Potential Long-term Cease-fire leads to more Humanitarian Aid and Reconstruction Efforts in Gaza

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Credit: Mohammed Salem (Reuters)

Credit: Mohammed Salem (Reuters)

Ladies and gentlemen, after 50 days of fighting that has left 2,139 Palestinian casualties and 69 Israeli casualties, it appears that we have another cease-fire in Gaza that has been active as of 19:00(EEST).

A senior Israeli official, who wishes to be anonymous, has made the statement that “Israel has once again accepted an Egyptian proposal for a complete cease-fire” which he continued to declare is “unlimited in time.”

Over the course of the past 7 weeks, there have been many unsuccessful claimed proposals for a true cease-fire, but this is the first time in the 2014 conflict that has legitimate substance. This particular agreement would ease, but not lift, Israeli restrictions on both travel and trade which largely resembles and revives the terms of a cease-fire agreement conducted in 2012 that ended an 8 day air conflict. This agreement will also allow for both construction materials as well as humanitarian aid to enter Gaza in large quantities for a major reconstruction efforts as long as it is strictly monitored to ensure that the concrete and cement would go only to civilian purposes.

This particular cease-fire agreement serves as hope for the Palestinians inhabiting Gaza. Now more than ever, humanitarian workers have more access and better safety circumstances to effectively conduct efforts to bring aid to the victims of this devastating conflict. For the next month, I am continuing to collect goods (clothes, heaters, blankets, toiletries, MREs) and I am planning a trip to escort the materials to Gaza in October.

To better the lives of those who have greatly suffered the atrocities of war, I humbly request your donations to help make my effort a reality. To cover travel and shipping costs of the goods, my goal is to raise 2,000USD by 1 October 2014 (inshallah).

For more information on the charity as well as a form to make a donation: 
http://www.gofundme.com/rehumanization4gaza

For questions or a request for more information, please e-mail me at: 
luluetlemonde@gmail.com

Like us on Facebook to help spread the word:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/R-E-H-U-M-a-N-I-Z-a-T-I-O-N

My organization is teamed up Lulu et le monde Photographie © and I am selling prints from my photography series from Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. I will be at the First Friday Art Walk (5 September) continuing the effort. If you have a request, please e-mail me and I will send a catalogue and an order form.

I appreciate all of the support and I cannot thank you guys enough for giving me the motivation and strength to do this. You all are amazing! Please check out the links as well as like and share this post to help spread the world and make this effort a reality!

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A Life Under Siege: Facts of the Current Conflict in Gaza (Pre- June 2014- Present)

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Pre- June 2014 Conflict


 

The current conflict between Israel and Gaza, that commenced in June 2014, was sewn within the conclusion of the last conflict in 2012 where it has been under siege for years. The living conditions were poor already but, with the addition of both Israeli airstrikes and ground raids, roughly 15% of Gaza’s 1.8  million Palestinians have suffered some form of damage to their homes. June 2014- Present:

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Illustrated History of Israel-Gaza Relations: Post 2005- Present

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Israel continues the argument that its occupation of the Gaza Strip ended with the unilateral withdrawal of its settler population in 2005. After conducting such actions, Israel then declared that the Gaza Strip was to be “hostile territory” and it consequently declared war against its population. Neither the argument nor the statement is tenable for despite the removal of 8,000 settlers along with the military infrastructure that protected their illegal presence, Israel maintained effective control of the Gaza Strip and thus remains the occupying power– as defined by Article 47 of the Hague Regulations. Israel’s occupation of Gaza has continued past 2005 and continues for Israel maintains control of the territory’s air space, territorial waters, electromagnetic sphere, population registry as well as the movement of all resources, goods, and people.

Israel also makes the argument that its withdrawal from Gaza demonstrates that ending the occupation will not bring peace. Some politicians have gone so far as to say that Palestinians squandered their opportunity to build a “Palestinian paradise” in order to build a terrorist haven instead. These arguments aim to obfuscate Israel’s responsibilities in the Gaza Strip, as well as the West Bank. As Prime Minister Netanyahu explained, Israel must ensure that it does not “get another Gaza in Judea and Samaria…. I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”

Palestinians have yet to experience a day of self-governance. Israel immediately imposed a siege upon the Gaza Strip when Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006 and tightened it severely when Hamas routed Fatah in June 2007. The siege has created a “humanitarian catastrophe” in the Gaza Strip. Inhabitants will not be able to access clean water, electricity or tend to even the most urgent medical needs. The World Health Organization explains that the Gaza Strip will be unlivable by 2020. Not only did Israel not end its occupation, it has created a situation in which Palestinians cannot survive in the long-term.


