July 1 & 14, 2021
VIRTUAL DELEGATIONS TO RAFAH REFUGEE CAMP

Eyewitness Palestine

Join us for a Virtual Delegation to the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip with We Are Not Numbers, Palestinian youth telling the human stories behind the numbers in the news. The camp was established in 1949 and is now home to more than 125,304 refugees according to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Join us to walk around the camp and understand more of its particular challenges.

More Information Coming Soon!

Israeli Authorities Close Gaza Sea and Ban Palestinian Fishing

Deterioration of Living Condition For 4860 Fishermen and Workers in Associated Professions

Ref: 45/2021
Date: 26 April 2021
Time: 10:30 GMT

On Monday, 26 April 2021, Israeli authorities closed Gaza Sea completely and prevented fishermen from sailing and fishing. These Israeli measures are part of the Israeli collective punishment policy practiced against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip that aims to harass fishermen and prevent them from sailing and fishing freely in areas where fish breed.

According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)’s follow-up, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) declared the complete closure of Gaza Sea, starting from 06:00 on Monday until further notice. The Israeli Coordinator stated that, “This decision came in response to the launch of rockets towards Israeli settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip.”

This decision is part of Israel’s policy of inhuman and illegal closure and collective punishment against the Gaza Strip. As a result, the livelihoods of 4,160 fishermen and 700 workers in professions associated with the fishing sector; the main providers for their families (a total of 27,700 persons) are threatened with further deterioration. Even before this decision, Gazan fishermen already suffered and were unable to fish and sail freely in the allowed fishing area due to the recurrent Israeli attacks at sea, the entry ban of equipment and necessary supplies for fishermen. Consequently, hundreds of fishermen are effectively unable to provide their families’ basic needs, such as food, medicine, clothing, and education.

Furthermore, the impact of the new Israeli decisions would deepen the humanitarian and living crises in the Gaza Strip, especially raising unemployment, poverty and food insecurity. Statistics pre-recent restrictions indicate a dangerous unemployment rate at 45%, i.e. 217,100 unemployed workers; this rate is highest among youth at 63%. Also, more than half of the Gaza Strip population suffers poverty, as data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) indicate that the prevalence of poverty among the Gaza Strip population exceeds 53%, and more than 62.2% of the Gaza population is classified as food insecure according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

PCHR emphasizes that the Israeli decision to close the Gaza Sea violates the economic and social rights of Palestinian fishermen and violates their right to work stipulated in Article (6) of the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The ongoing Israeli attacks against fishermen also constitutes a flagrant violation of the international humanitarian law.

Therefore, PCHR:

  • Calls upon the Israeli authorities to reverse the decision to close the sea immediately and to enable fishermen to fish and sail freely, especially that they do not pose threat to the Israeli naval forces;
  • Calls for an immediate end to the constant chasing of fishermen and allow them to fish and sail freely; and
  • Calls upon the international community to pressure the Israeli authorities into ending the naval blockade, which led to the deterioration of fishermen and their families’ living conditions, and stopping all violations against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip.
  • Continue reading

    Update: Fresh Food for Families in Rafah

    Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)

    Update for Madison Rafah Sister City Project

    BACKGROUND
    The economic situation in the Gaza Strip is deteriorating dramatically as a result of the continuation of the Israeli occupation and the Israeli blockade. The precautions taken to limit the spread of coronavirus including imposing of lockdowns and curfews have worsened the dire situation. As a result, more than 70% of the population are reported below the poverty line and food insecurity and malnutrition pose serious risks to the health of hundreds of thousands of people, particularly children.

    ACCOMPLISHMENTS
    With donations from MRSCP, MECA and our local partner in Gaza, the Never Stop Dreaming Association, were able to provide nutritious food parcels to families in need in Rafah while also supporting local farmers and businesses.

    We received additional funding from several individuals and organizations in the United States for this project and in total were able to provide 1413 families in Rafah, Khan Younis and the middle region of the Gaza Strip with food parcels. Families were nominated by community organizations in each location and then checked against official lists to ensure we are reaching people most in need. MRSCPs donations of $4655 provide food parcels to 116 families in Rafah governate in the southern Gaza Strip, the transportation, warehouse rental, and meals for volunteers were covered by other funding sources.

    The contents of the food parcels were purchased from 4 farms employing 24 individuals and 3 small grocery stores. This project therefore provided critical income to 27 families in Gaza.

    Each food parcel contained fresh vegetables, chickens, and other household staples designed to provide each family with the necessary items to make healthy, balanced meals for two weeks. MECA staff member Wafaa El-Derawi is a trained nutritionist and oversaw the contents of the parcels.

    CHALLENGES
    We faced some challenges with the COVID-19 restrictions in Gaza. We overcame this by having several distribution points, providing all staff and volunteers with masks and gloves, and by organizing pick up times well so there was not overcrowding at the warehouses.

    Some families from remote areas could not reach the distribution points. With help from the local community organizations in each location, we were able to arrange transportation for these families.

    The number of nominated cases was more than the food parcels. This was overcome through rapid research to identify the most difficult cases and families living in severe poverty to prioritize their coverage.

    SUCCESSES
    Beneficiaries had positive evaluation of the contents of the food parcels. We received many comments appreciating the fresh vegetables and chicken which are unusual in food parcels.

