Archive for the ‘Gaza’ Category

Keeping mental health services available for children in Gaza – HuffPost

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), every child above the age of 10 in Gaza has witnessed death, destruction, and displacement as a result of three traumatic military offensives. As a result, recent estimates show that over 300,000 children in Gaza need mental health guidance. For the past 15 years, UNRWA has been using its Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP) to support refugees, namely children and youth, on how to navigate their past and ongoing trauma. This program has a network of nearly 300 counselors spread across UNRWAs 267 schools. To help CMHP continue to deliver psychosocial services to children and youth, UNRWA USA is hosting a series of Gaza 5K walk/run races to raise funds. This years races are being held in DC, NYC, San Francisco, Houston, and Chicago. You can register for them here.

You dont have to be near any of the participating cities to take part in the marathon of fundraising efforts. There is an option for you to donate online or support a team, which makes for a much, much shorter walk to your wallet.

Care about the cause, but dont care much for jogging? No judgement here. Who among us has not paused a television binge to text, Im sorry I couldnt make it, got super busy :/, to avoid doing something marginally physical? You can also host your own fundraising event with something that requires less movement, or donate online.

Most importantly, spread the word about how others in your community or networks can engage, through UNRWAs volunteer program!

Follow UNRWA on Twitter and Facebook for more updates on Palestine refugees and how you can get involved.

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Keeping mental health services available for children in Gaza – HuffPost

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Beached ship restaurant fuels Gazans’ longing for the sea – Reuters

GAZA (Reuters) – For decades, Palestinians have dreamed of having their own port on the Mediterranean, from where they could sail the world. Instead, they are making do with a wooden ship run aground on a Gaza beach, which has become a popular restaurant.

The “Lolo Rose” may not look like much, but its eight tables are in heavy demand, with Gazans queuing for a chance to eat fish in an unusual spot where they can hear the waves crashing on the sides, even if they can’t make it out to sea.

“It is a nice idea but it is a standstill, it does not move,” said Manar Shaqoura, 19, a law student who managed to snag a table at the front of the vessel. “We wish the ship could sail and take us to Turkey.”

In Roman times, Gaza was an important port on the Mediterranean, a stopover in the Middle East for merchants on the way between Asia Minor and north Africa. That status continued into the 20th century and World War One.

But recent decades have not been so good. After Israel seized Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war, the port was effectively put out of use. In the mid-1990s, under the Oslo accords, plans were drawn up for a much larger port for Gaza’s now 2 million people, but they never came to fruition.

Israel withdrew its forces and settlers from Gaza in 2005, but still controls entry and exit, access to the sea and the territory’s airspace. Locals feel trapped and frustrated.

Despite Palestinian and international efforts, Israel will not allow a new port to be built, citing security. The concern is that Hamas, the Islamist group that has controlled Gaza since 2007, will smuggle weapons into the territory.

Israel’s minister of intelligence and transport has been pushing the idea of building an artificial island off Gaza’s coast that would provide a port and other facilities, but that has so far failed to win the government’s backing.

So for now, the “Lolo Rose” is one place where Gazans can go to get a feel for the sea and imagine themselves on it.

The owners once used the vessel for fishing, but Israel’s tight restrictions on access to the sea — fishermen can only go out 6-9 nautical miles, rather than the 20 miles agreed under the Oslo accords — have made the industry unprofitable.

“We are under blockade, the idea is that you feel yourself inside the water,” said Thabet Tartouri, the ship’s owner.

“We hope one day, we will be allowed to have tourist ships that will go from Gaza to the whole world.”

Reporting by Nidal Almughrabi; Editing by Luke Baker and Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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Beached ship restaurant fuels Gazans’ longing for the sea – Reuters

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Israeli spy agency uncovers Gaza-Turkey-Hebron terror money trail – The Jerusalem Post

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh recieves royal welcome in Turkey. (photo credit:Courtesy )

A Hamas money laundering ring which funnelled hundreds of thousands of dollars from officials Gaza to the West Bank city of Hebron via Turkey has been exposed, Israels Shin Bet internal security agency cleared for publication on Thursday.

According to a statement by the Shin Bet internal security agency the complex money-laundering operation which began last year was uncovered in a joint operation by the Shin Bet, IDF and Israel Police who arrested five Hamas members in the West Bank and identified another operative in Turkey and another in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

The scheme was run by senior Hamas activist Muhammed Mahed Bader from Hebron who was arrested in June. Bader, a member of the Palestinian legislative council recruited two other Hamas activists from Hebron, Musab al-Haslom and Taha Othman, who were sent to Turkey to act as couriers under the guise of business trips.

While in Turkey the two met with Hamas activist Haroun Nasser al-Din, another Hebron resident who was released from Israeli prison as part of the prisoner exchange deal for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Al-Haslom and two others, his brother Yusri Hashalom and Umar Kimari are said to have been in contact with Majed Jaba, a Hamas activist originally from Hebron but exiled to the Gaza Strip after having been released as part of the Shalit prisoner deal. Jaba is suspected of helping to facilitate the transfer of the funds.

According to the Shin Bet Haroun gave Haslom and Othman tens of thousands of dollars. The two purchased merchandise in Turkey and imported the goods via international shipping companies in Hebron and gave the money from the sales to Hamas operatives in Hebron, minus a commission.

Al-Haslom was asked to transfer terror funds from Turkey to Hebron in order to finance the activities of Hamas members in the groups headquarters in Hebron, in particular members of the Hamas Legislative Council. In addition, al-Haslom was asked to transfer funds for Hamas activists who had been released from prison.

The investigation revealed that $200,000 had been laundered in that manner.

The Shin Bet stated that Hamas frequently mobilizes relatives of the organization’s operatives in the field, or is assisted by merchants and businessmen who pay a significant personal and business price for this activity.

