Author Archive

When you find your missing son getting murdered on Camera


Jehan Alfarra

While tweeting about a friend who lost his entire family yesterday, I saw repeated and persistent tweets sent by a dear friend, Mohammed Alqattawi, to Joe Catron, asking him to respond as a matter of urgency.

Feeling restless and uneasy, I asked Mohammed in a private message what was so urgent and if there was anything I could do, but he only asked for Joe’s number. I gave him the phone number. “We’ve been looking for my cousin from Sheja`yea for 2 days now,” Mohammed messaged me back a few minutes later. “We just watched a video that Joe tweeted of an injured Palestinian shot by an Israeli sniper while searching for his family. It is my cousin.”

Having watched that video earlier in the day, hearing that just took it to a whole new level for me. The nameless, wounded, innocent soul taken so outrageously by an Israeli sniper on camera, in front of the rescue team, and during the hours of a humanitarian ceasefire, belongs to my friend’s cousin. “I clicked on the link to watch the video, and his mom and sister swiftly recognised him by his voice,” Mohammed continued, “and his dad came running and watched his son get shot and say the shehada.”

My body went numb as I read these lines. Already up though the night mourning a friend of mine, now I am mourning another. Salem Shamaly and his family got split while evacuating Shejai`yea neighbourhood in light of Israel’s latest massacre in the area. And ever since the rest of the family made it to Mohammed’s home, him and his uncle have been looking for Salem everywhere. They spent all of yesterday searching Al Shefa hospital and asking around, but to no avail.

Senseless loss, however, is not a strange notion to Gaza and its people. Submerged in grief, Mohammed’s uncle got up to pray and read some Quran, hoping God will grant him some sort of sublime patience he needs in order to calm his wailing daughters. Salem was only 20 years old, the only son to his father and the only brother to his 7 sisters. To the international community in general and the western world in particular, which seems to be overlooking Israeli war crimes and violations of the International Humanitarian Law over and over again, Salem is but another number added to an already overflowing toll of Palestinian deaths. To his friends and family, Salem will always be the precious gem he has always been.


I missed my graduation ceremony, how cool is that?


So on Wednesday night (June, 27), my friend Lina Al Sharif tweeted me a congratulations for graduating on that day. Funny thing is, her tweet was actually how  I found out my graduation ceremony was early on that day. I didn’t know when the ceremony was lol; that’s how messed up my life is at the moment! Oh well, I never planned on going in the first place, but it sill felt weird and funny. Thanks anyway Linz, you’re such a gem :) congrats la all my friends!

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A Reflection…


Anger? Sorrow? Joy? A combination of the three? A combination of the three. They passed, the last couple of months, so slowly like a snail making its way across the dead sea. Yet so swiftly, they passed, like a scorching fire eating up the remnants of a thin-paper made, abandoned journal. There was all the time in the world to write and to pour onto the paper this limitless drift of emotions, yet very little time. Duties, dreams, anger, stress, LIFE – all melted and merged into a darkening chaos that held sway over me.  It was these very things that always pushed me to blog my heart out. This time the high dose of anger, of frustration, and of longing, however, has been paralyzing.

The list of what I wanted to speak of or rant about is swelling already. There is the dreamlike pack of books I received as a gift all the way from the UK from sweet Vicky whom I never even met, there is Diwan Ghazza and so much inspiration and hope, there is the talent show I have been working on, and there is also my unanticipated trip to Malmo, Sweden. Equally, there has been  my unprecedented frustration with the Palestinian leadership and desire to quit twitter and stop reading news for some good time, there has been my laptop busting because of electricity instability, and there of course has been the fuel/electricity crisis that stripped us all in Gaza from any feeling of dignity (an article I wrote on the matter) – 12-18 hours of electricity cuts a day that affected every aspect of our living and one that made the sole intention of our days to try and find electricity/fuel/water, or turn on generators, and pass the time.  Waking up to no water in the toilet because of no electricity, forcing me to go to a restaurant in order to use the damn bathroom, sure was enough to ruin my mood for an entire day. Hearing this person’s story and that person’s story, thinking about newborn babies dying in hospitals, and struggling to get online, to charge my phone, or to use electricity for anything at all has all struck me forcibly. Overwhelmed with joy when it’s on, and weighed down with anger and irritation whenever it’s out or back during sleep hours. Electricity became everything. It became our dream, and also our worst nightmare. I cannot fathom the considerable transformation of our Palestinian cause, the cause of the land, of the refugees, of Jerusalem into a struggle for basic human rights and a dignified, equal life. (more…)


