i spent the better part of the last couple of days copy editing a new report for badil entitled “ending forced displacement in the occupied palestinian territory: response assessment to situations of internal displacement in the opt; towards the implementation of a comprehensive, predicable and accountable response to situations of internal displacement.” the issue of internally displaced people (idps) in palestine is a really important subject and one that does not get enough attention. this is also a really complicated subject because many times those who are displaced are already refugees, registered with unrwa. there are so many layers of multiple displacements in palestine–and also in 1948 palestine, in gaza, in the west bank, in lebanon, in iraq, in jordan, in syria. there are so many layers of ethnic cleansing and forced displacement that the words we normally use to describe these forced migrations are no longer adequate. the word refugee/idp applied to palestinians who were ethnically cleansed from palestine, who then lived in tel al-za’atar refugee camp in lebanon and those who survived the massacre there by the lebanese forces in 1976 moved to nahr el bared refugee camp in lebanon, who were then assaulted by the lebanese army in 2007 and most of whom, until now are still displaced. likewise most of the palestinians in gaza are refugees who are now idps as well because of the recent israeli terrorist massacre in gaza; some of these people were also idps more than once before. we need a new word for this perpetual state of seeking refuge, this perpetual state of fleeing massacres. again and again and again.
two of the areas discussed in the report i edited are in gaza. the first is um al nasser and the second is al shoka. i haven’t really read many reports about these areas during the recent siege. many of the palestinians living in these two areas were refugees in 1948 and many of them are bedouin. in um al nasser 2,500 people come from yibna and rubin in 1948 palestine. they were displaced within the gaza strip in the 1990s by the palestinian authority so they could build a housing project called sheikh zayed for needy families. they were removed to a dangerous and unsanitary area near jabaliya refugee camp where they live in the line of fire of israeli terrorists on a regular basis as well as sewage run off from the beit lahiya treatment plant. they live through regular, nightly incursions by israeli terrorists. in 2007 due to the flooding of an emergency basin 1,450 people were displaced yet again.
al shoka is an area in gaza in which many bedouins from bir saba’ were forcibly removed during an nakba. 12,00 palestinians live in al shoka and 79% of them are refugees. during the july war in 2006 israeli terrorists invaded al shoka and ordered the eviction of the people who live there. yet again. the israeli terrorists told them that they had to leave or they would be shot. 3,433 people were forced to seek refuge in unrwa schools in rafah. al shoka was invaded 3 times that month. 17 people, including 5 children, were murdered. many of these families included farmers and 1,500 dunums of their farmland was demolished by israeli terrorists. olive groves, grapes, and almond trees were uprooted. 50 greenhouses were destroyed and 15 were damaged. and, during the invasion, 280 of their homes were destroyed. all but 21 of those houses belonged to refugees. yet again.
in response to the war in 2006 there was familiar rhetoric from john ging and the then-head of the united nations kofi annan:
“The [UN] Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said there is a need for accountability for the IDF’s actions, particularly those against civilians. We on the ground are saying that the cost to civilians, the death, the destruction of livelihoods, is massive. The question is there – is this proportionate?” asked Ging.
in the current context this was all i could find about al shoka:
UNRWA reopened two PHC centres. Three out of 18 remain closed: the Elshouka and Zaitoun centres were closed after IDF instructed people living in an adjacent building to evacuate prior to bombardment, while a centre in Beit Hanoun was closed due to being in a high risk area.
and this is all i could find on um al nasser, from save the children:
The agency delivered food parcels containing two-week supplies for households of up to ten people in Khan Younis, Middle Camp and Rafah in the south. In the north, 100 families in the Bedouin camp of Um Al Nasser received 100 food parcels.
Donkey carts were used to deliver food parcels in Um Al Nasser because truck drivers were afraid to venture to the area in their vehicles.
i’m sure as testimonies are collected stories about the families’ multiple displacements from al shoka and um al nasser will emerge. stories are always surfacing about palestinian forced exile and multiple displacements, like this one by sumia ibrahim in electronic intifada:
“We wanted the Arab troops to fight so we could return to our home in Jaffa and return to our lives. We saw Arab troops around and we would ask them, ‘Why are you here? Why aren’t you fighting?’ They responded, ‘We don’t have the orders to fight.’ We would see Arab troops spending their whole days at the public baths, so we used to have a rhyme that went ‘There aren’t orders for the battlefield, but there are orders for the bath.'” Tata smiles briefly then adds soberly, “We realized this wouldn’t be over quickly.”
