From Gaza, with Love

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

my oped in the Austin statement paper -USA

Palestinians Must Have Hope to Move Forward
by Mona El-Farra / June 21st, 2007

As a physician from Gaza, I have treated far too many Palestinians wounded by Israeli troops. Now a day has come that I thought I would never see.

Throughout our 59-year struggle to obtain our freedom, we Palestinians debated strategy and tactics. Political factions competed for popular support. But never would I have believed that we would turn guns against each other. What brought us to this point?

In 2006, Hamas won free and fair elections on a platform that promised clean and efficient government. But Israel and the West meddled with our democratically elected choice by imposing devastating economic sanctions. How would Americans feel if a foreign power expressed its dissatisfaction with your elected government in this way? Our economy and our livelihoods have been destroyed, reducing many of us to poverty.

At last, we exploded with a desperation born of decades of oppression, lack of opportunity and loss of hope. We brutalized each other over the crumbs of power. The shame is ours — but the responsibility is shared between reckless Palestinians and external powers that turned the screws on our people.

Israel might have removed its soldiers and settlers from Gaza in September 2005, but it still controls Gaza from the sea, air and land. The borders are mostly closed according to the whim of Israel, transforming Gaza into an enormous open-air prison for its 1.4 million people, half of whom are children. Too many of these youngsters suffer from the stifling effects of violence and hunger. Their future is dangerously circumscribed by the chaos and uncertainty that envelops us.

To thrive, Palestinians need access to the sea and to commerce. Most importantly, our people must be imbued with a sense of hope.

Sanctions imposed after the election of Hamas made hard lives harder, but we must not forget that even under the “moderate” leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas we did not control trade in and out of Gaza.

“There is a seeming reflex,” United Nations peace envoy Alvaro de Soto said in a report, “in any given situation where the UN is to take a position, to ask first how Israel or Washington will react rather than what is the right position to take.”

Washington’s bias toward Israel is significantly responsible for the appalling situation in which we find ourselves.

Yes, we Palestinians must accept blame for our perilous situation. However, Palestinian Foreign Minister Ziad Abu Amr has correctly declared, “If you have two brothers, put them in a cage and deprive them of basic and essential needs for life, they will fight.” The fact that we would sink to this level is perhaps the surest sign of the terrible damage meted out to us over the years by dispossession and occupation.

When one is in a hole, it is imperative to stop digging. If we are to win our freedom, surely it will not be done with one brother digging the grave of another. The violence, therefore, must stop. That is our first responsibility as Palestinians and we must meet it immediately. And the United States and the international community must end the sanctions that deprive us of our basic needs and our hope for a better future.

The Israeli leadership brandishes our plight as evidence that we cannot govern ourselves nor be trusted as “peace partners.” White South Africans similarly claimed that black South Africans were incapable of self-governance. In the last years of apartheid, more than 250 blacks were killed in black-on-black violence each month. Yet decency and equality eventually prevailed in South Africa. Apartheid was vanquished and the world learned that black-on-black violence was an outgrowth of apartheid — not an indication that black South Africans were incapable of self-rule and undeserving of rights.

We, too, have the right to be free. But we must first free ourselves from fighting over the scraps of power.

Like oppressed people everywhere, we yearn for our rights. Out of this ugly period, we must promote a new vision of equality for all peoples living on this land, regardless of race or religion.

El-Farra is a physician in the Gaza Strip. She is slate to speak tonight at 7 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 3208 Exposition Blvd.

Mona El-Farra is a doctor living and working in Gaza. Read other articles by Mona.
This article was posted on Thursday, June 21st, 2007 at 4:59 am and is filed under Israel/Palestine and Middle East. Send to a friend.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

on the 40th anniversary of occupation my statement in the UN


7 June 2007



Red Crescent Society For Gaza Strip

 Your Excellency Mr. Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee,
Distinguished guests and Excellencies,

It is my honour to be amongst you today, despite the gravity of the occasion being commemorated, on this 40th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

First, let me say that 2007 is the 40th anniversary of 59 years of the brutal occupation of the Palestinian people.

As we called for an end to apartheid in South Africa and the right of all people to live together and have equal rights, we must now, before it is too late, call for true justice for the Palestinians.

Today, we heard about the economic plight of the Palestinian people. We heard about Palestinians in Israeli prisons which number close to 8,000 men and women, including approximately 350 children under the age of 14, most of whom have been tortured.

How many UN resolutions must be passed by the UN? How many years of calling for 2 States before there is an understanding that Israel continues its aggression on the ground against women, children and men, the demolition of thousands of homes and the continued building of the apartheid wall?

