Gaza’s Little Chef



Khuloud Rabah Sulaiman, We Are Not Numbers, May 20, 2019

“I want to be one of the best chefs in the world,” says Mahmoud Abu Nada. That, despite the fact that he lives in the blockaded Gaza Strip, is just 12 years old and suffers from leukemia.

And…while he is not yet known to the world, Mahmoud has become the first child chef in Palestine, regularly working in one of Gaza’s most well-known restaurants. 

Mahmoud was diagnosed with blood cancer at the age of 8, and physicians determined he needed a bone marrow transplant. But, although the first children’s cancer department in the Gaza Strip opened in February to treat blood cancers and related diseases (which make up roughly 80 percent of malignancies among local children), bone marrow transplants and radiation still are available only outside. Experts in Italy offered to perform the procedure free of charge, and Mahmoud’s parents applied for a medical exit permit. However, Israel rejected it without any explanation.

Exit permits hard to get

The al-Mezan Center for Human rights estimates there are about 9,000 persons with cancer in Gaza, including 600 children. According to the center, more than 40 percent of these children would receive better care outside of Gaza. Yet the World Health Organization says 61 percent of permit applications for medical treatment were approved on time last year, 31 percent were answered too late or not at all, and the rest were rejected.

Mahmoud’s father cannot afford care in Egypt, and the treatment there is often substandard. Thus, Mahmoud must rely on regular pain killers, blood transfusions and chemotherapy treatments every two weeks. The boy also must stay home from school, since his body cannot fight off the infections to which he would be exposed by other pupils.

“I was overwhelmed with sadness when I had to leave school,” Mahmoud says. “But I decided not to give up, so I started homeschooling. With the help of my mum, but I do my school exams.”

Mahmoud has loved watching his mother cook since he was old enough to walk, and when he began spending so much time at home, he discovered cooking programs online. They became a way to break the boredom, and he watched them for hours. He practiced in the kitchen–imitating his mother making sandwiches and fresh juices but with his own variations. His first creation was a spin on the traditional sandwich: For his 17-year-old sister, Yasmeen, he rolled traditional taboon bread with his own tomato sauce mixed with egg, peppers, olives, mushrooms and a blend of spices.

“My siblings also always ask me to make noodles and shakshuka because they like the way I prepare them,” he adds. Shakshuka is a Palestinian dish a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers and garlic.

A chef is born

When Mahmoud first started cooking at such a young age, his father was afraid he would burn himself. But he soon changed his mind.   

“My father thought about locking the kitchen at first, but then he encouraged me to keep up with my talent,” he says with a big grin.

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March 18, 2019
Israeli Politics Decoded with David Sheen

Online from the Palestine Center
Washington, DC
12 noon – 1 pm Central Time
Listen live

“Gaza is eviscerated. Apartheid is entrenched in the West Bank. Inside official Israel, the ruling party openly promotes racial hatred towards Arabs and Africans.

How popular are these belligerent policies among Israeli Jews? And how can we make sense of Israeli politics — where dozens of parties run for parliament, and double-digits get in — with wild swings, seemingly, in who holds power?

Journalist and human rights defender David Sheen will give an unflinching interrogation and a compelling analysis of the state of Israel/Palestine under Trump and Netanyahu.”

More info

Maia Project Update

Latest Maia Water Filters in Rafah (28 Feb 2019)
from Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance

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Death of Detainee Fares Baroud: An Example of Deliberate Negligence


Palestinian Center for Human Rights
Ref: 16/2019, February 7, 2019

 

Yesterday, 06 February 2019, a Palestinian detainee who spent 28 years in Israeli jails, Fares Mohammed Baroud (51), from al-Shati’ refugee camp in western Gaza City, died only hours after transfer from “Ramon” Prison to “Soroka” Hospital in circumstances raising suspicions of deliberate medical negligence by the Israeli authorities, especially since he suffered problems in the stomach, heart and liver. PCHR calls for an immediate and impartial investigation into the death circumstances of Baroud and is concerned that the Israeli authorities might have procrastinated in providing Baroud the immediate and appropriate medical treatment. PCHR also condemns the Israeli authorities’ neglect of the recurrent calls to release him though they knew of the deterioration of his health condition.

The Israeli forces arrested Baroud on 23 March 1991 and issued a life imprisonment sentence against him in addition to 35 years. Baroud had suffered many health problems during his detention in the Israeli jails, including problems of the stomach, kidney, liver and chest, in addition to suffering asthma. He was also placed for years in solitary confinement; the last was for 4 years consecutively between 2012 and 2016, causing a deterioration of his health condition. Last year, he underwent a surgery to remove part of his liver and suffered complications; however, the Israeli authorities did not offer him adequate treatment. Yesterday, 06 February 2019, his health condition rapidly deteriorated and he was taken to “Soroko” Hospital in Beersheba in Israel where his death was declared only hours after his arrival at the hospital.

The death of Baroud sheds light on the general deterioration of Palestinian detainee conditions in Israeli jails, showing the extent of the punitive measures taken against them, particularly the medical negligence they undergo and the inadequate treatment hundreds of patients receive, particularly those suffering from chronic and serious diseases.

Thus, PCHR holds the Israeli government fully responsible for the death of detainee Baroud and lives of dozens of sick detainees who would face the same fate if the policy of medical negligence continued while detaining them in inhuman and tough conditions, being subject to physical and psychological torture and not receiving adequate healthcare. At this time, PCHR:

  1. Calls for an immediate and impartial investigation into the death circumstances of detainee Baroud;
  2. Calls upon the International Committee of Red Cross to increase its follow-up of the conditions of Palestinian detainees and prisoners in Israeli jails and their detention circumstances;
  3. Calls upon the international community to compel Israel to respect international and humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners; and
  4. Indicates the ongoing deterioration of the conditions of around 7,000 detainees, including dozens suffering chronic diseases and not receiving adequate healthcare.