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Thousands in Gaza plan int'l protest: It's impossible to live here

A group of young activists in Gaza are organizing an international day of solidarity to protest against the impossible conditions and human rights violations created by Israel’s and Egypt’s siege, the occupation, internal Palestinian conflicts and poverty.

By Yael Marom

Palestinians drive through a destroyed quarter of Al Shaaf neighborhood, in Al Tuffah, east of Gaza City, March 21, 2015.

Palestinians drive through a destroyed quarter of Al Shaaf neighborhood, in Al Tuffah, east of Gaza City, March 21, 2015.

“Life in Gaza has always been hard. But after Israel’s last attack it became impossible to live here. The problems became worse and the conditions deteriorated to the point that it is no longer possible to live humanely — and nobody cares,” Sajida Alhaj, 21, says in a Skype interview.

Alhaj is part of a group of young activists in Gaza that last month published a call for a mass protest in the Strip on April 29, demanding an end to the siege, the occupation and the human and civil rights abuses that accompany them.


The activists are calling on anyone who believes in freedom, justice and equality, the world over, to join them and organize parallel protests in their own countries, to express solidarity and to recognize their suffering.

“The situation in Gaza is disastrous,” she says. “We are calling on people to support Gaza by demonstrating in front of the Israeli and Egyptian embassies in every country, and force them to open the borders and break the siege — let building materials in to allow rebuilding, and let sick people out for medical treatment.”

Alhaj is a student and Palestinian refugee who lives in the central Gaza Nusirat Camp. In the past, the activist group she is a part of has mostly worked with women, children and the wounded in Gaza. Now, they are trying to unite the entire Strip.

 

“This action is our answer to the siege under which we live,” she explains. There are more and more human rights violations each year, and there is no sign that anything is getting better, she adds.

When you walk down the street, she explains, you see one house standing and one house in rubble, one after another, on and on. In order to reach her university every morning, Alhaj says she must “walk between homes damaged in the war, to walk through places where people were killed.”

“And all that to reach my damaged university just to meet with my professors who haven’t been paid for political reasons,” she adds.

The idea behind the protest in Gaza is to get everyone onto the streets, to fill the central squares, with people of all affiliations and ages, decrying the problems from which Gaza suffers: the occupation, the siege, internal conflicts, the lack of electricity, poverty, holdups in rebuilding after the war, unemployment and a deteriorating education system.

The activists say they have gotten the various Palestinian factions on board and received permission from the authorities in Gaza. So far, over 12,000 people have joined their Facebook page.

Elizabeth Tanboura stands with three of her daughters: Sundos, Malak, and Marwa (right), in front of their destroyed home in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, March 19, 2015. Elizabth's husband, Radad, and their children Ahmed (15) and Amna (13), were killed during an Israeli attack on August 25, 2014. Two other boys survived because they were not in the house at the time of the attack.

Elizabeth Tanboura stands with three of her daughters: Sundos, Malak, and Marwa (right), in front of their destroyed home in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, March 19, 2015. Elizabth’s husband, Radad, and their children Ahmed (15) and Amna (13), were killed during an Israeli attack on August 25, 2014. Two other boys survived because they were not in the house at the time of the attack.

A group of Israeli women has already answered the call to action and is organizing a solidarity demonstration in Tel Aviv on the same day as the Gaza protest.

“It is important that there is a protest in Israel,” Alhaj says. “It is important that people in Gaza know that there are people in Israel who care about us and who oppose the occupation, who are calling to lift the siege and open the borders.” Such solidarity gives hope, she adds.

A Palestinian walks during a storm in one of the destroyed quarter of Shujayea, east of Gaza city, February 11, 2015. Anne Paq / Activestills.org

A Palestinian walks during a storm in one of the destroyed quarter of Shujayea, east of Gaza city, February 11, 2015. Anne Paq / Activestills.org

Activists from Costa Rica and Chile have also organized similar events. The Palestinian organizers in Gaza are calling on people in the United States and Europe to join them and organize events in additional cities.

Israelis — and people worldwide — are only interested in Gaza when rockets are flying, says Esther Rapoport one of the organizers of the protest in Tel Aviv.

To Rapoport, the young activists and organizers in Gaza are inspiring. “They are not giving up their belief in humanity, including the humanity of Israelis who care about them. They are willing to work in cooperation with us — something that shouldn’t be taken for granted — and to call on us to act. Let’s not disappoint them.”

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew.

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    COMMENTS

    1. mt noise

      How is it Israel and Egypt’s fault that Hamas uses all the rebuilding material that has been sent in its tunnels?

      Reply to Comment
      • Weiss

        Simple…

        Warsaw Ghetto – version 2.0

        Reply to Comment
        • Gedeon66

          “Warsaw Ghetto – version 2.0”????
          ur real freak, Weiss Mir…

          Reply to Comment
      • Weiss

        Simple…

        Warsaw Ghetto – version 2.0

        …And like the Jews who fought back in the Warsaw Ghetto, that’s WHY they resist…

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          A rather dishonest anlogy that is. But who would expect any honesty from a Leftist, huh?

          1) Jews in Warsaw ghetto were never supplied any building materials

          2) Jews who were imprisoned in Warsaw never declared a war on the German State.

          Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            And no Palestinian declared war on the Jews in Europe nor took part in the pogroms at the time political Zionism was starting up. Of course the Palestinians in Gaza were deported there so a racist political entity would be viable.

            Reply to Comment
          • Pedro X

            Palestinian leader Amin al-Husseini participated in a war of genocide against the Jews of Europe, Asia, North Africa, the middle east and Mandate Palestine. He assisted the Germans in carrying out the Shoah. Adolph Eichmann identified the Husseini – Hilter meeting of November 28, 1941 as the setting off point of the implementation of the genocide against the Jews. (“I transported them to the Butcher, Eichmann’s Own Story (1960)). In February of 1941 al-Husseini requested as a condition of a German-Arab alliance that Germany stop Jewish emigration from Europe. On March 11, 1941 Hitler agreed and in October legal emigration of Jews out of German controlled areas of Europe was stopped. Once the door was closed to emigration, the next step was genocide which Husseini fervently supported.

            At the meeting of November 28, 1941 Hitler promised Husseini that Germany would win the war and eliminate the Jews of the middle east as well. After the Husseini meeting Hitler dictated four points to his foreign minister and a fifth ordering Heydrich to organize a conference to prepare for the final solution of the Jewish question. This was to be the Wannsee meeting.

            Eichmann briefed al-Husseini of plans for extermination of Europe’s Jews before the German attendees of Wannsee were. Husseini requested that one of Himmler’s aides should be sent to Jerusalem in order to implement the same plan once the Germans conquered the middle east. Martin Luther who was liaison to the SS and the foreign ministry official responsible for the final solution was made liaison to al-Husseini to better coordinate the involvement of Arabs and Muslims in the killing of Jews.

            Memo to State department (ArhJigBG,Inv. Br. 553, 574-173)identified Amin al-Husseini as a major supporter of the Axis powers and responsible for deaths of millions of Jews in Europe. Memo recommended he be indicted as a war criminal.

            Reply to Comment
          • Andrew r

            Pedro, the shoah is so heavily documented you can open any work on the subject and find no end of reasons why placing the Mufti as a factor in the Nazi decision to exteminate the Jews is goddamn stupid. On Oct 12. 1941 over 10,000 Jews were killed in a cemetary at Stanislawow. Frankly this is practically Holocaust denial as it implies the Nazis had no policy of extermination before Hussein entered their lives.

            Reply to Comment
          • Pedro X

            There is no doubt that extermination of the Jews was envisaged by the Germans as a possibility without Husseini’s help. However, Husseini was an active partner in the plan. His opposition to allowing Jews to emigrate out of German controlled areas convinced Germany to adopt that as it policy. He supported the German final solution of extermination as the only solution. He pledged the support of the Muslim and Arab world making the mass extermination of Jews a strategic aim of Germany. Eichmann thought Husseini’s support was the tipping point which led to the industrial killing camps.

            When Germans made deals to release Jews, Hussein was there to make sure they did not escape the concentration camps. Hussein blocked tens of thousands of Jewish children from being allowed to leave concentration camps such as 15,000 in Theresienstad. Instead almost all of them were transported to industrial death factories where they were gassed and killed.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            The fact that one Palestinian participated in the Holocaust of course discredits all Palestinians including those born much later. Are you familiar with the careers of Abraham Gancwajch, Stephanie von Hohenlohe, Stell Goldschlagg, Alfred Nossig, Chaim Rumkowsky, Henric Streitman, Jozef Szerynski, Ignatius Timothy Trebitsch-Lincoln and others? Would it be your opinion that the activities of these exceptional individuals utterly discredit Zionism and the modern state of Israel? If you are to be consistent there is only one answer you can give.

            Reply to Comment
          • Pedro X

            One? It was a whole political movement of Palestinians who worked with Husseini. Many of the Higher Arab Committee spent the war in Berlin. They actively assisted Husseni in his genocide against the Jews. Husseini employed hundreds of people helping him in fulfilling his partnership with the Germans.

            After the end of world war II Husseini and his associates dominated the Arab High Committee and took the Palestinian Arabs into a war in which they intended to destroy the emerging Jewish state and its people. Both of Palestinian military commanders assisted Husseini in Berlin. They were heroes in Palestinian society. The leader of the Arab Liberation Army was also a Nazi collaborator. The head of the Arab League, Azzam was a closely connected to Husseini and also a Nazi supporter and supporter of genocide against the Jews.

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Lightbown

            As usual X, you deliberately avoid giving a straight answer to a straight question: hypocrite.

