Life in Ruins: Gaza One Year On

B’Tselem, 08 May 2022

For 11 days, Israel relentlessly bombarded the Gaza Strip, one of the most crowded places on earth, killing 232 Palestinians. Almost a quarter of those killed were minors, and more than half were not taking part in the hostilities. Many were killed at home, with nowhere to run or hide. Thousands were injured and thousands lost everything they owned. A year on, B’Tselem’s field researchers in Gaza talked to people who lost their loved ones and homes. These are their testimonies.

Gaza Tour from We Are Not Numbers

We Are Not Numbers, February 25, 2022

Enjoy our tour in the historical sites in Gaza city. Meet Abo Hanfi A-Sawwaf, Abu-Zuhair, Om-Anwar Al-Kassab; and see Omary Mosque, Al-Thahab (Gold) Market, Al-Alami’s house, and Al-Hasary herb’s shop.

We Are Not Numbers, a Project of Euro-Med Monitor, pairs Palestinian writers from across Palestine and the diaspora with international mentors who support them in writing their stories behind the numbers.

Due to wars and siege, Gaza infrastructure unprepared for climate disaster

Palestinian residents stranded in an inundated house following torrential rains that hit Gaza City on January 16, 2022. (Photo: Mohammed Dahman/APA Images)

TAREQ S. HAJJAJ, MONDOWEISS, MARCH 16, 2022

No one should go to bed with the fear that their children might drown or float away in the middle of the night. But that was the reality for many families in the besieged Gaza Strip this winter, which saw heavy rain and snowstorms across Palestine. 

It was the middle of January, and a heavy rainstorm was gripping Gaza. Khadijah Abukarsh, 30, a mother of five, was only asleep for a few hours when she felt water around her. 

She jumped up and ran to her kids’ room, where she found her kids soaked in water, and her youngest, Hassan, 2, almost completely submerged under water that had overtaken the house. 

“I lifted him up as fast as I could, the water was coming out of his ears,” Abukarsh said, shivering as she remembered the night that her family was forced to flee their flooded home in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza for the nearest shelter, a local school a few blocks away. 

“The water was over 50 centimeters high. Our house was completely flooded,” Abukarsh said. “We stayed at the shelter for two days, and slept on the floor of a classroom. It was very difficult.”

Palestinian municipal workers help UNRWA school students to cross a flooded street in the heavy rain in Gaza City, on January 15, 2022. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)
Palestinian municipal workers help UNRWA school students to cross a flooded street in the heavy rain in Gaza City, on January 15, 2022. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

‘Our house was like a swamp’

After 13 years of siege, and four devastating wars, being in a state of crisis or disaster has become familiar for many Palestinians in Gaza. 

In recent years, however, a more unfamiliar disaster has crept into the homes of many Gazan families. 

As the global climate crisis continues to worsen, many Gazan families, like the Abukarsh’s, are feeling the devastating effects of climate change, which are compounded by Israel’s siege. 

With an infrastructure that’s been crippled by the siege and Israeli offensives, most recently in May 2021, most Palestinians in Gaza are not prepared for what the climate crisis has brought to their doorstep. 

“During the last war, due to airstrikes on our neighborhood, the foundation and walls in our house have cracked,” Abukarsh told Mondoweiss from her modest 60 square meter home. 

When it rains, she said, water seeps easily through the cracks in the walls, and the tin sheet roof that covers the house. 

“Every time it rains, our home becomes uninhabitable, and we have no other place to go except the nearby school,” Abukarsh said, admitting that her family’s home, despite housing seven people, is not really fit for living. 

Abukarsh said that the heavy storms and floods that slammed Gaza this winter were particularly nasty for her family. 

“We could not move in the house, it was like a swamp inside our rooms,” she said. “We went to seek shelter in the school just like during the war.” 

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December 12, 2021
Online Film: To Treat Kids Like Me in Gaza

Screening & discussion
Sun, Dec 12, 2021, 1:00 PM CST

With severe medicine shortages and an overstretched health care system in Gaza, children in need of medical treatments can only find them outside the strip. Yet Israel’s convoluted, arbitrary permit process leaves them waiting in pain, often missing life-saving care. To Treat Kids Like Me (produced by Donkeysaddle Projects and +972 Magazine) follows the family of Mohamed Saleh and several other children in the Gaza Strip as they navigate the often Kafkaesqe process of getting permission from the Israeli army to leave the besieged strip for medical treatments that are unavailable there.

