gaza in ruins. still.

democracy now! showed a film yesterday produced by anjali kamat on the economy of gaza called “land in ruins: a special report on gaza’s economy.” it is an amazing film as so many produced by big noise films are and i encourage you to watch the whole thing, but here are some highlights of their words–voices from palestinians and people who work in gaza who are on the ground to give you an inkling about what people there face and what they want–but the film footage gives you the powerful images to go with it:

NAHEELA SAMMOUNI: [translated] All of this is farmland. We used to grow chard, lettuce, turnips, radish, all from here. We’d sell it in the market and get some money to feed our children. Now our land is spoiled. Everything is destroyed. What can we do? We used to have sweet, tart pomegranates behind our home, so many plums, apricots, all right behind our house. Now, the olives, figs, everything is gone. We tended to our plants like our own children, so they would grow and we could eat from them. Now see what they did to us. What did we do wrong?

JOHN GING: There’s going to be no reconstruction in Gaza until the crossing points open. There isn’t a bag of cement coming into Gaza at the moment. We have had to, you know, reopen our schools without conducting the repairs, because there is nothing—there’s no glass to fix the windows or do the basic repairs that are needed. We just have to make safe the area that is damaged and get on.

TUNNEL WORKER: [translated] This work is very difficult. But we have no choice. We have to work in order to eat. If the crossings were open and the goods and cement were coming in, there’s no way I would be doing this. If we work, we eat; if not, we go hungry. This is our only means, our only livelihood. As long as the crossings are closed, there’s no alternative to the tunnels.

ABU OMAR: [translated] We don’t want to beg the world for money. We just want to take those who destroyed our houses to court. If we are really criminals and our houses are terrorist houses, then OK, this is what you get. But if our houses are innocent and our factories are innocent, then the Israelis need to account for what they destroyed. They are the ones who should give us the reparations. Why do we need to rely on the sympathy of the world? We don’t want that. We want the world to stand by our rights. We don’t want their charity, little bits of money and food. We’re full, thank God. We are just asking for our rights, nothing else.

my friend sameh habeeb has a new photo exhibit in vancouver, canada right now called “victims’ victims” with images of gaza that he took during the savagery brought on gaza by israeli terrorists and their american allies. you can see the images by clicking this link. the shots are really powerful: close up, crisp. you should also visit his new newspaper based in gaza, the palestine telegraph. here is one of his moving photographs:

sameh habeeb photo of chickens bombed in gaza
sameh habeeb photo of chickens bombed in gaza

sameh has a blog post on the chickens being bombed entitled “were the chickens firing rockets?” that he wrote during the massacres in gaza that explains the above image.

in the democracy now! report above they did not specifically address the issue of water, but it is a problem in gaza and people do not have access to this either just as they do not have access to food, books, cement, glass, or any basic necessities. irin news has a report on this today:

Over 150,000 Palestinians in Gaza (around 10 percent of the population) are struggling without tap water as a result of the damage caused to wells, pipes and waste water facilities during the recent 23-day Israeli offensive which ended on 18 January.

“Our requests via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to the Israeli military during the conflict to allow shipments of construction materials and spare parts to repair wells and facilities damaged during the war were denied,” Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) director-general Monther Shoblak told IRIN.

Shoblak estimates that 50,000 people lack tap water after losing their homes, while a further 100,000 have dry taps because of damage to the water supply network.

Eleven of Gaza’s 150 wells, the only source of drinking water for Gaza’s 1.4 million people (apart from expensive bottled water and water trucked in by aid agencies), are not functioning. Six were completely destroyed, according to CMWU.

and imran garda’s “focus on gaza” for al jazeera’s first half was finally posted today. i posted the second half the other day, but here we can see sherine tadros reporting on the situation in beit lahiya as well as the education sector more generally.

on a side note: i saw a tweet from sherine tadros today announcing gerry adams arrival in gaza tomorrow. a couple of hours later this was posted on the zionist entity’s jerusalem post website:

Northern Ireland political leader Gerry Adams will not be allowed to enter Gaza this week because he plans to meet Hamas officials, Israel said Tuesday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel “would not help Adams meet with Hamas terror leaders.”

A spokesman for Adams, Ted Howell, said Adams and his delegation planned to visit Gaza on Wednesday. He said, “we will meet with whoever wants to meet us.”

action alert: call for the release of san francisco youth

i have been remiss because there is so much to write about and so many people send me things they want me to post and i feel particularly awful for not having announced that my friend sameh habeeb has done something quite remarkable. he has created an online newspaper, based in gaza city, palestine. he started working towards this goal during the savagery that israeli terrorists unleashed on gaza. it is called the palestine telegraph. he has asked for writers to contribute, so if you write you should check out their website and submit items to them for publication.

coincidentally, sameh posted a news article today that my friend josie alerted me to as well as she knows the people involved. here is the email i received from josie that i was asked to share with others who can help, especially those in the bay area:

Lily, Nadeen, Mohammad, and 5 youth were arrested earlier today during the demonstrations and are calling for broad community support. Police appear to have targeted youth, Lily and Nadeen tried to unarrest them; they’re being charged with resisting arrest, and bail was set at $53,000 each.

