Still Casting Lead: Israeli Air Force Attack Kills 1, Injures 13 in Single Family

December 9, 2011

Still Casting Lead: Israeli Air Force Attack Kills 1, Injures 13 in Single Family.

Egypt and Palestine…one people and one revolution

November 28, 2011

Samah Ahmed, Palestinian journalist from Gaza, and three other Italian citizens supporting Palestine were arrested by the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces SCAF on 26th November, 2011 in Cairo. The Egyptian security forces claim that they burned some palm trees belonging to one of the luxury hotels in Egypt. The media immediately started dealing with the detainees as if they were convicted with charges of sabotage against Egypt.

This arrest incident is not the first of its kind against Palestinians of Gaza while in Egyptian territory, or during travel through Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only outlet to the world. We – Palestinian activists- see this incident as the embodiment of the repressive mentality of security apparatus that control the actions of the security of the Egyptian regime against the Palestinians of Gaza. These same authorities continue to close Rafah in the face of Palestinians, preventing their passage to Egypt with the exception of specific cases.

Despite the repeated statements issued by Egyptian authorities following the revolution of January 25 declaring their intention to fully open the crossing, their policy of collusion continues to comply with the Israeli interests that maintain a tight siege on more than a million and a half Palestinians in Gaza.

The Military Council and its security apparatus allegedly accuse the Egyptians of implementing American and Israeli agendas. Whereas their policy of political hypocrisy forgets the blood of five Egyptian soldiers killed on the hands of Israel, contentedly accepts an apology from their murderers, and continues pumping gas to Israel at the cheapest rate. On the day the repressive security apparatus was killing and eye-snipping Egyptian revolutionaries, the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs welcomed back the Ambassador of Israel, who was expelled by the Egyptian people!

This Council contributes to the siege of Gaza to satisfy the Israel- U.S. alliance, and considers the mere entry of Palestinians of Gaza to Egypt a security threat and accordingly treats them at best as suspects. Not once did the security restrictions ever stop advancing on the Palestinians, noting that the Palestinian people did not, do not, and will not constitute a threat in any way to Egypt. The only real danger is the conditional aid from the vaunted democracy allies to militarizing the Egyptian regime.

In this light, we, the Palestinian activists, demand the following:

1. The immediate lifting of the restrictions and forms of inhumane treatment of Palestinians in Egypt under the banner of “security”.
2. The immediate end of the siege on the Gaza Strip and the full opening of Rafah crossing for Palestinians without any security restrictions and complications.
3. The full support of the Egyptian revolution, respecting Egyptians’ demands and their right to self-determination and the governing regime they choose.

Down with the security system of repression and long live the Egyptian revolution!

مصر وفلسطين شعب واحد وثورة واحدة

تم اعتقال الصحافية سماح احمد- سكان غزة، هي وثلاث من المواطنين الايطاليين المتضامنين مع الشعب الفلسطيني، من قبل أجهزة الأمن المصرية خلال تواجدهم بالقاهرة، بتاريخ 26 نوفمبر2011. وقد ادعت أجهزة الأمن المصرية بأنهم قاموا بإحراق أشجار نخيل حديقة أحد الفنادق. وفورا باشرت وسائل الإعلام بالتعامل مع المعتقلين كأنهم مدانين سلفا ملصقةً بهم اتهامات تخريبية ضد مصر.

حادثة الاعتقال هذه ليست الأولى من نوعها لمواطنين فلسطينيين من غزة إثناء تواجدهم في الأراضي المصرية، أو خلال سفرهم من معبر رفح ، منفذ غزة الوحيد إلى العالم.

إن هذا الحادث لا نرى فيه إلا تجسيدا للعقلية الأمنية القمعية التي تحكم سلوك أجهزة امن النظام المصري تجاه الفلسطينيين من غزة، حيث تواصل هذه السلطات إغلاق معبر رفح في وجه الفلسطينيين، وتمنع عبورهم للأراضي المصرية باستثناء حالات محددة.

رغم صدور تصريحات متكررة من السلطات المصرية بعد ثورة 25 يناير عن نيتها فتح المعبر بشكل كلي، تواصلت سياسة هذه السلطات في التواطؤ مع الرغبات الإسرائيلية بإبقاء الحصار على أكثر من مليون ونصف فلسطيني بغزة.

إن المجلس العسكري وأجهزته الأمنية يكيلون الاتهامات لثوار مصر بتنفيذ الأجندة الأمريكية والإسرائيلية، وتستمر سياسة النفاق حين يتناسى هذا المجلس دماء خمسة من جنود مصر الذين قتلتهم دولة الاحتلال ويقبل اعتذارا شكلياً من القتلة، ويواصل ضخ الغاز المصري إلى إسرائيل بأبخس الأثمان. وفي اليوم الذي كانت أجهزة الأمن والقمع تقتل وتقنص عيون ثوار مصر، كان وزير خارجية هذا النظام يستقبل سفير إسرائيل الذي طرده الشعب.

هذا المجلس يشارك في حصار غزة لإرضاء التحالف الإسرائيلي الأمريكي، ويعتبر مجرد دخول أي فلسطيني من غزة للأراضي المصرية قضية أمنية ويتعامل معه كمتهم أو مشتبه به على الأقل، ولم ينفك عن استحداث المزيد من القيود الأمنية على الفلسطينيين، علماً بأن الشعب الفلسطيني لم ولا ولن يشكل خطراً بأي شكل من الأشكال على مصر، بل ان من يشكل هذا الخطر هو الدعم المشروط من حلفاء هذا النظام, من أدعياء الديمقراطية .

