Archive for the ‘Gaza’ Category

Mental help: the story of Gaza’s trauma unit – Open Democracy

Alex Delmar-Morgan. All rights reserved.After Heba Hmaids husband, Raed, was injured in the civil war in the Gaza Strip ten years ago, their marriage nearly broke down. Scarred by a serious injury to his right leg in the civil war between Hamas and Fatah in 2007, at first he grew nervous and irritable at home. Then he became violent.

My husband began hitting me daily after he was wounded. And he was hitting my son sometimes, Heba, 34, said through a translator. I knew that [the injury] had affected his behaviour. I tried cope with him, to deal with him in a different manner, but I couldnt manage the situation.

Before she married, Heba did a brief training stint at a place called the Palestine Trauma Centre (PTC) in Gaza after her university degree in media. Once married, her husband told her she must drop her studies, give up work and live at home. It was then that her problems started.

Hebas situation grew increasingly desperate: a violent, unpredictable husband and a traumatised son, now seven years old, who has already lived through two wars and now had to cope with the added burden of an abusive father.

At breaking point, Heba sought help eight months ago for her and her son, Mahmoud, at the PTC, Gazas only trauma unit – the same place she had trained at fresh out of university.

Located in Gaza City, it was set up in 2007 in conjunction with the Palestine Trauma Centre UK, a British charity that provides technical and financial assistance to the unit.

Other mental health programmes exist in Gaza. Some are run by UNWRA (The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) and the well-established Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCHMP) provides psychotherapy and rehabilitation services.

But the PTC is the only centre of its kind in the strip, offering highly specialised psychological and counselling services to trauma victims and families.

PTC treated 65 families, around 500 people, in 2016 for a range of psychological conditions.Many patients are children, who are the worst affected. Anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bed-wetting, nightmares and fear are common. Adults can be severely depressed, sometimes threatening suicide.

Staff are stretched and work six days a week to keep pace with the volume of patients coming through the door. They cant possibly cater to all of the two million people who live in this narrow coastal strip through a hellish cycle of war, random airstrikes, shaky ceasefires, poverty and fear.

The situation is Gaza is very bad and everyday it becomes worse. We have a lack of fuel, electricity and salaries for employees the crisis affects everyone, said Rasha Qandeel, the director of the PTC.

Gaza City and the outlying suburbs in the north of the enclave, bear the worst scars of the last three military offensives by Israel, most recently Operation Protective Edge in 2014, which the UN says killed 2100 Palestinians, compared to 73 Israelis, 66 of them soldiers.

The war may have stopped and things have been relatively quiet over the last three years by Gaza standards, but bombed out buildings are a reminder of what life was like not so long ago.

Gaza Trauma Unit. The Palestinian Trauma Centre. All rights reserved.Its hardly surprising that Palestine has the highest rate of mental health disorders in the MENA region. According to a study published earlier this year by Raghid Charara of the American University of Beirut, some 54 percent of Palestinian boys and 46.5 percent of girls aged 6 12 years are thought to have behavioural and emotional disorders.

Frequent exposure to violence and trauma since the 2007 blockade thanks to three Israeli military campaigns in six years between 2008 and 2014 has exacerbated the mental health crisis in Gaza. A report after the 2008-2009 offensive by Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) found that 30 percent ofadolescentsmet thecriteria for PTSD

Living under siege, the feeling of physical entrapment is common. Some 95 percent of Gazans said they felt imprisoned, a survey by GCMHP said. Mass employment, triggering a feeling of powerlessness and uselessness also contributes.

With Gazas well-documented shortage of resources and equipment, help for those suffering from poor mental health is in short supply. The PTC employs thirty staff; a mix of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors. There are eighteen full-time psychiatrists all trained in Gaza, while visiting professionals come from Europe and the US to provide training to local doctors.

There are many, obviously, who dont get the specialist treatment they need or deserve. Many dont know about the centre or cant afford to travel into Gaza City from neighbouring towns.

We cant reach everyone and a lot of them cannot come to the centre because they dont have money for transportation. We try to do the best we can, said Qandeel.

So they have never turned patients away? No, no, no, says Qandeel firmly, they need our help.

So much for turning people away, some may not come in the first place. With mass unemployment in Gaza, it is particularly difficult for men in Arab culture, traditionally powerful family figures, to come to terms with not being able to look after their wives and children, she says. Pride, and a reluctance to confront psychological issues, means many are unwilling to come forward and seek help.

That said, the PTC arent short of patients. Three newcases, on average, arrive every week, putting staff under constant pressure.

Running costs, including salaries, top US$ 200,000 a year. Totally reliant on foreign money, charities and humanitarian organisations such as Interpal, PTCs largest donor, Muslim Aid and Mercy Corps all provide vital funding.

Gaza Trauma Unit. The Palestinian Trauma Centre. All rights reserved.Interpal, a British Muslim charity, has funded the PTCs Family Therapy programme since 2013. It is one of the most active UK charities in the Gaza Strip, involved in dozens of projects, from supporting staff salaries at Sanabel School for kids with disabilities, to providing much-needed medical equipment to El Wafa Hospital in the south that was destroyed in the 2014 war.

The Vision Project, its flagship education initiative in Gaza – in conjunction with UNWRA – completed this year, helping over two hundred blind and visually-impaired children to learn and study using digital technology and iPads.

Few Gazans could claim they are unaffected by the trauma of living in this near constant theatre of war. When bombs arent going off, they suffer under the blockade; medical equipment and drugs are limited, few can leave, travel or experience a normal life.

But with mental health, you dont need equipment, or expensive machines. You dont need drugs and state of the art hospitals. You need time, dedication and training and in the case of the PTC, from a small group of very qualified, badly-paid professionals who spend their lives helping others.

Certainly Heba and her son were one of the lucky ones.

The counselling and psychotherapy Heba received has helped her overcome 90 percent of her problems, she said, vastly boosting her self-esteem. After eight months of treatment, she now comes monthly, not weekly, to the centre.

Relations with her husband have improved, the violence has stopped and she even used the word rehabilitated. Mahmouds behaviour has also stabilised and hes happier at school.

Hebas situation may be vastly improved, but she talks of coping and making do. Her voice is also tinged with sadness and despair when she reflects on causes of familys unhappiness. Naturally, she cant help straying into politics and her message is stark:

The political and economic situation is very difficult because of the occupation. All the people are suffering and we deserve to live. We ask the world to help us.

*Alex Delmar-Morgan was a guest of Interpal in Gaza.

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Gaza Situation Report 198, 06 June 12 June 2017 – Reliefweb

HIGHLIGHTS

In a statement issued over the weekend, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbhl marked 50 years of occupation of the Palestinian territory the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza and called on the international community to take action. The occupation cuts into every aspect of life for more than 2 million Palestine refugees, who represent some 42 per cent of all Palestinians in the occupied Palestine territory (oPt). Lives that should have been defined by opportunity have been reduced to endless despair, he said in the statement. How long will this tragedy continue? The occupation remains a key obstacle to the realization of a just and lasting solution for the seven-decade-long plight of Palestine refugees, and it continues to be one of the most salient aspects of a historical injustice that has cast a shadow over their lives since 1948, for more information, click here.