In addition to the money laundering the agency foiled the construction of a multi-million dollar concrete plant financed by Hamas which had been planned with the aim of laundering even more money.

The exposure of the infrastructure indicates the constant motivation of Hamas activists in Turkey and the Gaza Strip to increase terror from Hamas in the West Bank. Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip and abroad recruit emissaries from Judea and Samaria who travel abroad to transfer terrorist funds and messages to operatives in the field, read the Shin Bet statement.

The Shin Bet together with the IDF and the Israel Police will continue to act to expose and thwart terrorist activity directed by Hamas elements abroad and in the Gaza Strip, the statement continued.

An indictment against the suspects is expected to be filed by the military prosecution in the coming days.

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Israeli spy agency uncovers Gaza-Turkey-Hebron terror money trail – The Jerusalem Post

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August 3, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Palestinian children play in raw sewage on Gaza City’s beaches – Metro

Kids risk becoming sick by swimming in the untreated sewage water (Picture: EPA/MOHAMMED SABER)

During the heat of summer, Palestinian children have no alternative than to swim in untreated sewage on Gaza Citys beaches.

Gaza is suffering from a water crisis and much of the drinking water is unsafe for consumption, the United Nations has reported.

Despite many Gazans becoming sick due to untreated water from coastal aquifers, these children still giggle and laugh as they play in the putridly dirty sea water.

On Gazas 25 miles of beaches children swim in the murky brown water up to their necks just metres away from an outflow pipe.

Gazas environmental crisis is being caused by a lack of fuel to operate sewage treating facilities which has forced authorities to flush wastewater into the Mediterranean Sea.

A 10-year Israeli-led blockade has led to a cut of electrical supply to the coastal strip.

The UN have said the Palestinian enclave populated by around two million people may become uninhabitable by 2020.

Shocking surveys by the Palestinian Environment Quality Authority said that the pollution of the seawater has now gone beyond 50%.

But in this community largely cut off from the rest of the world the sea is key to an accessible form of recreation.

Many still rely on the now filthy seawater for fishing.

Before the shutdown of the sewage plants the beaches in this area were crowded, but now residents prefer to stay away.

A UN report published in 2015 highlighted the severe crisis in Gaza due to water and electricity.

It found that 1.8 million inhabitants in Gaza rely on coastal aquifers as their main source of freshwater, but most of this is unsafe to drink.

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Health organisations warn against people taking a dip in polluted waters as this can be seriously harmful.

Children and older people are most vulnerable to being exposed to the microorganisms pathogens or having gastroenteritis.

Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, stomach-ache, diarrhoea, headache or fever.

In worst case scenarios people can die from swimming in untreated sea water.

But as the heat continues to rise to unbearable levels on the Gaza beaches children still cannot resist from bathing in the faecal infested sea.

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Palestinian children play in raw sewage on Gaza City’s beaches – Metro

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August 2, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Wailin Storms’ ‘Irene Gaza’ Is An Unholy Post-Punk Reckoning – NPR

Walin Storms’ Sick City comes out Oct. 2. Mark Maya/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

Walin Storms’ Sick City comes out Oct. 2.

Wailin Storms the name alone conjures a howlin’ hurricane, ominous and awe-inspiring. The Durham, N.C.-based band does a lot to live up to that name, swirling in the gothic post-punk croon of early Samhain and 16 Horsepower’s fiery proselytizing. After a couple EPs and a debut album, the first single from Wailin Storms’ Sick City indicates an unholy reckoning.

Where the band previously dug deeply into dark kitsch with moves borrowed for their forebears, Wailin Storms has found its own blood-stained footing here. “You wear a crooked cross / You have no f****** heart,” guitarist Justin Storms moans at the top of “Irene Gaza,” before pounding into a dusty noise-rock squall.

Sick City comes out Oct. 2 via Wailin Storms’ site (U.S.) and Antena Krzyku (Europe). Wailin Storms goes on tour in August.

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Wailin Storms’ ‘Irene Gaza’ Is An Unholy Post-Punk Reckoning – NPR

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World Bank to help fund solar panels project in Gaza – Arab-Israeli … – The Jerusalem Post

A worker installs solar panels on a roof in Gaza City. (photo credit:IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

In an effort to ameliorate the ongoing Gazan energy crisis, the World Bank on Tuesday announced a partnership with the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company and the Palestinian Authority to launch a $2.5-million solar roof pilot program in the Strip.

The initiative, funded by the World Bank and a multi-donor trust fund called Development Partners, is part of an $11m.

project designed to expeditiously expand and engender the mobilization of the private sector to install 1,000 rooftop panels.

According to a new study by the World Bank, entitled Securing Energy for Development in the West Bank and Gaza, more than 150 megawatts of solar power can be produced in the Gaza Strip.

However, due to a reliance on expensive diesel fuel, the region rarely produces more than 60 megawatts.

The recent reduction of imports from Israel has resulted in a full-blown crisis, endangering patients at area hospitals, and forcing Gazans to search for viable, affordable alternative energy solutions.

Gaza residents currently subsist on two hours of electricity daily.

Rooftop solar technology, first introduced to the impoverished coastal enclave in 2012, is increasingly proving to be the best solution, according to the World Bank.

As of May 2017, approximately 310 kilowatts of rooftop solar systems have been installed on rooftops of health facilities in Gaza, said Sara Badiei, an energy specialist at the World Bank. For an embattled company such as GEDCO, this is an opportunity to improve their services and customer relations by providing additional power independent of political uncertainties.

According to the Gaza Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, 1,000 kilowatts of additional rooftop solar generation could be installed at 34 critical units within 10 hospitals in the region at a cost of $4m.

In addition, the program helps strengthen utility performance by encouraging good payment behavior through the monthly installments, said Badiei.

