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Gazans want to rebuild Gaza, but key materials are not allowed in

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Gazans have an immediate need for key building materials but they are not being allowed in at the border crossings despite the ceasefire deal being declared

Palestinians return to their homes in Shejaiya neighbourhood after the declaration of a ceasefire between Palestinian resistance factions and Israel, in Gaza city, on 27 August

RAFAH – The moment Mounir al-Ghalban heard about the ceasefire conditions, he called all his staff members on the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing to come back to work.

Soon trucks heaped with goods and some humanitarian aid heaved into the war-torn Gaza Strip. But al-Ghalban is still waiting for desperately needed construction materials and there is no sign they will come anytime soon.

Plastic chairs, soft drinks, candy, cans of food, shoes and toilet paper: al-Ghalban counts off all of the items coming through the Rafah crossing, but these aren’t the only things Gazans needs, he says.

Gazans like Abu Khaled al-Jammal are waiting for bags of cement.

Several years ago, al-Jammal lost his home when Israeli missiles struck it. With financing from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), he moved into another home two years ago.

This month, that house sustained minor damage from Israeli tank shells.

And now, instead of waiting for help from international organisations and governments, al-Jammal said he wants cement to fix the damage – and the damage on the homes of friends and family – on his own.

“By waiting for the international community’s response, my children will suffer the next 10 winters,” he said. “Yes, the ceasefire is a good thing, it ends slaughtering us, but we want to rebuild our homes. I can’t watch my children freezing cold when winter kicks in.”

After seven weeks of the deadliest attacks on Gaza, he heard in the news that construction materials would come. Since Tuesday, when the ceasefire was declared, he has been waiting for al-Ghalban to announce that building materials have arrived.

At the busy Kerem Shalom border, Abu Ahmed Siam, a truck driver, stood in a dusty area filled with trucks. The situation at the crossing has become “slightly easier” since the ceasefire, he said, and some items restricted by the Israelis have been allowed in again.

“We got aid trucks from the West Bank, WFP (World Food Programme), and UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency),” he said, as one of his colleagues waved to him with a new truck entering with fruit for Gazan merchants.

Siam said school stationary, too, has been allowed in, but the timing was bittersweet: schools in Gaza were due to start last week, but have been postponed for two more weeks until UNRWA and government schools are able to find shelter for homeless families who have been living inside classrooms and sports clubs.

Seven weeks ago, only fuel and some humanitarian aid came across this crossing. Now commercial goods are entering for the first time, many everyday items like milk, cheese and diapers that Gaza’s emptied out stores need. But not any cement.

“Nothing came through, as far as building materials are concerned,” Siam told Middle East Eye.

Building materials and raw materials have been on Israel’s ban list since 2006. Banned items include cement, steel and concrete. Israel held the position that these items could be used by Gazan military groups to build military sites.

For years, Gaza has relied on tunnels to get the building materials in. Now the majority of tunnels have been sealed by the Egyptian military in an attempt to crush Hamas, an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. Last December, after the coup that ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt declared the group a terrorist organisation.

In Cairo, Israeli negotiators agreed to ease restrictions on the border and allow materials in for the reconstruction of Gaza. Al-Ghalban was under the impression that this would start immediately. But it has not.

“Now everyone is waiting for construction materials,” he said. ”This is Gaza’s immediate need.”

Al-Ghalban said that during the war, Israel allowed the entry of 200 trucks, but in fact, being the most densely populated place in the world, Gaza needs 600 trucks per day.

According to Israeli human rights group Gisha, from June 2007 until June 2010, an average of 2,400 trucks per month entered Gaza from Israel, compared to 10,400 trucks per month that entered Gaza in 2005.

Kerem Shalom is supposed to be used for the export of agricultural products, herbs and furniture. According to Gisha, since March 2012, in an exception to the rule, 55 truckloads of goods have exited Gaza for the West Bank and Israel: 49 truckloads of date bars for a World Food Program project and four truckloads of school desks and chairs ordered by the Palestinian Authority to the West Bank, plus two truckloads of palm fronds to Israel.

“During the months January – July 2014, an average of 12 truckloads of goods exited Gaza each month, or less than one percent of what exited monthly prior to 2007,” Gisha wrote in The Gaza Cheat Sheet, on 19 August.

