Friday, 24 January 2014

Israeli forces shoot dead Gaza protester, injure another

GAZA STRIP (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces shot dead one Palestinian and injured another on Friday during a protest east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip.

Spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra, said that 20-year-old Bilal Samer Oweidah died after being shot dead in the chest by Israeli forces near the border.

Owiedah was among a group of Palestinians who had gathered near the border to protest the buffer zone imposed by Israel, al-Qidra said.

Another Palestinian was moderately injured when Israeli forces opened fire on the protesters, he said.

Locals said that Oweidah was taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. more

The life of a Gazan - a personal testimony

The fifth anniversary of Israel's 'Cast lead' war on Gaza was commemorated last weekend. Below we reproduce an article sent to iGaza by Hazem, an English translator who lives in Rafah. It was written during Israel's most recent war on the people of Gaza - the misnamed 'Pillar of Defense' in 2012. Since witnessing an airstrike at very close quarters Hazem has been receiving medical treatment for post-traumatic stress.

What is the life of a Gazan compared to those living outside?

We cannot concentrate on our daily life with the buzzing of the drones and the shaking from powerful airstrikes. The fear filled our life. The ignorance of those living in the western countries, they have everything they need easily secured for them.

Today, we woke up to the sounds of the airstrikes. We could barely steal a few hours of sleep.

I’m a student in a community college here in Gaza. It is called UCAS, the Community College of Applied Sciences. I will major in secretarial work once I finished my bachelor degree in Teaching English.

I can barely concentrate on my studies. I commute between my home and my college apprehensive with fear.

After the war on Gaza at the end of 2008[I do this because of the attack on Gaza this past Thanksgiving], I had a shocking accident when I was on my way to the university. I was at a taxi stop when a strong airstrike hit close, actually just across from me. On returning home, I was visibly shaken; the incident had very deep and negative impacts on me. I had been experiencing difficulties in being alone. While I could go for longer distances by myself, I, now, knew only psychological issues of schizophrenia, insomnia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive syndrome, high stress, phobia of almost everything, and nightmares. All this because of the sort of life I’m experiencing. It is not as if I ever experienced a quiet and peaceful stage in my life. The situation will always be uncertain. The longest I can plan into the future is just five minutes. Preoccupied with these psychological issues I was obliged to stay at home most of the time which only deepened my problem deepened more.

In this misery, I am depressed. From time to time, I miss some of my beloveds, my mother, my sister, my father, all and any of them. Sometimes I talk to myself: life on this land has no worth; why consume anything when I will soon lose them. The horror we living in is all-consuming.

Thinking on the level of crimes committed on and in Gaza is ever more depressing when the outside world hardly moves and act effectively for Gaza, as the Israeli political analysts said to each other. What happened at the meeting on Arab Foreign Affairs ministers, one replied: They had very nice desserts, the other man would reply that’s good, we are in a perfect situation.

This continues on a global scale. The Israelis are sure that nobody would exert pressure on Israel to lift the blockade on Gaza. They come to Gaza to pay condolences to the families of the martyred. Then, Israeli fighter jets (or drones) return to kill more Palestinians.

To add to this, life here is completely unaffordable. Adding to the dismemberment of Palestine, is the political divide. Still, I think that separation is compulsory. Why? The PNA (Palestinian national authority) and it’s supporters don’t even recognizes Hamas which was elected democratically, as European observers witnessed.I And, if Palestinian reconciliation occurs , Hamas members would be arrested; informants would report to the Israelis. In addition to this, Hamas ministers would not be able to hold any position of power in any coming government.

Back to the physical situation in Gaza…We are under siege. Things are not within our command. We cannot control the situation. It is in the hands of those who besiege us. Israel initiated the fight with the assassination of a Hamas commander. Then they ask: why Hamas fires rockets into Israel? Indeed it is not in our control. More importantly, as parliamentary elections approach in Israel, Israel launches an offensive in Gaza. The number of offensive strikes varies depending on how long it takes to gain the electoral shares necessary to gain a majority. Operation cast lead has shown how we are oppressed victims. We cannot stop the killing against us nor can we attract effective support from the outside. Lastly, the religious basis to such events is also of consequence: you can see the Israeli soldiers who are preparing to invade Gaza perform Jewish prayers.

In the on-going war on Gaza, we have seen many horrible, unthinkable and shocking things. When you see F-16s attacking homes, not inhabited by a single Hamas militant, you see them dropping world-banned weapons, destroying as much as they can. When you walk in any of the streets in Gaza, you will hear the voice of drones filling up the sky, which translates as a strong chance of an airstrike anywhere. That’s what I’m feeling when these circumstances exist. Killing 96 people didn’t make the outside world take effective steps towards Gaza. Even the newly-elected U.S. president, Barack Obama, would come out and say that Israel has it’s right to defend itself, Wow! Is all this brutality and oppression self-defence? Can we call it self-defence after skipping the issue of stealing Palestinian land? For Palestine to become Israel, colonial-settlers came here and stole our land and built cities on hills. Perhaps, now, we can understand how a so-called state can commit such brutal atrocities under the radar.

I felt like I died many times in one day as I recount the insane crimes that are being committed in Gaza every day.

On the seventh day of the aggression, we felt that we are on the queue to be killed. We had already seen the targeting of the innocent families inside their homes after the “bank of targets” for Israel has finished. Nothing remained for them but to kill the civilians themselves. It is unthinkable what happens in Gaza. What is seen by the outside world as crimes is now considered as self-defense by the criminals Barack Obama and criminal Netanyahu. What a blind world?! Children are burnt to death in Gaza on World Children’s Day. I have come to expect human rights to always-already be absent in the urgent times. We should take steps to bring such criminals to justice; to hold them accountable. Just today there were two marytrs from an airstrike on a home and to two cars in Al Sabra neighbourhood.

Around 16 foreign ministers from the Arab League came to Gaza today. Still the killing continued. We are extremely scared here in Gaza. Why? The strongest state in the world backs those who kill us. States that follow the US in military strength don’t do anything to affect what’s going on in Gaza. This enables the killers to disseminate their completely false image to communities and countries outside Gaza. They manage to produce a reality that inverted the actual materiality: victim and victimizer were reversed.. This must stop now! We should move from plan A to plan B! What is plan A? The demonstrations and solidarity activities being done throughout the world: the flotilla and the convoys. Without degrading such great things carried out by brave people, we should move to affect those sitting on the chairs of power; we should collect our efforts, unite our strength to transform it into a united, potential and mighty unification that can back Palestine in many aspects. And if that would be possible, during this war, we would have our effect on the USA to stop the Israeli aggression, we would have our impact in the united nations security council when a simple condemning resolution proposed to be passed and issued officially collides with the US veto.

Today, I learnt that there are serious efforts to make a truce between Hamas and Israel. Does this actually mean that the people of the Gaza strip will experience pause in Israeli crimes? Or is the pause the time period in which Israel will invent another reason to resume the siege on Gaza.

Abbas seeks $1-billion Gaza deal with Russia

MOSCOW (AFP) - Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas sought on Thursday to secure a billion-dollar Gaza energy deal during talks with Russian leaders aimed at restoring warmer ties between the two Soviet-era allies.

Abbas and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev were due to sign an intergovernmental agreement that reports said included a $1.0-billion (730-million-euro) natural gas project in the Gaza section of the Mediterranean Sea.

The state ITAR-TASS news agency said Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom hoped to produce 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas at the site.

The report added that Russia's Technopromexport engineering firm was also considering a small oil development project near the West Bank city of Ramallah. more