Archive for the ‘Gaza’ Category

Gaza’s beaches unseasonably empty – Al-Monitor

A Palestinian couple walks along a beach in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, June 7, 2017.(photo byMOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

Author:Rasha Abou Jalal Posted July 27, 2017

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip The owners of beach resorts on the coast of the Gaza Strip are complaining that the municipalities have increased the rental prices for land along the coast. Temporary vacation lodges are built there each summer, offering a rare escape for citizens from the summer heat and power outages that have reached 20 hours per day.

At the start of this summer season, the largest municipality in the Strip, the Municipality of Gaza, set rent for resort owners at $35,000 for the summer season, which starts in early May and ends at the end of October. The amount is very high compared to what the municipalities charged under the Palestinian Authority before 2007, according to Hatem al-Sheikh Khalil, the director of the Public Relations Department in the Municipality of Gaza. The fees at the time did not exceed $2,000 for the entire summer.

The beach resorts are temporary wooden structures built directly on the shores, their palm-thatched roofs covering the bare ground in units of 30 by 60 meters (100 by 200 feet). The lodges offer tents made of fabric and palm branches as well as tables and umbrellas for rent.

Khalil told Al-Monitor there is only one lodge this year on this municipality’s beach. There were four last year and 18 before Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

The only remaining lodge is called the Ghoroub, Houssam, Alaa and Marina Resort. The name combines those of four distinct resorts that had operated separately in previous years. Their owners decided to merge them this year to afford the expenses imposed by the municipality.

Shareholder Ramadan Malaka told Al-Monitor, The increase in the rental prices of a coastal piece of land has wrecked the summer season and led to soaring prices of services offered to vacationers like umbrellas, food and drinks. He sees the increase of rental prices as part of Hamas efforts to collect more money from citizens during the financial crisis plaguing Gaza.

Malaka said that in 2014, renting a piece of land to build a lodge cost $15,000, and in 2015, the price rose to $20,000. It reached $25,000 in 2016 and $35,000 in 2017. He added, The price of a beverage increased from 3 shekels to 7 shekels [$0.84-$2], while the rental price of a tent for one day rose from 30 shekels to 100 shekels [$8.50-$28]. Customers could not afford to pay this much, and many of them would leave after discovering the prices.

Mohammad Naim took his family for a summer vacation on the beach, but chose to brave the summer heat rather than rent a tent on the beach due to its high price.

Naim told Al-Monitor, During the summers in previous years, I would camp with my family for several days in these lodges. But this year, the vacation season is at its worst. I only went to the resort once due to the high prices. I prefer to spend my vacation on the open beach, without renting a tent or an umbrella to protect us from the sun.

The beach vacation industry once offered Gaza’s unemployed youth dozens of job opportunities. But after the municipalities increased the rental prices, the jobs fell off, as did the wages.

Malaka said, The four resorts that operated during the last summer season employed around 200 workers, but after they were merged into one lodge in 2017, barely 40 workers were kept. He noted that the most a worker can now earn is 700 shekels ($197) per month, compared to 1,000-1,200 shekels ($281-$338) in previous years.

Khalil said that the municipality raised rents so it can pay its 80 employees in charge of cleaning the beaches after the vacationers leave. Each of those employees receive a monthly salary of 1,400 shekels ($394).

Khalil does not believe the prices are the only factor the resorts are dwindling and fewer Gazans are vacationing there. He pointed out that another important issue is the sea pollution, with sewage contaminating 73% of Gaza’s beaches, in addition to the power outages, both of which have discouraged vacationers.

Alaa al-Kurd, another partner in the only resort on the beach, said that the municipality provides no services to the lodges or vacationers. He told Al-Monitor, Our workers, not the municipalitys, clean the shore. The municipality does not offer any services or public facilities to vacationers on the beach like lighting or restrooms and showers. Resorts offer these services at their own expense.

He added, The municipality only pumps sewage onto the beach and ruins peoples good time. It has wrecked the summer season for resort owners.

He noted that the fee that resorts pay to municipalities does not include expenses like water and electricity in Gaza, where the power outages are constant. Kurd said that he pays an extra 500 shekels ($140) a day to supply water and buy the fuel needed to run generators.

Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/07/gaza-municipality-rental-prices-beach-resorts.html

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Gaza’s beaches unseasonably empty – Al-Monitor

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Israel builds pipeline to absorb sewage from Gaza – Ynetnews

After the sewage treatment facility in Gaza was shut down due to the electricity crisis, and waste water started polluting Israeli groundwater, Israel decided to once again have a pipeline connect it with Gazaafter 12 years of disengagementand help alleviate its wastewater problem.

Photo: Roee Idan

The pipeline is supposed to transport the sewage from the Gaza Strip to the sewage treatment plant in Sderot and the settlements of the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, located in the area of Kibbutz Erez.

As a result of the flow of wastewater, the stream was flooded, creating a large environmental hazard, which began to pollute groundwater from the coastal aquifer, from which Mekorot, a national water company, pumps drinking water.

Photo: Roee Idan

In the last few days, the Palestinians have increased the flow of the sewage, forcing Israel to construct a dam in Nahal Hanoun, east of Nativ HaAsara near the Gaza border. Initially, the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council had attempted to pump the sewage into trucks, but the amount of accumulated sewage rendered this option unfeasible.

The closing of ground water pumping stations is an extreme step and serves to highlight the extreme humanitarian crisis currently underway in the Gaza Strip and its direct impact on Israel.

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The Gaza Strip: A Disaster in the Making – Algemeiner

A view of Gaza City. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

It has been ten years since Hamas toppledthe Palestinian Authority in Gaza, and then took control over the territory. Today, the socioeconomic conditions in Gaza are so horrendous that if nothing is done immediately, the whole area is bound to explode. When that happens, you can count on Israels and Hamas leaders blaming eachfor allowing the situation to deteriorate to this perilous point.

In my view, both sides are equally guilty of an egregious betrayal of their own people. No matter how much longer their conflict persists, both sides will remain trapped in a reality that neither can alter short of a catastrophe.The question is: when will they come to their senses and find a way to peacefully coexist, knowing that the alternative is only continuing violent hostilities?

Meanwhile, thousands will be killed between the two sides, havoc and distraction will reign, and the Palestinians in Gaza will pay the heaviest price.

July 27, 2017 12:52 pm

Gazans live in dire conditions, suffering from shortages of food, medicine, drinking water and electricity. Infrastructure is crumbling, and hundreds of thousands are living in squalor as housing shortages continue to climb from 71,000 in 2012 to 120,000 today. More than 1.2 million people there are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, tens of thousands are living in abject poverty exposed to disease and malnutrition, 75,000 are internally displaced and the unemployment rate is 42 percent (and as high as 60 percent among the youth).

The problem is that both Israel and Hamas are living in self-denial, as if they can wish the other away. Both are guilty of playing politics with the lives of Israelis and Palestinians, refusing to assume their share of responsibility. They find comfort in pointing the finger at each others outrageous conduct, and have become enslaved to their own old and tired acrimonious narratives, leaving little room for reconciliation.

Hamas has convinced itself that Israel is the main culprit behind the Palestinians decades-old plight, pointing to the inhumanity of the blockade, the severe restrictions on goods going in and out of Gaza and the stifling Israeli security apparatus that sealed off the territoryfrom the air, sea and land. They are demanding the unconditional lifting of the blockade, without offering anything in return but more acrimonyanda continuing security threat.

