Gaza Summer Camp

Gaza Summer Camp — July 17, 2016

Dearest Friends,

I would like to thank you all so much for your support to our project “Gaza Summer Camp”. I would also like to inform you that we have achieved our goal. Again your support is much appreciated. Here are some pictures of the first few days of the project.

In the other hand, we will start a few Skype meeting, please if you’re interested to join your kids into it let us know, feel free to ad my skype anees.mansour7

So keep your eyes open for our further updates.

Best Wishes from Gaza

Mr. Mahmoud Mansour (Anees)
Hope & Peace Foundation For Children – Gaza
Mobile: +970 599 028556
+970 2131 371
www.facebook.com/HPFFC

Gaza: Abandoned in the Middle of Nowhere

, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, June 28, 2016

During a brief pause to hostilities in July 2014, families returned to eastern Gaza, which saw some of the heaviest bombings. Photo Credit: Oxfam / Flickr

Palestinians in Gaza are largely forgotten. They are an invisible people inhabiting a world without rights and possibilities. Over Israel’s near 50-year occupation, Gaza and the West Bank were reduced from a lower middle-income economy to a dysfunctional economy disproportionately dependent on foreign assistance. Gaza is under immense pressure from a continued blockade, now in its tenth year. Egyptian restrictions on the movement of people through Rafah, “which has remained largely closed… since October 2014, including for humanitarian assistance”[1] increased internal discord and hindered intra-Palestinian reconciliation.

There are stunningly high levels of unemployment and poverty. According to the World Bank, unemployment currently stands at 43 percent and in excess of 60 percent for Gazan youth. Yet, while Gaza’s economic demise is well documented, the blockade’s societal impact is often neglected. The blockade created a series of long-term, chronic conditions in Palestinian society,[2] including the destruction of civilian space, changes to social structure and health status, widespread trauma, a dramatic change in popular attitudes, and finally, a widening generational divide.

As United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Spokesman Chris Gunness notes: “The juxtaposition of hopelessness and despair, contrasted with the transformational potential of Gazan society, has never been so palpable.”[3]According to the World Bank, the Israeli blockade alone—which has severed almost all of the territory’s ties to the outside world, virtually terminating Gaza’s critically needed export trade—decreased Gaza’s GDP by at least 50 percent since 2007.[4] Egypt’s near total termination of Gaza’s tunnel trade—a vital, albeit underground economic lifeline—dealt an additional and extremely damaging blow. On top of this, the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, or Operation Protective Edge (OPE), worsened an already bleak situation by reducing Gaza’s economy by an additional $460 million.

This set in motion what one local analyst called a “dynamic of disintegration” that produced a range of unprecedented socioeconomic changes. Combined with the ruinous impact of the blockade, OPE was resulted in extensive damage to or destruction of homes, schools, health facilities, factories, businesses, sewage and water treatment infrastructure, and agriculture — effectively resulting in the destruction of civilian space. At least 100,000 people found themselves homeless, resulting in an estimated 75,000 being displaced, 11,200 being injured, at least 1,000 becoming permanently disabled, and 1,500 children becoming orphaned.[5]

Gaza’s society was radically leveled, particularly with the virtual destruction of its middle class and the emergence of an unprecedentedly new class of “poor.” Perhaps emblematic of the damage done to society, particularly since the imposition of the blockade, is Gaza’s rising infant mortality rate (IMR). IMR not only measures the health status of children, but also of the whole population. For the first time in more than 50 years, the IMR in Gaza increased from 20.2 per 1,000 live births in 2008 to 22.4 in 2013. Neonatal mortality rates, or the number of children who die within four weeks of birth, experienced a dramatic increase from 12.0 in 2008 to 20.3 in 2013, an uptick of nearly 70 percent. In Gaza, there is also a documented rise in domestic violence and child labor, as well as considerable anecdotal evidence for an increase in prostitution. No doubt the blockade, coupled with the last three wars in Gaza, is a contributing factor.

According to local health officials, 80 percent of adults in Gaza suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. During OPE, all sectors of the Strip were subject to or threatened with some kind of attack. According to Yale Professor Brian Barber, “OPE was uniquely crippling because no one was free of risk, and no place was safe to find refuge. It was, in a sense, universally and inescapably terrorizing.”[6] Every child over the age of six has seen three wars, and at least 400,000 children are in need of immediate psychological intervention, according to the UN. As a result, OPE has created a profound sense of collective dread and desperation that has less to do with the war than the inhuman conditions left unchanged since the war. People have never felt less safe and secure or more devoid of hope.

The people of Gaza once maintained more nuanced views of Israel, but now see little possibility for peace. There appears to be a greater generational divide between the “older” Oslo generation (and earlier cohorts), who had some insight into Israel and the world beyond, and those born since Oslo, who have little insight, if any. Gaza’s population is very young, with nearly half of the population being 14 years of age and younger. This is extremely dangerous, especially in the absence of effective leadership and in an environment that offers so little. Furthermore, the generational divide appears to be shifting. Young people, some reportedly as young as 10-12 years, are assuming responsibilities reserved for individuals far older. Children are forced out of school to work and help support their families; in some cases, they even head households.[7] Even before OPE, almost 30 percent of all young people aged 16-17 were out of school in Gaza and the West Bank. People, especially the young, are acutely aware of what they are being denied. How long can they be expected to accept their own deprivation?

