From Gaza, with Love

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gaza today -lawless embargo , sanctions and occupation dreadfull consequences

23rd of may

few days ago, Cease-fire has been signed again between the two Palestinian fighting
parties, Fattah and hamas. And children are back at school. My
daughter's started her end of the year exams early. All the schools
had to squeeze the schedule of the examination, so they end as soon as
possible before new violence erupts.

I believe it is fragile ceasefire. The armed men are still in the
streets of Gaza, some of them occupy the roofs of some the multi-story
buildings. Israel has intensified its air strike attacks against
Gaza, north east and some areas in the south. Many people have been
killed. Eight members of one family were killed, when aeroplanes
launched an air strike against the home of a hamas leaders in Gaza. He
wasn't at home, he escaped the attack.
hospitals including AlAwda , are overwhelmed with increasing number of casualities , with inadequate medical supplies and medications .

We all fear a large Israeli attack against Gaza.

From my apartment by the seaside, I can clearly hear and see the
Israeli gunboats patrolling the sea of Gaza, and the Palestinian
authority armed men in their new base. It used to be a family resort.
It is not any more, it is military place for security guards of the
president. The smell of the death is strong, stronger than watching
the lovely sea, or listening to the singing birds if there are any,
shooting sounds is prevalent, poverty too and lawless

My friend Mansour, whom I mentioned in one of my previous entries, and
who needs urgent cytotoxic treatment , in Israel or abroad, after 45 of
long waiting days, he got the referral to one of the hospitals inside
Israel, but the Gaza borders are closed both north and south, and he
has to wait again for its unpredictable opening. His story is the same
daily story of many patients in Gaza, who are dying slowly because of
the closure,

Where are we going, I don't know, but I know very well, that the whole
population suffers of the dreadful consequences of the Israeli
Occupation, which is fully supported by the USA, I know also very
well that women and children suffer the most. And that me and my
colleagues, who work in different fields of the Palestinian civil
society different fields, work hard to alleviate this suffering.

double standard democracy -and where the media goes wrong and fooled

my friend Allan in LA -USA ,telephoned in the heat of the violent incidents in Gaza , asking about the hamas farfour , and i hope that this article will answer his question , and many qustions in your minds , if you need to know more about children in Gaza (Palestinian children), please visit MECA website mecafor peace .org, it can tell you many beatifull stories about Gazan children, thier determination to enjoy what the occupation and injustice has left for them to enjoy !!!!!!while the rest of the world keeps silent
spread the word say no to the injustice no to racist occupation .

Hamas, Mickey Mouse And
Other Horror Stories:
Those Violent Palestinians Again

By Agustin Velloso

22 May, 2007

The same thing applies to Palestinian violence as to
United States democracy: all the news media talk
frequently about it but none of them has ever seen it
as it really is. The abundance of news aimed at
reporting the intrinsic evil of the Palestinians is
impressive. Last week one could see at peak viewing
time Palestinian pre-school teachers using Mickey
Mouse to teach kids they must wipe out Jews, make
martyrs of themselves, fight to take over the world
and so on.

What a headline! What depth of Middle East conflict
analysis! Those children and their parents before them
have been subjected to constant Israeli bombing for
years - attacks that cause dead and wounded by the
thousand - and yet, to the leading lights of
journalism, what matters, or rather what they are
interested in broadcasting, is that the children of
these victims are taught from infancy to turn into
Islamist terrorists.

Would not the contrary be news, according to a golden
rule of the profession? To their tormentors,
Palestinian children write poems of love - orphaned by
Israeli bombs that have killed their parents, starving
hungry thanks to a criminal blockade by Israel and its
allies, with no hope of leaving that hell since the
United Nations is in no hurry to oblige Israel to
abandon the Occupied Territories (after 40 years of
illegal occupation now) as it was to force Iraq to
abandon Kuwait (after 6 months).

In that same week an Israeli soldier, in a punishment
operation in Nablus, killed an unborn Palestinian
whose mother is still lying wounded in hospital. Maha
Katouri, a 30 year old Palestinian mother lost the
child in her womb, seven months into the pregnancy, to
a bullet that perforated her abdomen and destroyed her
unborn baby's head.

Non-news is that the Israeli soldier who fired the
shot is in Occupied Palestinian territory illegally:
non-news also are his orders to shoot to kill
Palestinians, including women and children in their
houses, not because Israel faces non-existent Arab
aggression, but rather to contribute, death by death,
captive by captive, eviction by eviction, to the
genocide of the Palestinians. For the international
community the latest anniversary of the final solution
of the Jewish Question which ended with the complete
defeat of the Nazi regime is news. Non-news is the
continuing final solution of the Palestinian Question,
begun with the establishment of Israel and which every
Israeli government since 1948 has continued with the
blessing of that same international community.

Just-barely-news is that the same week a dozen
Palestinians have died and many more have been wounded
at Israel's hands. Non-news is that the remainder
suffers the effects of an international economic
blockade applied to a population under military
occupation by a member country of the United Nations.
Also non-news is that every last bullet has been paid
for by the United States which subsidises Israel's
army of occupation with US$3 billion a year.

News is the falsehood that Condi Rice travels to
Jerusalem to promote peace. Non-news is that the
European Union approves Israel's genocidal policy,
since it does nothing to make Israel respect UN
resolutions and international humanitarian law. News
is that the European Union does not talk with the
Hamas government, which has not occupied Israel and
has not broken international law, because purportedly
it includes extremists.

Non-news is that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian
children receive daily from the Israeli Mickey Mouse
throughout their lives an education far more effective
than one that even the most intelligent Palestinian
teacher could not devise: Occupier education. This
teaches them the Occupier is much stronger than the
occupied and thus to abandon the land the Occupier
covets or take the consequences, which are non-news or
old news: a wall that condemns them to live in a
prison, demolition house by house to make way for
colonies exclusively for Jews, the loss of means to
make a living so that they emigrate and, above all,
prison (Israeli prisons hold 11,000 Palestinian
captives) and death (5000 Palestinian dead since 2000)
for resisting all the foregoing.

Non-news is that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian
children grow up traumatized by the extreme violence
to which they are subjected by the fourth most
powerful army in the world, equipped with F-16 fighter
bombers, Merkava tanks and snipers whom Israel daily
sends into the Occupied Territories to fire on the
unarmed civilian population. News, on the other hand,
is that Israeli children in Sderot suffer
psychological stress from Qassam rockets, whose
minimal destructive capacity, however, is non-news: a
total of seven people in Israel have died from 4500
launches since 2001. Non-news too is that between ten
and twenty Palestinians regularly die from a single
Israeli missile.

It is unreasonable for these journalists and editors
to report stress suffered by children in Sderot but
not that of Palestinian children. Nor is it credible
that these reporters and opinion-formers cannot work
out that the ambience of extreme violence in which
Palestinian children live not only explains why they
sing songs that help them endure the terror they live
through, but also that it is the inevitable result of
Israel's criminal policies. It is impossible to
understand that the news is not the friendly Mickey
Mouse as a teaching aid for Palestinian kids, but
rather the terrifying Israeli soldier that shoots them
point blank.

So why then do they publish news as they do?Because
they are supporters of Israel, racist towards
Palestinians and anti-Islamic or all these at once.
Except to those unwilling to see, this is so obvious
that its demonstration has not even needed the mention
in this article of what some might say is fundamental:
that the Mickey Mouse news item is a fake. Its falsity
parallels the fraud used years ago to justify the
first attack on Iraq: that Iraqis were killing
newborns by tearing them from incubators. The daughter
of the Kuwaiti ambassador in the United States enjoyed
a universal audience to watch her weep as she related
this event, which existed entirely in her imagination.
The correction of her false witness was much more

The Palestinian Mickey Mouse story is yet one more of
the numerous lies disseminated by Israel and taken as
it stood by Western journalists. The translation of
the Mickey Mouse words, again, as happens with
statements about Israel attributed to Ahmedinejad and
in other cases too, is corrupt. But which news outlet
is going to ask for an explanation from the people who
distributed it? Which TV presenter is going to
publicly admit they were fooled? Which chief editor is
going to confess that they failed to check the -
obviously Israeli - source?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Gaza update 2

wednesday 16th of May 2007 4pm
The interfighting continued today, Hamas hit 3 rocket propelled grenades
(RPGs) against the presidential guard's headquarters opposite my building. 3
RPGs landed in front of the main entrance to my building, it was so loud and I was terrified, but
pretended to be strong in front of my daughter Sondos (I noticed that she
was not very well ),we had to stay again in one room away from the windows,
and I started to think of moving to a safer place in another part of the
town, but where is this safe place in Gaza? No place is safe in Gaza!

8 pm

To my great relief but disbelief and great mistrust, I heard that truce has
been announced between the 2 fighting parties

11 pm
I went to my bed struggling to sleep, emotionally distracted, unsettled
unhappy and traumatized, all sort of feelings, I could not sleep without
being interrupted by the sporadic shooting, which continued if not as
strongly and continuously as the last few days. I was however glad to see
that Sondos was fast asleep.

