Small Rights

Small rights became dreams,

Life started to have various themes,

 

From power to water we miss things,

Not knowing if we are slaves or kings,

 

Being either internal or external,

Authorities decide our journal,

 

About their temptations, they only care,

To their citizens, they don’t have fair,

 

For 11 years, Gaza has been mourning,

From the world, we get only a warning,

 

That we are sentenced to death,

Prevented to have any breath,

 

Our only crime is keeping surviving,

And into freedom sea, we are still diving,

 

Mohammed Arafat

31-05-2017

Advertisements

Between Trump’s and Amadi’s speech, Gaza to where?

Gaza-Strip-Rebuilds-0024274302186.jpeg

Gaza is between the hammer and the anvil.

A big part of Palestinians living in the Strip wished that Trump’s visit to the Middle East would solve some of the endless crises they have. However, things were unexpectable, especially for Hamas movement that President Trump accused of being a terrorist organization.

“The true toll of ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams,” said Trump when he was in an official visit to Riyadh where most of the Islamic and Arab countries’ leaders and he met in an important summit about the war against terrorism.

The American Islamic summit in Riyadh did not include any solution for the coastal Strip and its issues, while what shocked Gazans was when Chairman of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza HE Ambassador warned that the situation in Gaza is going “from bad to worse.”

During his visit to Gaza to open the Qatari committee’s headquarters laying in Gaza, Mohammed Al-Emadi warned that the situation will continue to deteriorate.

“I do not think there will be a solution soon.” Al-Emadi added.

Qatar and Turkey are the closest countries to the Gaza Strip, and to Hamas that rules it since 2006. As a result, this was a stab in the back of both Hamas and the Gazans, most of whose destroyed homes were reconstructed by Qatar. Moreover, Qatar helped solving the power crisis temporarily, and it established health and development projects.

This is shown in Hamas chief, Ismail Haniyeh, when he hailed Qatari role in supporting Palestinians.

“Our brothers in Qatar will not give up supporting the Palestinian people and Gaza residents and they will move in all directions and take all tracks to put an end to the 10-year humanitarian tragedy in Gaza.” Haniyah praised Qatar.

Al-Emadi’s speech and Trump’s statement come just after the Palestinian Authority imposed Procedures on the enclave to press on Hamas to accept the reconciliation preconditions.

Palestinian political analysts believe that the statements will make the international support to Gaza and Hamas decrease, and that they have hidden political meanings.

Political writer and analyst, Nasser Yafawi, says that Trump’s accusation that Hamas is a terrorist organization will make countries like Turkey, Malaysia and Qatar decrease their support to the Strip and Hamas.

“Difficult times are waiting the Gaza Strip and Hamas, including deepening the ongoing siege.”

Yafawi thinks Al-Emadi’s statement supports his opinion too.

Unlike Yafawi, Riyadh el-Eila, a Palestinian political writer and analyst, thinks that Qatar will not give up on Hamas, but its statement through its ambassador, Al-Emadi, is a message to Hamas telling it that Gaza situations are getting worse, and “it must help ending the political division.”

On the other hand, Political Sciences professor at Al-Azhar University, Naji Shorab, says that Qatari statement might be shocking for the people of Gaza since they know Qatar is a main supporter for Gaza.

Hence, Shorab thinks that the statement is a warning message to the world, including Hamas and the PA, that, “the Gaza Strip is on verge of explosion.”

“Al-Emadi wants to deliver a message that the time comes to resolve Gaza crises, so I think it’s a rational way.” Professor added.

Qatari and American statements seem to be as leverage to deliver only one message to the world that Gaza is left alone, is there anyone to left its siege and solve its problems?

