Gaza City

Canadian Foreign Minister in Israel and Palestine

GAZA CITY, GAZA: Despite the impression cast by corporate news coverage, there is never anything like “calm” here in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The casualty count for 2006 released by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reports that Israeli forces killed 660 Palestinians, while 17 Israeli civilians were killed, 13 of them in the West Bank. The violence is often spectacular, as during the summer and fall siege operations in Gaza that killed more than 450 Palestinians under withering aerial bombardment, artillery barrages and two major ground invasions. But, as an unusually frank headline in the current edition of the Economist rightly stated, “It’s the little things that make an occupation.” 

This is what democracy looks like

For the past few months the biggest issue for people in Gaza has become the security situation caused by the the clashes between Hamas and some ‘leading lights’ in the decrepit Fateh party. People felt unsafe to leave their home. One friend lives near a hot spot — her house has bullet holes through it. Her children are so afraid that even when no fighting is happening they are crawling from room to room. In the centre of Gaza City, in the square of the Unknown Soldier a movement has sprung up. Partially out of desperation, partially out of a desire to end the violent internal clashes and provide some protection for Palestinian civilians. 

I Complain, Therefore I Am

I’m fairly certain I exist. Descartes tells me so, and before him, Ibn Sina. And when my son drags me out of bed to play with him in the pre-dawn hours, I really know I do. So you can imagine how distraught I was when my existence was cast into serious doubt by a major airline. sure enough, in the drop-down menu of countries, I found the British Indian Ocean Territory, the Isle of Man and even Tuvalu - but no Palestine. I was confused. Where in the world is Laila El-Haddad if not in Palestine, I thought? 

Palestinian Elections: Forcing the West to awake to the voices of the people

The cliche of the day was that Wednesday the 25th of January, the second elections of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was a festival of democracy. The Gaza Strip is a dusty stretch of land. But as the day passed and the night wore on we were surprised by the strength of the Hamas showing. Certainly anyone who has ever been to the Gaza Strip and witnessed Israeli human rights violations and the chaos on the streets because of the collapse of law and order is not shocked at a good showing by Hamas. Even more so after yesterday’s elections - now the world awaits the dusty political landscape to settle. Eoin Murray reports, Live from Occupied Palestine, in the Gaza Strip. 

Palestinians' time of choice

A year on and the groaning burden of the Israeli occupation remains in place – a constant feature of the political and geographical landscape. The impact of Israel’s occupation on the election for the 132-member Palestinian Legislative Council on 25 January 2006 remains unclear but certain key factors have to be taken into consideration. The pressures of occupation and poverty are undiminished, but the Palestine election is an opportunity for activists to promote a vision of change, finds Eóin Murray. 

Disengagement diary

There is certainly something in the air. Gunfire, cheering - general celebrations. Outside the al Shawa Convention Centre in the heart of el-Rimal distract of Gaza City there are marches - last night by Islamic Jihad - to celebrate the redeployment of the Israeli military. On Friday Fatah held another demonstration in Gaza City. Hamas have been practising for redeployment all week by letting off random explosions. Each side is trying to claim the redeployment for its own. The PLO Flag Shop in Gaza City is decked out with special t-shirts celebrating what they call “withdrawal”. There are Palestinian flags hanging outside the shop with “FREE GAZA” printed on them in black. 

When Will it End?

I spent much of the day talking to Palestinians trying to cross the Netzarim checkpoint today. It is a 6m deep trench dug deep into Gaza’s coastal road, which has in recent days been ripped apart by nocturnal armoured bulldozers that come out from behind the lone sniper in he distance, and dissappear before dawn when their work is done. The checkpoint, along with one further south at Abo Holi, has divided Gaza into three isolated segments for over five days now: Rafah and Khan Yunis in the south; dair al-Balah, Maghazi, and Nseirat refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip; and Gaza city, Beit Hanun, and Jabaliya in the north. 

Life stops at coastal road block

WAFA Thousands of Palestinian students, merchants, patients and drivers were forced to take cover behind trucks, vehicles and carts on the blocked Gaza coastal road when Israeli soldiers stationed at the watchtowers of Nitzarim colony opened fired on them as they were passing. I took cover behind a truck along with two university students. “Hey, hey, you are behind a fuel truck, leave now!” a cameraman shouted at us. We were shocked and fled from our spot behind the truck. The cameraman was warned by a hawker to hide his camera, as Israeli soldiers in the watchtowers target journalists. Taking his camera, he hid behind a truck carrying panels of wood. 

In Gaza, the dead bury the dead

On September 10, after an Israeli incursion into the northern Gaza Strip that had left at least five dead and dozens wounded, I went to a Gaza City cemetery to look for a young gravedigger. I had met Mossab, a slim 18-year-old boy from Gaza City, a week earlier. He had long ago dropped out of school to pursue a profession that appeals to very few people, but which is catering to more and more youngsters in Gaza. In the city’s Sheikh Radwan cemetery, Mossab, along with several other boys, was employed to dig, guard and take care of the graves of the men, women and children that pack the graveyard. 

A phone call from under siege in Rafah

It was just before midnight (Tuesday, May 18th.), when I tried to contact my friend Mohammad from the worst hit neighborhoods in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip. Earlier on, during the day, I made several attempts to contact my friend, but with no success. News from Rafah started to become extremely worrying about the high number of killed Palestinians at the Tel Al-Sultan area of Rafah. The Israeli army killed fourteen people in the morning of Tuesday alone. Journalist inside the area talked over the phone about injured people in the streets bleeding to death and calling for immediate help. But, Israeli snipers prevented ambulances and private cars from reaching the dead or injured by shooting at any one who came near those lying in the middle of the street.