#ObliteratedFamilies – Majdalawi Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

 

Even the weather changed
Majdalawi family, Jabaliya
4 people killed
2 August 2014

Abdelhadi Majdalawi likes to chat about politics and his past. He recalls time spent in prison during the first Intifada, working in Israel, and the languages he used to know and has forgotten: English and Hebrew. “I was supposed to marry this Scottish woman who also worked in Israel”, he recalls. “I know that story very well”, his wife Atef smiles, but cuts him off before he starts recounting another old tale. That is how this family is: patient, open and affectionate towards each other.

Abdelhadi Majdalawi likes to chat about politics and his past.
Abdelhadi Majdalawi likes to chat about politics and his past.

The Majdalawis have always enjoyed a good conversation, smiled at their memories and been kind to one another. Since the Israeli offensive last summer, however, much has changed in their lives. “We had such a beautiful, solid three-story home”, Abdelhadi continues, sitting in the patio of a rented house, roofed with a thin sheet of plastic that provides shade but not much protection from the summer heat. He says this heat wave is a result of what Israelis dropped on the Strip during the offensive codenamed Operation Protective Edge. Of course, he does not have a rational explanation for this claim. But there is a personal logic in it: for the Majdalawi family and many other Palestinians, the attack changed everything around them in a profound and often irreversible manner. Their world was altered forever: why would the weather be immune?

Abdelhadi standing in the rubble of Majdalawi's bombed house. “We had such a beautiful, solid three-story home”, he says. 
Abdelhadi standing in the rubble of Majdalawi’s bombed house. “We had such a beautiful, solid three-story home”, he says.

Talal’s brothers: 13-year old Abdallah, and 19-year old Abdelrazeq.

TALAL, lost his brothers, his twin Abdallah (13) and Abdelrazeq (19)

Their son Talal plays a football game on the computer. He does not lift his eyes from the screen. If he did, his absent gaze would fall on the portraits of his dead brothers: his twin, 13-year old Abdallah, and 19-year old Abdel Razeq. It is hard to tell if he is actually enjoying the game, the boy hardly ever smiles.

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Atfaluna Society: Help 10 Deaf, Needy Children from Gaza

We have received an appeal for help from the Atfaluna School for the Deaf in Gaza City. Atfaluna (“Our Children” in Arabic) has for many years been one of the main sources of the beautiful Palestinian crafts, including embroidery, ceramics and wood products, that we market in order to support Palestinian livelihoods.

Atfaluna sells these items both to benefit the craftspeople and to support their school for deaf children.

Due to the continuing (and worsening) crisis in Gaza, the school is facing the possibility of having to close some classrooms. They sent MRSCP the following message:

We are writing to you today in hope that you may be able to support our most urgent school campaign which aims to secure funds for the upcoming academic year 2017/2018 for all 20 of our deaf education classrooms. Our school serves 300 deaf girls and boys from extremely fragile backgrounds and in light of the deteriorating situation in Gaza, Palestine we are struggling to maintain our services for the deaf.

We are working hard to avoid ending our educational services for the deaf children in our care and have therefore setup an online fundraising campaign. We were hoping you would kindly circulate, share, contribute to our appeal for classroom 1A which comprises of 10 deaf girls and boys. The link to our online campaign is

Please consider making a donation to this online campaign. These funds do not go through MRSCP but directly to Atfaluna. We are looking into the possibility of doing some direct fundraising for the school, and will let you know if you could therefore make a tax-deductible contribution through MRSCP, but in the meantime we wanted to circulate this appeal.

Finally, you may want to check out these articles about the current situation in Gaza: Continue reading

The Spoils of War

Illustration by Lynne Foster

Israeli companies are making a killing off technology perfected over 50 years of occupation

Alex Kane, The Indypendent, Jun 3, 2017

On March 5, Gov. Andrew Cuomo flew to Israel to show solidarity with Jews amidst an uptick in anti-Semitism in New York.

But the trip also doubled as the kick-off for a new project meant to bring Israel and New York closer together.