 

Mohammed Arafat

29-05-2017

kind reminder

hunger-strike (1)

From jails, kind reminders,
All heard of hunger strikers,
behind the metal high bars,
Asking for their rights not for fancy cars,

International laws legalize the rights,
Giving prisoners some sights,
to be dealt like a people,
In a mosque or a steeple,

Hence, silence fills the area,
Fast spread like malaria,
Leaving strikers in their glaze,
Counting their few days,

With dignity, either to die or to live,
Their lives in the holes of the sieve,

Mohammed Arafat
18-05-2017

Fairy Gazamother: Cinderella car makes it to ball

479
This article is also published at The New Arab
Refugees fleeing the bloody conflict in Syria are trying to find shelter in any neighbouring countries that could offer tham a haven.

And, as unlikely a destination as it may seem, Gaza has become home for families fleeing Assad’s war. Dozens of Syrian families have arrived in Gaza in the past six years carrying their sorrow and memories of a country destroyed, hoping to find a better place to live.

Since 2012, more than 600 refugees fleeing the daily suffering and bombardment in Syrian cities made their way to Gaza. Two-thirds of them were Palestinian families expelled in 1948 during the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe, who became refugees in Syria.

Not all Syrian refugees who arrived in Gaza have stayed – six families have again left the Strip looking for safety. Unlike the Palestinian refugees who came to Gaza in 1948 from across Palestine, Syrian refugees have not been able to receive medical, financial or educational help from the Gaza-based UNRWA, the UN’s agency for dealing with Palestinian refugees.

UNRWA said the refugees fall under the remit of UNHCR, the UN’s main refugee agency – who do not have a branch in Gaza. Between them, Syrian refugees in Gaza have found little support.

Syrian PassportWareef Hmedou, Chairman of Syrian Families in Gaza, and a refugee from Aleppo, describes the situation of refugees in Gaza as “intolerable”.

“Syrians in Gaza are suffering from an economic crisis, they don’t have the basics to be able to live,” the 36-year-old added.

Due to the ongoing siege of the coastal enclave, Syrians living in Gaza are unable to secure jobs, and most rely on the help they can get from Gazans.

“They can’t afford to pay their rent bills or to get health insurance.”

Despite all this, there are dozens of Syrians, including Hmedou, who succeeded in starting up their own businesses in the Strip, despite the high unemployment and poverty rates. Some opened restaurants, and others opened coffee shops.

UNRWA said the refugees fall under the remit of UNHCR, who do not have a branch in Gaza.

Before leaving Aleppo, Hmedou had a restaurant, but was unable to maintain it under constant attack. He fled to Turkey where he stayed in a refugee camp. He started looking for a job in Turkish cities, but his lack of Turkish language proved too challenging, forcing him to Egypt where he worked in a Syrian restaurant for eight months, before coming to Gaza through a tunnel between Gaza and Egypt.

Shawerma

“It was my wish to visit Gaza. Gazans are kind people, and their traditions and customs are just like ours.”

Hmedou, who has married a Gazan girl, and has a daughter with her, hopes to travel to France to learn more about cooking and to participate in international cooking contests.

The Syrian refugees living in Gaza reside in their second country, Palestine- President Mahmoud Abbas

Like Hmedou, Ghassan Hasouna, a Palestinian-Syrian refugee came to Gaza and started his business with a now-famous dessert shop in Khan Younis.

At the beginning, Hasouna stayed with relatives in Gaza, but their financial situation forced him go looking for a job, and he started his business making Syrian desserts.

“After coming to the dessert shop, I showed my skills in making desserts to the owner, and now I’m an integral part of it”

Shawerma

In response to a Syrian refugee’s complaint at a local radio station, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, instructed in a presidential statement, to issue Palestinian Authority passports for those families, and to list their names in the Ministry of Social Affairs programme for cash assistance.

“The Syrian refugees living in Gaza reside in their second country, Palestine, and we will never forget how they stood beside Palestinian refugees in the 1948 catastrophe,” the statement said.

It is not the siege, nor the wars that leave the refugees unhappy in Gaza. It is the homesickness.

“A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods,” said George William Curti. “But it is a principle – and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.”479

Fairy Gazamother: Cinderella car makes it to ball

479

This article is also published at The New Arab

Tommy Lasorda once said, “The difference between the impossible and possible lies in a man’s determination.”

Lasorda’s saying can definitely be applied on the coastal Gaza Strip that impresses the world with its inventions and achievements while being under a decade-long siege. Since 2006, Palestinians living in Gaza have been telling the world that they live no matter what, through the determination they have.

From singing to drawing and from writing to inventing, Gaza delivers a message to the world that it exists despite the ongoing siege.

Farha, joy, is a Palestinian initiative engaged in helping to facilitate marriage in the enclave. As no special day is complete without being sent off in style, a limousine was created from parts collected from five second-hand cars.

Salama el-Owadi, heading up Farha, and the inspiration behind the limousine project, explained how he tried to get a car like this into Gaza, only to find the expenses too high.

“Despite the high rate of the car, we tried to get the car into Gaza, but we were told that the Israeli occupation prevents these kind of cars to get in”

Israeli officials say that the blockade on the Strip is very important to prevent the importation of weapons and any other materials that could be used to make those weapons.

Responding to those obstacles, El-Owadi and his team decided to make this car in the Strip using the available facilities and car parts, finding a way to add happiness to Gaza.

For three months, a team including mechanics and engineers worked around a white Mercedes car non-stop. The final result was the unique limo, which Gaza’s residents affectionately call the ‘Cinderella car.’

Cinderella Car

Adorned with hand-painted designs and styles, the Cinderella vehicle looks like a hybrid between a limousine and a spaceship, with a rounded big roof differentiating it from other cars in the Strip.

With a population largely dependent on humanitarian help, many youth find themselves in the position of being unable to marry. Unemployment in Gaza, considered the highest in the world, reached over 45% among males and 62% in females.

As a result, the Farha initiative seeks to help those looking to get married by offering those registered with them the Cinderella car for free on their special day.

The limousine can also be rented by Gazans at an affordable rate.

Yehya el-Daya, a mechanic who helped with the creation of the limo, said that engineers first showed him photos of a car in Europe, asking him if he could make such a car.

“Making this car took about three months as we waited for some parts to come from abroad. If we had those parts before, however, we would have made the car within fifteen days only,” explained el-Daya.

The Cinderella car, which costs more than $21,000, is just one example of the determination the people of Gaza have despite the endless humanitarian and economic crises.

In facing the occupation and siege, Gaza’s weapons remain patience, determination and happiness.

 

Mohammed Arafat

15-05-2017

Palestine’s local elections: A one horse race?

This article is also published at The New ArabThe New Arab

 

Since 1948, Palestinians have not seen the light of freedom, democracy or self-determination. They have only lived the darkness of catastrophes, wars and conflicts.

In 1994, and with the formation of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians began to hope once again for their own state where they can practice their democracy.

Democratic elections offered the dream of a stable life with stable services. Unfortunately, the dream did not last long; political divisions between Fatah and Hamas began, and exacerbated by humanitarian crises with a decade-long siege, the situation in the coastal enclave caused tensions to run high.

Local elections in Palestine have had an unbalanced history since they officially began in 2005. They were meant to be held in four stages, but were never finalised, neither in the Gaza Strip nor in the West Bank.

They were then rescheduled for 2010, but the Central Election Commission was unable to operate in the Gaza Strip due to the political rift. As a result, the Palestinian government in the West Bank announced that the elections would be postponed in the Strip.

On June 2010, the government again announced that all local elections were cancelled completely in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Recently, the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority declared that Palestinian local elections would take place in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on May 13, 2017, but Hamas, the Gaza-de facto ruling party, rejected the plan completely and refused to participate, saying that elections should only be held after the political reconciliation is achieved.

Fawzi Barhoum, the Hamas spokesperson, said that there must not be any elections before achieving reconciliation.

“The election decision serves only Fatah, and it will never serve the Palestinian democracy.”

Likewise, a number of Palestinian political factions have boycotted these elections, including Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

MP Khalida Jarrar, a PFLP member, said that her party decided to boycott the elections to denounce the measures used by PA forces against family members and supporters of Basel al-Aaraj, a Palestinian activist killed by Israeli forces on March 6.