Hamas leadership conveniently forgets that much of their misery is self-inflicted. Instead of focusing on building schools, hospitals and housing, and repairing much of the crumbling infrastructure (especially following the last war with Israel in 2014), Hamasmaintain a bellicose posture towards Israelthreatening its very existence. Instead of using money for humanitarian relief, Hamas hasspent hundreds of millions of dollars on building new tunnels through which to attack Israel, and buying and manufacturing new weapons while focusing on stockpiling tens of thousands of rockets.

In their newly-revised charter, although they talk about the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, they proclaim, The real state is the fruit of liberation, and there is no alternative to the creation of the Palestinian state, with its sovereignty on the entire Palestinian land with Jerusalem as its capital.

Has it ever occurred to Hamas that they cannot now or at any time in the future overwhelm Israel militarily to achieve their elusive goal? And that if they ever pose a real existential threat to Israel, they will be the ones who will be decimated first? Logic dictates that if they want the blockade to be lifted, they must renounce violence, recognize Israels unmitigated reality and stop claiming the Palestinians right to the entire mandated Palestine.

Not even the most moderate among Hamas members should assume that Israel would simply lift the blockade unless the Jewish statessecurity is absolutely and permanently assured. Hamas must swallow its pride and concede that the strategy of using or threatening violence against Israel has failed, and only further hardens the Israeli position.

Yetanyone who places the blame solely on Hamas is dreadfully wrong. Israel continues to play its part in the ongoing tragic saga unfolding in Gaza.

There is a pervasive misconception in Israel promulgated by the government that Hamas is simply irredeemable. They justify the blockade by insisting that Israels unilateral withdrawal from Gaza made the territory a launching pad for Hamasto launch rockets and terror attacks against Israel.

The late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made a fundamental mistake by withdrawing from Gaza without any security coordination with the Palestinian Authority. He and his cabinet knew full well that Hamas was stronger, better organized and better militarily equipped than the PA;their capability to take over Gaza by force was visible for all to see.

Moreover, while imposing the blockade was necessary to prevent the smuggling of weapons and explosives, Netanyahu in particular has made no effort to change the hostile nature of Israels relationship with Hamas. Instead, he deliberately chose to manage the conflict by maintaining a tense atmosphere to serve his political base, and to stay in power.

Furthermore, the Netanyahu government uses Israels unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and the security hazard it poses to justify the continuing occupationofthe West Bank (presumably for security reasons).Hypocritically, while Netanyahu condemns Hamas for striving to establish a Palestinian state over the entire land, he claims the Jews right to the entire biblical Land of Israel whichincludes the West Bank, of which several of his ministers openly seek annexation.

When will Netanyahu accept the fact that Hamas is not going anywhere, and that the status quo is simply untenable? Yes, Israel can go into Gaza again and even decimate Hamas leaders while inflicting massive destruction, as it has three times in the past. But what then? New, even more extremist leaders will rise in short order. Nothing will fundamentally change other than maintaining the vicious cycle of violence from which neither side can come out unscathed.

Both sides must come to terms with their reality. Yes, this is the logical and practical thing to accept. But sadly, logic and realism often give way to misplaced emotions, misguided ideology and blind belief in the Middle East. But look where these lofty precepts have led them tohell is now lurking in the darkness of their own creation.

The majority of Israelis and Palestinians want to live in peace. There is no need for another Israeli or Palestinian child to die because of the ill-advised leaders who make a career of defying time and circumstances to the detriment of their people, when the solution is there for them to grasp.

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The Gaza Strip: A Disaster in the Making – Algemeiner

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Abbas opponents join parliament session in Gaza first time in 10 years – Premium Times

Opponents of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Fatah Partyon Thursdayjoined a special session for the Palestinian Legislative Council, PLC, held in Gaza for the first time since 2007.

Mohamed Dahlan, a Fatah lawmaker and a strong opponent to Abbas, delivered a speech before Hamas and Fatah lawmakers, during a special session held at the PLC headquarters in Gaza City in support of Jerusalem.

Mr. Dahlan called for holding an emergency meeting in Cairo, Egypt, with the participation of all Palestinian factions and political powers to end more than ten years of internal split.

This meeting will be not only for ending our division, but also for backing our people in Jerusalem, Mr. Dahlan said.

He stressed the need to pressure Israel to stop its measures against Jerusalem.

Around 12 pro-Dahlan Fatah lawmakers attended the special PLC session.

It is the first time since the beginning of the internal Palestinian division that Hamas and Fatah lawmakers were seen sitting inside the parliament building close to each other listening to Mr. Dahlans speech.

In 2006, Hamas won an overwhelming majority in the elections for the Palestinian National Authority parliament, and defeated Abbas Fatah Party.

However, the PLC remained inoperative since 2007, when Hamas had forcibly seized control of the Gaza Strip and routed Abbas security forces.

We are holding our session today for Jerusalem, the capital of our independent Palestinian state, and to work together on how to support and back our people in the city who are defending Al-Aqsa Mosque, Mr. Dahlan said.

Mr. Dahlan in June met with a senior Hamas delegation in Cairo, chaired by Gaza Hamas strongman Yehia Sinwar, and both agreed on a series of understanding aiming at easing hard living situation in the Gaza Strip.

There had been efforts, which were exerted with Hamas leadership throughout direct dialogue, and we reached common understandings that would bring hope to our people in Gaza, he said.

(Xinhua/NAN)

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Could a Gaza Peace Deal be Close? – Raddington Report (blog)

Speculation is mounting in the Arab media that Arab states and Israel are quietly negotiating a deal with Palestinian leaders in Gaza that would see the enclave receive Egyptian territory and emerge as an independent Palestinian territory separate from the enclaves ruled over by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Pressure has been building on all sides of the Israeli-Arab gulf to do something about the territory, which has been wracked for years by a deadly series of conflicts between Israel and the ruling Hamas movement. The fighting and a subsequent Israeli-Egyptian blockade have wrecked Gazas economy, hindered rebuilding efforts, and left its two million strong population destitute. Worse still, the enclave, which has been described as the worlds largest open air prison, is facing crippling power shortages and ecological disaster. The result is a breeding ground for criminality and extremism that threatens both Egypt and Israel.

Even Hamas is worried about its future in Gaza, which it seized from the US-backed Fatah party after a week of fighting in 2007. Gazas Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan, then Gazas security chief, was forced to flee, eventually choosing to go into exile in the UAE in 2012 after falling out with the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinian politics has stagnated ever since, with Hamas operating as a one-party state in Gaza and Abbas clinging to power in the West Bank for years after the expiry of his term as president. Since the Israelis withdrew from the strip in 2005, Gaza has seen a slow dismantling of its infrastructure on all levels, with both Palestinians and Israelis bitterly accusing each other of acting in bad faith in the aftermath of Gazas return to partial Palestinian control Israel still controls access to the Strip by air, land and sea as well as power supplies.

Now circumstances both inside and outside the Strip may be pushing events towards a breakthrough, paving the way for changing the territorys pariah status as a terrorist haven. Firstly, the Gulf crisis has seen pan-Arab pressure on Hamas backer Qatar; both Egypts military regime and the Saudi monarchy loathe the Muslim Brotherhood of which Hamas is a branch and Egypt also blames Hamas for sheltering Islamic State militants from the groups Sinai Province branch. The unravelling of the Arab Spring has seen Hamas lose friends in Egypt, Iran, Syria and Turkey, leaving the group diplomatically isolated and desperate for external support. This has led it to be surprisingly receptive to a power-sharing plan with its old foe, Mohammed Dahlan.

