Gaza Unlocked Stories: Firas Ramlawi

  Education Electricity

Firas Ramlawi, 38 — American Friends Service Committee

"Classrooms are crowded, class times are shortened, and schools don’t have resources."

Take action today: Restore power to Gaza

On education
Before 2000, 90 percent of schools in Gaza ran on single shifts. Now nearly all schools run on double shifts, and a few schools have run on triple shifts during emergency situations. The morning shift runs from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., and the afternoon shift runs from 12 p.m. to 4:30 pm. The shifts are shorter during the winter when there is less daylight. This is because of the lack of electricity. You can’t go to school in the dark.

Two shifts is not good. I have four children in school, and dealing with their days takes up all of my wife’s time from 5 a.m. until 6 p.m. The first two kids must be at school for the first shift, and the second two for the second shift. We are constantly moving children. This impacts how your homework is planned, how meals are planned, how sleep schedules are planned. There is no social life or time outside for my wife. She is going from morning until night.

The 2014 attack on Gaza damaged 252 schools. Educational facilities are protected spaces under international law.

Education is also negatively impacted as classrooms are crowded, class times are shortened, and schools don’t have resources.

We need more schools in Gaza, but they can’t be built because of the blockade.

On electricity
We have a good relationship with batteries in Gaza. At home we have batteries for our lights. We have a battery for our fridge. We have batteries for hand lights to use in the stairs when the power is out. I bought an extra battery for my computer, and we have spare batteries and chargers for our phones. We spend around $1,000 per year just on batteries. We can’’ afford this, but how else do you live with only six or eight hours of electricity?

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Help Us Respond to Gaza’s Electricity Crisis


 
Gaza Lights for Rafah Campaign

The electricity crisis in Gaza has reached unprecedented heights, with power now reduced to 2 to 4 hours per day (see Desperate Palestinians Try to Beat Heat and Israeli Blockade Bringing Gaza to Collapse). It is causing terrible suffering for ordinary people there.

Without electricity sewage goes untreated into the sea. Water doesn’t get pumped to high rise apartments or rural areas. Everything has to be done in the dark — cooking, eating, caring for babies and those who are sick or old. Food rots in refrigerators. No fans cool the stifling Gaza summer heat. Children can’t read, and students can’t study. Candles have caused death and injury in tragic house fires. Hospital and home health equipment can’t function.

While only an end to the Israeli occupation and blockade can provide a lasting solution, in the meantime you can help us ameliorate the suffering of poor families in Rafah.

Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is once again partnering with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to provide families in Rafah with a “Gaza Lights” unit — a rechargeable household system created by a team of volunteer Gaza engineers that takes advantage of the short hours of electrical service to charge a battery, which can then power lights, fans and phones for twelve hours.

These “Gaza Lights” systems will be produced quickly in Gaza and distributed to needy families by MECA and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.


Amal and the Sketch Engineering Team assemble Gaza Lights systems

MRSCP has committed funds to buy 10 of these systems. We need to raise $3,640 to purchase & install 40 more by the end of November. Please help us reach this goal! Your contribution of just $11 will give one family in Rafah 3 lights for their home. $20 buys them a fan; $31 a rechargeable battery; $91 a complete system.

$4,934 of $4,700 105%

Over the top!

To contribute to this campaign, send a check made out to “MRSCP” and marked “Gaza Lights” to

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison WI 53705

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Gaza Lights Campaign

The electricity shortage impacts every family in Gaza. Please support the Gaza Lights Campaign!


 
It’s been 10 years of living under siege in Gaza. Three years after the most brutal Israeli assault. And things keep getting worse.

    Gaza now gets only about 2 hours of electricity each day.

Without electricity sewage goes untreated into the sea. Water doesn’t get pumped to high rise apartments or rural areas.

Everything has to be done in the dark — cooking, eating, caring for babies and those who are sick or old. Food rots in refrigerators. No fans cool the stifling Gaza summer. Children can’t read, and students can’t study. Candles have caused death and injury in tragic house fires. Hospital and home health equipment can’t function.

Recently a team of volunteer Gaza engineers designed a rechargeable, battery-operated system that can power lights, fans, and phones for twelve hours. While the only solution to this crisis is to end the Israeli/Egyptian blockade of Gaza and restore electrical power, in the meantime you can help people in Gaza survive.

The “Gaza Lights” systems will be produced quickly in Gaza and distributed to needy families by the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

    Your contribution of just $11 will give one family in Gaza 3 lights for their home. $20 buys them a fan, $31 a rechargeable battery, and $91 a complete Gaza Light system.

