Tag Archives: Gaza

A Few of My Thoughts on One State or Two: Palestine

I am often asked if I support a one state solution or two state solution. Well my answer is…both.
In my ideal world:

-End of occupation and withdrawal of troops from West Bank and E Jerusalem.
-Removal of Israeli forces from Jordan Border Crossing (Allenby Bridge)
-Creation of elevated train service from Gaza to West Bank under full control of Palestine with Israel controlling the ground under it.
-Removal of all settlers from West Bank
-End of all trade restrictions on Palestine
-Creation of a sustainable economy in Palestine
-Resettlement of 500,000+ Palestinian refugees to West Bank
-Jerusalem to be united and administered as an international zone
-Development of deep-sea port in Gaza controlled by Palestine
-Cessation of all Israeli military incursions and operations in Palestine and cessation of armed resistance attacks from Palestinian factions.
-Banishment of all ultra-national and ultra-religious factions and parties

Under this idea the need for armed factions would disappear and freedom of movement would be re-established. Focus would be on economy and state building not defense. Mutual recognition and diplomacy would replace the current animosity between both entities. People would begin to have normal lives living in peace knowing both people have a right to self determination. Slowly movement of people between states and interaction between the two will increase evolving into a US-Canada model.

20+ Years

-The formation of a bi-national government with equal rights for all people and religions.
-A move to one state will begin with the right of return granted to all refugees- Jewish and Palestinian.
-Two strong economies will merge into one with neither having the upper hand.
-Dissolution of JNF
-Recognition and rights given to Bedouin villages- equality with kibbutz’s
-Prohibition of civilian owned firearms.
-Removal of separation barrier
-Formation of joint military forces and end of mandatory service
-Representation at the UN as a bi-national state

I am far from being a politician or lawyer and theses are just my ideas and thoughts- nothing more.

My Scary Night: Cabon Monoxide Poisoning

Posing for the camera-this is Kreature my house elf

Posing for the camera-this is Kreature my house elf

Gaza is cold at night and with the power outages sometimes we use a gas generator so we can turn on a space heater. Last night we almost lost our lives because of that. I was huddled close to the heater in out bedroom trying to keep warm and my husband was out doing paperwork in another room catching up on news and things. He came to me and said his head hurt and he was dizzy. I thought he was just working too hard and had him sit down next to me to relax. After a few minutes our cat jumped up on the bed and started acting strange nudging his head against my husband’s hand. We ignored him thinking he just wanted more food (he is a little overweight). Then he jumped to the floor and started howling like he was dying. That is when it occurred to me what was going on. We were being poisoned by carbon monoxide! I opened the balcony and put my cat outside and put my husband in a chair and pushed him outside to the fresh air. My cat finally revived but my husband was getting worse. I ran to my neighbour for help to call an ambulance. I was frantic and not thinking straight and my head was spinning because of the gas. Thankfully my neighbour called for me while we worked on reviving my husband. The ambulance came after what seemed like forever (in reality it was only 10 minutes) and they took my husband to AL Shifa hospital. At the hospital they gave my husband oxygen and IV fluids. Thankfully we are all safe now. I have been through natural disasters and wars but nothing was as scary as last night.
I can’t even think of how close I was to losing my family without getting emotional. It makes me angry that this is common problem in Gaza and every year we lose people to this because we don’t have normal electricity. If nothing else we need to make sure every home has a carbon monoxide detector which will help save lives.
Right now I am so thankful to God that we are all alive and my cat is getting extra sardines and plenty of hugs. He is a hero in our family.
His day job: guarding my pink shoes

His day job: guarding my pink shoes

A little about my cat.
His name is Kreature after a character in Harry Potter-spelled differently of course. We met in 2005 in Central Park New York City at a cat-adoptathon. He likes fresh Mediterranean sardines and warm milk. His hobbies are sleeping and warming his belly in the sun on the balcony.
Kreature and his best friend Far

Kreature and his best friend Far

Warming the bed

Warming the bed

Mugging for the camera in Gaza

Mugging for the camera in Gaza

Being a cat is so hard

Being a cat is so hard

My view: Storm Alexa Hits Gaza

Ma'an News

Ma’an News

I wanted to write this during the storm but it was too cold to get my fingers and brain to work. Storm Alexa hit us very hard in Gaza. I have lived through 2 hurricanes but this was something I had never experienced before. On Tuesday morning the rain was light so I headed out to get a few supplies and some warm clothes. In all honesty I thought the talk about the coming storm was just that: talk. I never expected what would come and I don’t think others did either. Who would have thought Gaza would be flooded to such a degree? Who would have thought we would be forced to use boats to get around some areas? Snow? Certainly not I.
Wednesday the storm started and the rain was fairly constant but it wasn’t as bad as people had said it would be.I was not worried after all- we needed the rain. Farmers were talking about how the drought would affect crops. Unfortunately overnight the storm grew stronger and the winds started to rage. My windows shook and I could hear metal being blown around outside. When I woke up in the morning it was bitter cold and the electricity was still off. A thick blanket of fog covered the Seaport and you could hear the waves crashing hard against the sea wall and beach.
Dense fog at the Seaport

Dense fog at the Seaport

I tried to take pictures but could only get a few shots before I ran back inside and under covers.

Waves crashing

Waves crashing

Most of the day I spent bundled up drinking hot tea. Water soon started coming in my windows- forced in by the driving winds. I put as many towels as I could to sop up the mess but it was a losing battle. My kitchen and laundry room were also taking on some water and every hour I was mopping it up trying to keep up with water coming in. Ironically there was water in my house from the storm yet none in my pipes. We had only 45 minutes of electricity that day so it was expected.The temperatures were dipping all the way down to freezing and reports of snow in some places in North Gaza for the first time in 30+ years. Gaza does not have municipal gas lines and homes are not equipped with heating like in the West. Our only source of heat are space heaters and without electricity that was impossible. Even making a fire was out of the question because all of the wood was drenched and the wind was fierce.

Flooding in Rafah , south Gaza

Flooding in Rafah , south Gaza

Flooding started to increase and thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes. The rain reservoirs were unable to take on more water and it started to inundate areas. UN schools were opened and people were able to have a dry place to escape to. Many of these people will be without homes now after this storm. In some places ‘homes’ are merely a few pieces of corrugated metal and the wind and water have demolished them.
By Saturday I was beginning to think the rain and wind would never stop. I was cold and disheartened only getting from under the covers to mop up water and make hot tea. I was thankful to still have a roof over my head though. Seeing pictures of the flooded areas broke my heat. How much more can Gaza take? If we are not being pounded by bombs we are getting battered by a storm! Even with all this the Israeli ‘army’ shot and killed one man near the border and injured another picking potatoes.
The only good news is how people here are helping one another through this. Mosques and other charities are taking donations of food and warm clothes to help those who have lost everything. People in Gaza have always faced hardships and I guess this storm was just another one to get through.

People delivering bread to those stranded in their homes.

People delivering bread to those stranded in their homes.

120,000 chickens died from the storm

120,000 chickens died from the storm

Beautiful Moon Setting over the Sea in Gaza

The moon was big and bright this morning as it set over the Mediterranean Sea.
moon dec 18 13 part 3

moon dec 18 13 part 3
As it became lighter the moon was still an amazing sight.
Moon dec 18 13

moon dec 18 13 part 2

HuffPost Live on the Situation in Gaza after Storm Alexa

HuffPost Live

I was given the opportunity to speak on HuffPost Live World Brief on the situation in Gaza.

Life in Gaza: ‘We wake up to terrifying sonic booms and try to sleep while Israelis are shelling’

My article published in The Independent UK on life in Gaza

I was thinking about how I would start to write about life in Gaza – how I would lay the words out with eloquence – when suddenly an explosion boomed close by and those thoughts fled my mind.
I didn’t know the source; maybe it was internal training or perhaps another air strike.
Movement and horns stopped on the street below, a brief pause to make sure it wasn’t anyone close that was hit, then movement resumed. My heart is still pounding and my mind racing and, like every other woman in Gaza, I say a quick prayer of thanks that my family is near and safe and hope no one was hurt.