Dahlan the former Fatah security chief in Gaza currently remains in exile in the UAE and wants for popularity among the Palestinian population, but his foreign backers have promised that if he returns to power, that they will build a $100m power station for Gazans on the Egyptian side of the border, and that Egypts blockade of the Strip will let up. Dahlan has personally confirmed in an interview with the AP news agency that the power-sharing plan exists and that his key lieutenants will return to Gaza to return from exile shortly. The shift was helped by Hamas own new leadership, with newly-elected Hamas chief Yehiyeh Sinwar now running the movement from Gaza. After talks over a Palestinian unity government have gone nowhere since 2012, signs that the new Hamas leadership intends to out-manoeuvre its aging enemy Abbas by making a pact with his chief Fatah rival are growing.

Meanwhile, Abbas has refused to finance essential services in Gaza as a display of his own power and the price of defying it. That has hardly endeared him to the populace there or the Arab states who would like to see Dahlan succeed him. It has allowed Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to pose as deal-making moderates with Israeli and US support from behind the scenes. Jerusalem has found its rivalry with Sunni Arab states subsiding in recent years just as a shared loathing of Shia Iran and its Arab supporters in Lebanon and Syria has grown, and Israel now hardly bothers to deny that it cooperates regionally with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The three states are now thought to be planning for a Greater Gaza client state in the Sinai that would ultimately be led by Dahlan. Egyptian president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is said to be considering ceding parts of Egypts neglected Sinai province to a Hamas-Dahlan administration in exchange for territory in Israels Negev desert.

In what could seen as a precedent setting deal, Egypt has already formally agreed to cede two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia and jailed 51 activists for protesting against the arrangement. President Fatah al-Sisi is close to the Saudi royal family, which has been bankrolling his military regime since he overthrew Egypts elected Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013. Sisi has jailed, disappeared or killed thousands of Islamists in the name of fighting terrorism and fears that Hamas has both ties to the Sinai insurgency and Egypts persecuted Muslim Brotherhood. By luring Hamas back into the fold with promises of a larger territory to rule, the end of the enclaves humanitarian crisis and access to the international community again, Sisi and the Israeli government both hope to address their countrys security concerns with Gaza. Millions of Palestinian refugees could be invited to move to the new entity which would also help ease their burden on the rest of the Arab world, which often treats the descendants of Palestinian refugees extremely badly.

The extent of Egypts concerns about ceding territory to Gaza is unknown and many obstacles remain before any deal could be finalised. But with the Trump administration pushing hard for a peace settlement and a solution to the permanent crisis in Gaza that would rid Israel of two million Palestinians without giving up any territory, it seems an attractive option to the governments of the region. Sunni states like Jordan, which hosts a large Palestinian population which has often been a source of domestic friction, are expected to grudgingly acquiesce if enough Palestinians agree to the idea of a Greater Gaza. With progress towards negotiating a Palestinian unity government or an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict both non-existent, a chance exists that Gazans will seize any opportunity that improves upon the status quo, even one which is designed by their enemies.

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Could a Gaza Peace Deal be Close? – Raddington Report (blog)

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Treatment referrals for Gaza patients down by 75% – Middle East Monitor

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has reduced treatment referrals for Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip by 75 per cent, Palestinian rights groups have revealed, warning that thousands of patients are facing death due to this measure, Safa news agency reported yesterday.

In a report the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) pointed out that treatment referrals granted to patients in Gaza by the PA ministry of health in Ramallah have gradually reduced.

The PCHR noted that the number of treatment referrals in March was 2,190; in April the figure was 1,756, a 19.8 per cent decrease; in May it went down further to 1,484, a 32.2 per cent decrease, and in June the number did not exceed 500 referrals, which is a 75 per cent decrease.

Read:2,500 patients in danger with no access to medical care in Gaza

According to the PCHR, until the beginning of June the high medical commission in the Gaza Strip classified more than 2,500 cases of dangerous diseases. Patients are in urgent need of treatment outside the besieged enclave.

These patients, the PCHR said, are waiting for financial coverage from the PA for their treatment referrals, noting that the department of treatment abroad in the Ramallah-based ministry accepted only about 400 referrals.

The PCHR expressed fear that this measure would have a disastrous impact on the lives of hundreds of patients who are in urgent need of treatment abroad, noting that many of these patients have already started treatment in the West Bank, Israel and other hospitals abroad.

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Treatment referrals for Gaza patients down by 75% – Middle East Monitor

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Gaza Girls: Growing Up in the Gaza Strip – in pictures – The National

When American photojournalist Monique Jaques, then 26, first travelled to Gaza in 2012, she did so, like more or less every other reporter, to cover the conflict that was raging between the Israel Defence Forces and Hamas.

Based in the Middle East since 2009, Jaques had already covered the events of the Arab Spring in Libya and Egypt, but during her time in Gaza, she stumbled across a story that has kept her returning to the territory ever since: a tale of Palestinian girls and young women coming of age in the midst of conflict and adversity.

I ended up meeting all of these girls and I realised that their story was so much bigger than the violence that was being shown in the media, and I felt that every image that was coming out of Gaza and Palestine was contributing to the violence and conflict, the New Yorker, now 31, says from her home in Istanbul.

But I think that the world needs to see something else. People need to empathise with these girls who, despite it all, are young women with hopes and dreams who have things that they seek from life that have nothing to do with this conflict they are born into.

READ MORE:Architects of hope: rebuilding Gaza and imagining a Palestinian state

Since her initial visit, Jaques has returned to Gaza at least 10 times, living with the families she documents and occupying an unusual position of trust thats predicated on her status as an outsider.

So many of the girls have told me that they feel they can tell me anything because Im a foreigner, Jaques explains, describing Gaza as a very tight-knit place where people worry about gossip, a daily situation that adds to the pressures imposed by recurring conflict and electricity shortages that currently leave Gaza powerless for 21 hours each day.

A lot of the girls told me that I was the only person that they could trust completely, which is very humbling, she says. It feels a bit like being a therapist who checks in once in a while to hear their updates and stories. They tell me: Youre the only person I have told this; I havent told anybody else.

Jaques has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to have her images printed in a book, Gaza Girls: Growing Up in the Gaza Strip, which will combine her photographs with the girls anonymous testimonies to highlight the unique challenges of daily life in the territory, as well as the girls ordinary moments of joy and happiness.

READ MORE:Building up among the ruins in Gaza

Returning to Gaza has made me feel very protective of the girls and their stories, and its one of the reasons why I want to do the book. Its a very heavy place, but despite that, there are these moments of hope and laughter, and there are these girls who are funny and delightful and who stay buoyant despite the circumstances, Jaques tells me.

For me this is an important way to put a face on and to humanise the conflict, but its really hard, because I hear all these stories about girls who want to leave and cannot, when I can.

For more, visitwww.moniquejaques.com

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Gaza Girls: Growing Up in the Gaza Strip – in pictures – The National

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Gaza disengagement attorney attacks Shaked – Arutz Sheva

Attorney Yossi Fuchs, who represented the Gaza regional council in its petition to the Supreme Court against the Disengagement Law, blasted Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked for her remarks about this issue.

Shaked said that if the Supreme Court had intervened and cancelled the law it would have spelt “the end of democracy.”

Fuchs wrote on Facebook that “if the court had disqualified the law it would have spelt the end of the Sharon dictatorship, not the end of democracy. Sharon was chosen in 2003 on the basis of his opposition to the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza sponsored by Amram Mitzna and within a year he had violated his commitment to his voters. Democracy at its best.

Sharon conducted a referendum among Likud voters and committed to honoring the results of the referendum. He lost the referendum but ignored his voters. Democracy at its best. He then fired two ministers 48 hours before the vote on the disengagement because he did not have a cabinet majority. Democracy at its best.