17th of May 2007 -10am

I have decided to go out to my work, and to drop my daughter off to her
friend's house on the other side of the town , where I thought it was
somewhat safer and where she could get a change of scenery.


The Israeli army intensifies its attacks against Gaza, another element to be
added to the already collapsing situation. Fighter jets hit a building
housing a Hamas office. This was very close to my daughter's friend's house.
I called Sondos and could hear her voice on the other line, terrified,
shouting, "all the windows here have been broken, my friend is slightly
injured, it is too loud it is too loud, mum please pick me up quickly mum".
Shattered, in disbelief and greatly worried, I hurried to pick her up, Gaza
streets are deserted, like a phantom town, especially where I live, the taxi
driver (I do not use my car in such circumstances)had to take many side
roads , and while the car was moving I could see many armed masked men, and
crossed many military barriers, on the arrival I could see the bombed
building, and hear the shattered glass being swept away by the residents of
the area, 2 were killed, 32 people were injured, some were women and
children .
Israel intensifies its attacks against Gaza, to add another element to the
deteriorating situation. 6 attacks against cars and buildings in the last 2
hours, and just now I got news that army tanks are bombarding the north of
Gaza. All over civilians are strained, drained and exhausted, streets are
dangerous, most shops are closed, schools and universities are closed , patients donot have safe accesability to medical facilities, the hospitals are overwhelmed with casualities , and called upon gaza residents several times for blood donation , it is not safe to reach hospitals.

this is Gaza and my life in Gaza , one episode after another , long chain of non stop tragic incidents,
with all my love

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gaza-situation update

In the last four days the situation has deteriorated in Gaza. The
clashes between Fatta and Hamas restarted. My daughter can't go to
school and with great difficulty I had to leave home for an urgent
medical appointment.

While on my way from the east to the west of town, I could see
ambulances taking the bodies of 2 men, killed just a few minutes ago.

I regretted going out. The streets were deserted. I arrived at the
clinic and found no patients there. Just me. I

hurried back home, crossing the military barriers, and saw masked armed
young men, very young. I think of the Israeli soldiers, also so young.
I remember Rachel Corrie once said

"we are all kids curious about other kids. Palestinian kids shot from
the tanks when they peak out from behind walls to see what's going on.
International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids
in the tanks anonymously ."

I can hear shooting coming from everywhere. I arrived at my apartment
and heard noise outside the next door flat, and found 8 masked men
storming out the flat with the father of the family. I tried to
intervene, but one of the masked men pointed his gun at me. He was very
tense, shouting at me to leave at once. I left shocked. I've learned
that they killed the man - sometime in the next 15 minutes.

Israeli helicopters are in the skies of Gaza, south , north and east,
One of my friends who lives in Jabalia refugee camps says they hear
artillery shelling.

I can't go to work. I have patchy power and some food in my fridge,
enough for both me and my daughter.

Thinking deeply of the ongoing interclashes in Gaza, I can see it as natural outcome of many factors, since the so called infamous Oslo peace process took place, as peace treaty that served the Israelis interests and security, not taking in consideration, long lasting peace based on justice, followed by creating daily obstacles against the ongoing negotiation process, the disengagement plan from Gaza, while controlling and suffocating Gaza, no opened borders, no proper economy, deteriorating humanitarian situation , followed by the election , and the west embargo and the ongoing sanctions against the national unity government,, the ever-present all levels of the Israeli collaborators
, all those circumstances gave good grounds for the Palestinian Palestinian fight ,between the 2 groups with 2 different agendas , whatever those agendas are both serve the Israeli occupation agenda

Giving this analysis I don’t whatever forgive both parties Fattah and hamas from their criminal act against the Palestinian people present past and future

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

women in my country -gender and development

Like the entire Palestinian nation, Palestinian women have to face the Israeli occupation and its wide range of effects on our daily life. However, women are also subjected to the constraints of a strong traditional society – a society which puts a tremendous amount of pressure on women.

Any process of development in a developing country like Palestine cannot be effective if it excludes half the population (ie. women). When social, political and economic factors have contributed to the decline of the development process and when resources are scarce, the most vital resources are well invested human resources.

I believe that women in my country need to be empowered in various ways. What is most important is that women are aware of their social, legal, economic, health and political rights and have the tools to fully implement those rights. While education for women about these rights is important, knowledge and enlightening alone is not enough. Practical projects and programmes that help to alleviate poverty for women and strengthen their economic independence are essential. Having this economic independence means they can play a much greater and important role, both inside the family and in the community as a whole.

