FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Life in Gaza

More than four months after Gaza was devastated by a massive Israeli military bombardment, rebuilding has been slow to come. The problem is not a lack of funding or will. However, an Israeli-led blockade has kept all rebuilding materials, including concrete or any tools that could be used to rebuild the hundreds of homes and buildings here, out of Gaza. The border entries, controlled by the Israeli and Egyptian governments, are sealed to almost all traffic.

There is an intense desire here to rebuild. There is no shortage of skilled labor. Billions of dollars of aid from countries around the world, including the US, has been pledged. But scarcely a single house has been rebuilt. From the Rafah border in the south to the town of Beit Hanoun in the north, people are still living in tents, or with family members, or in shelters.

The range of destruction is breathtaking. More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in 22 days, the vast majority civilians, including more than 300 children. Schools, health clinics, houses, and, most importantly, the basic infrastructure of both public services and government has been destroyed. Rubble is everywhere. Basic government structures, such as the building that houses the Palestinian parliament are all destroyed.

Two days ago, a delegation 66 activists, scholars, journalists and human rights workers, mostly from the US, visited the Parliament building. The visit was organized by the peace group Code Pink, which has led several delegations attempting to break the blockade. The group was surprised to find the building housing the legislature reduced partly to rubble, and Parliament members forced to meet in a tent outside. Having no building to meet in is just one of the many problems facing the elected government of the Palestinian people. “Not only are more than 11,000 prisoners in Israeli jails,” explained Dr. Ahmed Bahar, the acting speaker of the Palestinian legislative council, and part of the Hamas political party. “Forty members of the legislative council are imprisoned, including the head of the legislature.Can you imagine if the head of the legislature, of anywhere else in the world, were held in prison by a foreign government?” Dr. Bahar appealed to the US activists assembled for help in breaking the seige. “They don’t allow basic construction material to enter,” he said. “Cement, glass, wood, steel.”

Gaza is among the most densely populated places on earth. One and a half million people live in 139 square miles, and it has been described as the world’s largest prison. Traveling across this very small area, you meet people everywhere who just want to live a normal life, but are being prevented by a cruel blockade from going anywhere or doing anything.

“The biggest lie that has been told is that gaza is a hostile entity,” declares John Ging, the head of the United Nation’s Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip. “Its populated by well educated, decent people. They’re not spitting hatred. Theyre asking for help, theyre asking for justice, theyre asking for the rule of law.” An Irish former soldier with a staff of 10,000, Ging is a UN bureaucrat, not an activist, but his respect for the international law has made him a passionate spokesperson for a rebuilding of Gaza.

Under the current seige, explains, Ging, “Theres no cement, even if its to repair a hospital or school or health center. So people are being kept alive, nothing more.” Its been said in the US media that the situation in Gaza is complicated, that the seige is part of a defense against terrorism, but Ging denies these claims. “When it comes down to it, its rather simple whats needed,” he says. “What we now need to focus on is creating a life for people here. We need to see the depoliticization of assisstance. What we have here in gaza is a failure to uphold those basic human rights.”

Gaza is currently currently hosting several delegations of international human rights observers and activists from the US and Europe. With each month, more people come here, and see the painful reality of the situation here. And with each new arrival, the seige perhaps moves a step closer to ending.

President Obama is in Cairo today, and members of Code Pink plan to ask him to visit Gaza. Tens of thousands of people from the US have signed a petition asking him to see the devastation. Across Gaza, people are looking for some sign that the new president will stand up for human rights in Palestine. “We ask Obama not to close his eyes to the Palestinian catastrophe,” says Dr. Bahar. “We are running out of time,” says John Ging. “We need to move from keeping people alive to giving them a life.”

JORDAN FLAHERTY is a journalist based in New Orleans, and an editor of Left Turn Magazine. He was the first writer to bring the story of the Jena Six to a national audience and his reporting on post-Katrina New Orleans shared a journalism award from New America Media. He is also co-director of PATOIS: The New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival. He can be reached at neworleans@leftturn.org.

.

 

 

 

More articles by:

Jordan Flaherty is a filmmaker and journalist based in New Orleans. You can see more of his work at jordanflaherty.org.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
February 18, 2020
John Pilger
Julian Assange Must be Freed, Not Betrayed
Peter Harrison
Religion is a Repeating Chapter in the History of Politics
Norman Solomon
The Escalating Class War Against Bernie Sanders
Conn Hallinan
Irish Elections and Unification
Dean Baker
We Shouldn’t Have to Beg Mark Zuckerberg to Respect Democracy
Sam Pizzigati
A Silicon Valley Life Lesson: Money That ‘Clumps’ Crushes
Arshad Khan
Minority Abuse: A Slice of Life in Modi’s India
Walden Bello
China’s Economy: Powerful But Vulernable
Nicolas J S Davies
Afghan Troops say Taliban are Brothers and War is “Not Really Our Fight.”
Nyla Ali Khan
The BJP is Not India, and Every Indian is Not a Modi-Devotee
Binoy Kampmark
Buying Elections: The Bloomberg Meme Campaign
Jonah Raskin
Here’s Hoping
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Herakles in the Age of Climate Chaos
Bob Topper
The Conscience of a Conservative
John W. Whitehead
We’re All in This Together
Gala Pin
Bodies in Freedom: a Barcelona Story
Laura Flanders
Democracy, Dictatorship and Bloomberg
James Chandler
Among Cruel Children
February 17, 2020
Sheldon Richman
Anti-BDS Laws Violate Our Freedom
John Horning
NEPA is Our National Defense System

Evelyn Leopold
How the UN’s Middle East Peace Plan Was Trounced by Its Own Members
Stephen Cooper
“Just Mercy” and Justice Don’t Exist in Alabama
Patrick Cockburn
Sinn Fein’s Victory is Ireland’s ‘Brexit Moment’ When Left-Out Voters Turn on the Elite
Ralph Nader
“Democratic Socialism” – Bring it on Corporate Socialists!
Phillip Doe
Every Day’s a Holiday for the Oil Business in Colorado
Binoy Kampmark
Fashion Fetishism, Surgical Masks and Coronavirus
Cesar Chelala
The Democrats’ New Chapter
Robert Koehler
The Wall: Separating Democracy From Voters
Peter Cohen
Time to Retire the “He Can’t Beat Trump” Trope
Sr. Kathleen Erickson
Lessons From Ministering on the Border
Alvaro Huerta
Another Five Lessons for Democrats to Defeat Trump in 2020
Wim Laven
Donald Trump’s Plan for America: Make it Ignorant
Christopher Brauchli
You Tube’s Trump Predicament
Steve Klinger
Trump Shoots Romney at Prayer Breakfast; GOP Shrugs
Elliot Sperber
Ode to the City Bus 
James Haught
Megachurch Mess
Weekend Edition
February 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Mayor Mike, Worse Than Mayor Pete
Bruce E. Levine
“Sublime Madness”: Anarchists, Psychiatric Survivors, Emma Goldman & Harriet Tubman
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Leader of the Pack
Jennifer Matsui
The Doomsday Cuckoo Clock
Paul Street
Things Said in Confidence to 4000 Close Friends This Week
Jonathan Cook
Even With Corbyn Gone, Antisemitism Threats Will Keep Destroying the UK Labour Party
Thomas Klikauer
Cambridge Analytica: a Salesgirl’s Report
Joseph Natoli
Vichy Democrats vs. the Master Voice
David Rosen
Sanders vs. the Establishment Democrats: McGovern All Over Again?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail