Tag Archives: Gaza
Gaza’s Ark is more than a project; it is the building of hope for Palestinian artisans, traders and exporters through peaceful action against the blockade of the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip (Gaza’s Ark before the attack)
For the last two years, with financial and logistical support from friends around the world, Palestinian workers had been transforming a 25 metre long fishing boat into a cargo boat to sail out of Palestine from the port of Gaza, carrying Palestinian products and passengers in defiance of the Israeli blockade. The project endured many difficult challenges and obstructions that delayed its planned sailing. The boat was nearly ready to sail in the spring of 2014, until an explosion was detonated on the boat at 3.45am on April 29th. Extensive damage was caused. (Gaza’s Ark after it was attacked on 29 April 2014)
Gaza Ark’s organizers remained determined after this attack and continued to work on the project, repairing the damage and setting a new sailing timeline for this September. The boat was on track for her September sailing when the Israeli offensive began in early July, which killed more than two thousand people, injured thousands more and caused massive destruction across the Gaza Strip, with damage to homes, factories, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure.
On 10 July, Gaza was on fire. I remember that night as though it was yesterday. The sounds of F16 attacks surrounded us, and the radio reported that the Israeli navy was firing on the seaport. At about 2am Gaza’s Ark was hit by a missile and was quickly engulfed in flames. The bombardment was so severe that the Civil Defense firefighting crews were unable to enter the seaport. The Ark was burned to a skeleton.
“The Gaza’s Ark was attacked in the midst of the Israeli offensive to ensure that news of its destruction was lost in the larger story of the war in the western media. Publicity of the attack would have proved to the international community that Israel will do whatever they can to prevent exports from Gaza and to stop Palestinians from developing their economy. Ultimately, that’s the main reason for the siege. Current exports are only 3% of the 2006 amounts. When you consider the siege you think about how hard it is to import materials and goods, but in fact the blockade on exports is far more harmful to the economy.
“Even after a year here it is hard to really experience the Palestinian struggle and suffering, because I know in my head that I can always go back home. I have another life that I can one day return to, but for Palestinians this is the world’s biggest open air prison. They can’t leave. People have been trying to escape, paying money to be smuggled to Europe on death boats. People wonder why they would risk their lives, and their children’s lives, but its proof that the situation here is hopeless. There is no future, just death and destruction all around. The world turns its back on what is happening here, as Israel continues its violence in violation of international law and basic human rights.”Charlie Andreasson Charlie Andreasson, activist with Ship to Gaza – Sweden and volunteer worker and Quality Control Manager on Gaza’s Ark 2013-2014.
The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated regions in the world with over 4,500 people per square kilometer. It has been in a dire economic crisis due to the brutal Israeli blockade since June 2007. The blockade is collective punishment – a violation of international humanitarian law against the 1,800,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It has severely limited the export industry of Gaza and has caused an ongoing humanitarian crisis for residents.
After the military attacks ended last month, I visited one of our producers, the Palestine Association for Development and Heritage Protection (PADHP). Its director, Anwar Abu Maliha, told me:
"The war has affected our work badly and all our programs were stopped. Israel intended to destroy Palestinian institutional structures and the infrastructure of Gaza, and to bury the heritage of Palestine by bombing many ancient buildings and archaeological sites, such as the old mosque in Gaza City. We are committed to continuing projects that help Palestinian associations, which work to maintain our Palestinian heritage and crafts. Israel needs Gaza to be blockaded – they will never open our borders. It’s fundamental to the occupation. They work hard every day to efface our traditional dress, our culture, our heritage, our history and our handicrafts. I remember in the 1970s, the Israelis gathered all the looms in Palestine and burned them, and they stole our traditional dresses and embroidery.”
I also talked to Samera Qarmot, who provides for her extended family with her income from her job at the PADHP. I asked her about the war;
"The first day when they started bombing we were inside the association. We heard three F16 explosions nearby and they hit a house in Beit Lahia with two artillery shells. One hit the yard outside and the other one hit the children’s activities room but it didn’t explode. We got out of the building, feeling that what happened in 2008 and 2012 was happening again.”
