First published on the Middle East Monitor with edits
By: Jehan Alfarra
Hassan Alhallaq, the third recipient of the annual Gaza Oxford Brookes Scholarship scheme founded following Operation Cast Lead, is at Al Shifa Hospital fighting for his life after an Israeli airstrike killed his 8 months pregnant wife, his 2 little kids, his mother, and his sister.
Having left his home in Karama due to the intensity of the Israeli bombardment in the area, Hassan took his family to Sheja`eya to stay with relatives. As the Israeli ground troops carried out an intensive operation in Sheja`eya neighboured on July 19 as part of their ground invasion, Hassan had to evacuate once again and headed to his sister’s flat in Rimal, in the centre of Gaza City. Without any prior warning, an Israeli airstrike targeted the Alhalaq family flat on July 20 killing Hassan’s mother, So`ad, his 29-year-old pregnant wife, Samar Yaaqoubi, and his two sons Kenan, 6, and Saji, 4. Hassan’s sister Hala was also killed along with her husband, Hani, and their baby son. Hassan’s father survived the attack, while he sustained serious injuries and was immediately transferred to the ICU at Shifa hospital. (more…)
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.
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…)
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
First published by the IMEU
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.”
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.
1. In your opinion, is Gaza “occupied” by Israel?
2. What do you want Americans to know about the situation in Palestine?
3. What do you want Americans to know about the Arab or Muslim world?
4. Any additional comments
So we did it! Such a beautiful day… A human chain with 250 children of Gaza including the samouni children. Here is the video I made of the event:
“The NO FLY ZONE OVER LIBYA is pure, unadulterated oil stealing hypocrisy posing as ‘humanitarian intervention’. If there were ever anything genuinely humane about Western intervention a NO FLY ZONE OVER PALESTINE would have been implemented decades ago. But the Palestinians have no oil, and they certainly have no air defenses, and so the innocent people of Gaza continue to be bombed with impunity.
How bloody stupid, powerless and hypocritical must we the people have become to allow unhindered bombings of Palestine for decades while doing nothing effective to stop it, meanwhile sitting back to watch a NO FLY ZONE OVER LIBYA be put into place in little more than a week or two?” Ken O’keefe
Photos from Gaza. Mourning the loss of our Brother Vittorio, and protests condemning his murder.
Written By: Jehan Alfarra
Last Friday (April, 8th) was another tribulation in the interminable, life-long list of our tragedies here in Gaza. It wasn’t anything unusual really, but it was still agonizing and I could not help but write something brief about it. This Friday (April, 15th), however, was a tragedy of a different sort. Palestine has lost a jewel. A sparkling, precious jewel and a loved son. All Palestinians have lost a dear brother- Vittorio Arrigoni.
“In my DNA, my blood, there are particles that push me to struggle for freedom and human rights.” Vittorio
It is morning already, and I am finding myself once again unable to sleep. Israeli air force has spent all of yesterday pounding Gaza leaving at least 5 dead and 40 wounded, including a child, a journalist and a medic (as shells hit an ambulance), and the damn drones have been buzzing in my head all night long as usual. I am unable to study for my midterms, being relatively distracted by all of this talk about ‘Scorching Summer Operation’ although I do know for a fact that Israel will not truly go ahead with a full scale offensive like that one of 2008-2009 just yet. Israel does not have the habit of announcing it when it comes to such military operations, so that is a relief for the time being. This is just a psychological operation I believe whose goal is to leave us all mentally and emotionally disturbed, or perhaps a test for New Egypt’s reaction as Israeli shells have in fact landed in Egyptian land last night. Whatever it is for, it is just messing with my concentration level. And feeling all of this pain drilling right through my heart as I watch Israel’s viciousness inflicting suffering on innocent Palestinians is definitely not helping.
As I passed the time on Twitter covering what was going on, I was dismayed yet again at the complete deficiency in mainstream media when it comes to Israel’s patent, unreserved inhumanity and hypocrisy, and all of a sudden remembered a couple of videos I had seen some time ago of IDF soldiers speaking out and revealing the sadistic, callous reality of the Israeli ‘Defense’ Forces and the system as a whole. It is people like these that I consider true human beings. You can just speculate what it would take for one to go against their own society and military and risk speaking in public.
Maybe now people might start to believe us.
Those are refuseniks, and other IDF soldiers speaking out:
450 “patriots with record” refusing to serve in the military anymore
And those are “Breaking the Silence” group<<<<<<< MUST WATCH
By: Jehan Alfarra
My aim is not to narrate what happened on March, 15th; I will leave this to someone else. I will allow myself to be sentimental and emotional. I want to aver my feelings of pain, disgust, disappointment, and anger with this nonsense……. With much anticipation…
Fighting back my tears, I jot down these words.