    One family in Rafah that received the food parcel was particularly appreciated. She lives with her family – her sick husband and her 11 children – in a marginalized area. Their house doesn’t have a roof, instead corrugated iron board covers part of it, leaving them to drown in rains every winter. The family has no source of livelihood, and they live on food aid. They were very happy with the food and chicken package. She thanked and prayed for all those in charge of the project.

    Continue reading

    December 11, 2020
    MRSCP END OF YEAR APPEAL

    As 2020 comes to a close, we are writing to ask for your end-of-year contribution to two great efforts: one for Rafah and the other right here in Dane County.

    RAFAH

    The economic situation in the Gaza Strip was already terrible due to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Lockdowns, curfews and other measures taken to combat COVID-19, while initially slowing the spread of the virus, ultimately worsened the situation. COVID-19 is rapidly spreading and more than 70% of the population is now reported below the poverty line.

    MRSCP is therefore partnering with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to provide some of the poorest families in Rafah with fresh, nutritious food parcels. Each family will receive a food parcel with essentials like rice, beans, and lentils as well as fresh local produce and poultry. We are excited about this project because an estimated 20 small farmers and cooperative members will also benefit from providing the produce and locally-made packaged goods such as jam and maftool.

    $40 provides one family with a 2-3 week supply of this food. Priority will be given to poor families that have disabled individuals or those with chronic diseases, and to female-headed households. More information on this project including a video and a description of the food parcel contents and selection criteria can be found at our website.

    Donate directly online:


    DANE COUNTY

    Continue reading

    Palestine Partners and Women in Hebron


    Dear Friends,

    Last year at this time my friend Laila was visiting the US, bringing the fabulously beautiful hand embroidered work of Women in Hebron to Fair Trade holiday craft shows and church basements and the homes of friends.

    Laila can’t travel here from Palestine now, and the cooperative can no longer sell their work to tourists in the Old City of Hebron, because there are no tourists in the Holy Land. Their shop in the souk, the first to be operated by women, is shuttered and dark along with all the rest.

    This video tells the history of Women in Hebron Fair Trade Co-op since their founding in 2005.

    But now you can support Women in Hebron from home by shopping at their new online store at Palestine Partners, and I really hope that you’ll join me in doing just that this holiday season. You’ll find find beautiful one-of-a kind hand made tree ornaments, bags, purses, pillow covers, placemats, backpacks, and more there, all decorated with stunning Palestinian embroidery. And best of all, buying these products will make a huge positive difference in the lives of the women who make them.

    Shop now at Women in Hebron’s Online Store

    Laila worked so hard on last year’s trip here. She kept a schedule that would put most people on the couch for weeks – traveling back and forth across the US on trains and busses, with two huge duffle bags and a backpack filed with gloriously colored hand embroidered ornaments and scarves and placemats and pillow covers and coin purses and bags – and even small cats wearing tiny traditional Palestinian Kuffiyas. She has a huge heart, and an unbelievably strong spirit, and I have never known her to complain, but she recently told me that the impact of COVID has turned the clock back 20 years for the women she works with.

    For many of these women the co-operative presented the very first chance to independently earn a living and care for themselves and their families through their own labor in a just and supportive cooperative setting. Now with COVID, the loss of sales has been devastating. Beautiful products are waiting on shelves, and the cooperative is unable to purchase additional materials, or pay women for the creation of new products, until they are able to sell the inventory.

    So I’m asking you now, please, shop at their online store. These women need to work.

    Thanks and love.

    Shop now at Women in Hebron’s Online Store

    Madison’s Virtual Fair Trade Holiday Festival is Open!

    Our online store, Madison-Rafah Marketplace, has added crafts to our olive oil sales. We offer ceramics, embroidery, jewelry, kufiyas, woodcrafts, and calendars.

    For the month of November make this your one-stop shopping for holiday gift giving. Spend your money on products that support your values. Give gifts that give twice, once to the producer and once to your recipient.

    Since 2004 the Madison-Rafah Crafts Committee has worked with fair trade organizations in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to purchase mostly traditional crafts. We buy them at fair trade prices, helping the artists support their families and the economy of Palestine.

    We hope you will be able to participate in this annual event. As always, thank you for your support.



    Browse other participating Fair Trade vendors!
    You can also follow the Festival on Facebook.

    November 2020
    Virtual Fair Trade Holiday Festival

    Dear Members and Friends of MRSCP,

    Mark your calendars for the upcoming Madison Fair Trade Holiday Festival, which has gone virtual this year due to the pandemic.

    The sale will be during the month of November. Make this your one stop shop for all your holiday gift giving. Spend your money on products that support your values; give gifts that give twice, once to the producer and once to the recipient.

    You will be able to browse all the participating vendors and order directly from their websites by visiting Madison Fair Trade Holiday Festival.

    You can also follow the Festival on Facebook.

    MRSCP will be participating in the virtual sale via our online store, Madison-Rafah Marketplace. We will carry most of our usual items.

    (The store is currently up and running for olive oil sales; our complete product listings will be available when the Festival opens.)

    Note: MRSCP CANNOT ship or deliver any purchases; they need to be picked up. You will receive instructions and a pickup window following your purchase. In hardship cases, we may be able to provide delivery.

    We hope you will be able to participate in this annual event, and as always, thanks for your support.

    Barb O.
    MRSCP