Through 22 health centres, UNRWA Field Health Programme (HP) provides primary health care services to the majority of the 1.3 million Palestine refugees in Gaza. Health centres provide clinical and laboratory services, along with maternal health and family planning. During May a total of 9,354 women undertook breast cancer examinations at UNRWA health centres; 952 cases were referred on to medical centres for mammogram, and seven cases were diagnosed with breast cancer. Further, the HP provided almost 338,920 consultations and specialist services to patients. In addition, the total number of dental consultations stood at 46,336 and health staff provided 17,120 physiotherapy patients with treatment sessions. The HP also provides home visits and mobile phone consultations for refugees unable to access health centres physically, such as antenatal or postnatal women, certain children or patients with non-communicable diseases. In May, 714 home visits and 3,809 mobile consultations were provided. UNRWA provides services to monitor and control communicable diseases such as diarrhoea, meningitis or mumps.

On 13 June, UNRWA Field Education Programme distributed school certificates for the scholastic year 2016/2017 to more than 258,000 UNRWA students in grades 1 to 9 in 267 schools. The exam period for the second semester lasted for eight days after which students started the summer vacation with schools opening for the next scholastic year in August. UNRWA sees education as a major investment in dignity, human development and as a means to enhance stability for Palestine refugees. This scholastic year (2016-2017), there was 8,496 dedicated UNRWA teachers who facilitate the education of Palestine refugee students in 267 UNRWA schools in all five areas of the Gaza Strip, led by 257 school principals and 268 deputy school principals.

Providing quality, equitable and inclusive basic education is one of the Agencys strategic outcomes as identified in the current Medium-Term Strategy 2016-2021. The Agency operates one of the largest school systems in the Middle East, teaching nearly half a million children in over 700 schools across five fields of operations. In emergencies, education saves or sustains lives and is a major component of strategies for child protection. Tens of thousands of students in UNRWAs five fields of operations are affected by conflict and hence Education in Emergencies (EiE) is crucial. The Gaza-based UNRWA TV satellite channel, part of the Field Communications Office, brings innovative lessons to affected children in all fields. Over the past months, the UNRWA TV multimedia arm, in cooperation with the Agencys Education Programme, has written scripts, developed story lines and programmes, made costumes and trained children to develop the second educational season focusing on the four subjects Arabic, English, Mathematics and Science. The season is based on a children-teaching-children approach. During 2016, the UNRWA TV developed the first season of the Education in Emergencies project. UNRWA TV was established in early 2012 as a production unit and broadcaster. It broadcasts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Besides humanitarian communication programming, it brings innovative educational lessons to affected children in all fields. Follow the channel here.

OPERATIONAL ENVIRONMENT

On almost all days in the reporting period Israeli patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of Gaza city, forcing them ashore. One injury was reported.

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) positioned at the security fence in different locations opened fire towards Palestinian areas on two days during the reporting period. No injuries were reported.

A sit-in organized by an UNRWA beneficiary took place in front of UNRWA Gaza Field Office main gate protesting against the result of his housing assessment.

During the week under review, a 25 year old man attempted suicide by setting himself on fire.

UNRWAS RESPONSE

UNRWA Community Mental Health Programme: Giving Palestine refugee children hope amidst despair

The 2014 conflict had a devastating psychosocial impact on individuals and communities in Gaza, adding to the effect already felt from almost ten years of blockade and previous conflicts. The shock of losing a home and family members, and returning to neighbourhoods to find them destroyed, erodes every sense of certainty and hope in the future. The unprecedented human, social and physical devastation during the 2014 conflict had a particular impact on children, and many remain in need of psycho-social support. According to the UNRWA Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP), children exposed to violence often express a loss of trust in others. Other common symptoms are eating disorders, nightmares or intense fear.

28-year-old Olfat Srour has been working as school counsellor in UNRWA Shujaiya Elementary School A, eastern Gaza for over eight years. Many children in Gaza, experience intense fear and disruption, which result in psychosocial problems. My main goal is to provide them with a sense of safety and security, so that they feel protected, Olfat said.

CMHP counsellors play a critical role in supporting Palestine refugees of all ages. The CMHP currently maintains a network of almost 280 counsellors and 80 psychosocial facilitators in UNRWA schools supported by a team of supervisors and assistant supervisors, as well as a Senior Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) Specialist. The programme also employs 23 counsellors and 5 legal advisors at health centres across Gaza. They collectively support children and adults, not only through individual and group counselling, but targeted interventions aimed at enhancing psychosocial resiliency and well-being.

Olfat also added during my work I use different tools such as songs, videos and games to help children manage their stress.

13-year-old Sara, a student in Shujaiya Elementary School A, had behavioural and sleeping problems after the 2014 conflict. Through writing and painting, Olfat helped her handle this experience. I feel more comfortable, I like going to school more now, especially to participate in the school counselling activities, Sara said.

Over the past years, the UNRWA Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP) has moved towards the Mental Health Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) model to provide a more holistic and integrated approach that extends beyond counselling. Counsellors help ensure that the children of Gaza are equipped with the life skills to succeed in life, working closely with teachers to reinforce problem-solving, interpersonal relationships, support for their peers, respect and tolerance for others, and self-care and stress management. In UNRWA health centres, CMHP psychosocial and legal counsellors provide comprehensive support, mainly to women, many of whom have experienced Gender-Based Violence (GBV), through individual counselling, group support, and relevant legal advice. In 2016, the CMHP supported 4,217 adults and 10,218 children through individual counselling, with an additional 1,425 and 8,710 benefitting from group counselling. Through public awareness and education sessions, over 80,000 parents and community members received information on a variety of topics including coping with stress, positive parenting and supporting children in distress.

FUNDING NEEDS

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agencys Programme Budget in 2017. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

Following the 2014 conflict, US$ 257 million has been pledged in support of UNRWAs emergency shelter programme, for which an estimated US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 463 million. UNRWA urgently appeals to donors to generously contribute to its emergency shelter programme to provide displaced Palestine refugees in Gaza with rental subsidies or cash assistance to undertake repair works and reconstruction of their damaged homes.

As presented in UNRWAs occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Emergency Appeal for 2017, the Agency is seeking US$ 402 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the oPt.

The Gaza portion of the Emergency Appeal amounts to US$ 355 million for 2017, to address protracted, large scale humanitarian needs. More information can be foundhere.

