Gaza Siege: Is There an End?

May 18, 2013

This article was published in This Week in Palestine.

While writing is probably not my favorite activity, having to meet a deadline in a place like Gaza makes it a virtual nightmare. I am feeling apprehensive as I am writing this now: rushing my thoughts, mistyping every other word, and talking out loud to store the echo of my words in the air, as I am mentally drained by the fear of the coming unexpected power cut. After six years of siege, this has become the daily norm. In Gaza, you are a hostage of time, power outages, and pure luck. 

A friend: Hey, when is a good time to visit?
Me: Saturday evening, unless the power goes out.
Friend: You don’t know the schedule in your area? Call the company and check.

Me: I do, but it is never consistent. But I will call the company. 
Friend: How does 6:30 sound?

Me: Make it 6 or 7, as they turn on the generator for 10 minutes every hour. Unless you have some weight you want to lose taking the stairs to the 11th floor.

Friend: They turn it on only for 10 minutes?
Me: Yes, because of the solar shortage, dude. Which means you have to be punctual.

Friend: I see. I will make it on time.
Me: Don’t bother. The generator has just broken down. Let’s meet somewhere public?

Friend: How are you going to take the stairs?
Me: Step by step!

This is a typical dialogue on an ordinary day in Gaza. Oh wait, have I told you that my brother couldn’t propose to his, then, fiancée because of electricity cuts? It took him and my family 10 days to plan a visit to her family and ask for her hand (in the light). His fiancée made sure they were equipped with all the necessary backup plans in case of a power cut. Procedures included calling the electricity company to check on the power outage schedule, buying fuel for the generator, candles, and praying-lots and lots of praying.

My brother is now married, so we have checked one thing off the list, but still the simplest things in our life, such as taking a shower, watching TV, studying, and laundry are all entirely out of our control. You wake up cursing the siege and go to sleep cursing the Occupation, and between this and that, you shed some tears for those who were burnt to death by fires caused by candles, like the six members of Dheir family.

Gaza’s electricity company covers only 25 percent of the local need, while the rest is supplied by both Egypt and Israel. And so there is no confusion, Israel customarily halts the supply of fuel for “security reasons” leaving Gaza’s population with constant blackouts lasting for up to 10 hours a day. Two percent of the population has no access to electricity at all.

The siege
On June 2007, Israel sealed the Gaza Strip off and surrounded it with gunboats, balloons fixed with cameras, the 8-metre-high and 723-kilometre-long Wall separating Gaza from the West Bank for “security reasons” in the north, and electrified wires separating Gaza from “Israel” in the south. Israel also prevented the movement of both people and goods in and out, affecting one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The Gaza Strip is nothing but Gaza City and eight refugee camps, which feature concrete buildings lined up next to each other containing 1.6 million people, 70 percent of whom are refugees. This collective punishment came after Hamas democratically won the Legislative Council elections in 2006. The siege was later tightened in 2007 when Hamas took full control of the Gaza Strip. 

According to the United Nations, Israel allows only 84 items into Gaza out of the 4,000 items that were accessible before the siege. Even though international efforts were exerted on Israel to lift the siege after the Israeli navy killed nine activists aboard the Mavi Marmara Turkish Flotilla, the goods that enter Gaza are still only consumable household goods. Basic materials, such as school stationary, books, and raw materials for reconstruction are still banned. 

Economic impact
The economy in Gaza is very much dependent on farming and fishing. Farmers have lost huge tracts of land. They must stop farming 300 meters away from the Israeli Wall in what is called “the buffer zone.” The on-going closure; the lack of irrigation water, fertilisers, and increased soil contamination; and the uprooting of trees have dramatically increased food insecurity among Gazans, which has reached 45.5 percent, according to the United Nations Development Programme. The growing frustration stemming from the closure and lack of exports cannot be contained. Two days ago, farmers had to burn three tons of basil and mint bound to the European Union market due to Israel’s closure of the borders. Their resources, hard work, and time to cultivate the crops went down the drain because of some claimed “security threats!” One should pause for a minute and think, how can agricultural exports from Gaza be of any threat to the security of Israel? How can this growing frustration among farmers manifest itself in a constructive and positive way? How does the feeling of injustice and agony bring peace to anyone?

It seems evident that the blockade aims to destroy the Palestinians’ livelihood and socio-economic growth. It is designed to prevent any prospects for development and reconstruction of both the basic infrastructure, after it was destroyed by airstrikes, and the human capacity to recover and pave the way for a durable resolution. 

Israel knows little about respecting international law and treaties. Ever since they agreed to a ceasefire with Hamas following Operation Pillars of Cloud, they have murdered four Palestinians and injured 58. Israel’s consistent policy of imposing restrictions on industries, trade, services, and movement of people, with rising levels of unemployment and poverty will lead to the creation of a human bomb that sooner or later will explode in the face of all those taking part in this illegal siege, including the UN. 

Fishermen are not spared the aggression of the Israeli Navy. They are generally not allowed to go more than three miles from the coastline, and they are prone to open fire, arrests, and confiscation of their boats and equipment, which makes fulfilling the needs of the local market mission impossible! 

Last week, I went out with friends for an early breakfast on the beach. Across from us were some fishermen struggling to pull their fishing net to the shore. Out of curiosity and excitement, we jumped up to offer them a helping hand. Like a naïve child, I stood there waiting for something big, not a whale, but maybe a big fish! Finally the fishermen managed to pull the net to the shore, only to find that the big catch was some small fish, seashells, and cans! I looked at their faces and I couldn’t read them. They were cold and silent. I opened my lips to express my frustration, but one fisherman said, “This is what you get when you fish in a range of three nautical miles instead of 20. Go home!”


Photo by Shareef Sarhan

It takes two to tango
It should be worth noting that Israel is not the only one complicit in the collective punishment of civilians. The Egyptian regimes (both the current and the former) have been active partners in the crime. While Israel controls the sea, the sky, and the freedom of movement, Egypt does not make it easy for Palestinians to use the only border shared with them, Rafah. If you’re from Gaza, you should be prepared for the most dreadful and demeaning treatment from our beloved Egyptian brothers. If you’re lucky enough to pass the Egyptian state security interrogation and have a visa, you will be automatically deported to the airport and held in custody until the time of your flight. Women are deported too if they have no permit to stay in Egypt. When in custody, you are not allowed to walk around the airport and will share one toilet with at least 100 people. You have to bribe officers to get any service (i.e. food, medicines, coffee, or cigarettes). A long list of people are banned from leaving the Gaza Strip based on Israel’s coordination with Egypt. Hundreds of critical patients have died waiting for medical transfers to either Israel or Egypt, and in the eyes of the suffering Palestinians, both are equally Zionist.

My uncle had to come through a tunnel to reunite with his family and get married. Tens of other families had to do the same to get their loved ones into Gaza. Beautiful young women were also smuggled in to reunite with their lovers and get married. Egyptians also stop and sometimes arrest Gaza fishermen in their waters. For everything that Gaza has been facing, the tunnels have been its way to survive. With the support of the US, Egypt’s targeting of tunnels has impaired the Gazan economy and has led to the death of many tunnel workers. This has increased levels of unemployment, making the unemployment rate in Gaza one of the highest in the world, according to the United Nations. William Hauge was quick to label the tunnels as illegal, ignoring that they are the only lung that keeps Gaza breathing. 

The duplicity of the international community has never been clearer than in the Gaza siege. While the UN has declared it as a legal measure to ensure Israel’s national security, the world has reduced Gaza to a charity case. Even the flotillas and convoys are feeding the narrative of pathetic “humanitarianism,” when all that Gaza needs is advocacy for a political solution that allows them to take matters into their hands rather than aid that takes away their right to dignity and self-determination. 

اللي بموت ما بيرجعش…فيتوريو أريجوني

September 18, 2012

بعد 20 جلسة في محكمة المشتل العسكرية في مخيم الشاطئ في غزة خلال سنة تقريباً صدر حكم محكمة حماس ضد قتلة الإيطالي فيتوريو أريجوني وجاء على التحو التالي:

محمود السلفيتي + تامر الحساسنة: مذنبين بتهمة القتل والخطف..أشغال شاقة مؤبدة بالإضافة إلى 10 سنوات من الأشغال الشاقة.

