Gaza’s Medical Misfortunes

Local health officials in Gaza say that millions of dollars in medication donated by the international community ultimately ends up  as trash because 70 % of it is unusable. Doctors claim that approximately 20% of the donated medication has either expired or is near expiration, and that a large portion of the drugs simply do not address the healthcare needs of Gazans. A case in point was a recent two million dollar donation of H1N1 medication, which arrived in Gaza after the threat of the virus had passed. Amongst the list of 150 drugs that ARE urgently needed in Gaza are antibiotics and cancer treatment medication, both of which continue to be lacking in the donations being sent.

Israeli piracy and murder: An act of self defence?

By Harsha Walia

As international outrage spreads at the Israeli elite commando attack on an unarmed humanitarian convey in the middle of the night on international waters, Israel is desperately trying to rebrand the incident as one of self-defence. It is nothing new for Israel, and other aggressing powers, to smear their victims as perpetrators. Afterall, unjustifiable murder is too jarring to stomach.

Yet, Amnesty International released a statement about Israel’s excessive use of force, further stating that Israel’s version of events begs credibility.  Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu proclaimed the actions of Israel as “completely inexcusable”. According to Craig Murray, specialist on maritime law, “To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal.”

Deported activists tell a horrifying story of the use of electric shock, live ammunition, smoke bombs, gas canisters, beatings, and seizure of all evidence on cameras. Greek activist Michalis Grigoropoulos said, “They took us hostage, pointing guns at our heads…There was absolutely nothing we could do.” A Turkish woman, with her 1 year old baby, recalls “The ship turned into a lake of blood.”

Israeli-Arab Knesset member Hanin Zoabi, who was on board, demanded an international inquiry: “It was clear from size of force that boarded ship that purpose was not to stop sail, but to cause largest number of fatalities to prevent future initiatives.” In contradiction of the carefully managed public relations campaign, a top Israeli Navy commander brags to the Jerusalem Post that “We boarded the ship and were attacked as if it was a war.” The names of the 10-19 dead, 60-80 injured, and hundreds detained have yet to be released.

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The Only Democracy in the Middle East: 23-25.04.2010

Emad Rezqaafter being shot with an aluminium canister. Photograph by Hamde Abu Rahmeh

Friday in Bil’in, friend and fellow activist, Emad Rezqa was hit in the forehead by an aluminum tear gas projectile shot directly at him by Israeli soldiers during the weekly anti-Wall demonstration. He suffered a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage, and is currently hospitalized at the Hadassa Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem. The demonstration Rezqa was injured in concluded the three-day International Bil’in Conference on Popular Struggle, and was attended by hundreds of people. Several other demonstrators were injured from gas inhalation, direct hits by gas canisters, and falling

This is the man who fired the canisters:
Bil'in 23.04.2010 - The day Israeli soldiers started shooting randomly into the crowd. one fractured skull and five arrested. - 16
I was later arrested along with Palestinian journalist Moheb Barghouti, two fellow Israelis and a Mexican activist, after staging a sit-in. (more details soon)

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The GFM, Palestinian Non-Violence and International Solidarity

Writer, graduate student and organizer Max Ajl was in Cairo earlier this month along with 1,300 other activists who had gathered from all over the world to protest the illegal blockade of Gaza.  The following is an article written by Ajl which includes his reflections on the Gaza Freedom March (he was a principal organizer) and the concept of international solidarity and non-violence in the Palestinian context.

I’m going to discuss the utility of non-violent resistance as it applies to resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict and, specifically, the occupation and blockade of the Gaza strip.  Even more specifically, I’m going to discuss the Gaza Freedom March (GFM), of which I’m one of the organizers.  But before discussing Palestinian non-violence, several things must be clarified.  One is that no one — least of all me, a Jewish kid from Brooklyn — has the slightest right to dictate to the Palestinians how to end the blockade or resist the occupation.  Another is the need to avoid the nearly inevitable antiseptic air to talk by Westerners discussing Palestinian non-violence.  Antiseptic, because it is cleansed of the complicating grit of the occupation within which non-violence must take place.  There’s also usually a tacit subtext, usually a four-word question: Where Is Their Gandhi?  That question could not be more in error.  I hope to show why.

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On Mads Gilbert’s North American Tour

Dr. Mads Gilbert treating a wounded Palestinian child during Israel's December 2008 assault on Gaza.

During Israel’s assault on Gaza in December 2008, two doctors working from the frontline attempted to bring attention to the imbalance of power that exists at the heart of this conflict — an imbalance which weighs heavily towards the Israeli side.  While Israeli media spokespeople used airtime to argue that Israel was only targeting Hamas militants, Dr. Mads Gilbert and Dr. Erik Fosse of the Norwegian Aid Committee attempted to bring attention to just how many women and children were being wheeled in to be treated for shrapnel and bullet wounds, and how many families they were treating all at once.  They have since written a book about the event and Gilbert will be touring North America to spread their message. 

The following was written by Fatemah Meghji, the national co-ordinator of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights and a university student who has been organizing a nation-wide tour for Gilbert.  Below her piece you will find a listing of tour dates and locations — be sure to attend an event if you can, I know I will. 

by Fatemah Meghji

From Dr. Mads Gilbert & Dr. Erik Fosse’s Eyes in Gaza:

The boy with the destroyed brain did not need anaesthetic; he could no longer feel anything. The other lay in an artificial coma with intravenous anaesthetic agents to soften the pain and allow the ventilator to work without resistance from the boy’s own breathing. A large bandage covered both his eyes. He could not see anyway. He was already blind. 

Where could I cry out the despair and rage I felt for all this terrible fate we saw at such close quarters? Would the heavens hear? Will the world hear? They know that this is happening, after all. The numbers tick into the West every single afternoon, to the news agencies, to the intelligence services and to the diplomatic missions of the world’s most powerful nations, who do not even make an attempt to pull in the reins and control the wildness of the Israeli war machine.

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