Gaza scrambles for supplies as border forced open

Three kids, their mother and their aunt hurried towards the Salah al-Din gate in southern Gaza on Wednesday. The mother, in her early thirties, explained in a rush, “We are heading to al-Arish [the Egypt border town] to follow my mom and brother who entered today after the borders were reopened.” The family was not alone; thousands of other Palestinians thronged nearby, on their way to al-Arish, following the blasting through of the Israeli-built steel walls by Palestinian resistance fighters earlier that day. EI correspondent Rami Almeghari reports from the Egypt-Gaza border. 

A life cut short

Five-month-old Eyad is one of the happiest babies I’ve ever met. Barely touch his cheeks and he smiles and giggles; tickle his little belly and he bursts out in laughter, kicking his feet up in the air. Jamalat, his mother, says his laughter is a blessing from God for it fills her heart with joy and takes away some of her heartbreak and sorrow. Yassmin Moor writes from Gaza. 

Planting seeds of independence

“We have just initiated our small project with an intent to help these simple rural women sustain amidst their families’ harsh economic conditions,” says Yassmin Moor, a young Palestinian-American woman who manages a domestic gardening project in the Gaza Strip city of Rafah. The project, which has been a part of the US-based Save Gaza program, is intended to empower poor women in the rural and remote areas of the Gaza Strip. EI correspondent Rami Almeghari reports. 

Watching Gaza collapse

Today I went with my cousin’s wife and her children to Gaza’s social welfare office to pick up her monthly paycheck from the government. My cousin was killed last September by an Israeli sniper while he stood in front of his house. Overnight his children and wife became eligible to receive 375 NIS (a little less than $100) a month from the Palestinian government because their father was now a martyr. Yassmin Moor in Gaza writes that this is their third time coming to the office in the last month, because every time they go it’s closed. 

A tribute to my grandparents' home

I first learned of my grandparents’ home being demolished a few months after it actually happened in October 2003. Rafah was besieged by the Israeli army at that time and phone calls to Gaza were nearly impossible. Al-Brazil housing project was hit especially hard because it was alongside the Gaza-Egypt border. I remember I was driving to school in Pennsylvania when my mother called to tell me. She was very calm, and reported it to me like she reported every other piece of news that came out of Gaza. I could not comprehend what she was saying. 

Rafah Revisited

Yesterday, here in Gaza, I met Scott Kennedy, a former mayor of Santa Cruz, California. He has been traveling in the Middle East and touring the West Bank and Israel. Today Mr. Kennedy is being escorted to visit Rafah, from El Deira Hotel here in Gaza City, by a Palestinian Authority convoy, and I have decided to go along with him. We will also drive through Khan Younis, and through ruins of the former Israeli coastal settlements of Gush Katif, which used take up over a third of the beachfront in the Gaza Strip. We won’t have time to get out of the convoy at these places, however. 

"We suffer together, we leave together"

After two weeks of waiting with my parents and brother at the Egyptian border crossing, I returned home to Rafah, Gaza from a trip. We waited because the Israelis didn’t allow us to cross the border. We spent two days outside the border terminal in Egypt and 12 days inside the border terminal. 4,000 Palestinians waited like this, some for three weeks. Sometimes we got food and water, sometimes not. I don’t remember if I really slept or not during twelve days inside the terminal. I didn’t eat a lot because really I didn’t want to go to the bathroom. It wasn’t a bathroom actually - four walls and a piece of plastic for the door. Nine Palestinians died there. 

Two Weeks, and Counting

Heavy artillery shelling along the border. Tank gunfire. Scenes of fierce clashes between the IDF and Palestinian fighters. Friends watching the daily news reports on Gaza call my cell phone during the day, expecting me to be staying at home, and are surprised when I tell them it’s business as usual, I’m in the middle of today’s program with the kids (Haneen! Get your butt back in your seat!) and could they please call back in a couple of hours? You can only put life on hold for so long. After the first two days of the Israeli incursion, we all got tired of just waiting around with our ears stuck to the radio, listening to minute-by-minute reports yo-yoing between imminent truce and a full-blown invasion. 

Breaking psychological barriers

On the night of Sunday, September 11, two days before our trip, the last Israeli soldier left the Gaza Strip, ending 38 years of Israeli military occupation. All of a sudden, Egypt was open to Palestinians. We were standing there on the edge of what was a graveyard of man and stone - the no man’s zone in which many Palestinians had lost their lives at the hands of the Israeli army. We were seven friends and coworkers, some of which had come to verify the rumors in Gaza about unchecked crossing into Egypt, while others were tourists, making their very first trip outside the Gaza Strip. 

Rafah: A new kind of tears in the rubble

For more than five minutes the grandmother of 19-year-old Khaled Al-Najjar has not stopped hugging or kissing him in the Salahiddine (Philadelphi) corridor on the Palestinian-Egyptian border. “I have not seen my grandson for 11 years. The Israelis prevented me from traveling to Egypt and prevented my grandson from entering Gaza,” said the crying grandmother. Khaled is a Palestinian resident of the Egyptian city of Al-Arish, with half of his family in Gaza and the other half in Egypt. The last time they met each other was in 1993.