 

Since Israel has claimed to have withdrawn from Gaza in 2005, there have been strong periodic eruptions of violence between Israel and Hamas where Hamas has launched rockets in Israel and Israeli warplanes followed by striking targets in Gaza. This back and forth violence has escalated by leading to Israeli ground invasions on Gaza twice. Since 2005, there have been three major conflicts between occupying Israel and Hamas. The following charts illustrate the similarities and the differences between the last campaigns of violence since the supposed end of Israel’s occupation of Gaza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UN calls for another “ceasefire” in Gaza war: will this truce prove to be successful?

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Today marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and the commencement of the celebrations of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. With positive fused vibrations, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting earlier this morning and has called for “an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire” in the Gaza war between the Israeli government and Hamas. The urgent pressure for a ceasefire was followed the newest attacks launched on Sunday by both Israeli and Hamas forces despite the various unsuccessful proposals regarding  temporary halts to the fighting of the past three weeks. Will this temporary truce ring true and provoke further diplomatic negotiations?

Israel: A “Moral Democracy” or an “Apartheid State”?

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It is really interesting and noteworthy to see how western and international media sources have portrayed the current situation that is unravelling another chapter to the perpetual Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The following video clip is an Israeli propaganda video issued upon Benjamin Netanyahu’s social media platforms:

The description released on his Facebook page reads as follows:

WATCH AND SHARE this important video, which outlines the clear and obvious difference between a moral democracy defending itself, and a murderous terrorist organization

On that note, I would like to lay down some facts. The definition of democracy, let alone a “moral democracy,” would not include a country that occupies another group of people for more than 40 years and disallow them the most elementary civic and human rights. A country that pursues a discriminatory policy against a fifth of its Palestinian citizens inside the 67 borders also cannot be a democracy. In political science, Israel often used to be referred to as being a “herrenvolk” democracy– a loose-termed form of democracy that only applies for the masters of the system. The fact that Israel allows people to participate in the formal side of democracy, namely to vote or to be elected, is useless and meaningless if you do not give them any share in the common good or in the common resources of the state, or if you discriminate against them despite the fact that you allow them to participate in the elections. On almost every level, from official legislation through governmental practices as well as social and cultural attitudes, Israel is only a democracy for one group –one ethnic group– that given the space that Israel now controls, is not even a majority group anymore. In a realistic perspective with the facts applied into place, it is extremely difficult to use any known definition of democracy which would be applicable for the Israeli case.

Recently, US Secretary of State John Kerry was noted for voicing his concerns on the danger of Israel becoming an “Apartheid state.” Portrayed continuously by international corporal media, Kerry’s controversial words have been challenged and cited with facts to open the perspective that Israel’s segregated social systems and dynamics already meet the definition of apartheid.

Politicians and media figures alike have dissected this statement and applied it to various standpoints. The most extreme comes from Abby Martin suggesting strongly, and justifying with evidence, that Israel is already an apartheid state. Israel has a permit system that restricts travel for ethnic Palestinians living in the West Bank territories which limits where they can live, unless they obtain permits from the Israeli government. The check-points, that separate the West Bank and monitoring the Palestinians movement within their confined territory, are ridiculously similar to South Africa’s “Pass System” in which restricted the movement of black South Africans.

In regards to the segregation and restriction of travel, ex president Jimmy Carter was quoted in 2006 stating the following:

When Israel [occupies] territories deep within the West Bank, and connects the 200 or so settlements with a road and then prohibits the Palestinians from using that road, or in many cases even crossing that road, this perpetuates even worse instances of apartness, or apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa.

As the last century reveals, the take over of Palestinian land by Israeli colonies means that Palestinians are losing more land-less land to call their own means less rights. Following the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948, the land was effectively cleansed of Palestinian inhabitants. One only needs to look at the demographics today to see that over 70 per cent of the residents of Gaza once lived in what is now southern Israel.

Similar to the situation of the ignored yet displaced Palestinian citizens, there is an estimated amount of 90,000 citizens of Arab descent living in 176 unrecognized villages around Israeli. The inhabitants of such villages are considered as being “internal refugees” that were displaced after the 1948 war when they fled their homes with nowhere else to go. The status of being unrecognized by Israel signifies that thousands of Arab residents have no access whatsoever to public services including water, roads, education, healthcare, and electricity.