Following the same business model with additional modifications and streamlining the World Bank is teaming up with GEDCO and the Palestinian Energy Authority to install 1 megawatt of rooftop solar systems for up to 1,000 consumers.

The pilot project, she said, is designed to be rapidly scalable, with an emphasis on galvanizing the private sector for further growth.

While not a panacea, Badiei said the initiative will offer the most sustainable means of increasing the regions daily power needs, which by 2030 is forecast to reach 900 megawatts.

At the same time, it will help ensure lifesaving health treatments, link telecommunication systems, improve water supply, bring adequate sewage treatment, enable business development and most importantly, ensure consumers remain connected to electricity, even if a subsection of the grid is damaged during armed conflict, she said.

Overall, adoption of solar energy should be maximized; not only to improve quality of life, but to put power back into the hands of ordinary Gazans, she added.

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World Bank to help fund solar panels project in Gaza – Arab-Israeli … – The Jerusalem Post

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August 1, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

On Third Anniversary of His Death in Gaza, Mother of Fallen Israeli Soldier Whose Body Is Still Being Held by Hamas … – Algemeiner

Email a copy of “On Third Anniversary of His Death in Gaza, Mother of Fallen Israeli Soldier Whose Body Is Still Being Held by Hamas Urges Jews Around World to Join Effort to Bring Her Son Home” to a friend

Fallen IDF soldier Hadar Goldin.

Tuesday marked the third anniversary of the death of Lt. Hadar Goldin an IDF soldier who fell in battle in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge and whose body was kidnapped by Hamas and is still being held by the terrorist group.

This year, the Gregorian calendar anniversary of the incident in Rafah in which Goldin was killed which took place after Hamas violated a UN-brokered cease-fire fell on Tisha BAv, an annual fast day on which Jews remember past disasters.

Goldin is one of two fallen IDF soldiers the other being Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul who died in the summer 2014 Gaza war and whose remains have yet to be returned to Israel for burial.

On this day of mourning and hope for stronger Jewish unity, we ask our Jewish brothers and sisters around the world to join us in helping bring Hadar home, Leah Goldin Hadar Goldins mother told The Algemeiner on Tuesday. We are deeply appreciative that the American leadership and other leaders around the world have expressed their empathy for our plight.

August 1, 2017 5:15 pm

As we approach Shabbat Nachamu, we ask Jewish communities around the world to join us in remembering Hadar on the anniversary of his death and take action to uphold international humanitarian law and pressure Hamas to return Hadar and Oron, she continued.

In an interview with The Algemeinerin April, Leah Goldin said, Bringing a soldier back to Israel to burial is, first and foremost, a humanitarian issue. This is an important value in all religions. Its about human dignity.

During a February trip to the US, Goldin and her husband Simha met in New York City with Americas UN envoy, Nikki Haley.

We hope that the [Trump] administration will take this on as an issue and help us to solve it, Goldin said in April.

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On Third Anniversary of His Death in Gaza, Mother of Fallen Israeli Soldier Whose Body Is Still Being Held by Hamas … – Algemeiner

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Justice denied Three Years after the Hannibal Directive in Rafah, Gaza – Reliefweb

1 August 2017 marks three years since Black Friday, a key event at the beginning of the Israeli militarys invocation of the so-called Hannibal Directive in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. The go-ahead on the Directive brought four days of intensive, continuous military attacks on the city and severe restrictions on movement that cut it off from the rest of the Gaza Strip. The military assault resulted in the killing of 255 Palestinians, including 85 children, and the injury to hundreds more during these four days alone. The morning of Black Friday coincided with the supposed start of a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire, agreed upon yet not implemented three weeks into the 51-day military assault on Gaza that Israel termed Operation Protective Edge.

The Hannibal Directive, which is ostensibly used to thwart the abduction of a captured Israeli soldier, was invoked in Rafah following the reported capture of Israeli 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin. For the following four days, Rafah, a densely populated city of around 153,000 people (2014), was subjected to heavy artillery, tank and aerial attacks. Three years later, no Israeli military or government leaders have been held to account for the killings, destruction, and invocation of the Directive.

One of the tragic events that occurred during those days was the 3 August 2014 missile strike on UNRWA School A in Rafah, which was serving as a shelter for over 3,000 internally displaced persons (IDP). Israels refusal to investigate this event, highlights a system aimed at delivering impunity rather than due process. At approximately 10:36 am, a drone targeted a motorcycle carrying a young man and a child, while they were driving in the vicinity of the UNRWA school. The two were killed along with 12 others standing in front of the entrance gate. Eight children were among the fatalities and 25 people were injured. The Israeli military later claimed that those on the motorcycle were suspected militants, however, Al Mezans investigations in the months after the attack showed that all 14 people killed were civilians.

With reasonable cause to believe the attack violated international humanitarian law, human rights law and criminal law, Al Mezan and AdalahThe Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel filed a complaint on 31 August 2014 to the Israeli authorities, demanding a serious, independent investigation and the prosecution of those responsible. Two years later, on 24 August 2016, the authorities closed the file without a criminal investigation, despite the militarys clear violation of the principles of distinction and proportionality by selecting the area of the IDP shelter as a target.

The UN Commission of Inquiry also found that imprecise weapons were used, concluding that the attack is highly likely to constitute an indiscriminate attack which, depending on the circumstances, may qualify as a direct attack against civilians, and may therefore amount to a war crime.The organizations appealed the closure of the file and argued that the principles of distinction and proportionality had been violated in this case. They also contended that the MAG failed to discuss command responsibility, although the decision was made at high levels to in fact use the particular very powerful munitions in the area, although the MAG acknowledged to UNRWAmultiple timesthat it was aware that the school was sheltering a high number of civilians.

