Monday, 3 June 2013

Female construction worker seeks to build better future in Gaza

In conservative Gaza, Palestinian woman Jamila Abu Oushiba has broken the taboo by working in construction in order to provide for her family (Reuters)

At the Abu Eida cement factory in the West Bank, Jamila Abu Oushiba shovels cement into bags and lift them onto a neat pile.

This is usually a job reserved for men, but for Palestinian woman Jamila, it’s a way to generate income and support her family. Born in Beit Hanoun, Jamila is helping her family financially after her four brothers were killed during various years of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in Gaza strip.

“Really, what made me do this hard work is the difficult economic situation. There is no [income] provider in our home. My four brothers were martyred. There’s nobody to provide for us and that’s what made me to this job,” she said.

The 39 year-old single woman, who is one of the very few women working in cement factory in the besieged territory, says she started working at the Abu Eida factory three years ago and now works twice a week for ten hours each day.

“We work by the ton, each ton is 10 shekels, so in a day, it’s 100 shekels, a day,” she said.

Israel tightened the blockade after Hamas, an Islamist group that refuses to recognize the Jewish state, took power seven years ago. The isolation has forced the Gaza economy to almost entirely depend on foreign aid, as unemployment and poverty levels continue to rise.

Gaza unemployment is estimated by the United Nations to be at more than 40 percent, and local economists put the figure at around 60 percent. Officials estimate unemployment amongst women in Gaza to be at 95 percent. more

Palestinians, Israeli forces clash in Abu Dis

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Young Palestinian men and Israeli forces clashed in East Jerusalem's Abu Dis neighborhood on Monday as Israeli Civil Administration officers delivered a demolition order for a building in the village.

Dozens of students from the Al-Quds University campus in Abu Dis were among those showered with tear gas canisters fired by the Israeli forces, a local Fatah official Anwar Badr said.

A female student fell while running from the tear gas and sustained facial injuries, Badr told Ma'an.

Israeli forces also fired tear gas at a mosque by the campus, affecting worshipers and passersby.

The Israeli officers were accompanying Civil Administration officials who posted a demolition order to a building being constructed by Ibrahim Abu Sneina, witnesses said.

The Israeli forces closed all streets in the area, preventing students from accessing campus for final exams. more

Alice Walker, Roger Waters call on Alicia Keys to cancel Tel Aviv show

Activists worldwide are encouraging US singer-songwriter Alicia Keys to respect the Palestinian-led boycott call and cancel her upcoming July performance in Tel Aviv. As The Electronic Intifada previously reported, organizational appeals, a Facebook group and a petition — with more than 6,000 signatories — have been initiated by boycott activists asking Keys to cancel her show.

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has also posted a list of actions in which activists can take part, including sending photos of “pictures/infographics of examples of Israeli occupation and apartheid (the wall, house demolitions, checkpoints, etc); Palestinian popular resistance; and/or of yourself holding signs of solidarity with Palestinians … This is an opportunity for some culture jamming asking activists to submit pictures with messages urging her to not play in Israel,” the US Campaign adds.

This week, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and social justice activist Alice Walker wrote an open letter to Keys, urging her not to cross the international picket line, and to learn more about Israel’s policies against Palestinians.

The letter reads:
Dear Alicia Keys,

I have learned today that you are due to perform in Israel very soon. We have never met, though I believe we are mutually respectful of each other’s path and work. It would grieve me to know you are putting yourself in danger (soul danger) by performing in an apartheid country that is being boycotted by many global conscious artists.

You were not born when we, your elders who love you, boycotted institutions in the US South to end an American apartheid less lethal than Israel’s against the Palestinian people. Google Montgomery Bus Boycott, if you don’t know about this civil rights history already. We changed our country fundamentally, and the various boycotts of Israeli institutions and products will do the same there. It is our only nonviolent option and, as we learned from our own struggle in America, nonviolence is the only path to a peaceful future.

If you go to my website and blog you can quickly find many articles I have written over the years that explain why a cultural boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions (not individuals) is the only option left to artists who cannot bear the unconscionable harm Israel inflicts every day on the people of Palestine, whose major “crime” is that they exist in their own land, land that Israel wants to control as its own.

Under a campaign named ‘Brand Israel,’ Israeli officials have stated specifically their intent to downplay the Palestinian conflict by using culture and arts to showcase Israel as a modern, welcoming place.

This is actually a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about something sorrowful, and amazing: that our government (Obama in particular) supports a system that is cruel, unjust, and unbelievably evil. You can spend months, and years, as I have, pondering this situation. Layer upon layer of lies, misinformation, fear, cowardice and complicity. Greed. It is a vast eye-opener into the causes of much of the affliction in our suffering world.

I have kept you in my awareness as someone of conscience and caring, especially about the children of the world. Please, if you can manage it, go to visit the children in Gaza, and sing to them of our mutual love of all children, and of their right not to be harmed simply because they exist.

With love, younger sister, beloved daughter and friend, Alice Walker

Egypt allows more Palestinians to leave Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egyptian authorities announced Saturday it would be increasing the number of Palestinians allowed to travel to Egypt via the Rafah crossing from 800 to 1,100 travelers a day, a Hamas government official said.

Mahir Abu Sabha, the general manager of crossings for the Gaza Interior Ministry, said the number of registered passengers allowed to travel through the crossing had doubled over the summer.

The official added that Muslim pilgrims traveling to Mecca, Saudi Arabia for the year-round Umrah pilgrimage would be allowed to cross on Wednesdays.

Thanking Egyptian authorities, Abu Sabha said he hoped they would increase the number of passengers to 1,500. more

Fatah officials arrive in Gaza for unity talks

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Two senior Fatah leaders arrived in the Gaza Strip on Sunday for reconciliation talks. Nabil Shaath and Othman Abu Gharbieh arrived in Gaza to take part in talks with members from nationalist and Islamic political factions.

"We hope it gives a push to Palestinian reconciliation," Shaath told Ma'an. "Both reconciliation and the organizational position [of Fatah] are the priorities of the visit."

"We hope to end the visit with positive results for the Gaza Strip," he added. more

Israeli forces shoot, injure Gaza farmer

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A Palestinian farmer was shot and injured by Israeli fire Sunday while he was picking watermelons in Abu Safiyeh neighborhood east of Jabalia, northern Gaza, medics told Ma'an.

Ahmad Hamdin, 21, sustained an injury to his thigh and was evacuated to the Kamal Udwan Hospital in Jabalia, northern Gaza, medics said.

In response to a request for comment, the Israeli army confirmed the injury and said several Palestinians had "attempted to damage" the border fence between Gaza and Israel. more