviews carried out in the last two weeks with a number of mayors to better understand the impact of the lockdown and the power crisis on provision of municipal services, particularly water and sanitation.

Al Mezan also interviewed (by phone) a number of families from various parts of the Gaza Strip that are struggling to secure their basic needs, including water, under the lockdown.Al Mezan is deeply concerned for the population’s health and wellbeing, in particular, the impoverished populations in Gaza amid the declining municipal services and COVID-19 outbreak, and calls on:
1.The Palestinian Authority and concerned agencies, NGOs and internat—ional bodies to mobilize support for residents of the Gaza Strip, whose lives are threatened by the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak, and to improve the living conditions in Gaza and support the Strip’s municipalities;

2. The international community to exert pressure on Israel, the occupying power, to immediately and unconditionally lift the blockade and closure and cease all punitive measures; and

3. The Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDC) to liaise with the municipalities to ensure water supply that is more regular and efficient to households, and prioritize the provision of power supply to municipal wells and networks to better equip residents with the amounts and quality of water necessary to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

Read Full Document here

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Gaza: Media Show Little Interest in Nazi Bombing

Media Show Little Interest in Israeli Bombing of Gaza

ALAN MACLEOD

Israeli bombing of Gaza (photo: Said Khatib/AFP)
 Israel responds to fire balloons from Gaza Strip with fighter jet strikes

Describes attacks on Gaza as “the latest retaliation against fire bombs suspended from balloons that have been released from the Palestinian territory.”

Israel is bombing Palestine again, although you likely wouldn’t guess that from watching TV news. For the eleventh straight night, Israeli Defense Force warplanes have been bombing the densely populated Gaza Strip. Israel’s bombs have caused considerable damage, forcing the shutdown of the area’s only power plant.

But US corporate media, focused on the coronavirus and election coverage, have shown little interest in the renewed violence in the Middle East. Searching for “Gaza” on the websites of NBC NewsCNNMSNBC and PBS elicits no relevant results. Nor has Fox News addressed the bombings, although it did find time (8/18/20) to cover the archaeological discovery of an old soap factory in Israel’s Negev Desert.

Other major news networks were not much better. In a wide ranging interview with Trump advisor Jared Kushner, CBS’s Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan (8/16/20) did mention that “there were hostilities overnight in Gaza. There were Israeli airstrikes. Palestinian militants fired off rockets,” in a question about the US’s role in the Middle East, but did not return to it.

CBS (8/13/20) also reprinted an AFP newswire story headlined “Israel Responds to Fire Balloons From Gaza Strip With Fighter Jet Strikes,” which began by stating (emphasis added):

Israel attacked targets of Islamist group Hamas in Gaza and halted fuel supplies to the enclave Thursday in the latest retaliation against fire bombs suspended from balloons that have been released from the Palestinian territory.

The story clearly presents the bombing as a reactive Israeli counter-effort—not an attack on Palestine, but a response against Hamas, which it describes not as a political party but as an “Islamist group.” Hamas, it insists, was the target, despite later noting that a UN-run school was also hit. AFP did not comment on the lack of symmetry between homemade explosives tied to balloons and F-35 jets.

ABC News, meanwhile, relied on another news agency for all of its (limited) coverage (two pieces), reprinting (8/16/20) an Associated Press article that similarly presented the cutting off of Gaza’s electricity supply as a “response” to aggression from the “Palestinian militants” of Hamas.

WaPo: Israel strikes Gaza targets after arson balloons launched

AP (Washington Post8/16/20) reported that “Israeli aircraft bombed several sites belonging to the militant Hamas group in the Gaza Strip”—though in the Post the article was accompanied by a photo of a boy with his destroyed home.

A second AP story, headlined “Israel Strikes Gaza Targets After Arson Balloons Launched,” was picked up not just by ABC (8/16/20) but by influential outlets like the New York Times (8/15/20), Washington Post (8/16/20) and Guardian (8/16/20). The piece is at pains to present Israeli actions as directed purely against Hamas, and as a response, not an aggressive action, allowing Israeli military spokespersons to drive the narrative. Indeed, much of the report reads like an IDF press release.

