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Av K - 17 januari 2009 21:42

Focus Gaza diary: To die with hope  

By Mohammed Ali in Gaza City



Carrying pieces of wood from the destroyed building is the sign that Gazans' spirits keeping hope alive [Gallo/Getty]

As the death toll from Israel's war on Gaza continues to climb, Mohammed Ali, an advocacy and media researcher for Oxfam who lives in Gaza City, will be keeping a diary of his feelings and experiences.


"If I die now, at least I'll die with hope."

This morning, I heard people chanting outside, I wondered what it was, and then, the lights came on - the electricity had come back on; hurrah!

I immediately turned on the television, charged my phone, checked emails. For a moment, I felt somewhat liberated. These things that we often take for granted have become so precious of late.

Solidarity and trust

We have no clean water left. Our water tank is empty. My father could not turn away the increasing amount of people knocking at our door with empty jerry cans in hand. He did not realise how much water he had given out until it was too late.

Shops are running out of clean water; we were not able to find any in our neighbourhood. We can use the untreated water but we should really boil it first to avoid getting sick, but we face another obstacle; we have very little gas left.

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We will just have to drink the unsterilised water so that we can save the rest of the gas for cooking food. But, if you have never cooked with a gas burner, it makes the food taste of gasoline, the coffee taste of gasoline, we now even smell of gasoline.

I received a call from a good friend in Jabaliya, he was telling me how awful life has become for his family; sonic booms from F-16 fighter planes constantly shake his home - there is no chance any of his six children and wife are getting any sleep.

His sister's home has already been evacuated and he wants to leave as soon as he can. He has a small bag packed and ready to go.

I told him to bring his family and to stay with us - I am expecting him to arrive at any moment.

The news is getting more and more horrific as the situation here deteriorates. The latest report, I saw, was of a child clutching on to her dead parent's bodies for four days before anyone was able to come to her rescue, dogs are starting to eat the corpses that no one has been able to bury.

This reality does not seem to be reaching some parts of the world. Is it censored because people cannot cope with the truth of what is happening to us? If the truth did get out, would it make a difference?

Fortunately, we have a lot of solidarity and trust in our community, we share what we have - I guess this is why we have just about managed to feed ourselves.

Some shopkeepers are allowing people to buy food on credit; people's debts are quickly mounting up. But solidarity and trust will not feed us now that food - and everything else it seems - is running out.

Keeping hope alive

I applied for a scholarship in the UK several months ago. I was expecting to find out in early January whether or not my application was successful.

I have been waiting impatiently for days. I could not wait any longer so I finally called the British Council; I wanted to know the outcome to put my mind at rest.

They told me that they would call back in two minutes. During those two minutes I almost stopped breathing - this scholarship is the only hope I have at the moment for a better life.

The lady called back and said: "I am afraid we do not have an answer yet for you." To which I responded: "Please be honest with me; is it that you really do not have an answer or that you do not want to give me bad news at this point in time?"

The possibility of going to the UK is giving me the hope I need to live. My wife thinks I am crazy, as I talk to her as if we are definitely going; I describe the friends we will have, the restaurants we will go to, the walks around the parks.

At least if I die, I will die with a little hope, the hope that I will have the chance to live a better life, even if for now it is but a dream.

  Source:Al Jazeera

ANNONS
Av K - 17 januari 2009 21:34

 Olmert 'to announce Gaza ceasefire' Truce expected after 22 days of war and deaths of more than 1,200 Palestinians.

ANNONS
Av K - 17 januari 2009 18:35

Tusentals människor protesterade på lördagen på flera ställen i landet mot Israels krig i Gaza.


Av K - 17 januari 2009 15:57

Israel shells UN school in Gaza



The UN has called for a war crimes investigation over the shelling of its school [AFP]

Israeli tank shells hit a UN-run school in Gaza, killing at least two people, as war in the Palestinian territory stretched into a 22nd day.

Heavy bombardment of so-called Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip - from artillery on the ground and jets overhead - continued on Saturday despite speculation that Israel will wrap up its military operations later in the day.

The death toll from the now more than three weeks of assault stands at 1,203 Palestinians killed, including more than 400 children according to UN and Palestinian medical sources.

