Overcoming isolation in Gaza: A report back

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Gaza City. (photo: Brant Rosen)

Even under the brutality of Israel’s blockade, we could not help but be struck by the beauty of this place and the dignity of its people.

By Brant Rosen / AFSC Acting in Faith / Oct 18, 2017


I heard one young woman speak of entering into Israel through the Erez Crossing for the first time to travel to the West Bank for meetings. . . . She was eighteen years old and had never seen an Israeli Jew in person in her life. Up until that time, she said, she had only seen them as “helicopters, planes and bombs.”


I’ve written a great deal about Gaza for over ten years but until this past week, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit in person. I’m enormously grateful for the opportunity to experience Gaza as a real living, breathing community and I’m returning home all the more committed to the movement to free Gaza from Israel’s crushing blockade — now eleven years underway with no end in sight. . . .

It’s extremely rare for Americans to receive permission from Israel to enter Gaza through the Erez Crossing. Permits are generally issued only for journalists and staff people of registered international NGOs. Though I was technically allowed to enter Gaza as an AFSC staff member, I wasn’t 100% sure it would really happen until the moment I was actually waved through the crossing by the solider at Passport Control in Erez.

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“1984” in Israel and Palestine

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Nablus, 1990. (photo: Alex Levac)

We must get the Israeli public to recognize this basic human truth: Occupation by a foreign government cannot be a substitute for sovereignty, just as slavery isn’t freedom, war isn’t peace and ignorance isn’t strength.

By Dmitry Shumsky / Haaretz / July 13, 2017


A Palestinian state that faithfully reflects the national yearnings of all parts of the Palestinian people, which deserves national freedom like any other people  . . . will only come about with the end of the Israeli occupation and liquidation of the lion’s share of the settlement enterprise.


In one of the most trenchant articles ever written here against the occupation, Prof. Shlomo Avineri wrote that any denials of the fundamental fact that Palestinian residents of the territories — who have been under Israel’s direct or indirect control since 1967 — are under Israeli occupation “recall George Orwell’s book ‘1984,’ in which the government declares that slavery is freedom, war is peace and ignorance is strength” (Haaretz Hebrew Edition, March 17).

A recent op-ed by former Defense Minister Moshe Arens (“Gaza, a failed Palestinian state,” June 26), which claimed that the Gaza Strip is a “sovereign Palestinian state,” is clear confirmation of Avineri’s diagnosis.

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Feeding Malnourished Children in Gaza

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Abdullah and his family at Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. (photo: ABM)

The Australian Anglican Board of Mission is supporting treatment of children with malnourishment and anemia.

By Anglican Communion News Service
May 16, 2017


“All families are grateful for the program. Many mothers were shy when speaking to me, but their concern or happiness comes across in their facial expressions and gestures. One mother, Tahreer, said her two year old boy had improved a little after completing the program. She would like him to go for a second round of treatment so that he could continue to improve.”
— Dr, Julianne Stewart, ABM Programs Director


Since the 2014 bomb attacks, Australian Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) partner, the Al Ahli Arab Hospital (a medical facility of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem), has continued to help children restore and maintain their health. Parents and children are benefiting from this assistance in Beit Hanoun, a poor area of Gaza, near the Israeli border. People there were very hard hit in the 2014 bomb attacks.

The Child Nutrition Program seeks to build health profiles for children and help families that are struggling to cope. Over the course of three months, children are given a medical assessment by an expert pediatrician and a program of nutritional supplements is developed. The hospital provides the necessary supplements and monitors the children for signs of improvement. Dr. Julianne Stewart, ABM’s Programs Director, visited the Gaza Strip last year and met with some of the families that have been supported by the hospital.

On her journey, Julianne met with three year old Abdullah. Abdullah completed the program and is doing well according to the social workers and his mother. His mother Hyat is just 34 years old and has nine children under 18. Abdullah is the youngest. Hyat said, “Abdullah is doing well. I thank God he has improved. We give him his vitamins, enhanced milk, and food parcels from the Ahli. He is 12kg now.”

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Archbishop of Canterbury Visits Israel and Palestine

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Archbishop Justin Welby described his short visit to Gaza, the densely populated and impoverished Palestinian territory, as “extraordinary.” (photo: Ariel Schalit / AP)

Justin Welby’s sermon in Jerusalem talks of anger and fear in “probably the world’s most complicated region of conflicts.”

By Harriet Sherwood / The Guardian
May 7, 2017


Gaza was “genuinely breathtaking, something I’ll never forget,” Welby told the Sunday programme on BBC Radio 4. Aides said he had been struck by the physical devastation of the region, the “collective trauma” of its people and their anxiety about the future. He was also inspired by the resilience of those he met, including medics who have committed to staying in the Strip.


The archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of the suffering and persecution of Christians and others in the Middle East, saying he has heard voices of anger, fear and insecurity while on a 12-day trip to the Holy Land.

Justin Welby was preaching to a packed congregation at St George’s Anglican cathedral in Jerusalem on Sunday morning before being installed as an episcopal canon later in the day.

In his 10-minute sermon, he said Christians in the region had belonged to a “suffering church for centuries. Sometimes life has been better, sometimes it is less bad. But the nature of suffering is that when it is happening it is all-consuming.”

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Tennis Balls and Whittled Bats

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Palestinian women take part in a baseball training session in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. (photo: Mohammed Salem / Reuters)

Palestine starts a baseball federation with scrounged equipment.

By Marissa Payne / The Washington Post
March 21, 2017


“I used to watch baseball at home while I was a child. I love it because it’s full of freedom and the only thing the player needs to do is run. Girls come and practice and the numbers are increasing. There are lots of girls who’d like to sign up despite their lack of knowledge of the sport.”
— Iman Al-Moghayer


There are no baseballs. The bats aren’t regulation. They don’t even have a baseball diamond, but that hasn’t stopped a group of Palestinian athletes from launching the territory’s first federation of baseball and softball.

“The federation seeks to make baseball well known to Palestinians, help male and female amateurs to become professional baseball players and train local coaches and referees,” the team’s coach, Mahmoud Tafesh, told Al-Monitor earlier this month.

The federation, headquartered in the Gaza Strip, was established in late January. By the following month, the territory had fielded its first team, composed of 20 men and 20 women. The women are the most keen, according to Tafesh, who recruited several members from a specialized sports education college in Gaza.

“We targeted this group because they had permission from their families to play sport as sports students,” Tafesh told the Associated Press. “Through them, we started to spread, attracting girls from other fields such as journalism and accountants.”

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