Archive for the ‘ Gaza ’ Category

Gaza’s first ‘child friendly school’ opens to students

March 1, 2018

Gaza got its first ever “child friendly school” yesterday on the ruins of Jamal Abdul Nasser School which was completely destroyed during Israel’s 2014 bombardment of the besieged enclave.

Serving 800 pupils, the new school was built by a Qatari education foundation and UN bodies with design input from children and the local community.

The school was opened by Al Fakhoora, a program of the Qatari funded initiative, Education Above All (EAA) Foundation. It was completed in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Donors of the project are confident that Jamal Abdul Nasser School can now also serve as an emergency shelter for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) during times of conflict. In its press release, the EAA said that the new building is designed to be “environmentally friendly, child-centered and fully accessible for all students. Renewable energy is provided by solar panels, the design incorporates a double wall system, double-glazed, shatter-proof windows, and thermal insulation in the ceiling and floor.”

There are a number of distinctive additions to the school’s multi-purpose halls. “Features of the multipurpose buildings include: flexible learning spaces, an extensive library, IT facilities, breakout spaces, a multi-purpose sports facility and an on-site health facility, providing crucial psychosocial support and child protection services,” said EAA. “The halls are also specially designed to serve as emergency shelters for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) during times of conflict, with gender-sensitive accommodations, emergency power and water networks, and improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities”.

Representatives from UNDP, UNICEF and EAA Foundation were all present at the school opening, as well as returning students from Al Fakhoora’s “Dynamic Future’s scholarship program”. EAA applauded the returning students who have previously completed their education as a result of Al Fakhoora funding.

“We are extremely proud to be part of building this innovative school in Gaza for a community who deserves the highest quality of education facilities. Education is a fundamental human right, one that is crucial to the future of the Palestinian state. By investing in their future, we enable these young people to play a key role in rebuilding their communities, unlocking their full potential,” Farooq Burney, executive director of EAA Foundation’s Al Fakhoora program, said.

The UN was equally effusive in its remarks. Roberto Valent, UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator, said: “UNDP welcomes the opening of the first child-friendly school in Gaza. We are confident that the school, with the support from Qatar Fund for Development, through Al Fakhoora, and in partnership with the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, will become a positive example of ensuring appropriate conditions for education. Most importantly, this model will ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all children and adolescents, with a focus on those left behind.”

UNICEF Special Representative Genevieve Boutin added: “The completion of work at the Jamal Abdul Nasser School is an opportunity to reflect on how this project has helped not only rebuild schools, but also catalyze additional investments in children and young people across Gaza, thanks to generous support from Al Fakhoora, a program of the Education Above All Foundation, and the Qatar Fund for Development.”

Boutin applauded the contributions of children in Gaza in the “design of a safer and more child-friendly school” adding: “We also supported the training of 400 school counselors and 10,000 teachers to provide students with crucial psychosocial support and child protection services, and help them develop life skills and peaceful conflict resolution techniques. All these efforts have contributed to a more positive learning environment, giving us all hope in a better future.”

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180301-gazas-first-child-friendly-school-opens-to-students/.

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Fearing backlash, Fatah postpones visit to Gaza

February 15, 2018

Fatah has postponed an expected visit by a senior delegation to the Gaza Strip until further notice, sources told the Palestinian newspaper yesterday.

The sources said that the visit was called off by Fatah Central Committee. The delegation had intended to hold meetings with Palestinian factions in Gaza.

Sources believe the visit was postponed to avoid officials being blamed for the failure of reconciliation efforts.

Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation agreement in October last year which saw the Palestinian Authority taking control of ministries and border crossings in the besieged Gaza Strip.

However many have accused the PA of failing to fulfill its part of the deal as salaries of civil servants have remained unpaid, the electricity crisis has not been resolved and borders continue to be closed.

Cleaning staff at medical centers in Gaza went on strike earlier this week demanding their outstanding wages be paid. Workers say they have not been paid for five months. Hospitals in the Strip have been forced to scale back their work as a result of the walkout with the Ministry of Health saying 500 surgeries have been postponed.

Fatah member Fraih Abu Middain said yesterday that President Mahmoud Abbas told him that “Gaza is going to starve until it bows down. Hamas must handover government, money and weapons in order to achieve the reconciliation.”

International aid groups have repeatedly condemned the PA and Israel’s use of collective punishment when dealing with the Gaza Strip.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180215-fearing-backlash-fatah-postpones-visit-to-gaza/.

No electricity at 7 more Gaza medical centers

January 31, 2018

Generators at seven health centers in the besieged Gaza Strip have stopped working due to the shortage in fuel, the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced today.

Ministry spokesman, Ashraf Al-Qadra, said the medical departments affected are: the Sourani Center, the Palestinian Medical Center, the Medical Foundation, the Gaza Health Administration, Abasan Al-Kabira, the Atatra and the Society of Physically Handicapped People – Gaza Strip.

The crisis management committee in the ministry confirmed that the situation in the Strip has entered an unprecedented stage due to the fuel crisis, demanding donors intervene immediately to bring it to an end.

