Hashtag to Headlines: The Gaza Great March of Return
The 2019 tribute to Rachel Corrie on March 3, 2019, with Ahmed Abu Artema and Jehad Abusalim. Photos courtesy of Amy Atalla Hill.
Goodman Public Library
2222 S Park St, Madison
Peace and Justice Book Club discusses Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat.
In this memoir set in Ramallah following the 1967 Six-Day War, Barakat captures what it is like to be a child whose world is shattered by war – fear and confusion as bombs explode near her home and she is separated from her family; the harshness of life in the Middle East as a Palestinian refugee; and her unexpected joy when she discovers Alef, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet.
Hosted by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) – Madison Chapter. Note: You don’t have to have read or finished the book to attend. Info? #608-609-7961
Anne Paq presented Intimate Portraits of Gaza’s Lost at the 2017 Madison-Rafah Rachel Corrie Commemoration. Based on the #ObliteratedFamilies project by Paq and Palestinian-Polish journalist Ala Qandil, the project profiled the annihilation of Gaza families during the Israeli bombardment in 2014.
Mahmoud Abu Arram, 72 (left) and his family stand in front of a renovated cave in the West Bank hamlet of Ar-Rakeez in the South Hebron Hills. (Photo: Activestills.org)
For weeks under the cloak of night Palestinians secretly renovated four caves and built a tin-roofed house in the West Bank hamlet of Ar-Rakeez where only a handful of residents live. Last week they opened the homes in a “bringing life back” ceremony.
The event was not announced in advance as to avoid any potential disruption by the Israeli army, locals said.
The caves were refurbished by Palestinians from the southern West Bank villages of Susiya, Masafer Yatta and At-Tuwani who are part of the Protection and Sumud Committee, a local group that seeks to prevent home demolitions, and with support from the Palestinian Authority.
Because of rigid Israeli planning restrictions and frequent settler harassment, most of Ar-Rakeez’s villagers moved to the nearby city of Yatta over the last 20 years. Four families said they will move into the fixed up caves, joining the three families who already live there.
Ayman Abu Arram, 40, said he will be one of the Palestinians coming back to Ar-Rakeez, “We left in 2004 because of settlers but we never completely left as we were coming from time to time to work on the land. We want to come back.”
“There is no land in Yatta and it is overcrowded. Life is better here, with clean air. I am not afraid of the army or settlers. I decided to come back with my family, and we will stay in the cave for now. We own it,” he said.
Mohammed Abu Arram, 51, who is originally from Ar-Rakeez said he wants to move back. He explained, up until the late 90s there were around nine families in the village. He also said many left due to ongoing “Israeli settler harassment.”
The South Hebron Hills has one of the highest rates of settler harassment in the West Bank. In 2017 the United Nations found 33 Palestinians were killed in violence attributed to settlers.
GAZA CITY — In a small studio packed with sculptures made of scrap metal, Palestinian artist Ahmed Humaid has found a new medium in origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.
It’s an unlikely pursuit for an artist living in the Gaza Strip, which has been largely cut off from the outside world since Israel and Egypt imposed a crippling blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory more than a decade ago.
But the 29-year-old Humaid, who has no regular job, says interest in origami is on the rise.
“With more people asking about it, this work has turned into a source of income for me,” said Humaid, who lives in Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.
Humaid practices a form of origami in which he folds and forms the pages of an entire book into a readable inscription of calligraphic letters.
He has no formal training. He said he learned about origami when he saw some photos on Instagram. He began following Japanese artists and wrote to them. Some offered help and feedback.
When he made his first origami work in October, it took him 15 hours to finish. He shared the photo with some Japanese artists who acclaimed the work.
Since then, Humaid has sold 45 works locally, including books folded into names that lovers have given to each other as gifts, as well as logos for local businesses. Depending on the size and number of letters, he charges 50 to 100 shekels (about $15-30) per order.
Unemployment in Gaza, a coastal enclave sandwiched between Israel and Egypt, stands at more than 50 percent, according to U.N. and other international estimates. It is even higher among Gaza’s youth.