CROSSINGS

Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza.Israel prevents all access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea and air.Movement of people and goods in and out of Gazais restricted to three crossings: Rafah crossing, Erez crossing and Kerem Shalom crossing. Rafah crossing is controlled by the Egyptian authorities and technically allows for the movement of a number of authorized travellers, Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases only. Erez crossing is controlled by Israeli authorities and technically allows for the movement of aid workers and limited numbers of authorized travellers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only. (See chart)

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Gaza Situation Report 198, 06 June 12 June 2017 – Reliefweb

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Friday June 16, 2017 – Israel Hayom


Israel Hayom
Friday June 16, 2017
Israel Hayom
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman: Israel will supply electricity but won't foot the bill Mother of fallen soldier whose body is held in Gaza: We never asked to cut off Gaza's electricity Ex-minister Moshe Ya'alon: No chance for peace in near

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Friday June 16, 2017 – Israel Hayom

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Stop Abusing Gaza – Haaretz

Despite Abbas’ desire, it is up to Israel, and only Israel, to decide if some two million people including the elderly and the sick will go on trying to survive with four hours of electricity a day

The days go by, the Palestinian Authority quarrels with Hamas, Israel quarrels with both of them and its all at the expense of two million people who have been under siege for about 10 years, and now, in addition, have almost no electricity.

About an hours drive from central Israel a widespread humanitarian disaster is taking place and Israel, which is largely, even if not solely, responsible for it, is dragging its feet. Instead of renewing the full power supply to the Gaza Strip, Israel plays along with the Palestinian Authoritys political considerations, using them as an excuse to continue the abuse. But no excuse will diminish Israels role in the approaching catastrophe.

Suffice it to read the report of Mohammed Yousif Azaizeh, the Gaza field coordinator of Gisha, the Legal Center of Freedom of Movement (Haaretz June 5), to understand the disasters dimensions. Azaizeh visited the Rantisi Childrens Hospital this month and described the situation there, with only four hours of electricity service a day. The situation is catastrophic, hospital director Dr. Mohammed Abu-Salmia told him. In the hospitals intensive care unit, children are on respirators powered by a generator that can break down at any moment. And then were really lost, Abu-Salmia said.

The situation is clear-cut. Beyond the indescribable daily suffering of Gazans as a result of the power cuts, the lives of patients, newborns, premature infants, the old and people with disabilities, which depend on a regular power supply, are in danger. Israel must not continue to wait until infants and patients die before putting an end to this maltreatment.

It is difficult to understand how a country that hastens to send humanitarian aid to almost every disaster site in the world, is the first to dispatch military rescue teams and to set up field hospitals, closes its heart and eyes to a humanitarian disaster that is unfolding in its backyard, and is largely its own doing.

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At this point, the fate of the people of the Gaza Strip is in Israels hands. Israel controls their power supply as well as their taxes, from which it deducts the electricity payments. At any given moment Israel can renew the power supply to the Gaza Strip. It is up to Israel, and only Israel, if some two million people including the elderly, the sick and children will go on trying to survive with four hours of electricity a day and even less, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is now demanding. Israel must put an end to the abuse of the Gazans immediately.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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AP Explains: Why Gaza is experiencing a new power crisis …

The Gaza Strip is in the midst of an electricity shortage that has left residents with just a few hours of power a day, turning many aspects of everyday life in the Hamas-ruled territory upside down and raising concerns about a humanitarian crisis.

Here’s a look at the Gaza power crisis:

WHAT CAUSED THE CRISIS?

Gaza’s power woes began in 2006, when Israel bombed the territory’s power plant after Hamas-allied militants captured an Israeli soldier.

It took years for the power plant to be fixed, but due to its limited capacity and growth in Gaza’s population, it provides just a small fraction of the territory’s needs. As a result, Gaza relies on electricity purchased from neighboring Israel and Egypt.

For several years, Gaza has scraped by with roughly eight hours of electricity a day. But in recent months, the situation has worsened due to a combination of factors.

The power plant has not operated since April after emergency fuel shipments, purchased from Israel by Hamas allies Qatar and Turkey, ended. Electricity deliveries from Egypt, which is busy fighting its own Islamic militants, are unreliable, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, locked in a bitter rivalry with Hamas, wants to reduce electricity purchases for Gaza by about 40 percent.

This reduced supply, combined with peak demand during the Ramadan holiday season, has created rolling blackouts that give people just two to four hours of power at a time.

WHAT IS THE EFFECT ON DAILY LIFE?

The blackouts are most noticeable at night, when Gaza City, the territory’s capital, and other population centers are largely in the dark.

Residents must carefully plan daily tasks such as doing the laundry or taking a shower when they expect to have power, even if that means waking up in the middle of the night. Many Gazan homes use electric water pumps, so no electricity also means no water.

Many homes and businesses also rely on gasoline-fueled generators to keep the lights on or elevators running for a few extra hours a day. Others turn to large batteries to run household appliances. A privileged few can afford solar panels to provide hot water, and a new industry of ice salesmen has sprouted up to help keep refrigerators cool.

Still, most residents are unable to keep their refrigerators running full-time and instead go shopping each day for items like milk and meat. Power-hungry appliances like air conditioning are rarely used, and in the hot summer weather, many residents flock to the beach at sundown to break the daily Ramadan fast because their homes are so uncomfortable.

WHAT DOES ABBAS WANT?

The Islamic militant group seized control of Gaza in 2007 from Abbas’ forces, leaving him in control only of autonomous zones in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Abbas, claiming to represent all Palestinians, has paid for Gaza’s electricity for the past decade. But after repeated failures at reconciliation with Hamas, he has decided he no longer wants to subsidize the group’s rule.

WHAT IS ISRAEL’S STRATEGY?

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies that have fought three wars since the Gaza takeover.

While Israel is wary of helping Hamas maintain power, it has delivered the limited flow of electricity for pragmatic reasons: It does not want a humanitarian disaster on its doorstep, and it fears further deterioration could lead to renewed violence.

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tried to describe the crisis as an internal Palestinian matter on Thursday and said Israel is merely a “supplier.”

“We are not a side in this issue. They pay, they get electricity. They don’t pay, they don’t get electricity,” he said, accusing Hamas of wasting its limited funds on weapons and attack tunnels.

But Israel may have no choice but to find a creative way to keep the power flowing, such as finding an international donor to pay for it.

IS THERE ANYTHING HAMAS CAN DO?

The internationally isolated Hamas is in a grave financial crisis. Already struggling to pay the salaries of its thousands of civil servants and security men, it cannot afford to buy fuel. It also is unlikely to significantly cut spending on its military activities the base of its support.

It will continue to appeal to Abbas to resume the fuel purchases and will likely seek help from Qatar and Turkey. But both countries are distracted with their own problems and in Qatar’s case, under heavy international pressure to cut ties with Hamas.

WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE?

Residents are clearly suffering, and many privately express dissatisfaction with the widespread poverty and hardship under Hamas rule.

But the group maintains an iron grip on power and has quickly suppressed any signs of public dissent. For Gazans, there does not seem to be any alternative in sight.