For the citizens they do recognize, their have been strange and seemingly cruel and unnecessary Israeli laws that separate families. Israel has upheld a law that bans Palestinians from seeing and living their spouses in Israel. Despite human rights workers denounces the law as being blatantly racist, Israel’s supreme court has legally prevented thousands of citizens in the West Bank and Gaza from living with their significant others in Israel.

Even with Israel’s reputation of being outwardly liberal and open, there are still recently opened racially segregated schools. Not only is this occurring in smaller villages, but even in Israel’s extremely liberal center- Tel Aviv. Last summer, Israel’s most liberal city introduced kindergartens and pre-schools that were segregated by race.

The discrimination and injustices within Israel do no just apply to Palestinians and Arabs. As refugees, predominantly from Ethiopia, have sought out Israel for opportunity and safety, further hate crimes and discrimination have been committed against them as well. A report in Haaretz claims that “Israel forcibly injected African immigrants with birth control” to sterilize them which dropped the Ethiopian birth rate in Israel by 20 per cent.

These unpopular truths of institutionalised discrimination and systematic oppression over any group based on race is the definition of apartheid. Though these realities are rarely discussed nor understood properly, they  further into ignorance that fuels the conflict further. To really address the serious issues at hand, the following data illustrations of the situation convey the real context through the alternative viewpoint of the aid of visual representations. The following the graphics are from the site Visualizing Palestine, which serves as a site to create a visual platform with informative facts and impacting graphics about the occupied region with the objective of a better representation to further understanding. The following are prime examples to push the limits of both sides of the spectrum seeing Israel as being a “moral democracy” and the other extreme, seeing Israel as an “apartheid state.”

THE FORCED EXILE OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE:

 

THE ENFORCED MAINTENANCE OF THE OCCUPATION:

 

THE CONTINUED DISPLACEMENT AND DESTRUCTION:


 

THE TRENDS OF VIOLENCE AND AGGRESSION BETWEEN ISRAELI AND PALESTINIAN DEATHS:


 

THE ILLEGAL DETENTION OF PALESTINIAN CITIZENS:

 

THE SEGREGATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES & VITAL NECESSITIES:

 

THE SEGREGATION OF TRAVEL:

 

THE PHYSICAL SEGREGATION OF THE WALL:

What this truly denotes to is the reality of a humanitarian tragedy against innocent civilians- Israelis, too, but particularly to those with such risk and poor standards of living in both Gaza as well as in the West Bank territories. With the conflict perpetuating with growing tensions and hatred based upon the ultimate blaming in regards to the “us and them syndrome.” With that mentality established firmly on both sides, it seems impossible for any “solution” to manifest. The mentality of both sides traces back to the primal root of fear applied in the context of playing defense to protect “us” from “them.” Keeping the minorities of both ruling forces (the Israeli government on one side with Hamas on the other), the real citizens that I have met in context, on the ground, from both backgrounds evoke a desire to solve the conflict to end all conflicts by a humanitarian aspect with the focus on nurturing victims rather than creating them. Seemingly intangible and ideal, the fear of “them” keeps it from manifesting into a tangible reality via diplomacy.

Who is to say that achieving stability in the region cannot be obtained through both soft and smart power- diplomatic compromise with all of the citizens’ best interests made into the first priority. Hard power (the use of force, coercion, and economic sanctions as an immediate fear response) has proved to be unsuccessful and outdated in context, and the new approach use the understanding of history (for this is the first time in history in which we have access to all pre-dating information recorded) and actually come to understand it and analyse it to prevent past mistakes and attempt to pave a new route in regards that justifies our position in the world as human beings.

 

The following is a story of hope that shows how simple and affective certain aspects of this ideal can be seen on a personal level and how truly influential diplomatic relations can be:

 

Following the murders of both Israeli and Palestinian teenagers, in their families’ dark times of grieving, they have turned to the other mourning families for support with deeper connotations of ceasing further violence rather than encourage more crimes of revenge.

On Sunday, the mayor of Jerusalem posted on Facebook about an “emotional and special telephone conversation between two families that have lost their sons,” both the families of the Israeli teen Naftali Fraenkel and the Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Nir Barkat said that during his visit to the Fraenkel family, he had a chance to speak to the father of Mohammed Abu Khdeir and expressed his pain regarding the “barbaric” murder in which he was burned alive after sustaining severe head trauma.

After this encounter, the mayor then suggested that Hussein Abu Khdeir should speak with Yishai Fraenkel, the uncle of Naftali Fraenkel, who was recently quoted telling the press that

“the life of an Arab is equally precious to that of a Jew. Blood is blood, and murder is murder, whether that murder is Jewish or Arab.”