The MAGs recommendation to launch an investigatory panel, with the reported aim of countering domestic and international criticism over the Black Friday events in Rafah, was met with opposition by the Israeli Prime Minister and other officials and has seemingly been cancelled. Three years after the attacks, an independent, robust and credible investigation, which complies with the relevant international standards, is still sorely awaited.

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Justice denied Three Years after the Hannibal Directive in Rafah, Gaza – Reliefweb

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‘The worst it’s been’: children continue to swim as raw sewage floods Gaza beach – The Guardian

It is high summer on Gaza Citys beach. A horse and cart patrols the shore selling brightly coloured swimming rings. A small boat is giving joy rides out to sea. Families sit on chairs while a few children play in the water.

Normally, in the midst of the school holidays, the beach would be crowded. Particularly this year, as an electricity crisis makes many homes unbearable during the heat. But these days many parents are keeping their children away.

The first hint is the smell: the sulphurous odour of raw sewage.

Where children are swimming the water is a murky brown, with a fine suspension of faecal matter visible to the naked eye. Small fish at the waters edge, scooped out by the giggling children, are dead.

While pollution of Gazas 25 miles of beaches is not new, what is different is the degree. These days, according to the last environmental survey, 73% of Gazas coastline is dangerously polluted with sewage amid an energy crisis that is now also affecting Israel across the border wall, sharply up from 40-50% a year ago.

The kids need to swim. This is the only place where you can come to escape the tedium of Gaza

The reason is simple. After 10 years of an Israeli-led blockade that has seen Gazas impoverished urban infrastructure decay, the current decision by the Palestinian Authority under president Mahmoud Abbas to cut electricity to the coastal strip has impacted Gazas rudimentary sewage treatment.

Without electricity to power its lagoons, treatment works and sewage pumps, Gazas waste managers have been forced to make a choice, permit the cities to flood or allow raw sewage to escape the overflows into the sea.

It is a new level of contamination that is not only having an environmental effect, but a profound social one too. In an overcrowded strip of land home to two million people, and largely cut off from the outside world, for many the beach and sea are the only affordable and accessible form of recreation.

Sitting in his wooden lifeguards tower, Khalid Farahat, who is employed by the local municipality, says he has seen the number of beach-goers drop by almost 50% since the electricity and sewage crisis began in April.

Today he is accompanied by his 12-year-old son who wont go in the water when it is so dirty. It is much less crowded than it was, he explains.

It is so polluted at the moment. There is a sewage pumping line less than a kilometre from here. When the wind blows in this direction the water is filthy. When there is electricity to power my loudspeaker I warn people to stay out of the water.

I remember when we had electricity 24/7 people would still come here to escape the heat. But no beach and no electricity that is a disaster for Gaza.

The escalation of Gazas sewage problem is most obvious in two locations: in Wadi Gaza, at the centre of the strip, where an open river of almost pure effluent flows into the sea, and a second stream in Gazas north where sewage has been flowing via a wadi beneath the border wall into Israel and down into the sea around Zikkim beach.

At Gazas Coastal Municipalities Water and Utilities office, Omar Shatet, the head of operations, explains the growing problem.

This is worst it has ever been. We rely on electricity to drive our systems. And with 20 hours a day without electricity we cant pump sewage.

We have five waste water treatment plants, but most of them were built originally as temporary, until we completed new sludge works. They were planned 15 years ago and only one is nearing completion.

The catch 22 as Shatet concedes is that it will need power to operate. We have 70 sewage lifting stations across Gaza, he adds. But the main priority right now is to stop flooding in cities when the pumps are working. That means that 15,000 metric tonnes of raw sewage is going into the sea as well as 110,000 tonnes that are partially treated.

The result is that the last testing of beach water that was carried out showed 73% has a level of contamination that prohibits swimming which leaves only 27% available spread all over strip.

Shatet himself has not swum in the sea himself in the last few years and would only consider swimming from a boat 200m beyond the coastline, where the pollution diminishes.

At the offices of Unicef, which runs a desalination plant, the UN organisations water and sanitation specialist, Mohanlal Peiris, gives an equally bleak account.

It is very bad. I mean, it was already bad. Now it is worse. There is really no proper treatment works. And whats been happening in the past has now been exacerbated because there is no power. And when there is no power in the lagoons there is no aeration for the treatment process.

The treatment authority is facing a pretty hopeless choice in which Gaza getting flooded with sewage would be even more catastrophic. If that happens the sewage would get into a water table that is already getting brackish because infiltration of infiltration by sewage, fertilisers and sea water intrusion as the aquifers have become depleted.

Gaza, as Peiris explains, also has unique challenges. Because it is flat stabilisation ponds for sewage cannot use gravity to separate the sludge, relying on electricity. The Israeli-led blockade means difficulties not only in sourcing generators but any hope of extending marine sewage outfalls from the waters edge out to sea, as is the case in the UK where outfalls are often a mile long.

It is not only bathers who fear what is happening to the sea. Peiriss colleague at Unicef, Milina Shahin, lives by the beach and is concerned about the impact of the odours on her own children.

I live by the beach. It is supposed to be a privilege. But the smells give me a headache. Now I am concerned about my own children. But I cant say dont go to balcony. Its supposed to be a nice thing to see the sea. I paid money for the view but now it is a disaster, she says.

And while for richer residents there are other options including private pools and chalets that can be rented for 12 hours for around 80 it represents roughly half the monthly salary of a lifeguard like Khalid, making it unavailable for most in Gaza.

A second option is to travel north to the mile-and-a-half of beach in Gazas north, immediately bordering Israel, where the water is regarded as the cleanest in the strip.

But, for most, the only option is to swim and even fish in the filthy water.

On the day the Guardian visits Gaza beach, Tayeb Quneitra, a hairdresser, is sitting by the waters edge with his wife watching his children aged three to nine years old playing in the shallows.

He says he last came three weeks ago. I heard on the news that it is not safe to swim because of the sewage. But the kids need to swim, he says. I am not a swimmer myself but I have friends who refuse to come.

But this is the only place where you can come to escape the tedium of Gaza. And you get used to the smell. Last time we came was much worse than it is today, he adds. Then the water was completely green.

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‘The worst it’s been’: children continue to swim as raw sewage floods Gaza beach – The Guardian

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July 31, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Keeping mental health services available for children in Gaza – HuffPost

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), every child above the age of 10 in Gaza has witnessed death, destruction, and displacement as a result of three traumatic military offensives. As a result, recent estimates show that over 300,000 children in Gaza need mental health guidance. For the past 15 years, UNRWA has been using its Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP) to support refugees, namely children and youth, on how to navigate their past and ongoing trauma. This program has a network of nearly 300 counselors spread across UNRWAs 267 schools. To help CMHP continue to deliver psychosocial services to children and youth, UNRWA USA is hosting a series of Gaza 5K walk/run races to raise funds. This years races are being held in DC, NYC, San Francisco, Houston, and Chicago. You can register for them here. You dont have to be near any of the participating cities to take part in the marathon of fundraising efforts. There is an option for you to donate online or support a team, which makes for a much, much shorter walk to your wallet. Care about the cause, but dont care much for jogging? No judgement here. Who among us has not paused a television binge to text, Im sorry I couldnt make it, got super busy :/, to avoid doing something marginally physical? You can also host your own fundraising event with something that requires less movement, or donate online. Most importantly, spread the word about how others in your community or networks can engage, through UNRWAs volunteer program! Follow UNRWA on Twitter and Facebook for more updates on Palestine refugees and how you can get involved. The Morning Email Wake up to the day’s most important news.

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Beached ship restaurant fuels Gazans’ longing for the sea – Reuters

GAZA (Reuters) – For decades, Palestinians have dreamed of having their own port on the Mediterranean, from where they could sail the world. Instead, they are making do with a wooden ship run aground on a Gaza beach, which has become a popular restaurant. The “Lolo Rose” may not look like much, but its eight tables are in heavy demand, with Gazans queuing for a chance to eat fish in an unusual spot where they can hear the waves crashing on the sides, even if they can’t make it out to sea. “It is a nice idea but it is a standstill, it does not move,” said Manar Shaqoura, 19, a law student who managed to snag a table at the front of the vessel. “We wish the ship could sail and take us to Turkey.” In Roman times, Gaza was an important port on the Mediterranean, a stopover in the Middle East for merchants on the way between Asia Minor and north Africa. That status continued into the 20th century and World War One. But recent decades have not been so good. After Israel seized Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war, the port was effectively put out of use. In the mid-1990s, under the Oslo accords, plans were drawn up for a much larger port for Gaza’s now 2 million people, but they never came to fruition. Israel withdrew its forces and settlers from Gaza in 2005, but still controls entry and exit, access to the sea and the territory’s airspace. Locals feel trapped and frustrated. Despite Palestinian and international efforts, Israel will not allow a new port to be built, citing security. The concern is that Hamas, the Islamist group that has controlled Gaza since 2007, will smuggle weapons into the territory. Israel’s minister of intelligence and transport has been pushing the idea of building an artificial island off Gaza’s coast that would provide a port and other facilities, but that has so far failed to win the government’s backing. So for now, the “Lolo Rose” is one place where Gazans can go to get a feel for the sea and imagine themselves on it. The owners once used the vessel for fishing, but Israel’s tight restrictions on access to the sea — fishermen can only go out 6-9 nautical miles, rather than the 20 miles agreed under the Oslo accords — have made the industry unprofitable. “We are under blockade, the idea is that you feel yourself inside the water,” said Thabet Tartouri, the ship’s owner. “We hope one day, we will be allowed to have tourist ships that will go from Gaza to the whole world.” Reporting by Nidal Almughrabi; Editing by Luke Baker and Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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August 3, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Israeli spy agency uncovers Gaza-Turkey-Hebron terror money trail – The Jerusalem Post

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh recieves royal welcome in Turkey. (photo credit:Courtesy ) A Hamas money laundering ring which funnelled hundreds of thousands of dollars from officials Gaza to the West Bank city of Hebron via Turkey has been exposed, Israels Shin Bet internal security agency cleared for publication on Thursday. According to a statement by the Shin Bet internal security agency the complex money-laundering operation which began last year was uncovered in a joint operation by the Shin Bet, IDF and Israel Police who arrested five Hamas members in the West Bank and identified another operative in Turkey and another in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. The scheme was run by senior Hamas activist Muhammed Mahed Bader from Hebron who was arrested in June. Bader, a member of the Palestinian legislative council recruited two other Hamas activists from Hebron, Musab al-Haslom and Taha Othman, who were sent to Turkey to act as couriers under the guise of business trips. While in Turkey the two met with Hamas activist Haroun Nasser al-Din, another Hebron resident who was released from Israeli prison as part of the prisoner exchange deal for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Al-Haslom and two others, his brother Yusri Hashalom and Umar Kimari are said to have been in contact with Majed Jaba, a Hamas activist originally from Hebron but exiled to the Gaza Strip after having been released as part of the Shalit prisoner deal. Jaba is suspected of helping to facilitate the transfer of the funds. According to the Shin Bet Haroun gave Haslom and Othman tens of thousands of dollars. The two purchased merchandise in Turkey and imported the goods via international shipping companies in Hebron and gave the money from the sales to Hamas operatives in Hebron, minus a commission. Al-Haslom was asked to transfer terror funds from Turkey to Hebron in order to finance the activities of Hamas members in the groups headquarters in Hebron, in particular members of the Hamas Legislative Council. In addition, al-Haslom was asked to transfer funds for Hamas activists who had been released from prison. The investigation revealed that $200,000 had been laundered in that manner. The Shin Bet stated that Hamas frequently mobilizes relatives of the organization’s operatives in the field, or is assisted by merchants and businessmen who pay a significant personal and business price for this activity. In addition to the money laundering the agency foiled the construction of a multi-million dollar concrete plant financed by Hamas which had been planned with the aim of laundering even more money. The exposure of the infrastructure indicates the constant motivation of Hamas activists in Turkey and the Gaza Strip to increase terror from Hamas in the West Bank. Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip and abroad recruit emissaries from Judea and Samaria who travel abroad to transfer terrorist funds and messages to operatives in the field, read the Shin Bet statement. The Shin Bet together with the IDF and the Israel Police will continue to act to expose and thwart terrorist activity directed by Hamas elements abroad and in the Gaza Strip, the statement continued. An indictment against the suspects is expected to be filed by the military prosecution in the coming days. Share on facebook

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August 3, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Palestinian children play in raw sewage on Gaza City’s beaches – Metro

Kids risk becoming sick by swimming in the untreated sewage water (Picture: EPA/MOHAMMED SABER) During the heat of summer, Palestinian children have no alternative than to swim in untreated sewage on Gaza Citys beaches. Gaza is suffering from a water crisis and much of the drinking water is unsafe for consumption, the United Nations has reported. Despite many Gazans becoming sick due to untreated water from coastal aquifers, these children still giggle and laugh as they play in the putridly dirty sea water. On Gazas 25 miles of beaches children swim in the murky brown water up to their necks just metres away from an outflow pipe. Gazas environmental crisis is being caused by a lack of fuel to operate sewage treating facilities which has forced authorities to flush wastewater into the Mediterranean Sea. A 10-year Israeli-led blockade has led to a cut of electrical supply to the coastal strip. The UN have said the Palestinian enclave populated by around two million people may become uninhabitable by 2020. Shocking surveys by the Palestinian Environment Quality Authority said that the pollution of the seawater has now gone beyond 50%. But in this community largely cut off from the rest of the world the sea is key to an accessible form of recreation. Many still rely on the now filthy seawater for fishing. Before the shutdown of the sewage plants the beaches in this area were crowded, but now residents prefer to stay away. A UN report published in 2015 highlighted the severe crisis in Gaza due to water and electricity. It found that 1.8 million inhabitants in Gaza rely on coastal aquifers as their main source of freshwater, but most of this is unsafe to drink. Mother left toddler to die in desert then returned to bury her in an animal hole Man’s penis ripped off when he tried to climb over fence with metal spikes Dying woman’s final wish granted as her favourite milkshake is shipped across the US Dad who watched daughter’s killer executed by machine gun says he feels reborn Health organisations warn against people taking a dip in polluted waters as this can be seriously harmful. Children and older people are most vulnerable to being exposed to the microorganisms pathogens or having gastroenteritis. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, stomach-ache, diarrhoea, headache or fever. In worst case scenarios people can die from swimming in untreated sea water. But as the heat continues to rise to unbearable levels on the Gaza beaches children still cannot resist from bathing in the faecal infested sea.

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August 2, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Wailin Storms’ ‘Irene Gaza’ Is An Unholy Post-Punk Reckoning – NPR

Walin Storms’ Sick City comes out Oct. 2. Mark Maya/Courtesy of the artist hide caption Walin Storms’ Sick City comes out Oct. 2. Wailin Storms the name alone conjures a howlin’ hurricane, ominous and awe-inspiring. The Durham, N.C.-based band does a lot to live up to that name, swirling in the gothic post-punk croon of early Samhain and 16 Horsepower’s fiery proselytizing. After a couple EPs and a debut album, the first single from Wailin Storms’ Sick City indicates an unholy reckoning. Where the band previously dug deeply into dark kitsch with moves borrowed for their forebears, Wailin Storms has found its own blood-stained footing here. “You wear a crooked cross / You have no f****** heart,” guitarist Justin Storms moans at the top of “Irene Gaza,” before pounding into a dusty noise-rock squall. Sick City comes out Oct. 2 via Wailin Storms’ site (U.S.) and Antena Krzyku (Europe). Wailin Storms goes on tour in August.

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August 2, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

World Bank to help fund solar panels project in Gaza – Arab-Israeli … – The Jerusalem Post

A worker installs solar panels on a roof in Gaza City. (photo credit:IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS) In an effort to ameliorate the ongoing Gazan energy crisis, the World Bank on Tuesday announced a partnership with the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company and the Palestinian Authority to launch a $2.5-million solar roof pilot program in the Strip. The initiative, funded by the World Bank and a multi-donor trust fund called Development Partners, is part of an $11m. project designed to expeditiously expand and engender the mobilization of the private sector to install 1,000 rooftop panels. According to a new study by the World Bank, entitled Securing Energy for Development in the West Bank and Gaza, more than 150 megawatts of solar power can be produced in the Gaza Strip. However, due to a reliance on expensive diesel fuel, the region rarely produces more than 60 megawatts. The recent reduction of imports from Israel has resulted in a full-blown crisis, endangering patients at area hospitals, and forcing Gazans to search for viable, affordable alternative energy solutions. Gaza residents currently subsist on two hours of electricity daily. Rooftop solar technology, first introduced to the impoverished coastal enclave in 2012, is increasingly proving to be the best solution, according to the World Bank. As of May 2017, approximately 310 kilowatts of rooftop solar systems have been installed on rooftops of health facilities in Gaza, said Sara Badiei, an energy specialist at the World Bank. For an embattled company such as GEDCO, this is an opportunity to improve their services and customer relations by providing additional power independent of political uncertainties. According to the Gaza Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, 1,000 kilowatts of additional rooftop solar generation could be installed at 34 critical units within 10 hospitals in the region at a cost of $4m. In addition, the program helps strengthen utility performance by encouraging good payment behavior through the monthly installments, said Badiei. Following the same business model with additional modifications and streamlining the World Bank is teaming up with GEDCO and the Palestinian Energy Authority to install 1 megawatt of rooftop solar systems for up to 1,000 consumers. The pilot project, she said, is designed to be rapidly scalable, with an emphasis on galvanizing the private sector for further growth. While not a panacea, Badiei said the initiative will offer the most sustainable means of increasing the regions daily power needs, which by 2030 is forecast to reach 900 megawatts. At the same time, it will help ensure lifesaving health treatments, link telecommunication systems, improve water supply, bring adequate sewage treatment, enable business development and most importantly, ensure consumers remain connected to electricity, even if a subsection of the grid is damaged during armed conflict, she said. Overall, adoption of solar energy should be maximized; not only to improve quality of life, but to put power back into the hands of ordinary Gazans, she added. Share on facebook

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August 1, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

On Third Anniversary of His Death in Gaza, Mother of Fallen Israeli Soldier Whose Body Is Still Being Held by Hamas … – Algemeiner

Email a copy of “On Third Anniversary of His Death in Gaza, Mother of Fallen Israeli Soldier Whose Body Is Still Being Held by Hamas Urges Jews Around World to Join Effort to Bring Her Son Home” to a friend Fallen IDF soldier Hadar Goldin. Tuesday marked the third anniversary of the death of Lt. Hadar Goldin an IDF soldier who fell in battle in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge and whose body was kidnapped by Hamas and is still being held by the terrorist group. This year, the Gregorian calendar anniversary of the incident in Rafah in which Goldin was killed which took place after Hamas violated a UN-brokered cease-fire fell on Tisha BAv, an annual fast day on which Jews remember past disasters. Goldin is one of two fallen IDF soldiers the other being Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul who died in the summer 2014 Gaza war and whose remains have yet to be returned to Israel for burial. On this day of mourning and hope for stronger Jewish unity, we ask our Jewish brothers and sisters around the world to join us in helping bring Hadar home, Leah Goldin Hadar Goldins mother told The Algemeiner on Tuesday. We are deeply appreciative that the American leadership and other leaders around the world have expressed their empathy for our plight. August 1, 2017 5:15 pm As we approach Shabbat Nachamu, we ask Jewish communities around the world to join us in remembering Hadar on the anniversary of his death and take action to uphold international humanitarian law and pressure Hamas to return Hadar and Oron, she continued. In an interview with The Algemeinerin April, Leah Goldin said, Bringing a soldier back to Israel to burial is, first and foremost, a humanitarian issue. This is an important value in all religions. Its about human dignity. During a February trip to the US, Goldin and her husband Simha met in New York City with Americas UN envoy, Nikki Haley. We hope that the [Trump] administration will take this on as an issue and help us to solve it, Goldin said in April.

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August 1, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Justice denied Three Years after the Hannibal Directive in Rafah, Gaza – Reliefweb

1 August 2017 marks three years since Black Friday, a key event at the beginning of the Israeli militarys invocation of the so-called Hannibal Directive in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. The go-ahead on the Directive brought four days of intensive, continuous military attacks on the city and severe restrictions on movement that cut it off from the rest of the Gaza Strip. The military assault resulted in the killing of 255 Palestinians, including 85 children, and the injury to hundreds more during these four days alone. The morning of Black Friday coincided with the supposed start of a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire, agreed upon yet not implemented three weeks into the 51-day military assault on Gaza that Israel termed Operation Protective Edge. The Hannibal Directive, which is ostensibly used to thwart the abduction of a captured Israeli soldier, was invoked in Rafah following the reported capture of Israeli 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin. For the following four days, Rafah, a densely populated city of around 153,000 people (2014), was subjected to heavy artillery, tank and aerial attacks. Three years later, no Israeli military or government leaders have been held to account for the killings, destruction, and invocation of the Directive. One of the tragic events that occurred during those days was the 3 August 2014 missile strike on UNRWA School A in Rafah, which was serving as a shelter for over 3,000 internally displaced persons (IDP). Israels refusal to investigate this event, highlights a system aimed at delivering impunity rather than due process. At approximately 10:36 am, a drone targeted a motorcycle carrying a young man and a child, while they were driving in the vicinity of the UNRWA school. The two were killed along with 12 others standing in front of the entrance gate. Eight children were among the fatalities and 25 people were injured. The Israeli military later claimed that those on the motorcycle were suspected militants, however, Al Mezans investigations in the months after the attack showed that all 14 people killed were civilians. With reasonable cause to believe the attack violated international humanitarian law, human rights law and criminal law, Al Mezan and AdalahThe Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel filed a complaint on 31 August 2014 to the Israeli authorities, demanding a serious, independent investigation and the prosecution of those responsible. Two years later, on 24 August 2016, the authorities closed the file without a criminal investigation, despite the militarys clear violation of the principles of distinction and proportionality by selecting the area of the IDP shelter as a target. The UN Commission of Inquiry also found that imprecise weapons were used, concluding that the attack is highly likely to constitute an indiscriminate attack which, depending on the circumstances, may qualify as a direct attack against civilians, and may therefore amount to a war crime.The organizations appealed the closure of the file and argued that the principles of distinction and proportionality had been violated in this case. They also contended that the MAG failed to discuss command responsibility, although the decision was made at high levels to in fact use the particular very powerful munitions in the area, although the MAG acknowledged to UNRWAmultiple timesthat it was aware that the school was sheltering a high number of civilians. The MAGs recommendation to launch an investigatory panel, with the reported aim of countering domestic and international criticism over the Black Friday events in Rafah, was met with opposition by the Israeli Prime Minister and other officials and has seemingly been cancelled. Three years after the attacks, an independent, robust and credible investigation, which complies with the relevant international standards, is still sorely awaited.

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August 1, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

‘The worst it’s been’: children continue to swim as raw sewage floods Gaza beach – The Guardian

It is high summer on Gaza Citys beach. A horse and cart patrols the shore selling brightly coloured swimming rings. A small boat is giving joy rides out to sea. Families sit on chairs while a few children play in the water. Normally, in the midst of the school holidays, the beach would be crowded. Particularly this year, as an electricity crisis makes many homes unbearable during the heat. But these days many parents are keeping their children away. The first hint is the smell: the sulphurous odour of raw sewage. Where children are swimming the water is a murky brown, with a fine suspension of faecal matter visible to the naked eye. Small fish at the waters edge, scooped out by the giggling children, are dead. While pollution of Gazas 25 miles of beaches is not new, what is different is the degree. These days, according to the last environmental survey, 73% of Gazas coastline is dangerously polluted with sewage amid an energy crisis that is now also affecting Israel across the border wall, sharply up from 40-50% a year ago. The kids need to swim. This is the only place where you can come to escape the tedium of Gaza The reason is simple. After 10 years of an Israeli-led blockade that has seen Gazas impoverished urban infrastructure decay, the current decision by the Palestinian Authority under president Mahmoud Abbas to cut electricity to the coastal strip has impacted Gazas rudimentary sewage treatment. Without electricity to power its lagoons, treatment works and sewage pumps, Gazas waste managers have been forced to make a choice, permit the cities to flood or allow raw sewage to escape the overflows into the sea. It is a new level of contamination that is not only having an environmental effect, but a profound social one too. In an overcrowded strip of land home to two million people, and largely cut off from the outside world, for many the beach and sea are the only affordable and accessible form of recreation. Sitting in his wooden lifeguards tower, Khalid Farahat, who is employed by the local municipality, says he has seen the number of beach-goers drop by almost 50% since the electricity and sewage crisis began in April. Today he is accompanied by his 12-year-old son who wont go in the water when it is so dirty. It is much less crowded than it was, he explains. It is so polluted at the moment. There is a sewage pumping line less than a kilometre from here. When the wind blows in this direction the water is filthy. When there is electricity to power my loudspeaker I warn people to stay out of the water. I remember when we had electricity 24/7 people would still come here to escape the heat. But no beach and no electricity that is a disaster for Gaza. The escalation of Gazas sewage problem is most obvious in two locations: in Wadi Gaza, at the centre of the strip, where an open river of almost pure effluent flows into the sea, and a second stream in Gazas north where sewage has been flowing via a wadi beneath the border wall into Israel and down into the sea around Zikkim beach. At Gazas Coastal Municipalities Water and Utilities office, Omar Shatet, the head of operations, explains the growing problem. This is worst it has ever been. We rely on electricity to drive our systems. And with 20 hours a day without electricity we cant pump sewage. We have five waste water treatment plants, but most of them were built originally as temporary, until we completed new sludge works. They were planned 15 years ago and only one is nearing completion. The catch 22 as Shatet concedes is that it will need power to operate. We have 70 sewage lifting stations across Gaza, he adds. But the main priority right now is to stop flooding in cities when the pumps are working. That means that 15,000 metric tonnes of raw sewage is going into the sea as well as 110,000 tonnes that are partially treated. The result is that the last testing of beach water that was carried out showed 73% has a level of contamination that prohibits swimming which leaves only 27% available spread all over strip. Shatet himself has not swum in the sea himself in the last few years and would only consider swimming from a boat 200m beyond the coastline, where the pollution diminishes. At the offices of Unicef, which runs a desalination plant, the UN organisations water and sanitation specialist, Mohanlal Peiris, gives an equally bleak account. It is very bad. I mean, it was already bad. Now it is worse. There is really no proper treatment works. And whats been happening in the past has now been exacerbated because there is no power. And when there is no power in the lagoons there is no aeration for the treatment process. The treatment authority is facing a pretty hopeless choice in which Gaza getting flooded with sewage would be even more catastrophic. If that happens the sewage would get into a water table that is already getting brackish because infiltration of infiltration by sewage, fertilisers and sea water intrusion as the aquifers have become depleted. Gaza, as Peiris explains, also has unique challenges. Because it is flat stabilisation ponds for sewage cannot use gravity to separate the sludge, relying on electricity. The Israeli-led blockade means difficulties not only in sourcing generators but any hope of extending marine sewage outfalls from the waters edge out to sea, as is the case in the UK where outfalls are often a mile long. It is not only bathers who fear what is happening to the sea. Peiriss colleague at Unicef, Milina Shahin, lives by the beach and is concerned about the impact of the odours on her own children. I live by the beach. It is supposed to be a privilege. But the smells give me a headache. Now I am concerned about my own children. But I cant say dont go to balcony. Its supposed to be a nice thing to see the sea. I paid money for the view but now it is a disaster, she says. And while for richer residents there are other options including private pools and chalets that can be rented for 12 hours for around 80 it represents roughly half the monthly salary of a lifeguard like Khalid, making it unavailable for most in Gaza. A second option is to travel north to the mile-and-a-half of beach in Gazas north, immediately bordering Israel, where the water is regarded as the cleanest in the strip. But, for most, the only option is to swim and even fish in the filthy water. On the day the Guardian visits Gaza beach, Tayeb Quneitra, a hairdresser, is sitting by the waters edge with his wife watching his children aged three to nine years old playing in the shallows. He says he last came three weeks ago. I heard on the news that it is not safe to swim because of the sewage. But the kids need to swim, he says. I am not a swimmer myself but I have friends who refuse to come. But this is the only place where you can come to escape the tedium of Gaza. And you get used to the smell. Last time we came was much worse than it is today, he adds. Then the water was completely green. Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter and Facebook to join the discussion, and explore our archive here

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July 31, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed


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