Associated Press writers Fares Akram in Gaza City and Ian Deitch in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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Thursday June 15, 2017 – Israel Hayom


Israel Hayom
Thursday June 15, 2017
Israel Hayom
Former GOC Central Command Yair Naveh: If the disengagement proved anything, it is that terrorism has nothing to do with settlements There's no doubt that Israel was unable to create any sort of security advantage, neither in Gaza nor in Samaria, he

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Israeli and international groups warn of looming Gaza disaster – Jordan Times


Jordan Times
Israeli and international groups warn of looming Gaza disaster
Jordan Times
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM Israeli and international NGOs joined the UN on Wednesday in warning of a "total collapse" in Gaza if Israel goes ahead with plans to further cut power supplies to the enclave. A joint statement of 16 groups, among them Israel's …

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Gaza: Looming humanitarian catastrophe highlights need to lift Israel’s 10-year illegal blockade – Amnesty International USA

The Israeli authorities latest decision to slash the electricity supply to the Gaza Strip could have catastrophic humanitarian consequences for residents who have already endured a decade of suffering under Israels brutal blockade, Amnesty International has warned.

The latest round of power cuts announced by Israel on June 11 restricting the electricity supply to between two and three hours a day, will have a disastrous impact on Gazas battered infrastructure and cause a public health disaster. The move will also endanger thousands of lives including those of hospital patients with chronic conditions or in intensive care, including babies on life support.

For 10 years the siege has unlawfully deprived Palestinians in Gaza of their most basic rights and necessities. Under the burden of the illegal blockade and three armed conflicts, the economy has sharply declined and humanitarian conditions have deteriorated severely. The latest power cuts risk turning an already dire situation into a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe, said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

The power cuts will have a severe impact on essential services such as healthcare, wastewater management and access to clean water for Gazas entire population.

As the occupying power, Israel has obligations to ensure the basic needs of the civilian population are met. At the very least, Israel must not continue to cut off access to essential supplies. The Israeli authorities must immediately lift the illegal blockade and end their collective punishment of Gazas population, said Mughrabi.

Ten years on, the international community can no longer turn a blind eye to the devastating suffering caused by Israels cruel and inhuman isolation of Gaza.

This month marks 10 years since Israel began its land, sea and air blockade of Gaza. The blockade, combined with restrictions by Egypt has cut off virtually all access to the outside world for more than two million residents. Since then, unemployment rates have skyrocketed and many families have been forced into extreme poverty leaving approximately 80% of the population dependent on humanitarian aid.

Electricity cuts

For more than a decade Gaza has suffered a chronic electricity deficit. In 2013, Gazas sole power plant began to buy fuel exclusively from Israel after cheap Egyptian fuel was no longer available. The higher price of fuel forced the

power plant to reduce capacity by half. The power plant has had to shut down repeatedly because it was unable to afford the fuel needed to keep it running.

Even before the latest power crisis this week, electricity supply was rationed to around eight hours a day. In the past two months, it was further slashed to four hours a day as a result of a dispute between Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Hamas before the latest cuts announced this week.

Residents told Amnesty International the power cuts have affected all aspects of their daily lives. With many people in Gaza living in high rise apartment buildings, the lack of electricity means clean water cannot be pumped to their homes, leaving them reliant on expensive bottled water to cook, clean and shower. Residents are also unable to use the lifts to get in and out of their homes, causing particular hardship for the elderly and those with disabilities.

Mohammad Abu Rahma, a Gaza City resident, described how the power cuts have affected him and his wife and three children. The lack of electricity means they have no water and cannot do simple things like use a fridge to store food and in the evening there is no light for the children to study or read.

Ever since the [blockade] on Gaza 10 years ago our life has been in crisis. This is not new. But what is happening nowit is a catastrophe It is immoral that they make us live like this. Everyone in Gaza has been harmed by what is happening. There is no one that is spared, he said.

This has meant having to live in this intolerable heat without fans, let alone air conditioners, and thats for those of us who luckily still have our homes after the last war. Its like were suffocating.

Nour al-Sweiki, from Gaza City, told Amnesty International that families are struggling to squeeze all their domestic tasks into the three- hour window when the electricity comes on each day.

People here live without rights Everything is backwards. Nothing here progresses except for time. Poverty, unemployment, lack of water everything is deteriorating, she said.

Another Gaza resident, Sami Abd al-Rahman, also said he and his family, like most Gazans, have reorganized their lives around the few hours of electricity getting up in the middle of the night to do simple things such as use thewashing machine or take showers. He fears for the mental and emotional effects the continuing crisis is having on his children.

The Israeli authorities must ensure the level of electricity is restored to meet and sustain basic humanitarian needs, including health, water and sanitation, said Mughrabi.

The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank, Hamas and Israel must all ensure that their political disputes are not dealt with in a manner that tramples on the basic rights of Gazans.

Wider impact of blockade

The situation in the Gaza Strip has become so untenable that in 2015 the UN warned it would become uninhabitable by 2020.

Under Israels illegal blockade, movement of people and goods is severely restricted and the majority of exports and imports, raw materials have been banned. Meanwhile, Egypt has imposed tight restrictions on the Rafah crossing, keeping it closed most of this time.

The destruction wrought by three armed conflicts between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip in the 10 years since the blockade was imposed has also had devastating consequences on essential infrastructure and the deterioration of Gazas economy. All sides have committed violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes during these conflicts.

In each of these wars, Israel targeted civilian infrastructure, including electricity, water, sewage and sanitation plants as well as destroying tens of thousands of civilian properties, including homes, shops and factories. Israel has subsequently refused to allow into Gaza much of the construction materials needed to rebuild the civilian infrastructure.

The wanton destruction of Gazas residential homes and infrastructure coupled with the economic deprivation means that daily existence for many Palestinians there is a living nightmare with no end in sight, said Mughrabi.

There can be no justification for denying humanitarian supplies, adequate water and electricity to an entire population for 10 years. Israel must lift this blockade immediately.

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Life Inside the Gaza Blockade – Sojourners

MOST CHRISTIANS KNOW about Gaza from its mention in the Hebrew scriptures in the sensuous and heroic stories of Samson, corrupted by Delilah, who lured him into showing the secret of his strength (Judges 16:5). Historically a Canaanite city and then Philistine, Gaza was conquered by Joshua as a part of his conquest of the Promised Land (Joshua 10:41). For thousands of years Gaza has had a history of being destroyed and rebuilt, from the time of Alexander the Great until today.

The Gaza Strip is now a small territory to the southwest of Israel, bordered on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, with 1.8 million people living in only 140 square miles. During my visit there earlier this year, I was overwhelmed by the places incredible beauty; at the same time, the lack of functional sewage treatment plants, limited electricity, and other broken infrastructure result in Gazans experiencing a severe humanitarian crisis. Beautiful and tragic.

In 1967, the Israeli military seized Gaza and remained there until 2005, when Israel unilaterally pulled out under Ariel Sharons disengagement plan. Between August and September 2005, roughly 9,000 Israeli settlers were evacuated and 21 settlements destroyed (rather than turned over to Gazans). In 2007, after Hamas took control of Gaza, Israel intensified the restriction of movement and imposed land, sea, and air blockades on the territory. The blockades have led to severe living conditions for the people there and a growing humanitarian crisis.