Minister Shaked is mixing up between a diplomatic plan which does not include expelling residents which does not cause extreme harm to human rights and is not the court’s prerogative and expelling people from their homes.

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Gaza: ten years of economic blockade – Open Democracy

Maghazi Refugee Camp. Stephen McCloskey. All rights reserved.The tenth anniversary of Israels illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip has been marked by a glut of new reports from human rights organisations alerting the world to a deepening humanitarian crisis in the territory. Perhaps the starkest warning has come from the International Committee of the Red Cross in suggesting that “a systemic collapse of an already battered infrastructure and economy is impending.”

What distinguishes this crisis from the disasters and emergencies that normally push civilian populations to the edge of catastrophe is that it is not the result of a hurricane, flood, tsunami, drought or famine but the calculated policy of the Israeli government.

this crisis is the result of the calculated policy of the Israeli government

As Harvard scholar Sara Roy, who has meticulously researched the impact of Israels policy-making on Gaza for thirty years suggests, What is happening to Gaza is catastrophic; it is also deliberate, considered and purposeful. Roy argues that Gaza has been subjected to de-development meaning that it has been “dispossessed of its capacity for rational and sustainable economic growth and development, coupled with a growing inability to effect social change”. So, what we are witnessing in Gaza today is the logical endpoint of this policy; “a Gaza that is functionally unviable”.

In its public pronouncements on Gaza, Israel insists that the blockade is a security matter designed to keep Hamas, the Palestinian political group with a militant wing, at arms length. In its more off-guard moments, however, Israel has revealed its true hand in Gaza.

United States government cables leaked to Wikileaks show that the Israeli government kept the US embassy in Tel Aviv briefed on the blockade and on “multiple occasions” said their policy aimed “to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge.”

This appears to have been Israels blockade policy from the outset as the BBC reported an Israeli government adviser, Dov Weisglass, as having said in 2006:

The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger. And, in 2012, an Israeli court forced the release of a government red lines document which detailed the number of calories Palestinians in Gaza need to consume to avoid malnutrition.

The Israeli human rights organisation Gisha, which won the legal battle to have the red lines document published, argues that the research contradicts Israel’s assertions that the blockade is needed for security reasons.

The chilling calculation behind the red lines policy underlines the extent of Israels deception in publicly suggesting that the blockade is a security measure while privately, and quite methodically, inflicting collective punishment on an already desperately poor population, mostly comprising refugees.

On visits to Gazas eight refugee camps, Ive seen stunted children clearly undernourished and underweight, living in desolate, concrete environments devoid of any greenery or safe spaces to play. The camps are concrete blocks heaped upon each other constrained in their expansion on the ground by Gazas tiny area of 360 square kilometres which is home to 1.8 million people; a population density akin to that of Manhattan or Tokyo.

Around 70 percent of Gazans are refugees and, according to the Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights, food insecurity in the territory is at 72 percent and unemployment at 43.2 percent.

This economic crisis has created serious mental health problems in Gaza. Sara Roy quotes the Gaza Community Mental Health Program which has found that forty percent of Palestinians are clinically depressed, a rate unmatched anywhere in the world with Gazas Shifa Hospital receiving up to 30 patients every month who have attempted suicide.

Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza in 2007 following the return of a Hamas government in elections in 2006. The US and EU followed Israels lead in refusing to accept the legitimacy of the election result. International pressure contributed to an internal Palestinian power struggle which resulted in Hamas assuming control of Gaza and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority governing the West Bank.

While Israel had withdrawn its settlements from Gaza in 2005, it remained the territorys occupying power under international law by controlling its borders, airspace and coastline.

As Sara Roy suggests, the 2005 withdrawal reflected Israels desire to rid itself of any responsibility for Gaza while retaining control of it. She regards the core goals of Israels disengagement as seeking:

to internally divide, separate, and isolate the Palestinians demographically, economically, and politically so as to ensure Israels full control both direct (West Bank) and indirect (Gaza Strip) over all Palestinian lands and resources.

The imposition of strict border controls tightly limiting the movement of goods and people across Gazas borders by Israel has been compounded by the closure of smuggling tunnels into Gaza by General Abdel Fattah El Sisi, who seized power in Egypt through a military coup in 2013.

The tunnels were an economic lifeline for Gaza and the passenger terminal at Rafah into Egypt, which became the only means for most Palestinians of leaving Gaza, has opened only intermittently under Sisi.

Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights found that less than 50 percent of requests to exit Gaza for medical treatment through Israels Erez Crossing were approved in 2016 and 43 cancer patients were refused permission to cross to seek treatment in the first half of 2016.

With only a trickle of Palestinians securing passage through the Rafah crossing, these closures can be a death sentence for patients in need of medical assistance. They also deny opportunities for employment and study overseas which, for the majority, are the only escape routes from poverty.

The social pressures of poverty, isolation and economic inertia caused by the blockade have been compounded and exacerbated by three Israeli military operations in Gaza since 2008, which have collectively claimed the lives of 3,745 Palestinians and wounded 17,441.

Zeitoun School. Stephen McCloskey. All rights reserved.The most recent operation, Protective Edge, was a 51-day onslaught in July and August 2014 that killed 2,131 Palestinians, of whom 1,473 were civilians, 501 were children and 257 women. There were 71 Israeli casualties; 66 soldiers and five civilians.

The infrastructural damage caused by Protective Edge was devastating with: 78 hospitals and clinics damaged; 7 schools destroyed and 252 damaged; 17,800 homes damaged or completed destroyed; and half of the open-field crop areas damaged or destroyed. Just 46 percent of the $1.59 billion pledged by donors for reconstruction in Gaza has been received and a constant source of crisis is the greatly reduced electricity supply which impacts on all aspects of daily life in Gaza.

wreckless and petty politicking by the PA will add to the bitterness of internal relations in Palestine

The World Health Organisation (2017) has said that the worsening electricity outages are threatening the closure of essential health services which would leave thousands of people without access to life-saving health care.

This crisis has been compounded by the Palestinian Authoritys decision this summer not to pay the full fuel bill to Israel for Gazas electricity supply in an attempt to weaken Hamas and wrest back control of the territory.

This wreckless and petty politicking by the PA will add to the bitterness of internal relations in Palestine and further delay overdue elections in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It leaves the prospects for much needed Palestinian unity and strategy at a low ebb.

This has been a year of significant and painful anniversaries for Palestine. It is the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in which the British Foreign Secretary in 1917, Arthur James Balfour, declared with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. Theresa May has celebrated the centenary with pride and seems unconcerned with the continued marginal existence of Palestinians on their own land.

Robert Fisk was closer to the mark when he described the Balfour Declaration as the most mendacious, deceitful and hypocritical document in modern British history.

2017 is also the 50th anniversary of the six day war in 1967 when Israel seized control of theWest Bank, East Jerusalem,Gaza Strip, as well as the SyrianGolan Heights, and the EgyptianSinai Peninsula. This annexation has continued apace since then with the settlement of 600,000 colonists in settlements across the West Bank that Amnesty International describes as illegal under Article 49 of the Geneva Convention.

These unhappy anniversaries are as much a result of the collusion and mendacity of western powers as they are of the relentless colonialism of Palestinian land by Israel which should compel us all to take action and oppose the siege and construction of settlements.

Jabalia Refugee Camp. Stephen McCloskey. All rights reserved.Gazas creaking infrastructure and impoverished population cannot countenance another decade of siege and war, and Israel has shown itself unwilling to respect its human rights obligations as the territorys occupying power.

Only external pressure will change Israels policy toward Gaza which is why Palestinian civil society has reluctantly called for international support of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. This is a non-violent, vibrant and truly global movement for freedom, justice and equality in Palestine inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement.