في ضوء هذا، نطالب، نحن نشطاء فلسطينيين، بما يلي:

1. نطالب برفع القيود وأشكال التعامل الأمني غير الإنساني عن الفلسطينيين في مصر.
2. نطالب برفع الحصار عن قطاع غزة فورا، وفتح معبر رفح بشكل كامل دون أي قيود أمنية.
3. ندعو لدعم الثورة المصرية لتمكين الشعب المصري من تقرير مصيره بشان نظام الحكم الذي يرغب به
يسقط نظام القمع الأمني وعاشت الثورة المصرية

نشطاء فلسطينيون

Mehadrin out of Borehamwood!

November 27, 2011

Mehadrin out of Borehamwood!.

Palestine is stronger with a Free Egypt

November 25, 2011

We, Palestinian youth, refuse to use Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian cause as a tool to hit the great Egyptian revolution.
Egypt is witnessing a new wave of revolution led by the brave courageous Egyptian youth who reject SCAF’s hijacking their revolution.
As youth are resisting the oppression by the security forces, the Muslim Brotherhood called for a million man march in solidarity with Jerusalem. We consider this invitation a detour on all Egyptian movements and sectors who announced tomorrow Friday a million man march to bring down Marshal Tantawi.
The Muslim Brotherhood has the right to take their decision in internal Egyptian issues. But we refuse MB taking the lead of the Arab tyrants who systematically use the Palestinian cause as a tool to practice their oppression. The freedom of Al-Aqsa and Palestine does not come from stepping on the dignity of the Arab people. Hence, we stand in solidarity with the heroes of Tahrir square and all the Egyptian cities.
Palestine is stronger with a Free Egypt

فلسطين أقوى بمصر حرة وكريمة

نحن، مجموعة من الشباب الفلسطيني، نرفض ان يتم الزج بالاقصى وبفلسطين لضرب الثورة المصرية العظيمة.
فيما تشهد مصر، جولة جديدة من الثورة، يقودها شبابها الابطال، رافضين ان تسلب ثورتهم من العسكر، ومقاومين للقمع الوحشي الذي يتعرضون اليه، قرر الاخوان المسلمون في مصر، اعلان الغد مليونية “انقاذ الاقصى”، إننا نرى في هذه الدعوة التفافاً على كل الحركات والفئات المصرية التي أعلنت الغد مليونية “اسقاط المشير”.
للاخوان المسلمين الحق ان يقرروا ما يشاؤون في الشأن الداخلي المصري، لكننا نرفض أن يتبعوا ما اتبعه الطغاة العرب في استخدام فلسطين كحجة لممارسسة قمعهم واستبدادهم. لا يمكن لتحرير الاقصى وفلسطين ان يتم من خلال الدوس على كرامة الشعوب العربية.
نشد على ايادي أبطال التحرير وكافة المدن المصرية.

Confusion over Palestinian prisoners – Shalit swap deal

October 13, 2011

Palestinian prisoners -and they are thousands in Israeli jails- started a hunger strike in September27 to express their anger and rejection to the inhumane treatment they have been receiving since the recent instructions by Prime Minister Netanyahu in late June 2011 to strip Palestinian prisoners of claimed “privileges” they “enjoy” in Israeli jails.. For more details: PCHR Condemns Collective Penalties against Palestinian Prisoners in Israeli Jails

Yesterday, I joined Palestinian families of prisoners in their protest in ICRC – Gaza. Many of whom where former prisoners joining in solidarity, members of International Solidarity Movement ISM, and activists who have been hunger striking for 9 days who –overwhelmingly- triggered in me feelings of both shame and embracement when I learned that four of them were hospitalized early that day.
To express their genuine support to prisoners and to rid themselves the feeling of helplessness, Palestinian and international activists and bloggers not only tweeted and blogged to spread the truth but also started a 24-hour #tweepstrike #HS4Palestine ‘Hunger Strike for Palestine’ in October 12 in solidarity and celebration of the fighting spirit of those imprisoned, deprived and abused.

“What about the rest of prisoners who are still hunger striking? Why did not Hamas wait until the prisoners’ demands are met?” a young activist expressed her opinion with a mixture of anger and disappointment. “The prisoners’ protests of today and everyday are represented by all political factions but Hamas. I believe Hamas wanted to be in the picture again even if that meant losing the one and only card they have. Very smart indeed!” she added.

Whether the claims of Hamas’s attempt to hijack the attention off the prisoners’ hunger strike are true or not is irrelevant, all those questions echoing people’s minds are valid ones and one wonders if they will be answered anytime soon.

Another activist whose father is a prisoner added to the list of unanswered questions “Why did Hamas reach this deal now, they had Shalit captured for five years? We are still on hunger strike and the media coverage no longer cares to give attention to those suffering when both Hamas and Israel projected their heroic prisoner-exchange deal to the world!” Although Hamas’s list of prisoners is representative of all Palestinian political parties yet Palestinians seem unhappy that Hamas is taking full credit for the Operation Dispersive Illusion “Hamas never captured Gilad Shalit, Salah Al Deen Brigades did and Hamas got involved in later stages. It wasn’t pleasant to see Hamas celebrating so victoriously and flying solo. All Palestinian factions were marginalized in this and Hamas acted totally on their own.”

