Yousef Alhelou

Gaza's fish break the blockade

Joy has filled the hearts of hundreds of Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip this week as they expressed their happiness over the most plentiful fishing season in 40 years. The news is all the more sweet considering the Israeli navy’s restrictions on fishing off of Gaza’s coast. There are some 433 boats registered at Gaza’s port, but only a few of them are seaworthy; fewer still risk the Israeli-imposed ban on Gaza’s fishermen. Collectively, Palestinian fishermen have seen their monthly catch drop from 823 tones in June 2000 to as low as 50 in late 2006. 

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.” 

Palestinian mass resistance blocks Israeli air strike

Palestinians have started to employ new tactics to prevent Israeli air attacks on their houses. Hundreds of protesters successfully forced the Israeli air force to halt air strikes on a house belonging to Muhammad Baroud in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday night. Israeli warplanes have already destroyed more than 60 houses belonging to activists from Palestinian factions across the Gaza Strip, using the same method of ordering the residents, through a telephone call at short notice, to evacuate their home prior to bombardment. 

Massacre in Beit Hanoun

One day after the Israel army declared that it had pulled out and completed Operation Autumn Clouds in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, 24 Palestinians were killed in Gaza and the West Bank, 19 people were killed and at least 45 were injured as a large number of shells were fired at the town. Another five Palestinians were killed in Jenin, northern West Bank by Israeli army fire. The series of incidents began at 6 a.m., when eyewitness said that dozens of tank shells and missiles landed simultaneously in a small and limited area in Beit Hanoun. Ambulances found it difficult to evacuate the wounded. 

Dark clouds over Beit Hanoun

While I was driving to Kamal Udwan hospital in Beit Lahiya and listening to a local radio station to get the news update, suddenly the Israeli army succeeded in occupying the airwaves for a few minutes. They played a recorded message warning the residents in the north to stay inside their houses and to keep away from militants and not offer them any assistance or protection. Zeyad Abdul Dayem, an ambulance driver, said, “We had to wait today for 15 hours until the Israeli army allowed us to evacuate the body of a dead man who was killed by Israeli snipers who were positioned on the rooftops of high buildings belonging to Palestinian residents of Beit Hanoun”. 

"Summer Rains" linger on in Beit Hanoun

The Israeli army declared on Wednesday morning Beit Hanoun a closed military zone, demanding the residents to stay indoors. The Israeli army issued a warning thorough two local radio stations, Freedom Radio and Youth Radio, after they managed to occupy the signal for few minutes in the town of Beit Hanoun. The town is home to 28.000, only few miles a way from the Israeli city Sderot. It’s reported that the Israeli army conducted a large-scale offensive in Beit Hanoun at dawn, with combined air and ground forces including infantry, armored corps and engineer corps. 

"This will be the worst Eid of my life"

While Gazans should have been preparing for the Eid Al Fitr, the fight for survival became all the more pressing. As 46-year-old English teacher Majed Rashid said, “There is no taste for this Eid, it’s a sad Eid.” Rashid continued to speak candidly. “This will be the worst Eid of my life because we are facing the worst humanitarian situation yet. There are no salaries due to the siege imposed on us by the American administration. If you have children then you know what I mean. I don’t have enough money to buy new clothes, candies, toys and edeyyah [money given to children at Eid] for my four kids.”