Right now, they’re asking for people to be on call for this Monday and Tuesday to show up and support them at the arraignment proceedings.

They’ve also asked anyone who can loan a large chunk of money ($500+) for bail to contact Vanessa Huang (510-508-9106). The ideal is to raise the entirety of the bail money so that it will be refunded (partial bail is not).

We believe it’s important in the wake of the attacks on Gaza, and our local responses, to recall that Palestinians and Arabs are generally those who are the first to be targeted by the police, violent zionists, and the media. Now, more than ever, we need to stand in solidarity with our comrades in strategic defense.

Details to follow.

Thanks,
The Coordinating Team

here is the report in the palestine telegraph with details about what happened to these youth in san francisco:

What started off as a peaceful demonstration on March 21st, 2009 ended in severe police brutality and arrests of innocent young Arab Americans in the streets of San Francisco. Young Arab Americans turned out in record numbers this year compared to the last 6 years of demonstrations against the war on Iraq. They marched along with the International League of People’s Struggles Contingent at the end of the demonstration and filled in the civic center.

When an 8 year old Arab boy was grabbed by San Francisco police for allegedly carrying rocks in his backpack, young members of the Arab community intervened by first attempting to speak with police and retrieve the boy. After the police expressed an immense distaste for negotiating or discussing anything with the Arab American teenagers, a young Palestinian woman wrapped her arms around the boy to console him as he cried and to protect him from being taken by police.

The police agreed to allow the boy to go and the young woman and boy walked down the street. As I stared at the police, the young woman and the boy to ensure their security, I then saw a team of officers snatch the boy out of the young woman’s arms dropping her and another young woman immediately to the floor using batons and excessive force. As the crowd of young Arab Americans stared on an immediate sense of shock and urgency emerged in which members of the crowd tried to cross the barrier to pick up the two women off the floor and protect the young screaming child. As I ran in shock toward the child a police officer slammed the barrier with his baton about an inch away from my elbow. I then stared shocked and put my hands up as he jammed his baton across my mid section dropping me to the ground. From the ground I looked up only to find another officer slamming his baton onto the the previously broken arm of an Arab American boy.

The Police were swinging batons excessively knocking down only who appeared to be of Arab descent to the ground. About ten Arab American youth were brutally attacked by police as they screamed “back up” while they surrounded the crowd of activist by a mob of officers turning the screaming, angry and fearful crowd into an enclave of police brutality. The police officers pushed the barriers hard and fast jamming them into the stomachs of the youth at the front lines. Police arrested three and about an hour later sealed the entrances of the Civic Center Bart Station detaining six young Arab American men lining them up against a wall and later arresting them. Several youth went home injured or to the hospital in ambulances.

The Arab American community in the Bay Area is deeply saddened by this incident and is steadfast on holding those accountable for police brutality against innocent civilians. However before we can embark on this pursuit of justice, it is our responsibility to protect the civil rights of our youth and make them feel supported and understand the value of community power.

The youth are in jail right now and we need to post $250,000 to release them. The money will be put up as a bond so can therefore be returned to you. We are asking for every Arab American in the San Francisco Bay Area community to contribute at least what they would for their own children. As we chanted in the demonstration today “aint no power like the power of the youth because of the power of the youth don’t stop” We are asking for you to believe in your community and support our youth in a much needed time.

To loan these youth some money please contact Tev at 774-240-3403. We are trying to release them from jail this evening or tomorrow at the latest.

BY Loubna Qutami

here is a second email i received today about what you can do to help:

Below is a call for support, asking folks to call the SFPD, etc, asking for the release of the folks arrested on Saturday and the dropping of the insanely high bails being requested.

IMMEDIATE ACTION ALERT

Hi my name is ____________________________

I am calling about the arrests of:

Mustafa Albouyha

Elizabeth Haskell

Mohammed Ibrahim

Nadeen Elshorafa

These individuals were wrongfully arrested while participating in a legal, peaceful march yesterday. We are demanding that the charges be dropped immediately and that they be released to their families.

Make your call immediately to all of the following

SFPD Public Affairs

(415) 553-1651 (ph)

(415) 553-9229 (fax)

sfpd.online [at] sfgov.org

SF District Attorney

Bureau of Investigation: (415) 553-1030

Public Inquiries:

Erica Terry Derryck (415) 553-1167

Connie Chang (415) 553-9108

Mayor

(415) 554-6141

gavin.newsom [at] sfgov.org