I remember the day we, Palestinians, were all hand in hand, fighting with every cell of our bodies, with every breath of life, with every memory of death, and with every stone we could lay our hands on. I remember the day we fought tooth and nail to win over an Israeli watch-tower erected on our soil, killing our families and friends, and to climb up and raise a Palestinian flag upon it instead. I remember the day we were (children, men, and women) so proud to say: I am a Palestinian. I am a freedom fighter by birth and will never bow down to tyranny and occupation. I am never giving up one inch of my land, I will never have a rest, and I will always do my utmost best to get back my Palestine… And now, I sit here, too ashamed and too paralyzed, disappointment jamming the air in my lungs, suffocating me as I grasp what Palestinian has come to mean. It has become the trend of the decade. It has become the cursed nationality on my ID card and passport. It has become the Mapkin and the Palestine Papers. It has become international donations and open/closed borders. It has become the tunnels, and the Separation Wall with its graffitis. It has become Gaza or the West Bank. It has become the “three-state solution”. It has become yellow, or green. You detain me, and I detain you. You kill me, and I kill you. And Israel is, well not watching, but enjoying and expanding.
Regarding Attempts to Co-opt March 15th Protests
The mass protests planned by Palestinian youth groups for March 15th are gaining momentum and extended media coverage. We, the youth groups organizing and mobilizing for this movement, find it necessary to clarify the following points:
These protests are being organized under the banner of national unity and reconciliation. However, we emphasize that resolving the predicament of Palestinian disunity must be based on principles and values agreed upon by the Palestinian people regardless of their political affiliation. The first of these principles is the illegitimacy of imprisoning people based on their political beliefs. Consequently, we demand the release of all political prisoners held by the government in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Our demands for change go beyond ending Palestinian disunity and partial tweaks to the status quo. We insist on full democratic representation for Palestinians all over the world. Consequently our movement stipulates:
Democratic Palestinian National Council (PNC) elections based on a one-person one-vote electoral system that guarantees equal representation for all Palestinians around the world (Gaza Strip, West Bank, 48 territories, refugee camps, and in the Diaspora). This necessitates a complete overhaul of the PNC’s structures and the establishment of new electoral procedures.
Attempts to Co-opt March 15th Mass protests
Palestinian political parties, Hamas’ government in Gaza, Fayyad’s government in the West Bank, and a plethora of nongovernmental organizations are seeking to co-opt this movement to serve their narrow interests. Moreover, they are attempting to legitimize themselves by falsely stating that they are the main organizers behind this event. We open-heartedly welcome the participation of party members and NGO employees, who are an essential and inseparable part of our societal fabric. We do not welcome attempts by their leaders to redirect our efforts.
We affirm that the March 15th movement is by the people for the people, and is independent of any political party or institutional backing. It is being organized by non-partisan youth groups who dream of a better future for their people.
We invite all Palestinians, and particularly Palestinian youth, to come down to the street on March 15th. We will only carry Palestinian flags, and chant and sing for freedom, unity, and justice. March 15th shall be the day we stand in unity to demand democratic representation for all Palestinians as an affirmative step in our struggle for Freedom from Israeli Apartheid.
By: Jehan Alfarra
So beautifully they marched, with one voice they shouted “End the division!”. Tomorrow is the day… ‘March, 15’… Feels too far! Why not today! Today? Yes today!
So spontaneously, Palestinian youth of all ages, guys and girls, went out to the streets calling for a Palestinian Unity. We went to Remal, to the unknown soldier square. Some were distributing pamphlets, and others visiting shop keepers telling them to close their shops tomorrow and asking them to join the demonstration.
I observed the police members around us, by the legislative council right across the street. I watched them as we walked and sang! Some smiling, and others going back and forth not knowing what to do. Later, I heard them in mosques encouraging the protest! Helping with the organization, even! I don’t know what to expect… Only tomorrow has the answer…
These are the photos I managed to take with my humble phone camera before the battery died:
By: Jehan Alfarra
ها أنا ذا جالسة أمام شاشة اللاب توب قبيل الفجر كعادتي، ولكن الدموع تملأ عيناي المحمرتين هذه الليلة والقــهر قد وجد طريقه إلى قلبي. لا أعرف كيف لي أن أصف مشاعري في هذه اللحظة، فلا أشعر بشيء إلا بكتــل من القـــهر ممزوجة بغضــب وحـــزن وألـــم وكبـريــاء تغلب على نفسي فأرهقها. كتبــي وأوراقي مبعثرة على السرير من حولي ومحاولاتي الجاهدة بأن أنهي فروضي الجامعية اللا منتهية قد باءت بالفشل جميعها. رغم قدم هذا المقطـع إلا أنه لا يكف عن إشعــال نــار في داخلي لا أعرف سبيلاً لإخمادها. أستطيع أن ألمس تلك الحرقة في عينيها، في كلماتها التي أحرقت قلبي. أشعر برغبة جامحة لأن أصرخ بأعلى صوتي كفى! لطالما كان اندفاعي بالتوجه إلى الغرب في مناصرتي لقضيتي، فكما يقولون درء المفاسد أولى من جلب المصالح، ولطالما كان كشف الحقيقة للكثيرين ممن غفلوا عنها من أول أولوياتي، إلا أنني أشعر بضرورة التوجه إلى شعبي الذي وقع في فخ نصبه عدو خبيث وإلى أمتي التي طال نومها. ما بالنا منشغلين عن كبريائنا وحريتنا وتقدمنا واستقلاليتنا؟؟؟؟
ذهبت لمشاهدة مسرحية أمريكية البارحة مع زميلاتي في قسم الآداب كمشروع للجامعة. كانت المسرحية تعرض سباق الفضاء بين الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد السوفييتي. يعملون وينجزون. وأين العقول العربية من هذا كله؟ جالسة بين صفوف الجماهير لمشاهدة المسرحية تصفق عند انتهائها. أين كنا وأين صرنا؟ لم نعد نهتم إلا بالمغاني والمطاعم. حمداً لله بأن فئات من الأمة أفاقت من سباتها و بلشت بالثورة. ولكن ماذا بعد ذلك؟ هل سنعود يوما أمة واحدة؟ هل سنستطيع تخطي الحدود الجغرافية بيننا والتي حدت تفكيرنا وحبنا و وحدتنا وإيماننا؟ متى سيثور المصري لأخيه الفلسطيني؟ والسعودي لأخيه العراقي؟ والقطري لأخيه الأفغاني؟ ألسنا كلنا واحد؟ تمزقت الأمة وتمزقت الشعوب.