3- خضر إجرام: مذنب بتهمة الخطف..10 سنين من الأشغال الشاقة.

4- عامر ابو غولة: مذنب بتهمة اخفاء فارين من العدالة وحكم بسنة واحدة في السجن.

حاولت أن أكون حاضرة في كل الجلسات بالرغم من صعوبة التواجد هناك: سخافة غياب فيتوريو ووجود قتلته أمامي خلف القضبان, وشعور بحقارة تواجدي واصدقاء فيك في نفس القاعة معهم ووجوب جلوسنا هناك على المقاعد بكل بساطة بدون أي رد فعل..اضطرارنا النظر إليهم ووقاحة مبادلتهم النظرات لنا..اجبارنا على تحمل برود تعبيرات وجوههم, ابتساماتهم وتلويحهم لعائلاتهم..مع كل شهيق ونظرة وحركة ورمشة وكلمة ووشوشة ووضحكة خبيثة مع كل زفير من خلف القضبان كنت أشعر بالاشمئزاز. أما في إحدى جلسات إدلاء الشهادات قالوا ما توقعناه جميعاً, غير أن ذلك لم يسهل علينا سماعهم, حين تجرؤوا وبكل سذاجة على تبرير جريمتهم بأن “فيتوريو كان يزني ببناتنا” ويقول آخر “نملك كل الأدلة التي تؤكد كلامنا, وكنا نراهن يدخلن ويخرجن من بيته” ويضيف: “هو كان كافر وكان ينشر ثقافة الفساد في غزة ومس عرضنا وشرفنا..فلم نستطع السكوت”. تخيلوا معي هذه الكلمات التي ترددت على مسامعنا مراراً وتكراراً يومها, بل وتخيلوا أني لم أستطع أن أقف لا لأدافع عن فيتوريو والعياذ بالله بل لأبصق بوجوههم. أما هنا فبإمكاني الدفاع وكتابة مئات الكلمات لإثبات براءة اريجوني لكني أختار أن أترفع عن هذا الانحطاط وإن كنتم ممن انحدروا لذلك المستوى فلا أمتلك إلا أن اشعر بالأسف تجاه عقولكم المريضة. كل ما يتبادر إلى ذهني من المحكمة صدمات سأضيفها إلى صدمة مقتل فيتوريو لأنه صدقوا أو لا تصدقوا فالكثير لم يتوعب استشهاد ذاك الإيطالي الضخم بعد!

صباح الإثنين 17 سبتمبر في تمام الساعة العاشرة وصلت مسرعة إلى المحكمة حتى لا أفوت الجلسة الأخيرة داعية ألا يتم تأجيلها مثل مصير عشرات الجلسات الماضية. دخلت فرأيت مصورين, قنوات محلية بالإضافة للجزيرة العربية, المحامين, أصدقاء فيتوريو من إيطاليين وفلسطينيين *بينعدوا ع الأصابع* الذين لم يفوتوا أي جلسة ووجوه كثيرة أخرى من جهة القتلة. عندها فقط عرفنا أنه فعلاً سيتم إعلان الحكم النهائي. لا أستطيع وصف ما شعرت به..أحاسيس مختلطة من الراحة لأني لن أضطر للرجوع لهذا المكان المقيت ولن أضطر لرؤية هذه الوجوه الكريهة..التوتر والخوف والقلق من الحكم الذي سيصدر علماً بمعرفتنا السابقة باستحالة الإعدام خضوعاً لمطلب عائلة أريجوني في إيطاليا, الذعر لعلمنا بأن هذه هي النهاية ففي غضون لحظات سيتم قفل ملف القضية للأبد مما يعني أن الحقيقة ستغيب عنا للأبد (لا أعني أن جلسات المحاكمة كانت مفيدة بأي شكل كان لا سمح الله).. أما ساعتَي الانتظار خارج القاعة لم تكن عامل مساعد في تهدئتنا وكانت بداية الجلسة في تمام الساعة الثانية عشر بالضبط!

دخلنا القاعة حيث جلس الرجال على المقاعد وقادتنا النساء العاملات في المحكمة إلى الجانب الآخر واستمعنا للحكم واقفين..عناصر أمن بأسلحة تفصل بيننا وبين القضاة والقفص لأول مرة..إذاً نعم هذه كانت الجلسة الأخيرة..

تسارع نبضات القلب, اندفاع الدم للوجه, سخونة غير طبيعية, الكل يرجف ويترقب..نظرة أخيرة على وجوه القتلة ومن ثم كان علي أن أترجم لصديقاتي الحكم..بعد سرد تفاصيل وبيانات المتهمين الأربعة (3 عساكر ومدني) سرد القاضي الأحكام..ترجمت وما زلت اشعر بكل ما سبق, في حين توقعت أن اشعر بالارتياح عند سماع تحقيق العدالة لكن ذلك لم يحدث. خرجت من القاعة لأستلم حقيبتي, دموعي تنهمر بشكل لا إرادي, ومحاولات لتعزية نفسي والآخرين بأي شيء إيجابي لكن شيئاً لم يخرج من فمي..ليسيطر بعدها احساس بالقهر..وقهر وقهر.

خارج المحكمة بانتظار تجمعنا لنغادر معاً هاجمنا مجموعة من أقارب القتلة لفظياً: “يلعن أبوكم كلكم واحد واحد. يا كفرة يا عملاء. ليش جايين عنّا؟ روحوا انقلعوا ع بلادكم وإنتو يا عملاء روحوا تخابروا مع الغرب في بلادهم مش في غزة. ولي روحي ضبي حالك وشعرك يا كافرة يا شر***ة” وغيرها من الشتائم والتهديدات. لم نتمالك أنفسنا اشتكينا لجيش العساكر بالمحكمة ولم يحركوا ساكناً فاشتبكنا معهم فتدخل العساكر واخرين وعاتبونا بحجة أنهم أقارب المحكومين..طيّب واحنا؟ أتطالبونا بالموضوعية والعقلانية في لحظة كهذه؟ أستعيد أحكامكم فيتوريو للحياة؟ هل سيتغير من الواقع شيء؟ هل من المفترض أن نفرح ونهنئ أنفسنا ب “تحقيق العدالة”؟ أيّ عدالة وما زلنا نهدد بنفس كلمات القتلة وأمام المحكمة أيضاً؟ بل وأينما نظرت وجدت اسم أحد أهم المخططين والمنفذين للجريمة (تم قتله بالإضافة للرأس المدبر الأردني عبد الرحمن بريزات, أثناء مداهمة مكان اختبائهم في النصيرات). نعم اسم بلال عوض العمري ينجس العديد من جدران غزة, ليس ذلك فحسب بل وكتب حرفياً وبكل فخر: “الشهيد المجاهد بلال عوض العمري..لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله” في حين تم إزالة كلمة “مقاومة” من جانب وجه فيتوريو في جرافيتي رسمناه أمام ميناء الصيادين تيمناً بالوشم العريض على ذراعه. علاوة على قيام الأمن الداخلي بمسح أكبر جرافيتي في غزة قامت به قافلة إيطالية باسم “Vik to Gaza” على طول جدران جاليري الاتحاد في تل الهوا.  أيّ عدالة التي لم تعيد فيتوريو إلى أهله؟ أي عدالة تلك التي لم تكشف الحقيقة فلم تزل غموض غياب الحجج الاولية بخطف اريجوني مقابل إطلاق سراح قائدهم “المقدسي” ولا غموض الشخصية الأخطر “بريزات الأردني” وعلاقاته مع بعض القادة السياسيين بشهادة شركاء الجريمة. والأهم من ذلك كله ما معنى كل السجون والأشغال الشاقة والمؤبدات مقابل خسارة روح؟

– لا شيء.

A Letter from a Palestinian Refugee to a Syrian Refugee

September 3, 2012

This heart-wrenching text was originally written in Arabic by Ibrahim Jaber Ibrahim back in 2011 and translated by Menna Alaa.

I just thought it has to be shared with you. النص الأصلي باللغة العربية أسفل الصورة

Your mom might lose you in the fields, and it will be funny for a refugee to say in a conversation later that he lost his way. My friend, only the one who knew his destination is the one who gets lost; and your destination was just escaping death, and here you are undead anyway!