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Child Psychological Support by Anees Mansour

Hello from Gaza. My name is Anees Mansour, one of a group of volunteers working with at-risk children in Rafah, Gaza. With your help we’ve already done so much this year, we’ve put on a summer camp, a series of educational workshops, art therapy and performance sessions. From the photos below you can see some of the great results we’ve had.

The public response to our work has been so supportive – so thank you. Our new initiative is to train 18 new volunteers to provide psycho-social support to the children we work with here in Rafah. To reach more children we need more volunteers and we need to train them in basic counselling and art therapy. You don’t need me to tell you how badly the children of Gaza need a creative outlet in a safe space. Rafah is one of the poorest areas in Gaza and the psychological pressures on children are, frankly, brutal. We are working to create and maintain some small safe spaces for them to grow and your ongoing help is central to our efforts.

Rafah is in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, Palestine on the Palestinian-Egyptian border, with an estimated area of 55 km and home to a population of 270,000 people, of whom a large proportion are children. Rafah is one of the poorest areas in Gaza, which, of course, is suffering from a prolonged, brutal siege. All and any help is appreciated.

you can see the pictures of our past projects @
• Gaza Summer Camp
• Our Right To Play
• Our Health in Our Hands
• Field Trip

For any further information , don’t hesitate to contact me at: anemansour@gmail.com or by phone on 00970598699046

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Remembering Rachel Corrie

March 16 marked 13 years since 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli Army bulldozer while trying to prevent the demolition of the Nasrallah family home in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Palestine. While some measure of accountability and justice has been achieved for UK citizens Tom Hurndall and James Miller, the two other internationals killed by Israel in that same awful period, there has been no justice for Rachel Corrie within either the U.S. or the Israeli legal system.

Nevertheless, Rachel’s stand in Gaza still inspires us and countless others around the world to work for peace with justice for Palestine, and for Gaza in particular, with a special focus on improving the lives of children who represent the best hope for the future.

Here in Madison, we will celebrate the life of Rachel Corrie on Sunday, April 3, at 7 pm at Christ Presbyterian Church, 944 East Johnson Street, with an eye-witness report from a local volunteer just returned from two months of volunteering in Palestine with Operation Dove. We invite you to join us for dessert and refreshments, and to help support the installation of a playground in Hebron, Palestine; for details including RSVP request please click here

Today, as we remember Rachel, please take a moment to read the following comment and appeal from our partners and friends at the Rachel Corrie Foundation in Olympia, Washington, Rachel’s home town, where a remembrance is being held.

March 10th – April 10th: A time of rebirth and reflection

Dear Friends,

Here in our hometown of Olympia, Washington, another spring unfolds with persistent showers, daffodils along the roadsides, and trees blooming more vibrantly with each passing day. It’s March again, a time of rebirth. In our community, and certainly at the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, our thoughts turn to Rachel – to the upcoming thirteenth anniversary of her stand in Gaza and, unbelievably for her family, to her upcoming 37th birthday April 10th.

As I write, we are preparing for our local March 16th gathering when we will celebrate Rachel’s community here in Olympia, those in Gaza whom she grew to love, and all of you who with your interest and actions have become a community of supporters. We will reflect upon Rachel’s stand thirteen years ago and upon those in Gaza who continue to live and struggle there. We will spend the day and month exploring how we can make a difference for our global community and for our friends in the Middle East.

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Update: April 3, 2016
Annual Rachel Corrie Commemoration

Sunday, April 3, 7 pm,
Christ Presbyterian Church
944 East Gorham Street, Madison WI

You are invited to the annual Rachel Corrie commemoration: Dessert and an Eye-Witness Report

 
Featuring a local activist just returned from volunteering with Operation Dove in the South Hebron Hills, Palestine

Free and open to the public; beverages and desserts including baklawa will be served. Donations will help build a playground at the Qurtuba School in Tel Rumeida, Hebron.

March 16, 2016 marks 13 years since an Israeli soldier bulldozed 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie to death as she protested the demolition of a family home in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Palestine. Each year at this time, the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project (MRSCP) honors Rachel’s memory with an event that benefits Palestinian children.

This year, we feature an eye-witness report with slides & video about the non-violent people’s resistance in the South Hebron Hills, including the role of the international protective presence for shepherds, who graze Palestinian land near violent settler outposts, and children, who must travel a harrowing gauntlet of settler intimidation to reach their schools. Join us to hear these stories, and to learn about the Tel Rumeida playground and help us make it a reality.

The event is also scheduled to feature a BRAND NEW shipment of gorgeous many-colored kufiyahs from Hirbawi Textiles and beautiful earrings from the Hebron Women’s Co-op. AND we’ll have olive oil and zaatar tasting; Holy Land Olive Oil will be on sale.

Note: If possible, please RSVP to Donna Wallbaum at dwallbaum at gmail.com by Friday, April 1 so that we will be sure to have enough food. Co-sponsored by: MRSCP; Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison; Mary House of Hospitality; and American Friends Service Committee of the Madison Friends Meeting

Update:
Co-sponsored by: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison Chapter, Mary House of Hospitality, Christ Presbyterian Church Middle East Action Team; and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) of Madison.

Like to contribute to the playground but can’t come to the event? You can send a check made out to MRSCP marked “playground” to:

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison, WI 53705

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