Kerem Shalom is next door to the Rafah crossing, where hundreds of passengers are waiting to leave Gaza. But Egypt does not grant permission to those passengers trying to travel through Gaza’s point of exit. During the past seven weeks of war, Egypt closed the crossing, with exception to those holding foreign and Egyptian passports, as well as scores of wounded people and those holding resident permits.

The Rafah crossing is not part of the ceasefire deal signed in Cairo last week. Egyptian officials refused to negotiate the matter with Palestinian factions at the truce talks with the Israelis, stating that this was an Egyptian-Palestinian matter.

The Rafah terminal arrival, departure and VIP halls are still functioning, despite Israeli airstrikes on the crossing last week. The head of border crossings, Maher Abu Sabha, said “We want to challenge [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu by keeping the crossing open, despite damage.”

Among the crowds waiting were students whose universities started abroad while they were trapped in Gaza. Others need medical attention, but they were waiting too.

“It is a crossing supposed to be for Palestinians, and they (Egyptians) are only allowing foreigners,” said 21-year old Amjad Yousef, while waiting in the summer sun. Yousef came to Gaza after two years away, studying in Morocco. He planned to stay for a month, but the war has kept him in Gaza for two.

“I don’t want to enter Egypt. Escort me direct to my flight from Cairo to Morocco,” he said.

Next to Yousef, a cancer patient is standing. She has all of the papers required to cross, including a certificate from the Palestinian Health Ministry explaining that she can no longer be treated at any of the local hospitals which have largely collapsed after heavy bombardment over the past month.

Yousef expressed disappointment with the ceasefire deal, saying, “We were hoping that the treatment would change and humiliation at crossings would end.”

“This is why, I will support Palestinian resistance demands until we get our own airports.”

(Source / 30.08.2014)

Written by altahrir

August 30, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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The Children of Gaza: A Generation Scarred & Under Siege

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The Children of Gaza: A Generation Scarred & Under Siege

Palestinian children travel to an UNRWA school to seek shelter after evacuating their homes near the border in Gaza City on July 13, 2014

On August 24, nearly half a million Palestinian children in Gaza who were scheduled to start a new school year were unable to do so because of Israel’s latest military assault on the occupied and besieged coastal strip, “Operation Protective Edge,” which began on July 8 and killed more than 2100 people, including at least 1462 civilians. With a fledgling ceasefire agreed to on August 26 taking hold, the children of Gaza are struggling to cope with the horrors they experienced during Israel’s brutal attack, and to return to some semblance of normalcy.

The following fact sheet provides an overview of the impact that Israel’s latest assault and its siege and blockade have had on the children of Gaza. For further reference, see our recently released fact sheet, Gaza Crisis Update (August 22).

CHILDREN KILLED & INJURED BY ISRAEL’S LATEST ASSAULT

  • According to the United Nations, between July 7 and August 25 the Israeli military killed at least 495 Palestinian children in Gaza during “Operation Protective Edge.” The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights puts the number at 518, while thePalestinian Center for Human Rights puts it at 519. All three figures exceed the number of Palestinian children killed in the last two major Israeli assaults on Gaza combined, approximately 350 during “Operation Cast Lead” in 2008-9 and 35 in November 2012. The number of children killed also exceeds the total number of Israelis, civilians and soldiers, killed by Palestinians in the last decade.
  • According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, between July 7 and August 20, 3106 Palestinian children were injured by the Israeli military in Gaza.
  • Of the more than 3100 children wounded, the UN estimates that 1000 of them will suffer a permanent disability as a result of their injury.
  • Thousands of unexploded bombs and shells pose a danger to civilians returning to areas they fled from during the fighting, putting children at particular risk.

