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Archive for the ‘Gaza Strip’ Category

How Humanity Failed Gaza – I

Posted by terres on December 28, 2009

Many children stay awake at night for fear of Israeli soldiers returning

Majority of children suffering psychological trauma one year after Gaza conflict

Source: Save the Children Alliance

Date: 27 Dec 2009

The majority of children in Gaza are suffering from anxiety, depression or behavioural problems as result of their experiences of conflict and living through a deepening humanitarian crisis, warns Save the Children.


One year on from Israel’s three-week military offensive in Gaza, leading psychologists working with the children’s charity report that many Palestinian children in Gaza are suffering sustained psychological damage as their experiences of violence and loss during the conflict are compounded by the hardships of life under the blockade.

Osama Damo, aid worker for Save the Children in Gaza, said: “This is a traumatised nation. Many children we work with are not able to sleep at night for fear of soldiers returning. Others cry at the sound of loud noises, mistaking them for military jets and tanks coming to bomb their homes. Young children in Gaza are surviving under extreme levels of stress, which will pose long-term dangers not only for their mental health, but for the future of the region.”

Save the Children warns that until Israel’s tight restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza are lifted and the threat of further conflict eased, the mental health of the 780,000 children living in Gaza could continue to deteriorate.

Osama Damo continued: ‘The psychological crisis facing children in Gaza just keeps getting worse. Thousands of children are still living in half-destroyed homes or in over-crowded conditions with host families. Hundreds still live in tents where they risk being attacked by packs of wild dogs and don’t have proper protection against the cold and rain.”

Research currently being conducted by the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme suggests that the majority of children in Gaza are showing signs of anxiety, depression and behavioural problems, including aggression and bed-wetting.

Dr Ahmed Abu Tawanheena, Director of Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, has worked with victims of trauma in Gaza for 20 years. He said:

“The safety and comfort children rely on their parents for has been destroyed twice in one year: first, during the conflict, when they saw their parents terrified and unable to protect them from the violence. Now, under the blockade, they see their parents are still unable to provide for their basic needs, such as shelter or food. Many children report feeling abandoned by their parents and by the outside world, and parents are left struggling with feelings of guilt. It’s a crisis which is threatening families and communities across the Gaza Strip.”

Osama Damo said: “Save the Children’s priority is to try and restore a sense of well-being and normality for children in Gaza. We are helping them take baby steps towards regaining their childhood, but there’s a huge job in front of us. If things are really to change for children here, there has to be an immediate lifting of the blockade to allow children to recover, and Israeli, Palestinian and international governments have to act urgently to make this happen.”

As part of its emergency response to the conflict, Save the Children provided psychological support to children in Gaza, creating ‘safe places’ where they could play, draw and express themselves. Save the Children has been working in Gaza since 1973, where we are currently running health, child protection and education projects.

For more information and interviews with Osama Damo in Gaza, Save the Children Gaza experts in London or with Dr Ahmed Abu Tawanheena, Director of Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, please contact Save the Children’s media unit on +44 7831 650 409.

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Posted in children in Gaza, gaza kids, Gaza Strip, Israeli occupation, OPT | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

NO Water for Palestinians

Posted by terres on October 27, 2009

Israel’s Final Act of Genocide

The following report was released by Amnesty International on October 27, 2009

Israel rations Palestinians to trickle of water

Amnesty International has accused Israel of denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over the shared water resources and pursuing discriminatory policies.

daily water occupied West Bank

Daily consumption of water per person in the occupied West Bank. Image created by RTSF based on AI data.

These unreasonably restrict the availability of water in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and prevent the Palestinians developing an effective water infrastructure there.

“Israel allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the occupied West Bank, while the unlawful Israeli settlements there receive virtually unlimited supplies. In Gaza the Israeli blockade has made an already dire situation worse,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s researcher on Israel and the OPT.

In a new extensive report, Amnesty International revealed the extent to which Israel’s discriminatory water policies and practices are denying Palestinians their right to access to water.

Israel uses more than 80 per cent of the water from the Mountain Aquifer, the main source of underground water in Israel and the OPT, while restricting Palestinian access to a mere 20 per cent.

The Mountain Aquifer is the only source for water for Palestinians in the West Bank, but only one of several for Israel, which also takes for itself all the water available from the Jordan River.

While Palestinian daily water consumption barely reaches 70 litres a day per person, Israeli daily consumption is more than 300 litres per day, four times as much.

In some rural communities Palestinians survive on barely 20 litres per day, the minimum amount recommended for domestic use in emergency situations.

Some 180,000-200,000 Palestinians living in rural communities have no access to running water and the Israeli army often prevents them from even collecting rainwater.

In contrast, Israeli settlers, who live in the West Bank in violation of international law, have intensive-irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools.