Inside the opulent King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Cuomo announced the creation of the New York-Israel Commission, an initiative to strengthen the already-robust ties between Israel and the state with the largest number of Jews in the United States.

A key part of the commission will focus on connecting New York law enforcement with Israeli security forces. Cuomo wasted no time in starting that initiative.

An hour after the King David press conference, the New York governor stood outside Jerusalem’s Old City police headquarters alongside Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs, marveling at Israel’s ability to keep Jerusalem safe. He said Israeli security forces’ use of technology is “something that we can learn from,” and also said that he wanted New York law enforcement to learn from Israel about combating “lone wolf” terror threats.

The New York cops won’t be alone in learning from Israel. Since 2001, hundreds of American police officers have been flown to Israel, most on the dime of pro-Israel groups, to tour the country and speak with Israeli security forces about how they keep their country safe.

These police delegations, and Cuomo’s praise for the Israeli police, highlight how Israel is seen as a world leader in security. Because of this reputation, Israeli weapons and surveillance companies — a core part of the Israeli economy — have become well-known in far-flung countries. Such companies export billions of dollars worth of armaments and spy tools to virtually every region in the world.

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2 Million Palestinians Denied due to Closure of Gaza Border Crossing

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, June 19, 2017

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) follows up with concern and sorrow the deterioration of humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip due to the ongoing Israeli closure imposed on the movement of persons from and to the Gaza Strip, in addition to the additional restrictions imposed at Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing that denies over 95% of the Gaza Strip population from traveling to the West Bank and abroad. The closure of Rafah International Crossing Point at the Egyptian borders has been ongoing for over 3 months, inflicting more suffering over the Gaza Strip population, especially thousands of humanitarian cases whose health conditions aggravated or their business obstructed. There are over 30,000 persons waiting for the crossing to reopen, most of them are patients who have no proper treatment at Gaza hospitals; university students in Egypt and abroad; and holders of residence permits or visas in countries abroad.

According to PCHR’s follow-up, the Rafah International Crossing Point has been closed for 156 days since the beginning of this year, while it was open for 10 days in both directions and for 4 days for persons only returning to Gaza. During this period, around 6,209 persons were able to travel while 9,052 persons returned to Gaza. The same period last year witnessed the closure of the crossing for 173 days, while it was open for 9 days. During that period, around 6,595 persons were able to travel via the crossing, while 2,822 persons returned to the Gaza Strip. As a result of the closure, the health conditions of hundreds of patients, who had received referrals for treatment in Egyptian hospitals, deteriorated. In addition, thousands of other persons and families, including university students, holders of residence permits in countries abroad, and businessmen, experienced hardships as a result.

PCHR realizes that the current suffering endured by the Gaza Strip population goes back mainly to the illegal and inhumane Israeli closure imposed on Gaza for the 11th consecutive year, which constitutes a collective punishment against 2 million Palestinians. The Gaza Strip is a part of the occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt) under the international humanitarian law. Therefore, Israel as an occupying power is responsible for the main obligations towards the population of the occupied territory. Accordingly, the Israeli occupying authorities should declare ending the illegal closure immediately and allow the freedom of movement of individuals and goods, as the closure constitutes a grave violation of the international humanitarian law and amounts to a crime against humanity. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions 1949 to oblige the occupying authorities to abide by the rules of international humanitarian law and to open all border crossings of the Gaza Strip, including Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, without any restrictions like age restrictions, because Erez is the only crossing that gives importance to the geographical unity between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, so it would allow the Gaza Strip residents to move freely between Palestinian cities and travel abroad.

PCHR is aware of the security situation in Sinai and understands the security measures taken by Egypt to preserve its sovereignty and national security. PCHR takes in consideration the significant role played by Egypt towards the Gaza Strip population to alleviate their suffering, including opening Rafah crossing and allowing them to move and travel freely. PCHR demands Egypt to respond to the humanitarian needs of the Gaza Strip population and to provide the necessary facilitations for their travel and transportation to and from the Gaza Strip via Egypt, especially in view of the illegal closure imposed on the Gaza Strip.