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Mental help: the story of Gaza’s trauma unit – Open Democracy

Alex Delmar-Morgan. All rights reserved.After Heba Hmaids husband, Raed, was injured in the civil war in the Gaza Strip ten years ago, their marriage nearly broke down. Scarred by a serious injury to his right leg in the civil war between Hamas and Fatah in 2007, at first he grew nervous and irritable at home. Then he became violent. My husband began hitting me daily after he was wounded. And he was hitting my son sometimes, Heba, 34, said through a translator. I knew that [the injury] had affected his behaviour. I tried cope with him, to deal with him in a different manner, but I couldnt manage the situation. Before she married, Heba did a brief training stint at a place called the Palestine Trauma Centre (PTC) in Gaza after her university degree in media. Once married, her husband told her she must drop her studies, give up work and live at home. It was then that her problems started. Hebas situation grew increasingly desperate: a violent, unpredictable husband and a traumatised son, now seven years old, who has already lived through two wars and now had to cope with the added burden of an abusive father. At breaking point, Heba sought help eight months ago for her and her son, Mahmoud, at the PTC, Gazas only trauma unit – the same place she had trained at fresh out of university. Located in Gaza City, it was set up in 2007 in conjunction with the Palestine Trauma Centre UK, a British charity that provides technical and financial assistance to the unit. Other mental health programmes exist in Gaza. Some are run by UNWRA (The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) and the well-established Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCHMP) provides psychotherapy and rehabilitation services. But the PTC is the only centre of its kind in the strip, offering highly specialised psychological and counselling services to trauma victims and families. PTC treated 65 families, around 500 people, in 2016 for a range of psychological conditions.Many patients are children, who are the worst affected. Anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bed-wetting, nightmares and fear are common. Adults can be severely depressed, sometimes threatening suicide. Staff are stretched and work six days a week to keep pace with the volume of patients coming through the door. They cant possibly cater to all of the two million people who live in this narrow coastal strip through a hellish cycle of war, random airstrikes, shaky ceasefires, poverty and fear. The situation is Gaza is very bad and everyday it becomes worse. We have a lack of fuel, electricity and salaries for employees the crisis affects everyone, said Rasha Qandeel, the director of the PTC. Gaza City and the outlying suburbs in the north of the enclave, bear the worst scars of the last three military offensives by Israel, most recently Operation Protective Edge in 2014, which the UN says killed 2100 Palestinians, compared to 73 Israelis, 66 of them soldiers. The war may have stopped and things have been relatively quiet over the last three years by Gaza standards, but bombed out buildings are a reminder of what life was like not so long ago. Gaza Trauma Unit. The Palestinian Trauma Centre. All rights reserved.Its hardly surprising that Palestine has the highest rate of mental health disorders in the MENA region. According to a study published earlier this year by Raghid Charara of the American University of Beirut, some 54 percent of Palestinian boys and 46.5 percent of girls aged 6 12 years are thought to have behavioural and emotional disorders. Frequent exposure to violence and trauma since the 2007 blockade thanks to three Israeli military campaigns in six years between 2008 and 2014 has exacerbated the mental health crisis in Gaza. A report after the 2008-2009 offensive by Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) found that 30 percent ofadolescentsmet thecriteria for PTSD Living under siege, the feeling of physical entrapment is common. Some 95 percent of Gazans said they felt imprisoned, a survey by GCMHP said. Mass employment, triggering a feeling of powerlessness and uselessness also contributes. With Gazas well-documented shortage of resources and equipment, help for those suffering from poor mental health is in short supply. The PTC employs thirty staff; a mix of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors. There are eighteen full-time psychiatrists all trained in Gaza, while visiting professionals come from Europe and the US to provide training to local doctors. There are many, obviously, who dont get the specialist treatment they need or deserve. Many dont know about the centre or cant afford to travel into Gaza City from neighbouring towns. We cant reach everyone and a lot of them cannot come to the centre because they dont have money for transportation. We try to do the best we can, said Qandeel. So they have never turned patients away? No, no, no, says Qandeel firmly, they need our help. So much for turning people away, some may not come in the first place. With mass unemployment in Gaza, it is particularly difficult for men in Arab culture, traditionally powerful family figures, to come to terms with not being able to look after their wives and children, she says. Pride, and a reluctance to confront psychological issues, means many are unwilling to come forward and seek help. That said, the PTC arent short of patients. Three newcases, on average, arrive every week, putting staff under constant pressure. Running costs, including salaries, top US$ 200,000 a year. Totally reliant on foreign money, charities and humanitarian organisations such as Interpal, PTCs largest donor, Muslim Aid and Mercy Corps all provide vital funding. Gaza Trauma Unit. The Palestinian Trauma Centre. All rights reserved.Interpal, a British Muslim charity, has funded the PTCs Family Therapy programme since 2013. It is one of the most active UK charities in the Gaza Strip, involved in dozens of projects, from supporting staff salaries at Sanabel School for kids with disabilities, to providing much-needed medical equipment to El Wafa Hospital in the south that was destroyed in the 2014 war. The Vision Project, its flagship education initiative in Gaza – in conjunction with UNWRA – completed this year, helping over two hundred blind and visually-impaired children to learn and study using digital technology and iPads. Few Gazans could claim they are unaffected by the trauma of living in this near constant theatre of war. When bombs arent going off, they suffer under the blockade; medical equipment and drugs are limited, few can leave, travel or experience a normal life. But with mental health, you dont need equipment, or expensive machines. You dont need drugs and state of the art hospitals. You need time, dedication and training and in the case of the PTC, from a small group of very qualified, badly-paid professionals who spend their lives helping others. Certainly Heba and her son were one of the lucky ones. The counselling and psychotherapy Heba received has helped her overcome 90 percent of her problems, she said, vastly boosting her self-esteem. After eight months of treatment, she now comes monthly, not weekly, to the centre. Relations with her husband have improved, the violence has stopped and she even used the word rehabilitated. Mahmouds behaviour has also stabilised and hes happier at school. Hebas situation may be vastly improved, but she talks of coping and making do. Her voice is also tinged with sadness and despair when she reflects on causes of familys unhappiness. Naturally, she cant help straying into politics and her message is stark: The political and economic situation is very difficult because of the occupation. All the people are suffering and we deserve to live. We ask the world to help us. *Alex Delmar-Morgan was a guest of Interpal in Gaza.