The committee called on the energy company to work urgently to provide electricity to hospitals around the clock.

“Our health services are on the decline after a number of them stopped at the Beit Hanoun Hospital for the third day and Al-Durra children’s hospital and patients were transferred to other hospitals because of the lack of fuel. We are only a few hours away from seeing the generator at the psychiatric hospital stopping.”

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180131-no-electricity-at-7-more-gaza-medical-centres/.

Fatah lights 53rd anniversary torch in Gaza

January 1, 2018

The Palestinian Fatah movement lit its 53rd anniversary torch of freedom in Gaza on Sunday, Anadolu has reported. The event took place in the presence of hundreds of Fatah supporters in the Square of the Unknown Soldier in the middle of Gaza City.

The movement’s yellow flag was raised alongside photographs of the late President Yasser Arafat and his successor Mahmoud Abbas. Fatah regards itself as the torchbearer of Palestinian liberation, and has lit a symbolic torch every year since its foundation on 1 January, 1965.

Fatah’s Central Committee member Ahmed Hellis told the rally that the torch will be kept alight as a symbol against all aggressors. The movement, he pointed out, has been involved in several struggles to achieve Palestinian national unity.

“This is the choice of the movement,” he insisted. “Today, we are sticking with national unity more than any time in the past due to the dangers engulfing our cause and our national rights.” He added that Fatah will continue its unity efforts with other national and Islamic factions despite “disparities” in their views. “We will continue looking for the common factor among the Palestinian factions because Palestine needs all the Palestinians.”

Earlier, Fatah had announced that it would turn the celebration of its anniversary into popular resistance activities in solidarity with Jerusalem and against the US move.

Fatah was founded as a military movement with the goal of liberating Palestine. It became involved in direct and indirect secret talks with Israel until a peace deal was agreed in 1993. In 1998, Fatah dropped all articles of its Charter calling for military resistance against the Israeli occupation.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180101-fatah-lights-53rd-anniversary-torch-in-gaza/.

Palestinian in Gaza names triplets Jerusalem, Capital and Palestine

December 22, 2017

A Palestinian from the besieged Gaza Strip’s southern village of Khan Yunis has named his three newborn triplets “Quds”, “Asima” and “Filisteen” – meaning “Jerusalem”, “Capital” and “Palestine” in Arabic – in protest against the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Nidal Al-Siqli, 30, told the Anadolu Agency that he chose the names “to emphasize Jerusalem’s Palestinian, Arab and Muslim character”.

“Jerusalem is and forever will be the eternal capital of Palestine,” Al-Siqli stressed.

The Palestinian father noted that Quds and Filisteen are both boys, while Asima is a girl, adding that they were all born yesterday.

Al-Siqli added that he and his wife hope to have another girl to call her Abadiyya, eternal in Arabic.

“I hope the Palestinian and Arab efforts succeed in revoking the US decision soon,” he said.

On 6 December, the US President Donald Trump announced his decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and said that the American embassy in Tel Aviv would be relocated to the Holy City. Since then, demonstrations have broken out across the world with Palestinians holding continuous protests since the decision was announced.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171222-palestinian-in-gaza-names-triplets-jerusalem-capital-and-palestine/.

Tens of thousands commemorate Arafat in Gaza

2017-11-11

GAZA CITY – Tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered in Gaza on Saturday to commemorate the death of veteran leader Yasser Arafat in the first such memorial in the Hamas-run territory since 2007.

The anniversary event was billed as a show of national unity after the Islamists of Hamas struck a reconciliation agreement last month with the rival Fatah movement founded and led by Arafat until his death in 2004.

The deal, which is supposed to see Hamas cede civil control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority led by current Fatah leader Mahmud Abbas by December 1, could end years of bitter division between the rival factions.

Tens of thousands of people from across the Gaza Strip poured into Saraya Square in Gaza City from early morning, hours before the keynote speeches were due to be delivered.

Organizers said more than 100,000 people were in attendance.

Participants waved Palestinian flags and placards calling for unity, as well as pictures of both Arafat and Abbas.

In a pre-recorded speech broadcast on large screens, Abbas, who has not visited Gaza since his allies were thrown out by Hamas in 2007, hailed his predecessor’s legacy.

“Our Palestinian people, who have always loved you as a great leader, still have that love, respect and loyalty.”

Abbas said the Palestinians were pushing ahead to seal reconciliation and to achieve Arafat’s “dream… for freedom, sovereignty and independence on our Palestinian national soil”.

“There is no state in Gaza and there is no state without Gaza,” he said, stressing that the Palestinian people were “united” and “refuse divisions”.

Gaza is waiting

Participants at the rally also said the event underlined the need, now more than ever, for Palestinians to unite.

“Today is a day for loyalty, unity and reconciliation. We say to the president and the government: Your sons in Fatah are waiting for your support of Gaza,” said 20-year-old Shukri Antar.

