From Gaza, with Love

Monday, September 10, 2007

Gaza Today

Gaza today

Since my return from the USA and my mother’s death I have not felt a
strong desire to write.

At the moment I am passing deeply through my grief. Every morning I think
that the telephone will ring and it will be her regular morning call. I
feel that an important pillar of my humanitarian structure has collapsed.
I know I need some time to restore my balance to be able to cope with her
absence; she was always my great inspiration and support with her endless
tender loving care.

It was too hard for me not to be able to say goodbye. It was hard to know
that I was not allowed to reach her because of some tiny lousy scrap of
paper, another fragment in the saga of closed borders, occupation and the
long history of Palestinian suffering - one generation after another since
the foundation of Israel and the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948,
and later on in 1967 the occupation of what was left of historic Palestine
- Gaza and the West Bank.

I decided today to resume my walks inside Gaza by the seaside, my favorite
sport. I woke up very early and started my 45 minute walk at 6 a.m.

I could hear the sounds of artillery shelling coming from the east side of
Gaza City. The Israeli military operation inside the Gaza Strip continued,
10 were killed yesterday (Thurs 6 Sep) 17 were injured in AlMagazi refugee
camp as well as Alqarara village, sanctions and borders closure have
continued, along with restrictions of movement.

Only a few hundred students were allowed to leave Gaza, the majority were
turned back at the Egyptian borders. I was denied a permit to leave Gaza
for the Women’s World Forum in Seoul (12-15 September)

Every day patients are prevented from leaving Gaza for further treatment
abroad. Some cross the borders but the majority do not. Dozens of
essential medications are missing from hospital shelves, poverty is
severely prevalent, 85% of the population depend on international aid
agencies’ food distribution. Essential foods for a balanced diet, like
meat, vegetables, fruit, milk are missing from the domestic basket -
either because people cannot afford to buy them, or because they are not
even in the market.

Most of the time we do not have regular power supply or sufficient water.
The occupation decides what we should eat and what we should not, what we
should wear and what we should not, they interfere in the very tiny
details of our daily life, by imposing so many rules and regulation (under
the security pretense), they decide your children’s eye colors in case you
enjoy peace of mind with healthy intimate personal relationships. The
Palestinian situation in Gaza is economical and political strangulation.

We have become a small piece of news, not enough to disturb the world’s
sleeping conscience.

While walking back home I noticed the excessive presence of Hamas security
soldiers. It is Friday, and Fatah called people for a Jomae prayers
protest in the streets of Gaza. Later on thousands were in the streets,
but they were dispersed by Hamas, some were injured and some of the
leaders were under arrest. There is intense friction between the 2 parties
which adds more and more levels of suffering for ordinary Palestinian
people. We don’t know the way out of this situation where Hamas controls
Gaza and Fatah controls the West Bank. And now people’s daily talk is of
salaries, closure and sanctions, whereas the main Palestinian issues --
self-determination, end of the occupation, right of return – are off the
agenda. No-one shows concern or even speaks of them at the moment. The
occupation has achieved its long-term goal, hungry fighting people can’t
think straight.

This is the strategy of the occupation supported by the Western powers. As
a national liberation movement, we fell into the trap of authority so
foolishly; it is time for both parties to get on the right track towards
our liberation and independence. While returning home after my 45 minute
walk, I could not help but feel very bad about the heaps of garbage strewn
along my way and the deterioration of green areas after the continuous
razing of land and uprooting of trees throughout the 7 years of this

I remembered my young daughter saying to me as we crossed the borders to
Gaza “it is a sharp demarcation between 2 worlds - Israel and Gaza – a
very sharp demarcation between the world of the occupied and the
occupier.” I nodded my head and made no comment, but said to myself that
one day things will change. We should all work hard until that dream comes
true, when the land of Palestine is shared between both the Israelis and
the Palestinians in one Democratic state for all its citizens living and
enjoying equal rights and when the Palestinian refugees can experience
their right of return according to UN Resolution 194 and enjoy the justice
they have not had for decades.

For myself, I continue working for the children and women of Palestine,
via different community projects, bearing in mind how to make the balance
between relief and development projects, remembering the difficulty of
development under occupation and a collapsed economy, but also not
forgetting that patients, women and children are usually the soft targets
in such circumstances - they need all our efforts to keep them safe and
sound whenever possible.


with love and solidarity

Mona ElFarra