Don’t be scared, everything there at home stays the same, kitchen pots, kids toys, and the tree behind the window…everything stays the same. However, this morning, you have to start getting used to your new things: You are now a number in refugee records, news, committee’s meetings, endeavoring delegations, and in the poems of poets who benefit from the dead people in battles even more than undertakers.

The tent will be upsetting on the first night… and then in the first year, and then it will become friendly like a member of the family, but don’t fall in love with it like we did.

Don’t rejoice if they ever build you a health center or an elementary school, that’s not good news at all! Never get involved by asking for stupid demands like building small homes instead of the tents or having water pipes and electricity lines; this means that you’re starting to adapt… and this is death for a refugee… and this is his tomb.

Don’t train your kids to have patience, patience is the plot of the weak, and the plea of the abandoned and a refugee dies if he doesn’t look behind him twice at moments.

You’re not the son of ”there”, always remember this, you have a favor ”here” that can’t be betrayed, never sleep without listing its advantages to your kids, and tell them how your people died, and how they were slaughtered on TV channels because they didn’t clap after the speech. Tell them that you sleep between foreign trees, because you never wished to be fooled twice!

People will sell you to each other, that’s how politicians are, solidarity groups will come to you from all countries, you’ll become their electoral slogans.

They’ll use you when they’re seeking God, and people will work hard to visit you in Ramadan and Eids and religious events! Some will take photos of your tired and starving children and your wife who’s sleeping in the shade in order to be the subject of an award winning picture!

This is your new life: Love will break inside tents; a talented painter will be born, and a prostitute and a spy will be born too, but so will redemptive suicide attackers.

You’ll learn new languages and new feelings, and soon you’ll have an obscure relationship with exile, and one deceiving night you’ll feel it doesn’t anything more for it to be home, but soon you’ll notice: The trees here don’t grow green like they should, the salt isn’t salty, and people who passed away won’t forgive me, and then you look behind you twice!

Here is when your son – who has grown to be a man without you noticing – approaches to convey the memory and the dream that had killed your back.

Maybe, my friend, it will seem complicated in the beginning, but it’s obvious: You’re ”there” because ”here” is seedy, and maybe your absence will last longer than two days, but you’re not in a trip to seek a new identity, and you’ll never think about providing an electricity line to tent.

This is our mistake, when we said: The tent is too small and we need two extra tents!

My friend, don’t think of the issue unless you’re looking back! Remember also that you have turned your left cheek twice, so which cheek are you turning now?

Listen to me, I have a 63 years more experience in this ”job” than you: Don’t take pictures with Goodwill Ambassadors, don’t complain to them about how hot it is or about the pebbles you found in bread. Tell them that your problem is not emotional, and that an Angelina Jolie visit will not solve it.

And be careful not to ask for a better tent, as there is no tent better than another.


رسالة من فلسطيني إلى لاجئ سوريّ!

ابراهيم جابر ابراهيم

قد تُضيعك أمّك في الحقول “التركية”، وسيكون مُضحكًا أن يقول لاجئ ـ في معرِض حديثه لاحقًا ـ أنه قد ضاع! وحده الذي كان يعرف وجهته، هو الذي يضيعُ يا صديقي، وأنت وجهتك كانت مُجرّد النجاة من الموت، وها أنت لم تمت على كل الأحوال!

ولا تَخف، فكلّ شيءٍ في البيت، هناك، سيظلّ على حالِه، أواني المطبخ، ألعاب الأولاد، الشجرة العاقر خلف النافذة.. كلّ شيءٍ سيظلّ على حالِه، لكن عليك بدءًا من هذا الصباح أن تعتاد أشياءك الجديدة: أنت الآن رقمٌ في سجلات اللاجئين، وفي نشرات الأخبار، وفي اجتماعات اللجان ومساعي الوفود، وفي قصائد الشعراء الذين يستفيدون من قتلى المعارك أكثر مما يستفيد عُمّال المقابر!

ستكون الخيمة مزعجة في الليلة الأولى، ثم في السنة الأولى، بعد ذلك ستصير ودودةً كواحدٍ من العائلة، لكن حاذر أن تقع في حبها، كما فعلنا!

لا تبتهج إن رأيتهم يقيمون لكم مركزًا صحيًّا، أو مدرسةً ابتدائية، هذا خبرٌ غير سارّ أبدًا!

وإيّاك أن تتورط بمطالبات غبية مثل بناء بيوت بسيطة بدل الخيام، أو بخطوط مياه وكهرباء، ذلك يعني أنك بدأت تتعايش.. وهنا مَقتلُ اللاجئ، وهنا أيضًا مَقبرته!

انتبه دائماً أن لا تترك غضبك في الخيمة حين تخرج، كُن غاضباً دائما، غضبك هو الذي سيجعلك حيّا، غضبك مَعدات بقائك، وإن استرحتَ يومًا فهذا يعني أنك لم تعد تلهثُ باتجاه “العودة”!

ولا تُدرّب أولادك على الصبر، الصبر حيلة العاجز، وذريعة مَن تَخلّى، واللاجئ يموت إن لم ينظر خلفه مرّتين في اللحظة الواحدة.

أنت لستَ ابن “هناك”، تَذَكّر هذا دائما، أنت لك “هنا” جميل ولا يُخان .. لا تنم ليلةً دون أن تُعدّد محاسنه لأطفالك، واقرأ عليهم كيف مات الناس، وكيف ذُبحوا على شاشات التلفزيون لأنهم لم يُصفّقوا للخِطاب، وقل لهم إنك تنام بين أشجارٍ غريبة، لأنك لم تشأ أن تُلدغَ من جُحر واحدٍ مَرّتين!

سيبيعك الناس لبعضهم، تلك هواية السياسيين، وسيجيئك المتضامنون من كل البلاد، ستصير أنتَ شعارهم الانتخابي، ويتقربون بك إلى الله، وستزداد همّة الناس في تفقّدك في “رمضان”، وفي الأعياد والمناسبات الدينية!

والبعض سيصوّر أطفالك منهكين وجائعين، لمجرد أن يحصل على مكافأة من رئيس التحرير، أو مدير المحطّة، وزوجتك النائمة الآن في الظلّ قد تكون موضوعًا لصورةٍ تفوز بجائزةٍ دولية!

تلك حياتك الجديدة: سينشب حبٌّ في الخيام، ويولد رَسّامٌ موهوب، وسيولد أيضًا عميلٌ وعاهرة، وسيولد فدائي مهنته أن يصنع (من جزمةٍ أُفقا!)

ستتعلّمون لغات جديدة، ومشاعر جديدة، وستنشأ علاقةٌ مُلتبسةٌ مع المنفى، وقد تشعر في ليلةٍ ماكرةٍ بأنه لا ينقصهُ شيء ليكون كافياً كوطن.. لكنك سرعان ما ستنتبه: الأشجار هنا لا تخضرّ كما يجب، والملح ليس مالحا، والذين ماتوا لن يغفروا لي، وتعود تنظر للوراء مرّتين!

وهنا سيتقدمُ ابنك الذي صار رجلاً دون أن تنتبه ليحمل عنك الذاكرة.. ليحمل حُلمك الذي أنقض ظهرك!

ربما يا صديقي أن الأمر سيبدو مُعقّدًا في البداية، لكنّه واضحٌ: أنت “هناك” لأن الـ”هنا” متوعكة، وقد يطول غيابك ليلتين، لكنك لستَ في رحلةٍ للبحث عن هويّة جديدة، ولن تُفكّر حتماً في مدّ سلك كهرباء إلى الخيمة.. تلك خطيئتنا نحن، حين قُلنا: الخيمة ضيّقةٌ ونحتاج خيمتين إضافيتين!

يا صديقي لا تُفكّر في الأمر إلا وأنت تنظرُ خلفك، وتذكر أيضًا أنك أدرتَ خدّك الأيسر مرّتين، أيّ خدّ ستدير الآن؟!