The Mohammed’s father and Naftali’s uncle did indeed take the mayor’s advice and sought out each other’s comfort and guidance via telephone.

Another significant inaction that was organised by Rabbi Rafi Ostroff, the chair of the religious council of Gush Etzion, involved Palestinians from Hebron consoled the Frankel family. A group of Palestinians accompanied by the Rabbi showed up at the door of the Fraenkel family with intentions of “comforting the bereaved.” They came backed by the following sentiment,

“things will only get better when we learn to cope with each other’s pain and stop getting angry at each other. Our task is to give strength to the family and also to take a step toward my nation’s liberation. We believe that the way to our liberation is through the hearts of Jews.”

Following the conclusion of the visit, the same Palestinian man (anonymous for confidentiality purposes) was interviewed again and shared that they were “received very, very nicely” from the Fraenkel family and, more specifically that Rachel Fraenkel (the mother of Naftali) was “incredible.”

The significance of such actions are absolutely incredible. The portrayal of the current situation in the most dominant outlets in both western and international media have such negative connotations that provoke the separation of ideologies and differences which ultimately dehumanizes the “enemy” and provokes the “us and them” syndrome.

Six rockets fired at Ashdod

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Six rockets were fired in Ashdod (35km from the Gaza border) around 12:30- one rocket landed in an open part of the city (see above), another landed in backyard of a family’s home injuring one child, while the remaining four were intercepted by the Iron Dome. This occurs one day after a drone was shot down over the city.

Protests in Jerusalem indicate further escalations of Violence (02 July 2014)

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The burned body of 16 year-old Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir was found this morning in the forests of Shuafat, a neighbourhood in Jerusalem. This find, following Israel’s reactions towards the discovery of the bodies of three Israeli settlers of the West Bank earlier this week, has triggered outrage on both sides that indicate potential further escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

After DNA tests confirmed the identity of the young boy, police investigated the death as a possible retaliation killing for the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers who went missing on the 12 of June.

One hour after Palestinians claimed that an Arab teenager had “been forced into a car in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina”( Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman), “the police had erected roadblocks in the area to locate the vehicle.” Following such actions, the boy’s body was soon after discovered in a forest near Jerusalem. Investigations regarding both potentially criminal as well as nationalistic motives for the killing were immediately commenced.

Yitzhak Aharonovich, the Israeli minister of internal security, strongly suggested locals to “lower the volume” in regards to suspicion of a “revenge attack” by Jews. On Israel Radio, he announced that “there are attempts to make a connection between the two incidents and we are still checking all directions… there are many possibilities, criminal and nationalistic, and everything is being examined in a responsible manner.”

The timeline of events regarding the boy’s disappearance to the discovery of his body are as follows:

In accordance to his relatives, the teenagers was last seen leaving his father’s appliance store around 3:30 a.m where he was last seen sitting on a wall outside the mosque with some other teenagers as they waited for the first call to prayer that commences the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Mahmoud Abu Khdeir, the imam of the mosque as well as a cousin to the boy, said the other teenagers left to get food for the traditional predawn meal when a gray Hyundai pulled up to the mosque around 3:45 a.m. and forced Muhammad into the car.

“He was kidnapped and killed by the settlers, and the police know that very well,” Mahmoud Abu Khdeir told reporters.

Police claimed that they were reviewing footage from surrounding security cameras along the street while the imam suggests that they have been used in the past to identify and arrest Palestinian stone-throwers. He continued by saying that “they are trying to say that it is an honor killing, and this is categorically not true.”

His body was found four hours after the reported disappearance burned and in a forest in Shuafat, Jerusalem.

The remains were immediately taken for examination as well as to conduct further investigation at Israel’s Abu Kabir Forensic Institute.

Jerusalem has been a center of protest and unrest following the recovery of the three Israeli teenager’s bodies. 28 people were arrested Tuesday afternoon at a protest that consequently deteriorated into anti-Arab mob by extremist right-wing activists with connotations of revenge against innocent Arab youths over the Israeli settlers’ murder. Today, the protests conisted of Israeli police spraying tear gas and firing rubber bullets upon approxomately 200 Palestinians in Shuafat, by the entrance of Jerusalem.

With the events of Tuesday’s protests along with the clouded judgements dictated by the rage and tensions on both sides, it is quite difficult to deduct what is truly going on here nor does it seem possible to predict what events will unfold further.

(Canon 5d mark3)