BDS urges action to pressure Israel to respect international law and is supported by trade unions, churches, academics and grassroots movements across the world. Supporting BDS will hasten an end to the siege and help lance a running sore in the Middle East and international relations. It deserves your support.

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Gaza: ten years of economic blockade – Open Democracy

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza’s beaches unseasonably empty – Al-Monitor

A Palestinian couple walks along a beach in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, June 7, 2017.(photo byMOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images) Author:Rasha Abou Jalal Posted July 27, 2017 GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip The owners of beach resorts on the coast of the Gaza Strip are complaining that the municipalities have increased the rental prices for land along the coast. Temporary vacation lodges are built there each summer, offering a rare escape for citizens from the summer heat and power outages that have reached 20 hours per day. At the start of this summer season, the largest municipality in the Strip, the Municipality of Gaza, set rent for resort owners at $35,000 for the summer season, which starts in early May and ends at the end of October. The amount is very high compared to what the municipalities charged under the Palestinian Authority before 2007, according to Hatem al-Sheikh Khalil, the director of the Public Relations Department in the Municipality of Gaza. The fees at the time did not exceed $2,000 for the entire summer. The beach resorts are temporary wooden structures built directly on the shores, their palm-thatched roofs covering the bare ground in units of 30 by 60 meters (100 by 200 feet). The lodges offer tents made of fabric and palm branches as well as tables and umbrellas for rent. Khalil told Al-Monitor there is only one lodge this year on this municipality’s beach. There were four last year and 18 before Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007. The only remaining lodge is called the Ghoroub, Houssam, Alaa and Marina Resort. The name combines those of four distinct resorts that had operated separately in previous years. Their owners decided to merge them this year to afford the expenses imposed by the municipality. Shareholder Ramadan Malaka told Al-Monitor, The increase in the rental prices of a coastal piece of land has wrecked the summer season and led to soaring prices of services offered to vacationers like umbrellas, food and drinks. He sees the increase of rental prices as part of Hamas efforts to collect more money from citizens during the financial crisis plaguing Gaza. Malaka said that in 2014, renting a piece of land to build a lodge cost $15,000, and in 2015, the price rose to $20,000. It reached $25,000 in 2016 and $35,000 in 2017. He added, The price of a beverage increased from 3 shekels to 7 shekels [$0.84-$2], while the rental price of a tent for one day rose from 30 shekels to 100 shekels [$8.50-$28]. Customers could not afford to pay this much, and many of them would leave after discovering the prices. Mohammad Naim took his family for a summer vacation on the beach, but chose to brave the summer heat rather than rent a tent on the beach due to its high price. Naim told Al-Monitor, During the summers in previous years, I would camp with my family for several days in these lodges. But this year, the vacation season is at its worst. I only went to the resort once due to the high prices. I prefer to spend my vacation on the open beach, without renting a tent or an umbrella to protect us from the sun. The beach vacation industry once offered Gaza’s unemployed youth dozens of job opportunities. But after the municipalities increased the rental prices, the jobs fell off, as did the wages. Malaka said, The four resorts that operated during the last summer season employed around 200 workers, but after they were merged into one lodge in 2017, barely 40 workers were kept. He noted that the most a worker can now earn is 700 shekels ($197) per month, compared to 1,000-1,200 shekels ($281-$338) in previous years. Khalil said that the municipality raised rents so it can pay its 80 employees in charge of cleaning the beaches after the vacationers leave. Each of those employees receive a monthly salary of 1,400 shekels ($394). Khalil does not believe the prices are the only factor the resorts are dwindling and fewer Gazans are vacationing there. He pointed out that another important issue is the sea pollution, with sewage contaminating 73% of Gaza’s beaches, in addition to the power outages, both of which have discouraged vacationers. Alaa al-Kurd, another partner in the only resort on the beach, said that the municipality provides no services to the lodges or vacationers. He told Al-Monitor, Our workers, not the municipalitys, clean the shore. The municipality does not offer any services or public facilities to vacationers on the beach like lighting or restrooms and showers. Resorts offer these services at their own expense. He added, The municipality only pumps sewage onto the beach and ruins peoples good time. It has wrecked the summer season for resort owners. He noted that the fee that resorts pay to municipalities does not include expenses like water and electricity in Gaza, where the power outages are constant. Kurd said that he pays an extra 500 shekels ($140) a day to supply water and buy the fuel needed to run generators. Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/07/gaza-municipality-rental-prices-beach-resorts.html

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July 27, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Israel builds pipeline to absorb sewage from Gaza – Ynetnews

After the sewage treatment facility in Gaza was shut down due to the electricity crisis, and waste water started polluting Israeli groundwater, Israel decided to once again have a pipeline connect it with Gazaafter 12 years of disengagementand help alleviate its wastewater problem. Photo: Roee Idan The pipeline is supposed to transport the sewage from the Gaza Strip to the sewage treatment plant in Sderot and the settlements of the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, located in the area of Kibbutz Erez. As a result of the flow of wastewater, the stream was flooded, creating a large environmental hazard, which began to pollute groundwater from the coastal aquifer, from which Mekorot, a national water company, pumps drinking water. Photo: Roee Idan In the last few days, the Palestinians have increased the flow of the sewage, forcing Israel to construct a dam in Nahal Hanoun, east of Nativ HaAsara near the Gaza border. Initially, the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council had attempted to pump the sewage into trucks, but the amount of accumulated sewage rendered this option unfeasible. The closing of ground water pumping stations is an extreme step and serves to highlight the extreme humanitarian crisis currently underway in the Gaza Strip and its direct impact on Israel.

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The Gaza Strip: A Disaster in the Making – Algemeiner