واسمعني، فأنا أفوقك خبرة بـ63 عامًا في هذه “المهنة”: لا تلتقط الصور التذكارية مع سفراء النوايا الحسنة، ولا تشكو لهم حرارة الطقس، أو من الحصى في الخبز، وحاذر أن تطالب بخيمةٍ أفضل، ليس ثمة خيمة أفضل من خيمة، وقل لهم إن مشكلتك ليست

“عاطفية، ولن تحلّها زيارة “أنجلينا جولي

Because they are not numbers

March 27, 2012

This post was originally published on Al Akhbar English

As social media activists, Palestinians always get attacked by Israeli and pro-Israeli Zionists. Their response to the recent Israeli aggression on Gaza proposes that “Hamas is to blame for not caring for the safety and security of Palestinian civilians”. “Hamas is to blame for not building shelters for Palestinians like Israel does!”

What is strikingly laughable is not the weak Israeli argument (or lack thereof) but the sheer ignorance of Israeli public. Whenever there is an assault on civilians in Gaza, the only moral thing to do is to condemn the attacks, not blame the Hamas government for not providing shelter from the Israeli bombs raining on Palestinian civilians. How humane is it to justify the killing by simply saying “Oh, it is legitimate for us to bomb you but it is not our problem you have nowhere to hide?” But when it comes to Israeli violence against Gaza, it always seems easier to blame the victim. We’re always classified as wild animals thirsty for blood and death, so who cares how many of us die?

What outsiders tend to forget is that Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth. There are over 1.6 million people literally trapped in this besieged coastal enclave. Bombing them is nothing but a war crime. Our unemployment rate has risen to over 40% with constant water, cooking gas and fuel shortages. Gaza has been under an ongoing Israeli siege by air, land, and sea for 1739 days. So, if we have no construction materials to build the homes of the 80 to 90 thousand displaced people displaced from their homes by Israel’s so-called Operation Cast Lead then excuse us if we are unable to build shelters or Iron Domes to meet Israeli “security” levels. We are not funded as though we were America’s 51st state. This attitude reminds me of how insignificant the people of Gaza feel when outsiders tell them to “take care” or “stay safe.” Call me naïve, but how do you suggest we do that?

Palestinian victims are not numbers. They once were part of a family. They were loved and granted love. They had people waiting for them at the dining table every day. They had names, jobs, schools seats, friends, lovers, wives and children. They too had a dream of a free country, but it was their turn to pay for “dreaming too big”. A friend, a family member, or even I could have been among these victims. Israel can just call you a terrorist or claim that you were planning an attack against them to coldly put an end to your not-so-worthy life.
When Israel decides you are a threat to its security, Israel would target while you and your whole family are asleep, walking, riding a motorcycle or driving your car. Their blind airstrikes are indiscriminate and then the righteous Palestinian retaliation is all to blame.

One of the martyrs is my friend’s cousin. Nayef Qarmout is a twelve-year-old Palestinian kid who was murdered while going to school. A friend wrote of the killing: “Nayef Karmout, 12 years old, killed by an Israeli air raid this morning while 4 of his schoolmates were injured. Reports say pieces of his flesh scattered along their school bags.”

At the age of 15, I remember how important my school bag style was to me. I wonder what was on your mind when that rocket hit! I am sorry Nayef, I won’t go to your funeral. But how can I not hope for another life after this one, a world beyond our present reality where no one can end a child’s life by pressing a button. But now you are gone and what I hope for does not mean much anyway.

One day prior to Nayef’s murder, I argued with my mother over whether to take my four-year-old nephew to kindergarten or not. Though I knew we were not even safe in our own home, I insisted he should not go. But mom was too stubborn to listen. The next day, we heard the news of Nayef’s murder, his friends’ injuries and the school that caught fire due to an airstrike close by.

Could you possibly imagine the rush of feelings I had while live-tweeting the incident? No, you could not. You have never experienced it, but I have. When our little boy made it home, I cried, hugged him, and wept over Nayef. I could not imagine how his mom must have felt. Her boy could have grown to a handsome young man that would have knocked girls off their feet. He could have been a doctor, a teacher, a footballer. He could have had a beautiful family. He could have been his mom’s spoiled boy. He could have been her only source of support when she grew old. He could have brought her flowers on Mother’s Day. But Israel took away the only flower his mother cared about.

Later that night, my young nephew caught an inadvertent glimpse of the pictures of victims on the news. He asked: “Who are these dead people? Who killed them and why?” Unable to answer or maybe unwilling, I thought to myself, “We really do not raise our children to hate but Israel makes sure they do every second of the day.”

Amid all the killing we held Israeli Apartheid Week in Gaza, part of the week of Palestine solidarity events that took place on university campuses around the world. Throughout the lectures and rallies, we listened as Palestinian ambulance sirens blared through the streets, rushing frantically to reach victims at the site of Israeli bombings.

Life went on, weddings were held, universities and schools opened, shops and markets never closed. Israeli aggression continued with the world’s approving silence. But this has never stopped the Gaza Strip from standing tall.

Because they are not numbers…because we Gazans are humans with beautiful and painful stories…We make sure we are remembered…So keep in your memories those names and in your hearts their stories:

1. Zuhair Qaisi, 49, Secretary-General of PRC. Gaza city
2. Mahmoud Hanani, 44. Qaisi’s brother/son-in-law and assistant. Gaza city
3. Obaid Gharabli, 22. Gaza city
4. Mohamed Harara, 24. Gaza city
5. Shady Seqali, 27. Gaza city
6. Hazim Awad Qreqe, 20. Tufah- Gaza city
7. Mahmoud Nejem, 22. BeitLahia
8. Mohamed Maghari, 25. BeitLahia
9. Motasem Hajjaj, 22. Gaza city
10. Ahmed Hajjaj, 22. Gaza city
11. Fayek Saad, 28. Gaza city
12. Mohamed Ghamiry, 26. Dier Al-Balah
13. Hussien Berem Hammad, 51. Khanyounis
14. Mansour Abu Nusirah, 20. Khanyounis
15. Mahdi Abu Shawish, 24. Rafah
16. Ahmad Salem, 24. Zaitoun- Gaza city (wedded two days before his murder)
17. Ayoub Asalyia, 15. Jabalia
18. Salman ABu Metleq 24. Khan Younis
19. Refa’at Abu Eid, 24. Khan Younis
20. Nayef Qarmout, 12. Jabalia
21. Mohammed Al Hsoumi, 65.
22. Fayza Al Hsoumi (Mohammed’s daughter) 35.
23. Adel El Issi, 52. Gaza City
24. Bassam el Ejla, 20. Shejaeya- East Gaza
25. Mohammed Thaher, 21. Shejaeya- East Gaza

Khader Adnan: Hungry for dignity

February 17, 2012

I feel obligated to write to you about a man called Khader Adnan. For those of you who haven’t heard of him yet, the definition of that name is: He is my hero! I’m writing this knowing for sure that it is completely and utterly useless as I can copy hundreds of links written about the struggle of this Palestinian hunger-striker for the past two months yet nothing has ever changed for him. He is still there in the dark Israeli jails or more accurately shackled to his bed dying in a hospital.
His story in short is that this man has been abducted and beaten up in front of his two young daughters and pregnant wife by Israeli soldiers at 3:00 am from his house in Jenin/West Bank. That was December 17 2011 in which he immediately declared his hunger strike up till this moment you’re reading this post. He’s been kept under administrative detention ever since under the pretext of having secret evidence against him that neither Khader nor his lawyer is aware of.
Administrative detention is a procedure under which detainees are held without charge or trial. On or just before the expiry date, the detention order is frequently renewed. This process can be continued indefinitely.
Please read this excellent article on Khader’s history, detention and health covered by the independent: Khader Adnan: The West Bank’s Bobby Sands