Numbering about 450,000, the settlers use as much or more water than the Palestinian population of some 2.3 million.

“TARGET PRACTICE” – SOLDIERS SHOOTING AT WATER TANKS

A feature which distinguishes the roofs of homes in Palestinian towns and villages from the
Israeli settlements in the OPT are the rainwater collection tanks. Virtually every Palestinian
house has at least one such tank and most have several. The reason is the perennial water
shortage which the Palestinians face but which does not affect Israeli settlers.

Where’s the Water?

An empty Palestinian agricultural reservoir near Jiftlik in the West Bank - AI
An empty Palestinian agricultural reservoir near Jiftlik in the West Bank. © AI

Israeli settlers in Maaleh Adumim enjoy a swim - AGG
Israeli settlers in Maaleh Adumim enjoy a swim. © Angela Godfrey-Goldstein

In the Gaza Strip, 90 to 95 per cent of the water from its only water resource, the Coastal Aquifer, is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Yet, Israel does not allow the transfer of water from the Mountain Aquifer in the West Bank to Gaza.

Stringent restrictions imposed in recent years by Israel on the entry into Gaza of material and equipment necessary for the development and repair of infrastructure have caused further deterioration of the water and sanitation situation in Gaza, which has reached crisis point.

poisoned-water-palsolidarity-copy
Sewage Contaminated Water from a Palestinian Well. Source: Australians For Palestine

To cope with water shortages and lack of network supplies many Palestinians have to purchase water, of often dubious quality, from mobile water tankers at a much higher price.

Others resort to water-saving measures which are detrimental to their and their families’ health and which hinder socio-economic development.

“Over more than 40 years of occupation, restrictions imposed by Israel on the Palestinians’ access to water have prevented the development of water infrastructure and facilities in the OPT, consequently denying hundreds of thousand of Palestinians the right to live a normal life, to have adequate food, housing, or health, and to economic development,” said Donatella Rovera.

Israel has appropriated large areas of the water-rich Palestinian land it occupies and barred Palestinians from accessing them.

It has also imposed a complex system of permits which the Palestinians must obtain from the Israeli army and other authorities in order to carry out water-related projects in the OPT. Applications for such permits are often rejected or subject to long delays.

Restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of people and goods in the OPT further compound the difficulties Palestinians face when trying to carry out water and sanitation projects, or even just to distribute small quantities of water.

Water tankers are forced to take long detours to avoid Israeli military checkpoints and roads which are out of bounds to Palestinians, resulting in steep increases in the price of water.

In rural areas, Palestinian villagers are continuously struggling to find enough water for their basic needs, as the Israeli army often destroys their rainwater harvesting cisterns and confiscates their water tankers.

In comparison, irrigation sprinklers water the fields in the midday sun in nearby Israeli settlements, where much water is wasted as it evaporates before even reaching the ground.

In some Palestinian villages, because their access to water has been so severely restricted, farmers are unable to cultivate the land, or even to grow small amounts of food for their personal consumption or for animal fodder, and have thus been forced to reduce the size of their herds.

“Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford,” said Donatella Rovera.

“Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians’ access to water, and take responsibility for addressing the problems it created by allowing Palestinians a fair share of the shared water resources.”


“Water resources in the Gaza Strip were already
in the throes of an environmental crisis prior to
the latest escalation of hostilities; the recent
events aggravated the situation… the collapse of
sewage treatment during the period accelerated
the pollution load into the underlying aquifer.”

UNEP, September 2009

Sewage mains in northern - AI
Sewage mains in northern Gaza destroyed by Israeli air strikes in December 2008/January 2009 © AI

TROUBLED WATERS – PALESTINIANS DENIED FAIR ACCESS TO WATER
ISRAEL-OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  • Lack of access to adequate, safe and clean water has been a longstanding problem for Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), principally as a result of discriminatory Israeli policies and practices. Palestinians use about 70 litres of water per capita a day, barely a quarter of the amount used by Israelis.
  • Access to water resources for Palestinians in the OPT is controlled by Israel and is restricted to a level that does not meet their needs and does not constitute a fair and equitable share of the shared water resources.
  • Some 180,000-200,000 Palestinians in rural communities in the West Bank have no access to running water. Some are surviving on less than 20 litres a day, the minimum recommended for emergency situations response. Even in towns and villages connected to the water network, the taps often run dry – sometimes for weeks or even months.
  • In Gaza the aquifer is depleted and contaminated – more than 90 per cent of the water supply is unfit for human consumption. The Israeli blockade of Gaza prevents the entry of desperately needed material for the construction and repair of water facilities and has made an already dire situation worse.
  • The water shortage has hindered social and economic development for Palestinians in the OPT and has resulted in violations of their right to an adequate standard of living, including the rights to water, food, health, work and adequate housing. [Copyright AI]

Vegetable crops and irrigation network being uprooted by an Israeli army bulldozer in Jiftlik
Vegetable crops and irrigation network being uprooted by an Israeli army bulldozer in Jiftlik, Jordan Valley, 11 March 2008.
© Amnesty International

See Also: The day the bulldozers came…

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Posted in Gaza, Gaza Strip, Gaza Strip environmental crisis, Israeli settlers, Maaleh Adumim, OPT, Water in Palestine | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Israel inflicted “wanton destruction”

Posted by terres on July 2, 2009

Perhaps “Slow Genocide” would have been a more appropriate term!

The following is a Reuters’ report concerning the latest Amnesty finding on some of Israeli crimes that are being committed in Gaza. Unfortunately, the report makes no mention of the atrocities committed by Israel before or after their 22-day bombardment of Gaza. Meanwhile, the slow genocide in Gaza continues …


A woman and a child made homeless after the destruction of their home, Gaza, January 2009 – © Amnesty International


The Abu ‘Aisha family home in Gaza City, bombed, 5 January 2009. ‘Amer Abu ‘Aisha, wife Naheel and three of four children died – © Amnesty International

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Amnesty says Israel “wantonly” destroyed Gaza

Thu Jul 2, 2009 5:58am EDT

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE56118I20090702

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Amnesty International said on Thursday Israel inflicted “wanton destruction” in the Gaza Strip in attacks that often targeted Palestinian civilians during an offensive in December and January in the Hamas-run enclave.

The London-based rights group, in a 117-page report on the 22 days of fighting, also criticized the Islamist movement Hamas for rocket attacks on Israel, which it called “war crimes.”

Among other conclusions, Amnesty said it found no evidence to support Israeli claims that Gaza guerrillas deliberately used civilians as “human shields,” but it did, however, cite evidence that Israeli troops put children and other civilians in harm’s way by forcing them to remain in homes taken over by soldiers.

Amnesty International said some 1,400 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, including 300 children and hundreds of innocent civilians, a figure broadly in line with those from the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza and the independent Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

The Israeli military put the Palestinian death toll at 1,166 of whom 295 were civilians. Thirteen Israelis were killed, including three civilians, during the offensive Israel launched with the declared aim of curtailing cross-border rocket attacks.

Accusing Israel of “breaching laws of war,” Amnesty said: “Much of the destruction was wanton and deliberate, and was carried out in a manner and circumstances which indicated that it could not be justified on grounds of military necessity.”

Commenting on Amnesty’s allegations, the Israeli military said it operated in accordance with international law. It said the report ignored “efforts made by the Israel Defense Forces to minimize, as much as possible, harm to non-combatants.”

“In many cases, the Israel Defense Forces exercised measures of caution, including warning the civilian population before an attack,” the military said. “The Israel Defense Forces directed its attack only against military targets.”

A Hamas spokesman said the Amnesty report did not place enough emphasis on “crimes committed by Israel.”

“This report equates between the aggressor and the victim and ignores international laws that guarantee resistance against occupation,” the spokesman said.

U.N. INQUIRY

Israel and Hamas have both rejected accusations of war crimes during the Gaza fighting. Israel has refused to cooperate with a United Nations inquiry that is now gathering evidence, accusing the investigators of prejudice against it.

Amnesty said although rockets fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip rarely cause casualties, their use was “indiscriminate and hence unlawful under international law.” The rockets often sow fear and panic.

It also accused Hamas and other armed groups of endangering the lives of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza by firing rockets and locating military equipment near homes.

The report however dismissed Israeli claims that Hamas had used Palestinian civilians as “human shields.”

Amnesty said it found no evidence that “Hamas or other armed groups forced residents to stay in or around buildings used by fighters, or that fighters prevented residents from leaving buildings or areas which had been commandeered by militants.”

But the report said in several cases Israeli soldiers used Palestinian civilians, including children, as “human shields, endangering their lives by forcing them to remain in or near houses which they took over and used as military positions.”

(Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Dominic Evans)

© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

Posted in crimes against humanity, Gaza Strip, human shields, Israel's Operation Cast Lead, Occupied Palestine | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Netanyahu to Obama: Mind Your Own Business!

Posted by terres on May 25, 2009

“We’re only following G_d’s orders [sic.]” —Israel

Netanyahu defies “spineless Obama” on Israeli settlement freeze [on “divine technicality”]

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says settlements in the occupied West Bank will be allowed to expand.

When Mr Netanyahu’s visited the US last week, he was told by President Barack Obama that all settlement activity must end, a message he has chosen to ignore.

“Israel has sanctioned 121 settlements over the years and Jewish settlers have put up an estimated 100 outposts since the early 1990s.” BBC reported.

“Netanyahu’s defiant stance set the stage for a possible showdown with President Barack Obama, who, in talks with the new Israeli prime minister in Washington last week, pressed for a halt to all settlement activity, including natural growth, as called for under a long-stalled peace ‘road map.'” Reuters said.

“Half a million Jews live in settlement blocs and smaller outposts built in the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem, all territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War.”

Palestinians regard the illegal occupation by the settlers “as a land grab meant to deny them a state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

“The demand for a total stop to building is not something that can be justified and I don’t think that anyone here at this table accepts it,” Netanyahu told his cabinet, referring to Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Reuters reporetd an official as saying.

“A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Netanyahu’s government hoped to sidestep U.S. pressure by committing to uproot smaller hilltop outposts built without official authorization, a step also set by the road map.” Reuters said.

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Posted in Arab East Jerusalem, Gaza, Gaza Strip, Israeli land grab, spineless Obama | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Palestinian boy killed in Israeli shelling

Posted by terres on April 7, 2008

GAZA, April 6 (Xinhua) — A 5-year-old Palestinian child was killed and two injured on Sunday in an Israeli artillery shelling on central Gaza Strip, medics and witnesses said.

The witnesses said an Israeli army tank stationed east of al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza Strip fired one shell, which hit a house in the refugee camp, killed one child and wounded two other civilians. Main Report


Alive, just a few hours earlier.

A Palestinian relative of 5-year-old boy Abdullah Bhar mourns during his funeral after he was killed during a gunfight near al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip April 6, 2008. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

Photo may be subject to copyright. See RTSF Fair Use Notice

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Posted in children, Gaza Strip, IOF, military occupation, murder, victims | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Israel blocks fuel and food shipments for third day

Posted by terres on January 21, 2008

Gaza – Ma’an – A humanitarian crisis is underway as the Gaza Strip’s only power plant began to shut down on Sunday, and the tiny coastal territory entered its third full day without shipments of vital food and fuel supplies due to Israel’s punitive sanctions.

The Gaza Strip’s power plant will shut down by 8:00pm on Sunday because it no longer has the fuel needed to keep running. One of the plant’s two electricity-generating turbines had already shut down by noon.

This will drastically reduce output to 25 or 30 megawatts, down from the 65 megawatts the plant produces under normal conditions. By Sunday evening the plant will shut down completely, leaving large swaths of the Gaza Strip in darkness.

Omar Kittaneh, the head of the Palestine Energy Authority in Ramallah, confirmed that by tonight, the one remaining operating turbine will be powered down, and the Gaza power plant will no longer be generating any electricity at all.

“We have asked the Israeli government to reverse its decision and to supply fuel to operate the power plant”, Dr. Kittaneh said. “We have talked to the Israeli humanitarian coordination in their Ministry of Energy [National Infrastructure]. We say this is totally Israel’s responsibility, and that reducing the fuel supplies until the plant had to shut down will affect not only the electrical system but the water supply, and the entire infrastructure in Gaza – everything.”

After months of increasingly harsh sanctions, Israel imposed a total closure on the Strip’s border crossings, even preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid. The Israeli government says the closure is punishment for an ongoing barrage of Palestinian homemade projectiles fired from the Gaza Strip.

“Famine”

180 fuel stations have shut down after Gaza residents to buy gas for cooking.

A Palestinian economist Hasan Abu Ramadan said the current humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip will be deepened by the blockade on fuel and food supplies. He warned that Gaza Strip could go from a situation of deep poverty to all out famine, disease, and malnutrition.

Abu Ramadan said that more than 80% of the Strip’s 1.5 million residents have been surviving with the help of food aid from international organizations such as UNRWA for Palestinian refugees.

International condemnation

Most international actors in the region believe there already is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, including the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, the Undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs John Holmes, who said at a press conference at UNHQ in New York on Friday that “This kind of action against the people in Gaza cannot be justified, even by those rocket attacks”.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon expressed particular concern, in a statement issued later on Friday through his spokesperson, about the “decision by Israel to close the crossing points in between Gaza and Israel used for the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Such action cuts off the population from much-needed fuel supplies used to pump water and generate electricity to homes and hospitals”.

The UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied territories, John Dugard, also issued a much sharper statement on Friday, saying that Israel must have foreseen the loss of life and injury to many nearby civilians when it targeted the Ministry of Interior building in Gaza City.

This, and the killings of other Palestinians during the week, plus the closures, “raise very serious questions about Israel’s respect for international law and its Commitment to the peace process”, Dugard said. He said it violates the strict prohibition on collective punishment contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention, and one of the basic principles of international humanitarian law: that military action must distinguish between military targets and civilian targets.

***Updated at 15:41pm Bethlehem time [Original Report]

Posted in ethnic cleansing, Gaza Strip, humanitarian crisis, Israel, palestine | Leave a Comment »