“We stayed for two months in Nablus. We decided for our family’s safety, for our daughters, we had to leave the country until we got it back. Your grandfather was working for an English pharmaceutical company called Evans, in the advertising department. They had a branch in Baghdad too. He arranged to transfer his position to Baghdad. He had a friend in Iraq in the Foreign Ministry, a man who sent him translated articles for free gave us Iraqi passports. So we tied all of our things up on the top of a taxi and drove to Amman. It was very expensive, it cost us 40 dinars. From Amman we went to Baghdad.”
“On our way to Baghdad we saw many pick up trucks with Palestinian refugees in the back. They were coming from villages that had been massacred or destroyed, taken by Iraqi troops to Baghdad. They traveled all that way under the hot sun, with nothing above them to provide shade. I would see them throwing up out of the back of the trucks, getting sick from the heat. They were taken to ‘Tobchee,’ a neighborhood with government housing, and received assistance from the Iraqi government.” Tata explained that these refugees, the ones that were able to resettle in Iraq, were the lucky ones.
Many Palestinians ended up in refugee camps in squalid circumstances, both “internally” in what came to be known as the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and externally in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Many Palestinian refugees faced hostility from their government hosts, but in some countries such as Lebanon, they held and still hold practically no rights amid systematic policies of discrimination towards refugees.
Tata begins to describe the hardships her family faced as refugees in a foreign country. “At first, when we got to Baghdad, we stayed in the best hotel. It was paid for by Evans. But after that, things didn’t work out with their branch in Baghdad. They paid your grandfather two months salary then let him go. We were very worried. But he heard from other Palestinians that Arab Bank was opening a branch in Baghdad. He got a job there as a teller for a very low wage. His manager loaned him money to support his family. Eventually he was promoted to be a manager.”
“Your grandfather started working as a translator as well, translating books and articles from English to Arabic. He was always working. He worked two or three jobs to support us all. He got very sick. He was tired all the time and complained of pain, but he still had to work.” Tata explained that he grew up as a farmer in a small Palestinian village, Budrus, and spent his entire life engaged in relentless hard work in an attempt to advance his family’s circumstances.
Upon visiting Budrus in 2006, I was told stories of my grandfather’s determination for advancement. He used to place his feet in a pot of icy water, I was told, to keep himself alert as he studied. He used to stand on a chair with his head in a noose that hung from the ceiling while he studied through the night, motivating himself not fall asleep. “He was a great man,” people exclaimed to me. With his father, he built the first girls’ school in the village and went door to door convincing parents to allow their daughters to go to school. He also walked miles daily to a nearby town in order to attend high school, and taught himself to be proficient in English. I understood his desire for upward mobility upon seeing the house that he spent his early childhood in. He lived in a small, cobbled stone structure, the first floor of which was a stable that housed animals and the second floor of which was used for residence. It was entirely empty except for a hole in the wall where blankets were stored.
Tata recalls how my grandfather dreamed of building a large home in Baghdad for all of his children and their families, dreamed of meals together filled with enthusiastic conversation and laughter. Yet this dream died with the rise of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, and the beginning of what would be an eight year war with Iran, sending many in the family to live elsewhere. This double displacement weighed on him and Tata.
“We had to leave Palestine,” Tata said, “then our family began leaving Iraq. We were spread across the world. Your grandfather was tired. He used to come home and say ‘I just want to go back to Palestine and die there.’ He would say, ‘maybe one day my children will be able to go back.’ He died wishing to return.”
it is difficult to get such stories out to the mainstream media in the west. israeli terrorist propaganda wields too much power as avi shlaim points out:
Over the last four weeks the powerful Israeli propaganda machine has been churning out lie after lie about Hamas in order to excuse its own inexcusable onslaught. Israel stopped journalists going into Gaza, preventing any independent reporting on the war crimes its forces were committing. Truth is usually the first casualty in war. Gaza was not even a war in the conventional sense of the word; it was one-sided carnage.
and it works, unfortunately, in the united kingdom where the bbc is proving itself to be so completely tied to zionists that it refuses, still, to air a charity advertisement for the disasters emergency committee (dec):
The BBC came under renewed pressure yesterday to broadcast an emergency appeal for Gaza on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) after it received more than 10,000 complaints about its refusal to show the film.
today sky news joined the zionist media ranks with the bbc in refusing to air the commercial:
John Ryley, head of Sky News, said screening the appeal, by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), would compromise the network’s impartiality.
for those of you who buy into the argument that they are trying to be “neutral” here is just one example of their hypocrisy as jinan bastaki explains:
Unfortunately, the BBC’s claims do not hold in the least. In 2006, the BBC broadcast an appeal for Darfur and Chad, stating at the beginning that the UN had deemed it the worst humanitarian crisis and concluding that “The crisis is by no means over, the violence in Darfur showing no sign of reaching an end, many people remain uprooted and reliant on international aid.” In 2008, the BBC’s Congo Appeal introduction stated that “Imagine being in such fear of your life that you have no choice but to leave home, uproot your family and flee.” Strange that no one thought that this would risk the BBC’s impartiality. Like Darfur and Chad, Gaza is a man-made catastrophe in which civilians are bearing the brunt of the hostilities. Making their situation even more precarious, Palestinians in Gaza are living under a strangling blockade and are not allowed to leave even for medical treatment.