Standing there, I could not agree or disagree. There was no room for words, but my wide-open eyes saw whatever hope left in those families’ eyes “ripped off”. Could I let myself rejoice for all those women who will finally be reunited with their beloved family and children who’ve been longing for a warm embrace for too long? For the mothers whose hair had grown grey and whose beauty had faded away cause what meaning has life when heart is departed from soul? Could I rejoice for those fathers whose children had grown to be men without colors, men of grey, smell of sweat, and taste of beans, unsalted beans?!
My mind has told my heart to rejoice, and I promise I will try, but my mind cannot let go of the images stuck in my head, the images of lost faith in the Palestinian leadership, the religious, the patriotic, and the secular. Would we regain trust on those who promised that no deal would be reached with Israel without Ahmad Sa’adat and Marwan Barghouti? Who promised the deal will include at least 1500 prisoners? Would we regain trust in them when their definition of “prisoners’ release” is “exile” overseas and “deportation” to another jail called “Gaza”? Will our leaders (and they are too many) ever reconcile (with themselves) and stop giving us lies and false hope to gain grounds locally, regionally, and internationally (each with their allies that serve their interest)?

I am sharing this with you because today my heart cried, because those in jails taught me freedom, taught me bravery, and integrity. Today I am Palestinian because of you and if Palestine is fragmented, our struggle is not!


A former prisoner playing with her child who was born in Israeli jails-Taken by Bashar Lubbad

#AB11 You blog, you’re an Arab. Oops, but you’re Palestinian!!

October 3, 2011

Long story short:
My Palestinian friends and I were denied entry-visa to Tunisia. Latest news say that the Tunisian embassy in Ramallah declared that the Tunisian ministry of interior refuses to clarify why it banned the Palestinian delegation from entering Tunisia. And according to France Press Agency that called the Tunisian ministry of interior, the ministry refused to comment on the incident.

Details?
Last month I received a call saying that I was nominated along with a group of Palestinian bloggers from the West Bank, 48 lands & Gaza to the 3rd Arab Bloggers Meeting in Tunisia this year 3-6 October 2011. My heart jumped out of my chest and I was just happily overwhelmed. That was not because I’m from Gaza and I don’t get the chance to travel so easily, not because that personally I just had my first-time travel just last June and this would be my second, not because I’ve been\still harassed by the local authority of Hamas since the moment I set foot in Gaza on 27 July 2011 while “NO ONE” is managing to solve my problem, not because I finally managed to get my passport back from Hamas interior security and I’ll be able to use it again, no! I was getting the chills every time I have the thought of participating in such an event because it’s being held in Tunis, the bride of the Arab revolutions. The whole idea of meeting bloggers, activists and tweeps from all over the region who I know many of them in the wide world of internet, the experience I would’ve got from all of the experts who should give us some of their knowledge is just beyond amazing but for me there was nothing I waited for more than setting foot in the land of Bouazizi.

Usually and since ever Palestinians face all kind of difficulties in order to travel. Best case scenario, you would miss the opening day or half of the days of the big event you’re invited to, if you made it in the first place! But usually, you wouldn’t get the visa at all. Last month, I was also among a group of Palestinians invited to a summer camp in Lebanon for Palestinian activists from the region. I missed it and apologized as I was having my final exams, but my group decided to go. They were told it’ll be arranged for them to cross Rafah crossing to Egypt. They have to wait there for a few days and they’ll be given the visas to Lebanon. They waited 14 days on their own expense, were told they’re rejected for security reasons to finally managing to get some strongly influential people to intervene and get them the visa. My friends missed the event, had to be hosted by some family with no financial coverage and taken on some sight-seeing. So, the whole trip had no point then.

It is inevitable that the Palestinians would be going through hell in order to be out but wasn’t the Arab Spring supposed to change that?
This subject was discussed on twitter and had different reactions, but everyone agreed on the necessity of having an explanation for what happened to us. Some of the tweets I liked:
@tounsiahourra (Tunisian): I boycott this meeting. This transitional government doesn’t represent me. Its ministry of interior refused to let the Palestinians enter. This ministry is racist. Shame.
@JawazSafar: is it true that Palestinian bloggers were refused entry to Tunisia? the same Tunisia that had a revolution this year? #AB11
@tounsiahourra: “Al Karama” Tunisian Flotilla managed to get into Gaza today, excellent but there are Palestinians who couldn’t cross their borders to Tunisia because of Tunisia.
@hamfarouk: The Palestinian lives under the Israeli oppression, American veto, European guilt towards the Jews and finally the Arab ban for his young bloggers.
@lilianwagdy There are Turks, Americans and Europeans @ the Arab Bloggers meeting but no Palestinians #Shame #Fail #AB11

A Palestinian friend, and a blogger living in Cairo -Asmaa Alghoul shared this on her facebook: “This is Tunisia’s government after revolution: They gave visas for tens of Arab bloggers to participate in a conference with Global Voices while rejecting all the Palestinian participants from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the 48 lands. They made me ,as a Palestinian, sign a pledge forcing me to commit to the visa’s specific duration and I was the only one to be told to do so of all the Egyptian bloggers I was with and at the end I was rejected…Shame!”
Another friend “Samy” commented on my facebook status saying: “Arab revolution is an oxymoron!”