Rania Barbekh, 50, who was carrying a Fatah flag and a picture of Abbas, said she and her son had arrived at the square at 7 am from their home in Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip.

“We are all with Abu Ammar,” she said, referring to Arafat by his Arabic nickname. “From this festival, we want Fatah and Hamas to unite against the enemy.”

Hamas seized control of Gaza in a near civil war with Fatah in 2007 amid bitter recriminations over the Islamists’ landslide victory in parliamentary elections the previous year.

The last commemoration in the territory of Arafat’s death was held just months afterwards and ended in clashes between the rival factions.

Fatah has held other events in Gaza since 2007, including a major celebration in 2013, but Hamas has often suppressed its activities.

On Thursday, several thousand people attended a smaller Arafat anniversary event in Gaza organised by Fatah.

On Friday, hundreds of people took part in a “national unity marathon” organised by the Palestine Athletic Federation to support reconciliation between the rival factions.

Tawfiq Abu Naim, head of Hamas’s internal security forces in Gaza, said he had instructed them to protect and support Saturday’s commemoration, which he described as a “festival of unity”.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=85886.

Rival Palestinians Strike Gaza Unity Deal After Cairo Talks

By Saud Abu Ramadan and Fadwa Hodali

October 12, 2017

Rival Palestinian groups agreed on Thursday to end their decade-old rift, signing an Egyptian-brokered deal that will allow a unity government to resume control of the Gaza Strip and deploy forces to the border with Egypt within weeks.

Hamas, an embattled Islamist movement which had controlled Gaza since 2007, last week handed over most government functions to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, in a first step toward ending divisions that have complicated the Palestinian bid for statehood.

Under the accord struck in Cairo, the consensus government will formally take full administrative control of Gaza by Dec. 1, according to a statement issued after the talks. The two sides have been invited to return to the Egyptian capital for more negotiations on Nov. 21. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ordered all state agencies to “restore the unity of the Palestinian people and institutions.”

In a joint news conference, chief Fatah negotiator Azzam al-Ahmad said the deal crucially would see the Palestinian Authority’s presidential guards deploy along the border between Gaza and Egypt by Nov. 1. If that leads to greater security, Egypt might be willing to permanently reopen the Rafah border crossing, one of the isolated coastal enclave’s few outlets to the world.

After initially shunning Hamas, the Egyptian government of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi sought its help in controlling the movement of militants and weapons through cross-border tunnels between Gaza and Egypt’s northern Sinai, where an Islamic State affiliate is fighting the Egyptian government — a conflict that has battered the Red Sea tourist industry.

Armed Wing

“The consensus government has to take full control in the Gaza Strip and carry out all its duties and functions in all aspects of life, running the crossing points either with Israel or with Egypt,” Fatah’s Al-Ahmad said.

There was no indication from either side, however, that any understanding had been reached on the fate of Hamas’ armed wing, a sticking point which could yet scupper reconciliation efforts. Hamas leaders have said they would not disarm as long as Israel occupies Palestinian land. Abbas has said he wants weapons to be under unified control.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week warned against any “bogus” unity bid that would threaten his country if Hamas is allowed to keep its guns. On Thursday, he said any Palestinian government must meet the conditions of the international Quartet behind peace efforts, including recognizing Israel and respecting past agreements. Israel will watch as the situation develops and will react accordingly, he said.

The willingness of Hamas to work with Fatah, which governs the Authority’s West Bank territories, comes amid desperation in Gaza, whose economy has been strangled for years by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade, the destruction of its underground smuggling tunnels and wars with Israel. The destitution deepened earlier this year when Abbas engineered a power shortage to put further pressure on Hamas, which is shunned as a terrorist group by Israel, the U.S. and European Union.

Israeli Assertions

Gaza, which sits on the Mediterranean coast and is fenced in by heavily-patrolled barriers on three sides bordering Israel and Egypt, has been a frequent battleground over the past decade, during which Hamas has fought three wars with Israel. Abbas has tried numerous times without success to repair the rift, in part to counter Israeli assertions that peace negotiations are pointless because he can’t ensure that any treaty will also hold in Gaza.

Previous efforts to reconcile have failed due to disagreements over the fate of the weapons held by Hamas, as well as control of borders and other key institutions. This time, Hamas has gone further in offering concessions to heal the rift. As well as offering help to secure the border with Egypt, it has distanced itself from the Muslim Brotherhood, which former military chief El-Sisi removed from power in mid-2013.

Internationally isolated and with the economy in shreds, Hamas said last month it was ready to dismantle the administrative committee it set up earlier this year to run Gaza. Abbas viewed the panel as a shadow government and evidence of bad faith in the talks.

“We, in Hamas, are determined, serious and faithful this time,” Hamas negotiator Saleh Al-Arouri said at the news conference in Cairo. “This time is different to the previous times.”

— With assistance by Ahmed Feteha, Tarek El-Tablawy, Lin Noueihed, and Michael Arnold

Source: Bloomberg.

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-12/palestinians-strike-gaza-unity-deal-after-marathon-cairo-talks.

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