Life in Gaza

As President Obama Visits Cairo, Gaza Remains Devastated

More than four months after Gaza was devastated by a massive Israeli military bombardment, rebuilding has been slow to come. The problem is not a lack of funding or will. However, an Israeli-led blockade has kept all rebuilding materials, including concrete or any tools that could be used to rebuild the hundreds of homes and buildings here, out of Gaza. The border entries, controlled by the Israeli and Egyptian governments, are sealed to almost all traffic.

There is an intense desire here to rebuild. There is no shortage of skilled labor. Billions of dollars of aid from countries around the world, including the US, has been pledged. But scarcely a single house has been rebuilt. From the Rafah border in the south to the town of Beit Hanoun in the north, people are still living in tents, or with family members, or in shelters.

The range of destruction is breathtaking. More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in 22 days, the vast majority civilians, including more than 300 children. Schools, health clinics, houses, and, most importantly, the basic infrastructure of both public services and government has been destroyed. Rubble is everywhere. Basic government structures, such as the building that houses the Palestinian parliament are all destroyed.

Two days ago, a delegation 66 activists, scholars, journalists and human rights workers, mostly from the US, visited the Parliament building. The visit was organized by the peace group Code Pink, which has led several delegations attempting to break the blockade. The group was surprised to find the building housing the legislature reduced partly to rubble, and Parliament members forced to meet in a tent outside. Having no building to meet in is just one of the many problems facing the elected government of the Palestinian people. “Not only are more than 11,000 prisoners in Israeli jails,” explained Dr. Ahmed Bahar, the acting speaker of the Palestinian legislative council, and part of the Hamas political party. “Forty members of the legislative council are imprisoned, including the head of the legislature. Can you imagine if the head of the legislature, of anywhere else in the world, were held in prison by a foreign government?” Dr. Bahar appealed to the US activists assembled for help in breaking the siege. “They don’t allow basic construction material to enter,” he said. “Cement, glass, wood, steel.”

Gaza is among the most densely populated places on earth. One and a half million people live in 139 square miles, and it has been described as the world’s largest prison. Traveling across this very small area, you meet people everywhere who just want to live a normal life, but are being prevented by a cruel blockade from going anywhere or doing anything.

“The biggest lie that has been told is that Gaza is a hostile entity,” declares John Ging, the head of the United Nation’s Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip. “It’s populated by well educated, decent people. They’re not spitting hatred. They’re asking for help, they’re asking for justice, they’re asking for the rule of law.” An Irish former soldier with a staff of 10,000, Ging is a UN bureaucrat, not an activist, but his respect for the international law has made him a passionate spokesperson for a rebuilding of Gaza.

Under the current siege, explains, Ging, “There’s no cement, even if its to repair a hospital or school or health center. So people are being kept alive, nothing more.” Its been said in the US media that the situation in Gaza is complicated, that the siege is part of a defense against terrorism, but Ging denies these claims. “When it comes down to it, its rather simple what’s needed,” he says. “What we now need to focus on is creating a life for people here. We need to see the depoliticization of assistance. What we have here in Gaza is a failure to uphold those basic human rights.”

Gaza is currently hosting several delegations of international human rights observers and activists from the US and Europe. With each month, more people come here, and see the painful reality of the situation here. And with each new arrival, the siege perhaps moves a step closer to ending.

President Obama is scheduled to be in Cairo tomorrow, and members of Code Pink plan to ask him to visit Gaza. Tens of thousands of people from the US have signed a petition asking him to see the devastation. Across Gaza, people are looking for some sign that the new president will stand up for human rights in Palestine. “We ask Obama not to close his eyes to the Palestinian catastrophe,” says Dr. Bahar. “We are running out of time,” says John Ging. “We need to move from keeping people alive to giving them a life.”

Jordan Flaherty is a journalist and TV and film producer based in New Orleans. You can see more of his work at Read other articles by Jordan, or visit Jordan's website.

22 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 4th, 2009 at 8:54pm #

    While Obama spouted his unctuous lies to an hand-picked audience of children of the ruthless Egyptian compradore class that run that primitive despotism as an US stooge and satellite, here is reality. While Obama lies that the US has no quarrel with Islam, Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Somalis and Gazans know from bitter everday experience that he is false. The Israelis maintain their sadistic and vicious blockade, a crime against humanity, because Obama lets them. The rockets have stopped falling on Israel, but the siege goes on. The naked racism, the psychopathic viciousness goes unmentioned, indeed unmentionable, lest a concern for human rights be viciously vilified as ‘anti-Semitism’. The state of the Jews, founded by the survivors of the Nazi Judeocide, has become the moral and ethical heir of the Nazis, by some malign process of transference.

  2. mary said on June 5th, 2009 at 1:11am #

    Well said as ever Mulga.

    Some shocking vox pop footage from Jerusalem last night confirms your statement – ‘The naked racism, the psychopathic viciousness goes unmentioned, indeed unmentionable,….

  3. mebosa ritchie said on June 5th, 2009 at 2:20am #

    Gaza is among the most densely populated places on earth.

    the usual baloney that Gaza is “one of the most densely populated cities in the world.” A virtual sardine can of innocent civilians.

    But most Western capital cities are much more densely populated.

    Manhattan Island 70,595 people/sq mile

    Paris, France 64,620 / sq mile

    Gaza 10,665 /sq mile.

  4. mebosa ritchie said on June 5th, 2009 at 2:22am #

    “The biggest lie that has been told is that Gaza is a hostile entity,” declares John Ging, the head of the United Nation’s Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip. “It’s populated by well educated, decent people


  5. mebosa ritchie said on June 5th, 2009 at 2:29am #

  6. bozh said on June 5th, 2009 at 6:11am #

    soon all israelis will be saying: We all are russians now; we vant to gou bak to majka rossiya; we were never zionist.
    it’ll be either that or fry gasping for moshiach and cool air as temperatures rise to 50+ c.
    have you, mebosa, already found a balmy place s’mwhere/s’mwhen in siberia, alaska?
    btw, i am a russian; more now than ever! nazdarovje rossija!tnx

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 5th, 2009 at 4:54pm #

    I’m glad you crawled out rom under your rock mebosa. The pure bile, the putrid poison of Zionist race hatred is best ventilated. The more people see the reality that the worst of the Jews are amongst the most ferocious racist bigots in the world today, the sooner the world will wake from this nightmare and do something about this Nazi state. The disappearance of the other apartheid state, Afrikaaner South Africa, was , in the end,good for the Afrikaaners, too. In Israel the continued dominance of the religo-fascist tendency, that unashamedly speaks of Palestinians, indeed all non-Jews, as ‘human animals’, that asserts that Judaic morality not only allows the deliberate killing of civilians, but mandates it and calls it a ‘mitzvah’ or good deed,is poisoning all Judaic life, and leading the world to the apocalypse of religious war.
    The situation where the very worst elements, the most ferociously racist, the most murderous, those that glory in child-killing as a religious obligation, in one tiny tribe, have seized control not only of their own people and their state, but also, through money power ruthlessly exercised in utterly morally and politically corrupt Western societies, exercise nearly total political control over those Western countries, is unprecedented. That these vicious, sadistic and racist elements have cowed the better elements of their tribe and the West into silent acquiescence in their terrorist actions, is lamentable. But that their hatred, their venom, their cruelty and their Messianic delusions of omnipotence, psychotically linked to febrile delusions of victimhood while they remain vengeful victimisers without any pity, continues to grow more and more marked, presages a great calamity. Unless Israeli aggression and viciousness is constrained, by the better Jews and the Jews’ real friends, and those appalled by injustice and racism, then millions are going to die, and Israel itself will be at grave risk. There is no reason Israel cannot live in peace in the region, slowly integrating itself with its neighbours, but instead we see Israel, driven by the Messianic Right, acting more as a cancer or seat of infection, spreading hatred, fear and mistrust.

  8. Suthiano said on June 5th, 2009 at 5:06pm #

    Mr. Obama vistited Buchenwald and declared Holocaust denial must stop. Too bad questioning 6 million is considered Holocaust denial, because if he looked at the numbers (56,000 Jews and non Jews murdered at Buchenwald) he would find that all peoples exterminated at camps (certainly not all Jews), totals about 3 million. It’s basic addition.

    So, perhaps 2 million Jews were exterminated, where do the other 4 million come from?

    Of course 2 million is 2 million too many… however, one may argue the act of deliberately distorting numbers to manipulate Jewish and non-Jewish sentiments alike is an act comparable to the murders themselves. The distortions and manipulations have certainly led to further atrocities.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 6th, 2009 at 1:28am #