A view of Gaza City. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. It has been ten years since Hamas toppledthe Palestinian Authority in Gaza, and then took control over the territory. Today, the socioeconomic conditions in Gaza are so horrendous that if nothing is done immediately, the whole area is bound to explode. When that happens, you can count on Israels and Hamas leaders blaming eachfor allowing the situation to deteriorate to this perilous point. In my view, both sides are equally guilty of an egregious betrayal of their own people. No matter how much longer their conflict persists, both sides will remain trapped in a reality that neither can alter short of a catastrophe.The question is: when will they come to their senses and find a way to peacefully coexist, knowing that the alternative is only continuing violent hostilities? Meanwhile, thousands will be killed between the two sides, havoc and distraction will reign, and the Palestinians in Gaza will pay the heaviest price. July 27, 2017 12:52 pm Gazans live in dire conditions, suffering from shortages of food, medicine, drinking water and electricity. Infrastructure is crumbling, and hundreds of thousands are living in squalor as housing shortages continue to climb from 71,000 in 2012 to 120,000 today. More than 1.2 million people there are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, tens of thousands are living in abject poverty exposed to disease and malnutrition, 75,000 are internally displaced and the unemployment rate is 42 percent (and as high as 60 percent among the youth). The problem is that both Israel and Hamas are living in self-denial, as if they can wish the other away. Both are guilty of playing politics with the lives of Israelis and Palestinians, refusing to assume their share of responsibility. They find comfort in pointing the finger at each others outrageous conduct, and have become enslaved to their own old and tired acrimonious narratives, leaving little room for reconciliation. Hamas has convinced itself that Israel is the main culprit behind the Palestinians decades-old plight, pointing to the inhumanity of the blockade, the severe restrictions on goods going in and out of Gaza and the stifling Israeli security apparatus that sealed off the territoryfrom the air, sea and land. They are demanding the unconditional lifting of the blockade, without offering anything in return but more acrimonyanda continuing security threat. Hamas leadership conveniently forgets that much of their misery is self-inflicted. Instead of focusing on building schools, hospitals and housing, and repairing much of the crumbling infrastructure (especially following the last war with Israel in 2014), Hamasmaintain a bellicose posture towards Israelthreatening its very existence. Instead of using money for humanitarian relief, Hamas hasspent hundreds of millions of dollars on building new tunnels through which to attack Israel, and buying and manufacturing new weapons while focusing on stockpiling tens of thousands of rockets. In their newly-revised charter, although they talk about the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, they proclaim, The real state is the fruit of liberation, and there is no alternative to the creation of the Palestinian state, with its sovereignty on the entire Palestinian land with Jerusalem as its capital. Has it ever occurred to Hamas that they cannot now or at any time in the future overwhelm Israel militarily to achieve their elusive goal? And that if they ever pose a real existential threat to Israel, they will be the ones who will be decimated first? Logic dictates that if they want the blockade to be lifted, they must renounce violence, recognize Israels unmitigated reality and stop claiming the Palestinians right to the entire mandated Palestine. Not even the most moderate among Hamas members should assume that Israel would simply lift the blockade unless the Jewish statessecurity is absolutely and permanently assured. Hamas must swallow its pride and concede that the strategy of using or threatening violence against Israel has failed, and only further hardens the Israeli position. Yetanyone who places the blame solely on Hamas is dreadfully wrong. Israel continues to play its part in the ongoing tragic saga unfolding in Gaza. There is a pervasive misconception in Israel promulgated by the government that Hamas is simply irredeemable. They justify the blockade by insisting that Israels unilateral withdrawal from Gaza made the territory a launching pad for Hamasto launch rockets and terror attacks against Israel. The late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made a fundamental mistake by withdrawing from Gaza without any security coordination with the Palestinian Authority. He and his cabinet knew full well that Hamas was stronger, better organized and better militarily equipped than the PA;their capability to take over Gaza by force was visible for all to see. Moreover, while imposing the blockade was necessary to prevent the smuggling of weapons and explosives, Netanyahu in particular has made no effort to change the hostile nature of Israels relationship with Hamas. Instead, he deliberately chose to manage the conflict by maintaining a tense atmosphere to serve his political base, and to stay in power. Furthermore, the Netanyahu government uses Israels unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and the security hazard it poses to justify the continuing occupationofthe West Bank (presumably for security reasons).Hypocritically, while Netanyahu condemns Hamas for striving to establish a Palestinian state over the entire land, he claims the Jews right to the entire biblical Land of Israel whichincludes the West Bank, of which several of his ministers openly seek annexation. When will Netanyahu accept the fact that Hamas is not going anywhere, and that the status quo is simply untenable? Yes, Israel can go into Gaza again and even decimate Hamas leaders while inflicting massive destruction, as it has three times in the past. But what then? New, even more extremist leaders will rise in short order. Nothing will fundamentally change other than maintaining the vicious cycle of violence from which neither side can come out unscathed. Both sides must come to terms with their reality. Yes, this is the logical and practical thing to accept. But sadly, logic and realism often give way to misplaced emotions, misguided ideology and blind belief in the Middle East. But look where these lofty precepts have led them tohell is now lurking in the darkness of their own creation. The majority of Israelis and Palestinians want to live in peace. There is no need for another Israeli or Palestinian child to die because of the ill-advised leaders who make a career of defying time and circumstances to the detriment of their people, when the solution is there for them to grasp.

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Abbas opponents join parliament session in Gaza first time in 10 years – Premium Times

Opponents of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Fatah Partyon Thursdayjoined a special session for the Palestinian Legislative Council, PLC, held in Gaza for the first time since 2007. Mohamed Dahlan, a Fatah lawmaker and a strong opponent to Abbas, delivered a speech before Hamas and Fatah lawmakers, during a special session held at the PLC headquarters in Gaza City in support of Jerusalem. Mr. Dahlan called for holding an emergency meeting in Cairo, Egypt, with the participation of all Palestinian factions and political powers to end more than ten years of internal split. This meeting will be not only for ending our division, but also for backing our people in Jerusalem, Mr. Dahlan said. He stressed the need to pressure Israel to stop its measures against Jerusalem. Around 12 pro-Dahlan Fatah lawmakers attended the special PLC session. It is the first time since the beginning of the internal Palestinian division that Hamas and Fatah lawmakers were seen sitting inside the parliament building close to each other listening to Mr. Dahlans speech. In 2006, Hamas won an overwhelming majority in the elections for the Palestinian National Authority parliament, and defeated Abbas Fatah Party. However, the PLC remained inoperative since 2007, when Hamas had forcibly seized control of the Gaza Strip and routed Abbas security forces. We are holding our session today for Jerusalem, the capital of our independent Palestinian state, and to work together on how to support and back our people in the city who are defending Al-Aqsa Mosque, Mr. Dahlan said. Mr. Dahlan in June met with a senior Hamas delegation in Cairo, chaired by Gaza Hamas strongman Yehia Sinwar, and both agreed on a series of understanding aiming at easing hard living situation in the Gaza Strip. There had been efforts, which were exerted with Hamas leadership throughout direct dialogue, and we reached common understandings that would bring hope to our people in Gaza, he said. (Xinhua/NAN)

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Could a Gaza Peace Deal be Close? – Raddington Report (blog)