A leaked 2009 publication from the Israel Project, an Israeli/American group that advises Israel advocates on what language to use when discussing the Palestine conflict, stresses that they should “clearly differentiate between the Palestinian people and Hamas.” “If it sounds like you are attacking the Palestinian people (even though they elected Hamas) rather than their leadership, you will lose public support,” they counsel. Media, it seems, are doing their job for them, in much the same way they reflexively present US actions against Iran as a “response” or a “counter” to the threat from Tehran (FAIR.org6/6/19).

In their seminal books on media coverage of the conflict, Bad News From Israel and More Bad News From Israel, Greg Philo and Mike Berry wrote that TV news followed a “consistent pattern,” which misleadingly presented the events as “Palestinian action and Israeli response and retaliation,” their focus group sessions showing that the presentation had a “significant effect” on how the public remembered events and apportioned blame, effectively legitimizing Israeli actions. Sixteen years after their first study was published, corporate media appear to be following exactly the same playbook.

The US press sampled here have produced barely any original coverage of the 11-day (and counting) bombing campaign of the area commonly described as the world’s largest open-air prison. This is in contrast to foreign channels such as Al-Jazeera and RT, or alternative media like Democracy Now!, all of whom have followed the events in more depth, and often with fewer resources. When corporate media have covered it, they have followed tried and tested conventions that reproduce an Israeli-friendly narrative.

Media coverage of Israel/Palestine is a topic FAIR has criticized for decades (e.g., Extra!1/91Extra! Update2/05FAIR.org8/6/143/29/19). The reporting on the latest round of attacks on Gaza follows the patterns we have often remarked on: downplaying Palestinian suffering and viewing the conflict from an Israeli state perspective.

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Permission to Narrate a Pandemic In Palestine

Palestinian artist spends quarantine creating cartoons on staying safe  during pandemic | Middle East Eye

Bram Wispelwey, Rania Muhareb, and Mads Gilbert

Dr. Wispelwey is a co-founder of Health for Palestine and medical director of 1for3. He teaches at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and at Harvard Medical School. Ms. Muhareb is a legal researcher and advocacy officer with the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq. She holds an LLM in international human rights and humanitarian law. Dr. Gilbert has since 1981 worked with solidarity medicine in Lebanon and occupied Palestine, and co-founded NORWAC (The Norwegian Aid Committee). He is a specialist in anesthesiology, senior consultant at the University Hospital of North Norway, and professor emeritus at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. He has authored the books Eyes in Gaza (2009) and Night in Gaza’(2014).

The extension of academic censorship on Palestine to the medical world is, despite its pervasiveness, relatively unknown. In the latest iteration, a letter highlighting the Gaza Strip’s vulnerability to the Covid-19 pandemic was removed from The Lancet’s website after a swift pressure campaign. While the immediate effects were minimal—despite its short shelf-life, the piece is among the top 5% most discussed research publications—the chilling effect of such campaigns on writers and editors is profound and enduring. This commentary outlines the struggle to make space for discussion and academic inquiry into the health impacts of the ongoing suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people.

As Palestinians marked Land Day on March 30, The Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical journals, silently removed from its website a commentary that was published three days prior. At just over 400 words, “Structural violence in the era of a new pandemic: the case of the Gaza Strip,” draws on the deep historical and political forces that have rendered the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip particularly susceptible to an impending Covid-19 outbreak. Mirroring numerous warnings that continue to be published elsewhere, including a statement by 20 Palestinian, Israeli, and international health and human rights organizations, our commentary highlights the impact of pandemics on “populations burdened by poverty, military occupation, discrimination, and institutionalised oppression.” Its critical tone is consistent with other Lancet commentaries targeting various national and global responses to Covid-19.