Outraged Palestinians all around started campaigns, blogs and different activities to raise awareness and to put pressure on international media outlets for a proper coverage of Khader’s story to eventually pressurize Israel into releasing him. And since you’re reading this angry post, none of this happened. In Gaza, every Monday morning the families of Palestinian prisoners go to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for a weekly one-hour (desperate) protest for the sake of their jailed kids. So, as Khader Adnan joined their sons and daughters in the struggle, they set up a tent in front of the ICRC to support him and his cause of putting an end to the administrative detention. That tent was never full unless the Hamas or Islamic Jihad leaders finally decide to visit so their sheep-like supporters would follow with their factional flags. The prisoners’ families and the regular people who always show up there needing no one’s invitation feel nothing but the hypocrisy of these leaders and their speeches full of empty promises all for the sake of media coverage and propaganda. It really hurts when you see the so-called ‘leadership’ benefiting from our own suffering.
For instance, the other day came Fathi Hamad, Hamas’s minister of interior, and preached about their resistance, strong will in fighting the occupation, etc..: Things we only hear about in their dramatic, fictional speeches. He had actually got the guts to:
1. Relate Khader’s steadfastness to the greatness of Islamists such as themselves and Islamic Jihad which made me wonder: What if that man was leftist for example?
2. Link Khader’s fight against Israel’s well known injustice to the Islamic Jihad who clearly and publicly stated that they would act against Israel when Khader Adnan is dead! The hardcore boys here are waiting for Adnan’s death so they’d act!
3. That Hamas will release Khader with an upcoming prisoners’ swap deal like the one they accomplished last year when they had Shalit. My question for him is: So, do you have any Shalits left under your bed? If not, how exactly do you plan to capture another soldier anytime soon? Or maybe we got this all wrong, maybe he meant that this would be the plan to free Khader Adnan’s dead body-you know the man has no time left as his heart might stop at any moment now!
As one last gesture to prove to you how Hamas is really concerned about Khader’s case is that when their own Abdel Aziz Dwaik, the speaker of the Palestinian Parliament, got arrested at a checkpoint in January 19 2012, Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip rushed to the ICRC with their supporters and media to make a big conference condemning the horrible act of Israel. But if you do a little calculation here, you would find that in Jan.17 Khader Adnan was entering the 32nd day of his hunger strike. At that time, the people who knew and supported Khader there had seen no one from Hamas showing any interest in Khader’s cause. Hence, the prisoners’ families boycotted Hamas’s conference for Dwaik.

For me personally, I regularly visit the simi-empty tent in Gaza and went on a 3-day hunger strike that activists declared on twitter starting Feb.8 in support of Khader. I will not speak of that experience as it will be seriously sick to talk about some dizziness, exhaustion and lack of concentration that prevented me from doing some dead-lined work while Khader is literary facing death at any moment due to his continuous hunger strike. But what was really interesting in that experience the very depressing reactions I got from friends and family. They all made sure that I knew what I did was insignificant, some made fun of me and others pointed out that I’m an attention seeker though all of them did not show one moment of solidarity with Khader. Yes, I was mad at them in the beginning, but eventually realized that these are the reactions of helpless people, we are all helpless of course, but these people I’m talking about here are the ones in denial. They know there are important causes we should stand for in our world, yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is the same as the 310 other administrative detainees in Israeli jails. They all want to end it, but only Khader Adnan chose to do something about it even if he stood alone. To me, in all cases Khader is a winner, simply because he never bowed and from him I learn that every single day.

Last Wednesday, we at the ICRC tent spontaneously decided to go to the end of the ICRC street and hold banners to drag people’s attention since they pass by the tent as if it doesn’t even exist while the local mainstream media doesn’t give much coverage to the issue.

Quoting Khader Adnan: ' I will not forgive anyone who could have done something to lift this injustice off of me, yet they did not."

Photo by: Anne Paq/

My friends and I were standing at a very vital crossroad here where cars never stop passing, so a good number of people had to see us. Well, the reactions varied from one car to another. Mostly were like this:
-Laughing and mocking us.
-Saying we’re crazy.
-Giving us disgusted looks “specially to me” because not only am I a girl, but also an inappropriate one ‘not covering my hair’!
-Being sarcastic and commenting: “Are we the ones jailing him? What do you want us to do?”
-Others who actually were looking at my legs and hair instead of the banner, blowing kisses and verbally harassing me.
-And finally, the minority who cared and gave us the victory sign, a smile, or verbal support. Others who stopped and cared to ask questions-mostly were great school kids (I LOVE schools kids).
When we went back to the tent before dark, we evaluated the spontaneous move and decided to do it regularly with bigger numbers at different vital crossroads. Only then I was told that the Hamsawi activists-hating man ‘Abu Saqer’ who regularly interrogated me and other activists for months passed us by with his internal security vehicle and got out of his path to force me out of the street (I fortunately didn’t notice he was the one driving). He also did this hand gesture to one of my friends that clearly held a threat of bad consequences to this- Uh, #goodtimes!

Right on the next day, I asked mom to join me but preparing lunch was obviously a priority, then she said this provoking sentence thinking it will be an uplift: “You go habibti, you’re covering the place of the whole family.” I left with disappointment and said: “No mom, no one can cover the place of someone else, never.’
But my 4-year-old beautiful nephew ‘Mido’ wanted to join me and I tried to explain to him where we’re going and he agreed. A kid willingly offered to join me while grown ups don’t even know who Khader is. When we got downstairs (came down the stairs of 11 floors due to power cut) to find Mido’s mom who was also convinced to join eventually. My friends cheered for me as I managed to bring some of the family members along- a dream each and everyone of them aspire to achieve one day!
That day was for writing Khdaer Adnan’s name with our blood. I was as usual a coward who was dragged to the sidewalk by a friend in order to do that, I weeped and teared like little kids while the others laughed at me, but eventually the ‘damage’ was done to my thumb, I signed and later celebrated that mission impossible.

Afterwards, I headed with my very angry new banner towards the cars with Mido who briefly held Khader’s picture ‘I wish I had a photo of that’.

Banner reads: "Wake have a cause, and it is not El Classico (Real Madrid-Barcelone game)

While holding that, I received the same reactions from the people but this time a French journalist ‘Anne’ was there and witnessed the discussion I had with a mini-interior-security guy who would be one of the future righteous heirs of ‘Abu Saqer the Great’ and tweeted about it:

That boy came to us trying to explain the crime we’re committing in a friendly -VERY fake- way. He was smiling at us while saying: “You know we are in Gaza. Everything is different here, you can’t just look like this and stand in the street. If you were only wearing hejab, then it would be OK.”
I so wanted to punch him in the face but calmly replied: “So, if I put hejab on, it’ll be OK to be here? You think I’m inappropriate to stand for a cause? Oh, please stop lecturing me about Gaza, I am from here and I know for sure we’re doing nothing wrong. If you had a little bit of dignity, you would’ve been standing right next to us instead of pushing us to go home.”
He didn’t know what to say, mumbled few words and then I later asked him to leave as he perfectly conveyed his sick message.

Right after I headed with the family to a cafe so we can grab a bite and have access to electricity and internet since Gaza is drowning in the dark. While in the car, Mido started yelling: “But wait, where’s Ammo Khader? (kids use this word as in ‘uncle’ to show respect for the elderly) Why isn’t he with us? Is he still in jail?
-We replied: Yes sweetheart.
Mido: But no, we should go get him now. We’ll take the care to the jail and get him out!
His words made me want to cry so bad. I wish it was that simple. I wish the world had some of this purity, just and clarity but it doesn’t. We went to eat and as on every meal, I remember Khader who hasn’t eaten for more than two months. I remember his family and kids who haven’t had him on their dining table for more than two months. I remember them and eat the taste of the humiliation bitterness while he is enjoying the dignity hunger.
Next day, Friday morning, we stayed home because we had storms in Gaza so the ICRC closed its doors and the people of the tent stayed home as well. Later that day, Mido came to me and asked: “Ebaa, why didn’t we go to visit Amo Khader who’s in jail today?” -He meant the tent, and I replied feeling EXTREMELY proud that Mido did not forget about Khader: “Because of the weather, hun. But we’ll go as soon as it gets better. Will you join and carry his picture a little longer than the last time?” -He excitedly agreed.

Khader Adnan is simply the Palestinian Spring while our leaders compete how to shame us in every possible way. I was discussing with a friend two days ago what we really need to recharge and be able to continue doing what we do in the middle of all this madness and depression. We both agreed that that would be the survival of Khader Adnan. This man is our light at the end of the dark tunnel. I believe it will be nice for a change to have a living Palestinian hero since they’re all dead now. So, Mr. Khader hang in there and please DO NOT DIE because it is not only about you and the 310 other administrative detention, you give us hope-you are our recharge!

paint of #KhaderAdnan on the separation wall #bilin Free KhaderAdnan v @AbirKopty

Finally, if you truly believe in this man, then you should send a message to him and his family here: Put your name and location in the subject line. You can write in English, Arabic or any other language.
Take Action: Support Palestinian activist Khader Adnan’s protest for respect for the human rights of Palestinians in Israeli detention.