Speculation is mounting in the Arab media that Arab states and Israel are quietly negotiating a deal with Palestinian leaders in Gaza that would see the enclave receive Egyptian territory and emerge as an independent Palestinian territory separate from the enclaves ruled over by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Pressure has been building on all sides of the Israeli-Arab gulf to do something about the territory, which has been wracked for years by a deadly series of conflicts between Israel and the ruling Hamas movement. The fighting and a subsequent Israeli-Egyptian blockade have wrecked Gazas economy, hindered rebuilding efforts, and left its two million strong population destitute. Worse still, the enclave, which has been described as the worlds largest open air prison, is facing crippling power shortages and ecological disaster. The result is a breeding ground for criminality and extremism that threatens both Egypt and Israel. Even Hamas is worried about its future in Gaza, which it seized from the US-backed Fatah party after a week of fighting in 2007. Gazas Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan, then Gazas security chief, was forced to flee, eventually choosing to go into exile in the UAE in 2012 after falling out with the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinian politics has stagnated ever since, with Hamas operating as a one-party state in Gaza and Abbas clinging to power in the West Bank for years after the expiry of his term as president. Since the Israelis withdrew from the strip in 2005, Gaza has seen a slow dismantling of its infrastructure on all levels, with both Palestinians and Israelis bitterly accusing each other of acting in bad faith in the aftermath of Gazas return to partial Palestinian control Israel still controls access to the Strip by air, land and sea as well as power supplies. Now circumstances both inside and outside the Strip may be pushing events towards a breakthrough, paving the way for changing the territorys pariah status as a terrorist haven. Firstly, the Gulf crisis has seen pan-Arab pressure on Hamas backer Qatar; both Egypts military regime and the Saudi monarchy loathe the Muslim Brotherhood of which Hamas is a branch and Egypt also blames Hamas for sheltering Islamic State militants from the groups Sinai Province branch. The unravelling of the Arab Spring has seen Hamas lose friends in Egypt, Iran, Syria and Turkey, leaving the group diplomatically isolated and desperate for external support. This has led it to be surprisingly receptive to a power-sharing plan with its old foe, Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan the former Fatah security chief in Gaza currently remains in exile in the UAE and wants for popularity among the Palestinian population, but his foreign backers have promised that if he returns to power, that they will build a $100m power station for Gazans on the Egyptian side of the border, and that Egypts blockade of the Strip will let up. Dahlan has personally confirmed in an interview with the AP news agency that the power-sharing plan exists and that his key lieutenants will return to Gaza to return from exile shortly. The shift was helped by Hamas own new leadership, with newly-elected Hamas chief Yehiyeh Sinwar now running the movement from Gaza. After talks over a Palestinian unity government have gone nowhere since 2012, signs that the new Hamas leadership intends to out-manoeuvre its aging enemy Abbas by making a pact with his chief Fatah rival are growing. Meanwhile, Abbas has refused to finance essential services in Gaza as a display of his own power and the price of defying it. That has hardly endeared him to the populace there or the Arab states who would like to see Dahlan succeed him. It has allowed Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE to pose as deal-making moderates with Israeli and US support from behind the scenes. Jerusalem has found its rivalry with Sunni Arab states subsiding in recent years just as a shared loathing of Shia Iran and its Arab supporters in Lebanon and Syria has grown, and Israel now hardly bothers to deny that it cooperates regionally with Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The three states are now thought to be planning for a Greater Gaza client state in the Sinai that would ultimately be led by Dahlan. Egyptian president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is said to be considering ceding parts of Egypts neglected Sinai province to a Hamas-Dahlan administration in exchange for territory in Israels Negev desert. In what could seen as a precedent setting deal, Egypt has already formally agreed to cede two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia and jailed 51 activists for protesting against the arrangement. President Fatah al-Sisi is close to the Saudi royal family, which has been bankrolling his military regime since he overthrew Egypts elected Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013. Sisi has jailed, disappeared or killed thousands of Islamists in the name of fighting terrorism and fears that Hamas has both ties to the Sinai insurgency and Egypts persecuted Muslim Brotherhood. By luring Hamas back into the fold with promises of a larger territory to rule, the end of the enclaves humanitarian crisis and access to the international community again, Sisi and the Israeli government both hope to address their countrys security concerns with Gaza. Millions of Palestinian refugees could be invited to move to the new entity which would also help ease their burden on the rest of the Arab world, which often treats the descendants of Palestinian refugees extremely badly. The extent of Egypts concerns about ceding territory to Gaza is unknown and many obstacles remain before any deal could be finalised. But with the Trump administration pushing hard for a peace settlement and a solution to the permanent crisis in Gaza that would rid Israel of two million Palestinians without giving up any territory, it seems an attractive option to the governments of the region. Sunni states like Jordan, which hosts a large Palestinian population which has often been a source of domestic friction, are expected to grudgingly acquiesce if enough Palestinians agree to the idea of a Greater Gaza. With progress towards negotiating a Palestinian unity government or an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict both non-existent, a chance exists that Gazans will seize any opportunity that improves upon the status quo, even one which is designed by their enemies.

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Treatment referrals for Gaza patients down by 75% – Middle East Monitor

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has reduced treatment referrals for Palestinian patients in the Gaza Strip by 75 per cent, Palestinian rights groups have revealed, warning that thousands of patients are facing death due to this measure, Safa news agency reported yesterday. In a report the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) pointed out that treatment referrals granted to patients in Gaza by the PA ministry of health in Ramallah have gradually reduced. The PCHR noted that the number of treatment referrals in March was 2,190; in April the figure was 1,756, a 19.8 per cent decrease; in May it went down further to 1,484, a 32.2 per cent decrease, and in June the number did not exceed 500 referrals, which is a 75 per cent decrease. Read:2,500 patients in danger with no access to medical care in Gaza According to the PCHR, until the beginning of June the high medical commission in the Gaza Strip classified more than 2,500 cases of dangerous diseases. Patients are in urgent need of treatment outside the besieged enclave. These patients, the PCHR said, are waiting for financial coverage from the PA for their treatment referrals, noting that the department of treatment abroad in the Ramallah-based ministry accepted only about 400 referrals. The PCHR expressed fear that this measure would have a disastrous impact on the lives of hundreds of patients who are in urgent need of treatment abroad, noting that many of these patients have already started treatment in the West Bank, Israel and other hospitals abroad.

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July 26, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza Girls: Growing Up in the Gaza Strip – in pictures – The National

When American photojournalist Monique Jaques, then 26, first travelled to Gaza in 2012, she did so, like more or less every other reporter, to cover the conflict that was raging between the Israel Defence Forces and Hamas. Based in the Middle East since 2009, Jaques had already covered the events of the Arab Spring in Libya and Egypt, but during her time in Gaza, she stumbled across a story that has kept her returning to the territory ever since: a tale of Palestinian girls and young women coming of age in the midst of conflict and adversity. I ended up meeting all of these girls and I realised that their story was so much bigger than the violence that was being shown in the media, and I felt that every image that was coming out of Gaza and Palestine was contributing to the violence and conflict, the New Yorker, now 31, says from her home in Istanbul. But I think that the world needs to see something else. People need to empathise with these girls who, despite it all, are young women with hopes and dreams who have things that they seek from life that have nothing to do with this conflict they are born into. READ MORE:Architects of hope: rebuilding Gaza and imagining a Palestinian state Since her initial visit, Jaques has returned to Gaza at least 10 times, living with the families she documents and occupying an unusual position of trust thats predicated on her status as an outsider. So many of the girls have told me that they feel they can tell me anything because Im a foreigner, Jaques explains, describing Gaza as a very tight-knit place where people worry about gossip, a daily situation that adds to the pressures imposed by recurring conflict and electricity shortages that currently leave Gaza powerless for 21 hours each day. A lot of the girls told me that I was the only person that they could trust completely, which is very humbling, she says. It feels a bit like being a therapist who checks in once in a while to hear their updates and stories. They tell me: Youre the only person I have told this; I havent told anybody else. Jaques has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to have her images printed in a book, Gaza Girls: Growing Up in the Gaza Strip, which will combine her photographs with the girls anonymous testimonies to highlight the unique challenges of daily life in the territory, as well as the girls ordinary moments of joy and happiness. READ MORE:Building up among the ruins in Gaza Returning to Gaza has made me feel very protective of the girls and their stories, and its one of the reasons why I want to do the book. Its a very heavy place, but despite that, there are these moments of hope and laughter, and there are these girls who are funny and delightful and who stay buoyant despite the circumstances, Jaques tells me. For me this is an important way to put a face on and to humanise the conflict, but its really hard, because I hear all these stories about girls who want to leave and cannot, when I can. For more, visitwww.moniquejaques.com

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Gaza disengagement attorney attacks Shaked – Arutz Sheva

Attorney Yossi Fuchs, who represented the Gaza regional council in its petition to the Supreme Court against the Disengagement Law, blasted Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked for her remarks about this issue. Shaked said that if the Supreme Court had intervened and cancelled the law it would have spelt “the end of democracy.” Fuchs wrote on Facebook that “if the court had disqualified the law it would have spelt the end of the Sharon dictatorship, not the end of democracy. Sharon was chosen in 2003 on the basis of his opposition to the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza sponsored by Amram Mitzna and within a year he had violated his commitment to his voters. Democracy at its best. Sharon conducted a referendum among Likud voters and committed to honoring the results of the referendum. He lost the referendum but ignored his voters. Democracy at its best. He then fired two ministers 48 hours before the vote on the disengagement because he did not have a cabinet majority. Democracy at its best. Minister Shaked is mixing up between a diplomatic plan which does not include expelling residents which does not cause extreme harm to human rights and is not the court’s prerogative and expelling people from their homes.

