Photo: Building destroyed on 5 May 2019, Gaza City. © Photo by OCHA
17 May 2021 | James Porteous | Clipper Media
It is an unfortunate fact that most of us in ‘the West’ usually pay little attention to what is going on in Israel, let alone Gaza.
But, the moment we begin to see the smirking smile of Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel since 2009, on worldwide TV networks we stop what we are doing, if only to ascertain if he is ramping up his never-ending election campaign or is once again ‘taking a stand’ against Hamas and the people living in the Gaza Strip.
And so it is in May 2021.
It is the usual ploy. Bibi is desperate, personally as a perpetual candidate, to take credit for the unseemly barrage of bombs killing and maiming civilians, but does not and will not bear any responsibility, as PM or sometimes human being, for the worsening humanitarian crises he is once-again creating.
As you will see below, it is a crisis in May 2021 because it is almost always a crisis.
But of course for now it is worse. Much worse.
James Porteous / Clipper Media
Human waste spills on to Gaza’s blacked-out streets as crisis looms
Electricity lines down, farm deliveries blocked and thousands are without proper supply of drinking water
16 May 2021 | Hazem Balousha in Gaza and Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem | Guardian
A week of relentless Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip has destroyed power lines, smashed water pipes beneath roads and left human waste spilling out of the ground.
With 188 Palestinians having been killed, and families trapped under rubble, fears are mounting of a deepening humanitarian crisis in the enclave, where 2 million people live under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade in place for 14 years.
Six of Gaza’s 10 electricity lines are down and supply has been more than halved, according to Mohammed Thabet, a spokesperson for the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company. “There are some border areas completely cut off from electricity,” he said. Repair crews were unable to fix the lines due to continued attacks.
Throughout its intense bombing campaign, Israel has blocked access to the territory, including for aid workers, and prevented fuel from entering, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Supplies of vital animal feed sitting in trucks are being held on the Israeli side of the frontier waiting to go in, OCHA said, adding that Gaza’s stockpiles would run out on Sunday. It said the Palestinian ministry of agriculture had warned that without deliveries, livestock and poultry farms would run out. In turn, the strip’s main protein source would be affected. Israel has also prevented fishers from sailing off the Gaza coast and has bombed farms, OCHA said.
A seawater desalination plant is out of action, leaving 250,000 people without proper supplies of drinking water. In the northern town of Beit Lahia, “sewage and solid waste are accumulating in the streets”, OCHA said.
Mahmoud Awad, 47, a resident in Beit Lahia, said his family had been living for “almost three days without virtually any electricity. Houses near our house were bombed, and the electricity went out after the bombing as a result of the cables being cut off.” Usually, Awad uses an external generator, but those lines were also destroyed, he said.
The municipality in Gaza City said Israeli forces had hit “main junctions in the city, exacerbating the humanitarian situation and making it difficult for ambulance and emergency crews to move.” With burst pipes, it was hard to move water trucks.
Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the strip, has stationed its militants in and fired rockets from civilian areas. In the latest bout of fighting, Israel says hundreds of militant-fired rockets have fallen short, and it has shared aerial footage of a misfire.
An official with Israel’s Civil Administration, the body tasked with running the occupation, said Hamas militants had “shot” power lines in the strip and said 230,000 residents were cut off from electricity.
The UN humanitarian coordinator Lynn Hastings appealed to “the Israeli authorities and Palestinian armed groups [to] immediately allow the United Nations and our humanitarian partners to bring in fuel, food, and medical supplies.” On Sunday there were unconfirmed reports that Egypt, which controls a southern frontier with Gaza, had opened its border.
According to the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, more than 17,000 people have fled their homes and are sheltering in roughly 40 schools. The agency warned of a secondary threat during the Covid pandemic, saying it had to consider “how to minimise the risk of people crowding in a very confined space and spreading the virus”.
Gisha, an Israeli rights group, said the decreasing supply of electricity had affected the production of oxygen needed for respirators. Israel, which has vaccinated most of its citizens, has said it is not responsible for giving inoculations to all Palestinians in the occupied territories, including the West Bank and Gaza.
Oxfam, which supplies water and sanitation in Gaza, said this week’s hostilities would drive “further human rights violations, poverty and suffering, particularly for a lost generation of children and young Palestinians.”
Laila Barhoum, the charity’s policy adviser in Gaza, said: “Day after day we watch the bombs fall on homes where our friends and family live and buildings where our colleagues work, wondering if we will be next. And day after day we wait in vain for the unequivocal condemnation from the international community that never comes.”
