Philip Rizk

United solidarity with Gaza

Once the Gaza Freedom March arrived in Cairo I repeatedly heard justification that organizers did not want to put Egyptian protesters at risk. Yet, Egyptians regularly protest in Egypt despite the risks. For a group of outsiders to justify the exclusion of our involvement without asking our opinion — in spite of the good intentions of “protecting” us — felt paternalistic and demeaning. Philip Rizk comments for The Electronic Intifada. 

A family under siege

At the end of my visit they started asking me to take pictures for their brothers, uncles, sons and fathers detained in Israeli prisons for over four months — a picture of a newborn not yet seen by the imprisoned father, one father’s favorite girl and a picture of the detainees’ pictures hanging on the wall to let the prisoners know they are missed, they are celebrated. Philip Rizk writes from the occupied Gaza Strip. 

The failing of Gaza

Transportation is one of the few sectors of Gaza’s economy that is relatively constant. No matter how dire the financial situation, collective taxis are always shuttling people along the main roads of the Gaza Strip. This past week saw an exception to even this rule, reflecting the severe desperation of Gaza. There are a few reasons for this. Many people are afraid of what the future may bring. Militarily, Hamas has shown its domination over Fatah by ousting the latter in 48 hours. Philip Rizk writes from Gaza. 

The desecration of democracy

Hamas’ violent takeover of the Gaza Strip last week resulted in two governments: the Hamas leadership headed by deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza and a new emergency cabinet led by the Western-backed economist Salam Fayyad in the West Bank. Both are calling the other the perpetrators of a coup. What are the sources of this division? A fear overtook the Gaza Strip after Hamas took control of institutions this past week, which are rightfully theirs to control. EI contributor Philip Rizk writes from Gaza. 

Awaking to a different Gaza

In Gaza people awake today to a new reality. Last night, my host Isa told me military coups were the sort of thing he heard and read about, he never thought he would experience one. Yesterday Gazans did. Although the final Fatah stronghold was still standing by the evening Hamas fighters were already making the rounds in the streets, three and four jeeps at a time, loaded with armed men wearing all black, their faces covered with masks, holding their guns in the air, a few, rather uncomfortably, waving to the people. Philip Rizk writes from Gaza City. 

Visiting The Dead in Gaza

Jamal’s car was sounding more and more rickety I noticed as we drove to his house for lunch. He was late since he had spent the entire day at the Rafah border with some neighbors who were trying to cross to Egypt for medical care. They had gotten there at the crack of dawn only to turn back in the late afternoon without success. Of the thousands gathered a select few had made it across, but they were not among the lucky few. I have to be honest, I have no idea what the hell must be like crossing that border because I have never had the privilege or bad fortune to attempt to do so. 

Sderot created the Gaza Strip

Yesterday eight members of one family were murdered on the spot in Israel’s latest military strike on Gaza. The target, doctor Khaleel Al-Haya, a Hamas member, remained unharmed. Later in the day Islamic Jihad responded by firing two homemade rockets into Gaza. One Israeli citizen was killed, another wounded. This sounds like a horrible, but straightforward series of events. The only aspect that calls for attention is that one of these attacks is considered terrorism, while the other is mentioned in most media outlets only in passing, and referred to as a legitimate attempt on a bad man’s life. 

Gaza: Calm before the storm

This must be what they call the calm before the storm. By 7pm all the main street intersections in Gaza City were filled with guards wearing face masks. It seems every time a new security plan is declared in Gaza the situation gets worse. This morning my friend Jamal greeted his neighbor Baha’ Abu Jarad as he left his home for a days work; ten minutes later Baha’ was dead. Jamal, shaken up, informed me of the incident over the phone, while trying to hold back tears. 

Volleyball and Civil War

I heard my name called out as I walked swiftly past the main police station in Gaza City. One of the three policemen gathered there walked over to me, a cigarette dangling from his lips. I had met Ahmed the second week I was in Gaza, when I went to play volleyball with Palestine’s best team, located in the Jabalya refugee camp. Ahmed was their star player. Warming up that day I paired up with Ahmed, which lead to a slew of questions about my coming to Gaza and sparked the beginning of our friendship.