Today is the very first day of the big meeting. I am watching from behind my laptop screen and you can do that too. Follow the great hashtag #AB11 on twitter.
While following I read some interesting criticism from some participants such as:
@maroooo: You don’t speak neither English, nor French? Then you’re not an Arab #ab11. That was his comment on the fact that it is a meeting for ARAB bloggers while the speakers speak English and French.
@lilianwagdy:with Due respect to the guys of the Tor Project, we revolted so we wouldn’t have to be anonymous when we use the internet.. #AB11
@trikinesrine: why not mention the impact of Arab revolutions on Spain, and the USA!!! (wall street) #AB11
@lilianwagdy: Ok now two American geeks from the Tor Project are on stage now #AB11… I think we went to the wrong conference #WhereAretheArabSpeakers ?

I wish if I was there with them bitching and criticizing right from the hot spot, but all I have is the “retweet” button.
Thanks for everyone who worked hard to get us the visas, thanks for who nominated us and for the participants who remembered us, and that one nice Tunisian lady who really felt the injustice and thought that boycotting the event is her way of saying no to what happened. Finally, the least that could be done here is giving us an explanation why we weren’t given the visas.

“Affirm life”..9\11

September 11, 2011

As we’re living a decade after the tragic 9\11, a friend posted this link on my wall and it was heartbreakingly amazing that I want to share it with all of you!
Suheir Hammad is a Palestinian poet who I just knew about a week ago thanks to another friend who bought us her book “Born Palestinian, Born Black”.
While listening to her words, I got reminded of the Norway attacks that happened last July! I was in Egypt when my friend and I saw it on the news. His very first reaction was: “Please, please, please don’t be an Arab. Please, don’t be a Muslim!”. Yes, by the time we knew he was a Norwegian Christian, it was like as if we were holding our breath till the attacker’s identity was known and only then we all could just breathe again!
I’ll say no more, I’d just leave you with the poem by the great Suheir Hammad.

First Writing Since:

There have been no words,
No poetry in ashes south of Canal,
No prose in trucks driving debris and DNA.

Evident out my window an abstract reality:
Sky where once was steel;
Smoke where once was flesh.
Please, God, let it be a mistake
The pilot’s heart,
The plane’s engine…
God, please, don’t let it be anyone who looks like my brothers.

I don’t know how bad a life has to break in order to kill.
I’ve never been so hungry that I willed hunger,
Never so angry as to want a gun over a pen.
Not really.
Even as a woman, a Palestinian,
Never this broken.

Ricardo on radio said in his accent thick as yuca,
“I will feel so much better
when the first bombs drop over there.”

A woman crying in a car parked and stranded
And hurt, I offered comfort, a hand she did not see before she said,
“We’re gonna burn them so – bad.”
My hand went to my head and my head to the dead Iraqi children,
The dead in Nicaragua, in Rwanda,
Who vied with fake sport wrestling for America’s attention.

People saying, “This was bound to happen, let us not forget
U.S. transgressions”—
Hold up. I live here.
These are my friends
And fam,
Me in those buildings, and we’re not bad people,
Do not support America’s bullying,
Can I just have half
A second
To feel bad?
Thank you, woman, who saw me brinking my cool and blinking tears,
Opened her arms
Before she asked, “Do you want a hug?”
Big white woman and her embrace only
People with flesh can offer.
My brothers in the navy, I said, and we’re Arabs.
Wow, you got double-trouble.
Word.

One more person ask me if I knew the hijackers.
One more mother fucker ask me what navy my brother is in.
One more person assume no Arabs or Muslims were killed,
Assume they know me,
Or that I represent a people,
Or that a people represent an evil,
Or that evil is as simple as a flag and words on a page.

We did not vilify all white men when McVeigh bombed Oklahoma,
Give out his family’s address or church or blame the Bible or Pat fucking Robertson,
Networks air footage of Palestinians dancing in the street,
No apology that hungry children are bribed with sweets that turn their teeth brown,
Correspondents edit images, archives facilitate lazy journalism,

And when we talk about holy books, hooded men and death,
WHY never mention the KKK?

If there are any people on Earth who understand how New York is feeling right now,
They are in the West Bank and the Gaza strip.

Bush has waged war on a man once openly funded by the CIA.
I’ve read too many books to believe what I’m told.
I don’t give a fuck about bin Laden.
His vision of the world don’t represent me or those I love.
I’ve signed petitions for years to out the U.S.-sponsored Taliban.
Shit is complicated, and I don’t know what to think,
But I know who will pay:

Women
Mostly colored and poor,
Will have to bury children, support themselves through grief.
In America, it will be those amongst us who refuse
Blanket attacks on the shivering, who work towards social justice
And opposing hateful policies.

“Either you are with us
Or with the terrorists,”
Meaning
“Keep your people under control
And resistance-censored,”
Meaning
“We go the loot
And the nukes.”

Never felt less American
And more Brooklyn
Than these days.

These stars and stripes
Represent the dead as citizens first,
Not family, not lovers.

