Gaza Still Clings to Hope

GAZA STRIP — Following Israeli raids that killed around 15 Palestinians within one week, many rockets were fired into Israel in response. As usual Israel started to blame Palestinians despite being the initiator of violence. The Israeli assault was an obvious breach of a truce with Palestinian fighting groups that was reached five months ago. The breach provoked some Palestinians to fire rickety rockets into Israel. Afterward, Israel started a new phase of collective punishment and escalated the violent measures against 1.5 million Palestinian people.

With the last Israeli maneuvers of tightening the siege imposed on Gaza, more life necessities vanished. The key power plant shut down some days ago and resulted in tremendously dire outcomes. More than 75% of the Gaza Strip faces severe power cuts and some areas are completely plunged into darkness.

Power cuts and daily blackouts resulted in hindering of all facilities depending on power. The remaining power shares provided by Israel and Egypt are not enough to cover the whole coastal strip. Pumped fresh water is not reaching everywhere. Sewage- and water-treatment machinery are halted. Additionally, around 40 million tons of sewage water leaked into the Mediterranean contaminating it and damaging fish resources.

Israel was obliged to open commercial crossings completely during the calm. But, Israel didn’t abide by that condition only partially opened them. But last week, Israel totally closed the crossings causing a huge humanitarian crisis. According to UNRWA, around 750,000 of its beneficiaries don’t get their devoted share of food parcels. With the Israeli ban on UNRWA aid, it is ensuring that a dire humanitarian crisis will occur soon. As UNRWA is also under siege from assisting Palestine in humanitarian causes, long time projects such as housing are halted to the loss of $350 million.

Recently, wheat and flour mills in Gaza announced an inability to continue work and feared starvation would occur in Palestine if the closure lasts much longer. On 20 November, some hospitals partially stopped working due to power cuts and medical shortages. Coming days will surely bring another crisis if closure lasts longer.

The people of Gaza are outraged by the Israeli collective punishment. I spoke to some Gazan residents. Mr. Muhammad, who refuses to reveal his full name, said that this siege is unjust and it’s a way to pressure on people to give up their rights.

“We have been patient for 60 years now. We passed more cruel time than this. Thus, why to give up this year. We have to be adamant and patient and the siege will be lifted eventually,” Mr. Muhammad said.

A mid-50’s jobless resident from Al Shati’ refugee camp, Mr. Khalil Barakat, said he is outraged by this siege. “I’m fed up, bored I feel we are caged like animals in Gaza. If I could get a chance to immigrate to live my remaining years in peace, then I would love to.”

Coincidentally, I met old friend of mine, Um Muhammad Abu Ouf, a mother in her twenties. It was good for me to explore her views about the siege as well. As a mother and a female, her perspective is most important. We met at 6 pm at AL Omar al Moktar Street which was plunging into deep darkness.

I asked her: “How badly you are affected by siege?”

She replied: “Well, the siege became a daily nightmare midday and night. Electricity cuts off and that frightens my 11-month infant. It makes conditions unsafe for him. Further, I’m trying to get some fortified food for him. I went to many stores and shops but in vain. I could not find any food nor needed supplies for my son as there is a shortage in a lot of the basic products needed to care for infants’ such as milk, diapers and so forth.”

I spoke to Hatem Shurab, an International Relief Worker. Hatem is a siege victim who lost a scholarship to train in the U.S lately. Despite that, he seemed to be optimistic, contrary to the majority here. Hatem is currently preparing a music concert with his friends.

His view was quite interesting and new. Hatem stated, “I’m trying to highlight on people’s suffering through music. We try to end siege through our voices and to tell those who don’t like to watch news what’s going on. On the 27th of November they might know the suffering of Gazans through songs as we are doing a concert. Regardless of pain, we will sing for Gaza.” He hopes to hold his concert soon and give Gazans a glimpse of hope.

Samah A. Habeeb, is a photojournalist, peace activist, humanitarian, and child relief worker in Gaza, Palestine. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Samah, or visit Samah's website.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. DavidG. said on November 22nd, 2008 at 5:16pm #

    What Israel is doing to the Palestinians is reprehensible. And that they’ve been doing it for sixty years is an indictment of the rest of the world which likes to claim it’s civilized.

    A civilized world would not tolerate Israeli brutality and cruelty for six minutes let alone sixty years.

    The world is shamed by Israel’s existence!

  2. bozh said on November 23rd, 2008 at 9:14am #

    one of the basic reasons for israel’s existence is christian support for euros w. judaic faith.
    the other is antisemitism; particularly being antipalestinian. natch, one can’t be antisemitic against nonsemites of europe.
    israel has no right to exist and will eventually disappear. this may be one reason a number of ‘jews’ decry judeo-christian crimes.
    they fear, there will be rightful vengeance.

  3. Michael Kenny said on November 23rd, 2008 at 10:44am #

    The silver lining in all this, and the reason why Palestinians can be full of hope, is that the increasingly vicious and hysterical conduct of Israel and its US enablers shows that they are in total panic. That means that, in their own heads, they’ve lost the fight. That doesn’t mean that they will give up tomorrow, but it does mean that sooner or later, within the next few years, the Palestinians will win. Israel’s 50th anniversary was a huge party, the 60th anniversary was more like a funeral. There probably won’t be a 75th anniversary.

  4. Lloyd Rowsey said on November 23rd, 2008 at 10:55am #

    (A funny by Epstein)

    Five Signs of a Stroke

    1. Pinch yourself in the behind. If you can’t feel it, have someone else do it.
    2. Sing Kol Nidre. In Spanish.
    3. Lie down and close your eyes. Think of your worst elementary school teacher. Open your eyes. I said: “Open your eyes!”
    4. If you are a woman, are you wearing your brassiere on your head like a scarf?
    5. If you are a man, did you notice No. 4?

  5. Don Smith said on December 30th, 2008 at 12:51am #

    I can’t for the life of Me see how so called intelligent people and leaders around the world are not looking at the fact that Israel is full of Ashkenazis’s, Non-Jews. These people occupying Israel now are a white race who invaded Israel back around 700-750 A.D., raping, Killing and destroying the nation that existed then and replacing them with themselves. Jesus did not have white skin, it was dark as everyone else in that area at that time. Jesus’s Mother didn’t have white skin either. These Ashkenazis’s came from the Northern part of the country invading and killing everyone living in Israel at that time. These Zionist now rule most of the know world and almost every leader in the world kneels at their feet and kisses their rear end, WHY ? Wake Up World, Who are Your Sons And Daughters fighting for, its not freedom !!!