Gaza

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No surprises here. Despite an easing of restrictions on imports into Gaza, the goods Israel permits to enter the world’s largest open-air prison are still well below what is required for the sustenance of a full human life.

Moreover, the virtual ban on exports means unemployment rates – hovering at around 30% – continue to be the worst in the world. Add to this the impact of Israel’s bombing of the civilian infrastructure and it comes as no surprise that poverty levels in Palestine are amongst the worst in the world.

Father Dave

source: gulfnews.com…

Ramallah: Poverty levels in the Palestinian Territories, and mainly in the Gaza Strip, have reached unprecedented levels with 11,626 families among a million Gazans officially approved by the Ministry of Palestinian Social Affairs as being in need of financial assistance, said a senior official.

Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Thana’a Al Khozendar, the Director-General of the Combat Poverty Programme at the Ministry of Social Affairs, the latest Israeli offensive against Gaza created more poverty and increased the list of needy families applying to the ministry for financial assistance.

“The Israeli military operation in Gaza added poorer people to their already long lists. The Israeli offensive also created richer people on the other hand,” said Dr Al Khozendar. “The tunnel’s business increased the numbers of rich people in Gaza and expanded the gap between rich and poor in Gaza.”

Israel’s blockade on Gaza has led to the flourishing of trade through underground tunnels between the strip and Egypt.

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It seems like the ultimate irony – a city that is known for food shortages producing it’s own cookbook – but here it is: “The Gaza Kitchen”! Moreover, as the title makes clear, the book does not try to hide its origins or shroud the fact that Gaza is a place we associate more with malnutrition than with culinary delight! Instead it blends recipe and narrative – tantalizing our taste buds while confronting us with the realities of the Israeli Occupation!

In truth, the combination of food and activism is an ancient one.  There is a saying in Arabic that translates roughly “how can you be my enemy when we have broken bread together”. If it were possible to introduce more Israelis to the Gaza kitchen, it might do a great deal for the cause of reconciliation and peace!

Father Dave

source: style.time.com…

Get a Taste Of Palestine in The Gaza Kitchen

By David Kaufman

Battered by Israel, ignored by Egypt and packed nearly as densely as Manhattan or Hong Kong, the Gaza Strip is among the most fragile flash-points in all of the Middle East. But this tiny sliver of land wedged between the stark Sinai Peninsula and the azure Mediterranean continues to prove that culture and tradition can exist even in the most challenging conditions. Case in point: The Gaza Kitchen, a new cookbook and that chronicles the role of cuisine in Gaza as tools for both sustenance and resistance.

Written by authors Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt—and partially funded by crowd-sourcing website Kickstarter—The Gaza Kitchen pairs photo-rich regional recipes with detailed accounts of Israel’s decades-long occupation and subsequent blockade. Filled with chef profiles and economic analysis, the book’s reportage is at once transportive and grim. But the recipes—pickled fruits, spice-laden salads, earthy vegetable stews, syrupy sweet desserts—are unquestionably mouthwatering despite their austerity.

With its focus on home-style cooking, rather than the region’s well-known street-food like hummus or falafel, The Gaza Kitchen humanizes a land and people often reduced to wartime cliche. “Gaza may be impoverished and under attack, but that doesn’t mean people have stopped giving importance to cooking and cuisine,” says El-Haddad, an author and activist who was born in Kuwait, raised between the Persian Gulf and Gaza and now lives in Maryland. “As Gazans struggle to transform rations and food aid into family meals, the dishes are testimony to the tenacity of a people still clinging to what’s good in life.”

read the rest of this review here

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It seems that the Cairo meeting has borne some fruit! According to the article reprinted below, plans for a new unity government are now well underway, with a firm timetable for the reunification process to be delivered before the end of the month!

This is not good news for Israel which has pursued a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy of the two Palestinian factions since Hamas’ electoral victory in 2006. Ironically though, as the article also shows, it has been the recent actions of Israel – both the recent attack on Gaza and the new settlement initiatives in the West Bank – that have been the driving force behind the reconciliation!