My skin is real thin,
My eyes are darker,
The future holds little light,
My baby brother is a man now
On alert
Praying five times a day the orders he will take are righteous
And not weigh his soul down
From the afterlife.
Both my brothers—
My heart stops–
Not a beat disturbs my fear—
Muslim, gentle men
Born in Brooklyn and their faces are of the Arab man,
All eyelashes and nose and beautiful color and stubborn hair.
What will their lives be like now?
Over there
Is over here.

Across the river: burning rubber and limbs,
Rescuers traumatized, skyline brought back to human-size,
No longer taunting gods.
I cried when I saw those buildings collapse on themselves
Like a broken heart.
I have never owned pain
That needs to spread like that.
There is no poetry in this.
Causes and effects,
Symbols and ideologies;
Mad conspiracy here.
Information we’ll never know.
There is death here,
And promises of more:
There is life here.
Anyone hearing this is breathing—
Maybe hurting,
But breathing for sure.
If there is any light to come,
It will shine from the eyes of those
Who will look for peace AND justice,
After the rubble and rhetoric are cleared,
And the phoenix has risen.
Affirm life.
Affirm life.
We got to carry each other now.
You’re either with life
Or against it.
Affirm life.

#FreeAbuYazan

August 15, 2011

Yesterday, news spread about arresting a young activist by the local authorities in Gaza. Hamas called him to take his confiscated things (laptop & mobile) then arrested him banning him from contacting his family or lawyer! But how it all started..?

Well, Abu Yazan & I were chosen to travel to Paris for a social media program for 5 days! It was coordinated via the French Cultural Center in Gaza. We both study English-French literature, students in the French Center, blog, known social & political activists which make us qualified candidates for this program! But was it enough for Hamas?

After the five-day program finished we stayed extra more days in Paris then we left heading to Egypt. Abu Yazan was deported from the Egyptian side to Gaza and humiliated, but I was allowed to get in to Cairo! He got to Gaza, nothing happened. One month later on my way to cross the Palestinian hall in Rafah Crossing to finally get into Gaza that I missed so much, Hamas officers stopped me. They asked where and why was I travelling, I answered them saying that I went to France for some social media program, then to Egypt to meet with my aunts and attend the opening of the revolution movie “18 days” that I was invited to. Then later they knew that Abu Yazan was with me in France. They immediately started to look for more information about him. They interrogated me for more than 2 hours and searched through all of my stuff, clothes, opened presents in a very humiliating way as if I’m a drug dealer! A lot of things were confiscated (digital camera, flip camera, external hard disc, flash and memory cards, ipod, my mobile with the Egyptian, French and the Palestinian sim cards, a notebook, and all of the political magazines and leaflets I had with me! Most of those were mine but some were not, they just didn’t care. That was on Thursday July, 27. I had no contact with my family or a lawyer and when I asked what kind of accusations I might be having to get all of this, they said that it’s none of my business, I have no right to ask and I’ll know next time I get interrogated which was Sunday August the 7th! At the meantime, Abu Yazan received a paper saying he should go to the internal security office for interrogation. We both went there twice after that incident on the border on my way back to Gaza.

It turned out that our crime is that we’ve been very active in the March 15 protests that called for unity between Fatah and Hamas. We were interrogated separately, but had the same reaction when we felt that they deal with this movement as a crime and actually going after its members now. We tried to explain that we didn’t go against anyone and what we called for was in our cause’s interest which is the only thing that matters to us! What we did understand from their questions is that we’ve “as in March 15 members” been meeting with politicians (both Palestinian and foreign), implementing their agendas as getting funded by them and asking them for visas. Also sitting with Israelis “which means we’re spies” and they’re holding all kinds of evidences against us! It doesn’t matter how repeatedly we denied all of this madness and how we asked them to show us those evidences and give us a fair trial then if that is the case. As you all should be aware of that there’s no such a thing called “law” here in this small coastal enclave. All we could do is go to human rights organizations to fill complaints which is what we’ve been doing for ages now every time a violation happens, but it’s all in vain! I assigned a lawyer this time, but what could he possibly do? He came to my first interrogation and wasn’t allowed to stay, wasn’t informed of any accusations held against me, simply, he did nothing more than I’d do and couldn’t make them (god forbid) abide by the law! All these organizations and centers could offer is their monthly report about Hamas violations after taking your statement. That is their one and only accomplishment and they seem to be satisfied with it..!!

During the interrogation we were asked about our activities and about what the social media means. I tried over and over to explain them that social media is about civilian journalists. It’s that you are your own media which sometimes and recently much more effective than the mainstream media! After trying so hard to make them get it, they kept asking if our study in college has anything to do with media and for our press card, we said that social media requires no cards and no certificates! I mentioned that a video we (a group of activists) did on the Rafah crossing is a good example of what I’m trying to explain them, but they weren’t interested! And when my friend told them about the weekly demonstration we’re part of against the Israeli Occupation and the buffer zone northern Gaza, their immediate response was “Yeah, you go there, take photos of yourself to show off on facebook”!!!! Abu Yazan said: “Yeah, anything for facebook photos, even going standing only 80 meters far from the wall under live bullets!”. “Apparently, you’ve never been there!”

Abu Yazan & I were waiting for this big, unjustified mess to be over so we can at least blog about it. No one could’ve imagined that he’d be arrested!! We were told that we’ll be no longer interrogated and they’ll call us to get our stuff back. I had no call, but Abu Yazan did and that’s how they arrested him!

