Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Erdogan calls on Israel to lift Gaza blockade as a condition for negotiations

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded Israel to lift its blockade on the Gaza Strip in order to sign an agreement between the two countries.

Erdogan said in a press conference held in Ankara with his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rakhoi Wednesday night that significant progress has been made in the talks with Israel.

Israel Channel 2 quoted an Israeli official as saying that Israel will not agree to ease the Gaza blockade as a part of the deal it is negotiating with Turkey. more

A bright idea: Gazans use car batteries to power homes

MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad

As the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip remains strict and intact affecting main aspects of life such as electricity and fuel, Gaza's residents continue to find creative solutions to problems caused by the siege.

Palestinian electrician Hassan Saeed did his best to develop a lighting circuit to illuminate the streets of his quarter in Al-Shejaea neighbourhood to the east of the Gaza Strip.

Saeed can use old car batteries, which maintain very little electricity, to light two 500 metre streets and 60 homes using LED panel lights.

The LED lights do not consume much electricity and the car batteries are used eight hours a day when the electricity supply cuts.

Supported by individual donations, Saeed can cover the cost of the necessary wires and LED panels. Some people offered him technical support and advice that helped in completing and maintaining his "plant". more

Book Review - 'Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine'

By Sarah Irving (Electronic Intifada)

It’s not difficult for non-Arabic-reading audiences to get a taste of the variety and power of Palestinian literature. Translations of big names such as Mahmoud Darwish, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra and Emile Habibi have long been available, and in the last decade these have been joined by the likes of Mourid Barghouti, Adania Shibli, Ghassan Zaqtan and Samih al-Qasim.

The short stories collected in Gaza Writes Back (Just World Books) are not necessarily the work of future greats such as these — although it’s far from impossible.

What this selection offers is something rather different: the fresh voices of young (teenage and twenty-something), non-professional writers from Gaza, a group which is under-represented in Palestinian literature in translation.

These are the kind of voices we are more accustomed to finding in blogs, podcasts or videos, far from the literary establishment and speaking of the challenges facing Palestinians in very different ways.

But while many of these tales are filled with the kind of events and traumas we read of all-too-often in blogs and news articles about Gaza, they are genuine short stories. They have plots, suspense, characterization, psychological complexity and, most of all, the deep sense of feeling that comes from the meeting of experience and artistic sensibility.

Complex layers

Among the the stand-out examples from Gaza Writes Back it is worth mentioning Noura Al-Sousi’s “Canary,” in which the author moves between time periods and writes from different viewpoints in order to create a tale of interweaving emotions, motivations and perspectives. Memory, love, pain and a sense of what-ifs culminate in a genuine tension and a shocking and ambiguous ending.

The stories also reveal the complex layers of Palestinian society in Gaza which are often brushed over in politically-oriented news. Sameeha Elwan’s “Toothache in Gaza” and Elham Hilles’ “Lost at Once” both tackle the issue of class divisions.

Elwan exposes the indignities faced by those who can only afford to get their medical treatment from the under-resourced clinics of UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees. “[My father] said he had to go to the clinic an hour before me so that he could get me a place before it got jam-packed. How could a place get crowded at seven in the morning, I wondered.”

Hilles, meanwhile, presents a love story between an upper-class girl, and boy from Nuseirat refugee camp. Intertwining romance, pride, stubbornness and snobbery, their tale leads Eman (the protagonist) to a greater understanding of her society, even if its boundaries are destined to confine her hopes and desires. more

You can buy the book here

Israeli forces detain 5 teens in Old City of Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained five Palestinian teenagers in the Old City of Jerusalem late Tuesday, the Palestinian Prisoners' Society said.

Nasser Qaws, the director of the group's Jerusalem office, told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers raided the neighborhoods of Aqbat al-Khalidyya, the Chain Gate, al-Wadi, and Via Dolorosa and detained five boys between the ages of 14 and 15.

Qaws identified the detainees as Ayman Hashmiya, Taha Hashmiya, Muhammad al-Dadou, Murad Tarhouni, and Rashid al-Rashiq. more