Saturday, 15 June 2013

Gaza Strip suffering a drop in vital foreign aid over Syrian civil war

GAZA CITY: A refugee from Syria recently opened a bakery here, drawing long lines of customers eager to taste meat and cheese pastries with the special flavors of Damascus – a rare bright spot in the long shadow that the Syrian civil war is casting over the Gaza Strip.The conflict in Syria, some 300 km away, is increasingly hurting Hamas-ruled Gaza financially, according to several officials in the Islamic militant group and in Islamic charities.

They say Iran, an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and a former major financial backer of Hamas, has reduced monthly cash transfers because Hamas refuses to side with the Syrian regime.

Islamic charities abroad that used to donate heavily to Gaza have been redirecting some of their aid to Syria, forcing local charities to scale back programs, aid officials said.

“All of Gaza is suffering from this,” said Noha Zaki of Gaza City’s Amal orphanage, home to 100 children. Zaki said donations to her charity are down by 50 percent.

In a further costly twist, more than 1,500 people fleeing the fighting in Syria, most with family ties to Gaza, have arrived in the coastal territory since last year, with hundreds more en route.

Bassel Shunar, co-owner of the new bakery – “Damashki” or “The Guy From Damascus” – had a soft landing. But aid officials say they have trouble finding jobs and homes for other newcomers in crowded, impoverished Gaza. more

Gaza's gypsies face daily racism

Adorned with bright patterns faded by the years, part of a belly dancing outfit appears from an old closet. Zoohoor has not worn the outfit for a long time. To be specific, not since the start of the second intifada in late 2000.

Zoohoor used to dance. Her feelings about it are a mix of guilt and pride. She first boasted to Al-Monitor, “I learned to dance by myself, and I was a good dancer. I started dancing when I was 16.” Later, she revealed, “I repented, and now I pray.” Dancing is not the only thing toward which 31-year-old Zoohoor expresses contradictory feelings of pride and shame. These feelings are also fed by her being a Dom girl. “I am proud to be a Dom girl, and I say this publicly. Sometimes I feel reluctant because of the shock with which people react, but then I pluck up the courage, raise my head and admit that I am a Dom girl,” Zoohoor asserted.

The Dom are counted among the people commonly referred to as Gypsies, who live around the world. According to a recent study, linguistic theorists have linked Domari, the Dom's language, to the Punjabi dialect of Hindi and therefore believe the Dom's ancestors originated in northwestern India and migrated east. The Dom settled in the Middle East, while those who settled in Europe are Romani. more

Source: Hamas' Mashaal in Cairo for emergency meeting

CAIRO (Ma’an) – Hamas’ chief in exile Khalid Mashaal landed in Cairo after midnight Friday for emergency talks with the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt Muhammad Badie.

A senior Egyptian security source told Ma’an that a Hamas delegation from the Gaza Strip headed by Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo as well. The source explained that the sudden visit by Hamas’ leaders indicates they have something serious to discuss with the Egyptian regime not pertaining to Palestinian reconciliation. more