My husband lights a cigarette in the next room while reports come in that it was an “internal” explosion from training. Either way I guess it doesn’t really matter, it is just enough to remind us nothing in Gaza is ever normal.

I like to stand out on my balcony in the wee hours of the morning just before the call to prayer. Everything is so silent and still and the stars above are so close you can touch them. It is easy to forget in those few minutes where I am, so easy to forget the challenges that plague our daily life.

The UN issued a report last week saying Gaza is becoming uninhabitable and the humanitarian conditions are deteriorating – sadly that is true.

We wake up to terrifying sonic booms and try to sleep while the Israeli navy is shelling. Simple things like daily running water and a full day of electricity have now become luxuries. Nearly four weeks ago the sole power generator in Gaza stopped working due to lack of fuel. We had become used to the eight hours of electricity we were allotted but now we are down to four to six hours at a time and lengthy 12-14 hour blackouts.

At any given moment at least one-third of Gaza will be in the dark. During the long days of summer it is much easier to cope but now the days are much shorter and it seems most of our time is spent in the dark. Students study by candlelight and women cook by flashlight. Men gather on the balconies to smoke and talk politics – the only light that can be seen are the small red dots of their glowing cigarettes.

Some families are able to afford a converter than runs on a car battery and can power a few small items. The cost for the unit is about 700 shekels (£120) and the batteries cost another 700 shekels. This might not seem like much but even that is out of reach for a majority of families especially now the unemployment rate is nearly 40 per cent. Stores, restaurants and larger apartment buildings often use gas generators. These days, however, it is nearly impossible to get fuel and queues are very long with some people waiting 24 hours just for a few litres.

Drivers are feeling the shortage and finding a taxi is impossible at times. Yet everyone knows how hard it is and we try to help each other as much as possible. People pile as many in as can fit in a car, sometimes sitting on laps, just to make sure others can get to their homes. It is not uncommon to see three or even four people squeezed into the front seat of a taxi going from Gaza City to the refugee camps in the middle of Gaza. Some cars are now running on a mixture of cooking oils and the smell of falafel and French fries trails after them. Cooking gas supply runs low every winter but this year it is the worst shortage in a long time. An average family goes through one 12kg gas cylinder a month and it costs 65 shekels. It takes more than a month to get a refill. Neighbours are helping each other and women rotate cooking duties to save gas-cooking large meals for multiple families at one time.

Others less fortunate are resorting to cooking over open fires outside, burning paper and cardboard as fuel. I am constantly worried what will happen when the cold and wet weather arrives next month. Rubbish collection has nearly stopped in the densely populated city. Swarms of flies, wild cats and dogs hover around the rubbish piles. In an attempt to help alleviate the situation, donkey carts have now been deployed to collect what they can. So far it is not making a dent.

Two weeks ago the sewage pumping stations stopped working in many areas – they simply did not have the fuel to work. Raw sewage leaks into the streets. Fathers carry their children to get to school and most cars won’t venture into it. The sludge reeks and brings mosquitoes in swarms.

There is fear it will end up in the water supply as well. The Al-Shati refugee camp, also known as Beach camp, has reported foul smelling and discoloured water this week and many have fallen ill with stomach maladies already. My area has been lucky so far, no sewage in the streets but unfortunately we don’t have any water at all.

As I write this we are beginning the fourth day with dry taps. With the erratic electricity schedule the water pumping station is rarely working when my building has electricity so even when there is water in the lines there is no way to get it up to the flats. Before the fuel crisis we only received water from the municipal lines three or four times a week, now it is half of that if we are lucky. We fill old bottles when we do have water.

This is life in Gaza now: a constant struggle to find the bare necessities. Gaza life is about always being prepared for the worst case scenario because normally that is what happens. It has been a year since the last major Israeli aggression here and we are trying to pick up the pieces. Constructions materials are now refused entry so repairs have ground to a halt.

Our life lines – the tunnels from Egypt – have been severed. Without them we don’t have a consistent flow of food, medicine and fuel. The border with Israel is often closed and only half of the needed trucks of aid are allowed in when it is open. The items on the market shelves are withering away and prices are getting higher and higher.