As a result, the PA decided to hold the local elections in the West Bank only.

Meanwhile, a recent poll showed a decline in the percentage of Palestinian youths who will participate in the elections. The poll, held by the Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD), showed that 53% of the West Bank youth will participate in the upcoming elections, compared to 65% in the previous elections.

Nader Saed, AWRAD’s chairman, said that the youths hesitation to participate in the local elections indicates the Palestinian’s state of carelessness towards the elections.

Commenting on Palestinian parties boycotting the elections decision, Saed said that the absence of competition in the local elections will affect voters’ participation.

The election decision serves only Fatah, and it will never serve the Palestinian democracy

Consequently, Mohammed Jabarin , PA Deputy Local Governance Minister, said that most municipalities in the West Bank either nominated a single list or no list at all, meaning that, “elections will not take place in the majority of our municipalities on election day.”

The Fatah movement is expected to perform well in the elections due to the absence of other major parties like Hamas.

Despite Hamas’ recent decision regarding participation in the elections, the PA gave Hamas a one-week chance to allow the Elections Agency to operate in the Gaza Strip.

Sama Zatary, a teacher living in Hebron, said that election “is a big lie the government uses.”

Like most Gazans, Sama hopes that Fatah and Hamas reconcile first, and “then we can talk about elections.”

Ashraf Fathi, a Gazan university student, said that nothing will happen after the elections are held.

“Since 2007, our politicians and leaders have been speaking about elections and democracy, but I see nothing. We need actions not just ink on paper.”

Apparently, the upcoming elections are politically important as it can be the first step towards the legislative and president elections. However, Palestinians believe that the reconciliation between both main parties is a priority now before any upcoming elections.

 

Mohammed Arafat

09-05-2017

Gaza power crisis, until when?>

Since more than four months, Gazans wake up and sleep with blackouts caused by political crises between Hamas and Fatah. Living on only four/two hours of power per day, Gaza residents don’t know whether to start looking for alternatives from the Middle Ages era or not.

Everything in the Strip depends on electricity that is considered a main source of life in it. To overcome the crisis, and to kill their daily routine, most of the citizens use firewood to cook, which affects them negatively while being in front of the fire flames and smoke.

Moreover, they don’t have full access to the water, which mainly depends on power to be pumped to the barrels on the roofs. Shortage of water, as a result, prevents them from washing clothes, dishes and showering, which spread dangerous viruses and germs among them.

To lighten their moonless nights, many Gazans use candles, from which many horrible incidents happened resulted deaths of children. The last incident happened months ago when three children died due to a flame of a candle in their bedroom.

Trading unnecessary blames, both Fatah and Hamas are unable to set together to find a solution to solve this endless crisis that drove the coastal enclave to a small lightless village with crowds of hopeless people.

Yousef el-Mahmoud, the official spokesman of Ramallah government, accused Hamas of being responsible for the crisis, saying that it collects power fees and taxes, which are already paid by Turkey, from residents and never pay the Palestinian Authority.

To put pressure on Hamas in order to accept the reconciliation’s conditions, Dr. Ahmad Majdalani, member of the PLO Executive Committee, said on Sunday that the Palestinian Authority is determined to “dry up” all sources of funding for the Hamas government in Gaza.

“Israel did not respond this month to an official request by the Palestinian Authority to stop deducting the cost of electricity provided to Gaza—$11 million a month—from the monthly PA customs and taxes revenues.” The official added.

On the other hand, Hamas accused the PA of targeting the people of Gaza through the procedures it started taking. Hamas official, Ismail Radwan, reacted with fury, saying: “It’s illogical that Gaza is besieged and deprived of electricity, water and basic needs for the sake of political prices.”

The people of Gaza are always adapting to harsh living conditions. They are realistic, and are only hoping to receive power for more than a few hours a day.

Stuck between scylla and charybdis, Gazans are like, “We neither want to reach Mars nor Venus, we only need to live a life humans accept. When will that happen?”

Mohammed Arafat

09-05-2017