Tarek Abuata: Human Rights in Palestine During the Pandemic

WORT 89.9 FM A Public Affair with host Esty Dinur on March 27, 2020:

Tarek Abuata grew up in Bethlehem and moved with his family to Texas during the first Intifada when he was 12. After graduating from the University of Texas Law School, he worked in Ramallah researching legal and policy issues. From 2004 to 2007, he trained Palestinian youth in grassroots organizing and activism, and from 2007 to 2016 he was the coordinator of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron. He has been the Executive Director of FOSNA since 2016. In his work in the U.S., Tarek is most interested in connecting struggles at home and abroad for peace, justice and freedom.

Coronavirus and Gaza

DONATE!

Here are three good options for sending medical relief to Palestine and Gaza:

  • Rebuilding Alliance has a matching grant deadline of midnight EST on Friday, March 27: Closed

  • The Middle East Children’s Alliance needs to raise $45,000 ASAP for a targeted prevention campaign in Gaza: Donate
  • Finally, United Nations Relief and Works Administration (UNRWA) is appealing for emergency funds for all of Palestine: Donate

INFORMATION

March 28, 2020
Webinar: Film Gaza Fights For Freedom by Abby Martin

Social Justice Event Collective, March 5, 2020

Please join us for a film webinar on March 28th, 2020 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time for the screening of Gaza Fights for Freedom, a film by US journalist Abby Martin.

This screening is presented by Social Justice Event Collective and co-hosted by Canadian Boat to Gaza, Independent Jewish Voices-London, Ontario and People for Peace-London, Ontario.

The original event was to be held during Israeli Apartheid Week on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

We have postponed the event to be held through a Zoom online webinar. You may register in advance for this webinar here.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Film-maker Abby Martin will join us after the screening to discuss the making of her documentary, including a questions and answers period. Filmed during the height of the Great March Of Return protests, it features riveting exclusive footage of demonstrations. The documentary tells the story of Gaza past and present, showing rare archival footage that explains the history never acknowledged by mass media. You hear from victims of the ongoing massacre, including journalists, medics and the family of internationally acclaimed paramedic, Razan al-Najjar. At its core, ‘Gaza Fights For Freedom’ is a thorough indictment of the Israeli military for war crimes, and a stunning cinematic portrayal of Palestinians’ heroic resistance.

We will also be joined by a Gaza participant from We Are Not Numbers for a questions and answers period.

The Canadian Boat To Gaza will be accepting donations to help raise funds for the Freedom Flotilla’s sailing in 2020. The donation link is here.

Palestinians report 1st cases of coronavirus in Gaza Strip


Workers wearing protective gear spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus, at the main market in Gaza City, Thursday, March 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

FARES AKRAM, Associated Press, March 22, 2020

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Palestinian Health Ministry announced early Sunday that two residents who returned recently from Pakistan to the Gaza Strip tested positive for the coronavirus, the first cases to be diagnosed in the Palestinian enclave.

The development added to fears of a potential outbreak in crowded Gaza, which has an overstretched health care system after years of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, cross-border conflicts with Israel and Palestinian political division.

Hundreds of Gazans have returned home in the past two weeks, but only 92 people have been examined, highlighting the territory’s limited tested capacity.

Gaza has been mostly cut off from the world as Israel and Egypt imposed severe movement restrictions following the 2007 takeover by the militant Hamas group. This is believed to have delayed the arrival of the virus.

Israel and Egypt in the past two years relaxed some travel restrictions on Gaza’s 2 million residents, but they closed their borders again last week as those two countries struggle to contain the coronavirus spreading on their territories. Gaza residents are still allowed to return home.


A worker wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus, in Gaza City, Thursday, March 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

The ministry said the cases were two people who returned recently from Pakistan. It said they had been moved to isolation at a hospital in Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip.

More than 1,270 people are quarantined at hospitals, hotels and schools after crossing into Gaza from Israel and Egypt, the ministry said. On Saturday, Hamas’ Interior Ministry shut down wedding halls and banned weekly street markets as precautionary measures.

No deaths from the virus have been reported in the Palestinian areas. In the West Bank, 55 cases have been diagnosed, with 17 recovering, the ministry said. Most of the cases were in the biblical city of Bethlehem.

The vast majority of infected people recover from the virus. For most, it produces only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But the coronavirus can cause severe illness, including pneumonia, and even death, for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems.

A 360-square-kilometer (139-square-mile) stretch of land, the Gaza Strip is one of the world’s most densely populated areas. In 2018, the World Bank said its economy was in “free fall” and called for urgent actions by Israel and the international community to avoid collapse. Unemployment stands at 52% and poverty levels are 50%.

Help Palestinians in Gaza survive Coronavirus

If Not Now, March 20,2020

We have an opportunity to save thousands of lives — if we act now.

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps our country and the world, I am watching everyday people do what is necessary — in the vacuum left by our government’s failure — to help their communities. My friends are joining mutual aid networks and others are fundraising so the most vulnerable are financially stable.

But our obligation to one another does not stop at the border.

If we do not act now, Palestinians living under blockade in Gaza will suffer incredible losses from COVID-19. For 15 years, the Israeli government has blockaded 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, restricting their access to crucial resources, including medical supplies. And Israel’s regular military assaults have decimated much of Gaza’s public infrastructure.

That is why I’m asking you to demand that the Israeli government live up to its legal and moral obligation as the occupying party and protect Palestinians in Gaza by lifting the blockade on Gaza and immediately delivering medical supplies — such as Coronavirus test kits, ventilation equipment, and medical masks — to Gaza.