Later I visited Mahmoud Al Sawaf in Al Shujiya. He owns the El Sawaf Carpet factory which has operated in the Gaza Strip for over a century. On all of the previous occasions that I have met with him he has always been an optimistic man, full of hope. But this time he was full of sadness after the destruction of his home in the attacks. Five floors of his apartment building were bombed, making 30 people homeless and destroying a storeroom full of thread, materials and looms valued at approximately $75,000. As I walked to visit him, I saw that all the adjacent houses were also destroyed.
Al Sawaf said:
" It’s not just a war, it’s an earthquake. They wanted to devastate Gaza as much as they could by destroying building, factories, mosques, hospitals and even the schools. Winter is coming and we urgently need to rebuild houses. Most of the materials that are now buried under the rubble were supplies that I had saved since before the blockade began and the export market collapsed. We hoped that the borders would open again and we could once again produce our work and export it out of Gaza. Then the war came and destroyed those last hopes. To Gaza’s Ark I say that we appreciate your work and are sorry for your loss. Somehow you helped Palestinian producers to take a breath when the Israelis blocked even the air. You helped let us dream of freedom and open borders.”
Watch Al Sawaf's statement here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCt1rroDnxk
“Will we ever have a chance to break the siege?? For the last two years I dreamed of that moment when I would watch Gaza’s Ark sail from our port with Palestinian products, internationals and Palestinians onboard, sailing out from Gaza for the first time in decades. Gaza’s sea port is one of the oldest ports in the world, yet it has been blockaded as a transport route since 1976. Israel destroyed Gaza’s Ark, but it can never destroy the hope that we carry inside ourselves.”
Awni Farhat, Products Coordinator – Gaza’s Ark
With your help in the past , now and in the coming months, Gaza's Ark will sail in 2013. Please consider a donation and encourage others to as well, and watch for an upcoming confirmation of our purchase of our boat in the port of Gaza.
Former Canadian MP and retired United Church Minister Jim Manly speaks to the media at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Wednesday. (Matthew Sherwood for National Post)
More broadly, independent expert reports have confirmed that the Palestinians in Gaza are facing a multifaceted crisis in food, water, health and economy. See, for instance, the report by five specialized UN rapporteurs posted here.
Israel makes sure that people in Gaza do not starve; this is true. But it is done in a calculated manner to keep the Palestinians in Gaza controlled and subservient. As the Estelle was crossing the Mediterranean, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the Israeli Government to release the “Red Line” report, which confirms what we’ve been saying all along: What Israel sends Gaza is far below the needs of the population, and that is done intentionally. Israel makes sure not to starve the people of Gaza, for optical reasons. But it keeps them weak and dependant, so they cannot build.
Airport officials said decision was applied for the first time when seven Palestinians waiting at Cairo International Airport were allowed into Egypt without the usual security clearances and visas.
By The Associated Press | Jul.23, 2012 | 5:36 AM
Airport officials say Egypt is allowing Palestinians free entry into the country, ending part of a five-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The decision means Palestinians can freely leave Gaza. It also applies to Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Gaza is ruled by Hamas, a branch of new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. The blockade was imposed after Hamas took control of Gaza by force in 2007. It banned most Palestinians from leaving.
The officials said the decision was applied early Monday for the first time, when seven Palestinians waiting at Cairo International Airport were allowed into Egypt without the usual security clearances and visas. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
No formal announcement was made.
Posted on July 19, 2012
This week we are asking Israelis to devote two minutes of their day to a worthy cause. We know that many others are also asking for two minutes for a multitude of worthy causes, but trust us, these will be two minutes well spent. Each day we are asking people to send a letter to a different individual who can play a role in allowing sale of goods from Gaza in the West Bank. Why?