 

CHILDREN TRAUMATIZED BY ISRAEL’S LATEST ASSAULT

  • The UN estimates that 373,000 children require direct and specialized psychosocial support (PSS), while all of Gaza’sapproximately 900,000 children have been affected by the war and need some level of psychosocial support. On July 28, UNICEF released a statement entitled “No safe place for children in Gaza.” In it, the head of the organization’s Gaza field office, Pernille Ironside, declared: “The physical and psychological toll that the violence is having on people is almost indescribable… We see children killed, injured, mutilated and burnt, in addition to being terrified to their core.”
  • Symptoms of trauma being evidenced by children include wetting of the bed, clinging to parents, and nightmares.
  • At least one Palestinian minor, a 16-year-old boy (now 17) named Ahmad Abu Raida, was held hostage for five days by invading Israeli soldiers and used as a human shield during their search for tunnels near his home near Khan Younis in southern Gaza, according to an investigation carried out by Defence for Children International – Palestine.
  • Most children six and older in Gaza have lived through three major Israeli military assaults during their short lifetimes: the first in the winter of 2008-9, and the second in November 2012.

 

FAMILIES DEVESTATED

  • According to the UN, between July 7 and August 22 at least 140 Palestinian families had three or more members killed in a single Israeli attack, for a total of 735 lives lost.
  • According to the UN, as many as 1500 children may have been orphaned by Israeli attacks that killed their parents.
  • The UN estimates that 6000 children will have a parent with a lifelong disability.

 

HOMES & LIVELIHOODS DESTROYED, FAMILIES STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE

  • Since July 7, more than 100,000 people have been displaced by Israeli attacks that destroyed or severely damaged their homes. (Prior to Israel’s latest assault, there were 12,000 Palestinians still displaced from Israel’s 2008-09 attack on Gaza,Operation Cast Lead.)
  • Even before Israel’s recent onslaught destroyed thousands of homes and much of Gaza’s industry and civilian infrastructure, families were struggling under Israel’s siege, with 70% of the population receiving humanitarian aid and an official unemployment rate of 40.8% as of the first quarter of 2014.
  • According to UNICEF, eight out of 10 of Gaza’s approximately 900,000 children are dependent on humanitarian assistance.
  • Most children seven and younger in Gaza have lived their entire lives under Israel’s suffocating, illegal siege and blockade.

 

(ADDITIONAL) OBSTACLES TO EDUCATION FOR GAZA’S CHILDREN

  • On August 24, nearly half a million Palestinian children in Gaza who were scheduled to start a new school year were unable to do so because of ongoing Israeli attacks.
  • According to UNICEF, 244 schools were damaged during Israel’s latest assault and are in need of repair, including at least twokindergartens. According to the UN, at least 25 schools were severely damaged and can no longer be used.
  • Many of Gaza’s schools continue to serve as shelters for the more than 100,000 Palestinians made homeless by Israeli attacks since July 7. According to the UN: “Schools currently used as shelters will require varying degrees of rehabilitation in order to be ready for normal schooling. Initial repairs must also be carried out in war-damaged schools, and unexploded ordnance will need to be cleared to restore safety.”
  • Despite repairs made to infrastructure since the implementation of a ceasefire on August 26, most parts of Gaza still suffer electrical outages of up to 18 hours a day (up to 20 hours a day in Gaza City) hindering the ability of children to read indoors and at night, and to use computers.
  • Even before Israel’s latest assault, Palestinian children in Gaza faced severe, Israeli-imposed restrictions on their ability to receive an education. Although Israel does not specifically prohibit the importation of books into Gaza as part of its siege, doing so is extremely difficult, leading to a shortage of books on all subjects. At one point, Israel barred the importation of writing paper, notebooks, and pencils, leading to a shortage of the latter two. Additionally, since 2000 Israel has prevented students in Gaza from traveling to study at universities in the occupied West Bank, some of which offer fields of study and degrees not available in Gaza. According to a report from Haaretz newspaper, between 2000 and 2012 Israel let just three Gazans travel to study at universities in the West Bank, all of whom had received US government scholarships. (See here for fact sheet on Israel’s violations of Palestinian academic freedom and right to education.)

(Source / 29.08.2014)

Written by altahrir

August 29, 2014 at 9:42 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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School year in Gaza to start with challenges ahead

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New school year in the Gaza Strip to start on September 14, while more than 50,000 displaced Gazans are still at schools.

Gunness said that 52,235 displaced Gazans are still in 60 schools. He said: “Unclear if/when numbers will stabilise”

Days of Palestine, Gaza Strip –New school year in the Gaza Strip to start on September 14, while more than 50,000 displaced Gazans are still at schools.