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Gaza Situation Report 198, 06 June 12 June 2017 – Reliefweb

HIGHLIGHTS In a statement issued over the weekend, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbhl marked 50 years of occupation of the Palestinian territory the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza and called on the international community to take action. The occupation cuts into every aspect of life for more than 2 million Palestine refugees, who represent some 42 per cent of all Palestinians in the occupied Palestine territory (oPt). Lives that should have been defined by opportunity have been reduced to endless despair, he said in the statement. How long will this tragedy continue? The occupation remains a key obstacle to the realization of a just and lasting solution for the seven-decade-long plight of Palestine refugees, and it continues to be one of the most salient aspects of a historical injustice that has cast a shadow over their lives since 1948, for more information, click here. Through 22 health centres, UNRWA Field Health Programme (HP) provides primary health care services to the majority of the 1.3 million Palestine refugees in Gaza. Health centres provide clinical and laboratory services, along with maternal health and family planning. During May a total of 9,354 women undertook breast cancer examinations at UNRWA health centres; 952 cases were referred on to medical centres for mammogram, and seven cases were diagnosed with breast cancer. Further, the HP provided almost 338,920 consultations and specialist services to patients. In addition, the total number of dental consultations stood at 46,336 and health staff provided 17,120 physiotherapy patients with treatment sessions. The HP also provides home visits and mobile phone consultations for refugees unable to access health centres physically, such as antenatal or postnatal women, certain children or patients with non-communicable diseases. In May, 714 home visits and 3,809 mobile consultations were provided. UNRWA provides services to monitor and control communicable diseases such as diarrhoea, meningitis or mumps. On 13 June, UNRWA Field Education Programme distributed school certificates for the scholastic year 2016/2017 to more than 258,000 UNRWA students in grades 1 to 9 in 267 schools. The exam period for the second semester lasted for eight days after which students started the summer vacation with schools opening for the next scholastic year in August. UNRWA sees education as a major investment in dignity, human development and as a means to enhance stability for Palestine refugees. This scholastic year (2016-2017), there was 8,496 dedicated UNRWA teachers who facilitate the education of Palestine refugee students in 267 UNRWA schools in all five areas of the Gaza Strip, led by 257 school principals and 268 deputy school principals. Providing quality, equitable and inclusive basic education is one of the Agencys strategic outcomes as identified in the current Medium-Term Strategy 2016-2021. The Agency operates one of the largest school systems in the Middle East, teaching nearly half a million children in over 700 schools across five fields of operations. In emergencies, education saves or sustains lives and is a major component of strategies for child protection. Tens of thousands of students in UNRWAs five fields of operations are affected by conflict and hence Education in Emergencies (EiE) is crucial. The Gaza-based UNRWA TV satellite channel, part of the Field Communications Office, brings innovative lessons to affected children in all fields. Over the past months, the UNRWA TV multimedia arm, in cooperation with the Agencys Education Programme, has written scripts, developed story lines and programmes, made costumes and trained children to develop the second educational season focusing on the four subjects Arabic, English, Mathematics and Science. The season is based on a children-teaching-children approach. During 2016, the UNRWA TV developed the first season of the Education in Emergencies project. UNRWA TV was established in early 2012 as a production unit and broadcaster. It broadcasts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Besides humanitarian communication programming, it brings innovative educational lessons to affected children in all fields. Follow the channel here. OPERATIONAL ENVIRONMENT On almost all days in the reporting period Israeli patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of Gaza city, forcing them ashore. One injury was reported. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) positioned at the security fence in different locations opened fire towards Palestinian areas on two days during the reporting period. No injuries were reported. A sit-in organized by an UNRWA beneficiary took place in front of UNRWA Gaza Field Office main gate protesting against the result of his housing assessment. During the week under review, a 25 year old man attempted suicide by setting himself on fire. UNRWAS RESPONSE UNRWA Community Mental Health Programme: Giving Palestine refugee children hope amidst despair The 2014 conflict had a devastating psychosocial impact on individuals and communities in Gaza, adding to the effect already felt from almost ten years of blockade and previous conflicts. The shock of losing a home and family members, and returning to neighbourhoods to find them destroyed, erodes every sense of certainty and hope in the future. The unprecedented human, social and physical devastation during the 2014 conflict had a particular impact on children, and many remain in need of psycho-social support. According to the UNRWA Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP), children exposed to violence often express a loss of trust in others. Other common symptoms are eating disorders, nightmares or intense fear. 28-year-old Olfat Srour has been working as school counsellor in UNRWA Shujaiya Elementary School A, eastern Gaza for over eight years. Many children in Gaza, experience intense fear and disruption, which result in psychosocial problems. My main goal is to provide them with a sense of safety and security, so that they feel protected, Olfat said. CMHP counsellors play a critical role in supporting Palestine refugees of all ages. The CMHP currently maintains a network of almost 280 counsellors and 80 psychosocial facilitators in UNRWA schools supported by a team of supervisors and assistant supervisors, as well as a Senior Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) Specialist. The programme also employs 23 counsellors and 5 legal advisors at health centres across Gaza. They collectively support children and adults, not only through individual and group counselling, but targeted interventions aimed at enhancing psychosocial resiliency and well-being. Olfat also added during my work I use different tools such as songs, videos and games to help children manage their stress. 13-year-old Sara, a student in Shujaiya Elementary School A, had behavioural and sleeping problems after the 2014 conflict. Through writing and painting, Olfat helped her handle this experience. I feel more comfortable, I like going to school more now, especially to participate in the school counselling activities, Sara said. Over the past years, the UNRWA Community Mental Health Programme (CMHP) has moved towards the Mental Health Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) model to provide a more holistic and integrated approach that extends beyond counselling. Counsellors help ensure that the children of Gaza are equipped with the life skills to succeed in life, working closely with teachers to reinforce problem-solving, interpersonal relationships, support for their peers, respect and tolerance for others, and self-care and stress management. In UNRWA health centres, CMHP psychosocial and legal counsellors provide comprehensive support, mainly to women, many of whom have experienced Gender-Based Violence (GBV), through individual counselling, group support, and relevant legal advice. In 2016, the CMHP supported 4,217 adults and 10,218 children through individual counselling, with an additional 1,425 and 8,710 benefitting from group counselling. Through public awareness and education sessions, over 80,000 parents and community members received information on a variety of topics including coping with stress, positive parenting and supporting children in distress. FUNDING NEEDS UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agencys Programme Budget in 2017. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. Following the 2014 conflict, US$ 257 million has been pledged in support of UNRWAs emergency shelter programme, for which an estimated US$ 720 million is required. This leaves a current shortfall of US$ 463 million. UNRWA urgently appeals to donors to generously contribute to its emergency shelter programme to provide displaced Palestine refugees in Gaza with rental subsidies or cash assistance to undertake repair works and reconstruction of their damaged homes. As presented in UNRWAs occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) Emergency Appeal for 2017, the Agency is seeking US$ 402 million to meet the minimum humanitarian needs of Palestine refugees in the oPt. The Gaza portion of the Emergency Appeal amounts to US$ 355 million for 2017, to address protracted, large scale humanitarian needs. More information can be foundhere. CROSSINGS Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza.Israel prevents all access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea and air.Movement of people and goods in and out of Gazais restricted to three crossings: Rafah crossing, Erez crossing and Kerem Shalom crossing. Rafah crossing is controlled by the Egyptian authorities and technically allows for the movement of a number of authorized travellers, Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases only. Erez crossing is controlled by Israeli authorities and technically allows for the movement of aid workers and limited numbers of authorized travellers, including Palestinian medical and humanitarian cases. Kerem Shalom crossing, also controlled by Israeli authorities, technically allows for the movement of authorized goods only. (See chart)