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed

Gaza: ten years of economic blockade – Open Democracy

Maghazi Refugee Camp. Stephen McCloskey. All rights reserved.The tenth anniversary of Israels illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip has been marked by a glut of new reports from human rights organisations alerting the world to a deepening humanitarian crisis in the territory. Perhaps the starkest warning has come from the International Committee of the Red Cross in suggesting that “a systemic collapse of an already battered infrastructure and economy is impending.” What distinguishes this crisis from the disasters and emergencies that normally push civilian populations to the edge of catastrophe is that it is not the result of a hurricane, flood, tsunami, drought or famine but the calculated policy of the Israeli government. this crisis is the result of the calculated policy of the Israeli government As Harvard scholar Sara Roy, who has meticulously researched the impact of Israels policy-making on Gaza for thirty years suggests, What is happening to Gaza is catastrophic; it is also deliberate, considered and purposeful. Roy argues that Gaza has been subjected to de-development meaning that it has been “dispossessed of its capacity for rational and sustainable economic growth and development, coupled with a growing inability to effect social change”. So, what we are witnessing in Gaza today is the logical endpoint of this policy; “a Gaza that is functionally unviable”. In its public pronouncements on Gaza, Israel insists that the blockade is a security matter designed to keep Hamas, the Palestinian political group with a militant wing, at arms length. In its more off-guard moments, however, Israel has revealed its true hand in Gaza. United States government cables leaked to Wikileaks show that the Israeli government kept the US embassy in Tel Aviv briefed on the blockade and on “multiple occasions” said their policy aimed “to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge.” This appears to have been Israels blockade policy from the outset as the BBC reported an Israeli government adviser, Dov Weisglass, as having said in 2006: The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger. And, in 2012, an Israeli court forced the release of a government red lines document which detailed the number of calories Palestinians in Gaza need to consume to avoid malnutrition. The Israeli human rights organisation Gisha, which won the legal battle to have the red lines document published, argues that the research contradicts Israel’s assertions that the blockade is needed for security reasons. The chilling calculation behind the red lines policy underlines the extent of Israels deception in publicly suggesting that the blockade is a security measure while privately, and quite methodically, inflicting collective punishment on an already desperately poor population, mostly comprising refugees. On visits to Gazas eight refugee camps, Ive seen stunted children clearly undernourished and underweight, living in desolate, concrete environments devoid of any greenery or safe spaces to play. The camps are concrete blocks heaped upon each other constrained in their expansion on the ground by Gazas tiny area of 360 square kilometres which is home to 1.8 million people; a population density akin to that of Manhattan or Tokyo. Around 70 percent of Gazans are refugees and, according to the Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights, food insecurity in the territory is at 72 percent and unemployment at 43.2 percent. This economic crisis has created serious mental health problems in Gaza. Sara Roy quotes the Gaza Community Mental Health Program which has found that forty percent of Palestinians are clinically depressed, a rate unmatched anywhere in the world with Gazas Shifa Hospital receiving up to 30 patients every month who have attempted suicide. Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza in 2007 following the return of a Hamas government in elections in 2006. The US and EU followed Israels lead in refusing to accept the legitimacy of the election result. International pressure contributed to an internal Palestinian power struggle which resulted in Hamas assuming control of Gaza and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority governing the West Bank. While Israel had withdrawn its settlements from Gaza in 2005, it remained the territorys occupying power under international law by controlling its borders, airspace and coastline. As Sara Roy suggests, the 2005 withdrawal reflected Israels desire to rid itself of any responsibility for Gaza while retaining control of it. She regards the core goals of Israels disengagement as seeking: to internally divide, separate, and isolate the Palestinians demographically, economically, and politically so as to ensure Israels full control both direct (West Bank) and indirect (Gaza Strip) over all Palestinian lands and resources. The imposition of strict border controls tightly limiting the movement of goods and people across Gazas borders by Israel has been compounded by the closure of smuggling tunnels into Gaza by General Abdel Fattah El Sisi, who seized power in Egypt through a military coup in 2013. The tunnels were an economic lifeline for Gaza and the passenger terminal at Rafah into Egypt, which became the only means for most Palestinians of leaving Gaza, has opened only intermittently under Sisi. Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights found that less than 50 percent of requests to exit Gaza for medical treatment through Israels Erez Crossing were approved in 2016 and 43 cancer patients were refused permission to cross to seek treatment in the first half of 2016. With only a trickle of Palestinians securing passage through the Rafah crossing, these closures can be a death sentence for patients in need of medical assistance. They also deny opportunities for employment and study overseas which, for the majority, are the only escape routes from poverty. The social pressures of poverty, isolation and economic inertia caused by the blockade have been compounded and exacerbated by three Israeli military operations in Gaza since 2008, which have collectively claimed the lives of 3,745 Palestinians and wounded 17,441. Zeitoun School. Stephen McCloskey. All rights reserved.The most recent operation, Protective Edge, was a 51-day onslaught in July and August 2014 that killed 2,131 Palestinians, of whom 1,473 were civilians, 501 were children and 257 women. There were 71 Israeli casualties; 66 soldiers and five civilians. The infrastructural damage caused by Protective Edge was devastating with: 78 hospitals and clinics damaged; 7 schools destroyed and 252 damaged; 17,800 homes damaged or completed destroyed; and half of the open-field crop areas damaged or destroyed. Just 46 percent of the $1.59 billion pledged by donors for reconstruction in Gaza has been received and a constant source of crisis is the greatly reduced electricity supply which impacts on all aspects of daily life in Gaza. wreckless and petty politicking by the PA will add to the bitterness of internal relations in Palestine The World Health Organisation (2017) has said that the worsening electricity outages are threatening the closure of essential health services which would leave thousands of people without access to life-saving health care. This crisis has been compounded by the Palestinian Authoritys decision this summer not to pay the full fuel bill to Israel for Gazas electricity supply in an attempt to weaken Hamas and wrest back control of the territory. This wreckless and petty politicking by the PA will add to the bitterness of internal relations in Palestine and further delay overdue elections in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It leaves the prospects for much needed Palestinian unity and strategy at a low ebb. This has been a year of significant and painful anniversaries for Palestine. It is the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in which the British Foreign Secretary in 1917, Arthur James Balfour, declared with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. Theresa May has celebrated the centenary with pride and seems unconcerned with the continued marginal existence of Palestinians on their own land. Robert Fisk was closer to the mark when he described the Balfour Declaration as the most mendacious, deceitful and hypocritical document in modern British history. 2017 is also the 50th anniversary of the six day war in 1967 when Israel seized control of theWest Bank, East Jerusalem,Gaza Strip, as well as the SyrianGolan Heights, and the EgyptianSinai Peninsula. This annexation has continued apace since then with the settlement of 600,000 colonists in settlements across the West Bank that Amnesty International describes as illegal under Article 49 of the Geneva Convention. These unhappy anniversaries are as much a result of the collusion and mendacity of western powers as they are of the relentless colonialism of Palestinian land by Israel which should compel us all to take action and oppose the siege and construction of settlements. Jabalia Refugee Camp. Stephen McCloskey. All rights reserved.Gazas creaking infrastructure and impoverished population cannot countenance another decade of siege and war, and Israel has shown itself unwilling to respect its human rights obligations as the territorys occupying power. Only external pressure will change Israels policy toward Gaza which is why Palestinian civil society has reluctantly called for international support of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. This is a non-violent, vibrant and truly global movement for freedom, justice and equality in Palestine inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement. BDS urges action to pressure Israel to respect international law and is supported by trade unions, churches, academics and grassroots movements across the world. Supporting BDS will hasten an end to the siege and help lance a running sore in the Middle East and international relations. It deserves your support.

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July 25, 2017   Posted in: Gaza  Comments Closed


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