back to school in nablus & gaza

Palestinian boy Mohammed Kutkut, 14, right, covers his face as he sits next to the name sign of his killed friend Ahed Qaddas in the Fakhoura boys school in Jebaliya, northern Gaza strip, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009. Three friends of his class where killed when the Israeli army shelled Jebaliya in the past weeks. Tens of thousands of children have flocked back to schools throughout the Gaza Strip, days after Israel ended its fierce military operation against the territory's rulers.  (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
Palestinian boy Mohammed Kutkut, 14, right, covers his face as he sits next to the name sign of his killed friend Ahed Qaddas in the Fakhoura boys school in Jebaliya, northern Gaza strip, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009. Three friends of his class where killed when the Israeli army shelled Jebaliya in the past weeks. Tens of thousands of children have flocked back to schools throughout the Gaza Strip, days after Israel ended its fierce military operation against the territory's rulers. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

i started classes in earnest today. last week was the drop/add week for students so no one shows up for class. but today i had my first classes; not one of my students is male! not yet anyway. i will see tomorrow if i have the same demographics in my classes. there are very few men who major in english anyway, but it feels a bit odd to have only women in my classes. it could be interesting, though, especially if it makes my students freer to say what they think in class. school was buzzing and back to normal today in nablus, but not so in gaza. the islamic university of gaza, for instance, is severely damaged and i don’t know if they were able to start back up again:

The Islamic University in Gaza City estimated damage to its buildings and facilities at 15 million US dollars.

The damage, caused by several airstrikes during Israel’s operation Cast Lead, saw several buildings destroyed and others severely damaged.

and those students from the american international school of gaza will not be going back to school at all because the devastation caused by israeli terrorists is total. cnn did a report on the school that shows you what the school looked like before and what it looks like now:

these attacks on palestinian education are nothing new. this is why i tell my students that they should see their role as educating themselves as a form of resistance.

said abdelwahed shares a story about his children’s first day back at school in gaza, which was difficult for his children and many others i’m sure given that schools are a site of trauma: children know that schools are targeted by israeli terrorists. here is what abdelwahed says about his children’s experiences back at school:

Day one back to school in Gaza witnessed new stories of traumatized school boys and girls! For instance, my youngest son did not want to go to school because he was scared of what he said was a new Israeli attack. He witnessed the first surprise attack by F16s on the former Preventive Security Department’s compound. On spot five civilians — were passing by — died. Three of them died meters from where he was standing waiting for his school bus! Hardly I could convince him that it would be okay and school administration will devote the whole school day to playing, acting and entertaining. By the way, my son Kareem 12 years old, is the first of the honor list of his class and he loves his school and teachers! He came back with stories of other as they suffered from the invasion. Each pupil told a new story of horror; everyone was traumatized!

My elder son Khaldoun 16 years of age, holder of American passport, came back with a story of one pupil killed in an air raid and another one injured in his hand and rushed to hospital. As soon as he arrived at the hospital, his hand mutilated. School was sad with horrendous stories as well.

Somoud 17 year old daughter. She holds American passport. She went to school after long discussion with me. I convinced her to go and see day one; it would be okay. There, she heard more maturely told stories of torture by the Israeli soldiers! As she left school walking, her classmate dug her foot hard on the ground. The sand blazed from a shrapnel; after eight days of the Israeli withdrawal there are still white phosphorous remains that may flame again under some circumstances!

Last night was my first night to sleep well after more than thirty days, but I am still worried about my children. Two of them are still unable to sleep in their beds. I will keep trying with them until they go back to normal life.

but it is not only the students who have these fears, who are traumatized. the teachers are also traumatized as is the case with issa al-batran, a teacher at a united nations school:

When the schools opened in the Gaza Strip Saturday, Mr Al-Batran was not in his classroom. He has not been home in days, and relatives say he has not seen his one-year-old son since the massacre.

Forty-year-old Issa Al-Batran may never go back home. His surviving mother and son have begged him to come back with them, but he prefers to wander the streets with his memories of Gaza before the onslaught.

He was a teacher at the UN school in the Al-Bureij refugee camp; he was a father of six, a husband and a homeowner.

His wife Manal, three daughters and two sons were killed in the room next to Issa. The family was living in the salon, but he had excused himself to pray in the silence of the adjacent room for a few moments. His infant son, Abd Al-Hadi, crawled after him, which is the only reason he is still alive.

He remembered hearing seven-year-old Bilal and four-year-old Iz-Addin whispering something about Israeli warplanes in the sky. There were always warplanes in the sky, so he did not take notice.

As Issa prayed, Israeli warplanes fired missiles at his neighbor’s home. There was neither enough time to finish his prayer or evacuate his family. He grabbed Abd Al-Hadi and yelled for the family to follow him out of the home.

The jets fired a second missile, hitting the balcony where his two sons were playing. The two boys were thrown to a tree in the street where they were found by passersby. The home caught fire and rapidly collapsed, killing his wife and three other children.

After taking Abd Al-Hadi outside and handing him to a neighbor, he went back in the burning house to find his other children. He found the salon burning and bloody. He found the torn-off limbs of his wife and three daughters, 15-year-old Islam and 10-year-old twins Eman and Ihsan.