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Friday June 16, 2017 – Israel Hayom

Israel Hayom Friday June 16, 2017 Israel Hayom Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman: Israel will supply electricity but won't foot the bill Mother of fallen soldier whose body is held in Gaza : We never asked to cut off Gaza's electricity Ex-minister Moshe Ya'alon: No chance for peace in near … and more »

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Stop Abusing Gaza – Haaretz

Despite Abbas’ desire, it is up to Israel, and only Israel, to decide if some two million people including the elderly and the sick will go on trying to survive with four hours of electricity a day The days go by, the Palestinian Authority quarrels with Hamas, Israel quarrels with both of them and its all at the expense of two million people who have been under siege for about 10 years, and now, in addition, have almost no electricity. About an hours drive from central Israel a widespread humanitarian disaster is taking place and Israel, which is largely, even if not solely, responsible for it, is dragging its feet. Instead of renewing the full power supply to the Gaza Strip, Israel plays along with the Palestinian Authoritys political considerations, using them as an excuse to continue the abuse. But no excuse will diminish Israels role in the approaching catastrophe. Suffice it to read the report of Mohammed Yousif Azaizeh, the Gaza field coordinator of Gisha, the Legal Center of Freedom of Movement (Haaretz June 5), to understand the disasters dimensions. Azaizeh visited the Rantisi Childrens Hospital this month and described the situation there, with only four hours of electricity service a day. The situation is catastrophic, hospital director Dr. Mohammed Abu-Salmia told him. In the hospitals intensive care unit, children are on respirators powered by a generator that can break down at any moment. And then were really lost, Abu-Salmia said. The situation is clear-cut. Beyond the indescribable daily suffering of Gazans as a result of the power cuts, the lives of patients, newborns, premature infants, the old and people with disabilities, which depend on a regular power supply, are in danger. Israel must not continue to wait until infants and patients die before putting an end to this maltreatment. It is difficult to understand how a country that hastens to send humanitarian aid to almost every disaster site in the world, is the first to dispatch military rescue teams and to set up field hospitals, closes its heart and eyes to a humanitarian disaster that is unfolding in its backyard, and is largely its own doing. We’ve got more newsletters we think you’ll find interesting. Please try again later. This email address has already registered for this newsletter. At this point, the fate of the people of the Gaza Strip is in Israels hands. Israel controls their power supply as well as their taxes, from which it deducts the electricity payments. At any given moment Israel can renew the power supply to the Gaza Strip. It is up to Israel, and only Israel, if some two million people including the elderly, the sick and children will go on trying to survive with four hours of electricity a day and even less, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is now demanding. Israel must put an end to the abuse of the Gazans immediately. The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel. Want to enjoy ‘Zen’ reading – with no ads and just the article? Subscribe today

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AP Explains: Why Gaza is experiencing a new power crisis …

The Gaza Strip is in the midst of an electricity shortage that has left residents with just a few hours of power a day, turning many aspects of everyday life in the Hamas-ruled territory upside down and raising concerns about a humanitarian crisis. Here’s a look at the Gaza power crisis: WHAT CAUSED THE CRISIS? Gaza’s power woes began in 2006, when Israel bombed the territory’s power plant after Hamas-allied militants captured an Israeli soldier. It took years for the power plant to be fixed, but due to its limited capacity and growth in Gaza’s population, it provides just a small fraction of the territory’s needs. As a result, Gaza relies on electricity purchased from neighboring Israel and Egypt. For several years, Gaza has scraped by with roughly eight hours of electricity a day. But in recent months, the situation has worsened due to a combination of factors. The power plant has not operated since April after emergency fuel shipments, purchased from Israel by Hamas allies Qatar and Turkey, ended. Electricity deliveries from Egypt, which is busy fighting its own Islamic militants, are unreliable, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, locked in a bitter rivalry with Hamas, wants to reduce electricity purchases for Gaza by about 40 percent. This reduced supply, combined with peak demand during the Ramadan holiday season, has created rolling blackouts that give people just two to four hours of power at a time. WHAT IS THE EFFECT ON DAILY LIFE? The blackouts are most noticeable at night, when Gaza City, the territory’s capital, and other population centers are largely in the dark. Residents must carefully plan daily tasks such as doing the laundry or taking a shower when they expect to have power, even if that means waking up in the middle of the night. Many Gazan homes use electric water pumps, so no electricity also means no water. Many homes and businesses also rely on gasoline-fueled generators to keep the lights on or elevators running for a few extra hours a day. Others turn to large batteries to run household appliances. A privileged few can afford solar panels to provide hot water, and a new industry of ice salesmen has sprouted up to help keep refrigerators cool. Still, most residents are unable to keep their refrigerators running full-time and instead go shopping each day for items like milk and meat. Power-hungry appliances like air conditioning are rarely used, and in the hot summer weather, many residents flock to the beach at sundown to break the daily Ramadan fast because their homes are so uncomfortable. WHAT DOES ABBAS WANT? The Islamic militant group seized control of Gaza in 2007 from Abbas’ forces, leaving him in control only of autonomous zones in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Abbas, claiming to represent all Palestinians, has paid for Gaza’s electricity for the past decade. But after repeated failures at reconciliation with Hamas, he has decided he no longer wants to subsidize the group’s rule. WHAT IS ISRAEL’S STRATEGY? Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies that have fought three wars since the Gaza takeover. While Israel is wary of helping Hamas maintain power, it has delivered the limited flow of electricity for pragmatic reasons: It does not want a humanitarian disaster on its doorstep, and it fears further deterioration could lead to renewed violence. Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tried to describe the crisis as an internal Palestinian matter on Thursday and said Israel is merely a “supplier.” “We are not a side in this issue. They pay, they get electricity. They don’t pay, they don’t get electricity,” he said, accusing Hamas of wasting its limited funds on weapons and attack tunnels. But Israel may have no choice but to find a creative way to keep the power flowing, such as finding an international donor to pay for it. IS THERE ANYTHING HAMAS CAN DO? The internationally isolated Hamas is in a grave financial crisis. Already struggling to pay the salaries of its thousands of civil servants and security men, it cannot afford to buy fuel. It also is unlikely to significantly cut spending on its military activities the base of its support. It will continue to appeal to Abbas to resume the fuel purchases and will likely seek help from Qatar and Turkey. But both countries are distracted with their own problems and in Qatar’s case, under heavy international pressure to cut ties with Hamas. WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE? Residents are clearly suffering, and many privately express dissatisfaction with the widespread poverty and hardship under Hamas rule. But the group maintains an iron grip on power and has quickly suppressed any signs of public dissent. For Gazans, there does not seem to be any alternative in sight. Associated Press writers Fares Akram in Gaza City and Ian Deitch in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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Thursday June 15, 2017 – Israel Hayom

