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Human rights orgs. call for fact-finding mission to Gaza

During a special session on 6 July this year, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution (A/HRC/S-1/3), expressing deep concern at the breaches by Israel, the Occupying Power, of international humanitarian law and human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and decided to dispatch a fact finding mission.In the weeks following the adoption of the resolution, Israeli breaches of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory have continued unabated, exacting a massive toll on the Palestinian civilian population. Since the beginning of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip on 27 June 2006, 159 Palestinians have been killed, including 31 children. 

Christianity in Palestine: Misrepresentation and Dispossession

“You are a Christian?” a foreign tourist inquires with marked disbelief of a Palestinian tour guide in Bethlehem. “When did you convert?” This response by foreigners, Christian or not, is unfortunately not uncommon in Palestine. Even in Bethlehem, the origin to which many trace the very roots of their Christian faith, this disbelief goes hand-in-hand with tourists’ visits to the Church of the Nativity — visits that seem to carry with them some image of a time long past with only archaeological or religious sites remaining with little consideration for the “living stones” that have continuously borne witness to this tradition for two millennia. 

South Lebanon: I still have no words

I just came from the south of Lebanon. I went to Tyre, to Hannaoui, Qana, Siddiqinne, Srifa, Bint Jbeil, Aitaroun, and Ein Ebel and many villages on the way. I so want to write but I still have no words. This was Tyre after all, the lovely city and its beach that I always wanted to call home. These were the villages at which I made friends, aided in tobacco harvesting and drank the best tea ever. I still haven’t cried, I feel I am not entitled too — if I were to cry, what would I leave to the people that have lost loved ones and houses full of memories? 

Edinburgh International Film Festival Returns Israeli Money in response to Boycott Plans

The organisers of the Edinburgh International Film Festival have cancelled an official Israeli Embassy sponsorship of their programme and returned the Israeli cheque following a huge public outcry over Israeli Embassy involvement. The film festival website carries the following: “this funding was secured some three months ago, well before the commencement of current hostilities in Lebanon. Of course we acknowledge that the situation has altered dramatically since then, and with this in mind, took the decision early yesterday to decline any funding from the Israelis.” 

"There was a massacre at Qana"

Coming into consciousness of, or bearing witness to, a massacre only a few kilometers removed from one’s being (or home), feels very much like the experience of being in the proximity of a very powerful explosion only at an extremely, extremely slowed motion. Taking stock of the information on time, place, and the toll of victims, watching televised transmission of rescue workers piling a kindergarden in rigor mortis, is identical to the astounding sensation of the air being sucked from all around, that typically precedes the explosion. And at some point, it all sinks in … 

I refuse to say goodbye

Just got home … was driving like crazy. Word on the street is that Israel is threatening to hit Beirut now. I feel so helpless. I called Maya, she said that if she dies today that i could keep her DVDs that I’m borrowing. I told her the same. I called my husband and told him to come home right away. If I die, I want to be in his arms. My little brother is here with me. He is 20 years old. He is making some tea now. He believes it is going to be ok. We are supposed to be discussing a plan he has to make t-shirts with slogans on them to raise money for the relief shelter he is volunteering at. 

Air strikes cause post-traumatic stress

Thirteen-year-old Hassan Hamade recently fled Israeli bombing in the city of Nabatiyeh, 60 kilometres south of Beirut. “I cannot sleep at night,” he said. “I still hear the sound of the Israeli warplanes and the explosion of bombs.” Hassan is now at his grandmother’s house in Beirut with the rest of his family. Hassan’s mother, Nibal, said that her two sons and daughter still wake up at night and at times scream in their sleep. “It is not only the children,” Nibal said. “My husband is also finding it hard to sleep at night, and he is always stressed out and edgy.” Richa said the psychiatric disorder can affect anyone who has lived through a conflict situation. 

Gaza crisis must not be forgotten, UNICEF says

The humanitarian crisis engulfing Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip is on the verge of being forgotten because of the fighting taking place in Lebanon and northern Israel, and children are suffering more than most, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned today. Gaza’s children - estimated at more than 830,000 - “are living in an environment of extraordinary violence, fear and anxiety,” UNICEF Special Representative in the occupied Palestinian territory, Dan Rohrmann, said today in a statement released in Jerusalem after he visited Gaza. 

Cancelled convoys hamper aid for stranded in southern Lebanon

WFP has warned that it has suffered another setback in its huge efforts to bring much-needed aid to the beleaguered inhabitants of southern Lebanon. Out of three convoys planned for today to the southern villages of Tebnin, Rmeish and Naqoura, WFP only received concurrence from the Israeli Defence Forces to proceed to Tebnin. “We are increasingly frustrated that our convoy movements are being hampered, leaving people in the south stranded for what is now nearly three weeks. We have no time to waste - they are running out of food, water and medicine. Many are poor, sick, or elderly and could not be evacuated earlier,” warned Amer Daoudi, WFP Emergency Coordinator. 

"The worst three nights of my life"

What was supposed to be a short visit to her parents’ house in south Lebanon soon turned into a nightmare for Maysoon Arbid. Just hours after arriving, the conflict began and she found herself trapped and fearing for her life. “I left Beirut with my two small nephews, aged six and four, to join my parents in my village Ainata, near Bint Jbeil. Half an hour after we passed the Qasmiye bridge towards our home, it was bombed. Fighting had just started. I spent the worst three nights of my life in Ainata. The first night was a nightmare as the bombs echoed in our isolated house on top of the hill. The next day, we moved to another house closer to the centre, as we felt safer with people around us”