لقد أفاق شبابنا الفلسطيني للشرخ الذي أزهق دمه رخيصاً وهو مستعد الآن لفعل أي شيء لإنهاء هذا الوضع المشين، وأنا أتطلع أكثر من أي وقت مضى ل15 مارس، لالتئام جرح طال وطالت آهاته… فهل سنستطيع فعلاً العودة ليوم كنا به يداً واحدة ضد عدو واحد نقاتل ببسالة ونقدم الغالي والرخيص لفلسطيننا ولكرامتنا؟؟؟ غزة جزء من فلسطين، ولكني لا أشعر بفلسطين… إخوتي وأخواتي في رام الله وجنبن ونابلس وطولكرم، أمهاتي وآبائي في حيفا ويافا والناصرة وصفد وبئر السبع، متى ىسأشعر بأننا كلنا واحد؟؟؟؟
أحبك يا فلسطين… أحبك جداً
ها هو المقطع
Friday, March 4 · 10:00am – 1:00pm
Egypt to Gaza, Palestine
Egyptians still feel the shame of the Mubarak era Egyptian blockade of Gaza and have declared their intent to see that blockade shattered once and for all. The main groups that lead the Egyptian revolution are involved in this march and together we intend to erect a Tahrir Square style campsite next to Rafah Crossing until the blockade is over. Together we intend to make this happen sooner rather than later.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIRECTOR FOR GAZA – KEN O’KEEFE
PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIRECTOR FOR EGYPT – AHMED R. ELASSY
CHERYL ABDUL/ FINANCIAL SERVICES COORDINATOR
TRANSPORTATION ISSUES IN EGYPT
To join the March to Gaza click here
By: Jehan Alfarra
Yeah, am not exactly the poet kind of person, but I try lol. HAPPY VALENTINE ! ^_^
My first semester at IUG, the Islamic University of Gaza, was quite intense; different life style, freshman zeal, new faces, new troubles, architecture major, and most significantly >> war. My first final exam – Applied Physics – was scheduled to be on the 27th of December. As usual, I was hardly prepared and I was actually wishing they’d postpone it!
Yeah, I ended up regretting that one.
By: Jehan Alfarra
This took me like 10 years back in time. Although I don’t recall such celebrations at my school back then, I could still SO see myself in those children.
I wanna do it again!
On December, 16, 2010, all UNRWA schools in Gaza had an open day in celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And as a YES alumnus in Gaza, along with two more YES almuni, I took up the responsibility of preparing and organizing one of those celebrations at a UN school. Organizing the entire event, from training the children to cutting the papers and making the crowns, all in a matter of 2 days was a real challenge for us. It was EXHAUSTING, but the enjoyment and excitement was immense 🙂
It astounds me how children are almost the same everywhere in the world. You get the bully, the popular, the shy, the dumb, the bright, the nerdy, the nice, and the mean. They are all innocent in their own way.
I really love children!! Aren’t they just the cutest, most adorable things?
Their enthusiasm, their smiles and laughs, their reaction and responses to the puppet show, which was by the way the first puppet show I’d ever done, and the mysterious innocent sparkles in their eyes filled my heart with unutterable delight.
By: Jehan Alfarra
Muslims in general, and Muslim Palestinian women in particular, have been framed throughout the years by Western writers, and depicted in a way that is almost entirely divergent from reality. Barbara Victor is an example of such writers who trace one particular subject with absolute bias, while claiming objectivity. Choosing “Palestinian Women suicide Bombers” as her main focus, Victor introduces one of the trashiest and most disgusting books ever.
Barbara Victor’s “Army of Roses”, first published in 2003, claims to have thoroughly explored the psychology of “Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers” and their motivations which, according to Victor and her Zionist-reliant sources, have almost nothing to do with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but rather the submission to:
a) A male-dominated society, where women are nothing but inferior articles
and b) a religion based on martyrdom, which she states to be “the first pillar of Islam”! (Yes, a grave error; just like the countless factual errors permeating this book)