My dear friend had to listen to their inappropriate accusations of me and him being in a relationship when he told them that we’re classmates, bloggers and activists and that’s how we know each other!
And I’ve had to cover my head in order to be interrogated by them. They refused to meet me and give me back my things (that I still don’t have yet) unless I put on a hejab. I told them I don’t have any, so they brought me one, a stinky one! And also they brought a praying mattress to cover my legs. Wooo, wait a minute, no I wasn’t wearing a dress or a mini skirt. Nope, I was wearing trousers, baggy ones! We both had to put with their insults and religious preaches as being liberal and secular for them = an infidel!

Abu Yazan is one of the founders of GYBO which produced a rap song “The Mystery” honoring everyone who worked on breaking the blockade on Gaza!

This is day two, and no one knows anything about him. I really wanted to blog about my very-first-time-to-get-out-of-Gaza experience, but I couldn’t escape posting about Hamas’s warm welcome for me that has been lasting for more than half a month now.

Free Abu Yazan..Free your minds!

A full Gazan day made by Egypt, Hamas and Abdullah Saleh!

June 5, 2011

On Saturday, 4th of June me and my friends headed to Rafah crossing at 11:30 a.m to register our names at the Palestinian side so we can travel! We were so optimistic since we all read the great news of the new Egyptian government easing conditions for Gazans to be allowed through! For example, women don’t need visa if they have the passport nor students if they have a proof that they’re engaged with an Egyptian university! When we got there we tried to talk to the people in charge of registration through that teeny tiny window, but that was impossible for having tens of people already there ahead of us! We were told that if we manage to register,the first option we’d get is July 13 since there’s no space for any of us before that day! Of course it didn’t matter how we tried to explain that we need to travel much earlier, because Egypt has limited the number of the travelers to only 350 a day, and Hamas had to stick to this! Right after this, we heard that there’s a protest inside, in front of the Egyptian gate.

As we were all activists and some are bloggers and the others journalists we had to get in and see what’s going on! We found the crossing security (Hamas) trying to control the situation and on the Egyptian side some soldiers standing with their weapons on the top of the gate and the rest in front of it. Huge wooden polls are built under the claims of “maintenance”!! Couldn’t that be done on Friday? What kind of urgent, unpostpon-able “maintenance” is it to paralyze life like this, to have patients, old people and children coming from the early morning and waiting this long under the sun’s heat with no water, nor food? And then tell them that only pedestrians are allowed as the works prevented the passage of buses! But none of this happened and people went home after protesting for a while, in vain! They chanted: “1 2, where are the revolutionists(Jan25)?”-“1 2, where is Essam Sharaf?”-“Egypt & Palestine, one hand!” and “the people want to end the siege!”.
We chanted along, did some interviews and met with some interesting cases that left me nothing but even more and more frustrated! It was my first time to Rafah crossing for ME. I had many experiences with this awful place, accompanied my sister to register first then came back with her for goodbye. Receiving the deceased Vittorio Arrigoni’s Italian friend getting into Gaza and then saying goodbye to our beautiful Vik as his body was taken to Italy! And of course being a Gazan means nothing but receiving amazing people, then having to say goodbye to them all the time through that gate. That’s what’s my life is all about! These are the only memorable events related to this place, but this experience was quite different for me! I’m almost 21 and have never been out, and I don’t think this might be changing anytime soon. Thank you, Egypt!

Here’s a video we did at the crossing and on the way back!

On a totally different subject, I’d like to comment on the big day of June the 5th. It is supposed to have our Palestinian brothers marching towards Israeli borders to mark the 44th “Naksa”; the anniversary of Israel’s capture of Gaza and the West Bank in the six-day war in 1967.
In Gaza, a youth group (One of the Popular Movement to End Division groups) named “5th of June” which is mainly affiliated with the PFLP was working for at least the past two months on the cause of the thousands of the Palestinian prisoners in Israel. A lot of messages sent by these prisoners were published. These amazingly strong people hanging in there under the most crucial circumstances, injustice, torture and humiliation practiced by the Israeli soldiers on them every second of every day are expressing their depression of the status quo and for the fact that everyone had forgotten about them! The prisoners did follow our movement towards unity and went on hunger strikes as if they need more shit than they already live in! It is amazing how they keep themselves engaged with us even when they’re imprisoned. They’re still fighting while they’re still in there, so the least that could be done for them is to chant and remember them!
This group attached this day with the slogan of “The people want to release the prisoners” to be the first day of a series of events concerning the cause of the prisoners. It is supposed to be a symbolic sit-in, yet a needed one to show our support and solidarity with our bravest people reminding them that their cause is one of the main things to be resolved “one day”!! The plan was to gather in Al Jundi Al Majhoul Square then march to the UNDP from 11-12 then to march with everyone else to the north, to Erez!

