Israel's crippling blockade of the coastal territory of Gaza is pushing desperate young Palestinians to ever more extreme measures in the search for livelihoods, despite an agreement granting Gazans greater access to their agricultural land.
The Islamist resistance group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, is being accused by its Palestinian Authority (PA) rivals in the West Bank of Talibanising Gaza and turning the coastal territory into a new Muslim Brotherhood neighbourhood.
In most countries, children are treated more gently by law enforcement than adults, with the right to have a parent present during questioning, for example. The situation is different in the Occupied Territories.
“We wanted to help foreigners in Gaza, so we created an English map of Gaza City,” says Amir Shurrab, one of the minds behind the foldable Gaza Tourist Map.
“For the past five years we’ve collected garbage by traditional means: donkey and cart,” says Abdel Rahem Abulkumboz, director of health and environment at the Municipality of Gaza. The municipality of Gaza alone produces 700 tons of waste daily, Kumboz says. More than half of this waste is collected daily by 250 donkey carts.
“An ark is literally a large floating vessel designed to keep its passengers and cargo safe,” say the group preparing ‘Gaza’s Ark’. But their ark, they say, is “a vessel that embodies hope that the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip can soon live in peace without the threat of the Israeli blockade.”
“In Gaza we don't lead normal lives, we just cope, and adapt to our abnormal lives under siege and occupation,” says Dr. Mona El-Farra, a physician and a long-time human rights and women's rights activist in the Gaza Strip. On International Women's Day, when many of the world's women are fighting for workplace equality and an end to domestic violence, Farra and the majority of Gaza's women fight for the most basic of rights.
“We wanted to do something to bring focus to the plight of Palestinian political prisoners, of which there are around 5,000 in Israeli jails, including hunger strikers, children, women,” says Mohannad Barakat, 30, one of seven Palestinians who have made a Palestinian version of the Gangnam style.
Gaza is becoming increasingly radicalised as Hamas continues its crackdown on civil liberties, press freedom and the rights of women. In the last few weeks a number of journalists have been arrested and accused of being involved in “suspicious activities”, several detainees shot dead by police during arrest attempts, and female students asked to abide by a strict Islamic dress code.
On Nov. 17, four days into Israel’s eight-day assault on the Gaza Strip, deputy Israeli Prime Minister Eli Yishai publicly called for the Israeli army to “blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages, destroying all the infrastructure including roads and water”.
While the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip hasn’t been so quiet for the past two decades, it’s now the turn of the occupied West Bank to show signs of eruption.
Shortly after Israel and Hamas signed a ceasefire agreement on Nov. 21, the Israeli navy abducted 30 Palestinian fishers from Gaza's waters, destroyed and sank a Palestinian fishing vessel, and confiscated nine fishing boats in the space of four days.
When Israeli bombs struck the Abu Khadra complex for civil administration, they also gutted the sixth floor of the Abu Shabaan complex, located ten metres across the road. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), eight Israeli warplane-fired bombs levelled roughly half of the government compound in eastern Gaza City in the early hours of Nov. 21.
The Islamist party Hamas had been losing support as a result of economic difficulties and factional fighting. Today Hamas is popular again, heralded for its retaliation in Israel’s latest military assault on the Gaza Strip.
Whenever the Security Council (sporadically) or the General Assembly (more frequently) lambastes Israel, the reaction from the Jewish state is highly predictable: either launch a military strike on Palestinians or announce new settlements in the occupied territories.