While hoping the swift removal was just a technical error, our experience working on Palestine made us suspect otherwise. A hint came via the elated tweet of a Canadian endocrinologist who had been involved in prior efforts to censor scholarship connecting Israel’s occupation and human rights abuses to Palestinian health outcomes. The next day we understood the impetus behind the commentary’s sudden disappearance: a message had been circulated to the scientific community in the United States (and beyond) calling—ironically, given the hostility to similar calls directed at Israel—for a boycott of The Lancet for publishing the piece.

To understand The Lancet editorial staff’s swift decision to remove the commentary, we need to go back to 2014. At the height of Israel’s large-scale military assault on the Gaza Strip, The Lancet published “An open letter for the people in Gaza,” setting off an aggressive years-long campaign with demands that both the open letter and the editor-in-chief be removed. Neither occurred after a thorough review by The Lancet ombudsman. The controversy culminated, however, with five 2017 Lancet Series papers designed to “outline Israel’s achievements in health and health care.” While the papers commemorated one of the world’s most efficient healthcare systems, missing was any discussion of Israel’s institutionalized oppression over the Palestinian people that leaves millions without the ability to develop or even access similarly exemplary healthcare. Indeed, the authors of the introductory piece of the series decided to “not comprehensively address historical or political issues, except when directly pertaining to health,” as if there were any other comparably important factors determining the stark health (and other) inequities between Israeli-Jewish and Palestinian inhabitants of the region.

The aftermath of the publication of the 2014 letter explains how The Lancet, a high-profile outlet courageously and almost uniquely willing to cover the political and historical forces impacting Palestinian health, came to publish an entire edition—perhaps the most prominent example of “healthwashing”—that sweeps these defining issues under the rug. “An open letter for the people in Gaza” denounced Israel’s 2014 military assault on the besieged Gaza Strip, highlighting the widespread killing and severe injury of Palestinian civilians, including children. Noted was the extraordinary loss of infrastructure, leaving more than 100,000 people homeless, and the dramatic impacts of Israel’s ever-tightening blockade on access to essential medicines, food, and potable water. The authors criticized the complicity of third states, as well as that of Israeli health professionals who failed to speak out against this massacre.

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Nazi tanks shell Gaza after incendiary balloon attacks

Violence comes despite Egyptian attempts to end flare-up that has seen fire-balloon attacks and nightly Israeli raids.20 Aug 2020

Flames and smoke are seen during an Israeli air raid on Gaza on Thursday [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]
Flames and smoke are seen during an Israeli air raid on Gaza on Thursday [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Israeli tanks shelled Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip overnight in what the Israeli army said was a response to continuing waves of incendiary balloons sent across the security fence to nearby Israeli towns and settlements.

The continuing violence – which has stretched into nine consecutive nights – came despite attempts by Egyptian security officials to end the flare-up, which has seen two weeks of rocket and fire-balloon attacks from Gaza and nightly Israeli raids.

Local media reported on Thursday that Qatar is also mediating between Israel and Hamas – the group that rules the Gaza Strip – to restore calm and that the coming 48 hours would be crucial.

Gaza security officials said the Israeli attacks hit Hamas observation posts near al-Maghazi and al-Bureij refugee camps in the centre of the strip, and the town of Khan Younis, further south.

There were no casualties, they said.

An Israeli military statement said “arson balloons were launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel”.

“In response … tanks targeted military posts belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the Gaza Strip,” it said.

Power outages

As part of punitive measures over the incendiary balloons, Israel has banned fishing off Gaza’s coast and closed the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) goods crossing, cutting off deliveries of fuel to the territory’s sole power plant.

Power had been in short supply even before the shutdown, with consumers having access to electricity for only about eight hours a day.

That will now be cut to just four hours a day using power supplied from the Israeli grid.

The Gaza Strip has a population of two million, more than half of whom live in poverty, according to the World Bank. The Palestinian territory has been under a devastating Israeli blockade since 2007.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.

