Members of ‘Gaza’ documentary crew trapped as film premieres at Sundance

Fady Hanona and Ali Aby Yaseen desperately trying to make it to the U.S. premiere

Fady Hanouna has been trying to get to the Sundance Film Festival from his home in Gaza. (Courtesy Fady Hanouna)

Ashleigh Stewart and Kaleem Aftab, The National, January 28, 2019

Two “honest, hard-working family men” from Gaza have helped bring the plight of the Palestinian ­people to the largest ­independent film ­festival in the United States but, in an ironic twist, they can’t get there themselves.

Fady Hanouna and Ali Aby Yaseen have tried for months to get the necessary ­documentation and visas ­approved to accompany the film they worked on for four years to its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

But the duo can’t break free of the very thing they’ve been railing against in the new ­documentary; they can’t get out of Gaza to get to its premiere.

The border between Gaza and Egypt is closed, with no indication of when it will reopen.

Hanouna, 30, a ­production manager on the film, and ­Yaseen, who features in the film, were scheduled to travel to Cairo for their visa ­interviews on January 21. They were supposed to fly out for the US on January 24.

A week has now passed and there has been no change in Gaza. Alongside thousands of others desperate to cross the border, they wait.

“I don’t know why Israel ­closes the border from the north … Egypt is closing the border from the south, and from the west there is the sea. And from the east there are Israeli snipers,” a frustrated Hanouna told The National. “It is my right to travel and it is my right to get a job and it is my right to live a decent life. It is my right to feel safe with my children and my family.”

The US Embassy in Cairo has told the two men they could “be flexible” with their visa interviews if they arrived in the city soon, Hanouna says. ­However, the movie ­premieres at Sundance today and the border remains closed.

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Palestinian artist brings Japanese origami to Gaza

Ahmed Humaid

In this January 16, 2019 photo Palestinian artist Ahmed Humaid, 29, works on one of his origami sculptures in his house in Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip. Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, is 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. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Wafaa Shurafa, Associated Press, Jan 27, 2019

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.

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December 6, 2018
Film: 5 Broken Cameras

The Marquee Cinema, Union South
1308 West Dayton Street , Madison
7:00 pm

Join UW Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the UW Middle East Studies Program, and the Wisconsin Union Directorate Film and Society & Politics Committees for a screening of the documentary Five Broken Cameras.

The documentary will be followed by a moderated discussion and Q&A with Professor Nevine El Nossery. Five Broken Cameras follows the resistance of one Palestinian farmer and his village against encroachments by the Israeli army.

Israeli Incursions into Gaza Are the Rule, Not the Exception

Israeli troops have crossed into Gaza over 70 times this year alone, according to the UN. And those are only the incursions we know about.

File photo of Israeli troops deployed along the Gaza border. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
File photo of Israeli troops deployed along the Gaza border. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Henriette Chacar, +972 Magazine, November 14, 2018

[Editor’s note: In accordance with our legal obligation, this article was sent to the IDF Censor for review prior to publication. We are not allowed to indicate if and where the article was censored.]

Since Israeli special forces troops got into a deadly firefight with Hamas commandos deep inside the Gaza Strip Sunday night, Israel has dropped dozens of bombs and missiles into Gaza and Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel.

The New York Times described the special forces raid as “the first known Israeli ground incursion into Gaza since Operation Protective Edge, in July 2014.”

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Since the start of 2015 through the end of October 2018, the Israeli army made 262 known ground incursions and operations to level land inside the Gaza Strip, including over 70 this year alone. This does not include the unknown number of covert operations like the one that went awry on Sunday.

As one retired Israeli general explained on national television, such covert raids across enemy lines are actually rather routine. “Activities that most civilians aren’t aware of happen all the time, every night and in every region,” Tal Russo told Israel’s Channel 10 while discussing the events in Gaza.

According to data obtained by +972 Magazine from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel carried out 21 incursions into Gaza in 2014 (excluding the seven-week war). The next year, in 2015, that number more than doubled, to 56 incidents. In 2016 and 2017, 68 and 65 incursions took place, respectively. By end of October 2018, 73 such incidents had been recorded, according to the UN data.

What is exceptional about Sunday’s action is not that Israeli soldiers crossed into Gaza, but that the military operation was exposed. Most of the time when Israeli forces infiltrate the coastal enclave, they remain within 200 to 300 meters of the border fence, Ibtisam Zaqout, head of field work at the Palestinian Center for Human Rights explained to +972.

Soldiers routinely cross in military bulldozers, not by foot, mostly to raze and level land in order to maintain line of sight in the Israeli-maintained “buffer zone” along the border, she added.

Israel hasn’t consistently determined the perimeter of this access-restricted area along the fence with Gaza, and it has often employed deadly violence to ward off Gaza residents. Between 2010 and 2017, Israeli security forces killed at least 161 Palestinians and injured more than 3,000 near the Gaza-Israel fence, according to a Gisha report published in August.

These regular restrictions of movement near the fence, which the report describes as “arbitrary” and “inconsistent,” are not only life-threatening, but they also severely harm the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Gazan farmers and herders, and stifle the strip’s economic development.

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