Currently, 1.8 million Palestinians live in the 141 square miles that comprise the Gaza Strip (roughly the size of Detroit). Though Hamas governs Gaza internally, Israel is still the effective occupying power because Israel’s military controls the land, sea, and air of Gaza. The blockade on Gaza has been inhumane for over a decade, but to refuse to lift it during a global health pandemic is immoral, outrageous, and unforgettable.

And, with one of the highest population densities in the world and few medical resources, Gaza is one step away from a public health disaster. Those 1.8 million people only have access to enough COVID-19 test kits for 190 people, meaning only 1 in every 9473 Palestinians there can be tested. Additionally, there are just 20 available ventilation devices in all of Gaza — just 1 ventilation device for every 90,000 Palestinians there.

Palestinians in Gaza must now weather the coronavirus in addition to the punishing, 15-year-long Israeli blockade of the coastal enclave. The international community has ignored the humanitarian crisis facing Palestinians in Gaza for too long. Rather than waiting to react to the coronavirus hitting Gaza, we must be proactive.


Sign the petition!

Failing to do so will result in thousands of deaths, and the blame will lay squarely with the Israeli government.

Stay safe and stay in solidarity,
Naftali
IfNotNow

Cancelled March 29, 2020 Tribute to Rachel Corrie: Freedom is the Future

This event with Tarek Abuata has been cancelled by coronavirus precautions.

You can still listen to an interview with Tarek from Gaza on WORT 89.9 FM’s A Public Affair with host Esty Dinur on Friday, March 27 from noon to 1 pm. Call in at 256-2001 or listen live on line.

Tarek Abuata grew up in Bethlehem and moved with his family to Texas during the first Intifada when he was 12. After graduating from the University of Texas Law School, he worked in Ramallah researching legal and policy issues. From 2004 to 2007, he trained Palestinian youth in grassroots organizing and activism, and from 2007 to 2016 he was the coordinator of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron. He has been the Executive Director of FOSNA since 2016. In his work in the U.S., Tarek is most interested in connecting struggles at home and abroad for peace, justice and freedom.

Co-Sponsors: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project; FOSNA; First United Methodist; Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison; Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison; UW Madison Students for Justice in Palestine; The Crossing; Bright Stars of Bethlehem-Madison Chapter; WI United Church of Christ Bethlehem Partnership; Interfaith Peace Working Group; Pax Christi Madison; First Unitarian Society Social Justice Ministry; Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ Mission Team; American Friends Service Committee of Madison Friends Meeting; and James Reeb UUC Justice Leadership Team. Welcomed by WORT Radio.

Coronavirus Is a Death Sentence for Palestinians Caged in Gaza

Even a small outbreak among Gaza’s densely-packed, blockaded population would put an impossible strain on a healthcare system already teetering on the verge of collapse


A man, wearing a mask against coronavirus infection, looks through a fence as he waits for Palestinians returning from abroad. Gaza’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt. March 8, 2020. (IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS)

Shannon Maree Torrens, Haaretz, Mar 12, 2020

Imagine two million human beings living in the space of just 365 square kilometers. One of the most densely populated places on Planet Earth, confined in a cage from which they cannot escape. These two million people cannot leave, even if they wanted to, without great difficulty.

They must live their lives within the confines of this rapidly deteriorating area of land, some persisting in the hope that one day things may change, but many surviving with the realization and resignation that they very well may not. No matter their degree of optimism or pessimism, all are isolated from the rest of the world. We call this place the Gaza Strip, and it has been under blockade by Israel since 2007.

It is now March 2020. The novel coronavirus, has become an issue of global concern. The disease it causes, COVID-19, has spread far from its origins in China. In a short space of time, coronavirus is seemingly everywhere. It moves as frequently as the planes and people who spread it back and forth across the world.

As of 11 March, more than 118,000 people have been infected globally, almost 4,300 people have died and at least 114 countries/territories and areas are affected. The world buys masks and hand sanitizer. The World Health Organisation classifies novel coronavirus as a pandemic. People stock up on food. "What will happen to us?" the world says. "What if we get sick?"

And what of the people who live in the cage of Gaza? What will happen to them? 

If you’re locked in a cage, you are protected – but, simultaneously, you are also at much greater risk of being acutely affected. If the people of Gaza become unwell, will anyone care, any more than to the minimal degree they have in the past? Will anything change for them, or will it simply become much worse?

At the time of writing, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip. But it only takes one person to change the course of things for the worse – that infamous Patient Zero, to which many of the world’s wealthiest and most medically advanced countries can attest as they grapple with spiking contagion rates.  

On Thursday 5 March the Palestinian Authority announced a 30-day state of emergency, following seven initial coronavirus cases discovered in Bethlehem, closing educational institutions and numerous places of work. It is now reported that the Occupied Palestinian Territory has 30 cases of COVID-19.

Continue reading

What Valentine’s Day Means in Gaza, Palestine

Hani and his uncle and daughter in front of an UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip
Hani and his uncle and daughter in front of an UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip

UNRWA USA, February 7, 2020

Hani Almadhoun is UNRWA USA’s new Director of Philanthropy.

Though he now lives in Virginia with his wife and daughters, he grew up in the Gaza Strip. Hani’s father was an UNRWA teacher in Gaza and his family benefited from UNRWA services there, so he can speak firsthand from personal experience about the work UNRWA does and how the Gaza Strip has changed over the past few decades.

Below, Hani reflects on these changes through the lens of Valentine’s Day.

Hani Almadhoun’s reflection on Valentine’s Day and
what it means for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip