Condemn, don’t celebrate, 50 years of occupation of Palestine

Barbara Olson, The Cap Times, Jun 11, 2017


Palestinian workers wait to cross the Israeli checkpoint of Al-Jalameh, south of the West Bank city of Jenin, on their way to work in Israel May 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

June 2017 marks 50 years of Israeli military occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. In 1967, in open defiance of international law prohibiting acquisition of territory by force, Israel began settling its own Jewish population on occupied Palestinian land, seizing large swathes of the most valuable, fertile and resource-rich areas.

For 50 years this dispossession has been enforced by a violent regime of military occupation, a regime that has expanded and deepened until many argue that it now meets or exceeds the legal definition of apartheid — a system of laws, institutions and practices that treat people differently based on race, ethnicity, nationality or religion.

For the last 70 years, Israel has also denied millions of Palestinian refugees their right under international law to return to the homes and properties from which they were ethnically cleansed from 1947 onward. In contrast, Israel’s “Law of Return” gives automatic citizenship rights to any Jewish person from anywhere in the world.

Those Palestinians who refused to flee after the Israeli state was declared in 1948 spent years living under martial law before gaining Israeli citizenship. Now making up at least 20 percent of Israel’s population, they face dozens of discriminatory laws that privilege Israeli Jews.

A special mention must be made of Gaza. While Israeli soldiers and settlements were withdrawn in 2005, Israel exercises “effective control” over Gaza’s borders, coastal waters and airspace, making it the occupying power under international law. For 10 years it has enforced a suffocating and deadly blockade of Gaza, condemned by the UN as an inhumane act of collective punishment of nearly 2 million civilians, half of them children. Devastating Israeli military assaults in 2008-09, 2012 and 2014 killed thousands of civilians and deliberately destroyed Gaza’s civilian infrastructure.

U.S. political, military and financial support makes this possible. Republican and Democratic administrations have given lip service to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, calling the settlements and occupation “obstacles to peace.” In reality, they envision not two equal states side by side, but disconnected, fragmented and nonviable “Bantustans” for Palestinians under permanent Israeli control.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is underwriting Israel’s abuses of Palestinians and the massive expansion of the Jewish-only settlements that long ago killed the possibility for any two-state solution. U.S. taxpayers already give Israel more than $3 billion in weapons like F-16 (and now F-35) fighter jets, Apache helicopter gunships, Caterpillar bulldozers, the Iron Dome, and more each year. This was before President Obama agreed to give Israel another $38 billion in weapons over the next decade. And before the election of Donald Trump, who has enthusiastically aligned himself with Netanyahu and the most racist and militaristic elements of Israeli society.

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#ObliteratedFamilies – Balata 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 renewed everything
Balata Family, Jabaliya refugee camp
11 people killed
July 29, 2014

Naim sat in a room full of birds, drinking his morning coffee. At the end of July, the Israeli army had warned the people of East Jabaliya to evacuate the area. Naim was torn: should they leave everything behind and run? Who would take care of the birds? His brother Abdelkarim’s house, where they would have been welcome, had a thick cement roof, something that could protect them from debris in case of a nearby explosion. Above Naim’s head was a thin sheet of asbestos, not even good enough to shield his family from the merciless heat of the summer sun. Naim’s 17-year-old son, Ala, was on his way to pick up groceries from the market when he saw many people leaving the area. Some people were carrying their belongings, others were riding on donkey carts or in tuk-tuks, a few had cars, filled up to the roof. When he got back home, he convinced his father that they too should evacuate their place and go to their uncle Abdelkarim’s house, also in the Jabaliya refugee camp, but a much more solid construction.

The family sat in Abdelkarim’s house, eating lunch, telling each other stories, joking and trying to turn their forced evacuation into a family gathering. The two brothers were very close, so were their wives. Later on that day, Ala’s older sister, Wafaa’, brought up the topic of marriage. She said their mother had someone in mind for Ala. He listened, but right away laughed the idea off.

The shelling started on 29 July in the afternoon and lasted until the next day. The house of Naim’s brother, Abdelkarim, where the family had gone for shelter, was hit on the first day, it was struck by several shells. One of them fell into the room where Ala’s sisters were staying. Ala’s parents and all seven siblings were killed.

“DELO”

Room of 17-year-old Hadil, nicknamed “Delo”. “She planned to become a doctor; she promised this to her grandfather,” Hadil’s father, Abdelkarim, says. Ala, her cousin, will add later that she got 92% in her high school final exam. She made the entire family proud.

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May 26 – June 25, 2017
Sponsor an Orphan this Ramadan

Palestine Children’s Relief Fund

This Ramadan, Give Hope to Orphans in Gaza

Make a difference during the month of Ramadan by supporting the PCRF’s Gaza Orphan Sponsorship Program. Throughout this month, millions of people all over the world will fast from sunrise to sunset and provide charity to those in need. Please consider making the PCRF your chosen charity and help us successfully launch our Ramadan campaign!

Our goal for the Ramadan 2017 Campaign, “Give Hope: Gaza Orphan Sponsorship Ramadan Campaign”, is to provide orphans in Gaza food and other commodities they need to live a better childhood. As a donor, you will be able to choose either 1) to make a one-time donation in any amount towards the general fund for these orphans, thus keeping it sustainable for years to come; or 2) to provide monthly support for a specific orphan.

How can you help?

  1. Read about the Gaza Orphan Sponsorship Program at www.pcrf.net.
  2. Share our special Ramadan messages with a loved one.
  3. Spread awareness! Post about our upcoming campaign on social media, share our Facebook posts throughout the month, or forward this newsletter. Share the news of this campaign with your friends, and follow it on social media using our hashtag #hope4orphans.
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May 26 – June 25, 2017
Feed Families in Gaza This Ramadan

From our friend Anees in Rafah: Donate to send food packages to needy families. The project has raised more than half of its $5,000 goal; please help them over the top in this Ramadan Challenge.

Hello from Gaza

Ramadan is just a few weeks away – and we need your help to provide support and care to those most in need. The conditions in Gaza grow worse every day, with unemployment now sitting at 43%. For many, there is nowhere to work and no-one to help them.

مرحبا من غزة

باقي لشهر رمضان أسابيع قليلة، ونحنبحاجة لمساعدتكم لتوفير الدعم والرعاية لأولئك الذين هم في أمس الحاجة إليها، معالعلم بأن الظروف الاقتصادية والاجتماعية في قطاع غزة تزداد سواء يوما بعد يوم.حيث تبلغ نسبة البطالة 43% ولا يوجد من يهتم في العائلات الفقير بالشكل المطلوب.

With your help we have raised money for three years’ worth of incredible projects, you can see the impact and positive difference we have made in Gaza through the links we’ve shared below. But as the occupation cuts off a large amount of traditional funding to NGOs we are left with little choice but to run crowdfunding campaigns to help with the most basic needs.

خلال السنوات الماضية قمنا بتنفيذالعديد من الأنشطة الفنية والثقافية التي تهتم بالطفل، ومن خلال الروابط أسفلالصفحة يمكنكم الإطلاع على صور الأنشطة خلال المرحلة الماضية. وبما أن الوضع صعب وسيءبواسطة هذا الاحتلال الغاشم وحصاره المفروض على غزة إلا أننا نعمل جاهدين من خلالالقيام بهذه الحملات لمساعدة أطفالنا.

How You Can Help Feed Palestinian Families 

With your help we will distribute food packages to some of the families most at-risk in Rafah throughout Ramadan, our city at the southern edge of Gaza.

What Is In a Food Package?

Your support will allow us to provide food packages to feed Palestinian families by providing them with basic food items – one food package contains items such as beans, vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, green beans, onions and essentials like flour, rice, sugar and tea during Ramadan.

If you can’t spare any money now, you can also help by spreading the word.

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#ObliteratedFamilies – Al-Khalili 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.

Life and death in Gaza: neither normal, nor natural
Al-Khalili family, Gaza City, al-Tuffah neighbourhood
8 people killed
July 30, 2014

In al-Tuffah neighbourhood, in the eastern part of Gaza City, Mahmoud al-Khalili turns the ground floor of his family home into a workshop, which in time grows to become a small factory adjacent to the building. His sons, Ashraf and Ahmed, work with their father and eventually become mechanics of specialized factory machines imported from Germany. The family business is doing well despite the fact that the Israeli occupation and the blockade increasingly cripple the local economy, eventually leaving half of Gaza’s population unemployed. The factory produces simple plastic and wooden elements, such as broomsticks. Easily flammable.