The 5th offering in DSP’s Freedom Film Series will be followed by a discussion with filmmaker Jen Marlowe and special guests:

  • Ghada Majadli: Director of the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel department for Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT); featured in To Treat Kids Like Me.
  • Mohamed Lafi: Public health professional working for the World Health Organization in the OPT, with a focus on access to health care for patients who need to seek care outside the OPT.
  • Fadi Abu Shammalah: Manager of Donkeysaddle’s Palestine Grassroots Distribution Project; has been DSP’s on-the-ground support for Mohamad Salah (who is featured in To Treat Kids Like Me)
  • Miranda Cleland: Communications Manager for Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP). DCIP documents cases like Mohamed’s where Israeli forces kill or injure Palestinian children.
  • Tickets by donation. 50% of ticket proceeds go to Palestine Grassroots Distribution Project, including Mohamad Salah’s medical care.

    Sponsored by Donkeysaddle Projects. Co-sponsored by Just Vision & Defense for Children International-Palestine.

    Legal victory against Israeli seizure of the Tahrir

    Dear friends and supporters,

    We have some major news! Finally, after 10 years, the Israeli government has settled our compensation claim for its seizure of our boat and its cargo.

    On November 4, 2011, the Tahrir, funded by grassroots donations from Canada, Australia, Belgium and Denmark, along with its cargo of some $30,000 in medical aid, was stolen by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and never delivered to our civil society partners in Gaza. A dozen people on board, including journalists, were imprisoned in Israel and eventually deported.

    In January 2012, the Canadian Boat to Gaza filed a legal claim against the Israeli military. Through diligent research, our amazing Israeli legal team established an irrefutable basis for our claim. As a result, we have received a net settlement of $185,647 CDN, about half of the Tahrir’s total costs. Although we have accepted this out-of-court settlement, it does not represent full justice for our losses, much less for those of Palestinians. Many more Palestinian boats from Gaza have been stolen and damaged by the IOF: their owners face far greater legal obstacles than we do in pursuing claims and obtaining justice.

    “This settlement is a victory for us and for the entire Freedom Flotilla movement, as well as for all organizations and individuals who contributed time and money to ending the blockade of Gaza.” said Canadian-Israeli Sandra Ruch, who was the registered owner of the Tahrir on behalf of our campaign. “Of course, the funds from this settlement will be dedicated to the ongoing actions to help achieve full freedom of movement for all Palestinians.”

    While we are not seeking donations for our campaign at this time, we ask you to support our sister campaigns in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, as well as our partners in Gaza, including We Are Not Numbers. Our other partner in Gaza, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, urgently needs solidarity now: please consider signing and sending this letter supporting them and other Palestinian civil society organizations targeted by the Israeli occupation.

    We are using a portion of this settlement towards purchasing much-needed new ambulances for Gaza. These new ambulances, which our Freedom Flotilla partners helped fund, are now en route towardsPalestine: when they arrive we will let you know.

    Thank you once again for your continued support. Together we will keep physically challenging and eventually help break the illegal blockade!

    In solidarity,
    The Canadian Boat to Gaza Steering Committee

    Please continue to help us spread the word about our campaigns:
    Twitter: @CanadaBoatGaza @GazaFFlotilla
    Facebook:
    CanadaBoatGaza
    BateauCanadienGaza
    FreedomFlotillaCoalition

    Together, we can help end the blockade!

    October 9, 2021
    Webinar with Filmmaker Fida Qishta

    Join the US Boats to Gaza webinar with documentary filmmaker Fida Qishta, who has just returned from several months in Gaza. Fida will speak about the current conditions in Gaza and show clips from footage she filmed after the latest Israeli attack on Gaza. She will also talk about her upcoming new documentary, We Are Here: Our Dreams Are Not Rubble.

    Fida’s earlier documentary Where Should the Birds Fly? about the brutal 2009 Israeli attack on Gaza won international acclaim.

    Whether or not you can participate in the webinar, we encourage everyone to donate to Fida’s new documentary to help with editing and production costs.