February 6, 2012

I reblog this post for the women driving movement is taking it to the next level. They are now issuing the Saudi ban of their right to drive at the court since their demands of having the right to obtain a driver’s license to drive on their own in the streets of the Saudi Kingdom do not contradict the written laws of the traffic system. Please, read this post to learn about the amazing Saudi female activists’ struggle against their insanely uptight and contradictory Saudi society. And of course to check the MIA (British rappaer of Sri Lankan Tamil descent) new song in support of these brave Saudi women while our own Arabic music fails to issue this just fight.

Saudiwoman's Weblog

Prison, lashings and Interior Ministry phone threats, fines and pledges drove the women driving movement underground again.  This time around though, unlike in 1990, it was only for a few months before Saudi rights activists geared up again to call for this basic right of no gender discriminations in who gets to drive their cars.

A couple of days back, there were unconfirmed reports that the king has issued a decision to not prosecute women who drive in the general courts. Yesterday morning the news was confirmed by the press. A committee of experts (no word on experts in what exactly) will look into issues related to social conventions and that do to not go against Shariah law.  This of course will probably not sit well with the ultra conservatives since they have been drilling into Saudi people from the first grade that religion has something to say about every…

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Palestinians for Syria

January 21, 2012

21/01/12 is the Global Day Of Rage For Syria

A peaceful revolution…a revolution against foreign intervention…a revolution against sectarianism and factions.This is the revolution of the Syrian people we know.

For ten months now the Syrian people have marched towards freedom and we have no doubt that they will achieve their liberation. For this reason we see it as a duty to warn them of the dangers of foreign intervention and to express our support for their peaceful revolution against sectarianism and factions.

For ten months the Syrian people have marched steadily towards freedom, despite the criminal oppression of Bashar al-Assad’s regime which uses weapons against its own people, instead of using them to liberate their occupied land, and despite the disagreements among their representatives whom the people gave trust in.

For ten months the Syrian people have marched towards freedom as martyr after martyr is sacrificed, which has only strengthened their resolve and steadfastness to continue their march.

For ten months the Syrian people have marched towards freedom as the world analyzes the meanings behind slogans raised in protests, and satellite channels have garnered more viewers with the increase in bloodshed and murders. The media sells to its viewers talks of a conspiracy or of a civil war, and many powers, sells us their support to freedom or democracy in the Middle East, when they never did. We are confident that these plots will fail and be crushed under the feet of the Syrian Arab People.

Ten months and we have avoided watching the disfigured bodies and the brave women who do not fear facing the live ammunition. Ten months and we chose which channel to hear from about the news of 30, 70, 100 martyrs of Syria, which made us ashamed from our miserable show of solidarity, as at the end of every day dozens of families lose their sons and daughters, with seemingly no one to share their pain with.

We, Palestinian activists and bloggers, on the Global Day of Rage for Syrian Revolution, stress our support for the brave revolutionary Syrians. We strongly reject manipulating the Palestinian cause as a cover under which the Syrian martyrs’ bodies are brushed under and stamped upon by Bashar al-Assad’s regime. It is true we must think logically about the dynamics of the Syrian revolution, but we must put the overwrought analyses aside, because the cost is the blood of our Syrian brothers and sisters. We reiterate our support for the peaceful Syrian revolution and its rejection of foreign intervention amidst the threats of sectarianism, as without our solidarity and faith we have no right in theorizing and preaching to the Syrians who are being murdered one after the other.

تحية فلسطينية للثورة السورية

21.1.12 يوم الغضب العالمي لنصرة الشعب السوري

ثورة سلمية.. ضد التدخل الأجنبي.. ضد الطائفية والفئوية..
منذ عشرة شهور يسير الشعب السوري نحو الحرية وثقتنا به لا تشوبها شائبة لذا نرى أن من واجبنا أن نحذره من خطر التدخل الأجنبي وأن نشد على أياديه للحفاظ على سلمية الثورة التي عودتنا منذ بدايتها على رفض الطائفية والفئوية.
منذ عشرة شهور يسير الشعب السوري نحو الحرية بثبات، رغم تعثر خطواته التي يقطعها إجرام نظام بشار الأسد بأسلحة كانت أولى بحرب تحرير أرضه المحتلة، أو يقطعها اختلاف من ائتمنهم الشعب السوري على تمثيله.
منذ عشرة شهور يسير الشعب السوري نحو الحرية يسقط في مسيرِه شهيدا من يسقط، دون أن يَحدّ القتل ومحاولة تفريق الصفوف من صموده البطولي.
منذ عشرة شهور يسير الشعب السوري نحو الحرية والعالم كله يُحلل شعارات مظاهراته وتحقق الفضائيات نسب المشاهدة المرتفعة فوق دماء شهدائه ويبيع الإعلام الكلام والصور عن حرب أهلية أو مؤامرة، ويتهالك على سورية من لم يدعموا يومًا الحرية والديمقراطية في شرقنا، معتقدين أن مؤامراتهم ونواياهم تنطلي علينا. ونحن على ثقة أن هذه المؤامرات ستتهاوى عند أقدام الشعب السوري العربي العريق، حالما يستعيد عافيته.
عشرة شهور ونحن نتفرج ونؤدلج الموقف ونتفادى مشاهدة الجثث الممثل بها والنساء اللواتي لا يتظاهرن خوفا من الرصاص وننتقي القناة التي سنشاهد فيها خبر استشهاد ثلاثين وسبعين ومئة سوريّةً وسوريًّا ونخجل من تضامننا البائس. . وعندما ينتهي كل يوم ثوري تنام عشرات الأسر السورية دون أحد أبنائها ودون أن يقاسمها ألمها أحد.
نحن نشطاء ومدونون فلسطينيون، وفي يوم التضامن العالمي مع الثورة السورية، نؤكد وقوفنا إلى جانب الشعب السوري الثائر. نرفض بشدة استخدامنا واستخدام قضية فلسطين كسجادة يكنس نظام الأسد جثث ثوار سورية تحتها ثم يدوس عليها أمام عيوننا جميعا. لنفكر عميقا بما يدور حول الثورة السورية وداخلها لكن لنترك التحليل المفرط والفذلكة جانبا لأن الثمن ليس أقل من دماء إخوتنا. لندعم الثورة السورية لتظل ثورة ترفض التدخل الأجنبي وتلفظ الطائفية وتحتفظ بسلميتها، فدون ثقتنا جميعا بها ودعمنا لها لن يكون لنا أي حق بالتنظير والمزاودة على الشعب السوري الذي يُقتل كل دقيقة.

هنابعض الصور التي التقطتها من على واجهات محلات وجدران غزة. نعم, لقد منعتنا السلطات المحلية في غزة من التظاهر لسوريا وقمعت الشباب في الشارع لكن هذه الصور توضح موقف الشعب الفلسطيني الواضح والصريح من ثورة الشعب السوري الحر:
Few photos taken in Gaza in support of the Syrian revolution despite Hamas’s repression to our rallies for the revolution in the streets of Gaza. We are one, you can not silence us:

"Long live Syrian heroes. Death to who he kills the Syrians."

El Assad = Hitler

"We're with the heroes of Syria against El Assad who's obviously not assad (lion), against Maher who's not maher (skillful)"

2011: Kickass year

January 6, 2012

This is coming a little bit late, but it is better than never, ha?

We said goodbye to one of the most eventful, exciting, exhausting and breath-taking years. 2011 managed to keep us on our toes in every single day that passed by waiting, dreaming, analysing, protesting, crying, revolting and fighting for freedom, justice and dignity.