Ihsan was still alive. He carried her carefully out of the home and laid her in the ambulance waiting outside. She died in the ambulance.

Issa found it difficult to distinguish between the bodies of his wife and the other two girls. “The missile mixed everything together,” he recalls.

those missiles, especially those using dime, were courtesy of israeli terrorists’ partners in crime, the americans and the british. haitham sabbah posted a great video news report on his blog about this which you can watch if you click the link below:

Some of the weapons used in war crimes in Gaza was shipped to Israel from the Lakenheath US Air force base, UK. We know that was the case with the cluster bombs used in Lebanon in 2006 and it’s something the British government has no control over. Democracy?!

so if you haven’t signed that petition yet to prosecute israeli terrorists for war crimes, click on this link NOW!

here are some more war crimes you can view in amr el kahky’s report from a hospital in cairo where a few palestinians from gaza are being treated:

the main subject of the above news report is 14 year old mahmoud mattar who is wise beyond is years in calling for his people to remain steadfast against the israeli terrorist enemy and to unify politically. and his uncle nahed mattar is equally astute in understanding that there is no difference between george bush and barack obama as both fund the israeli terrorist regime and its war crimes.

thankfully there are some people who are beginning to organize a boycott campaign here in the west bank in response to these war crimes:

Israeli goods are being boycotted by one hundred families affiliated with the Palestine People’s Party (PPP) in Biet Dajan, in the northern West Bank.

The group organized in response to the Israeli war against Gaza, and decided to replace all Israeli goods with local Palestinian products where at all possible. The final decision came at a senior party leadership meeting this week.

The leadership has also begun a campaign demanding the Palestinian National leadership, NGOs ad civil society institutions get on board with the boycott. The campaign hopes to begin with an economic boycott and move on from there.

this boycott movement is so necessary, and for those of you living in the u.s. you should get on board with boycotting the israeli terrorist dance company coming to a city near you. click this kabobfest link to find out about their tour dates and organize a protest.

if you need yet another reason to boycott, today israeli terrorists were back to their usual tricks here in the west bank:

Israeli forces stormed homes, restaurants, and resorts in several neighborhoods in Ramallah and Al-Bireh Sunday, with no arrests reported.

According to security sources five Israeli military vehicles raided the Zein restaurant in the Resorts area, Sath Marhaba, Seriet Ramallah, and Ramallah park.

Witnesses said soldiers stopped a number of citizens in the streets near Sath Marhaba and the Seriet Ramallah, checked their identity cards, and reversed traffic in the area.

There were no arrests reported.

don’t you just wonder how they are able to do this with the palestinian authority’s (pa) muqata’a down the road? well, when i was in ramallah yesterday my friend who i was having lunch with told me that he was at another friend’s house a week or two ago when israeli terrorists invaded ramallah. he watched the line of jeeps rolling through the streets and get this: they were accompanied by palestinian authority police cars. yes, friends, this is the height of collaboration. no shame involved whatsoever: they just give them an escort to kidnap and kill palestinians. and my friend heard shots fired, too, though we don’t know the details of this story.

this is a huge part of the problem, the pa. because they normalize. because they collaborate–with both israeli and american terrorists alike. and as i reported the other day, a colleague of mine at an najah university, abdul sattar qasim found his car bombed the other evening:

Unidentified assailants set fire to a car belonging to Dr Abdul-Sattar Qasim, lecturer at An-Najah National University in Nablus in the northern West Bank on Friday night.

Dr Qasim told Ma’an that the attackers hurled a Molotov Cocktail at his Mitsubishi while it was parked in front of his home in the Al-Jadida neighborhood in Nablus.

He said he received threats from of violence two weeks ago. Fire fighters rushed to the scene and extinguished the fire, which destroyed the car.

The Palestinian Authority’s security forces said they are investigating the attack.

here is the problem with the last line of the article: the pa says they will “investigate” it. but it is the pa who threw the molotov cocktail in the first place. this is sort of like israeli terrorists “investigating” their war crimes in gaza. you really think you’ll get to the bottom of it?

i paid a visit to dr. qasim’s office today and was sad that it took this for me to meet him, but grateful that i had the opportunity to do so. his daughter was with him and he had to drive her home so i went with them back to their house and saw the car. here are photographs i took:

abed as-sattar qasim's car
abed as-sattar qasim's car
abed as-sattar qasim's car
abed as-sattar qasim's car

why would his car be bombed you might ask? well he is a long-time freedom fighter who is independent of any political faction. he has a long history of being a huge critic of fatah and its leaders and members. here is some context about this brilliant colleague of mine at an najah and the way he has been targeted by the pa over the last decade or so:

In August 1995, Abd al-Sattar Qasim, a well-known opponent of the Oslo Accords and critic of President Arafat, was shot and wounded by unknown assailants. One month earlier he had published an article in the Islamist newspaper Al-Watan in which he characterized President Arafat’s rule as dictatorial. In the course of interrogating Imad Faluji, then editor-in-chief of Al-Watan, about the article, the Gaza police allegedly made threats against Qasim. Qasim said he believed his assailants to be members of the PSS, but the PSS West Bank commander, Col. Jibril Rajoub, denied this, stating: “I do not support what happened. My men have nothing to do with the shooting….He is not important enough for us to deal with.”

Writing in yesterday’s London-based daily Al Quds al Arabi, for example, Al Najah University professor Abd Al-Sattar Qasim says of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, “The two movements have broken their political barriers which they had made clear in their rhetoric by dealing directly with the Egyptian government, which recognizes Israel and is exchanging with it diplomatic, economic, and security relations.” Qasim, whose aborted run against Mahmoud Abbas for the presidency had hinged on his unsuccessful attempt to unite the opposition groups into one coalition, is in many ways the odd man out in the maelstrom of Palestinian politics today.

In response to Hamas´ arrest of Fatah forces in Gaza, Fatah forces in the West Bank carried out their own arrest campaign. In the West Bank, Fatah-affiliated police have arrested at least 54 Hamas members in the city of Nablus. These arrests include the Mayor of Nablus, Hafidh Shaheen, his son, Qadri Shaheen, a professor at al-Njah University, Dr. Abdul-Sattar Qasim, a member of the Nablus municipal council, Sheikh Fayyad al-Aghbar, and Dr. Muhammad Sleibi, his Son Usayd Sleibi, as well as Dr. Husam Khraim and Ghassan al-Jawhari. Arrests were also carried out by Fatah forces in the West Bank cities of Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Jenin and Ramallah targeting Hamas members. These arrests resulted in the detention of at least 30 Hamas members. These arrests targeted prominent Hamas members including Muftis, Imams, the vice-President of al-Najah University, directors of numerous social and political organizations, the children of politicians, journalists, and several local politicians.

Many Palestinians worry that in such an interregnum, the United States or Israel would have a major influence on the shape of post-Arafat Palestinian politics. Qasim, for instance, says that in Fatah “there are people who work for Israel as well.”

interestingly, our university made a public statement about the attack:

An-Najah National University in the West Bank city of Nablus denounced the attack against the car of Professor of political science Abed As-Sattar Qasim.

Qasim’s car was burned after unknown attackers threw what was believed to be a Molotov cocktail in the vehicle while it was parked outside the professor’s home. Qasim is affiliated with Hamas, and many feared the attack to have been politically motivated.

Several letters of condemnation have been released following the attack.

The letter from An-Najah University expressed disappointment in the methods of protest used by the attackers, saying that the act does not serve the interests of Palestinians. They called for the involvement if the Palestinian Authority (PA) to follow up on the issue and to find those responsible for the incident.

The attackers should be brought to justice, the statement said, and taken through the Palestinian judicial system.

and some members of the palestinian legislative council also condemned the attack:

Members of the of the Palestinian Legislative Council including its Deputy Speaker, national and civil society figures joined together to condemn the assault on An-Najah professor Abdul-Sattar Qasim in Nablus.

Dr Abdul-Sattar Qasim, a leading academic at An-Najah National University, told Ma’an that attackers hurled a Molotov cocktail at his Mitsubishi while it was parked in front of his home in the Al-Jadida neighborhood of Nablus.

The signatories of statement denounced “in the harshest possible words” the attack, and demanded that the “perpetrators be brought to justice.”

The statement concluded saying all parties should work together to ensure that such attacks are halted immediately.

The statement was signed by, PLC member and second speaker Hasan Khreisha, independent PLC member, PLC member of Hamas Hamed Al-Betawi , PLC member Khalid Tafesh of Hamas, Usama Fawzi, Adel Samara, Maryam Saleh, Ghasan U’layyan, PLC member for Hamas.

but this is not the first time he was attacked. this is the 4th such attack. in june 2007 he was shot at and his car was riddled with bullets (around 60 of them). he has difficulty walking because of he was shot by pa/fatah thugs. and this lovely, smart amazing man who is anti-normalization–so much so that he doesn’t even attend protests if political parties who are present normalize with israeli terrorists–has been imprisoned in the west bank now for 28 years. the israeli terrrorists along with their pa and jordanian collaborators have prevented this professor from leaving palestine. apparently, in jordan he and as’ad abukhalil were on al jazeera discussing jordan one time and because of their discussion, the al jazeera office in amman was immediately shut down.

in the end, abdel sattar’s story is why it is so difficult to have unity here. to unify with fatah one then associates with normalizers and collaborators. and what sort of liberation of palestine will that achieve? 22% of the west bank? cut off from gaza? no right of return for refugees? what sort of country is that? how does one fight for justice in that context? imran garda is now interviewing abdel sattar on “inside story.” will post it when it comes on line. garda is amazing as ever in his questioning of israeli terrorists! and you’ll be able to see abdel sattar as well.

2 thoughts on “back to school in nablus & gaza

  1. If you look at the photo, the cards are clearly identical. The actual text says “Martyrs of 7/8”

    They obviously don’t miss any opportunities to teach death-worship and instigate more violence – especially when it comes to their children.

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