Let’s start at the beginning
BY CHARLOTTE KATES
JULY 19, 2012
On our second day in Gaza, we spent the day with the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), an independent, grassroots Palestinian organization that operates in both Gaza and the West Bank, organizing Palestinian farmers and engaging in programs to support Palestinian farmers’ and agricultural workers’ steadfastness, independence and resistance to occupation. Palestinian agricultural workers are on the front lines in confronting occupation – their existence and continued presence on their land is a deep and abiding resistance.
In Israel, it is helpful to remind residents who are too busy to think of a beach trip, or who might even fail to notice the burning heat as they move from air-conditioned homes, to cars, to workplaces.
But just across the land, sometimes only a couple of minutes drive away, the situation is completely different.
Kamel Amr meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the presidential
I recognize the value of aid brought into Gaza and with all my heart appreciate the immense efforts undergone by all sincere conveyers and Palestinian solidarity figures to help the Gazan population. But right as Ken O’Keefe put it ” Bringing Aid… All that does is deal with the results of the problem, it does not deal with the root of the problem… We need to establish trade; once we establish trade, we can get raw materials in, the factories can be rebuilt, people can go back to work, the economy can be developed, Palestinians will have no need for aid! None.”
And that is precisely what I think more energy should be put into, and which I am most concerned with. Trade.
Gaza is more than capable of managing its own business once given the chance (freedom and self-control, that is), and Gazans are more than capable of establishing an efficient economy had the constraints imposed on them and the zionist chains restricting their movement and thought been lifted, and Israel has to stopp its policy of ‘keeping Gaza’s economy on the brink of collapse’. The siege of Gaza has not only prevented trade and prevented an adequate amount of decent goods from entering as well as leaving Gaza, but it has also immeasurably damaged Gaza’s various local professions.
Think of the IT industry in Gaza. In point of fact, Gaza is as advanced in Information Technology as a place could ever be- not in production due to obvious reasons, but in thought and study, maintenance, software, programming, and networking. Had Gazans been ‘permitted’, and I say the word not lightly at all, a better physical connection with the outside world, investments in this field can do so much. There are innumerable IT centers in Gaza concerned for the most part with advanced IT training, local and web networking, and web-design, i.e. things which the siege cannot solidly have a much negative effect on. Yet, power cuts still make even these locally handled matters fairly difficult. Border closures and the obstruction of trade led Palestinians in Gaza to turn to insecure means to bring into the strip as much of advanced technology as possible- a marked example is the tunnels- and also hindered, and blocked if you may, any viable advancement in production in this field. This suffocating strategy forces some IT experts in Gaza to get the hell out to be able to invest in themselves.
Gaza holds an EXPOTECH every year- it is not an EXPOTECH as you would think it should be, but hey at least Gaza tries with all its capacities and capabilities. The video is available here.
Put major matters aside. Think of something as simple as an advertising center. It may not be something so significant in a place like Gaza, you may say; however, the troubles undergone to produce a poster, a logoed t-shirt, a doctor’s stamp, a calendar, a file holder, a street sign, or a banner are ridiculous. The continuous power cuts which affect the computer-dependent design work, the lack of sufficient printing machines , and the lack of the desired, decent material are troubles that managers of advertising centers can’t get off their heads. So innocently I told the manager of an advertising center once, ‘well, you should manufacture your own machines’. His bitter laugh, later joined by mine, said all that can be said in response to me. If we have troubles producing a poster for the lack of material, how are we supposed to produce a machine! Haha… Yeah… Factories are something unusual in Gaza as it is almost next to impossible to have all the necessary components of bringing a certain product into being, and when you find factories, you would find that the entire manufacturing process depends on 3 or 4 machines which they have managed in some extraordinary manner to get into the strip. Not only that, but in owning a factory, you risk being an easy, potential target of an Israeli jet. Israel loves bombing factories under the claim that they are weapon caches (An example to this can be found in my first-hand account of the bombing of the tile factory next to my house during the 2008 offensive).
For my video on the difficulties advertising houses undergo, click here [not linked in original].
Think of entertainment as well! Music, playgrounds, amusement parks that were bombarded… etc
And the list goes on…
ECONOMY, people! ECONOMY…..