you can watch the commercial on the guardian’s website. clearly all british media doesn’t serve the zionist master.
but of course in spite of all this you can still donate to dec via their website and show the bbc and sky news that they cannot keep us from supporting palestinians and delivering humanitarian aid to palestinians in gaza.
there are protests around the u.k. targeting the bbc in any case. i suspect sky news will be next. and cambridge university is the next british institution to launch a blog to chronicle their occupation of their university in solidarity with the palestinians in gaza.
in the u.s. the cbs news program 60 minutes aired a segment with correspondent bob simon on palestine, and although it focuses on the west bank, it gives you a glimpse into some of the overall context, though it does not discuss palestinian refugees at all. it shows the current problem of forced displacement and ethnic cleansing through house demolition and it shows you the rhetoric of israeli terrorists boasting about their desire to continue their ethnic cleansing project:
the above film also gives you some idea of the sort of siege that people in nablus experience, especially those families whose homes are commandeered by israeli terrorists. meanwhile in nablus ma’an news posted an article today about the suspected culprit in the bombing of my colleague abdel sattar qasim’s car the other day:
A previously unknown Palestinian group calling itself the “Gaza Martyrs Brigades” claimed on Monday to have vandalized and destroyed the car of An-Najah professor of political science Abed As-Sattar Qasim….
The group released a statement describing Dr Qasim as a “mouthpiece for the Iranian and the Syrian regimes.”
The statement accused the professor of “urging students to stage a coup against the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and against members of the Palestine Liberation Organization.” The statement further alleged that Qasim “calls on Hamas affiliates to assault Fatah loyalists in the Gaza Strip.”
The unknown group then threatened “Hamas figures in Nablus,” saying that if they remain silent towards the attacks on Fatah affiliates in the Gaza Strip, they will be considered partners in the attacks.
this article makes no sense, really, if you know the context. as i mentioned yesterday, abdel sattar identifies as someone who is independent of political parties. this is what makes him so amazing: he supports things that even hamas doesn’t support given their rhetoric about the two-state khara solution. he is anti-normalization and refuses to recognize the israeli terrorist state, something that at times hamas has seemed wiling to do, though thankfully they haven’t yet. but the other thing is that the journalist, samer huwairah, who put abdel sattar on camera the other night, which may have triggered the car bombing, is now in a palestinian authority jail:
Relatives of the reporter said that that the preventive security elements arrived at the channel’s office in Nablus on Thursday and questioned Khuwaira on his work and his channel and left.
However, on Saturday the preventive security summoned Khuwaira to its headquarters and he did not return since then.
but there is good news today that i must report as always with rania in mind. first, the economic downturn in the u.s. is affecting caterpillar as 20,000 jobs will be cut. the reason why this is good news is that there has been a boycott campaign against caterpillar for several years now as they are the company producing the bulldozers that destroy palestinian homes and farmlands again and again and again.
in other boycott news a group of canadian professors have joined the boycott campaign and issued a statement:
We are a group of teachers and employees at Quebec colleges and universities who stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, and with the people of Gaza who have suffered through the Israeli siege as targets of Israel’s brutal military attack. It will take more than ceasefires to bring a just and lasting peace in Palestine and Israel. We are acting in response to an appeal for support issued January 2, 2009 by the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees. In the wake of the Israeli bombing of the Islamic University of Gaza, the Federation of Unions has urged academics around the world to support a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.
and some israeli professors are doing a micro-protest to keep a leading israeli terrorist from teaching on their campus:
The objections come in the wake of a recent story published in Haaretz about Sharvit-Baruch, who heads the Israel Defense Forces international law division.
The report said that under Sharvit-Baruch’s command, IDF legal experts legitimized strikes involving Gaza civilians, including the bombardment of the Gaza police course closing ceremony.
Sharvit-Baruch is planning on retiring from the army in the coming months and is scheduled to teach at the university’s law department next semester.
and today inside higher education finally published something about the boycott campaign, though of course, they had to waste space with zionists whining about academic freedom for israeli terrorists:
The movement to boycott Israeli academic institutions has largely been centered in Britain (where in 2007 the University and College Union dropped the call). In response to the conflict in Gaza, calls for academic boycotts have crossed the Atlantic, surfacing first in Ontario, and now in the United States.
okay enough for today. i must sleep for a few hours before i get up to teach again…