Israel Hayom Thursday June 15, 2017 Israel Hayom Former GOC Central Command Yair Naveh: If the disengagement proved anything, it is that terrorism has nothing to do with settlements There's no doubt that Israel was unable to create any sort of security advantage, neither in Gaza nor in Samaria, he …

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Israeli and international groups warn of looming Gaza disaster – Jordan Times

Jordan Times Israeli and international groups warn of looming Gaza disaster Jordan Times OCCUPIED JERUSALEM Israeli and international NGOs joined the UN on Wednesday in warning of a "total collapse" in Gaza if Israel goes ahead with plans to further cut power supplies to the enclave. A joint statement of 16 groups, among them Israel's …

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Gaza: Looming humanitarian catastrophe highlights need to lift Israel’s 10-year illegal blockade – Amnesty International USA

The Israeli authorities latest decision to slash the electricity supply to the Gaza Strip could have catastrophic humanitarian consequences for residents who have already endured a decade of suffering under Israels brutal blockade, Amnesty International has warned. The latest round of power cuts announced by Israel on June 11 restricting the electricity supply to between two and three hours a day, will have a disastrous impact on Gazas battered infrastructure and cause a public health disaster. The move will also endanger thousands of lives including those of hospital patients with chronic conditions or in intensive care, including babies on life support. For 10 years the siege has unlawfully deprived Palestinians in Gaza of their most basic rights and necessities. Under the burden of the illegal blockade and three armed conflicts, the economy has sharply declined and humanitarian conditions have deteriorated severely. The latest power cuts risk turning an already dire situation into a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe, said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International. The power cuts will have a severe impact on essential services such as healthcare, wastewater management and access to clean water for Gazas entire population. As the occupying power, Israel has obligations to ensure the basic needs of the civilian population are met. At the very least, Israel must not continue to cut off access to essential supplies. The Israeli authorities must immediately lift the illegal blockade and end their collective punishment of Gazas population, said Mughrabi. Ten years on, the international community can no longer turn a blind eye to the devastating suffering caused by Israels cruel and inhuman isolation of Gaza. This month marks 10 years since Israel began its land, sea and air blockade of Gaza. The blockade, combined with restrictions by Egypt has cut off virtually all access to the outside world for more than two million residents. Since then, unemployment rates have skyrocketed and many families have been forced into extreme poverty leaving approximately 80% of the population dependent on humanitarian aid. Electricity cuts For more than a decade Gaza has suffered a chronic electricity deficit. In 2013, Gazas sole power plant began to buy fuel exclusively from Israel after cheap Egyptian fuel was no longer available. The higher price of fuel forced the power plant to reduce capacity by half. The power plant has had to shut down repeatedly because it was unable to afford the fuel needed to keep it running. Even before the latest power crisis this week, electricity supply was rationed to around eight hours a day. In the past two months, it was further slashed to four hours a day as a result of a dispute between Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Hamas before the latest cuts announced this week. Residents told Amnesty International the power cuts have affected all aspects of their daily lives. With many people in Gaza living in high rise apartment buildings, the lack of electricity means clean water cannot be pumped to their homes, leaving them reliant on expensive bottled water to cook, clean and shower. Residents are also unable to use the lifts to get in and out of their homes, causing particular hardship for the elderly and those with disabilities. Mohammad Abu Rahma, a Gaza City resident, described how the power cuts have affected him and his wife and three children. The lack of electricity means they have no water and cannot do simple things like use a fridge to store food and in the evening there is no light for the children to study or read. Ever since the [blockade] on Gaza 10 years ago our life has been in crisis. This is not new. But what is happening nowit is a catastrophe It is immoral that they make us live like this. Everyone in Gaza has been harmed by what is happening. There is no one that is spared, he said. This has meant having to live in this intolerable heat without fans, let alone air conditioners, and thats for those of us who luckily still have our homes after the last war. Its like were suffocating. Nour al-Sweiki, from Gaza City, told Amnesty International that families are struggling to squeeze all their domestic tasks into the three- hour window when the electricity comes on each day. People here live without rights Everything is backwards. Nothing here progresses except for time. Poverty, unemployment, lack of water everything is deteriorating, she said. Another Gaza resident, Sami Abd al-Rahman, also said he and his family, like most Gazans, have reorganized their lives around the few hours of electricity getting up in the middle of the night to do simple things such as use thewashing machine or take showers. He fears for the mental and emotional effects the continuing crisis is having on his children. The Israeli authorities must ensure the level of electricity is restored to meet and sustain basic humanitarian needs, including health, water and sanitation, said Mughrabi. The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank, Hamas and Israel must all ensure that their political disputes are not dealt with in a manner that tramples on the basic rights of Gazans. Wider impact of blockade The situation in the Gaza Strip has become so untenable that in 2015 the UN warned it would become uninhabitable by 2020. Under Israels illegal blockade, movement of people and goods is severely restricted and the majority of exports and imports, raw materials have been banned. Meanwhile, Egypt has imposed tight restrictions on the Rafah crossing, keeping it closed most of this time. The destruction wrought by three armed conflicts between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip in the 10 years since the blockade was imposed has also had devastating consequences on essential infrastructure and the deterioration of Gazas economy. All sides have committed violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes during these conflicts. In each of these wars, Israel targeted civilian infrastructure, including electricity, water, sewage and sanitation plants as well as destroying tens of thousands of civilian properties, including homes, shops and factories. Israel has subsequently refused to allow into Gaza much of the construction materials needed to rebuild the civilian infrastructure. The wanton destruction of Gazas residential homes and infrastructure coupled with the economic deprivation means that daily existence for many Palestinians there is a living nightmare with no end in sight, said Mughrabi. There can be no justification for denying humanitarian supplies, adequate water and electricity to an entire population for 10 years. Israel must lift this blockade immediately.

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Life Inside the Gaza Blockade – Sojourners

MOST CHRISTIANS KNOW about Gaza from its mention in the Hebrew scriptures in the sensuous and heroic stories of Samson, corrupted by Delilah, who lured him into showing the secret of his strength (Judges 16:5). Historically a Canaanite city and then Philistine, Gaza was conquered by Joshua as a part of his conquest of the Promised Land (Joshua 10:41). For thousands of years Gaza has had a history of being destroyed and rebuilt, from the time of Alexander the Great until today. The Gaza Strip is now a small territory to the southwest of Israel, bordered on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, with 1.8 million people living in only 140 square miles. During my visit there earlier this year, I was overwhelmed by the places incredible beauty; at the same time, the lack of functional sewage treatment plants, limited electricity, and other broken infrastructure result in Gazans experiencing a severe humanitarian crisis. Beautiful and tragic. In 1967, the Israeli military seized Gaza and remained there until 2005, when Israel unilaterally pulled out under Ariel Sharons disengagement plan. Between August and September 2005, roughly 9,000 Israeli settlers were evacuated and 21 settlements destroyed (rather than turned over to Gazans). In 2007, after Hamas took control of Gaza, Israel intensified the restriction of movement and imposed land, sea, and air blockades on the territory. The blockades have led to severe living conditions for the people there and a growing humanitarian crisis.

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