Of course Hamas refused but to be the focus of the attention -as usual- by not allowing this sit-in to happen! I’m really trying to have any kind of an excuse for Hamas to do that, but sorry I can’t! The same happened when they set checkpoints on the Friday that followed May15 all the way to Erez, then used violence to disperse protesters who came to demonstrate peacefully and honor the deaths of May15! Same when we tried to commemorate the 1948 Nakba and they totally stopped it under the pretext of not having authorization! And since when a Palestinian commemorating his Nakbe needs to be authorized? Again, where is that part exactly in the book of law that says anything about “authorization”? We have the right to demonstrate peacefully and the authority has no power to even approve or have a say! They just got to be informed 48 hours ahead, but again “the government IS the law” isn’t it? 🙂
The revolutionary guys here were more than fantastic listening to the governmental orders, and plans are changed! Everyone will be heading to Erez. What about the prisoners? Ah, and when was it exactly about them anyway? This youth group now claims that it’s not over yet and they’ll take the streets again for the prisoners in June 14.
What really makes me laugh here is that I was thinking that we here in Gaza should be taking the streets in June 17 to claim the right of Saudi women to drive! I’m thinking what kind of a conversation I’d be having with the authority here when they’ll be informed and how would they react when they listen to our cause this time that’s dragging us to the streets again which they hate to death!

The last thing in my day was the news of ALi Abdullah Saleh fleeing the country to Saudi Arabia! I got excited when I first heard the news, then it was denied..confirmed again and explained as it’s not over yet; the man is getting his treatment and then coming back again. So, watch out dear Yemenis the bastard (trying to be polite) is coming back again! Though I’m still wondering, if this is not it for him, then when the hell will he “flee” then?
Could this be true?

Finally, I’d like to thank Egypt, Hamas And Abdullah Saleh for making my day 🙂
Love from Gaza..Stay Human,
Ebaa

Dear Vittorio: Damn you, man! You made me cheer for Barcelona!!!

May 10, 2011

This was posted on April 18, 2011 in a different blog (gazanista.wordpress)which is also mine, but it’s supposed to be deactivated. Sorry for the little mistake. And let me repost this on my blog here:

I really did want to post earlier about whom I consider a friend, Vittrio Arrigoni! The Italian journalist and ISM activist who got murdered (suffocated) by a group of extremists. Every time I tried to do it, I just couldn’t finish it and it was so angry as I was! But not anymore. I mean let’s remember together who this man really was! Regardless of his terrific work that I wouldn’t dare talking about as it speaks for itself. Vittorio was this beautiful, passionate, caring, loving and energetic person who’s full of life & humanity! When you enter a place or a room you’d know he’s there because his loud voice and laugh would actually shake the place! Not to mention his funny English accent let alone his Arabic one! You’d fall in love with him when he says “AH, MUSHKILE!!” which means “Oh, that’s a problem!!”. And his text messages that would be half English, half Arabic and you can’t tell which is which! I’ve never seen him sad or upset! He lived a beautiful, meaningful life and he would want me\us to do the same. I feel it’s our duty to convey his message to the world, to be passionate about what we do, to always laugh, sing and dance, to be better peace activists and to live and fight for a cause and to die with honor. What happened to him is a real tragedy that was committed by non-humans! No one could’ve been more Palestinian than our Vik, so to the murderers out there: I feel so sorry for you; you’re just so pathetic and weak! What you did to Vik didn’t actually kill him; he’s not dead..YOU are! He’s alive in every street, in the sea, in the farms, on the walls and in our hearts!

When I heard the news, I was following the case of his abduction on twitter and before that I told my friends that I’m not putting his face as my profile picture because that was insane since he’s going to be released right next morning!!! I was so sure, as all of you were (I guess) that he’s going to be out in any minute! I was joking naively about it on twitter saying “Believe me, this is fake. He’s hiding so I won’t laugh at him at Saturday night’s Classico” and people were asking me who he cheers for and I was like “He’s for Barca, that scumbag!” I swear I said that literary and we were laughing about it. One told me that Vik is going to kill us when he gets out for accusing him of hiding and being afraid, not to mention calling him scumbag..and other bad things! We were laughing and so sure he would when he gets out and see all the jokes we were telling behind his back! Not for a moment, I believed how serious it was. I blamed myself when I heard the news of his murder for not taking it seriously, for not putting his picture, for telling jokes and calling him bad names but again, that’s how we used to communicate always laughing, joking and making fun of each other! I didn’t get how this would change at any time at any day!

Sorry for the title! I know you all would think I’m crazy or inappropriate or something, BUT when I & Vik used to talk, this is how we used to do it; always mean, fighting, yelling at each other. And I’ve always called him bad names, but I just noticed that he never did the same to me, he always laughed about it. So, allow me to continue addressing him the way I used to do & the way he liked, cuz actually when I do this with anyone, it means that I love him very deeply! So, I’ll keep loving him in my own way and tell him: “Damn you bastard, you made me cheer for Barca”!!

Our friendship was not work-related! It was, as he always was with others, so beautiful & humane! We both are football crazy. We would fight for hours and text nonstop attacking each other and making fun of each other’s teams! We were rivals; he’s for Juventus & I’m for Inter Milan, he’s for Barca & I’m for Madrid, he’s for Manchester & I’m for Liverpool & of course he’s for Italy & I’m for Brasil.. Total enemies. That’s how we first met few years ago in Al Deira restaurant, we talked about different things & when you meet this guy, you just can’t help but to love him! Then when it came to football, I knew he was from Milano then he said he’s for Juventus and then we started the fight that was so funny & endless!