On Wednesday, the chairman of the Gaza Neonatal Network (GNN) warned that frequent electricity outages threaten the lives of more than 100 newborn babies currently being in intensive care incubators in Gaza hospitals.

Nabil al-Baraqoun said the 135 neonatal incubators are all powered by electricity, noting power cuts and the use of alternative energy sources cause damage to medical devices such as incubators, resuscitation equipment and ventilators, which could cause complications for the infants – and even deaths.

Qatar pledged to send $15m to Gaza monthly as part of an informal agreement between Israel and Hamas. 

Under that deal, Israel allowed the grants to go through its territory in exchange for an end to the weekly “March of Return” protests held by Palestinians east of the fence separating Israel from Gaza.

Most of the funds were to have been used to pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants but about $5m monthly was for impoverished Palestinians in Gaza.

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Fear and anxiety spreads in Gaza along with the coronavirus

BY YASSER ABU JAMEI

Palestinian nurses from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees wear protective gear as they distribute monthly medications for chronic illnesses in Gaza City on September 3, 2020. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour/APA Images)

PALESTINIAN NURSES FROM THE UNITED NATIONS RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY FOR PALESTINIAN REFUGEES WEAR PROTECTIVE GEAR AS THEY DISTRIBUTE MONTHLY MEDICATIONS FOR CHRONIC ILLNESSES IN GAZA CITY ON SEPTEMBER 3, 2020. (PHOTO: MAHMOUD AJJOUR/APA IMAGES)

It was only a matter of time. Everyone knew that COVID-19 is going to reach Gaza, but when and how was the question. The local authorities did their best in order to maintain the Gaza Strip as a COVID-19 free area. That worked well for almost six months.

The realities of blockade, movement restrictions and above all the occupation, already kept Gaza disconnected from the world. Additional movement restrictions on the borders were made in mid-March. This time by the local authority and aiming at controlling people who enter Gaza and upon arrival sent them to quarantine centers. Returnees stayed in isolation for two to three weeks until they tested negative for COVID-19. Those that tested positive stayed in quarantine until they recovered from symptoms and tested negative.

That was the only and best solution given the realities of Gaza.

Our underdeveloped health system is paralyzed by the division between the Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza and the lack of medical staffing. There is continued pressure on the system from airstrikes and casualties and injuries at the Great March of Return over the last two years.

The reality is that 2 million people live in a small geographical area of 141 square miles where two-thirds of the population are refugees; the reality is that the poverty rate is 53% and the unemployment rate is 54%; the reality is that more than 95% of the water in Gaza is not potable and electricity is available for five hours per day in its best circumstances.

There were other safety measures made by the authorities in order to stop possible spread of the virus employed over the past few months. These were similar to measures taken by other governments including social distancing, stopping the education system, closing open markets, forbidding large gatherings. Restrictions were place on funerals and mourning houses, weddings, and mosques and churches. Wherever it was possible, sanitizing measures were applied.

Some of those measures caused a sharp increase in poverty and unemployment. Mostly those already working hand to mouth disproportionally impacted. To mitigate, the ministry of social development added 10,000 families to its beneficiaries. Yet in Gaza, economics pressures are compounded by historical pressures from trauma and loss. There were three wars during the last12 years and over 200 casualties from the Great March of Return during the last two years. The continuous blockade, started in 2007, has had intense psychological and social repercussions on the population.

A PALESTINIAN CHILD WEARS FACE MASK DURING A LOCKDOWN IMPOSED BY THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES FOLLOWING A SURGE IN CORONAVIRUS CASES, IN DEIR AL-BALAH IN CENTRAL GAZA STRIP ON SEPTEMBER 3, 2020. (PHOTO: ASHRAF AMRA/APA IMAGES)

In April the organization I head, the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, or GCMHP, issued a factsheet in cooperation with the Palestinian nonprofit umbrella organization PNGO describing the mental health conditions in Gaza Strip in the shadow of COVID-19. The document highlighted the need to pay special attention to vulnerable groups including children, older people, patients with serious illnesses (cancer and injuries from the GMR) and above all people with economic hardship. The main psychological implications were anxiety, the fear of infection, isolation, and worries about addressing the needs of children. People in quarantine centers and their families were mostly affected. The factsheet also highlighted an increase in domestic violence against women and children.

The conditions in the strip guided GCMHP to modify its plan for 2020. In agreement with the core donors, GCMHP started a crisis response plan covering the period of April to September 2020. The plan includes scaling up activities related to awareness over the restrictions on public gatherings and workshops.  Our toll-free telephone counseling service was also expanded to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Activities planned inside of schools and kindergartens were postponed and replaced with awareness campaigns using social media and other media platforms that targeted parents. Therapeutic interventions were modified in order to ensure social distancing, avoid crowded clinics and ensure continuity of therapy. Our capacity building activities were moved online or (if not possible) rescheduled.

Monday August 24, 2020 dramatic news to the population in the Gaza Strip. Earlier that day, Makassed Hospital in Jerusalem informed the health officials that a woman from Gaza who was present at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. The woman was there as a companion of her sick daughter who had received a permit to exit Gaza on humanitarian grounds. They arrived in Jerusalem six days prior. The ministry of health in Gaza reached the woman’s family who lives in the Maghazi refugee camp in the middle of the Strip and tested her family members. Four among them tested positive, of whom one owns a supermarket. Another relative works in a school.

Just before leaving Gaza, the woman who tested positive in Jerusalem had attended a wedding. Larges celebrations had been banned, but a few weeks earlier the local authorities took several measures easing restrictions.  This was based on the fact that Gaza was considered COVID free. Mosques were reopened. Gatherings were permissible and the students went back to schools in the first week of August.

The news was a big shock to everyone. Next, an arbitrary sample group from Shifa hospital, the biggest hospital in Gaza, was made to test some patients for COVID-19. Two tested positive. They are not related at all to the family from Maghazi camp. As of now, the afternoon of Thursday the September 3, five people have passed away in Gaza due to COVID-19 and 581 have tested positive. Overwhelmingly most of the new cases are from the community and not from the quarantine centers.

The ministry of health now says that it’s most likely COVID-19 was already in the community as of early August.

In response, an immediate lockdown was imposed on Gaza Strip by the local authority. The lockdown was initially for 48 hours, then it was extended for another 72 hours. People could move around by walking and only in their districts. Many were not prepared for the restrictions. Bakeries and some grocery shops remained open. The authorities said that there would not be a problem with the availability of food. But let us not forget the people’s living conditions. Poverty, problems with water, electricity and even access to healthcare are rampant. The latest developments were surprising to the overcrowded community who are still in shock. People are following the news minute to minute. More fear and anxiety and more worries about how to survive.

Tuesday morning during the lockdown, we contacted the ministry of health asking if we could open our three community centers. The request was not accepted. The ministry closed all primary health care services, postponed all surgical operations and is open only for emergency procedures. They are working to identify foci of COVID-19 in the community and control further spread.

However, we kept operating our toll-free line and intensified our media campaigns. Among those who call into the hotline are our patients, many asking how and when they can pick their prescriptions. Now our plan is to run three mobile clinics to reach our patients and distribute medications, and connect them with their therapists through mobile phones.

One could imagine that these are enough troubles for people in Gaza. Unfortunately, other stressful developments took place during the last couple of weeks. Launches of balloons with incendiary devices attached to them into Israel resumed. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip live in despair and demand an end of the blockade. Balloons, of recent, are used as a means to add pressure on Israel to ease the siege. However, Israel responded with airstrikes, usually during the night, which terrified the population. Israel also stopped fuel from entering Gaza. For the last two weeks or so, we have electricity for around four hours a day as the only power plant shut down from lack of fuel. If there were an escalation in the Gaza strip in the coming few days or weeks, it would bring trauma and losses to people who live in frustration and despair.    

