Bleak reality in Gaza gives rise to dreams of emigration

“Life has no taste in Gaza, where the law of the jungle rules. We are suffering because of the siege imposed on us by the Quartet: no salaries; no security as we are suffering from internal security chaos as a result of an absence of law; we are frustrated and feel hopeless. Thank God that we have the Mediterranean Sea along Gaza’s shores so that we can breathe; it’s the only place where Gazans usually go to enjoy themselves and have fun. Also, we, as youths, are lucky that we have Internet access to communicate with the outside world as we are locked in this cursed prison which is called Gaza.” 

"They will not break me"

Hani Amer lives with his wife and six children in the village of Mas’ha in Qalqilya district. His six-year-old son is the youngest child. According to Hani, since the 1970s Israel has confiscated at least 7,000,000 square metres — eighty percent — of the land of Mas’ha, to build the illegal Jewish settlement of Elkana. Until now Hani Amer and his family have resisted all attempts by the Israeli military and settlers to chase him away. Today their house has completely surrounded by the wall and high fences. The family exhausted all its resources in its resistance to the wall, but Hani Amer is determined to stay. 

A cheerless Labor Day in Gaza

Forty-eight-year-old Riyad Hammad from the Maghazi Refugee Camp in central Gaza woke up on Friday morning whilst his wife sat before a wood-burning stove. He headed for a nearby store, not to buy cookies, or anything else, but rather to bring some used papers and pieces of carton outside the store’s front door to his waiting wife. Since being cut off of work following the outbreak of the intifada in 2000 and the imposition of Israeli closures, Riyad has been collecting torn-apart carton packing material and used papers in order to save a few shekels due his inability to afford gas and electricity. 

Prelude to a third intifada?

It’s been more than three weeks since I last wrote. The reason is simple: things have been awful on the ground here in Palestine, leaving little time for reflection. As usual, Passover — the Jewish holiday celebrating freedom from oppression — was accompanied by tightening restrictions on Palestinians. While Jewish Israelis were feasting nearby, travel within the West Bank became difficult if not impossible, except of course for settlers who would breeze by the hundreds of Palestinians waiting for hours at checkpoints on their way home, to work, to the hospital, or elsewhere. Calling the Army was no help since most offices and services were closed for the holidays. 

Puerto Rican activist arrested at Second Bil'in International Conference on Nonviolence

21 April 2007: “Thanks to the media here for telling the truth … Bring this truth to whatever country you come from!” These were Mairead Maguire’s words, a Nobel Peace Prize winner from Northern Ireland, just one hour before she was shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet by Israeli Occupation Forces. At a press conference next to the Apartheid Wall in Bil’in, she stood beside Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian Information Minister. “Nonviolence will solve the problems here in Israel and Palestine,” Ms. Macguire continued. 

Bombing of American school: Gaza's latest nightmare

The building in which the American International School in Gaza is situated is no longer beautiful. The damage can be seen in many corners of the school — in the front door, in the director’s office, in the cafeteria or in the computer room. “We have become Iraq,” a dusty man said while bending down on the floor, trying to clear away the debris from an explosion that rocked the school early Saturday morning. The principal’s office only contains torn apart chairs and shelves, with black big spots on the walls; the cafeteria’s chairs are now black, while the computer room is no longer hi-tech. 

Mounting garbage and frustration in Gaza

Mountains of garbage, billowing smoke, have been concentrated across the streets of Gaza the past few days. However, the uncollected garbage heaps are not cannot be attributed to a lack of municipalities or labor force in the coastal region. One third of the 1.4 million-strong Gaza population is in the labor force that may be more aptly described as an “idle” labor force, and there are 25 municipalities tasked with sanitation. Also, there are high-tech electricity, water and telecommunications networks in the Gaza Strip, believed to be the most advanced in the region. 

Living Stones: Easter 2007

6 April 2007: Al-Masiih Qaam! Haqaan Qaam! (Christ Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed!). This Arabic greeting has been commonly heard this week as Christians from across the world traveled to Jerusalem to experience Easter. It is truly an exciting experience. Yet at the same time, we witness with sadness the realities that our Palestinian sisters and brothers continue to face. The week before Easter had already been quite a full week, here in the “holy land.” The Sunday before Easter, Palm Sunday, was marked by a huge procession from the historical town of Bethphage, where Jesus began his donkey ride 2000 years ago, up and over the Mount of Olives, and then back down again up to the Old City of Jerusalem. 

Mary's Anger

The following is the story of Mary van Teeffelen-Morcos as recorded by Toine van Teeffelen on 10 April 2007: I went to the checkpoint with Yara and Tamer, after getting my Easter permit at the parish. As always, the rings and jewelry had to be put in the basket. Yara, too, took off her bracelet. She went in and out of the X ray each time putting off something new but the machine stayed beeping. Then the woman soldier behind the bullet proof glass asked her to put off her pants. In public. Would you allow your daughter to put her pants off just like that, with everybody around? 

The stories not tragic enough to notice

Today I visited my friend Dawud in Kufr ‘Ain for the first time since he lost his six-month-old baby at Atara Checkpoint. It was heartbreaking to hear the details of the story from a man who just one month ago was asking me when I would come visit his family for pleasure, not just to take a report. He said there was more to Palestine than the sob stories. But today was all about grief. We watched a video of the funeral in silence, and saw Dawud’s mother break down and say she couldn’t take it anymore.