Bearing Witness

Week 10 & 11 in Gaza > Illness > New Priorities > Farming

Well I have been back in the Gaza Strip for the past two weeks, although this is my first update since returning from my two weeks R&R in Paris because the day after I arrived back in the Strip I became violently ill. I got salmonella poisoning on my last night in Cairo and the night after I arrived back in Gaza the symptoms started to kick in diarrhea, a fever of 40+ degrees and sever abdominal cramps. Thinking it was just a bug I struggled with it at home for several days, before deciding I needed urgent medical treatment and was I rushed to Al Awada hospital. After 24 hours of fantastic care from the dedicated staff at Al Awada, whose work with limited resources is quite amazing, I was released with a course of four medications. I am almost back to being fighting fit thanks in large part to my peeps in Gaza, Sukran ictir Awni, Mona, Adie and the staff at Al Awada  for being there when I needed it : ]

Since recovering I have had my new priorities set by the Gaza Ark Steering committee. I have been tasked with finding a local news crew to cover the refurbishment process of the Ark for a documentray film, while also finding a independent film maker to prepare monthly video’s to show the progress of the build to our international supporters via our website > www.gazaark.org. In addition to this I need to find supporters in Gaza to continue my work in Gaza post my departure in mid June. While I am also continuing my work on civil society endorsements and Palestinian products to be exported aboard the Ark.

On Wednesday morning I managed to find some time that was not taken up with Gaza Ark tasks, to undertake some accompaniment work with farmers harvesting wheat in the buffer zone. The “buffer zone”is a strip of land on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip and is a military no-go area that extends along the entire northern and eastern perimeter of the Gaza Strip adjacent to Israel, but inside Palestinian territory. It has at times stretched up to 1.5 kilomenters into Palestinian territory, however after the November cease-fire Palestinians were granted access to this land again, however like most agreements Israel reaches with the Palestinians what is written in the agreement does not often happen in reality. The buffer zones conitued enforcement has resulted in loss of Palestinian lives and land. For more on the buffer zone and it’s effects check out his article on the Diakonia website > http://www.diakonia.se/sa/node.asp?node=4090 . I hope to continue this work for the last month that I am in the Strip, here are some photos from the morning.

Harvest season in the buffer zone.

Harvest season in the buffer zone.

The boarder with Israel.

The boarder with Israel.

Adie responding to the IOF, that had just sent several live rounds over our heads.

Adie responding to the IOF, that had just sent several live rounds over our heads.

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May 9, 2013 Posted by | Gaza's Ark | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Week Two in Gaza > Endorsements > Products > Solidarity

Well my second week in Gaza has come to an end and it’s official, I now have my permit to stay > got to love Palestine, it’s the only place on earth where my criminal record and deportation in regards to my solidarity actions are appreciated on a visa application.
This week has mainly been spent meeting with civil society organisations to seek support for the Gaza’s Ark [GA] http://www.gazaark.org/ project. I have met with the Palestinian Non Government Organisation [PNGO] http://www.pngo.net/, which is an umbrella group for over 60 NGO’s working through out Gaza and the West Bank and the Palestinian  Agricultural Relief Committee [PARC] http://www.pal-arc.org/index.html, whose main goals are to protect Palestinian land from confiscation by the Israeli occupation and to improve the Palestinian agricultural sector. I am honoured to say they now both now endorse the GA project. Although most of the credit for the ease in which these endorsements have been granted must go to the committed and visionary GA Steering Committee, with a special mention to David “the conscience of humanity” Heap – whose visit to Gaza at the end of last year laid an incredibly strong foundation to be built on.
In addition to this I have been chasing up information from several producers whose products are going to be sold through GA. We now have three producers on board, excuse the pun. Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children http://www.atfaluna.net/, Al-Ahlyia Association for the Development of Palms & Dates, as well as a Women’s Group from Gaza who make some amazing cross stitched and embroidered products. Watch the GA website for the first announcement of products to be sold through the project and exported from Gaza aboard the Ark.
I also took my first trip to the buffer zone, The buffer zone is a 300 meter area between Israel and the Gaza Strip, it is a military no-go zone that extends along the entire northern and eastern perimeter of the Gaza Strip adjacent to Israel, but inside Palestinian territory. Its enforcement by the Israeli Occupation Force has resulted in loss of Palestinian lives and land, and to add insult to injury is some of the most fertile land in the Gaza Strip. For more information on the buffer zone check out the Diakonia analysis http://www.diakonia.se/sa/node.asp?node=4090. Saturday was a day of international action in support of Palestinian Farmers and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees [UAWC] in Gaza organised a march into the buffer zone to plant olive trees in an act of defiance to the IOF, see how it went down here > http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=442402179163066&set=a.442402012496416.98962.158095294260424&type=1&theater
This week I also attended and spoke at a protest organised by the Palestinian Peoples Party [PPP] Youth Wing. The protest was in solidarity with the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails, many of whom have never been charged with any offence > let alone convicted ! See my photos from the protest here >http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=442879619115322&set=a.442879529115331.99038.158095294260424&type=1&theater
Speak next week, my salaam.

My turn on the mic at the Palestinian Peoples Party Prisoners Protest

My turn on the mic at the Palestinian Peoples Party Prisoners Protest

February 13, 2013 Posted by | Gaza's Ark | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment