Saturday, June 16, 2007

Why Gaza is hungry, scared and isolated

floThe conversation at the lunch table with Isa and May, Elias and Rana was just about two things, immigrating and what the most vital shopping items are for their homes.

“People are thinking of how to spend the summer vacation we are thinking of how to stockpile food,” said Rana Al Najjar, one of my hosts as we made a trip to the shop to buy what food was still available.

News has spread through Gaza that in light of the economic embargo on the Gaza Strip we will run out of gasoline by tomorrow. This means electricity will also cut as the main power station in Gaza is run on petrol.

Our first stop was a natural gas shop where we drop off our oven’s gas bottles and were told to pick them up filled in the evening.

Next was a wholesale sugar store. Prices of sugar, flour and basic foods are going up as people are buying in a frenzy, afraid of shortages in coming days.

Our last stop was the grocers, where swarms of people were shopping in order to stock up for a very uncertain future.

My visit at the hospital this morning was difficult. On Friday Ghada’s brother was shot in his right leg twice, one bullet remained in his leg. When he first arrived at the hospital they had placed him on a wooden board waiting for space to be freed for him. His operation lasted many hours and ended with 33 stitches in his leg.

Ghada told me that he had screamed a lot the night before. When I saw him he was still writhing in pain. Sa’ed is 22 and had just working for the Fatah secret police two months ago. He is unmarried and jumped at this opportunity to take a job in order to prepare for his future. The events of the past days were not what he had reckoned for and whatever grudges Hamas held against the security apparatus he was not one with blood on his hands.

What I witnessed at the hospital was horrible and that was without even entering one single hospital room. Sa’ed was in a bed in the hallway, since they had run out of rooms and at one point even out of beds. Looking from the hospital window I saw at least three other young men being moved around on beds or wheelchairs with just their right leg bandaged. Being shot in the legs, a common occurrence in the past days of fighting is a horrible form of torture.

Mahmoud Abbas has declined a meeting with Hamas’ Khaled Mishal citing he would not meet with “murderers.” Furthermore, an internationally backed and recognized emergency government is to be sworn in later this evening, after the president has officially dissolved the democratically elected, Hamas dominated unity government.

I want to point out at this point that I called the events of the last few days a “coup” in accordance with what many in Gaza are naming it. In hindsight I consider Hamas to have a legitimate political right to the military takeover that occurred. Yet, this is not to say that this occurrence bodes well for the people, rather there is a fear of this turning into a social and humanitarian crisis.

The source of this fear of what the future holds is two-fold.

The at times double-faced statements of the Hamas leadership (in Sa'ed's case Hamas announced they did not harm any Fatah security force members that handed themselves over, Sa'ed did and was shot at by a sniper, then tortured and shot in the legs), a priority of their own people over the general public and their seeming lack of realpolitik, revealed in the few signs of a strategy or plan for the future by the Hamas leadership (after routing Fatah security forces and political leadership in Gaza and taking over their headquarters, Hamas declared they recognize Abu Mazen as president and do not consider Gaza a separate Palestinian entity). The consequences of this are felt by the people, not those in power.

Yet, my fear is rooted even deeper in the actions of the “International Community” (largely a pseudonym for the USA) who has refused to recognize a democratically elected Palestinian government in an election that was enforced on the Palestinians in accordance with an American Foreign Policy drive for “Democracy in the Middle East.” Moreover this “International Community” collectively punishes Palestinians for their “democratic” vote which the world’s sole superpower is not in favor of.

Because of a hypocritical promise of "freedom" through “democratic reform,” Sa’ed is suffering in an open air hospital bed in Gaza City, Rana, Elias, Isa and May are scrounging to stockpile food for an uncertain future and the entire Gaza Strip is punished on behalf of the duplicitous ideology and wishful thinking of a few rich white men.


Anonymous said...

Tabulgaza - You write with passion and compassion. Thanks for your eyewitness views of the current events going on in Gaza. For those of us wishing to see things through the perspective of the people and not the media, your blog supplies us a view from the "other side."

I love Munich said...

Congratulations to a really GREAT blog!!
Having been an activist and during that time as well some five times to Gaza, I can well relate to a whole number of things you mention! Back then it was BAD ... but today it is a fullblown nightmare! I have very good friends in Gaza City ... and no contact to them already since some years - I assume there's no money for the telephone bill! I worry a lot ... and pray they are all alright!

WATCH YOURSELF ... HANG IN THERE - and keep up the GREAT job!!!

dawn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sara without an 'h' said...

thank you for sharing the stories of real people. i am continually grateful for your eye-witness accounts of how the two-minute news stories are actually impacting the long-suffering people of gaza.

Bryce B said...

This is a great account of a very distressing time. I and other MESP'ers have not forgotten about you and the heroic job you do to cover this depressing part of the world. Thanks for the reliable unadulterated news. We will continue to pray for your safety and peace and alleviation for those suffering in Gaza.

Anonymous said...

I am very glad to hear your perspective on the horrific situation facing the Palestinian people. While the position of the US and International Community as a whole is certainly not coherent, let's please not pretend that the US policy is the reason these people are suffering. The US did not create this problem, and while it may be inept at dealing with it, it doesn't do those who are suffering any good to pretend that it's Bush's fault. These people are suffering because of an intractable centuries-long religious and political conflict which is locked in a circle of violence and because of conflicting promises of statehood made at the end of the second world war, not because of the duplicitous ideology of a few white men.

Anonymous said...

A few rich white men are running around in Gaza throwing poor innocents off roofs and kneecapping them? Or they are paying Hamas gunmen as mercenaries to do it for them?

Anonymous said...

Palestinian children are raised from the cradle and schooled by the Palestinian state to want to kill and die violently. What happens now is "reaping what is sowed".

Julie said...

Anonymous 4:58, 9:06, 9:12

The CURRENT situation is a direct result of US intervention, choosing sides so t speak, and the refusal to recognize a democratically elected government that they didn't like.

Instead of being little parrots, think. Think what Palestine might have been had te US not cut off the bankig system and every means of trade for the people. What would the United States be like if you couldn't go to the bank and cash a check, or better yet if you couldn't even get paid, if all the imported goods from China and elsewhere around the world were stopped, if you couldn't buy fruit out of season because it rotted at the borders?

Who do you think was responsible for this situation, the Palestinians?

What if the rest of the world decided they thought Bush was dangerous and cut the US completely off from trade, oil, food, clothing, money, etc.?

Now they want to release their embargo on the West Bank....but not Gaza. Do you think that helps the people or do you think they are counting on the people to revolt against Hamas when they get so desperate there's nothing else that can be done in order to live. When they are finished, Abbas will have sold out the Palestinians and there will be two Palestinian enclaves, minus Jerusalem, just like Israel wants. The US recently passed a resolution declaring Jerusalem the Isreali capital. Do they sound like honest brokers for peace and a just solution? They are the only country in the world to have done this.

This is oppression, tyranny, an overthrow of a democratically elected govrenment engineered by the US, and no different than what we did in Nicaragua and El Salvador in the 80's, using the tactics used in the Warsaw Ghetto by the Nazis.

Read about it. It was a prison. Trade was cutoff, money was cutoff, but they didn't count on the will of the PEOPLE to overcome the oppressors, which of course led to a slaughter.

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Thanks for letting us know how Gaza is today. Good to know there os peace. It speaks volumes to those with the independant brains to listen.