At least 13 Israelis have also died in the same period, including three civilians.

School attacked

A Palestinian woman and a child were killed in the early hours of Saturday at the school run by the UN relief and works agency (Unrwa) in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza.

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Christopher Gunness, an Unrwa spokesman, said several rounds hit the UN school at about 6:45am. After a short pause, the third floor of the school took a direct hit, killing the two and injuring another 14 people.

Witnesses said four more people were killed when other shells struck nearby as people tried to escape.

About 1,600 civilians had sought refuge from the fighting inside the building, Gunness said.

"The Israeli army knew exactly our GPS co-ordinates and they would have known that hundreds of people had taken shelter there," he said.

"When you have a direct hit into the third floor of a UN school, there has to be an investigation to see if a war crime has been committed."

John Ging, the director of Unrwa, told Al Jazeera: "People today are alleging war crimes here in Gaza. Lets have it properly accounted for. Lets have the legal process which will establish exactly what has happened here.

"It is another failure for our humanity and it is exposing the impotence of our [the international community's] inability to protect civilians in conflict."

In Jabaliya refugee camp, a Palestinian doctor from al-Shifa hospital lost his three daughters and one niece during an Israeli air attack. Dr Ezzedine Abu al-Aish is a familiar voice in Israel, where he has been interviewed by local media.

At least 10 people were also killed late on Friday after a tank shell slammed into their home during a funeral wake in Gaza City.

Meanwhile, about five rockets were reported to have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel.

'Unilateral ceasefire'

While Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip intensified on Saturday morning, with some attacks reported in the afternoon, the country's security cabinet is expected to decide on ending the assault, Israeli sources have said.

The move would be seen as preferable to entering into an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Hamas, unnamed sources have said.

Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, said on Israel's Channel 10 television that "the  end doesn't have to be in agreement with Hamas, but rather in arrangements against Hamas".

U

N and Palestinian medical sources say more than 400 children have been killed [AFP]

A unilateral ceasefire would allow Israel to avoid agreeing concessions with Hamas, such as easing the 18-month-old blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has prevented medical aid and basic supplies from reaching the Palestinians.

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's prime minister, called for an immediate ceasefire and the removal of Israel's troops from the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Egypt has been pushing Israel and the rival Palestinian factions to reach an agreement, and a Hamas delegation returned to Cairo on Friday for a second round of talks.

Responding to talk of unilateral action by Israel, Hamas on Saturday threatened to ignore such a ceasefire and continue fighting.

"Clearly, we have nothing new to propose ... either we hear what we have proposed [is accepted] or we will go back to the battlefield," Osama Hamdan, Hamas's representative in Lebanon, said.

"The [large] number of our martyrs will not push us to surrender, but to insist on resistance."

Speaking at a forum in Beirut, Hamdan called on Arab leaders to stand by the Palestinian "resistance", and urged European nations to cut ties with Israel for
its "crimes" in Gaza.

An unnamed Israeli official told the AFP news agency that Israeli troops would remain in Gaza in the event of any such ceasefire being called.

"If they [Hamas] decide to open fire, we will not hesitate to respond and continue the offensive," the official was quoted as saying.

Israel's stated aim of the war, which it dubbed Operation Cast Lead, was to halt Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel.

 Source:Al Jazeera and agencies

Av K - 16 januari 2009 21:07




The attack on the UN warehouse destroyed millions of dollars worth of food and medical aid [AFP]

Explosions in the Gaza Strip have continued after a day that saw some of the heaviest fighting so far in Israel's war on the Palestinian territory.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Awad, reporting from the Israel-Gaza border, said it was a relatively quiet night as diplomatic efforts appeared to intensify, but explosions and aircraft flying overhead could still be heard in the early hours of Friday - the 21st day of Israel's military campaign.

Israeli leaders were reportedly considering Hamas's terms for a ceasefire and Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, was headed to Washington for consultations with Condoleezza Rice, her US counterpart, on conditions for a ceasefire.

The Israeli military says it will "lock down" the West Bank on Friday after Hamas called on Palestinians there to stage protests against Israel.