Women and gender equality

It is recognised that gender equality is a strategic long term goal, where both women and men can enjoy equal rights. To achieve this goal it is important to help and support the more vulnerable party and women are usually this party. The message that we all live under occupation in my country, both men and women, that all human rights are violated and that it’s a battle for everyone must be promoted.

Due to the unique situation in Palestine, new pressures are being faced by women. Not only has the whole community suffered because of the occupation, but the number of
families headed by women have increased. Even when the woman’s partner is present, women play a greater role inside the family. Women are not only trying to help their families through the daily hazards of living under occupation and the associated social, psychological, and health problems but they themselves are also victims of
these problems. It is no surprise, therefore, to find that post-traumatic stress syndrome amongst women and children is higher than among men.

Programmes aimed at increasing womens empowerment have been adopted in the union
of health work committees and Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Gaza in special womens welfare centers. This drive to empower women has always been a part of the mission statements of both organisations. It is an essential goal in the fight for womens development and gender equality. In these programmes awareness and enlightenment are the main focus alongside support and practical elements including social and
psychological support, legal aid support, health services and job opportunities. All of these elements are underpinned by gender equality.

I do believe that progress is being made. Despite both the occupation and the traditional social constraints, every day through my work in different womens programmes I can clearly see the change. It is not fast but it is there. For example, the average age at which girls are marrying has slightly increased, more girls seem to be embarking on getting a university education, marriages between relatives are not as high as they used
to be and so on. One of the golden rules for us as community activists and workers is to ensure that the right of education for girls is guaranteed. Despite the economic hardship and humanitarian crises, these slight changes are a positive outcome and reflection of the cumulative effect of the ongoing awareness-raising programmes of different NGO’S in Palestine.

I am convinced women can play a very positive role in change in my country given the right atmosphere and circumstances. Palestinian women can contribute a lot and in order for them to have the opportunity to do so, the enlightenment and education of men is essential especially young men. At the same time we must continue working with women on an international basis in order to achieve the promotion of womens rights and empowerment. Solidarity is great weapon in achieving this goal. It is important to work as part of a global movement that is fighting injustice and exploitation instigated by capital, imperial and colonial world powers.

In the end gender equality is not an intangible concept but a demand for liberation and justice for both females and males.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Good bye my friends

Good bye my friends

Heart to Heart

After 11 years of working for Palestinian children in Gaza and the West Bank, Heart to Heart, the family international foundation, could not renew

Their permit to stay in Palestine.

I will not bother you with the daily violation of human rights, or rules and regulations imposed by the Israeli occupation against our freedom of
Movement and the denials (rejection) of permits to enter Gaza. Those Friends of Palestine who want to work here or visit us in solidarity against occupation, face continual obstacles to prevent them from even entering Gaza. Such people are not only eyewitnesses, when they visit Gaza they are a window in our dark sky, helping us to look out from this small piece of land, this big prison and pressure cooker.

Saying goodbye to John and Akimi was not an easy task. I tried to be strong and to look strong, but I couldn’t, and after they left I burst
into tears while I recalled and remembered all the good work we did together, all the good times (despite the circumstances) we had together.

We tried hard and worked hard to give the children better lives and situations, and to make the change in their lives.
Using the few basic resources available, a great work was done. Activities, English teaching,theatre, painting, reading, dancing, singing, computer classes and above all giving children the chance to grow in a democratic atmosphere with respect for their rights, guiding them to play a greater role in their community, and to make the change in this community, including helping to look after the younger children.

I still remember with love and nostalgia the health environmental entertainment day in Jabalia camp. All of us were there to clean the camp streets(with Nora from the Norwegian people aid ) and plant trees, with messages of health education and steadfastness against
occupation. While helicopters circle in the skies of Gaza, and bulldozers raze the agricultural land and carry out home demolitions, we try hard to implement love of the land and steadfastness despite all the circumstances surrounding us.

I cannot forget that day in 31 January 2003 when the Israelis intensified their military attacks against the north of Gaza.
Flechette shells (anti-personnel weapons which explode to fire thousands of darts, invariably hitting non-combatants in violation of international
humanitarian law) were fired, targetting small kids as they played football not far from Al-Awda hospital where the kids were received for treatment.

Later, sitting on their recovery beds, I asked friends worldwide to write kind and supportive letters to the children.
With John and Akimi of Heart to Heart, we visited the children after they left the hospital.
Akimi made nice cakes and I handed the kids some money from an old university friend Naela in Bahrain. As we went from house to house to say hello, read the
letters and support and laugh with the kids, a drone was in the sky and 2 Apache helicopters were over the neighbourhood. It was too dark and scary.