Sometimes I think someone has hit the pause button on life but then I see all that we have survived and realise we continue on just as before: couples get married, babies are born and children go to school. We laugh with our friends, we love each other and, most importantly, we live.

Sally Idwedar is a blogger and resident of Gaza City. She was born in New York and her family is originally from Yibna, Palestine.

This is the Gaza I love

As hard as life is in Gaza right now I am still in awe of the beauty surrounding us.

Gaza Beach near Nusirat Refugee Camp

Gaza Beach near Nusirat Refugee Camp

Israel’s New Terror Threat From Gaza…..That Isn’t

Israeli Occupation Forces claim Hamas has a new ‘weapon’ – TERROR BALLOONS! Yes you heard it right- balloons.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2, a senior IDF officer in the Southern Command said that Hamas has resolved to gather intelligence deep inside Israel, and not just on the border. To this end, the officer said, Hamas has also erected a line of poles to which they’ve attached balloons filled with helium and mounted with cameras.

The officer said that the observation balloons have alarming capability to collect intelligence on military and civilian movements in Israel. He said the IDF sees Hamas trying to expand its reconnaissance abilities to strengthen its offensive capacity, based on building its rocket arsenal and digging tunnels into Israel.

The officer said that Israel recently allowed a large shipment of helium gas into Gaza for civilian use, the transfer of which may be rescinded if the intended use is to fuel more spy balloons.

Here is a picture of the balloon they say is used for surveillance.

A Hamas observation balloon, photos of which were posted to its official Facebook page. Photo: Screenshot / Channel 2.

A Hamas observation balloon, photos of which were posted to its official Facebook page. Photo: Screenshot / Channel 2.

So Israel, who has us under lock and key, who watches us day and night from their BILLION dollar technology including drones, satellites, Apaches & F-16’s is worried over about a few balloons?

Gaza Electricity Crisis: Week Three

Man carries boy through sewage filled streets. Photo courtesy Reuters

Man carries boy through sewage filled streets. Photo courtesy Reuters

I wish I could report good news as this new week starts but unfortunately I can’t. Wednesday brought with it another setback due to the current fuel crisis. Sewage treatment plants could no longer operate and raw sewage has begun to overflow in the streets. Many areas are inundated with the rank mess including Rafah, and al Sabra neighbourhood of Zaytoun. Experts say 20,000 are effected from this and possibly more in the coming weeks if the problem is not solved. This could add another more complicated and dangerous aspect of the crisis: diseases such as Cholera. Gaza also has a severe medicine shortage and hospitals are running on bare minimums due to fuel shortages affecting their generators.I wonder how they will cope if we have an outbreak? It will be disastrous.

Water outages are also more common now because the water pumping stations are operating at only a minimum. Gaza residents have large water containers on our roof-tops used to store water from the pumping station. In order to re-fill the tanks however, electricity must be on at the pumping station AND your residence and that was a difficult task to accomplish on 8 hours of electricity.Now it is even more difficult if not impossible.

Black water tanks on roof-tops store water- when  thye run out our taps are dray, sometimes for days. (personal photo)

Black water tanks on roof-tops store water- when thye run out our taps are dray, sometimes for days. (personal photo)

Drivers have started mixing cooking oil into their fuel now that it is nearly impossible to find gas. The streets are filled with a rank stench like French fries and falafel.This mix of fuel will ultimately injure the engine but what other choice do they have?

Nuseirat Refugee Camp, donkey's and horses are becoing more and more plentiful on the streets since fuel crisis began. (personal photo)

Nuseirat Refugee Camp, donkey’s and horses are becoing more and more plentiful on the streets since fuel crisis began. (personal photo)

Various people reporting we will be restricted to a mere FOUR hours of electricity starting today. It is currently off at my house so I am unable to confirm that at the moment. I know it will be harder to stay connected to the outside world though and I am getting increasingly nervous at the situation. We will survive this-we always do, but what toll will it take on us this time? How many lives will be lost? I am begging our politicians to find a solution to this and to think about the civilians who are suffering.


Perspective: Gaza rockets versus Israeli Air Strike Updated

new rockets