One hot Friday afternoon

June 2014, Gaza beach

Mahmoud’s son, 37-year-old Ashraf, is laughing and when he laughs his whole body shakes. Compulsively hospitable, as all Gazans are, he entices his guests to eat more and more of a watermelon, picking for them the sweetest and juiciest pieces and not stopping until the silver tray is empty.

Ashraf and his childhood friends from al-Tuffah meet every weekend in a small chalet on the Gaza City beach, where they smoke sheesha, play cards and chat about troubles at home. All are married, with kids. Ashraf and his wife Nidaa’ have three children, age three to eight: Mahmoud, Dima and Ziyad. Ashraf is a proud father and Dima is the apple of her daddy’s eye, as he says. She is a very energetic little girl. The kids are the joy of the house above the factory, where three generations of al-Khalilis live.

It is just another hot Friday afternoon in Gaza. The beach is packed. Children play in the water. Families barbecue and picnic, enjoying the only open space in the Strip – the sea, the only window of this prison cell that the Gaza Strip has become. They know very well that the sea’s openness is illusory; go past three or four nautical miles from the shore and the Israeli navy will be there to attack you, arrest you and confiscate your boat. Ashraf and his friends spend the evening imagining how it would be to live in a normal place. Not under Israeli siege, not under the constant threat of Israeli bombings, not under the rule of a conservative government. How does it feel to be free? It’s a question asked by many people in the enclave.

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#ObliteratedFamilies – Al-Hashash 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.

Eid of martyrs
Al-Hashash family, Rafah, in the al-Hashasheen area
7 people killed
July 29, 2014

Every morning, on her way to school, Mina passes a poster on the side of the road. She makes sure she walks right by it. If anyone is in the street, she will grab their attention and pull them close to look at the poster with her. It has pictures of her brothers, and a rose instead of a photo for her step-mom Hanaa’. Neighbours or passersby have to stand there as Mina names each one of them; once the ritual is done, she will allow them to leave.

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#ObliteratedFamilies – Al-Najjar 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 don’t want to remember that day
Al-Najjar family, Bani Suheila, east of Khan Younis
19 people killed
26 July 2014

A tribute to the man I can’t forget
Based on the recollections of Anne Paq,
written together with Ala Qandil and Dylan Collins

More than a week into covering Israel’s offensive in Gaza, my body was on auto-pilot: grab the equipment, look for a high point, climb, hold camera steady, document. And, of course, get people’s names – it wasn’t always possible to get much more than that. Often, I had to choose between catching a few more shots and running after those I had photographed in hopes they would share their names with me despite the chaos of the rushed funerals, hectic hospital corridors, and morgues overflowing with bodies, blood, sweat, and tears of the bereaved. It was in the hospitals that we often learned the news about the latest attacks. This was also how we found out about the scale of the destruction and death in the village of Khuza’a: in Khan Younis hospital, in the southern end of the Strip.

The hospital courtyard was full of people who had just managed to escape nearby Khuza’a, a besieged village. Ambulances could barely get through the crowds. Some people were crying, some screaming, and everyone tried to ask the paramedics arriving in the ambulances about their loved ones. Many survivors had been forced to flee and leave injured and dead family members behind. They told us about scores of dead, of others still trapped by the relentless bombing, of ambulances unable to reach the injured, of the flattened houses of their village.

#ObliteratedFamilies – Siyam 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.

“She carried me in her arms from al-Abbasiyye”
Siyam family, Rafah
13 people killed
July 21, 2014

Obliterated. Her family was obliterated. Little Mayar, a noisy rascal of a girl, runs back and forth through the guest room, harassing the goats, sometimes aggressively demanding affection and attention from her grandparents Makhrous and Dalal, sometimes being a cutie and posing for the camera. She understands only to some degree what happened in 2014. She lost her parents, and her only sibling, 5-year-old Moin.

Nabil and his son Baderaddin, standing in the place where the Siyam family was attacked.

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