Motor for My Valentine..


*When sorrows [In our case; MASAYEB] come, they come not single spies, but in battalions* Hamlet

My week!
1- Cyber attacks and hackings into internet servers in Gaza caused random cyber blackouts. I received 6 messages so far from the internet company apologizing for the disconnection.
2- My laptop screen stops working because of the weak and unstable electricity generated by our retarded power generator.
3- Fuel is not allowed to get into Gaza, causing an electricity crisis. (considering the 8-hour schedule we had since the siege was imposed on Gaza wasn’t a real crisis -_-“)
4- Valentine’s: The power plant shuts down and the 6 hours per day electricity  schedule starts. Our power generator stops working. I can’t use my laptop even if it was fully charged (battery lasts for 3 hours) because the screen doesn’t work and I need to connect it to a pc monitor temporarily, which requires electricity.
5- Internet crisis continues, so even during the six hours, internet keeps going on and off.
6- No internet in most internet Cafe’s
7- If I want to go to a restaurant to make use of their electricity and do some work I can’t because the laptop screen doesn’t work and I can’t just take a PC monitor with me!
7- We get a new power generator, but the fuel problem is continuing and I don’t know when we’re going to run out and become unable to turn it on.
8- Water bumps occasionally stop because of the electricity crisis.
9- It’s so fucking hard to take a God damn shower!! It is cold and we need to turn on the water heater for at least 30 minutes before any shower, and because it’s a heavy load on the power generator we can’t turn it on unless there is electricity! Now imagine, 6 hours per day that sometimes come when we’re asleep or when we’re out should be made use of for showers not just for me but also the rest of the family!
10- I had to miss #LoveUnderApartheid! :( but am happy it was trending worldwide on twitter!! Listen to Lina’s story :(, to Tayseer and Lana’s, and to Laila’s..
11- INTERNET IS STILL EFFING ME UP, I’ve been trying to upload this damn video I made quickly as soon as we got electricity back on the 14th for 3 days now! But YouTube uploads aren’t resumable..
12- Am forced to delays tons of crap (more…)