It was quite surprising to see the insanely happy people kissing- or rather kicking- 2011 goodbye.However my feelings were floating in a different horizon. 2011 was a worthy year that I can neither afford forgetting nor can I ignore for it was the year where people had mastered the art of defiance and learned for the first time how to say NO! I cannot forget it because in 2011 people put their freedom above their lives! It is the year where decades-old regimes fell down. The year when the 140 twitter characters repainted the geography of the world. The year Facebook, twitter, Youtube’s “little kids” with claimed “agendas” threatened the world’s and the region’s greatest systems of oppression. The year my three-year-old nephew chanted “The People Want to Topple the Regime” which later led him to ironically claim his needs using slogans such as “The People Want more Chocolate Milk”. The year when mainstream agenda-controlled media got a strike on the head by the amateurs of social media. The year that Arabs finally regained the power to teach the world a lesson in history, bravery and freedom! The year of Bouazizi, who set himself on fire to light our hearts and give us the strength to fight the darkness that has prevailed for too long. The year of the two Palestinian popular resistance martyrs against Israeli occupation:

2011 was a year of spark in Palestine too. How could we forget the bravery of Jawaher Abu Rahma and Mustafa Tamimi who were deliberately murdered by Israeli gas canisters. Yes, make no mistake, these were no accidents, and for that we shall never forget 2011!

The year of the doomsday scene -as my friends describe it- when thousands of Palestinian refugees marched to their stolen Palestinian lands from Syria, Lebanon in commemoration of the sixty-three anniversary of our 48 Nakba. May 15th of last year was something else. It had a different flavor, the flavor of optimism and hope that I have not had the pleasure of knowing before. It was a turning point in my life and the lives of many young Palestinian refugees who believed the dream of return was out of reach. 2011 taught me I was wrong and for the first time I am happy to be wrong! The persistence of those young people giving away their lives for a homeland -secured by UN resolutions
and breached by them too- made me believe that justice is not only doable but also durable if only we keep that persistence inside.

On a personal level, I have been subjected to the most dignifying and humiliating treatment in one year, yes it is still 2011. I had the honour of getting arrested by the de-facto government of Hamas for standing in solidarity with the Egyptian revolutionaries in their fight for justice. I have been interrogated by Hamas’s interior security for traveling. I have been sexually harassed (both in Egypt and Gaza). And for my disperse I have lost a friend and a fighter who used his mere body to defend Palestinian civilians, farmers, and fishermen-Vittorio Arrigoni. I also had the honour of getting attacked and beaten up by Hamas government while protesting the national division that has prolonged for over five years and reduced our dreams of liberty to struggle for water, relief, and breadcrumbs. It seems claiming unity and social justice automatically means one thing to both Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and the de-facto government of Hamas=collaboration and foreign agendas. Unlike all young people in the Arab world, when young Palestinians took the streets in 15th March 2011, they demanded “National Unity” and political representation. Everyone left their factional flags behind and for the first time the Palestinian flags were covering the streets, so colourful, peaceful and uniting. What started virtually on the pages of social media was translated into actions that were too loud to be silenced and hidden despite the deliberate targeting of journalists and anyone who had a camera or a cell phone. The persecution did not end by the end of the demonstrations. In Gaza Hamas is still threatened by our defiance and its interior security has been busy ever since. When arrested I was treated like a criminal, someone of no ethics, education or dignity. Every time I am interrogated I see patriarchy manifested in their questions, comments, and jokes about a woman’s activism. The more mockery they made, the less powerful they seemed in my eyes. 2011 taught me to pity them and pity all those who passed their judgements on who I am (including family members) because a woman’s activism-unlike men’s- is not worthy of respect. A woman with a record in the Ministry of Interior is a woman of “reputation” a woman stripped of “decency” and “honour”, a woman of “stains”! But not once have I ever questioned that this is Gaza! Our Gaza that embraces all her sons and daughters irrespective of their differences, beliefs, and gender.
The misery was later complete with the death of two family friends, and a denial of entry visa to our beloved Tunis for the Third Arab Bloggers Conference.

On the other hand, it was the time when I felt the need and the will to say enough. I was inspired by Vittorio’s bravery that put me and my friends in the corner and urged us to protest the occupation in the “buffer zone” and support farmers end the confiscation of their lands and destruction of their livelihoods. Something that seemed more sound than running after two allegedly legitimate Palestinian governments to persuade them of unity.

Heading to the "Buffer Zone"

I travelled, for the very first time in my life, to Paris and Egypt for one month and a half. My trip opened my eyes to injustice we –Gazans- are not even able to comprehend. It only hits you when you see the outside world and only then life literally becomes unbearable. I will always remain thankful for that experience for I could finally say that my connection to the outside world has finally gone beyond the virtual walls of social media.
I finally got to meet my aunt’s family who lives in the West bank (for those who don’t know, Gaza and West bank are geographically separated and Palestinians need to obtain special Israeli permits to move in between and those permits are almost never given). We met in Sharm Al Sheikh where we had some five –FAMILY- magical days.

2011 made me realize that no matter how bad all our leaders turned out to be, we do have some amazing and extraordinary young activists whom I met personally or virtually through social media. And those with their unlimited energy are the engines of the change!

I can say that if it were not for all the ghastly experiences I have been through, the atrocious news I have been following, I would not be who I am today. I would have not had the passion and experience that urged me to blog, share and connect to the outside world.

2012 can only be the time when the rest of the people will get the infection of “change” and will wake up to question everything in attempt to find the truth, search for freedom, and live in dignity. But for those who already did, it will be the time to charge up and carry on what they had started and who knows? Maybe 2012 will be a time to harvest what they had planted and sacrificed throughout the glorious year of 2011.

2011 taught us that no matter how dark and unjust life can be, we still have a choice. For living is a decision and living in dignity is also a decision if only PEOPLE believed! Power to the people

Happy 2012 everyone…everywhere

Free Razan Ghazzawi and all Syrian political prisoners

December 14, 2011

We, a group of Palestinian bloggers and activists raise our voices loud and clear in solidarity with all the prisoners of the Great Syrian Revolution. We stand with all the prisoners, activists, artists, bloggers and others, all who are shouting in the streets or on various platforms demanding freedom and justice, while decrying the huge amount on injustice and oppression practiced by the Syrian regime for more than four decades.

We issue this statement in solidarity with all those Syrian activists, and with the blogger Razan Ghazzawi who was arrested on December 4th, on the Jordanian-Syrian crossing border. Razan was adamant in her support for the Palestinian cause. She was the first to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian bloggers who were not granted a visa to enter Tunisia in order to participate in the Arab Bloggers Conference. Razan posted a blog in 2008 during the massacre on Gaza titled, “The Idea of Solidarity with Gaza.” She wrote, “I understand when Cubans, Brazilians, and Pakistanies stand in solidarity with Gaza. But what I do not understand is when Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians, and also Palestinians in exile stand in solidarity. What is the meaning of solidarity in this context?”

Not only do we stand in solidarity with Razan and the other prisoners, but we also affirm that our destiny is one, our concerns are one, and our struggle is one. Palestine can never be free while the Arab people live under repressive and reactionary regimes. The road to a free Palestine comes with a free Syria, in which Syrians live in dignity.

Freedom to all of the prisoners in the Syrian regime’s cells. Long live the Syrian Revolution, free from dictatorship, sectarianism, and foreign intervention.

Signatories: Abir Kopty, Abrar Agil, Ahmed Fahoum, Ahmed Nimer, Alaa Abu Diab, Ali Abunimah, Ali AlMasri, Ali Bari, Amal Murtaja, Amani Ighbaria, Amra Amra, Anas Hamra, Asmaa AlGhoul, Bashar Lubbad, Budour Hasan, Dalia Ghorab, Dalia Othman, Deema AlSaafin, Diana Alzeer, Doa Ali, Fidaa Abu Assi, Hala AlSafadi, Hamza Elbuhaisi, Hanaa Mahameed, Huwaida Arraf, Ebaa Rezeq, Irene Nasser, Jalal AbuKhater, Khaled AlShihabi, Linah AlSaafin, Maath Musleh, Maha Rezeq, Majd Kayyal, Mariam Al-Barghouti, Meera AlBaba, Mira Nabulsi, Mohamed Jaradat, Nader Al-Khuzundar, Nadine Darwish, Nalan Al Sarraj, Nihal ElAlami, Nisreen Mazzawi, Ola Anan, Osama Ghorab, Osama Shomar, Rasha Hilwi, Rowan Abu-Shahla, Saed Karzoun, Saleh Dawabsheh, Thameena Husary, Yusra Jamous,

نحن مجموعة من المدونين والناشطين الشباب الفلسطينيين نطلق صرختنا مرة أخرى تضامنًا مع كافة معتقلي الثورة السورية العظيمة جميعهم/ن من ناشطين/ات، فنانين/ات، مدونيين/ات وغيرهم الذين أطلقوا ولا زالوا يطلقون أصواتهم عاليًا في الشارع وعبر المنصات المختلفة مطالبين بالحريّة والعدالة ووقف الظلم والاستبداد وسياسة كم الأفواه الذي يتبعها النظام السوري منذ ما يزيد عن أربعة عقود سنوات.