She added: “When a ceasefire is eventually declared, we will once again dig out from the rubble and begin to rebuild, only to wait for another cycle of bombardment to destroy what we have done.”
Why are Palestinians protesting? Because we want to live
16 May 2021 | Mariam Barghouti | The Guardian
I started going to demonstrations when I was 17. At first, I went to protests against Israel’s military occupation. Then we also began to protest against the authoritarianism of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and the sickening rivalry between Palestinian political factions. For Palestinians, protest has become a way of life – a way to be steadfast, to persevere.
Over the past decade, much of this burden of protest has been borne by individual Palestinian families facing expulsion or violence at the hands of soldiers and settlers. The threat of evictions or demolitions will spark a local protest, in the hope of preventing this or that particular outrage. But right now the attention of the world is on us not as individuals, but as a collective, as Palestinians. It is not only about one village or one family or “only those in the West Bank” or “only those in Jerusalem”.Advertisement
What we are in the streets protesting about now is not one killing or one violent raid, but a whole regime of oppression that destroys our bodies, our homes, our communities, our hopes – just as the protests for Black lives that spread across the US last year were not only about George Floyd or Breonna Taylor or any one killing.
This is what colonialism does: it suffocates every part of your life, and then it finishes by burying you. It is a strategic, deliberate process, and it is only obstructed or delayed because oppressors are almost always confronted and challenged by those under their rule. In the end, who wants to be chained down for being born who they are?
Last week, I was near the illegal settlement of Beit El by Ramallah in the West Bank as the Israeli army sent jeeps rushing towards demonstrators, journalists and medical staff, firing high-velocity teargas canisters directly at the crowd.
The sound of those canisters spiralling towards us in the dozens still makes me tremble. It reminds me of the day in December 2011, in the village of Nabi Saleh, when an Israeli soldier fired a teargas canister, from close range, directly at the face of 28-year-old Palestinian stone-thrower Mustafa Tamimi, who died as a result of the injury.
I remember the face of then six-year-old Janna Tamimi, his cousin, as she screamed in her fragile voice: “Why did you kill my best friend?” Behind her was the illegal settlement of Halamish. Mustafa’s protest was against the settlement expansion and the impunity of settler violence as he and his community were imprisoned in the village, with no access to water springs or public services.
The fact that these protests are leaderless is a sign of what has been festering for decades among all Palestinians. This is the coming-of-age of a generation born since the pitiful Oslo accords of 1993-1995, who grew up during decades that only solidified Israel’s settlement expansion and grip on Palestinian lives.
More than this, it is a continued growth of stamina, endurance and loss of faith. But at the same time, it is a complete reclamation of faith, not in international policymakers, not in negotiation committees, not in humanitarian observers and NGOs, but in ourselves.
“Why do you always have to put yourself on the frontlines?” my mother reprimanded me years ago, as she threw away my clothes that were soaked in noxious “kharara”, skunk water, sprayed by the Israeli military.
Often used in protests in the West Bank, Israeli forces have also now been spraying it on the streets of Sheikh Jarrah and the homes of Palestinians. It’s an attempt to make our lives so unbearable that we are driven out.
I wanted to tell my mother, if it isn’t me, it’s someone else. I wanted to tell her how in Gaza the unarmed protests of 2018 were met with the sniping down of hundreds, as Israeli soldiers turned it into an unrelenting sniper free-for-all, deliberately causing debilitating injuries.
But we both knew that what made her so angry was the horrible recognition that we had no choice but to protest – that as long as injustice persists, and our dreams for better realities continue to push us towards confrontation, getting soaked in skunk water meant that I was at least alive.
This is exactly why we are protesting, because we are ready to be alive.
- Mariam Barghouti is a Palestinian writer and researcher
‘Afraid of the night’: Gaza families tell of constant Israeli air strikes and power cuts
16 May 2021 | Nagham Mohanna | National
Israeli warplanes dropped as many as 100 bombs on Gaza in the space of 24 hours on Saturday and Sunday.
Seven days into the conflict, air raids shattered the nerves of Gaza’s two million residents during the worst fighting since 2014.
I am afraid of night. The heavy bombing starts at night and we live through horrible and scary moments
Taghreed Yaghi, 35
But survivors of the air strikes are facing other challenges as bombing destroys crucial services, placing families at risk of disease amid power cuts and a lack of water.