Hospitals hit

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On the ground on Thursday, three hospitals and a UN compound were bombarded by Israeli forces as they continued to advance into the densely-populated Gaza City.

Around 500 people were sheltering in the Al-Quds hospital in the city's southwestern Tal Al-Hawa district when it was bombed by Israeli jets and set ablaze on Thursday morning.

Hospital officials said the fire was sparked by a "phosphorus shell".

"We have been able to control the fire in the hospital but not in the administrative building," one hospital official said.

"We hope that the flames don't spread again to the wings of the hospital."

Two hospitals east of Gaza City were also hit by Israeli shells as Gazans fled tanks advancing into the city.

It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties following the raids.

The Israelis also bombed a UN compound in Gaza City, setting fire to warehouses of badly-needed food and medical aid and prompting international outrage.

Around 700 Palestinians were sheltering in the UN complex at the time of the strikes which left two civilians and three staff members injured.

Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), said fires were still raging hours after the attack and "tens of millions of dollars worth of aid" had been destroyed.

'Phosphorus fires'

John Ging, the director of Unrwa operations in the Strip, also accused the Israelis of using phosphorus shells.

I
srael's bombing of the UN compound in Gaza outraged UN chief Ban Ki-moon [AFP]
"They are phosphorus fires so they are extremely difficult to put out because, if you put water on, it will just generate toxic fumes and do nothing to stop the burning," he said.

Israel insists all weapons used in the conflict comply with international law.

At least 1135 Palestinians have been killed and 5200 injured in Israel's offensive so far, nearly half of the dead civilians and more than 330 children.

Thirteen Israelis have died, three of them civilians.

Two buildings housing international journalists in Gaza were also bombarded by Israeli forces on Thursday, as were a Red Crescent office near Gaza City and the main mosque in the southern city of Rafah.

'Investigation needed'

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, justified shelling the UN headquarters claiming armed Palestinians within it had fired at Israeli troops first.

"It is absolutely true that we were attacked from that place … but the consequences were very sad and I apologise for it," he said.

"There were no militants in our compound and... [the Israelis] are changing their story saying militants were 'in the vicinity'"

Christopher Gunness, Unrwa spokesman

However, Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for Unrwa, robustly denied that Palestinian fighters were among refugees sheltering there.

"At no stage during the fighting today did any Israeli official pick up the phone and tell us there were militants in our compound.

"We always take action against militants ... there were no militants in our compound and now they [the Israelis] are changing their story, saying militants were 'in the vicinity'," he said.

Gunness called for a "proper investigation" into the incident.

Louis Michel, the European Aid Commissioner, also condemned the bombing of the UN complex, branding it "unacceptable".

"I am deeply shocked and dismayed to learn of this incident ... I have made it very clear that all sides must respect international humanitarian law.

"It is unacceptable that the UN headquarters in Gaza has been struck by Israeli artillery fire," he said.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, strongly condemned the incident and demanded a full explanation from Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, during talks held on Thursday in Tel Aviv.

Ban said Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, had apologised for the attack describing it as a "grave mistake".

 Source:Al Jazeera and agencies

Av K - 16 januari 2009 20:59

Qatar, Mauritania cut Israel ties



Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, also called for Arab nations to cut ties with Israel [AFP]

Qatar and Mauritania have suspended economic and political ties with Israel in protest against the war in Gaza, Al Jazeera has learned.

The move announced on Friday followed calls by Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, and Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, for all Arab nations to cut ties with Israel.

Addressing leaders at an emergency Arab summit in Doha, the Qatari capital, al-Assad declared that the Arab initiative for peace with Israel was now "dead".

He said Arab countries should cut "all direct and indirect" ties with Israel in protest against its offensive in Gaza.

His comments echoed those of Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip, who also called on all Arab states to cut ties with Israel.

Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries who have signed peace treaties with Israel and have Israeli embassies.

Summit demands

The Qatari-hosted Arab summit concluded Friday with participants agreeing to present a Kuwaiti-hosted summit - to be held on Sunday - with a list of measures to end the conflict in Gaza.

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Those measures include demanding that Israel stops its offensive in the Strip, is held responsible for "crimes" committed in Gaza and immediately re-opens all border crossings.