Father Dave

source: www.plenglish.com…

Unitary Agreement Comes into Force in Palestine

Ramallah, Jan 18 (Prensa Latina) The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Hamas organization will bring a timetable for reunification into force later this month, according to announcements today from the media involved in the talks that concluded yesterday between both parties. In the meeting, held in Cairo on Thursday, delegates from the two movements coordinated the mechanisms and dates to enforce Palestinian reconciliation, declared a spokesman by telephone from Cairo.

Coordination covers restarting the work of the Central Electoral Commission in the Gaza Strip by the 30th, at the very latest, said the report, while adding that in parallel, talks will be resumed on forming a nonpartisan transition government before the elections to the municipal councils.

Another initiative includes a session of the provincial leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, for a return to the group by Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the Islamist organization that governs Gaza.

The details from the report contradicted previous reports in the sense that delegations had been unable to reach agreements.

The renewed Palestinian conciliatory boost emerged late in November, during the three-week peak of Israeli naval, air and land attacks on Gaza Strip that killed more than 180 civilians, half of them women and children and wounded about 2,000, according to reliable calculations.

It also coincides with permission granted by the Israeli government to build over 6,000 homes for Jewish immigrants in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the seizure of tax revenues of the ANP by the Israeli government, in retaliation for raising Palestinian status at the U.N. to the level of non-member State.

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According to this report from the International Solidarity Movement, Mustafa Abu Jarad was doing nothing but simply farming his land when he was targeted by an Israeli sniper.

The sickening thing about these random acts of murderous violence is that if there is an attempt at retaliation, it will be interpreted as an unprovoked attack against Israel by Hamas militants!

One has to conclude that the IDF is playing a game – provoking the people of Gaza to a display of more violence so that they can justify another mass-killing. How long can this sort of sick game be allowed to go on! This man was a farmer. He had a family. He was only 20 years old!

Father Dave

source: palsolidarity.org…

Mustafa Abu Jarad, murdered in Gaza by the Israeli Army

January 15th 2013 | Gaza Strip
On January 14th 2013, Mustafa Abu Jarad (20) was working with a group of farmers on a plot of land around one kilometer away from the border fence at the north of Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip; when the Israeli army started shooting at them from a watch tower. Due to the heavy gunfire, the group ran away from the site, but came back after a while to resume the farming. On that moment a sniper directly targeted Mustafa, shooting him on the forehead. The bullet went through his head, causing him severe brain injuries. He was taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital, and then transferred to Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City due to the severity of his wounds, where he underwent urgent surgery to remove pieces of his skull embedded on the brain and drain excess blood. He remained stable but unresponsive in the I.C.U. after the surgery. Mustafa died several minutes after this photo was taken.
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According to the report from Gulf News posted below, the UAE has donated fifty million dollars to Gaza. Apparently the donation has been specifically targeted for the building of a city for released prisoners!

Is this a sign of where the Arab world is moving? The UAE has given its support to the Hamas government in Gaza and by-passed Mahmoud Abbas and his government in the West Bank. Meanwhile, according to this report from Al Jazeera, Abbas has again threatened to disband his Ramallah-based administration if Israeli settlement-expansion continues.

Once again it seems that the militant route taken by Hamas is paying dividends while cooperative path taken by Abbas leads only to a dead end. This does not portend well for Israel or for the world at large.

Father Dave

source: gulfnews.com…

UAE donates $50 million to Palestine

Gaza: The UAE has donated $50 million to build the Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan city in Gaza strip for released Palestinian prisoners.

The donation was announced by Yousuf Sabhi Al Ghariz, Minister of Public Works and Housing in Gaza’s government.

Al Ghariz praised the prominent and massive role played by the UAE in supporting the Palestinian people, as well as its support and solidarity for Palestine’s justified cause.

He extended his heartfelt thanks to the UAE President, government, and people for the donation.