The Health Ministry on Sunday said at least 192 Palestinian were killed including 58 children and 34 women, with the toll of wounded at 1,235.
“Everything is targeted, nothing is secure,” Niema Bilal, 41, told The National. “The situation is very difficult.”
Nowhere to turn
Ms Bilal lives in a flat in Gaza City, which she now shares with about 20 of her displaced relatives who fled their homes. Almost 40,000 residents of Gaza have been displaced.
“Yesterday we received a warning to leave the house, because our neighbour’s house will be targeted,” she said.
Israel has a policy of phoning and texting some Gaza residents when their homes are about to be destroyed.
“We were so confused and didn’t know what to do,” Ms Bilal said.
Her family now lives with incessant fear and in miserable, dark conditions as Gaza’s power and water services are being destroyed in the bombardment.
Gaza’s municipal water supplies rely on electric pumps, while water lines have also been destroyed as streets have been obliterated by bombing.
“Because the electricity has been out for a long time I have a shortage of water,” Ms Bilal says.
“Can you imagine 20 people needing to use the bathroom, wanting to wash their hands, but there is not enough water for that.”
The damage to the sewage network has led to wastewater flowing into the streets in Gaza City and elsewhere, the United Nations office for humanitarian affairs (OCHA) said Sunday.
Gaza’s only power station said it was forced to stop operating at full production because of a lack of fuel. Gazans are currently receiving between six and eight hours of power daily, according to OCHA.
Israel closed both its people and goods crossings with Gaza on Monday.
Adding to Ms Bilal’s considerable worries is whether she will be able to provide for so many sheltering in her home.
“I get my payment daily, so if I don’t work I will not have any source of money,” she said.
“I have been staying at home since the beginning of the escalation. I have no money and I have to take care of 20 people, but I can’t.”
There are no signs that the violence will abate.
On Sunday morning, Israeli aircraft launched some of the most intense raids of the campaign, destroying buildings on Al Wehda Street in Gaza City.
The Health Ministry said one of those air strikes killed at least 42 people, including 10 children and 16 women.
It is feared the toll could climb further as rescuers were still searching through rubble for survivors.
“I thought that I lived in the safest neighbourhood in Gaza, because in the latest wars people evacuated their homes and came to stay in our neighbourhood,” said Taghreed Yaghi, 35, a mother of three.
“Now my area or any other area in Gaza is no longer safe. My children feel so angry they missed Eid and feel so sad that they missed their school vacation, which will be ruined.”
Ms Yaghi, who lives in Al Remal neighborhood, said she faced financial difficulties and food shortages.
“I face the problem of paying for food and groceries because the nearby markets are closed and it is not safe to drive the car to go to any other markets”, she told The National.
“I am afraid of night. The heavy bombing starts at night and we live through horrible and scary moments.”
Tassneen Abu Ghaban, 24, lives in Jabalia, north of the Gaza Strip, and tries to distract his young nephews from the terrifying sounds of war.
“My nephews came to stay with us,” Mr Abu Ghaban said. “They feel so scared because of the bombing sounds.
“I tried to entertain them by playing them movies but there is no electricity to watch TV.
“When the power cuts out, I feel that I am disconnected from everything, because I don’t have access to the internet, to news.”
Humanitarian agencies have been pushing for days for the border to be briefly opened to allow vital supplies to enter Gaza, to no avail.
“There’s lots of worry that if fuel doesn’t come in the central power station will cease to function in a couple of days,” Matthias Schmale, Gaza director for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees [UNRWA], told The National.
While residents face “terrifyingly loud” bombardment, he said, some 48 UNWRA schools were sheltering the displaced.
“Because schools have a blue United Nations flag on them, and the experience from the 2014 war is they were a safer place than their home,” he said, remarking nowhere was completely safe.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Sunday that violence must end immediately.
World powers must use “maximum influence” to stop the conflict, it said. On the same day, Israel dropped at least 90 bombs on Gaza in 24 hours.
Israeli offensive forced 10,000 Palestinians to leave homes in Gaza, UN raises concern
15 May 2021 | Fahad Zulfikar | BRecorder
(Karachi) Amid fierce attacks by Israeli forces, approximately 10,000 Palestinians have been forced to leave their homes in Gaza, the United Nations has transpired.
As per details, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Palestinians have taken shelter in schools, mosques, and other places with limited access to water, food, hygiene, and health services.
It raised concern that hospitals and access to water and sanitation services depend on electricity, the fuel for which will run out on May 16 (Sunday).