Deputy Minister of Education in Gaza Ziad Thabet said on Friday that an agreement was reached with UNRWA to open schools within two weeks.

To reduce tension among students and to make it easier for them study their books, Thabet said that curriculum for this year is to be reduced.

Thabet also said that there would be special workshops for teachers in order to be well prepared for dealing with various psychological problems students might face after having experienced one of the worst times of violence in Gaza for years.

Official statistics showed that 277 schools were damaged during the Israeli massive war. “This will pose many problems ahead of stake holders who are concerned with this issue,” Thabet said.

It is worth mentioning that school year should have started in August 23, but the ministry of education decided to postpone it in Gaza until the end of the Israeli war.

About the size of trauma caused for the young students in Gaza, UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness sked this question: “What can be going on in the heads of these kids on day 1 of new school year in Gaza?”

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What can be going on in the heads of these kids on day 1 of new school year in ? RT to show your support 4 them

 

Written by altahrir

August 29, 2014 at 9:32 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Norwegian doctor urges removal of Gaza blockade

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A Norwegian doctor who served Palestinians during the recent Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip has urged the removal of the Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave, Press TV reports.

“All of these injuries, every single death is man-made and totally avoidable,” Dr. Mads Gilbet told Press TV during a gathering in South Africa’s capital, Cape Town.

“So every time I gave an interview about Gaza and I was asked what is needed, I said don’t send syringes, don’t send medical teams, don’t send bandages, stop the bombing, lift the siege and give the Palestinian people human rights and protection from occupants. That is at the end of day the most important medical effort to save lives in Gaza,” he added.

During the gathering, Gilbert gave South Africans a first-hand account of the Gazans’ plight and urged action in support of the Palestinians.

South Africans also showed their solidarity with the Palestinians, saying they are planning to send ambulances and medical supplies to the impoverished Gaza Strip.

Gilbet, who is a strong supporter of the international “boycott Israel” campaign, says that, as world powers still turn a blind eye to the Israeli war crimes, it is only the people of the world who can force the Tel Aviv regime to end its atrocities against the Palestinians.

On Tuesday, Palestinian resistance groups and Israeli officials clinched a deal on a permanent ceasefire in the blockaded Gaza Strip, which is home to around 1.8 million Palestinians. The ceasefire stipulates the ease of Israel’s seven-year-old blockade of Gaza as well as the provision of a guarantee that Palestinian demands will be met.

Palestinian resistance movement Hamas said the deal marks a victory.

Israel launched military strikes against Gaza in early July. At least 2,140 Palestinians, including around 570 children, were killed in the Israeli onslaught on Gaza. Some 11,000 others were wounded.

(Source / 29.08.2014)

 

Written by altahrir

August 29, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Palestinians hold rallies to voice support for resistance

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Thousands of demonstrators have staged massive rallies across the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank to celebrate what they see as Israel’s defeat in its latest war on Palestinians.

On Friday, members and supporters of the Palestinian resistance group, Islamic, Jihad, took to the streets in the besieged Gaza Strip, reaffirming their support for resistance movements.

A large number of supporters of the resistance group, Hamas, also held similar rallies after noon prayers in the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron).

The protesters chanted anti-Israeli slogans and called on the international community to take action with regard to Israel’s acts of violence against Palestinians.

Reports say thousands of worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque in al-Quds (Jerusalem) chanted slogans for the freedom of al-Aqsa.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip have held numerous marches over the past two months in support of the resistance fighters in the face of the Israeli aggression against Gaza.

Israel launched an aerial military campaign against Gaza in early July and later expanded its operation with a ground invasion.

At least 2,140 Palestinians, including around 570 children, were killed in the Israeli onslaught on Gaza. Some 11,000 others were wounded.

Most of the victims were civilians, including children, women and the elderly.

Tel Aviv says 68 Israelis were killed in the conflict, but Hamas puts the number at more than 150.

Palestinian resistance groups and Israeli officials on Tuesday reached an agreement on a permanent ceasefire for the besieged Gaza Strip.

Under the deal, Israel has agreed to ease the blockade on Gaza and open border crossings for more aid to pass through to the coastal sliver.

(Source / 29.08.2014)

 

Written by altahrir

August 29, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Palestinian Leader: Hamas Needlessly Prolonged War

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The remarks by Abbas come a few days after Israel and Hamas militants reached a truce after 50 bitter days of fighting.

