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Israel’s caging of Gaza is a recipe for coronavirus disaster PDF Print E-mail
Mar 22, 2020 at 12:00 AM

The pandemic's arrival threatens to make Gaza even more unlivable under Israeli siege. Humanitarian aid is not enough — Palestinians need freedom.

The Palestinian Health Ministry today reported its first two cases of the novel coronavirus in the Gaza Strip. For weeks the Hamas-led authority, which has ruled the blockaded territory since 2007, undertook serious measures to preempt the arrival of the virus to the strip. Up until its decision to seal off its sides of the Rafah crossing with Egypt and the Erez checkpoint with Israel, hundreds of Palestinians who entered the strip were immediately quarantined to ensure they had no symptoms of the disease.

These actions, however, are of very little comfort.

It is no exaggeration to say that the prospect of COVID-19 spreading in the Gaza Strip is terrifying. This year, 2020, is the year in which the United Nations and other international agencies predicted that Gaza would become “uninhabitable.” If Israel’s 13-year blockade and isolation of the strip continued, they warned, Gaza’s most basic services and its capacity to sustain itself would collapse.

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Welcome to Lockdown: Covid-19 Quarantine and the Gaza Experience PDF Print E-mail
Mar 23, 2020 at 12:24 PM

In 2004, I was selected by the Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunication to attend the International Telecommunication Union Annual Congress in Hong Kong. Although I had the visa, the ticket, and packed bags, I was not able to travel as Gaza was put on partial quarantine by the Israeli military that controlled the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. On my way to the Rafah crossing, I had to stop at two main military checkpoints; both of them were involved in splitting the Gaza Strip into cantons, imposing a relatively harsh lock down on millions of the Palestinians for months. Employees, students, patients, and travellers, as well as basic supplies and goods, were not allowed to move between the main parts in the Gaza Strip. That day, the Israeli military did not allow the car through that I was in, and I had to go back to Gaza city. No reasons were given to us as to why we could not cross. That was a normal, unjustified practice that heightened our sense of frustration and hopelessness. In 2006, Israel, after it withdraw from the Gaza Strip as well as after the Palestinian elections that brought Hamas to the political arena, imposed a quarantine on two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, not allowing anyone to leave or move in or out of the Gaza Strip, restricting essential goods and services from entering the Gaza Strip, making it unbearable to a living human being.

These days, as the world faces a global pandemic of Coronavirus outbreak without discrimination between race, nationality, region, or class, there is a unique thing that unites us all, which is quarantine, and in some places a curfew. This quarantine reminds me of the lock down I experienced in Gaza.

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Covid-19 Comes to Gaza PDF Print E-mail
Mar 22, 2020 at 12:00 AM

It was almost 1 a.m. when I read the news that Gaza had identified its first two coronavirus cases. My heart beat rapidly and fear flushed like ice water through my body. I continued to read but my eyes teared up and everything looked blurred, like a gauzy curtain had suddenly dropped down. I attempted to blink the tears out of my eyes and continue reading.

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Emerging From An Israeli Prison, Freedom Flotilla Captain Accuses Canada’s Government Of Complicity PDF Print E-mail
Aug 14, 2018 at 12:00 AM

DIMITRI LASCARIS: This is Dmitri Lascaris, reporting for The Real News Network from Montreal, Canada.

For the past few months, The Real News has been covering the voyage of the Freedom Flotilla from Scandinavia to Gaza. Matters came to a head in late July when Al Awda, the lead vessel of the flotilla, was hijacked in international waters by Israel’s navy. Its passengers were then forced to enter Israel and were incarcerated there. The second vessel in the flotilla, the Freedom, was hijacked by Israel’s navy a few days later. Freedom was captained by Canadian human rights activist John Turnbull. The Real News spoke to John by satellite phone a few days before Israel’s seizure of the vessel. And last week, John was finally released from an Israeli prison after the seizure and was permitted to leave the country. He joins us today from Paris, France. Thanks very much for joining us, John.

JOHN TURNBULL: You’re very welcome, Dimitri. Good to be here.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: John, why don’t we start with the moment at which the vessel the Freedom was first contacted by Israeli forces, and then talk to us, please, about the seizure of the vessel. How did that unfold?

JOHN TURNBULL: Well, we are a sailboat, a fairly heavy, reasonably large sailboat, 72 feet long. We were waiting for nightfall, expecting to be contacted, and in fact hoping that they might let us go until sunrise the next day. But that was not to happen. Around 7:00 we received a VHF call. It was fairly standard call asking for identity. But when the questions got a little farther than our simple identity, which is convention, I objected. That I didn’t understand the nature of the call, or the intent behind it.

At that point, the Israeli navy read two statements- in fact, I think it might have been a recording of a statement- basically saying we were entering a military zone and our vessel could be confiscated. And then a few moments later there was a sort of second degree, but similar, message. We began at that point, and now it’s about 8:00, to notice lights surrounding us on all the cardinal and intermediate points of the compass. Those lights came closer. A little bit like seeing the eyes of wolves in the forest, if that’s happened to you.

"Kill and Kill and Kill" PDF Print E-mail
May 16, 2018 at 12:00 AM

... The demographer Arnon Sofer of Haifa University is the architect of the current isolation of Gaza.  In 2004, he advised the government of Ariel Sharon to withdraw Israeli forces from within Gaza, seal the territory off from the outside world, and simply shoot anyone who tries to break out.  “When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe,” Sofer told an interviewer in the Jerusalem Post (11 November 2004); “Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam.  The pressure at the border will be awful.  It’s going to be a terrible war.  So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill.  All day, every day.”  He added that “the only thing that concerns me is how to ensure that the boys and men who are going to have to do the killing will be able to return home to their families and be normal human beings.” ...

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Justin Trudeau fails to condemn slaughter in Gaza PDF Print E-mail
May 16, 2018 at 12:00 AM
Statement by the Prime Minister on violence in Gaza Strip
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the violence in the Gaza Strip:

“Canada deplores and is gravely concerned by the violence in the Gaza Strip that has led to a tragic loss of life and injured countless people. We are appalled that Dr. Tarek Loubani, a Canadian citizen, is among the wounded – along with so many unarmed people, including civilians, members of the media, first responders, and children.

“We are doing everything we can to assist Dr. Loubani and his family, and to determine how a Canadian citizen came to be injured. We are engaging with Israeli officials to get to the bottom of these events.

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Jeremy Corbyn condemns slaughter in Gaza PDF Print E-mail
May 14, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Today's killing of dozens of unarmed protesters and the wounding of many more by Israeli forces in Gaza is an outrage that demands not just international condemnation, but action to hold those responsible to account.

This slaughter follows weeks of killings of Palestinian civilians demonstrating for their right to return, most of whom are refugees or the families of refugees. Coming on the day President Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, it underlines the threat to peace posed by the continuing and intolerable injustices faced by the Palestinian people.

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SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty Have Arrived in Larnaca, Cyprus
Wednesday, August 20, 2008

At 8:30 am Cyprus time, the Free Gaza and the Liberty rounded the last corner
of this lovely island, escorted by the Cypriot Coast Guard, and pulled into on
the Northern side of the commercial port in Larnaca.

“We’ve been waiting a long time to unify our group, which has been split
between Cyprus and Crete . We are excited to combine both groups who have worked
so hard on this project and are so enthusiastic about setting out for Gaza . On
the way in today, we had the Cypriot authorities escorting us. Now, it’s time
for the world to escort us to Gaza .” Said Paul Larudee, one of the
organizers.
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