The UN office stated that the Israeli forces and Palestinian groups must allow the UN to provide humanitarian aid including fuel, medical supplies, and food to the affected people. It urged that all parties must always adhere to international humanitarian and human rights laws.
So far, 122 Palestinians, including 31 children and 20 women, have been killed, and 900 others injured in the ongoing Israeli offensive against Gaza.
The Israeli forces continue to attack Gaza with a heavy bombardment that has caused extensive damage to residential buildings.
Similarly, nine Israelis have been killed in the recent violence – eight of them in rocket attacks, in addition to a soldier killed when an anti-tank guided missile struck his jeep.
Gaza ‘days away’ from near total blackout as fuel running out after week of bombardment
17 May 2021 | Bel Trew | The Independent
Gaza will run out of fuel to run its power station in two days, according to officials who warned it will see homes and hospitals plunged into darkness after the most intense bouts of fighting since the 2014 war.
Households across much of the tiny blockaded strip are already only receiving four hours of power a day because of the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel through which Gaza receives its fuel.
The fighting has also damaged power lines to Israel, which according to Israeli media has cut more than 230,000 Gazans off from electricity.
But now there could be total blackouts if no new fuel is brought to the strip to power the last remaining turbine at Gaza’s power plant.
According to statistics from the Palestinian energy authority and Gaza’s Electricity Distribution Company, fuel currently being used, which was already being diverted from private companies, will run out in just two days.
It will leave Gaza with just the remains of power coming from Israel, which is providing only 30 per cent of its usual output because of damage to main lines.
“All of this will affect life in Gaza,” said Mohammed Thabeth, a spokesperson for Electricity Distribution Company of Gaza. “Especially the medical sector. We’re talking about dialysis machines, medical imaging equipment, ventilators and intensive care units. The water sector will also be affected too, all vital facilities will.”
This comes during one of the heaviest Israeli bombardments of Gaza since the 2014 War, with 42 people killed on Sunday alone and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signalling that fighting would continue despite international efforts to broker a ceasefire.
Hamas militants have fired 3,100 rockets into Israel over six days, close to the total number of rockets fired at Israel during the seven-week 2014 war.
The Israeli army told The Independent 3,852 rockets were fired at Israel during the 2014 conflict. Army officials said the current barrage was the “highest daily rate of rocket fire that Israel has faced in the history of the country”.
Despite furious attempts to broker a ceasefire by international mediators, including a US envoy who arrived in Israel on Sunday, neither side appeared to be backing down. The UN Security Council and Muslim nations held emergency meetings on Sunday to demand a stop to civilian bloodshed, but at present there is little sign of a breakthrough.
In a televised address on Sunday, Mr Netanyahu said the attacks were continuing at “full force” and would “take time”.
Israel “wants to levy a heavy price” from Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers, the prime minister said, flanked by his defence minister and political rival, Benny Gantz, in a show of unity.
Hamas also pressed on, launching rockets from civilian areas in Gaza towards civilian areas in Israel.
One slammed into a synagogue in the southern city of Ashkelon hours before evening services for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, Israeli emergency services said. No injuries were reported.
Medics say 10 people in Israel, including two children and a soldier, have been killed by rocket fire.
In Gaza 197 people have been killed, including 58 children and 34 women, according to the health ministry.
Now the 2 million population of Gaza has to contend with sweeping blackouts.
Shawan Jabarin, from Palestinian rights group al-Haq, told The Independent Gaza needs around 520 megawatts to power the strip.
Citing Palestinian Energy Authority statistics he said Gaza is only getting 45 megawatts from Israel due to the damaged lines, and 25 megawatts from one of four turbines that are still operating, with smaller amounts from private generators and solar.
The statistics match those given by Mr Thabeth in Gaza. Once fuel runs out that power station will stop working completely.
“Already most of Gaza only has four hours of power a day and some no electricity at all,” he said.
“This not only impacts homes but will cause water shortages, as water pumps will stop working.”
Israeli security offices have blamed Hamas rockets for the destruction to the power lines which cross over into Israel, while Gaza officials say it is the air raids.
Israeli media reported that Hamas rockets also damaged power lines, cutting more than 230,000 Gazans off from electricity.
Mr Thabeth, however, said Israeli airstrikes on roads and crossroads destroying the cable network underground was to blame.
Qatar, which has long provided financial aid to the strip with Israeli approval, has announced it will provide “urgent relief aid” to Gaza from Monday.