Humaid would like to expand his business beyond Gaza’s borders, but the blockade has cut off virtually all exports, and Israel and Egypt heavily restrict travel into and out of the territory.
The Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege
Israeli Forces Kill 3 and Wound 115 Other Civilians
On Friday evening, 21 December 2018, Israeli forces Killed 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child and a person with a mobility impairment, and wounded 115 other civilians, including 21 children, 2 women, 2 journalists and 3 paramedics, in the peaceful demonstrations in the eastern Gaza Strip despite the decreasing intensity of the demonstrations there for the eighth week consecutively and absence of most means usually used during the demonstrations since the beginning of the Return and Breaking the Siege March 8 months ago.
According to observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers, for the eighth week since the beginning of the Return March on 30 March 2018, burning tires and stone-throwing decreased while the attempts to cross the border fence and throw incendiary balloons were completely absent.
Though the demonstrators were around tens of meters away from the border fence, the Israeli forces who stationed in prone positions and in military jeeps along the fence continued to use excessive force against the demonstrators by opening fire and firing teargas canisters at them, without the later posing any imminent threat or danger to the life of soldiers.
On 21 December 2018, the incidents were as follows:
At approximately 14:30, thousands of civilians, including women, children and entire families, started swarming to the five encampments established by the Supreme National Authority of Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege adjacent to the border fence with Israel in eastern Gaza Strip cities. Hundreds, including children and women, approached the border fence with Israel in front of each encampment and gathered tens of meters away from the main border fence, attempting to throw stones at the Israeli forces. Although the demonstrators gathered in areas open to the Israeli snipers stationed on the top of the sand berms and military watchtowers and inside and behind the military jeeps, the Israeli forces fired live and rubber bullets in addition to a barrage of teargas canisters. The Israeli shooting, which continued at around 17:00, resulted in the killing of 3 civilians, including a child and a person with a mobility impairment.
Those Killed were identified as:
2. ‘Abdel ‘Aziz Ibrahim ‘Abdel ‘Aziz Abu Sharia (28), from Gaza City, who was hit with a bullet to the abdomen in eastern Gaza and succumbed to his wounds hours later.
3. Maher ‘Atiyah Mohammed Yasin (40), from al-Nussairat refugee camp, who succumbed to wounds he sustained after being hit with a bullet to the head in eastern al-Bureij refugee camp, noting that he had suffered a mobility impairment since childhood.
Moreover, 115 civilians, including 21 child, 2 women, 2 journalists and 3 paramedics, were wounded. In addition, hundreds suffered tear gas inhalation and seizures due to tear gas canisters that were fired by the Israeli forces from the military jeeps and riffles in the eastern Gaza Strip.
The following table shows the number of civilian victims due to the Israeli forces’ suppression of the Great March of Return since its beginning on 30 March:
[Note 2] Among those wounded, 512 are in serious condition and 101 had their lower or upper limbs amputated; 89 lower-limb amputations, 2 upper-limb amputations, 10 finger amputations and 17 children had their limbs amputated according to the Ministry of Health. The number of those wounded only include those wounded with live bullets and directly hit with tear gas canisters as there have been thousand others who suffered tear gas inhalation and sustained bruises.
PCHR emphasizes that continuously targeting civilians, who exercise their right to peaceful assembly or while carrying out their humanitarian duty, is a serious violation of the rules of international law, international humanitarian law, the ICC Rome Statute and Fourth Geneva Convention. Thus, PCHR calls upon the ICC Prosecutor to open an official investigation in these crimes and to prosecute and hold accountable all those applying or involved in issuing orders within the Israeli Forces at the security and political echelons.
PCHR hereby condemns the excessive use of force and commission of crimes by the Israeli forces despite the prevailed calmness, believing it is as a result of Israel’s enjoying impunity thanks to the U.S. and so encouraging the Israeli forces to commit further crimes upon an official decision by the highest military and political echelons.