    mebosa, it is my opinion that in your first snide, cynical display of the psychopath’s indifference to the suffering of others and total absence of human empathy, you forgot one difference between Gaza and New York and Paris. New York and Paris have not been reduced to rubble by sadistic racists, who view their inhabitants as animals, and who nightly terrorise their children into madness with supersonic overflights. Moreover the citizens of New York and Paris are free to travel, to leave their cities and see the world. They are not imprisoned and being slowly starved by racists whose ‘religious’ leaders, some of them at least, instruct their followers that to kill defenceless civilians, even children, is not only admissable, it is a good deed.
    Then your rant over the 8,000 ‘rockets’ that fell on the poor, long-suffering, eternally victimised, utterly innocent Israelis, and which killed, all of them human tragedies except any military, twenty Israelis over a number of years, left out a few, tiny, details. Like the fact that during all those years the Gazans were subjected to an ever-tightening blockade, which began as soon as the Israeli withdrew to the concentration camp walls, with the cutting off of Gaza’s export trade. And the fact that the Israelis were all this time bombarding Gaza whenever the inclination took them, sending in death-squads to murder Gazan leaders, restricting, fuel, or electricity or medicine, whenever they felt like it, and in the process killing hundreds of Gazans. I know that for a certain type of Judaic extremist it seems that the life of a Gazan does not compare with the fingernail of a Jew, but I regret to say that I am such a vicious, unrepentant ‘anti-Semite’ myself that I reject that calculus, and believe, in my monstrosity, that a Jewish life is not one jot more, or less, precious than any other.
    I do think I understand part of the game the Judaic supremacists play, mebosa. The nasty show of complete racist contempt for Israel’s victims, the snide, arrogant dismissal of the Gazans suffering and the hysterical exaggeration of the vastly lesser, but still tragic, Israeli suffering is meant to outrage and astound decent human opinion. I’ve always felt that displays of this type of extreme racist, brutish, indifference to the horrors inflicted on the Palestinians are designed to incite outrage at Israel and Jewry as a whole, a grave mistake, as many decent Israelis and other Jews are as offended by the cruelty as is most of the world. But if by displays of extreme arrogance and violent cruelty, the Zionist Right is able to provoke an undisciplined reaction, they are then able to sit back and cynically deploy the anti-Semite slur. Of course this is not only a hypocritical smear and increasingly impotent intimidation, but a backhanded insult to Jews, as it implies that criticism of racist cruelty is somehow congruent with bigotry against the Jews, while, in fact, it is only the worst of the Jews who are the sadists and tormentors.

  10. Danny Ray said on June 6th, 2009 at 4:45am #

    You Know Mulga, If the jews are as bad as you say why are there any people left alive in Gaza? In my interaction with the IDF I have found them to be many things but incompetent is not one of them. basicly if the jews wanted all Gazans dead they would all be taking dirt naps by now.

  11. mary said on June 6th, 2009 at 7:08am #

    The IDF prefer to exact a long lingering extinction of the people of Gaza.

    A dirt nap? How dare you say such an evil thing. A dirt-nap just like this little one has for eternity perhaps.

    Happy shall they be who take your little ones
    and dash them against the rock! Psalm 137

  12. bozh said on June 6th, 2009 at 7:33am #

    i do not know how many or if any chinese, hindus, or zulus read torah. But once these and other peoples learn what talmud, mishnah, torah, and many dead/living rabbis say about them, their blood may curdle.

    or, most of them may laugh! Once the above-mentioned people+ others reach econo-military-diplomatic parity with christian lands and empires, judaism wld be looked on as a molehill; a curioso, a passing or dead fancy.

    let’s think of these cults as ephemeral events in an infinity of time. And in infinity of time, even the planet wld surely disappear, let alone the cults and cultish behavior.
    cheer up! End is not nigh but it is coming. Justice will be done! tnx

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 7th, 2009 at 2:02am #

    Danny, I never said ‘the jews’ are bad, so stop lying about my opinions. I have said that the Israeli elite and that fraction of Jewry that support their unvarying policy of murder and brutality in pursuit of the Messianic Judaic dream of Eretz Yisrael, are, in my opinion, acting in an evil manner. I do not doubt that many of these creatures are innately evil, but I do not believe all Jews are wicked, far from it. However a large proportion of Jews and their non-Jewish toadies have proven themselves wicked in their brutality and savagery, and their snide, arrogant and psychotic dismissal of Palestinian suffering. I suspect that you may be one of that type, as it seems to me to hardly be evidence of that legendary ‘moral purity’ the Israelis mendaciously assert they have a near monopoly of, to assert that Israel is somehow exculpated of blame simply because they have not, yet, engaged in full-blown genocide, merely sixty years of mass murder and terror.

  14. mebosa ritchie said on June 7th, 2009 at 4:08am #

    there you go mugla–complain about the racist pakistani zionists

    A recent Pakistani military offensive against Taliban fighters in the northwest has killed more than 1,000 suspected insurgents, a top official said Sunday after visiting a relief camp hosting thousands of people displaced by the battle.

    Interior Minister Rehman Malik gave no time frame for how much longer the operation would proceed, except that it “will continue till last Taliban are flushed out.”

  15. mebosa ritchie said on June 7th, 2009 at 4:20am #

    more for mugla and mary
    this time it’s the racist,sri lankan zionists

    Tamils genocide: More than 2,000 civilians feared slaughtered in a single night

    Indiscriminate barrage of shelling by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) on the ‘safety zone’ starting from Saturday night to Sunday morning slaughtered more than 2,000 civilians including large number of women and children, medical sources in Vanni said quoting the injured who managed to reach the makeshift hospital.