To make a contribution dedicated to Rafah, send a check to “MRSCP” with the note “Gaza Lights” to

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison WI 53705

You can also contribute online at the Middle East Children’s Alliance.


What is it like to live without electricity in Gaza in the summer?

“I talked to my family in Gaza earlier this week and asked them: ‘How do you sleep at night when you don’t have electricity?’ The temperature at night there doesn’t go below 74 degrees Fahrenheit, and humidity is high. My 12-year-old sister answered: ‘We don’t.’

“She explained that even if they try to sleep, open all the windows, drink a lot of water – still, they can’t breathe. If they lie down, they spend hours sweating profusely while listening to the Israeli drones’ intimidating noise outside, with nowhere to go. They prefer to stay awake at night until they can’t resist their eyes closing. Even then, they’re troubled by insomnia, and nightmares. They wake up to find themselves drowned in sweat.

“By the morning, the flaming sun limits their options. One option is to spend the day in the Capital Mall, the only mall in Gaza equipped with internet, air conditioners, private electrical generators and a place to sit down. Or they could go and visit a relative who has a big enough battery to operate a small fan while they speak. They can no longer go and sit by the sea, when the risk of catching diseases from the contaminated water is so high, though others have stopped really caring about getting sick or not. As a friend of mine told me: ‘The sea is 99% polluted, we swim in the 1% that’s left.’

“Their electricity, however, suddenly comes back on for two to three random hours at most each day, and that’s the only time you can turn on the pumps to store a little bit of undrinkable water in the tanks that will run out as soon as you take a shower. It becomes a kind of rush hour, when everyone is desperately running around, trying to cool some purchased mineral water in the freezer, recharge cellphone batteries and radios and flashlights, and sit behind a computer screen to read the news, whose headlines are repetitive and hollow.

“As soon as the electricity goes out, the people are back to the streets, sitting in the shade on the pavements. …”

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Demand the Release of Khalida Jarrar and Khitam Saafin

A Petition to Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State; the European Union, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Khitam Saafin (left) and Khalida Jarrar (right)


Addameer Prisoner Support & Human Rights Association

Addameer calls for the immediate release of Khalida Jarrar and Khitam Saafin, who were arrested in pre-dawn raids by Israeli occupation forces on 2 July 2017.

On 9 July 2017, Saafin was issued a three-month administrative detention order, without charge or trial. On 12 July 2017, Jarrar was issued a six-month administrative order. Saafin and Jarrar’s trials are both based on secret evidence; therefore, their legal representatives are unable to fully address the prosecution’s argument, which asserts that Jarrar and Saafin pose a security threat.

Jarrar is a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and a member of the Board of Directors of Addameer. She has been the head of the Prisoners Commission of the PLC since 2006, and was appointed to the Palestinian National Committee for the follow-up to the International Criminal Court. Jarrar has been targeted by Israeli forces in recent years. She was released from prison in June 2016 after serving over a year, including one-month under administrative detention.

Saafin, president of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, has spoken internationally and participated in many worldwide events, including the World Social Forum, linking women’s struggles internationally with the struggle of Palestinian women for national and social liberation.

This practice of arbitrary detention is a grave violation of international laws and human rights standards, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention. Both women are prominent civil society leaders and additionally, their work meets the United Nations definition of a human rights defender. It is our belief that Jarrar and Saafin are being illegitimately targeted and punished by Israeli military authorities as a result of their significant human rights work.

Addameer reiterates its call for Jarrar and Saafin’s immediate release, as their detention constitutes an attack on Palestinian civil society leaders. Please take action and sign the petition now!

Gaza Unlocked

American Friends Service Committee
Gaza Unlocked
What is Gaza Unlocked?

For over a decade, two million Palestinians in Gaza have lived under a brutal military blockade imposed by Israel.

Media stories about Gaza primarily focus on violence and politics, while stories of how the blockade impacts everyday life remain largely untold.

Gaza Unlocked gives you access to first-hand accounts from Palestinians living in Gaza, information about the blockade, and opportunities to make a difference. Learn more.

Raise awareness. Bring Gaza to your Farmer’s Market

Strawberry farmers in Gaza
Join our summer engagement effort to raise awareness about the Gaza blockade.


Water and Sanitation
Osama Khalili, 46
Head of the Nutrition Department,
Palestinian Ministry of Health

 


Health care
Movement
Rana Joudeh, 42
Employee, NGO

 


Health care
Water and Sanitation
Said Al-Yacoubi
Medical student

 


Employment
Shelter
Raeda Sukkar, 28
Youth club project coordinator

 


Shelter
Shareef Hamad, 34
Project coordinator, NGO

 


Education
Movement
Ahmed Hamza
Architect and student

 

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