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Why Besieged Gaza is a Ticking Time Bomb

By Yousef Alhelou for Middle East Monitor

Gaza’s two million residents have become accustomed for the past 20 years to Israeli air strikes, ground incursions and naval attacks. In fact, the besieged coastal enclave has become an experimental field where Israel’s latest technology and military arsenal including deadly drones are used. Fear and panic have become the norm as the sound of explosions and blasts rock the 40-kilometre Strip.

For the past seven days, aerial strikes targeted different military training sites and security observation posts in the Gaza Strip, which has been under Hamas’ control since 2007. Tanks and navy warships take part in the frequent offensives, which also give new soldiers a chance to put what they learnt into action in a real battlefield, targeting the “enemy”.

To put things into perspective, the latest military escalation in Gaza, according to Israel, is “in response” to incendiary balloons released by Palestinian civilian activists (with the help of the sea breeze blowing from west to east toward the Israeli controlled areas) which cause fires when they land on crops and in agricultural fields. Kites were originally used with fuel doused sponges which had been set alight attached to them, but the use of balloons took over as they are cheaper and take no time to make. The balloons normally lead to bush fires, requiring fire engines and even aircraft to extinguish them. It’s a nightmare that costs millions of shekels in damages and losses to Israeli farmers.

This is “popular resistance” or “non-violent resistance” according to Palestinians who are working to pressure Israel to lift its ongoing siege. The blockade – a form of collective punishment – was imposed in response to Hamas winning the parliamentary elections in January 2006 and the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in the summer of the same year. Shalit was captured by Hamas in a cross-border raid via tunnels near the Israeli fence. When Hamas took control of Gaza from Fatah, as a result of its success in the election, the siege tightened.

“Nightly confusion” is another technique used by activists, with tyres being burnt and fireworks and explosives being set off along the fence separating Israel from the enclave. This “noise confusion” aims to disrupt the daily lives of Israeli soldiers positioned along the fence, as well as Israelis living near Gaza. The fires trigger powerful blasts and fill the sky with acrid smoke. These two popular resistance activities had ceased functioning in recent months as both Israel and Hamas reached an unofficial ceasefire agreement, but resumed over the past eight days to send a message to Israel that the cost of calm and tranquillity along the fence is the full lifting of the prolonged suffocating strangling siege, which has transformed Gaza into the world’s largest open air prison and brought life and economic activities to a standstill.

In the past, drone attacks were used against those activists to deter them, but it seems the army of jobless youths feel they have nothing lose; life has no taste for them. The majority have never left Gaza, been on a plane or train or experienced other cultures. Even the occupied West Bank isn’t within reach for them, neither are their ancestral lands in historic Palestine and Jerusalem. Alleviating the endless suffering of Palestinians in Gaza who have been subjected to three devastating Israeli wars in late 2008, late 2012 and mid-2014 is necessary in order to restore calm and hope.

No doubt internal differences and division between the two major political factions Fatah and Hamas, fuelled by Israel, contribute to this acute, complicated problem and it is indeed shameful.

Palestinian lands have been occupied by Israel for decades now even before the founding of those factions, and in fact they were established to resist the occupation. They have tried all available means of resistance in the hope that Israel ends its occupation but to no avail.

Israel is known for its policy of buying time and chooses when to open or close the tap, allowing and banning goods as well as “duel usage items” such as cement, balloons and tyres. In response to the two means of non-violent tactics, Tel Aviv has decided to stop the delivery of industrial diesel needed for Gaza’s only electricity generating company. According to Palestinian officials this led to the power plant shutting down today, with health officials warning of disastrous consequences on the health sector, especially chronically ill patients, in ICU and newborn babies in incubators. Moreover, Tel Aviv decided to close off the fishing zone along Gaza.