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 7th, 2009 at 4:53am #

    mebosa thanks for two more examples of your trademark Zionist moral imbecility. Of course the Sri Lankan Government’s actions have been abominable, just as you would expect from armed forces that received ‘counter-insurgency’ training from Israel. Actually Israel makes a nice quid or two from exporting its expertise in the brutal repression of defenceless civilians. They have lent this talent not only to the Indians in Kashmir, the Georgian psychopath Saakashvilli and some of the more detestable actors in the Congo Holocaust but also, naturally, to their Yankee buddies in Iraq. After all those torture techniques utilising nakedness and sexual humiliation, both deeply shameful to Arabs, were perfected over forty years of mass torture of tens of thousands of Palestinians. But, hey-that’s ‘moral purity’ Zionist-style.
    As for the butchery of their own people by the Pakistani military, this is another evil crime, forced on the Pakistanis by the US Empire of Evil, and put into action by despicable Quislings. You’re right mebosa-the Sri Lankan, Pakistani, not to mention Egyptian and Saudi ruling elites are every bit as evil as the Israeli ones, and I despise them all. You, of course, do not.

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 7th, 2009 at 4:59am #

    mary, I recommend not taking any notice of Zionist psychotics. Their vile language of hatred and brutal indifference to the suffering of people they regard as animals, condemns them out of their own mouths. It’s a ploy too, where they are just itching for someone to over-react to their brutishness and say something foolish out of justified revulsion. Then they will caper about screeching ‘anti-Semite’, ‘Holocaust denier’, ‘new Nazis’-you know the drill. Don’t worry. The world is waking up to them, even as they grow madder and viler by the instant. And never forget-a good proportion of Jews are just as repulsed by this cruelty and the bitter irony of it being practised, with religious fervour, by certain elements within a people themselves so recently subjected to just such racist brutality.

  18. bozh said on June 7th, 2009 at 6:05am #

    mulga, yes.
    it is a passing fancy; ephemeral in duration to believe what torah, talmud teach.

    i also expect that most `godless` plutos will vigourously reject all cults; jewish one, imo, being the worst.
    but even if world becomes near-ideally democratic, cults wld be a fortiory rejected. tnx

  19. mary said on June 7th, 2009 at 8:04am #

    Mulga – I don’t usually respond and especially not since one of them suggested that my brother should have drowned in the Dignity that was rammed by the israeli navy. It was just the callous use of the phrase ‘dirt-nap’ that made my blood boil. That little one whose photo I posted was one of over 400 chidren who were killed as you know and many more were maimed and injured for life.

  20. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 7th, 2009 at 6:08pm #

    I fully sympathise mary. One of the most detestable tactics of the dead souls of the Judaic extreme Right, is to flagrantly display their psychotic indifference to the suffering of others, even children, and seek to enrage normal human beings, for whom the killing of children is anathema. It is quite chilling to gather together all the evidence, the testimony of eye-witnesses like the UN, Amnesty, Medicines sans Frontieres, and Israeli troops themselves as to the atrocities in Gaza. Then add the stories of the extremist Rabbis who incited the Israeli troops not to spare civilians, a feature of many religious fanatic leaders in Israel. Finally bear in mind that when this carnage was in full spate, certain Israelis were lining up deck-chairs to watch the entertainment from a safe distance. We are witnessing the increasing brutalisation and religious fundamentalist radicalisation of a country where the state religion, in its more extreme forms, sees the rest of humanity as a type of ‘human animal’. That this state is armed to the eye-balls with thermo-nuclear weapons is cause for very great concern, indeed. In truth it is not Israel that faces an ‘existential’ threat from its victims, but any and all who dare stand in the way of their Messianic delusions.

  21. Barry99 said on June 7th, 2009 at 7:16pm #

    Danny Ray – The Israeli policy is to make life as difficult as possible for Palestinians so they leave. That means killing some of them – not so many that it registers on the world’s radar, but enough that normal life is impossible.

    Mebosa – There has never been 800o rockets from Gaza fired into Israel. That’s an Israeli propaganda number. Besides, these homemade rockets are barely more potent than M-80 fireworks. And Israel attacked, not when more were being fired, but when almost none were being fired. Seems Israel was in a panic because without rockets there is no enemy. So Israel attacked.
    On the other hand, certainly Israel has fired thousands of missiles into Gaza and the West Bank. These are weapons of mass destruction, all in the service of a bigger Israel.

  22. Danny Ray said on June 7th, 2009 at 7:54pm #

    Psalm 144

    Praise be to the LORD my Rock,
    who trains my hands for war,
    my fingers for battle.