Going back to Gaza I asked myself, I am a Palestinian and this is home, but what makes the always smiling John and Akimi take this risk?

I could only reply that it is their humanity, dedication and commitment to making the world a better place for all its citizens.

Good bye my friends

This is the piece I wrote about the kids and the incident on 31 st of January 2003

Game of Darts on football pitch
Gaza 2 pm Friday Jan. 31 2003

Islam a six year old boy from Telezaater in Jabalia refugee camp was on his grandmother's roof, watching the neighbourhood children playing street football, on a beautiful sunny day (at least that’s how it seemed for a short while). Tamer aged 16 was kicking the ball to Bilal also 16,Abedlhalim aged 13 hurried up to kick the ball back, the rest of the team were busy with the game.

They were trying hard to have some fun in the big prison called Gaza,where all day long the kids hear and experience only shooting and killing,army tanks, Apache helicopters, and ever present F16 Fighting Falcons.Incursions, checkpoints and curfews are always the order of the day. This all amounts to no food, no fun, no proper education, no clean water no safe homes , and no normal life for the children of Palestine.

At 2 pm on that sunny winter afternoon an Israeli Merkava battle tank fired two shells that landed in the middle of the boys' makeshift football field while they were playing. It was GAME OVER on the pitch and for some other people who were injured inside their homes.

Nine of the cheerful footballers are now lying wounded on the Al-Awda hospital beds, 3 are in critical condition. The total number of wounded
was 15. The shells fired were flechette rounds that contain thousands of small metal darts, each four centimeters in length. Having been shot from
a tank, the round explodes in the air and tiny darts scatter over a 300 by 100 meter area. Needless to say these rounds are illegal under international law, and so is the occupation by the way.
While visiting the kids at Al-Awda hospital, I asked one of the boys does it hurt? He
answered "only when I laugh".

in solidarity,

Mona ElFarra

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Nakba 59th anniversary- a day to rembember before it is due

15th anniversary of Al-Asria project – Jabalia refugee camp

59 years of Nakba

On the 15th anniversary of the founding of Al-Asria center in Jabalia
refugee camp, the older kids – some of whom were age 6 when they joined
the project and are now university students – founded a cultural forum
named ir shababeek, literally "windows", which means a lot in a place like
the Gaza strip. When all of us suffer the daily hardships of life in a big
prison, we need to find our own different windows, to help us ventilate to
survive and continue trying to improve our lives with the few resources we
have, and the great obstacles we face.

The center was founded to give the children of Jabalia a place of their
own, away from the refugee camp alleys and violence of the occupation. It
was also created to give chances for boys and girls to be together, and to
assist the kids to have important roles inside their communities, and let
them help each other with love and care. With internet services and
meeting solidarity groups from abroad, they can realize that there is
another side to the world, with people who love and care and fight against
injustice and for peace.

Shababeek invited me as a guest speaker, the title of the lecture is early
marriage and its health, psychological and economical consequences for the
family and community and development. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian
children, like those in Jabalia, were born inside refugee camps along with
their parents, grandparents and even great grandparents.

Here life is so cruel, harsh and inhuman. You wake up every day with the
dream of going home (return), and home is only a few kilometers away. The
whole world is not silent but impotent when dealing with the Palestinian
refugees case, and the situation gets more complicated day after day. Most
of the world feels that its responsibility is confined to charitable acts
to help relieve the refugees.

But this is not the story, you can learn more about the real story from
the children themselves, who were not born in Palestine and still dream of
Palestine. It is the 59th anniversary of the Nakba.

I try hard with others to help and make life easier, and this cultural
center I founded, like many others are a haven for the kids, but this is
not enough. The children know their rights and know a lot about the right
of return. They have learned many local stories as an important part of
their heritage and history. They listened to their grandparents' stories
of the cruel ethnic cleansing of Palestine 1948, they recite humanitarian
stories that are not mentioned in the traditional history books.

Those kids like all Palestinian people are willing to live in peace,
willing to share the land of Palestine in one democratic state based on
respect for human rights, based on justice. Any peace which is not based
on justice is a vulnerable peace. The right of return is the pacemaker of
this justice.

On the 59th anniversary of the Nakba and the foundation of Israel, my
message is a message of peace and love, that only by adopting a just
solution can the conflict be resolved.

In solidarity, trust ,love , truth , hustice and peace

Mona ElFarra