More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed, including hundreds of civilians. Seventy one people on the Israeli side, including six civilians were killed.

Several Egyptian mediated cease-fire attempts during the conflict failed. Hamas eventually accepted almost the same truce offered at the beginning.

“It was possible for us to avoid all of that, 2,000 martyrs, 10,000 injured, 50,000 houses (destroyed),” Abbas told Palestine TV in remarks broadcast Friday. He said Hamas had insisted on discussing demands first before ending the war, which only served to prolong the violence.

The war began after three Israeli teens were killed in the West Bank by Hamas operatives in June, prompting Israel to arrest hundreds of Hamas members there. Rocket fire from Gaza on Israeli cities then escalated and Israel launched a massive air and later ground campaign in retaliation. Fighting lasted almost two months.

Egyptian mediators tried early on to get the sides to agree to a ceasefire. Several temporary truces were broken by Gaza militants.

“The Egyptian formula was on the table on July 15th, it was backed by the Arab League, it was accepted by Israel but rejected by Hamas then and now more than a month later has belatedly been accepted by Hamas,” Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said.

“As the dust clears from the conflict I’m sure many people in Gaza will be asking why did Hamas reject a month ago what it accepted today, and if it had accepted then what it accepted now, how much bloodshed could have been avoided.”

The two sides agreed on Tuesday to an open-ended truce. The cease-fire brought an immediate end to the fighting but left key issues unresolved. Hamas immediately declared victory, even though it has very little to show for the war.

While Israel agreed to loosen a long-standing blockade to allow humanitarian aid and reconstruction materials into Gaza, many of the border restrictions will remain in place. Hamas, meanwhile, rejected Israel’s demands that it disarm.

These deeper matters are to be addressed in indirect talks in Egypt next month.

Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority formed a unity government backed by Hamas earlier this year questioned the future of that arrangement in the interview.

The unity government was meant to put an end to the animosity between the two Palestinian groups from when Hamas overran Gaza in 2007, ousting forces from the Fatah party, led by the Western-backed secular Abbas, in bloody street battles. Abbas has since governed only in parts of the West Bank, and Hamas has ruled Gaza.

Abbas is eager to regain a foothold in Gaza. With the international community shunning Hamas as a terrorist group, Abbas would be likely to operate Gaza’s borders and oversee internationally funded reconstruction efforts.

“They (Hamas) have a shadow government, if this continues it means no unity. The test is coming soon. The government needs to do its job and handle everything,” Abbas said. “I’m not saying everything needs to come to an end in one moment, this is a seven-year split that needs months or years,” Abbas said.

(Source / 29.08.2014)

Written by altahrir

August 29, 2014 at 8:09 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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Al-Qassam Brigades: Resistance unites Palestinians

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Al-Qassam spokesperson, Abu Obaida makes a press statement in the Shujaya neighborhood

Hamas’s Izziddin Al-Qassam Brigades announced on Wednesday that resistance has united all the Palestinian people and their political factions.

During a joint press conference in the Gaza Strip for all the military wings of the Palestinian factions, held in the Shujaya neighbourhood last night, Al-Sharq news portal cited the spokesperson of Al-Qassam Brigades, Abu-Obaida, as saying: “We are not here to count all facets of our victory, but to underscore the face of national unity and support for the resistance.”

He continued: “This is the image of an undivided nation that has put internal disputes aside. Resistance ends our disputes and resistance unites us. This is our biggest achievement from this battle and it is a redline, which no one is allowed to touch from now on.”

Abu-Obaida explained that the national cooperation is in need of a comprehensive review and there is an “urgent and serious” need to reform the national Palestinian institutions in order to be able to represent the Palestinian people in a better way.

“The Palestinian political leadership has to be confident that there is a great nation behind it, as well as a noble resistance with heroic fighters,” Abu-Obaida said. He added: “This leadership must not allow for the Israeli occupation to blackmail them after today.”

Al-Qassam’s spokesperson added that the elite units of the Israeli occupation are “no more than mere propaganda.”

(Source / 28.08.2014)

 

Written by altahrir

August 28, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Posted in Revolution Palestine

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