نطلق بياننا هذا، تضامناً معهم ومع المدونة السورية رزان الغزاوي والتي لم يتوقف يومًا دعمها ومساندتها للقضية الفلسطينية، وكانت أول من تضامن مع المدونين الفلسطينيين الذين لم يحصلوا على تأشيرات دخول للمشاركة في مؤتمر المدونين العرب الأخير في تونس. وكانت رزان قد نشرت تدوينة لها في العام 2008 إبان الحرب على غزة بعنوان “حول فكرة “التضامن” مع غزة”، قائلة: أفهم أن يتضامن سكّان كوبا والبرازيل وباكستان مع غزّة، لكنّني لا أفهم حين يتضامن السوريون واللبنانيون والأردنيون لا بل الفلسطينيون في الشتات مع غّزة، فماذا يُقصد بالتضامن هنا؟”.

لا نتضامن مع رزان الغزاوي و150 معتقلة سورية وكلّ المعتقلين فقط، بل نعلن أن مصيرنا وهمّنا ونضالنا واحد، وأنه لا يمكن لفلسطين أن تتحرر لطالما بقيت شعوبنا العربية تعيش تحت الأنظمة الرجعية والظالمة، وأن فلسطين ستكون حرّة حين ستكون سوريا حرّة والشعب السوري يعيش بكرامة.

الحريّة لكلّ المعتقلين في سجون النظام السوري. وتحيا الثورة السورية، حرّة من الدكتاتورية، و ومن التدخّل الخارجي، ومن الطائفية.

الموقّعون: إباء رزق، أبرار عقيل، أحمد فاهوم، أحمد نمر، ايرين ناصر، أسامة شومر، أسامة غراب، أسماء الغول، أماني اغبارية، أمل مرتجى، أنس حمرا، بدور حسن، بشار لبد، ثمينة حصري، جلال أبو خاطر، حمزة البحيصي، خالد الشهابي، دالية عثمان، داليا غراب، دعاء علي، ديانا الزير، ديما السعافين، رشا حلوة، روان أبو شهلا، سائد كرزون، صالح دوابشة، عبير قبطي، علا عنان، علاء أبو دياب، علي أبونعمة، علي باري، علي المصري، عمرة عمرة، فداء أبو عاصي، لينة السعافين، مجد كيال، محمد جرادات، مريم البرغوتي، معاذ مصلح، مها رزق، ميرا البابا، ميرا النابلسي، نادر الخزندار، نادين درويش، نالان السراج، نسرين مزاوي، نهال العلمي، هلا الصفدي، هناء محاميد، هويدة عراف، يسرى جاموس،

Take Your Hands off Palestine/ارفعوا أيديكم عن فلسطين

December 10, 2011

On 9/12/2011, the opening ceremony of the Arab Games in Qatar, in the presence and under the approval of the Palestinian delegation -representative of the Palestinian Authority of Oslo- the organizers, with the utmost audacity, displayed a disfigured map of Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza). As we are surprised by their ability to draw such a mutation that does not represent us, this behavior was a slap in our face on the 24th anniversary of the First Palestinian Intifada and at the height of the Arab Spring.

On this day, we emphasize that every atom of dust in Palestine is a drop of blood of our martyrs that represents the sacrifices and pain of our people in their on-going struggle for the cause. We emphasize that those who have lost their legitimacy nationally and continue to represent Palestinians internationally in this distorted manner cannot eliminate the right of Palestinians in their land, or give legitimacy to the Zionist entity. Our cause cannot be reduced to this deformed state and they cannot wave the Right of Return of refugees who constitute the majority of the Palestinians in exile.

Such initiative is consistent with the policy of the Qatari regime, which is an easy tool in the hands of imperial forces supporting Israel through programs of normalization manifested in the bilateral economic relations with the occupying state, and U.S. military bases that provide protection and cover for such relations and interests.
On the anniversary of the First Intifada, we, the sons and daughters of Palestine, call upon the people of Qatar and all people supporting our cause, to condemn the move, which is a stab to the struggle of our people and their rights, hence, we demand the Arab people to:

1. Stop the hostile policies practiced against the Palestinians on the hands of repressive Arab governments, by putting an end to normalization programs and cutting diplomatic ties with Israel.
2. Stop the supply of gas to the occupying power and refrain from competing over Arab economic relations with Israel that serve the personal interests of those regimes and the imperialist interests of their allies.
3. Expel the U.S. military bases on Arab lands which constitutes a foreign colonial intervention that is rejected by the messes, especially in height of the Arab spring.
4. Open -immediately and fully- Rafah border and end the Arab collaboration with the American-Israeli policy against Palestinians especially that the Gulf oil support to colonial powers only resulted in more anti-Arab hostility and oppression.

بتاريخ 9/12/2011، وفي حفل افتتاح دورة الألعاب العربية في قطر، وبحضور الوفد الفلسطيني الممثل لسلطة أوسلو، أقدمت الجهة المنظمة- وبموافقة الجهات الرسمية الفلسطينية- وبمنتهى الوقاحة بعرض خريطة مسخ لوطننا فلسطين(الضفة وغزة). وأننا إذ نستغرب من قدرتهم على رسم هذا المسخ الذي لا يمثلنا، جاء هذا السلوك كصفعة على الوجه في الذكرى ال24 للانتفاضة الفلسطينية الأولى وفي ذروة الربيع العربي.
في هذا اليوم نؤكد أن كل ذرة تراب في فلسطين بالنسبة لنا هي قطرة من دماء الشهداء، ويمثل تضحيات وألام شعبنا في نضاله المستمر لأجل قضيته. أن الجهات التي فقدت شرعيتها وطنيا ومازالت تمثل الشعب الفلسطيني دوليا بهذه الصورة الممسوخة، لن تستطيع أن تهدر حق الشعب الفلسطيني في أرضه، أو تمنح الشرعية للكيان الصهيوني، وان قضيتنا لا يمكن اختصارها بمشروع الدولة المسخ، وتجاوز حق عودة اللاجئين الذين يشكلون غالبية الشعب الفلسطيني في الشتات.
تنسجم هكذا مبادرة مع سياسة النظام القطري، الذي يمثل أداة طيعة في يد قوى الهيمنة الامبريالية الداعمة لإسرائيل من خلال برامج التطبيع المتمثلة في العلاقات الاقتصادية المشتركة مع دولة الاحتلال، والقواعد العسكرية الأمريكية التي تحمي هذه العلاقات والمصالح.
في ذكرى الإنتفاضة الأولى، نحن أبناء فلسطين، ندعو شعب قطر وكل الشعوب المناصرة لقضيتنا، لإدانة هذه الخطوة التي تشكل طعنة لنضال شعبنا وحقوقه وندعو إلى:
1. وقف سياسات العداء الممارسة ضد الشعب الفلسطيني من قبل الحكومات العربية القمعية، وذلك من خلال قطع العلاقات الدبلوماسية وبرامج التطبيع مع إسرائيل.
2. وقف توريد الغاز لدولة الاحتلال والكف عن التنافس العربي المقيت على العلاقات الاقتصادية مع إسرائيل والذي يخدم مصالح هذه النظم وحلفائها الإمبرياليين ويتعارض مع مصالح شعوبها.
3. نطالب بطرد القواعد العسكرية الأمريكية الموجودة على أراض عربية، والتي تمثل تدخل أجنبي استعماري مرفوض شعبيا، خاصة في ظل الربيع العربي.
4. وقف التعاون العربي مع السياسة الأمريكية الإسرائيلية التي تحاصر الشعب الفلسطيني وفتح معبر رفح، خاصة وان الدعم النفطي الخليجي للقوى الاستعمارية لم يثمر إلا مزيدا من العداء للشعوب العربية المقموعة.

عدالة…حرية…ووحدة عربية