In an attempt to defuse the tension and avoid a possible major escalation that normally involves firing of long range home-made projectiles and missiles from Gaza into Israel, an Egyptian delegation has been shuttling to meet officials in the besieged Strip to convey their demands to Tel Aviv, namely lifting the siege, allow Qatari grant funds to reach Gaza, increase the fishing zone, open Karm Abu Salem commercial crossing located on the Gaza-Israel-Egypt border, improve the electricity and water services and increase the number of permits for Gazan traders and merchants entering the West Bank and Israel via the Israeli controlled Erez crossing.

Egypt’s role stems from the fact that it wants to maintain its position as mediator since it shares its border with Gaza and as a result of it being the first Arab country to strike a peace deal with Israel in 1979, but also to emphasise that it is an important key player in the region especially after the UAE and Israel signed a normalisation deal last week.

The “resistance balloons” continue to be sent across the fence, and Israeli officials, including Defence Minister Benny Gantz, have renewed their threats to “protect Israeli security sovereignty without any concessions”.

But Gantz, Netanyahu and others know for sure that Gazans have nothing to lose as life is unbearable under the ongoing 14-year siege, while peace on Israeli terms is a mirage.

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Gaza Strip: Snapshot

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

July 2020

July Highlights

  • No casualties reported as a result of hostilities in Gaza for the second month in a row.
  • Exit arrangements for treatment in Israel and East Jerusalem, via the Erez Crossing, continues to be
    affected due to the halt of coordination between the Palestinian and Israeli authorities.
  • A male patient died after his exit to undergo urgent surgery in Israel was delayed due to the halt of
    coordination, the third in this context since 21 May.
  • The Egyptian and Palestinian authorities kept the Rafah Crossing with Egypt closed between 15 May and 10 August to control the spread of COVID-19.

Protection of Civilians and Casualties

  • Three rockets were fired by a Palestinian armed group from Gaza towards Israel in July, causing no injuries or damage to property. Following the incident, Israeli forces targeted several, reportedly military, sites in Gaza. This resulted in no injuries. Three houses and a livelihood structure, adjacent to the sites, sustained damage.
  • On at least 50 occasions, Israeli forces opened warning fire near its perimeter fence with Gaza and off the Gaza coast, presumably to enforce access restrictions, about 40 per cent below the number of such incidents reported in June.
  • On three occasions, Israeli bulldozers entered Gaza and levelled land near the perimeter fence.

Access

  • 325 people holding permits crossed the Israeli-controlled Erez Crossing, a 27 per cent increase compared to June, but two per cent of the 2019 monthly average. Eighty per cent of the exits were patients and their companions, whose permits were exceptionally coordinated by NGOs and international agencies, due to the halt in coordination.
  • 305 people entered Gaza via Erez, a slight increase compared to June. All were sent to mandatory quarantine by the local authorities.
  • Some 9,556 truckloads of goods entered Gaza via the Kerem Shalom Crossing with Israel, almost the same as the previous month, and 17 per cent above the monthly average in the first half of the year. Another 348 truckloads entered via the Rafah Crossing from Egypt, a 17 per cent decrease from the previous month.
  • Some 197 truckloads carrying mostly agricultural produce, exited Gaza through Israel to the West Bank (157 truckloads); Israel (39 truckloads); and markets abroad (1 truckload); a 19 per cent decrease compared to June (244 truckloads).

Services, Livelihoods and Shelter

  • The daily supply of electricity during July declined to 11 hours, compared to 14 hours in June, due to the increased demand triggered by summer temperatures.
  • The pollution level of the wastewater discharged into the sea increased by 13 per cent in July compared to June, due to repair works at the Gaza wastewater treatment plant.
  • The percentage of essential drugs at zero-stock was 46 per cent in July, almost the same as in June.
  • The Government of Qatar distributed $10,000,000 in financial aid to 100,000 impoverished Palestinian families in Gaza.
  • Three UNRWA health centres received support through a EUR1.79 million donation from the Government of Italy.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Gaza, Human RightsComments Off on Gaza Strip: Snapshot

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