Let us not just speak of the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza. We must never forget those who live as second-class citizens inside Israel and most of all, those who were forced from their homes and lands in 1948.

Now is the time to call for a real peace, with justice for all the children in the region. This can only be accomplished by supporting the right of return of all Palestinians.

Now is the time to acknowledge that the two-State solution is not the answer.

From Gaza I came, where the children of my country have no safe homes, no safe streets, no proper and adequate health facilities, no proper food, clean water, or regular electrical power, no recreational activities and no good education. The list of deprivation of their basic needs is too long to count.

I lived this occupation as a child, and am still living it as an adult. I can see it in the eyes of my daughter when she is afraid, tired, restless and exhausted because of the unsafe and unpredictable quality of life in Gaza under occupation. I saw it as soon as we crossed the borders on our way to Egypt, where she sensed something new and different: freedom, safety and space. Gaza is like a big, unsafe prison. And it is a very small place for 1.4 million people, half of whom are children.

I face the occupation every day during my work when hundreds of Palestinian patients are denied permits and accessibility to proper medical treatment, outside Gaza. There are a few lucky patients who get a referral and permit for treatment outside Gaza. The majority, however, have to wait and wait. Many die while waiting.

What is more heart-breaking than children who do not have adequate food and a healthy atmosphere to grow up to be well rounded adults? According to the Health Work Committees Organization, 42 per cent of children in Gaza under the age of 5 suffer from iron deficiency anemia and 45 per cent suffer from some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, due to the experiences that they are subjected to as a result of the non-stop military actions of the Israeli Occupation Forces, which almost always affect civilians in one way or another.

I will never forget the story of a woman in labor, who had to wait several hours at a checkpoint last November, during one of many Israeli military operations in the north of Gaza. Eventually she arrived at the Al Awda hospital in Jabalia refugee camp where she gave birth to her baby. When she left the hospital with the baby to go to home in the village of Beit Hanoun, there was no home; her home had been demolished by the Israeli occupying army. There are many cases and many stories, but I believe it is not the numbers that really matter, even one incident such as the above is one enough human rights violation.

I remember a 4-year old child in the same village who was forced to stay in one room with all members of his family for 48 hours while the Israeli Army commandeered their home. The child was thirsty and the soldier was there with his bottle of water, the occupied and the occupier in the same space. The soldier offered water to the thirsty child. The child said “no, no, no”. The child’s natural reaction was a combination of fear of what the soldier represents and the steadfastness in the face of the occupation. This is what characterizes the Palestinian people: steadfastness and resistance in the face of all adversity; even small children can express it with their natural reactions more than any words or speeches. The soldier on the other hand is a human being that has been forced by the Israeli occupation machine to lose his humanity.

Whenever I think of Palestinian children and their lives under occupation, I always think of the Israeli children. As adults, we have a commitment to both sets of children to provide a safe environment for them to live peacefully. It is not the occupation or the wall or the ongoing aggression against my people that will bring safety or security for Israeli children, only peace that is based on justice will do so. Justice means that the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people must be considered. Israel must recognize its moral responsibility towards the Palestinian refugees.

While Israel is physically outside Gaza, it still completely controls our lives, all aspects of our lives: health, education, economy and freedom of movement.

Life under occupation is degrading to human dignity. It has deprived us of our freedom, and only free people can make peace. It is most peculiar that we are forced to deal with the patterns of life under occupation as normal, well-established facts and when people lost hope and faith in the world or any future chances for change, and when the world turns its head away.

On the 40th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, it is fitting to call once again on the international community to put pressure on Israel to fulfil its obligations by abiding by the UN resolutions related to Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Israeli occupation should be ended now and the right of return must not be forgotten.

Thank you.


Friday, June 08, 2007

my trip in the states

Dear all
iam at the moment in the USA ,for a speaking tour , arranged by the middleast children alliences, please visit www. mecafor peace .org for more informations
yesterday i gave a speech in the UN commemarating thee 40th anniversary of the Isareli occupation to Gaza WB and East Jeruaslaem,i shall post it soon

i shall be back on the 4th of august , as on my way back i shall stay for one week in britain , to attend my son university graduation , and meet with the shefield women group ,
i love you all

it is strange , i canot adapt myself to space and freedom , and i feel that iam carrying home with me , and flinch on hearing any loud noise
i had to leave Gaza 6 days in advance ,to make sure i donot miss my flight , the borders have closed for one week after i left,