Israel Maraqa of ISM on WORT

Gil Halstead with Israel Maraqa on Access

Shahir Hunaina, YouTube, November 16, 2016

My Blood is Palestinian (Dammi Falastini), translation by Sara Ba

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

We stood for you, our homeland
With our pride and Arabisim
Al-Quds land called us
(As) The sound of my mother calling me
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

O mother don’t worry
Your homeland is a fortified castle
Which I sacrifice my soul for
And my blood, and my veins

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

I’m Palestinian, a son of a free family
I’m brave and my head is always up
I’m keeping my oath to you my homeland
And I have never bowed to anyone
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 

Profile of Um Hassan from Al-Masara Village

Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance, Apr 12, 2018

Fatima Brejia (more commonly known as Um Hassan) is an organic farmer, community activist, founder of a local women’s organization, and most recently the head of the Al-Masara Village Council! She is the first Palestinian woman to be elected head of a village council.

Watch this video to learn more about Um Hassan and the amazing work she does for children and the rest of her community!

April 6, 2018: Gaza from the Inside

Professor Brian Barber
Friday, April 6, 12 pm CDT
Live Online

The Institute for Palestine Studies, in partnership with the Palestine Center, cordially invites you to a presentation by IPS Senior Fellow Brian Barber. Just back from a visit to Gaza, Professor Barber will concentrate in this talk on the current vexing conditions in Gaza and the attendant range of emotions to cope with them.

The Gaza Strip is an intense place – not just for its pockets of extreme crowding, but also for its emotions: of love, pride, sorrow, frustration, and challenged resolve. Gaza is also a vital place, indeed it is indispensable to any lasting peace in the region. While excessive commentary and analysis abound about Gaza, there is precious little coverage that communicates the feel of the place and its inhabitants as they endure ever-more-strangulating constraints. Professor Barber attempts to do so in this presentation with an assemblage of photos, video, and, most crucially, narratives of the people he has come to know well through long stays in the Gaza Strip over the past 23 years.

Author Bio

Brian K. Barber, Ph.D., is an Institute for Palestine Studies Senior Fellow. He is also Professor Emeritus of child and family studies at the University of Tennessee, where he founded and directed the Center for the Study of Youth and Political Conflict. He is editor of the 2009 Oxford University Press volume Adolescents and War: How Youth Deal with Political Conflict and has regularly published studies on global youth, including on Palestinians, in leading academic outlets such as The Lancet, Social Science & Medicine, and Global Public Health.

His writings or interviews, particularly on Gaza, have also appeared online at Medium, Jadaliyya, New America Weekly Wonk, Muftah, InformedCOMMENT, Alternet, and openDemocracy.

In his forthcoming non-fiction book, Barber follows the lives of youth who participated in the first intifada through adulthood based on successive interviews over the past 23 years.

Samira Remedial Education

GAZA KIDS NEED YOUR HELP!

Barb Olson, Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, March 9, 2018

For the third time, the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project (MRSCP) is partnering with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice to fund the Samira Remedial Education Project in Rafah. Organized by the Rafah branch of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC), this project employs special education teachers and a social worker to provide psycho-social support to 180 economically disadvantaged and learning-disabled children age six to twelve and their families.

The Gaza Strip, turned by Israel’s siege into the world’s largest open-air prison, is already one of the poorest and most crowded places on earth. The educational system is overcrowded, unstable and inconsistent. Sanitation, water and electrical services barely function. Public services are weak and underfunded, especially those serving mainly women and children. The recent US cuts to The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) threaten to turn crisis into catastrophe. Three-quarters of Gaza’s 1.8 million people are refugees dependent on the schools, hospitals and food distributions of UNRWA just to survive. In addition, Gaza is subjected to frequent Israeli military land and sea attacks and has not recovered from the last decade’s three full-scale bombardments and invasions. Every one of the close to 1 million children in Gaza knows someone who was killed, injured or made homeless.

Gaza Community Mental Health Program

Children have been affected more than others because every aspect of their lives, especially the education system, has been repeatedly disrupted if not destroyed. Psychologically, the negative impact on children is enormous: nightmares, racing thoughts, nail-biting, panic attacks, uncontrolled urination, violent behavior and hyperactivity are common symptoms. It is estimated that at least 30 percent of all children in Gaza are so severely affected that they require some form of structured psycho-social intervention.

For the past couple of years, the Samira Remedial Education Project has been successfully intervening to develop the children’s skills and increase their ability to learn (especially reading, writing and mathematics); to support them psychologically and socially and rebuild their confidence; to implement scientific solutions to learning disabilities and reduce violent and disruptive behavior; to train families to better support their children; and to create job opportunities for qualified professionals in this field. Field trips, a children’s library and activities such as theater, music, art and reading help the staff to understand the children and create a space for the children to express their feelings.

The total cost of this project for the current phase is $14,049. The Rachel Corrie Foundation has pledged $2,000, MRSCP will contribute $2,500 and aims to raise at least $5,500 more by June, 2018 so that the project can be fully funded by MECA. We need your help to meet this goal! Please make checks payable to MRSCP with the note “Samira”, and mail to:

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison, WI 53705

If you prefer to donate on line, you can do so through the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA).