Vik was not only there when it came to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He was also there for us internally, specially when we started the March15 popular movement (sorry for not posting about it as I promised, but a lot happened and I couldn’t. I’ll make a big one soon.)! He went out in most of the demonstrations and he got beaten up just like the rest of us. On the big day of March15 when the big attack happened in Kateebe Square he was there and was beaten..right after that, he called me to make sure I was safe! On the “horrible” Day of Land 30th of March, I saw an injured girl in the street who got hit by a police jeep during our demonstration calling for the end of division though she was just walking by. I stayed there to help her and he was calling me but I didn’t answer, then he called my sister to know where I am so he could come and bring a doctor along as he thought I was the one who got hit. She told him I was there to offer help, but he wanted to come and bring the doctor to help us as much as possible no matter how hard she tried to convince him that it was so dangerous and risky for him to go there. Later on, I called them to say that everything’s fine and we got her to the hospital. Before March15, I got arrested with a group of girls for standing in solidarity with Egyptians. He was following our case every step of the way, tried to help and then after we got released he was texting and calling to check if I was OK! Also in Sharek Youth Forum incident in December 2010 he was following our news and stood beside us and supported my friend Mostafa when he got arrested that day.. and I can tell you tens of similar situations where you ALWAYS find him there for you! And in every time no matter how bad it is, he just manages to make me laugh. He doesn’t know how helpful that was, that’s something I’ll always miss!

In Vik’s mourning house, I met a lot of people who were in a bad shape grieving their friend. We shared stories, they made me cry even more! Everyone had his own story. -Shahd was supposed to meet him on Friday, the day after his abduction! -Razan was supposed to accompany him to visit some family in a distant area. -Asa’ad had brought him a new pair of shoes as Vik’s were worn-out and Asa’ad has been hallucinating since then “Oh my friend, won’t you take the new shoes I brought you?”. -Abu Zuhdi and others stayed the night before the murder at the Gallery (Vik’s favorite place) till the morning with Vik and did nothing but playing Oud and singing beautiful songs of Palestine & Fairouz! -Fadi & Asa’ad couple of days before the murder were listening to loud, beautiful music for Mohammed Mounir while Vik was in a meeting at the same time & same place. Then he left the meeting and joined them in their crazy moment dancing and singing so loudly! Then he gave Fadi famous small medal of “Handala” he used to put on his hat after Fadi asked him for it. I was happy that it wasn’t lost with his other stuff, and it’ll be kept by someone who knows what it really means! Most of the crowd didn’t really have that close relation with him, but hey, who didn’t talk to Vik before? Who didn’t pass by him without getting his warm smile, who didn’t sing Onadeekum along with him, who didn’t talk to him and heard his lovely Arabic accent, who didn’t at least see his face before? Vik was well-known in Gaza, like a Hollywood star! -For me, I felt blessed that I could remember the first & last times we met as I don’t usually remember so easily. Then after that I started to have all the memories at once like a flash back that made me laugh while I was crying that I looked insane! Last time I saw him was in a gathering for friends and we had so much fun that night. I remember one ordered a Nutella cake and we ate it right from the box. That was so savage and disgusting that made us all laugh about it. Ah, and he was singing Gaqqfai’s famous revolutionary song “Zanga Zanga”. I wish I knew that was the last time to see him, really if I ever want make a wish, it’d be knowing when it’s my last time with someone! I wish..!

At Saturday night, we had the big game of Real Madrid vs. Barcelona that I was supposed to watch with him at the Gallery. I went there with my family & friends without him next to us, but with him in my heart & mind. I went because we should’ve been there together, the only difference was that he was watching from the heavens and I was here on Earth! I decided to go and cheer for Barcelona as he always wanted!! Some of the crowd were chanting for Madrid and others for Barca & I was sitting there silent; not knowing what to do. Most of the time I was forgetting my decision and would scream for Madrid and then I’d go “Shit, I forgot. Go Barca”! That was horrible lol, not to mention how much hated I was from both crowds!! I was tortured that night and it was so messed up but hilarious! I had my American friend right next to me saying “Vik is laughing his ass off at you right now!” Yes, I bet he did!! I hope my gesture that night made it up for him for all the times when I was mean to him and for never telling him how much I did love & respect him! Because cheering for the enemy (Barca) means that I love you, man!Our dearest friend Shahd Abu Salame finally did that painting you always wanted her to do and I did cheer for Barca as you always were telling me to do.. You bastard, you always get what you want!


This is a video of me and friends in a little protest in solidarity with our Egyptian brothers during their revolution. Vik joins us and starts to sing the famous Onadeekum and I’ll quote his ISM colleague and good friend Adie here:
“Vik used to sing this revolutionary song by Palestinian poet, communist Tawfiq Ziad: ‘Ounadikum’ or ‘I’m calling you’ on many demonstrations in Gaza. The first few lines are exactly Vik:

I’m calling you
I shake your hands
I kiss the ground beneath your feet
I’d die for you
I dedicated to you the light of my eyes
And I give you the warmth of my heart
And the tragedy that I live is that my fate is the same as yours

I couldn’t sleep as in few hours Gaza will officially say goodbye to Vik. His body will leave this place, but not his heart..not his mind nor his spirit! He’ll be stuck here in Gaza and we’ll be stuck there in him forever! No black clothes and hopefully no tears, with lots of love we’ll celebrate your humanity and greatness today..Sleep well ♥