National Nurses United (NNU) mourns the loss of life over the weekend in the besieged Gaza Strip area of Palestine due to Israeli airstrikes that killed dozens—including at least 15 children. “As nurses, we are grateful that a cease-fire between militants in Gaza and the Israeli Government has been accepted and we urge it be permanent,” said NNU Secretary Treasurer Martha Kuhl, RN. “We express alarm at the grave impacts on critical health care infrastructure caused by last week’s bombardment. This includes the incredible strain placed on nurses and other health care workers struggling to provide care at the main hospital in Gaza, the Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City. In addition to caring for patients who were victims of the bombardment, the hospital faces an energy crisis as Israel cut off vital supplies of fuel to the Gaza Strip late last week.
“NNU joins the international community in condemning this attack on civilians, on children, on health care infrastructure, health care workers, and public health,” continued Kuhl. “As nurses and as people of conscience, we find these acts of war wholly unacceptable. We stand with Palestinian nurses, doctors, and other health care workers and their unions who have valiantly worked to save human lives during this recent escalation of violence. We call for an end to military aggression, to occupation, and an end to the illegal blockade of Gaza.”
Recent violence has only compounded the public health effects of the 15-year blockade of Gaza—where critical goods, services, and freedom of movement have been restricted by the Israeli government as part of its ongoing occupation of Palestine. Due to the humanitarian crisis caused by the blockade, the area has been deemed as “uninhabitable” by the United Nations. According to human rights reports, 97 percent of water in Gaza is undrinkable, where 75 percent of the area’s 2 million residents experience food insecurity. More than half of Gaza’s residents are children, the vast majority of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Since 2008, military attacks by the state of Israel have resulted in more than 4,000 civilian deaths in Gaza, hundreds of whom have been children. Despite the United Nations, international human rights, and international health organizations calling for accountability for Israel’s systematic human rights violations, military occupation, and apartheid practices, Israel remains one of the biggest recipients of U.S. aid, nearly $4 billion annually.
“We want an immediate end to unconditional U.S. aid to the state of Israel that has been used to fund the Israeli government’s human rights violations,” said NNU President Jean Ross, RN. “Just as we seek peace and justice globally, and have opposed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so do we call for peace and solidarity in Gaza and in the rest of Palestine.”
National Nurses United is the largest union of registered nurses in the United States with more than 175,000 members nationwide.
As you might have seen or heard, Israel launched yet another assault on the besieged Gaza strip, with bombardments and airstrikes killing 45 Palestinians and injuring more than 360, so far.
With the announcement of yet another precarious ceasefire, the international community’s attention is likely to move away from Gaza, yet again, leaving its people to mourn and rebuild in isolation under Israel’s 15 years of ongoing military siege. With this being Israel’s fifth assault since 2009 it is crucial to educate and inform ourselves and each other on Gaza, and to fight against its invisibilization and its dehumanization as mere periodical news cycle. Gaza has an ancestral history that is an integral and enmeshed part of Palestinian history. We must fight to keep it as part of the whole, and look ahead with a long-term vision, united against Israel’s intention to fragment and isolate Palestinians everywhere.
This is why we are sharing with you again our latest Palestinian Takes email from June on Gaza, marking the passage of 15 years of Israel’s military siege. The email includes various Palestinian perspectives and resources on Gaza’s present and past, intertwined to bring us to the current moment.
The Nakba in 1948 and “the Gaza strip”:
Gaza has been inhabited since around 1500 BC, a thriving port for multiple cultures. Right before the Nakba of 1948, Gaza was one of many of Palestine’s districts, including the areas of Bir Al Sabi’ (Beersheba). As Israel’s ethnic cleansing operations began, 49 villages of the Gaza district were destroyed and more than 200,000 Palestinians were expelled from the southern and coastal areas of Palestine to smaller parts of Gaza district, which came to be known as the Gaza strip, as we learn in the Interactive Encyclopedia of the Palestine Question.
Since 1948, Gaza has become the epitome of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return movement, embodied more recently by the Great March of Return, that was co-initiated by Ahmad Abu Artema: “I wondered what would happen if 200,000 protesters gathered near the Israel fence with Gaza Strip, and entered the lands that are ours”.
The centrality of Gaza to iconic Palestinian food and land cultivation:
At home, on the sidewalks or dangling from the roofs of the shops at the markets or crossroads, this is how the branches of the unripe dates, called the “red gold”, announce they’re in season, a fruit after which the city of Deir Al-Balah (Land of Unripe Dates) is named.
Famous recipes have been curated by Palestinian chef Laila Haddad in The Gaza Kitchen cookbook, documenting people’s history and daily life through traditional dishes like the Rumaniyya (eggplant lentil pomegranate bowl) and Dagga (hot tomato and dill salad).
With its long Mediterranean coastline, fishery became a major source of food culture and sovereignty for many families. Yet, following the Israeli blockade in 2007, fishermen were systematically prevented from accessing the sea beyond 20 nautical miles, which gradually decreased to 3 nautical miles, while regularly being targeted and shot at by the Israeli naval army.
“In a few years there will be no more fishing at all, we will have to forget our profession and become traders”, said Gaza fishermen in a documentary on the topic.
A testing ground for apartheid, weapons and colonial repression:
In 1948, Palestinian refugees “were not expecting that their exodus would be prolonged for seven decades, and that they would be subjected to condescending efforts to void their right to return.” writes Jehad Abu-Salim.
“All the injustices Palestinians in Gaza face are a direct consequence of the continued denial of freedom, dignity and return. Overshadowing it with a humanitarian crisis is depriving the people in Gaza of their political will and reducing them to poor, powerless and passive subjects.” – writes Abir Kopty.
This thematic chronology by the Interactive Encyclopedia of the Palestine Question is an important resource covering how main events unfolded in the Israeli assaults on Gaza in 2008-2009, 2012 and 2014-2015. This visual by Visualizing Palestine explains how the Israeli closure on Gaza started long before the blockade and in the height of the 1990s peace process.
We will never forget and never forgive: Palestinian testimonies from under the rubble:
The Gaza Is Palestine campaign, led by us and Adalah Justice Project, is an effort to build upon the historic global movement that took on new life in spring 2021 — and we want you to take part.
Massive global demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians are changing the tides — and we can build on that momentum together.
This summer marks 15 long years of the blockade and siege on Gaza.
We’re proud to join Adalah Justice Project in launching a new 3-minute video, narrated by Palestinian artist Malak Mattar, imploring those in the U.S. to take action to stop the congressional funding that makes the siege of Gaza possible.
The goal is not perpetual resilience, perpetual rebuilding after violence. The goal is freedom.
Palestinians in Gaza must be free to travel, to study, to work, to dream, to live, to start a family without the fear they will be taken.
Earlier this month, the 2023 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill was released.
This funding bill represents the United States’ global priorities for health, infrastructure, and security. As expected, the draft budget contains $3.3 billion for Israel (with an additional $500 million for weapons expected in the defense appropriations bill). That’s $3.8 billion for apartheid Israel.
In contrast, all funding for addressing climate change and other environmental issues globally is set at $3.6 billion.
Last year, we saw unprecedented support for Palestinian life swept the mainstream media, our progressive movements, and even the halls of Congress.
It’s up to us to make sure that we don’t move backwards. Share the video now.
Thank you for being in the struggle with us.
Ishraq, Lau, Granate and the MPower Change team
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.
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.
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.”
‘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.”
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.