    Fida Qishta is an award-winning filmmaker. Her full-length documentary, Where Should the Birds Fly?, has won film festival prizes and been translated into Spanish, French, Hebrew, Arabic and Portuguese. It is the story of Israel’s years-long siege of Gaza and its 2008-2009 attack, told through the eyes of Mona Samouni, 10 years old, and the filmmaker.

    Fida was born and raised in Rafah in Gaza, where she founded The Life Makers Centre/Rafah, an educational center for children. The Centre provides a safe place for children, all of whom have been affected by war, to play, learn, and get needed counseling.

    Fida has worked with international human rights observers, documenting daily life under military occupation. Her commentary has been published in The International Herald Tribune/New York Times; video reports have been published in The Guardian and The Observer.

    US Boats to Gaza

    US Boats to Gaza is one of the ten national campaigns in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla coalition. We will sail again to break the illegal Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.

    We welcome you to join the campaign to break the painful, damaging, illegal blockade of 1.8 million Palestinians in the open-air prison that is Gaza. Be a part of the journey. Contribute today!

    DONATE

      Donate Online

      Or send a check to our fiscal sponsor, Nonviolence International, and put “Boats to Gaza” on the subject line. Mail checks to the new address for NVI:

      Boats to Gaza
      c/o Nonviolence International
      PO Box 39127 Friendship Station NW
      Washington DC 20016 USA
      +1 202 244 0951

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    October 7, 2021
    “Gaza is Palestine” Hearing

    The Peoples’ Inquiry, sponsored by Adalah Justice Project and MPower Change, is an opportunity for the U.S. public to hear the accounts of Palestinians from Gaza on the massacres carried out by Israel in May 2021. It will culminate in a clear call to action for people in the U.S. to exercise personal power to disrupt Israeli and American violence on Palestinians in Gaza and a recommitment to end the blockade and siege of the Gaza Strip.

    Featured guests include Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Abier Al-Masri, Issam Adwan, and Jehad Abu Salim.

    Ben & Jerry’s: Stop supporting apartheid in Palestine

    SumOfUs, June 28, 2021

    Last month, during the eleven-day assault by Israeli military on the Gaza Strip, 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, died. And last week, thousands of right-wing nationalists paraded around Jerusalem shouting ‘death to Arabs’.

    The only way to stop the never-ending cycle of settlement expansion and violence is to make the economic cost of this illegal occupation too high to bear. 

    Ben & Jerry’s has been one of the world’s most progressive companies since its inception, but they continue to sell and operate on stolen Palestinian land. 

    And if we can get them to stop supporting the apartheid regime, other global companies like Puma and Motorola will be forced to follow suit.

    Tell Ben & Jerry’s: stop supporting the brutal occupation of Palestine.

    The recent violence in the region is just the latest in the chapter of oppression of Palestinians — a conflict that is marked by decades of apartheid, colonization, land theft, forced evictions, demolitions, and displacement of Palestinians by settlers waving Israel’s flag.

    While Israeli settlers on stolen Palestinian land use freezers to store Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, people in Gaza have no choice but to use them to store the bodies of dead Palestinians babies as was the case after the deadly assault when close to 2,000 were killed in 2014.

    The company’s normally active social media has been silent since the eleven-day assault. We know from inside sources that Ben & Jerry’s is deciding right now whether to pull out of Israel for good.

    Call on Ben & Jerry’s and other companies to end its complicity in the apartheid of Palestinian people.

    After decades of silence, the world is speaking out against the apartheid of Palestinian people in a real way — in London alone, 100,000 people marched the streets in solidarity with Palestinians last month.

    And we know when SumOfUs pushes corporations on the issue of Palestine, they listen. When close to 200,000 SumOfUs supporters called on Airbnb to pull its listings from illegally occupied Palestine we got it to temporarily agree to delist.

    More than 150 organizations around the world have called on Ben & Jerry’s to leave Israel. Let’s join them and make this happen.

    Call on Ben & Jerry’s to end its association with the apartheid regime in Israel now.


    More information

    A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution, Human Rights Watch, 27 April 2021.

    Why are some community members boycotting Ben and Jerry’s? Here’s what we know., Burlington Free Press, 12 June 2021.

    Ben & Jerry’s freezes when it comes to Palestine, Middle East Eye, 4 June 2020.

    Gaza: No place to bury the dead, Al Jazeera, 5 August 2014.

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