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Lightbown

            And here’s another straight question for you X. Who contributed to the the most Jewish deaths, Kastner or Husseyni?

            And why did Jabotinsky collaborate with Mussolini?

            Why did Weitzmann meet with Mussolini four times?

            The Stern Gang and the Nazis? Well of course you know all about those attempts (plural) at collaboration, including Stern’s proposal to recruit 40,000 European Jews to invade Palestine with German support.

            And why did Zionists oppose the Steinberg Plan to provide a safe haven for Jews in N.W. Australia? Or anywhere else for that matter that might have enticed Jews away from Palestine?

            Why also did the Jewish Agency in Palestine sign the Haavara transfer agreement with the Nazis in August 1933, thereby breaking (and thus rendering ineffective) the Jewish boycott of German goods announced in March 1933 intended to undermine the fledgling Nazi regime?

            Just why are you focusing your entire wroth on Husseyni and his pathetic cronies? Because you are intent on hiding Zionist collaboration with the Nazis while greatly exaggerating Palestinian collaboration. And because you are a stinking hypocrite and propagandist whose sole intention is to exonerate Israel of any wrongdoing using any lie or distortion you can invent.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Pedro X

      “Life in Gaza has always been hard.”

      Except when Israel administered the territory. Then 40% of the working Palestinian population found work with Israelis. Gazans had freedom of movement to leave Gaza to go the Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, Jordan and beyond for work, shopping, medical and vacation. Under Israel administration there was freedom of speech, religion, press and association. Israel brought electrification to Gaza. It expanded the water sector and brought new health services.

      Since Israel handed over administration of Gaza to the Palestinians, life has become harder again under Palestinian rule. The Palestinians instead of attempting to build a new Singapore opted to build their version of a new Somalia, first under Arafat now under Hamas. Instead of working with Israelis and the West to build a better Gaza, the Gazans have turned Gaza into a big military camp and has gone to war with Israel three times in six years.

      So maybe this young activist from Gaza should be demanding from Hamas and Islamic Jihad that they should turn their swords into ploughshares and seek peace with Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Pedro X needs to talk to Michal H.
        “We all took part in the cycle of violence,” said Michal Hochberg, coordinator of Combatants for Peace’s Tel Aviv-Nablus groups. “It is through our actions that we can show people the other side [of the conflict] through our personal stories, and the transformation that we went through.” (Article by Haggai Matar on the Samaria Settler Council.)

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          Israel does not occupy Gaza. The UN’s Palmer Commission determined that Israel had a legal blockade of Gaza. Israel has complete control of its own borders and is not in control of the police, military, health, school systems or social services inside Gaza. Palestinians control their own areas in Gaza. It is not Israel’s fault that Gazans have done such a poor job of governing and providing for themselves. Even now Hamas and Islamic Jihad are spending tens of millions of dollars preparing for the next war instead of working towards rehabilitating Gaza.

          Reply to Comment
        • Matt

          What about through Rafah? That doesn’t require Egypt’s approval.

          Reply to Comment
    3. Joel

      @Bruce
      @Ben

      Are you guys on board with Pedro’s suggestion that Hamas beat its swords into plowshares?

      *guaranteed no answer*

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        I’m on board with everyone including the Hamas beating their swords into plowshares and for peace on earth and goodwill. Are you on board with Israel withdrawing its illegal occupation of the West Bank to make that possible? And are you on board with Israeli leaders stopping pretending they want peace while doing everything they can to undermine the peacemakers among the Palestinians? Yes or no?

        Reply to Comment
        • Joel

          ” Are you on board with Israel withdrawing its illegal occupation of the West Bank to make that possible?”

          Yes.

          Reply to Comment
          • Phil

            Joel.. are you saying you’d swap a solid and lasting peace for the green line as a border?

            Reply to Comment
    4. Tony Riley

      She seems unaware that Hamas started the last war. Somebody should tell her.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        The typical excuse of a playground bully: “She started it; I just finished it off”. Both sides have sometimes relaxed tensions and sometimes exacerbated tensions. Any impartial analysis of events (which you will not find in the American or Israeli press and media) demonstrates that Hamas has often merely reacted to Israeli incursions. But surely the rights and wrongs are demonstrated in the respective death tolls – e.g. Protective Edge: 72 Israeli dead (9% civilians), approx. 2300 Palestinian dead (70% civilians). Even if she did start it by trying to kick you, you should not have cut her head off with an axe. Unless of course you believe she will not try to kick you again, which is highly unlikely given the frequency with which you (not you personally but your Israeli masters across the ocean) feel it necessary to mow the lawn (e.g. Operations Summer Rains, Autumn Clouds, Hot Winter, Cast Lead, Returning Echo, Pillar of Defense, Protective Edge, etc, etc)

        Reply to Comment
    5. zohra

      International protest day is very so we can all speak with one voice against israels aggression against the Palistinians.

      Reply to Comment
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