Freedom Waves


Palestinian youth join boats set to challenge Israel’s siege of Gaza

  • Irish and Canadian boats in international waters on their way to challenge illegal siege policy
  • Palestinian activists call for end to international complicity in Israel’s crimes
  • Support actions taking place throughout the West Bank and inside Israel
[Ramallah] Two civilian boats, the Canadian Tahrir (Liberation), and the Irish Saoirse (Freedom), carrying 27 people from nine countries (including journalists and crew), are currently in international waters making their way to the beleaguered Gaza Strip to challenge Israel’s ongoing criminal blockade of the territory. A Palestinian youth activist from Haifa has joined this renewed international mission to challenge Israel’s unrelenting stranglehold on Gaza via the sea. The message they carry is one of unity, defiance, and hope, in spite of Israel’s policies that have physically separated Palestinians from each other. The “Freedom Waves to Gaza” organizers chose not to publicize the effort in advance given Israel’s efforts to block and sabotage Freedom Flotilla II last July. The boats, which set sail from Fethiye, Turkey, are expected to arrive in Gaza on Friday afternoon, sailing from international waters straight into Gaza’s territorial waters without entering Israel’s waters. The boats carry symbolic cargo – $30,000 in medicines, along with a diverse group of passengers, all committed to nonviolent defense of the flotilla and Palestinian human rights.
“Israel has caged Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, prohibiting physical contact between us. We want to break the siege Israel has imposed on our people,” said Majd Kayyal, a Palestinian philosophy student from Haifa on board the Tahrir. Kayyal added, “The fact that we’re in international waters is already a victory for the movement. Israel’s siege of Gaza is untenable and it’s a moral responsibility to put an end to this injustice.”
Meanwhile, a statement signed by Palestinian youth urged the international community and the U.N. in particular “to take urgent action to protect this mission as well as to end its compliance with Israel’s criminal blockade of Gaza.” They condemned the U.N. Secretary General’s previous declarations calling for aid to Gaza to go through “legitimate crossings and established channels,” despite the U.N.’s own admission that Israel’s failure to own up to its responsibilities has created an unprecedented crisis of human dignity.
Throughout the week Palestinian activists in the West Bank and inside Israel are organizing solidarity actions with the Freedom Waves mission, including a presence outside the UN compound (Tokyo Street, Ramallah) and rallies across West Bank towns.
This is the 11th attempt to break the siege of Gaza via the sea, with five missions arriving safely in Gaza between August and December 2008 and the remaining violently intercepted by Israel. On May 2010, Israel attacked passengers of the Freedom Flotilla in international waters, killing nine civilians and injuring over 50. Israel’s actions were widely condemned and led to protests around the world. Efforts to bring a second flotilla to Gaza were foiled by the government of Greece last July following pressure by Israel and Western governments, as well as by acts of Israeli sabotage.
Israel has intensified in the past days its aerial bombardments on Gaza, underlining the need for international initiatives of deterrence similar to this one.
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For more information contact:
Note to editors:
For up to the minute information on the Freedom Waves flotilla: http://witnessgaza.com/
Twitter: @PalWaves #FreedomWaves

Conflicting emotions in Gaza over prisoner exchange


By: Jehan Alfarra

The recently announced prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel, and the hunger strike of Gazans acting in solidarity with striking Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, have elicited overlapping and at times contradictory emotions from Gaza’s residents.

Upon hearing the news of the Egyptian and German-brokered swap, Gaza celebrated with chants of joy in rallies throughout the Strip. Afnan, a girl of twenty and a daughter to Palestinian political prisoner Jalal Saqr, received the news with great disbelief. The tears rolled down her face uncontrollably as she spoke about the anticipation of hugging her father for the first time. “I was a baby when they detained my father. I am married and pregnant now and I still haven’t seen him! I cannot wait to hold him!” she added as her eyes doubled up with tears of joy. The news was not any less overwhelming to Fatima, the wife of political prisoner Salama Mesleh, than it was to Afnan. “I dream day and night of having a child. My husband and I lived together for no more than a year before he was taken. The Israeli soldiers broke into our house, searched it and turned it upside down and then took him. He entered his 19th year in prison last week, but I have always known my patience would pay off.”

(more…)


Gaza Think Tank- The PA’s UN Palestinian Statehood Bid


By: Jehan Alfarra

I miss the day when my little Barbie toy and my fluffy and soft teddy bear were all that mattered. They were the things I clung to the most and the things I held on to too tightly when I layed down in my tiny little bed, with its white-painted wooden bars around, to sleep. I would squeeze the fuzzy ball between my tiny fingers and close my eyes, without having to worry about a Palestine and a world of prejudice and misplaced integrity.

Though I am no child no more. My voice matters, and whether I liked writing or not is irrelevant. Writing is a duty first and foremost, and a way to let off some steam second. I have been brought up to two doctors, thus my life have been more privileged than ordinary residents of the Gaza Strip, my father originally Gazan, and my mother a refugee.  I have been raised on the stories of the Nakba (Palestinian Catastrophe/formation of Israel), and how my mother’s family were thrown out of their houses in 1948 for an Israeli family to live there instead. My mother’s grandpa was shot by the Israeli Hagana gangs, and my grandpa was a kid back then. He is still alive and dreams of going back to their small house and their farm.

(more…)


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