#ObliteratedFamilies – Al-Louh Family

During the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, 142 Palestinian families lost three or more members. Some of the families were wiped out entirely.

The #ObliteratedFamilies project tells the stories of some of these families, their loved ones who were killed and those left behind.

I will meet my fate
Al-Louh Family, Deir al-Balah
8 people killed
August 20, 2014

Buseina put the kettle on the stove. Every day she got up before the morning prayer to make tea. Steam was rising and the aroma of boiling mint escaped the teapot. Buseina’s husband Mustafa emerged from the bathroom and came into the kitchen. Phones barely worked, the network was down. Electricity was scarce, but the radio could run on batteries and could therefore always be relied on those days. “What’s the news?” he asked. “They hit the house of the al-Dalu family,” she answered. The strike was meant for one of the top military commanders of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, or so the Israeli army claimed. Instead, the Israeli pilot killed Deif’s wife and his seven-month-old son, along with a 48-year-old woman and her two sons. Fifteen people were injured.

Both Buseina and Mustafa held on to their usual daily habits throughout the Israeli offensive. Buseina would get up before the morning prayer to make tea, and Mustafa would join her in the kitchen soon after.
Both Buseina and Mustafa held on to their usual daily habits throughout the Israeli offensive. Buseina would get up before the morning prayer to make tea, and Mustafa would join her in the kitchen soon after.

Since the beginning of the war, Mustafa al-Louh, a tall, slender 61-year-old man, had been sleeping in a small shed wedged between two houses. On one side was the house of Mustafa’s son Rafat and his family. On the other side lived Mustafa’s wife and their kids. A five day ceasefire had just finished the day before. Mustafa felt the war’s end was nearing. When the muezzin of Deir al-Balah called, he got up. He usually woke up before the call to prayer, a habit established over the decades since his youth. But after weeks of sleepless nights, stress and fear, he was just too exhausted.

Down a sandy road, in a nearby house about 50 meters away, his 19-year-old niece, Iman, also got up to pray. She too struggled with waking up on time. Iman had a lot on her mind. Despite the war, she had been preoccupied with her future. Academically brilliant, she would soon have to choose what to study at university. Iman had been considering theology. She got out of bed after the call to prayer had ended, and her sisters had already finished with fajar – the prayer at dawn. Her mother, who woke up earlier, turned on the radio. The latest news was the bombing of the al-Dalu home.

Iman had a lot on her mind. Despite the war, she had been preoccupied with her future. Academically brilliant, she would soon have to choose what to study at university.
Iman had a lot on her mind. Despite the war, she had been preoccupied with her future. Academically brilliant, she would soon have to choose what to study at university.

Ahmed, Mustafa’s son from another marriage, had stayed over at Rafat’s place. They had to go to work early in the morning. At 6 am, they would have to be on their way to the market in Khan Yunis to buy watermelons and bring them back to Deir al-Balah. The entire summer, every day of the war, the half-brothers travelled on the Salah al-Din road spanning the length of the Gaza Strip. Most days, the road would be nearly deserted. It was risky to drive there. Once back in Deir al-Balah, Rafat and Ahmed would load the watermelons onto a cart and push it through the sandy streets, announcing their arrival through a loudspeaker.

Rafat was an employee of the Palestinian Authority. Like thousands of other people in the Gaza Strip employed by the Palestinian government seated in Ramallah in the West Bank, he stopped going to work in 2007, when Hamas won the parliamentary election and came to power in Gaza. They all kept their modest salaries, not enough for Rafat to feed his family, though. He had three little kids. Two boys: the eldest 10-year-old Mustafa, named traditionally after his grandfather, Maysara, 7, and a daughter Farah, 6. His wife Nabila was pregnant. Rafat was forced to take out a loan. Mustafa, their father, was worried. He asked Ahmed and Rafat not to go to Khan Yunis, but his grown-up sons, one with a family of his own, would not listen. They had never been targeted on the road. Anyways, calculating what would be more risky – staying at home or driving around – had become impossible in Gaza during that time.

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