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and all donations are tax deductible. Checks to MRSCP will receive a letter at the end of the year acknowledging your contribution. Contributions made online will receive a receipt from MECA.

Restoring U.S. Aid Crucial to Avoid Gaza Water Catastrophe

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

Drinking water in Gaza is causing a rising number of its residents to fall ill and the UN says scarcity and pollution of water resources are at the forefront of the territory’s scourges.

Matthias Schmale, IPS – Inter Press Service, March 27, 2018

GAZA CITY, Mar 21 2018 (IPS) – World Water Day (March 22) could not come at a more critical time for the people of Gaza who are facing a humanitarian catastrophe The recent decision by the United States to reduce funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), jeopardizes its role as a critical source of clean drinking water when Gaza’s supplies slow to a drip.

An estimated 1.2 million Gaza residents have no access to running water. For those who do, up to 97 percent of the water they receive is too polluted with salt and sewage to drink. The salt comes from seawater, which penetrates Gaza’s only aquifer when the water table drops too low. Palestinians in Gaza consume on average fewer liters per person per day than the World Health Organization recommends, and less than a quarter of the average per capita consumption in Israel.

Nevertheless, the combination of rapid population growth and regional climate change extracts 200 million cubic feet of freshwater each year from an aquifer that receives only 60 million cubic feet of diminishing rainfall annually.

As the water level steadily drops, more seawater seeps in, increasing the aquifer’s salinity. Only around 22 percent of wells in Gaza produce water with acceptable salt concentrations. The rest are anywhere from two to eight times saltier than global standards, with some wells exceeding the official standard for “brackish.” The high salinity puts Gazans in jeopardy of kidney stones and urinary tract problems.

But high salinity is not the worst of Gaza’s water problems. Years of conflict have damaged or destroyed much of its critical water and sanitation facilities—including wells, pumps, desalinization plants and sewage treatment plants.

The crippled infrastructure that survives can only be used the few hours a day Gaza receives electrical service. A newly completed World Bank wastewater treatment plant in Beit Lahia, for example, sits idle much of the time because Gaza doesn’t have enough electricity to run it.

Without adequate facilities, untreated sewage backflows onto Gaza’s streets, and the equivalent of 40 Olympic-size swimming pools—more than 100 million liters—discharges into the Mediterranean Sea every day.

The raw sewage contaminates 75 percent of Gaza’s beaches and washes ashore in adjacent Israeli coastal cities, elevating the risk that waterborne diseases like cholera or typhoid could trigger an epidemic.

For 70 years, UNRWA has been fulfilling its mandate delivered by the UN General Assembly, including the United States, to provide humanitarian assistance, food, health care, and education and emergency assistance to Palestine refugees registered with us.

When Gaza’s water situation grows dire, UNRWA provides clean water as emergency assistance in the best interests of its beneficiaries in Gaza. During the 2014 conflict, when hostilities destroyed critical facilities, and the flow of water to much of Gaza slowed to a trickle, UNRWA was there, trucking water twice a day to more than 90 UNRWA schools, where nearly 300,000 Palestinians sought shelter until the violence subdued.

When Palestinians in Gaza struggle to access clean water, sanitation suffers and every child in Gaza is put at risk of contracting waterborne diseases. Last summer, the incidence of diarrhea in children under three doubled.

UNRWA responded by teaming with humanitarian aid organization Mercy Corps on a project to provide the 30,000 refugees in the Maghazi camp—which experienced some of the highest incidences of diarrhea—with at least three liters of potable water per day.

When, despite these efforts, poor sanitation triggers an outbreak of waterborne, communicable disease, UNRWA is there as well, employing over 1,000 individuals at 22 medical clinics in Gaza, caring for the sick and facilitating more than four million patient visits each year.

The long-term solution to Gaza’s water crisis is a robust sewer and drainage system and restored water treatment facilities. But efforts to rebuild water facilities are limited because up to 70 percent of the materials required raise alleged “dual use” security concerns by Israel authorities and are either rejected or delayed from entering Gaza.

Since 2014, only 16 percent of the nearly 3,000 items requested to rebuild Gaza’s water infrastructure have been approved for entry into Gaza. Until Gaza’s infrastructure is rebuilt, the area remains in constant crisis as demand for water increases, conditions worsen and functional infrastructure deteriorates.

Yet, in January, the United States—UNRWA’s single largest and generous supporter for more than six decades—unexpectedly reduced its annual contribution by 83 percent (from $360 million to $60 million).

UNRWA has a humanitarian mandate that is beyond politics and UNRWA implements this mandate in accordance with the four humanitarian principles adopted by the UN General Assembly.

We function based on the mandate affirmed by the UN General Assembly, which has consistently renewed our charge since UNRWA was created, confirming the need for UNRWA to continue providing assistance pending a just and lasting resolution to the question of Palestine refugees.

Humanitarian funding should be preserved from political considerations and remain consistent with universal principles of humanitarian assistance—humanity, neutrality, impartiality and operational independence.

The U.S. funding reduction also jeopardizes UNRWA’s operations, including our life-saving provision of emergency water to Palestine refugees, our critical sanitation programs and the international community’s long-term efforts to rebuild Gaza’s water treatment infrastructure.

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