The summit also agreed that all Arab countries should form a "sea-bridge" that would enable aid supplies to reach Gaza.

Speaking from Ankara, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, said Israel should be barred from the United Nations while it continues to ignore UN demands to end the fighting in Gaza.

"How is such a country, which totally ignores and does not implement resolutions of the UN Security Council, allowed to enter through the gates of the UN?" he said.

Erdogan's comments came hours ahead of Friday's official visit to Turkey by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general.

The Turkish leader also added his voice to widespread condemnation of Israel's bombing of a UN compound in Gaza on Thursday.

"The UN building in Gaza was hit while the UN secretary general was in Israel... this is an open challenge to the world, teasing the world," he said.

Diplomatic efforts to broker a ceasefire have intensified over recent days with emergency meetings being held in Qatar, Turkey, Kuwait and Egypt.

Arab divisions

However, Friday's emergency summit in Doha has highlighted divisions within the Arab world, with Egypt and Saudi Arabia declining to attend, preferring instead to send delegates to a separate meeting of foreign ministers in Kuwait.

The Palestinian political factions Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) are also at the Doha summit.

Hashem Ahelbarra, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Doha, said the delegates in Qatar recognise the legitimacy of the Gazan factions, whereas Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Western nations have sidelined them from ceasefire talks.

"You have two camps: The so-called moderate Arab countries, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, some Gulf monarchies like the UAE, and those who are trying to say that we totally disagree with the US attempt to implement a new Middle East."

Qatar summit: Key points

The following demands will be taken to Sunday's Kuwait summit for pan-Arab approval:


- Strong condemnation of Israel

- Israel withdraws from Gaza

- Legal liability for Gaza "crimes"

- Re-opening of crossings

- "Sea-bridge" to supply Gaza

- Assist Palestinian reconciliation

- Establish Gaza rebuilding fund

Ahelbarra said the "moderate camp" is uncomfortable with Hamas's ties with Iran and suspects that the Iranian leadership is using some Arab countries to further its influence in the region.

He said that the latter group believes it has the duty to convey the anti-war feeling of the Arab street and condemn Israel's actions.

Talks are continuing in Cairo over an Egypt-sponsored truce, with Amos Gilad, the Israeli chief negotiator, telling Egyptian officials Israel wants an open-ended ceasefire.

Israel is demanding that rocket fire from Gaza ceases and that an international force is established to prevent weapons being smuggled into Gaza.

Hamas want Israeli troops to be withdrawn from the Gaza Strip immediately and for all border crossings into the territory to be permanently re-opened.

While Israel says it reserves the right to use military action if under threat, its emergency security cabinet is expected to vote on Saturday in favour of a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza, according to news agency AFP.

By Friday morning, 1,155 Palestinians have been killed and more than 5,200 injured since Israel launched its offensive on December 27. One third of the dead are children.

 Source:Al Jazeera and agencies

Av K - 15 januari 2009 19:37

Situationen i Gaza:

Fler än 1000 palestinier har hittills dödats och cirka 4 630 människor skadats. 40 procent beräknas vara civila och antalet döda barn har passerat den acceptable siffran 300.  Detta efter en serie israeliska flygräder, markoffensiv och bombningar av Gazaremsan som pågått i tre veckor med start 27 december 2008.   

Islamic Relief är på plats i Gaza för att distribuera mat och medicin samt medicinsk utrustning och har lanserat en brådskande vädjan till insamling av 10 miljoner Euro till Gaza-borna. Ni kan läsa Islamic Reliefs skildringar av det som sker direkt från Gaza i vår medarbetare Hatem Shurrabs dagbok (se vår hemsida). 
 

Omedelbara behoven omfattar mat, produkter inom medicinska engångsartiklar och första hjälpen paket. Islamic Relief koordinerar på plats med bland andra UNRWA.

Vänligen donera till Islamic Reliefs pågående arbete i Gaza idag. Din donation kan rädda liv! 

PG: 11 88 82-0 eller BG: 5753-3101

 
OBS! Märk betalningen ”Gaza” 

Ni kan även donera vi vår säkra internetbetalningstjänst (PayPal) med betalkort. Vänligen markera betalningen ”Gaza” i fältet ”Purpose”. 

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